Tag Archives: Steffen Bogen

Up for the Cup! – Camel Up review

Combining his best investigative journalist hat with his wrestling singlet, Stuart returns to pass judgement on the latest addition to the line-up of Spiel des Jahres winners. While the favourite was undoubtedly Splendor, the crown was eventually taken by Camel Up – and here’s what The Judge has to say on the matter…

Camel Up COVER

Today’s review features a game that, since becoming an unlikely winner of the Spiel des Jahres prize in Germany, raised more questions than answers. I am here to resolve these questions.

1) Should this game have won against worthy rivals Concept and Splendor?

Yes. Concept is more of an activity (albeit an enjoyable one) than a competitive game – especially in so much as like one of my favourite party games Telestrations, dishing out points adds absolutely nothing to the fun of the to the proceedings. Splendor is fun, functional and quick, but it’s also dry. Like, “water biscuit that has spent six weeks in the trench left by a sand snake’s underbelly” dry. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t love it either. The winner of the prize is ultimately better than the other nominees.

2) Should this game sit alongside other former winners Carcassonne, Alhambra, Ticket to Ride, Dominion and Dixit as games that will stand the test of time and be fondly remembered in five or ten years’ time? Or will it fade like Quirkle, Keltis and Thurn & Taxis as footnotes “What? That won the SDJ?”

Time will tell, but my instinct is that very few people will be playing this year’s winner when the 2020 awards are announced. The same will not be true of Carc. Or TTR.

3) What the hell is the name of the game?

Camel Up!

Or Camel Cup!

Ok, I don’t know the answer to this one – but it definitely features Camels.

Camel (C)up is a game where 3-8 players adopt the identity of tourists or natives who bet on the multi-coloured camel racing that passes before them. On a turn, players will do one of four things:

  1. Draw a die from an awesome cardboard pyramid – then roll it to move a camel of that colour 1,2 or 3 spaces forward around the track.
  2. Take a token to bet on who will be the leading camel at the end of the current leg (a leg ending when each camel has moved)
  3. Add an oasis / desert tile which moves camels forward / back one space if they land on it
  4. Place a card to bet on who the overall winner of the race / overall loser of the race will be. More points will be awarded for the earlier you commit to a decision.

The twist, and much of the deduction, comes from the face that the camels stack up (Camel UP then, obviously) when they land on each other – and the camel on top is winning – and will therefore receive the championship cup if it crosses the line first (so it’s Camel Cup…obviously.)

So, blue is in last place – and no one is betting on him to win. If he moves first, though, and lands on the white camel and white then moves next and lands on the yellow camel (the current leader) then blue is in the lead. Deducing the odds, and having the foresight to bet early and bet big is the key to victory in Camel…. this camel racing game.

Camel Up PLAY

Beautifully produced, looks good, plays great – no wonder it took the crown!

So take this as a measured recommendation. The game pieces are of excellent quality – all the tiles are brightly coloured and clear. The odd cardboard pyramid of dice distribution is a more thematic version of a dice bag, and only adds to the toy factor – alongside the attractive and tactile stacking camel meeples (Cameeples!)

In summary – the game is great fun, if a little lightweight and somewhat disposable, but plays quickly (around 30 mins) and just as well with 8 as it does with 3 and also hits the criteria of a Spiel des Jahres winner of being easy to learn and more than suitable for families. If history is any indication, Christmas Day tea in many German homes will undoubtedly see some frantic Camel on Camel action this festive period.

(Michael – just check that last paragraph, worried there may be some innuendo I have missed? – Stuart) [No, you’re fine, I didn’t spot anything – Michael]

Camel Up (and it IS Camel Up, the designer said so!) was released by eggertspiel and designed by Stefen Bogen. Between two and eight can play with games taking about half an hour. Personally, I think this is a great addition to the SdJ award winner list and think that the dice-shaking pyramid is one of the best accessories around. If you fancy picking up a copy yourself, why not head to Gameslore where you can grab it for around £20! Bargain!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

There’s A Ghost In My House – Schnappt Hubi! review

HubiCOVER

Sometimes I wish I’d paid more attention in school during that single year I studied German. If I’d had a crystal ball and knew in advance just how much I’d enjoy playing games I would definitely have sacked off the three years of French (which ended up in a not so great grade, if I’m honest) and gone for The Official Language Of Gaming (TM) instead. Thankfully, I’m still always up for learning and am trying – slowly but surely – to pick up as much of the language as possible. Playing games helps a lot, of course, and it’s even better when the game actually talks back.

Now, I admit that I’m starting at a low(ish) level – Schnappt Hubi! from Ravensburger is a kids game, after all – but you still need to pay plenty of attention. It helps that it’s actually a very fun little blast that happened to pick up the 2012 Kinderspiel des Jahres; a worthy winner, in my opinion. Like a lot of games that seem to come out only in Germany that are aimed at the children’s market, it’s highly unlikely that this will ever see a release overseas but if you can find a copy I’d recommend you at least investigate it.

Between two and four can play this co-op where you have a two-fold objective, both of which involve hunting down a ghost called Hubi. First of all, players must explore the board using the included Magic Compass. This is a nice little device that talks to you during the game, letting you know whether or not your path is blocked and telling you what kind of walls are in your way. As you’re either moving mice or rabbits around Hubi’s house, different walls will affect you in different ways; rabbits can’t go through mouseholes, mice can’t hop over the much higher rabbit holes, for example. What you’re really looking for is to get two characters on either side of the magic doors that are hidden in the house – discover the right one and you’ll find the ghost.

How could you not want to play this? I mean, look at it! It's brilliant!

How could you not want to play this? I mean, look at it! It’s brilliant!

Now comes the second part of the game. On finding Hubi he’ll ask what you’re doing in his house medium of the Compass) then quickly run away, meaning that you need to find him all over again. This is a slightly different challenge though, as animals who are dotted around the floor of the house will give you hints on where he is. Get two of your pieces to the correct location before time runs out and you win the game. Simple!

It’s a very lovely thing indeed, and surprisingly challenging considering it’s a children’s game. Being a Ravensburger product you would expect incredibly high quality and Schnappt Hubi! really doesn’t disappoint. Little details like the mice being able to fit through the mouseholes are a mark of a great product. The art is charming, the various pieces are incredibly well made (the walls that make up the rooms are nice and chunky in particular) and the rules – from what I can make out at least – are nice and clear. Hell, if I can make them out with my limited grasp of the language, you can.

I’m delighted to have this as part of my collection. Sure, it’s far from the most complex game in the world but it’s an ideal way to cleanse the palate after a day of more hardcore stuff. Play this with a couple of kids and it comes into it’s own, promoting the idea of working together in order to achieve a common goal while simultaneously being a pile of fun to get into. I know that very few of you readers will actually get a chance to try this one out but should the opportunity ever arise, take it. I’ll definitely be bringing it along to some events to show it off and who knows? Maybe it’ll one day replace Loopin’ Louie as the Odd Convention Game of Choice! And hey, it’s helping me improve myself too – what more could you want?

Schnappt Hubi! was designed by Steffen Bogen and originally released by Ravensburger in Germany back in 2011. Between two and four can play and games will generally take you about 20-30 minutes. If you want to grab a copy, head on over to amazon.de where it’ll set you back around 30 Euros – well worth it, I reckon!

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews