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How To Play Camel Up

camel up cards

Camel Up: Second Edition is a betting game for 3 to 8 players. Players bet on camels as they race around a pyramid, with a twist: these camels tend to stand on top of each other, offering a ride and significantly altering the outcome of the race. If you place your bets before others, you have a chance to earn more money. Are you willing to take the risk with these unpredictable camels? However, there are also two crazy camels running in the opposite direction, causing mayhem by picking up other camels and carrying them in the wrong direction. So, gather your Egyptian Pound coins and let the race begin!

The Set Up

As with most board games, we begin by placing the game board in the centre of the table. Then we need to set up the betting slips for the 5 different colours and place them on the ticket tents near the race starting line. The tickets should be organised from the lowest value at the bottom to the highest at the top, the 2-pound tickets at the bottom, followed by the 3-pound ticket and finally the 5-pound ticket at the top. The 5 pyramid tiles should be stacked and placed in their allocated space. The coins, known as Egyptian Pounds (EP) come in two different values; 1’s and 5’s. Organise this money close to the board, in easy reach of all the players. Each player then collects 3 Egyptian Pounds, their 5 finish cards and a spectator tile. If playing with 6 or more players, each player also collects their partnership card. The camel's starting position is determined by rolling all of the coloured dice. Place that colour camel on the number rolled on the dice. If a number 1 is rolled place that camel on space number 1, Space 2 if a 2 is rolled and finally space 3 if you rolled a 3. Any camels sharing a space are stacked randomly. This process is replicated for the crazy camels, with a few differences. Roll the grey die once and take one of the crazy camels and place it on space 16 if a 1 is rolled, 15 if it is a 2 and 14 if a 3 is rolled. Do this again for the other crazy camel and stack them if applicable. Crazy camels face anti-clockwise and racing camels face clockwise. Finally, give the starting player marker to the youngest player and this completes the set-up.

Playing The Game With 4 Simple Actions

Camel Up is a simple game. Players will take turn’s performing one of four actions. As players take actions the race will progress and eventually, one camel will cross the finish line, at that point the game is over. Once the game ends, end-of-game scoring occurs and the player with the most money (EP) is the winner. Before we can play though, we need to learn the four actions we can take:-

Action 1; Place A Bet

This is your main money-winning action. The race is broken up into legs and at the end of each leg, a clean-up and scoring phase occurs. A leg ends when 5 out of the 6 dice from the pyramid are rolled. When we take this action, it is important to understand that we are betting on which camel will win the leg, not which camel will cross the finish line first.

Taking the action is simple. Decide which colour camel you think will win the leg. Once you have decided, take the betting tile on top of the stack of your chosen colour. There is no limit to the number of tickets you can take, you can even have multiple of the same colour.

Action 2; Place Your Spectator Tile

The spectator tiles have a cheering side (green +1) and a booing side (red -1). On your turn, you may place your spectator tile on any space on the board, with a few exceptions. You can never place your spectator tile on the number 1 space and it can not be placed adjacent to any other spectator tiles. You can place your tile cheering side up or booing side up. If your spectator tile is already placed and you want to move it, you may use this action to move it to another space on the board.

Spectator tiles are used to speed up or slow down the camels. If a camel unit finishes its movement on a spectator tile, the tile is immediately returned to the owning player and the player collects 1 EP from the supply. The camel unit will then move forwards or backwards, depending on whether the tile showed a cheering side or a booing side. The cheering side will move a camel unit forward. If this movement results in it finishing in a space that already contains a camel unit, it is stacked on top of that unit. The booing side results in the camel unit moving backwards 1 space. If this movement results in them sharing a space with another camel unit, it is placed underneath the camel unit originally occupying the space. Crazy camels follow the same rules as the racing camels, only they travel in the opposite direction.

Action 3; Take a Pyramid Ticket & Use The Pyramid To Move A Camel

This is by far the coolest action in the game as you get to shake the pyramid dice tower. Before we learn this action we should learn a bit more about how the camels move first. When camels are stacked on top of each other, they are referred to as a “camel unit”. When a camel within a unit moves, it takes all the camels above it with itself. Camels below the moving camel stay where they are. If a camel unit finishes its movement and there is already a camel unit in that space, the unit is then stacked on top of the original camels in the space. The other thing we need to know before we learn how to take the action is, how we know which camel is in which position of the race when they are stacked. This is easy, any camel above another camel in a stack is considered to be in front of the camels below it.

