Camel Up 2nd Edition

Camel Up 2nd Edition

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Ladies and gentlemen: start your… camels? Camel Up was one of the most crazy racing games you could buy, full of exciting twists and turns. This is a second edition from eggertspiel of the original 2014 game. It retains all the fabulous fun from the base game, and provides some cool extras, too! What cool extras, you ask? As well as new artwork, there’s engraved dice, an improve…
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Ladies and gentlemen: start your… camels? Camel Up was one of the most crazy racing games you could buy, full of exciting twists and turns. This is a second edition from eggertspiel of the original 2014 game. It retains all the fabulous fun from the base game, and provides some cool extras, too! What cool extras, you ask? As well as new artwork, there’s engraved dice, an improved, sturdy pyramid design as well as extra modules. Camel Up might feature a camel race, but it’s not strictly a racing game. It’s more of a betting game, where up to eight players aim to make as much money at the races as possible. The race is one lap around the pyramid, with five coloured camels participating. The pyramid itself is like a dice cup, with each camel having a corresponding d6 die (faces numbered 1-3, twice). On a player’s turn, they can do one of a few different actions. They can shake the pyramid and release one die, moving that colour camel said spaces forward. If camels share a spot on the racetrack, they sit on top of one another. If a camel’s die gets revealed, they move and carry any other camels sitting on top of them, too. Place an oasis or a desert to impact the racetrack. Help or hinder your favourite camel! Why? Because players can bet on which camel they think will lead the race at the end of the ‘leg’. (A leg equates to once all camel dice have come out of the shaker.) Or, players can also place bets on which camel they think will win or lose, outright. The stakes pay out better the earlier you gamble. The second edition of Camel Up also provides two rogue camels that race in the opposite direction. They could end up carrying other camels the wrong way around the track! Camel Up is one of the most fun and entertaining family games on the market today. Player Count: 3-8 players Time: 30-45 minutes Age: 8+

Awards

Fun for Kids

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The fast, frantic, family fun this game brings
  • Accessible for all ages
  • the quality and look of all of the components for a family game

Might Not Like

  • The somewhat random nature of events making it strategy light
  • The crazy camels don't really affect the game as much as you'd hope
  • The gambling aspect
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Description

In Camel Up, up to eight players bet on five racing camels, trying to suss out which will place first and second in a quick race around a pyramid. The earlier you place your bet, the more you can win - should you guess correctly, of course. Camels don't run neatly, however, sometimes landing on top of another one and being carried toward the finish line. Who's going to run when? That all depends on how the dice come out of the pyramid dice shaker, which releases one die at a time when players pause from their bets long enough to see who's actually moving! This is for the 2nd edition of Camel Up!

 

Pimp My Camel

First up, let’s talk about what is different between this Camel Up, made in 2018, and the original from 2014. The pyramid here is plastic, not cardboard, and some of the camels are now crazy. That’s pretty much it! There is a new art design and some other minor tweaks, but this is all that changed. So, should you buy this if you have the first edition? Only if your pyramid is destroyed! This was the reason I think they upgraded this component to plastic. The original one was way better in my opinion, but became damaged quite easily with wear. If your original pyramid is ok, then stick with it and maybe look at the Supercup expansion if you want more gameplay. However, if you own neither, then get this version. It is the superior edition in many ways and will be more durable with the new components.

With that out of the way, lets talk about the game!

The Race is On!

Camel Up is a brilliant family-friendly race game that incorporates several mechanics to ease your family into a lifetime of board games. Or gambling, depending on your persuasions. You are playing as people from all over the world who have come to bet on the outcome of a camel race. The camels are controlled by dice, rolled from a plastic Pyramid dice roller, which sits in the middle of the board adding both a practical use and enhancing the atmosphere and theme of the game. The dice roll one to three and you move the camels accordingly.

Each round you can either move one camel by rolling a die or make a bet on the camel that will be in the lead at the end of this round. Alternatively, you can try to predict the final outcome of the race by betting on the overall winner or loser. Or, finally, you could place your character token on the race map in the hope, for some reason, that a camel lands on your space! I am unsure on what is happening thematically here. Maybe it’s like paying for premium front row seats with added trampling? But if it happens, you can win some money. Perhaps it simply falls from the camel as it tramples over you. Or maybe it’s thrown to you from the baying crowd as they reward your foolhardiness?

But rules-wise, that’s it! It’s a very simple game. However, there are three delicious twists which make this race game so much fun!

Royal Ascot, this ain’t!

Firstly, the camels can ride on each other’s backs. If, for example, you move the red camel two spaces with the roll of a die, and it lands on a space already occupied by a green camel, they do not then ride side by side. No, the red camel rides on the back of the green one. This means, if you roll a green die on a later turn, both camels move! You always move the bottom camel, no matter how many other are stacked on its back!

