Review – Camel Up
A racing and betting game.
Title: Camel Up
Year Published: 2014
Designer: Steffen Bogen
Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
Game Time: ~30 Mins
Set-up Time: >5 Mins
Theme: Modern Egypt
Mechanic: Betting, Dice Rolling, Racing.
How to win: Win the most money.
In Camel Up, up to eight players bet on five racing camels, trying to suss out which will place first and second in a quick race around a pyramid. The earlier you place your bet, the more you can win — should you guess correctly, of course. Camels don’t run neatly, however, sometimes landing on top of another one and being carried toward the finish line. Who’s going to run when? That all depends on how the dice come out of the pyramid dice shaker, which releases one die at a time when players pause from their bets long enough to see who’s actually moving!
Sort leg betting tiles by colour in order 5-3-2 and put them in their spaces on the board.
Give each player a set of betting cards, £3 and a desert tile.
Then, roll the dice one at a time and put the Camels on space 1,2 or 3 depending on their die roll. Put them on top of a Camel if one is already there. Then put the dice in the Pyramid.
Youngest goes first.
The game is divided up in legs (when each camel has moved) and ends when a camel crosses the finish line. You can do one of 4 things on your turn…
1 – Take a leg betting tile – When you take one of these you’re backing that colour camel to be first/second at the end of the leg. You can have any amount of these each leg.
2 – Place your desert tile – You can put it on an empty space, not adjacent to another desert tile. If your tile is already on the board, you can take this action again later to move it using the same placement rules. The tile can be placed either side up with the Desert side moving camels forward one space, Mirage back one. If you move back you slide underneath the stack of Camels on that space. When a camel lands on Oasis tile, the owner immediately gains 1 coin.
3 – Take a Pyramid tile – Shake the Pyramid, release a die, move that camel that many spaces. When camels move, carry any camels on top of it with the camel on the top of a stack is considered ‘in front’. If moving forwards, the stack lands on top of camels on that space but if they move backwards from a Mirage, it goes underneath the camels on the previous space.
4 – Bet on overall winner/loser – Place a betting card face down on either spot.
End of a leg – When the last camel moves, give the next player the 1st player token and score the leg.
Pay out for leg betting tiles for leading camels and £1 for second place. Other players lose £1 for other tile picked. Each player who took a Pyramid tile gains £1 for each.
Return all leg, pyramid and desert tiles, return the dice to the Pyramid and start the next leg.
As soon as the first camel crosses the finishing line the game ends. You carry out leg scoring as usual..
Turn the winner deck face up and resolve in order from card played first to last. Pay out in order of the cards being played with the 1st gaining £8, then £5, £3, £2 then £1 to the rest. The owner of any card of the wrong colour pays £1 to the bank.
Repeat this process for the overall loser.
Most money wins, no tie breakers
New players often ask “what are my options again?” I know there are only 4 of them but they can take quite a bit of time to explain.
The game is short, too short really. In a larger group you won’t take many actions per game and a lot of the time on your turn you’ve figured out which Camel will win the leg and your best action is to bet on it.
The game might only last 3-4 legs which isn’t as long as you think it might be.
The expansion, Supercup, adds a tonne of extra stuff and extends the game… but also extends the legs to maybe TOO long so I’m not sure all of the mini add-ons really make this game better.
It comes with a board extension which helps make the base game longer though, which is good. Also, the added options of moving Camels makes it more random which kind of fixes that issue too.
A good game when played with 4-6 players that can leave you with your head in your hands.
I give it 6/10