What do camels do during the off season? Carry goods for their owners apparently! Let’s take a closer look at Camel Up Off Season.
Not An Expansion
Firstly, this is not an expansion to Camel up. This is a standalone and completely different game set in the same universe. The idea behind it is, this is what the camels do during their off season from racing.
Camel Up Off Season is a push your luck game. You have 4 camels before you who can each hold a different number of goods. These goods must be of the same type and need to be sold in various sets. The more goods you have in a set, the more coins you will receive when you sell them.
Each turn starts with a bidding round to determine which player gets to choose his goods first. The top card of the stack will advise of any special conditions for the bidding round. For example, on some rounds you will not be allowed to bet 2 or it may be a round where the lowest rather than highest bet wins.
To Market, To Market!
Once you have the turn order for the round, players take turns choosing which market cards they will take to add to their camels. You must take and add all cards in the column you choose even if that would overload a camel causing it to drop all of their goods!
Each market also has a special ability that you may use if you take the cards from that market. For example you might be able to ‘move 1 carpet or 1 fruit card from any other market to this market’. The markets are also the only way to gain the special tokens that can be used. An extra sale token allows you to make one extra sale at the end of your turn on any subsequent turn. A peek token allows you to look at all the face down cards of one market at the beginning of a subsequent turn. These tokens are very valuable and can make all the difference in a tight game.
Sell! Sell! Sell!
We have had lots of fun playing Camel Up Off Season. This is a lighter game to play with adults but it also appealed to my 8 year old and he often asks to play it now.
Trying to decide when to sell your goods and when to hold out is important, but it is also based on luck. You can’t possibly know what cards will be available to you in the next market phase, you could be holding out for that elusive blue carpet forever! In the meantime, take too many carpets and your camel buckles under the weight, discarding all of your carpets in the process. This puts you back to square one and thinking longingly of the coins you could have gained if you had just sold on the last turn!
To give you an idea of the difference in coins you will earn compared to the amount of goods you have, let’s look at the carpets as an example. Collect 2 carpets and you can sell them for 3 coins. 3 carpets = 7 coins, 4 = 12 coins, 5 = 18 coins and if you make it to 6 carpets you can sell them for a whopping 25 coins! The carpets must all be of different colours though so it is tricky to do, because if you’re forced to take a carpet that’s the same colour as one you already have, there is no chance of reaching one of every colour. The important thing to remember here is that every camel can only hold one type of goods and each camel must hold a different type of good than the other camels.
The other goods to collect are fruit, pottery and dates. The collection criteria for these all work differently. You don’t need a certain amount of fruit to sell, but there are different types of fruit and only one type can be sold at a time. Pineapple is the most valuable, earning you 5 coins per pineapple. Pottery you have to collect matching pots to be able to sell them. Dates are just about the number you have, but these are based on the actual picture of dates on the card not the number of date cards you have.
Quality Of Goods?
Component quality wise it could have been better. The coins are plastic and cheap feeling, like an old children’s game. The tents are made of card that you have to put together. They work, but I wonder how long they’ll last.
The artwork is cute though and it all works well enough for a fun, family friendly game.
The winning player is the one with the most coins at game end. Your coin stash is kept hidden behind your personal tent so that no one knows exactly how everyone else is doing until it’s time to count up at the end of the game.
Camel Up Off Season is easy to play, quick to learn and fun. Any game that gets my son excited to play is a hit in my book.