Gambling is something we all seem to enjoy on one level. Not the type where we chuck money around but having a cheeky wager with a friend or in a board game can be irresistible. Board games can present gambling in various ways, stocks, outcomes, or simply in taking a risky action that might not pay off. However, there are plenty of racing games that involve betting - Camel Up and Unicorn Fever being some of the best. Long Shot The Dice Game is the latest to test the odds.
Long Shot The Dice Game comes in a great package. A small magnetic clasp box drthat for once is not too big for purpose and absolutely rammed full of components. The star of the show is the horse, funny-shaped wooden tokens that clearly show their horse number on the top. There are dry wipe player boards, including a board for solo play, a pair of dice, cards and dry wipe pens.
GG for GGs
Your player board acts as your betting slip and record of money held and spent as well as a few other useful bits. Truth be told it can be a little bit of a hindrance to learning the game as there is a lot of info on it and it’s presented in a funny grid format that looks a bit mathematical. It’s this grid that you will be using to manage your bets, adapt horse movements and give yourself the option of late betting on horses.
How you do this is driven by dice. One is an eight sided dice, or D8 and one is a six sided dice, D6. The D8 determines which horse will move and be available for player actions and the D6 how far that horse will move. In the solo mode, this roll will also determine the AI action by using a grid to match up both die rolls. A neat system that works well. First, you will move the matching horse the number shown on the dice. Then check the horse card for that number (the game comes with a few sets of horse cards with different powers). At the bottom is a row of numbers and some will have an X crossed out. For those ones you move the matching horse one space.
Once all the relevant horses have moved everyone gets to take one action using the number rolled on the D8 - the same number of the horse that moved. You can opt to use any number by crossing off a wild die box, but once you have done this three times you must use an entire action to wipe the boxes clean for future use. Your player board has a big grid on it that has a row for each horse with their multiplier for placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or beyond the ‘no bet’ line, a helmet and a jersey for each horse and a space to record your winnings.
Once you have decided whether to use a wild or the number rolled, you can use that number for an action. You can cross out the helmet which allows you to bet on this horse even when it has passed the ‘no bet’ line. Maybe you’d prefer to cross out the jersey which lets you add another X to any horse without one on that horse's card. Crossing out both the jersey and helmet of the same horse will net you a $5 bonus at the end too! You could buy the horse of the matching number, giving you access to their unique power and some money should they place top 3. Or you can bet on the matching horse adding 1-3 dollars to any existing bet - as long as you have the money to do so.
Lastly, you can cross the matching number off a four by four grid of numbers. This is called the concessions area and every time you complete a row or column you also get to choose a bonus from the reward grid. These can be free bets, or even moving horse forwards or backwards in the race.
Long Shot The Dice Game has been a fairly easy teach every time there has been new players present. Some things have been harder to grasp but they are shaken out within two rounds. In essence, it is a roll and write game, but it doesn’t feel like one. Rather it is a betting game that uses writing for convenience and ease of play, rather than a pure design choice. And it works better for it, keeping the physical size small and portable while the player count is high.
The game comes with three sets of horse cards that can be used as a set or mixed and matched giving quite a lot of variety on top of the dice rolls. The systems that allow you to improve your odds, such as using jersey actions, are well implemented and add some mitigation to the obvious luck of dice rolls. But you wouldn’t want to lose the luck aspect totally as the threat and promise of the unknown is key to the fun of a betting game.
Long Shot The Dice Game more than delivers as a betting and racing game. The races are short, fun, and contain the all-important air of unpredictability that sporting events thrive on. Seeing your underdog outstrip the pack for an unluckily win is thrilling and rewarding.
It’s hard to think what more they could have squeezed into this excellent little game. It does everything it needs to and more, in a small box and short play time. It’s also an easy game to learn for newcomers. If you like a cheeky flirt with the odds with more elements of control than competitors like Camel Up, then Long Shot The Dice Game is a very viable alternative.