Sunday, August 21, 2016

Camel Up

Camel Up or Camel Cup?  One the great debates of our time.

On the first race of the game I bet on the blue camel only to see him surpassed by his brethren.  I bet again on blue for race two, but he fell short.The third round I bet on blue as he was due.   Blue did not in fact win.  The 4th race I would have bet on him again, but he managed to eliminate himself from contention before I got a turn. There is a gambling lesson to be learned here.  Blue is a slow lazy camel.


Pegasus Spiele


Steffen Bogen

Elevator Pitch:

Bet on camels slowly racing around a track.

Personal Impression:

Camel Up won the precious Spiel des Jahre award for best family game.  While I don’t think it is as good as the runner-up from that year, Splendor, it is an entertaining game.  The ups and downs of the Camel race make for an entertaining experience.  Desert cards give players enough control to potentially nudge the results a bit.  The downside of this game was that it often felt like all the good options were taken before I got a turn in each round.  I only played with 7 people though, so I imagine this would be less of a concern with less players.

Good for People who Grew up Playing with

With toy cars that you raced across the living room and recorded elaborate statistics detailing which car went further without flipping… or was that just me?
Ease of Learning:

A straightforward and simple game that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to teach the basics.  Players have a limited number of options on their turn and none of them are difficult to understand.

Fidgety Index

Players don’t have many pieces to play with, but the toy factor is high,  The climbing camels are fun, and the dice rolling pyramid make it the preferred action choice of kids and child-like adults.

Universal Theme:

Who can’t relate to that time they raced camels.

Player Count and Length:

2-8  One of Camel Up’s main appeals is the large player range.  It probably is best with 4-5 participants, but is functional on all counts.  The expansion increases the max up to 10. With any player number it shouldn’t take more than 30-45 minutes to play.


Supercup adds several modules to lengthen the race, extend the player count, and add more player action options.

Spin Offs:


Introducing the Game to New Gamers: 

I suppose you can talk about the various probabilities of each camel winning.  For the most part though, this game is too simple, balanced, and chaotic for knowing what you are doing to be much of an advantage.


There is an app for IOS/android.  I haven’t tried it, but it has gotten reasonably positive reviews.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hosting A Game Night Part #1

We host a biweekly game night where we invite people over to play games and eat tastiness at our place. We started our game night about four years ago. Previous to that we had hosted game days every now and then, but not on a regular schedule. The direct impetus for starting a game night was that I was going to start having class on the night of my regular gaming. So if I didn't host my own gaming night, I might not to get to play at all. That would be sad. How would I know if I was superior to my brethren without games?

There were other reasons hosting a game night made sense. Previously deciding when to have gaming was just too stressful. What days worked best for us? What other event was going on? When should we send the invite? Was it too late? Would anyone come? Do we really feel like having people over? A regular game day doesn't fix all of those issues, but it does help.

Also, one of the things that I realized quickly with going to school at night is that it killed my will for social interaction. I was pretty sure if I didn't force myself to have some human contact, I might curl in a hole for three years. This proved true, there were plenty of times that I kind of hoped no one would show, so I could crash, though I was usually glad that it didn't happen.

There were lesser reasons too. It minimized confusion. Prior to this we had someone show up a week late to gaming once. It was weird. We are also, by nature, homebodies, preferring to have visitors then venture out into the cold dark world (or the hot bright one).  I was also acquiring a number of games that I hadn't gotten to play.  Without a dedicated game time, it is it difficult to get in those three plus hour heavy euros*

Also difficult with a game night.

So Cherry Gaming was born. We made it Friday night, as I wouldn't ever have classes then . Also, I don't mean to stereotype, but the venn diagram between gamers and bar hoppers has a minuscule inner circle. Now we just needed people to come.

Monday, August 8, 2016


I love the Olympics.  I love the Winter Games for bobsleds flying down mountains and speed skaters crashing* into competitors.  I love the Summer Games for its sheer size and scope of sports.  I love the pageantry, the stories, the talent, the competition. The opening ceremonies with their fascinating look at nations that I can never can find when playing 10 Days.  I love that, for two weeks, there is always sports on TV from when I wake up until I go to bed.   If I'm not interested in an event, I can change the channel and something else enthralling will be on.  Not that there are a whole lot of sports I won't watch.   I don't understand them all, but I'll watch them.  I'm currently viewing diving and I couldn't tell you what separates a good dive from a bad, except splash is bad.

*I'm hoping surfing adds some of the enjoyment of watching people fall to the summer games.

Sure there are the downsides.  The corruption, the cheating, the economic devastation that host cities have suffered*.  There are certainly better ways to run the games, perhaps having a permanent host city so the infrastructure doesn't have to be built each time.  All in all I think the Olympics does good though.  It is one of few things that bring most of the world together.  Countries forget their differences for a little bit while competing in Badminton and Archery.

*I was disappointed that Boston gave up its bid to host the Summer games.  Sure the crumbling infrastructure and bankrupt civil services can't support its current citizens let alone a large influx of tourists. It would have been an absolute disaster that would have taken the city decades to recover from, but still, it would have been fun. 

In the first couple of days I've seen table tennis, water polo, and volleyball, things I'd never watch any other time of year.  I've seen men and women's cycling with horrific crashed and stunning finishes.  I've caught up on four years of swimming, which is kind of like watching a T.V. show again after a long hiatus and being amazed at the unrealistic story-lines.  I've learned about rugby, which compacts the action of a 3 hour football game into a half hour game. My favorite sport though is beach volleyball, a game that is easy to follow and played with utter exuberance.  I'll happily watch anything* though as long as I have someone to root for.  And the Olympics always gives me someone to root for.  I live and die for an athlete that I hadn't heard of yesterday and will have forgotten about tomorrow.

*Okay, maybe not synchronized swimming, that is just weird.

My rooting interests are actually a bit convoluted.  I don't tend to root for Americans, because it feels like rooting for the Yankees, a team of heavy favorites who have all the advantages.  I also don't usually root for countries where athletes tend to be stoic, like Russia, Germany, and China.  I tend to root for for athletes in countries I want to visit.  I've never found a New Zealander I didn't like as well as Australian, Italian, and much of Western and Northern Europe.  I root for individuals whose success means a great deal to their countrymen.  Ginny Thrasher, who won the first U.S. metal of the games, was famous for a day.  Hoang Xuan Vinh, who won Vietnam's first ever gold, will be a national hero.  And of course, since it is the Olympics, I'll root for a particularly compelling story or charismatic contestant*, like the Syrian refugee who used her skills to tow a boat to safety over open water.

Or in the case of Katinka Hosszu, the contestant's exuberant husband.

I'm excited for what happens next.  Go that guy.  You can do it.