Racing camels, what’s not to like, and that’s what you get with Camel Up. But will this port bring you joy or leave you with the hump?
I bet that you’ll like this lightweight game, which is fitting given that Camel Up is a race game which sees you betting on the results of a camel race and attempting to impact the results by attempting to aid camels you are rooting for while impeding those you are gambling finish last.
Each camel in Camel Up is represented by a corresponding coloured dice with pips 1-3 which is rolled once per round, this continues until the first camel has crossed the finish line. Players place bets on which camel they think will be in the lead at the end of each round as well as the overall winner and loser of the race with VP given based on correct bets as well as how early you made your predictions. The player with the most VP at the end of the race wins the game.
While Camel Up is a game based on the luck of the dice roll what makes the game interesting is not only your ability to impact the camels throughout the race by laying tiles which will either send the camel one additional space forward or backward when landed on but also how the camels interact with each other. Camels which land on the same tile as each other are stacked atop one another and are able to hitch a ride should a camel below them have their dice drawn to move. It is this movement which makes it difficult to gamble on who will win the race as camels can see their movement triple should they find themselves atop a large enough stack of camels.
The presentation of the game looks good with some interesting cartoon player markers and cute cartoon camels featuring, I was pleased to see the camel shaped meeples used rather than a cartoon camel on the game board. It’s a bit of a shame that the artwork in this game matches that of the older version and not that of the more recent reprint of the game which gave it a more up to date and sleeker look, however the developers can’t be blamed for choosing the more cartoon art style, particularly as I think this game would do well with a family audience. It’s an inevitable shame that the app version of this board game also can’t make use of the wonderful pyramid contraption that the physical game uses to select a dice at random each round but it’s a small price to pay to see this app ported onto my device.
Camel Up plays from 1 player all the way up to 8 on one device but unfortunately doesn’t provide any online multiplayer other than a global leaderboard. The game can be quite hectic with 8 players and you can often feel like you have no opportunity to win should you be in the 8th position and where the overall winner and round winner seems obvious early on. However gameplay is so quick that you can be starting a new round within 10 minutes so you shouldn’t have too long to wait before you can be back in with a chance to win. The AI has 3 difficulty levels however I found none of these to be a particular challenge even at the hardest level with the AI making some foolish decisions on who will win the round despite it being mathematically impossible for their bet to win.
Overall Camel Up is a fun filler game to play on an app, it is lightweight and something that will probably appeal more to families looking for a hectic yet simple pass and play game than a serious gamer. Thankfully the game moves along at such a pace that it never takes long to finish a game so even though with the higher player counts you can find yourself out of contention before the game really starts you can rest assured that the game will be over before too long. A fun and lightweight game but not one that is going to fill a whole evenings worth of repeat playing.