Zoom in Barcelona, a game for two to six people, has players racing around the beautiful City of Barcelona in a bid to win a photography competition amongst the amazing landmarks, historic architecture and ….. Dragons?!?
Coming to us from Cucafera Games and carefully crafted by designers Núria Casellas, Eloi Pujadas & Joaquim Vilalta; Zoom in Barcelona has players moving around the city in an attempt to show their photography skills and beat the other players in taking the best photographs of the most famous features of the Spanish metropolis. Given the premise, Zoom in Barcelona presents itself as a collection of intertwining photography mechanics which when played off against each other create a hectic race between participants to complete their collections first to score the most points and finish the game.
Barcelona itself — as represented on the board — is split into a number of districts with each player starting in a predetermined spot dependent on their drawn character piece. Every district then has a number of locations and landmarks on the board with a corresponding landmark card beautifully illustrated by artists Craig Petersen & Sophie Wainwright. At any time a number of these landmarks from across Barcelona are selected and marked as “Judges Picks” and are the current targets for player collection. As a pick is snapped by a player it is replaced from the deck with a new random pick keeping the available picks at its maximum.
Each location photographed is worth a set number of points but at the start of each game, several themes are selected which determine extra point values, so if your theme is for a park or a beach then collecting landmarks with this in the title or with the corresponding icon on the card will also bestow additional points in the endgame tally.
In addition to this, the most famous monuments the city has to offer (and which create its iconic skyline) litter the districts. Snapping a photo of these adds them to your skyline and again starts to rack up your points for the endgame tally. These are however limited dependent on the number of players so being the last person to visit these locations becomes a wasted effort since tokens will have been depleted and therefore unavailable for collection. Each player’s skyline is arranged differently, if you manage to collect these tokens and they appear in succession on your skyline, your score is boosted in the final tally so, for example, getting three in succession scores considerably more than two.
Moving around the board is determined by a player’s default action of initially walking, this can take you up to two spaces in any turn. Players also have a collection of randomly drawn transit card which can be used to move you from between three-to-six spaces on that turn. Once played they are discarded but players can tactically move to a “City Information Point” on the board, doing so replenishes their transit cards to allow faster movement across Barcelona. Finally, players also have the option of using the City Metro. These are spotted over the city and allow instant travel from one metro space to any other. Entering the metro however is counted as an action and as such no photographs can be taken from the exit position.
Anyone with a camera today can take a picture, the true professionals, however, master the lighting and Zoom in Barcelona is no different. Rather than just allowing players to casually snap away at landmarks to get to the required total to end the game, players must also deal with the “Natural Light Track”. This is split into four stages of the day and each stage is allocated a specific landmark as the game commences. Locating, traversing to and snapping that locale allows you to move to the next but the main benefit of doing so allows a player to enter more of their photographs into the final score. Not attempting the Natural Light Track allows players to enter two photos into the final competition, even though they may have needed eight to close out the game. Completing the light track and snapping all four locales allows you to enter the maximum of eight photographs so it’s worth chasing down.
Dragons are synonymous with Barcelona and over 400 images of dragons are displayed throughout the city in its architecture and landmarks. The Dragon’s Lair in each district has the chance of holding the Dragon at any time. If a player picks it up then they have the option of what could be described as an in game ace or trump card. A player can select any landmark on the “Judges Pick”, the next locale in the “Natural Light Track” or any available Skyline Monument from anywhere on the map and add it to their collection.
Players also have a limited zoom capacity on their cameras which allows them (as part of a turn ending action) to take a picture of any target location, monument or locale from a number of spaces away from the actual target. Players start the game with three on their zoom counter. Taking a picture from one space away expends one zoom, two spaces used two zoom and the maximum three spaces for three zooms. This doesn’t replenish until a new game begins so careful use is advised but at maximum effectiveness can allow a player to snipe a landmark or monument away from other players at a distance
The quality of the game pieces, board and landmark cards is great, very colourful and the illustrations on them are quite striking. Card quality again is good with a good weight to them, flex and a sturdy composition not seen in cheaper materials. Games take around 30-60 minutes to play depending on the number of players and the age range suggested is likely due to the number of mechanics in play at any time. Our six year old loved playing with her older sister and two parents, after two games she had devised most of her own strategies so I’d suggest that with a more mature company it’s possible to flex them somewhat.
The dragon, transit card and zoom mechanics really embody the Zoom element of Zoom in Barcelona, moving it from a fairly standard card collection game into a hectic race with strategic deployment of finite resources. They help to deliver the maximum benefit to a player whilst delivering a solid blow to one or more opposing competitors keeping the game interesting on every turn whilst assisting in retaining a high replay factor for returning players.
You can find more information on Zoom in Barcelona on the developer’s website.