I was looking for a fun (not just heads-down, deep-thinking), relatively short (30-45 minutes), interactive, simple game for up to eight players and came across Camel Up. After playing for the third time in one evening with our gaming cohorts, my wife said, “This is the most fun we’ve had with any game we’ve played in quite a while!” And I completely agree. It is exciting, it is strategic, it is filled with luck, and it’s a blast.
There are five camels racing around the track. Each player is a bettor. One of four actions can be taken each turn: roll a die to move a camel, bet on the winner of that leg, place your oasis/mirage tile, or bet on the overall race winner/loser. That’s it…but there is oh, so much more! This is my favorite aspect of the entire game: if a camel lands on the space of another camel, the moving camel is stacked on top of the other and is then higher ranked than the first. [Insert inappropriate comments and jokes here]. =-) If the camel at the bottom of a stack is moved, all camels on top of that camel move with it and remain ahead of the moving camel. If you think about it, there is a lot that this implies. It muddies up the relatively simple betting world and adds an incredibly fun twist. If a camel lands on an oasis tile, the player who laid the tile gets an Egyptian Pound (have the most at the end of the game to win), and the camel moves forward one space (and takes the lead if stacked). However, a mirage tile will move the camel back a space and underneath any existing camels. Use these tiles carefully to pull in a good stream of earnings while furthering or hindering camels depending on your bets.
Another really cool feature of Camel Up is the dice-rolling pyramid. You put all five dice inside this pyramid at the beginning of each leg. When a player chooses to move a camel for his action, he takes the pyramid, gives it a little shake, flips it upside down, pushes the slider which only allows space enough for a single die to be released, then lifts it up to reveal the die. My 10-year-old nephew rolled almost every time because he thought it was so fun just to use the pyramid.
The most fun comes when all eggs are placed in one basket, someone flips over the pyramid to roll a die, everyone is muttering something like, “Come on…come on…yellow 2…yellow 2…,” followed by yells of success or groans of failure. =-) It is a very fun game which I give a solid 8.5.
Note: Since originally posting this review several years ago on a different site, Camel Up is solidly in our top 5 most frequently played party games. It never gets old! It’s a blast playing with veterans, and it is SO much fun to play with newbies. Hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.