What do you do if you’re rich, for whatever reason live in the desert and have a passion for gambling?! You go to a camel race, of course!
Time: 30 minutes
In Camel Up, 2 to 8 pretentious, rich, gambling hungry players bet on which camel will win each leg and ultimately the race. There are 5 camels racing and each is given starting positions by rolling the five colored dice with each color corresponding to a camel. Players also have the opportunity to influence the race, details of that in the game play section. The game will end when a camel crosses the finish line. The player with the most money wins the game! Simple, unpredictable, and great fun!
HOW TO PLAY
The game consist of a series of legs where players can do 1 of 4 possible actions on their turn:
Move a camel (the meat of the game!):
Players will take one of the movement tiles, shake the pyramid containing the dice, pull one die from it and move the camel of the corresponding color by the number depicted on the die (the dice will have numbers from 1-3). The race track on this desert is very narrow. So, if the camel moves to a space where there’s another, it jumps on top of it and is considered one space ahead of the camel below. This tile also will give you 1 coin at the end of the leg.
Take a betting tile:
Each color has 3 tiles that will give you anywhere between 5 and 1 coins. First tile will give you 5 coins if the camel of that color finishes the leg on first place and 1 coin for 2nd place. But! this can also result in a PENALTY if the camel ends up between the 3rd and 5th place since you will have to PAY 1 coin back to the bank! Players need to pay close attention to the race because up to 3 players can take a tile of each color and you may have multiple tiles of the same color as well! Second tile will be the same as the first but it will give you only 3 coins for the camel on 1st place and third tile will give you only 2. At the end of each leg all the dice are returned to the pyramid, each player score the betting tiles and takes the money won by the tiles. Then, the tiles are returned to the board and new leg begins.
Play a desert tile:
Here is where players can influence the race. Players may place the tiles anywhere on the track except on the first place of the track or adjacent to another tile. The tiles have to sides, one will have a +1 and the other -1. If the camel LANDS on the tile with +1, the camel moves one extra space and the owner of that tile gets 1 coin right away, again if that space contains another camel, it will jump on top that one. If the camel lands on the -1, you guessed it, it will move one space backwards and like the other side, the owner will get 1 coin right away as well. Now, if this happens, the camel will not jump on top of the camel in the previous space but will instead be place UNDER it (this way is very possible for a camel in the lead to go to last place since every camel on top is consider one space ahead)
Betting on the overall winner OR loser of the race
There are two designated spaces for each bet. Players will have a hand of 5 cards depicting each color. Players will choose to bet on the overall wining/loser camel by placing their chosen card face down on the designated space. This is usually done when the camels are approaching the end of the race since there can be penalties for not making the right choice. Now, players can bet on multiple colors if they see that the camel they thought would win suddenly falls behind. At the end of the race the cards are flipped over and starting with the first one each player that made a bet will receive 8/5/3/2/1/-1 coin respectively.
The player with the most money at end of the game, WINS!
DESIGN & RECOGNITION
Camel Up looks great on the table. The pieces are colorful and bright! This makes it inviting and easier to show it to new players. The pyramid adds a great touch, deepening the theme. We highly praise Camel Up for it’s inclusion of the pyramid, as it enhances the experience and overall instills a “fun” element. This is great to attract your family with!
The cards are not much to look at, but that’s OK, their only purpose is to bet on the overall winner/loser of the game.
The production value of this game is outstanding! All the pieces feel nice and with good heft. The dice are wooden, this may be a turn off to some but it works great since they will tumbling inside a cardboard pyramid thus reducing the stress on it and allowing it to last longer. The pyramid, as we mentioned, is the centerpiece and we are quite fond of it.
Steffen Boden made a great job with this game, and thanks to this Camel Up took home the Spiel des Jahers in 2014!
Camel Up went up against Splendor and Concept! That’s a very surprising outcome for us because Splendor was such a solid game at the time (and it still is). What works for Camel Up is that we feel it’s one of the best family friendly games out there that doesn’t lose any depth to appeal to a younger audience. Perhaps that is why it won the award?
Although I do enjoy this game, I do share the same opinion of other reviewers; not sure if the game is Spiel des Jahers material!
The game has a high replay value in my book. What makes it so, is the how unpredictable the game can be. This helps the game to be different every time it hits the table. Even though there’s not much players can do to control the gameplay, it makes up for it by providing completely unexpected moments that will make it a memorable experience!
Camel Up is great family game, and it’s so easy to teach. This adds replay value since you will be able to teach it to many people and have a great time doing so!
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE GAME:
Extremely easy to learn AND teach!
Great family game. This game will fill the need to play a board game when you want to play something quick but fun.
Unpredictable but in a good way. Unexpected changes will create the most epic moments every time you play!
Short. Makes a great filler game (though if you have very competitive players in your group, you may go through multiple plays before moving to the next game)
WHAT I DISLIKE ABOUT THE GAME:
Although I said I like the fact that is unpredictable, I feel the game is too random. The only control you have, to an extent, lays on the desert tiles.
Characters have no special abilities at all. Tagging along with the first point, I feel this would’ve given the game a bit more replayability or control to the player. With 8 characters to choose from, why not!