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Camel Up Review

September 1st, 2018 by

Camel Up 001Another week goes by and, thanks a throwaway comment to our very own Uncle Fista that I need a family board game that me and the wife wouldn’t mind playing alone but can easily be picked up by the kids when it’s family time, I now own Camel Up.

(Editor Note – Ignore the language in the video but we couldnt find an english translation)

Camel Up is not a new game, in fact it won the 2014 Spiel des Jahres award. This award is one of the most prestigious awards in tabletop gaming. A bit like our very own videogame of the year award but for analogue gaming. The reason that this is notable is that Camel Up is nothing like any of the games that won it previously; games such as Catan, Carcassonne, and Dominion. In fact the two winners in following years (Colt Express & Codenames) are also more adult orientated.

Camel Up is very much a family game, completely random with an ever so slight strategy element to it. Camel Up is there for fun to be had and if you take your gaming seriously then you are most likely going to drain the fun out of it.

Camel Up itself is basically a camel race around a small track with five differently coloured wooden camels vyingto win the race. Players place bets on the outcome on either individual legs of the race or the overall winner. This is great as you are not tied to a particular camel and if your overall winner choice is lagging well behind then you can place bets on the legs and still end up the winner.

The way the camels move is the game’s best mechanic and the element both my kids found hilarious. Each camel is represented by a D6 die with the values 1,2 and 3 on it. All five dice go into a cardboard pyramid which when placed upside down will allow the release of a single die. This means one camel moves per die roll (or does it – more on this shortly) and when all five dies have been rolled it signals the end of a “leg”, all bets are paid out, the dice returned to the pyramid and the next leg begins.

The wooden camels are meeple-like and, this is where the unique mechanic comes in, are stackable so when two camels land on the same space, rather than share the space individually, they become a little tower of camels. When a camel with one or more camels on its back moves it carries the entire tower around the racetrack. So a camel may hitch a ride on another camels back before its own die comes out resulting in extra spaces being covered in that particular leg.

Camel Up 003

Working out how each camel might move, and although still affected by the randomness of which die will come out first, is the biggest brain teaser of the game and I could see my kids brains totally engaging as they tried to work it out.

Bets on the legs are limited by the number of betting cards available with only three available for each camel (the competition for these cards really heats up when there are four or more of you playing). Payouts are valued at five, three and two coins for horses that finish first at the end of a leg, a single coin for a horse that finishes second and if the camel you have bet on finishes third or lower you lose a coin for each bet you made.

The bets on the overall winner (and overall loser) work slightly differently with two piles and cards pertaining to your camel choice being placed face down so other players cannot see your choice. These can be placed at anytime during the race, however there is a sliding scale of potential winnings from eight coins down to three coins and incorrect choices costing the player a coin.

On each turn, you have a number of options available you can roll the dice, take a leg betting card, place a betting card or place your desert/oasis tile somewhere on the track. This card gives the player a one coin bonus when a camel lands on it and also either moves the camel forward one space (oasis side) or back one space (desert side). This element does not make or break the game so if you have younger kids playing with you then it doesn’t hurt to skip the element entirely.

camel up 002

Games took around 30 minutes, perfect for little hands and minds to have a quick game with mum and dad before heading off to bed or as a warm up for other games for the adults. Either way the game is very often hilarious and this along with its unique movement mechanic is what makes camel Up a joy to play. Simple put, it’s a fun board game where the adults don’t feel stupid playing it or feel they have to dumb down their own abilities for the kids to play with them.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 8.5/10     Year of Release: 2014
Designer: Steffen Bogen    Manufacturer: Z-Man Games
RRP:  £27.95

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer reviewed Camel Up over the course of  four days. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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One Response to “Camel Up Review”
  1. avatar Adamski UK says:

    Great game. Love how you don’t have to wait for a turn – everyone is always involved in some way thought the game.

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