Second, the dice rolls are random, you see. All of the dice are inside a pyramid. You press a button and one random one rolls out. So, you not only have the random nature of a die roll determining how far a camel moves forward, but you also have the random nature of not knowing which die will come out. There is also one less turn per round that dice. So not all camels will have their die come out. This doesn’t mean it won’t move; it may be riding on the back of another camel that does. But it does mean it’s harder to predict the outcome of each leg.

You can never be certain which camels will move, how many times they will move and how far they will move on each turn! It makes Camel Up a delightful puzzle that cannot always be solved. You have to go with the random nature of the race. It’s camels after all.

And lastly, this game has crazy camels! There are two camels on the racetrack that are not part of the race. They start at the back rather the front and race backwards. If a camel racing forwards lands on the space of a camel racing backwards, and the backwards racing camel moves next, the forward racing camels starts to move back towards the start again. In truth, this doesn’t happen that often in a game and it takes a while to even get close to happening as you start them so far away, so we have ‘house ruled’ this a little, and start the crazy camels in the middle of the track.

All this makes for a fun and frantic race game that is very hard to predict. With all of your actions other than rolling a die being to try and predict the movement or outcome of the race, you will quickly find this game is more about luck than strategy. However, as the game nears conclusion, you can start to add some probability into your bets. Nothing is ever for certain in this game, but you can try to beat the odds. This makes the game very accessible for families but can be frustrating if you are looking for something more skill or strategy based. If you are, I would encourage you look at Flamme Rougue or Rallyman GT, or for a level up, Lewis & Clark.

Your New Family Favourite?

If you are looking for a game to play with your family, then I would highly recommend this. Especially if the group has not played many modern tabletop games. It is so accessible and fun that you will have anyone from four and up playing within minutes. You may have a slight advantage if you have a masters in advanced chaos theory. In most cases, this game is a good leveller. You will find that not only can every one play this game, they can all play it fairly evenly. Even when I make a move I think is pretty smart, the Camels do their own thing and I often still end up losing.

This game is much more about the experience that the winning. The points tally at the end is arbitrary really. It is a simple case of adding up the money you have accumulated on your bets through the race. This is done with denominations of one and five Egyptian pound coins. So, it is a pretty simple thing to add up and a good way to encourage your young children to start developing their maths skills.

When you are betting on the outcome of the race, you can place a betting slip on either the winner or loser side. You play the cards face down so no one knows which camel you are betting on. You can bet multiple times on both the winner and the loser if you change your mind as the race goes on! The incentive to bet early is that the first person to predict the winner or loser receives more money than whoever guesses second or third. But if you get the bet wrong, you lose one Egyptian pound. This is a nice mechanic that makes your choices here a lot more fun.

Camel Up to the Rescue

It is the accessibility of the game that I think appeals to me the most. It works for so many groups. I take it upon my self to convert everyone I know to tabletop games. It is my life’s calling if you will. One game night with three other friends who were not into games at all, it was Camel Up that saved the night. It was a night with a lot of live sport on TV. All three of them were mainly on their phones checking the scores and making bets as we played other games. I thought Camel Up might appeal.

Just before I decided to give up and head to the pub to watch the footy, I suggested we give it a try. They all seemed reluctant at first; in truth, it does look like a child’s game. They decided to try one quick game, as I promised them it was quick, and then we would leave. But when they realised it was largely a betting game, they all got into it. We raced through the first game and I started to pack up when they all asked if we could play one more time.

To the Races!

This game gets a lot of play time in my house. Whenever a family with young children come to visit, this is the first title that comes to mind when they ask to play a game. It works for all players and visually just looks so fun! It instantly appeals to all and is relatively quick to play. Games take anywhere between 20-40 minutes, so it never outstays its welcome. Generally, after one game, people are asking to play more games. I feel with its gateway style appeal, and the fact that playing it teaches you some bluffing and race style mechanics, I like to move on to something like The Chameleon or The Quest for El Dorado. Camel Up is brilliant at bringing new people into this wonderful hobby and for that reason alone you should definitely consider it for your next purchase.

Camel Up is a brilliant game that I would highly recommend for any collection. Even if you don’t play with families (or gambling degenerates) often, this is a fun filler game to play in-between more meaty game nights. It is bound to raise a few laughs and create some crazy camel capers!

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.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The fast, frantic, family fun this game brings
  • Accessible for all ages
  • the quality and look of all of the components for a family game

Might not like

  • The somewhat random nature of events making it strategy light
  • The crazy camels don't really affect the game as much as you'd hope
  • The gambling aspect