Camel Up is a great family or party game that allows 2 to 8 players to try their luck betting on an exciting Camel race.
If you have ever bet on a horse race, you may have experienced the thrill of watching the horse you picked, win the race. If you are less fortunate, you may be familiar with the angst of watching your horse blow a lead on the last leg of the race, turning your winning ticket into trash. If you're in the market for bringing this type of excitement to your table at home, look no further than Camel Up.
Camel Up makes for a great family or party game. I’ve had amazing success teaching and playing it with multiple groups, even ones including non-experienced gamers. Gameplay is pretty straightforward, when it is your turn, you can bet on a camel to win the overall race, or the current leg. Other options include placing a tile on the board to try and influence the race, or roll the dice to advance one of the camels. Each camel has its own die, and once each camels’ die has been rolled, that is the end of the leg. The race is over once one of the camels passes the finish line. Whoever has made the most money on their bets during the race, wins the game. Depending on the player count, and everyone’s familiarity with the game, an average play session should take around 40 minutes.
And what a fun 40 minutes it is. A round of Camel Up usually contains a few “holy crap” moments where an unpredictable roll of the dice can ruin everyone's bets, causing shouts of astonishment around the table. It's probably my favourite gateway game for people who are new to modern board games. Camel Up’s rules are simple, the gameplay is fast, and the game is just fun.
Betting in the game is handled masterfully. Camel Up encourages you to take risks, as the first person who takes a bet on a specific scenario, will get more money than the next person to make the same bet. Bets are also limited in number, this encourages people to take risks, to make sure they get the best bets, instead of waiting until the bet is a sure thing.
So I’ve pretty much just thrown praise at Camel Up so far, and it is well earned, but I do have a few nit-picks against it. While the game supports two to eight players, the game is best suited for around four to six. With over six, the race gets a bit crowded, and time between turns becomes a factor, and good bets can be used up fast. With under four, you lose a bit of the party atmosphere, and you may be better served by a game that is designed for a lower player count.
Camel Up’s components aren’t spectacular, but they are more than fair for the price of the game. My only complaint would be the pyramid used for rolling the dice is a bit difficult to construct, and its elastic band tends to break over multiple uses. It's also not the most intuitive device to use. It is designed to be used flat against the table, to allow only one die to come out per roll. Plenty of times people have dumped all of the dice out at once by opening the top of the pyramid, without it flush against the table.
Finally, random rules the day when it comes to Camel Up. For gamers out there who don’t like luck based games, this is something to note. As you play, you are always calculating the odds of what is most likely to happen, but like any good gambling game, the unexpected tends to happen more often then you would tend to think.
I’d highly recommend Camel Up, and it's worth a purchase if you got a group of four or more to play with. I’d say if you aren’t a fan of luck based games, you might want to stop and think before picking up a copy, but otherwise this is a great game to play with your family and friends.