At a Glance: Camel Up lets you place bets on an unpredictable camel race…it’s loads of lighthearted fun.
Camel Up is a racing/betting game for 2-8 players where camels race around the track, and hop onto each other’s back, and players must bet on the outcomes. There are 5 camels and dice in 5 colors. The race is divided into “legs”, which means that all 5 dice are dropped out of a pyramid contraption. Players make bets for each leg of the race on who they think will be in the lead, and there is a greater payout for making the correct bet the quickest. Then all bets are paid off and another leg begins. Players can also make bets for the overall race though, by secretly placing cards down for both the camel they think will win and the camel they think will finish dead last. The first camel to cross the finish line ends the race immediately and players get rewarded for picking the correct winners (and losers). Players are able to affect the race a bit by placing Desert Tiles on the spaces on the track that could either make camels move forward or back one space. The player with the most money at the end is the winner.
As the camels race, if they land on a space that already has at least one camel, they hop on top and form a stack. I guess this is why the official name is Camel Up, but we still call it Camel Cup around our house, because it is a race after all, and that is how the letter design on the box suggests. Anytime a camel lower on the stack needs to move, it carries all camels on its back with it, so this creates a lot of unpredictability. Because of this and the Desert Tiles out on the track, there is not much point in predicting the overall winner and loser too early. But once the possible outcome gets clearer toward the end, you better be quick, because the bets tend to happen in an avalanche fashion. Especially in a larger player count, there could be a lot of bets placed before it comes back around to you. Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend playing with the full 8 players, even though it’s still fun. I think the sweet spot is about 5-6 players. There’s a whole lot of luck in this game, and strategy does not always pan out. It’s a lighthearted racing/betting game that is great for a fun-loving group.
The dice pyramid that drops out the dice one-by-one is a weirdly cool device that mostly works. The other components are really good, especially the solid wooden camels that satisfactorily stack on each other. The dice are also well-made and colorful. Everything has a lot of color and eye appeal. They have now released a 2nd edition that has a pop-up tree when you open the board…because why not?!
Nab this new edition before it goes out of print! https://amzn.to/2JP6nCM