This is a low-strategy game, and it’s fun. Frequently, my favorite part of gaming is testing new strategies. So, I generally prefer games with a lot of strategic choice or games with unique strategies. This game offers neither, but I enjoy playing it anyway. I can play this game with most groups and have a great time.
Each player is trying to make the most money by betting on a camel race.
How to Play
Roll all 5 dice, each die color matches the color of a camel. Put each camel onto the starting space dictated by its corresponding die. All camels with the same starting space must be placed on top of each other to form a “camel stack” (even a single camel is considered a camel stack). In setup, it does not matter which camel is on top. During the game, the camel on top of a stack is farther ahead then the camel(s) below it.
Each player selects a character and takes the matching set of 5 cards, matching obstacle tile, and 3 Egyptian Pounds (Victory Points).
The overall camel race is divided into multiple legs. A leg ends when every camel’s die has been rolled.
On a player’s turn, they must take 1 of 4 actions:
- Advance the camels
To advance the camels, the current player takes a pyramid tile worth 1 Egyptian pound. Then, they pick up the pyramid, shake it, place it face down on the board, push the insert so one die comes out, and then set that die aside. Finally, move the camel that matches the color of the die that many spaces forward. (Every die can roll a 1, 2, or 3 with a 1/3 chance of each.)
Any camels on top of that camel stay on top as it moves; this is a camel stack. If the camel stack ends its move in a space with another camel stack, put the stack that just moved on top. They are now a single camel stack.
Once all 5 dice have been rolled, the leg ends. Leg bets (explained below) are resolved, and then all 5 dice are put back in the pyramid for the next leg.
As soon as a camel stack crosses the finish line, the game immediately wraps up.
- Place your Obstacle
Each player has an obstacle tile that shows an oasis on one side and a mirage on the other. A player may place, move, and/or flip this tile as an action. An obstacle tile may not be immediately adjacent to another obstacle tile. Whenever a camel stack ends its movement on a tile, the tile’s owner gains 1 Egyptian Pound, and the camel stack moves.
If a camel stack ends its movement on an oasis side-up tile, that camel stack moves one more space forward. The camel stack would go on top of any camel stack in that space.
If a camel stack ends its movement on a mirage side-up tile, that camel stack moves one space backward. The camel stack would go underneath any camel stack already in that space.
- Take a Leg Bet
Bet which camel will be in first at the end of the leg by taking a tile of the matching color. The first bet for each color rewards 5 Egyptian Pounds, if that camel is in first at the end of the leg. The second bet rewards 3, and the third bet rewards 2. If that camel comes in second for the leg, that tile is worth only 1 Egyptian Pound. If it comes in third or worse, that tile loses you 1 Egyptian Pound. Once the leg is over, take your won Egyptian Pounds and then return the tiles for the next leg.
With regard to camel stacks, the camel on top is farther ahead than the camels below it.
- Place an Overall Race Bet
Place one of your cards representing a camel into one of two piles. If you think that camel will win the overall race, put it in the left pile. If you think that camel will lose the overall race, put it in the right pile. Each wrong bet will cost you 1 Egyptian Pound. However, the earliest correct bet rewards the most.
End of Game
As soon as a camel stack crosses the finish line, the game immediately wraps up. The current leg betting tiles are resolved. Then the race bets are resolved. Finally, the player with the most Egyptian Pounds is declared the winner.
This is a high-luck game; it is a betting game after all. Early, high-risk bets have the most potential gain. Later low-risk bets are less valuable but more guaranteed. The ideal bets in the game are when you can take a 5 on a color with a greater then 2/3 probability of success. For example, only the blue and orange camels have yet to move in this leg. Blue will win unless orange is rolled first, and it is a 3. So, you should generally pick blue to win (even if only the blue 3 and 2 bets are left.) I, on the other hand, would much rather pick orange, especially if the orange 5 bet is available.
I am a very competitive person. Also, I haven’t always been the best winner/loser. (I have gotten much better recently though.) Because of these things, Camel Up is perfect for me. I place those high-risk high-reward bets, and I really ham it up. I put a lot of effort into building the excitement and anticipation. (Admittedly I did have to force it a bit at first, but it comes naturally now.) So, if the fates align and I win the bet, it feels great for me. If I lose the bet, it feels really great for everyone else, and it doesn’t bother me much since it was a long shot anyways. In addition, not doing great in one leg doesn’t knock you out of the game. I am able to play to win, enhance the fun for myself and everyone else, and don’t really care if I lose.
The pyramid for rolling the dice works really well for this game, and the pyramid is pretty cool too. The art is great, and I really enjoy playing as essentially Nigel Thornberry from the old Thornberry cartoon. In addition, the camels stacking on top of each other is excellent. Gameplay wise, the camel stacks make for a lot of really interesting situations. One camel could be 6 spaces ahead of the last camel. Then, that last camel hops onto a stack. That stack then moves that camel twice, and now that last place camel is on top of the first place camel. Crazy stuff like that happens frequently.
If you are looking for a high-strategy game, this is not that game. It is, however, a really fun, high-luck experience that works with most groups and ages. This is actually the favorite game of my friend’s 8-year-old brother, and it is one of my dad’s favorite games as well. For me, it is one of the games I frequently break out with people new to gaming. I do recommend trying this game, but don’t expect rich strategy. (Obstacle placing can be pretty interesting though.)