Now we understand how the camels move, let's learn how to take this action. To take the action, you take one of the pyramid tickets and place it in front of you. Then we get to use the pyramid dice tower. Give the pyramid a good shake and push the button and a dice will come out. The colour of the dice denotes the camel that will move. The camel moves the same number of spaces rolled on the dice. The rolled dice are not put back in the pyramid, it is placed on one of the dice tents.

If the grey dice are rolled, one of the crazy camels will move. We know which of the crazy camel's moves, by the colour of the number rolled. It will either be a white number or a black number. Crazy camels move in the opposite direction to the racing camels. There are two exceptions to the coloured number rule which are: if only one crazy camel is carrying racing camels on its back, regardless of the coloured number rolled, that crazy camel is the one that will move. Secondly, if the crazy camels are on top of each other and there are no racing camels in between them, the uppermost camel is the one that moves.

Action 4; Bet On The Overall Winner Or Loser

The betting tiles are what we use to bet on individual legs in the race, but we can also bet on which camel is going to finish the race first or be in last place when the race ends. A player selects one of their finish cards in secret, and places it face down on the designated space for the winner or loser. This decision is final and you cannot pick up your finish card, so choose wisely. If there is already a card in the space you want to put yours in, just put your finish card face down on top of the already laid cards.

End Of A Leg

The end of a race leg is triggered when a player chooses to take the fifth pyramid tile. The player completes the action as normal and afterwards, a clean-up phase begins:-

  1. The player with the first player marker passes it to the player to the left of whoever took the last pyramid tile.
  2. Verify the standings of the camels in the race, taking into account that crazy camels are not included in the rankings.
  3. Players check their betting tiles and collect their relevant winnings or pay for their losses. Collect winnings from the bank and pay losses to the bank also.
  4. For each tile a player has in the race leader's colour, the holder collects the money printed on the tile. Either 5, 3 or 2 EP
  5. For each betting tile, a player has for the camel in 2nd place, the player collects 1 EP.
  6. Players pay 1 EP to the bank for each tile they have for camels in positions 3rd through 5th.
  7. For each pyramid ticket, that player collects 1 EP.
  8. Then return all betting tiles to their original positions, remembering that they go in ascending order.
  9. Return the pyramid tiles to their space.
  10. Return spectator tiles on the track to their owners.
  11. Return the five rolled dice to the pyramid.
  12. Play resumes.

End Of The Game

When a camel crosses the finish line, the game immediately ends. Complete steps 3 through 7 from the end of the leg phase. After this players will score the finish cards for the overall winner or loser:-

  1. Flip the deck over so the card played first is now at the top, do not change the order of the cards.
  2. Check the first card, if the bet was correct that player then receives 8 EP. If the bet was incorrect that player must pay 1 EP. Do this for all the cards in the order they were placed. The first correct player takes 8 EP, the second correct player gets 5 EP, then 3 EP, then 2 EP and finally 1 EP. Remember if the bet was incorrect the player pays 1 EP.
  3. Repeat this same process for the overall loser.
  4. Players count up all their money and the player with the most Egyptian Pounds is declared the winner.

Did I Mention There Is A 5th Action?

In games of 6 or more players, players receive a partnership card during set-up. As an action, a player may exchange partnership cards with any other player that is not already in a partnership this leg. You cannot refuse someone's partnership offer.

During the end of the leg-scoring phase, players may choose one of their partners' betting tickets and collect the winnings printed on that ticket. This is a free choice and players are not obligated to take a negative result if that is the only choice available.

To Summarise

Camel up at its heart is an exciting betting game, that can lead to some wonderfully difficult decisions. These decisions can have you leaping with joy or laughing in lament of your rotten luck. Good luck on the racetrack and watch out for those crazy camels.

That concludes our guide on how to play Camel Up. Did this help you? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames.