• spiel-de-jahres

Camel Up

RRP: £27.99
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RRP £27.99
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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…
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Category Tags , , , , , SKU ZBG-PEG54541G Availability Out of stock
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Awards

Spiel de jahres
Dice Tower
Value For Money

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Great value for money.
  • Accommodates up to eight players out of the box.
  • Easy to learn and fast to play.
  • The pyramid is a unique eye-catching centrepiece to the game.
  • Interesting and unpredictable game mechanics.

Might Not Like

  • No great strategy involved.
  • Larger games can include a fair amount of down time depending on the amount of thought players put into making their moves.
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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!

  • Ages 8+
  • 2-8 players
  • 20-30 minute playing time

 

In Camel Up two to eight players take on the role of eccentric Egyptian aristocrats, betting on camels racing around a pyramid. Whoever has the most money once one of the camels crosses the finish line wins. The game, which won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres in 2014, is designed for families and is both easy to learn and quick to play.

Mechanics

Camel Up introduces a unique stacking mechanic where both the turn order of the racing pieces and the distance they travel is very important. If a camel lands on a space occupied by another camel, it jumps on its back and hitches a free ride. This can lead to ridiculous racing towers of perfectly tessellating camels. It also adds a huge amount of unpredictability to the game – at any one point in a game the majority of camels could feasibly win the race.

Much of the fun and excitement comes from the unpredictability of the stacking mechanic. In my first game, the green camel looked like it was going to win from turn two, racing away from the rest of field. Fast forward 15 minutes, and the final moves of the game see the orange camel desperately catching green, and hopping onto its back.

Green then looks to sprint away, and just about gets to the finish line. But the free-riding orange camel stretches its neck out and crosses the line first (the camel on top of a stack always counts as being in front).

Winner, winner, (camel) dinner

But you’re not just betting on the overall winner – each race is broken down into legs, which end as soon as each camel has been moved. You earn almost as much money being the first to bet on the winning camel of each leg as you do by betting on the race winner. This is very clever as it means the whole race is hotly contested, rather than just the very end.

To get around the issue of live odds, Camel Up provides the first player to bet on the winner more money than the second player, who wins more than the third and so on. It works on the basis that clarity on the likely winner improves over time. The first player to place a bet on a camel is likely doing it with very little information and therefore should be receiving the longest odds.

Stacked against you

This works well most of the time. However it can simply reward the player who takes their turn after the player who likes to move the camels. As the first person able to respond to the improved clarity provided by a benefactor, the next player in line can cash in. This is only exacerbated in larger games with five or more players.

While we’re on the topic, one paltry gold for moving the camels doesn’t incentivise players to want to move the camels enough. Other players can win five gold plus from the extra information provided by a single camel’s movement.

Finally, aside from placing bets or moving the camels, players can place an oasis or mirage on the race track. This provides the player with a gold coin every time a camel stack lands on it, and also allows players to influence movement on the board. A mirage forces camels backwards while an oasis allows them to move on an extra space.

Components

Camel Up is very well made – it doesn’t feel like a cheap game. The pyramid, an eye-catching but functional centrepiece, must be built from a few pieces of card and an elastic band. A DIY pyramid sounds dodgy, but it fits together so well, it’s almost as solid as the real thing. The card components are thick and robust, while the camels themselves are a joy to stack atop one another, tessellating perfectly.

Out of Africa

As I’ve lived in the Middle East, I have to point out that the Bactrian (two hump) camels used in the game and artwork are confined to Central Asia. Only the dromedary (single hump) lives in Egypt.

The two humps clearly tessellate better, but I’m a stickler for accurate geographic distribution (which probably says all you need to know about me).

Final thoughts on Camel Up

But it wouldn’t be pharaoh of me to make too much of any gripes I have with the game – it is a fun and well-made family-friendly game. It doesn’t have to be played with kids either, a little imagination and a crate of beers could quickly turn Camel Up into a drinking game.

It’s a great light game with some neat mechanics, and a worthy addition to any games collection. At a low price it’s also an absolute bargain.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Great value for money.
  • Accommodates up to eight players out of the box.
  • Easy to learn and fast to play.
  • The pyramid is a unique eye-catching centrepiece to the game.
  • Interesting and unpredictable game mechanics.

Might not like

  • No great strategy involved.
  • Larger games can include a fair amount of down time depending on the amount of thought players put into making their moves.