Lots of games involve racing, but Camel Up from Z-Man Games focuses on betting on different parts of the race to earn the most pounds and win the game.  It also has a goofy game mechanic that makes the race pretty unpredictable.

Accommodating between 2 and 8 players, Camel Up players (who start with three pounds each) are betting on a race among five camels (blue, yellow, green, orange, and white) on a sixteen-space course around a pyramid.  An interesting mechanic is how the camels interact: If a camel moves forward and ends its move on the same space as another camel, the moving camel goes on top of the camel that was there.  If a camel with other camels on top of it moves, it carries all camels on top of it with it when it moves.  And in terms of race ranking, the highest camel in a stack is in the lead, then the next-highest camel, and so on.

On each turn, players can take one of four actions.  They can place an Desert tile (Oasis or Mirage side) on the race track, an an empty space that isn't adjacent to another tile.  If a camel lands on an Oasis, the player who owns it gets a pound and the camel moves forward one space.  If a camel lands on a Mirage, the owning player gets a pound and the camel moves backwards; if the move back puts the camel on the same space as another camel, the moving camel goes on the bottom of the stack.
Players can bet on the Leg of the race (when all five dice have been rolled) or the race's ultimate winner or loser.  To bet on a Leg, a player takes the top available Leg betting tile from the board.  The highest tile gives five pounds if that colored camel comes in first on the Leg, one pound if it comes in second, and loses a pound if the camel comes in third or worse.  The next tile gives three pounds for winning, and the last one gives two pounds for victory.  Players can also use one of their five colored cards to bet on the winner or loser of the race.  These are placed face-down on the board and rewarded when the race ends. 
And since camels have to move, players can take one of the five pyramid tiles.  When this is selected,  the player takes the pyramid, shakes it, and releases one die (numbered from 1 to 3).  The camel matching the die color moves ahead that many spaces, and the die goes on the board.  When all five dice have been rolled, the Leg scoring round happens. Players get or lose pounds bases on their Leg betting tiles; players also earn a pound for each pyramid tile they had.  After these are all resolved, the Leg betting tiles are returned to the board and all the dice go back in the pyramid.

When a camel or stack of camels passes the finish line, two things happen.  There's a final Leg scoring round, then the bets for the overall winner and overall loser are resolved.  Awarded in the order of correct bets, the correct bets get eight, five, three, two, and one pounds, for both the first-place and last-place bets; incorrect bets lose the player a pound for each bet.  After that, the player with the most pounds is the victor!

Camel Up is a very simple, fun, and unpredictable game.  Since the camels all move between 1 and 3 spaces, it's rare for a camel to be so far ahead it can never be caught by the others; and it's easy for a camel in the lead to find itself on the bottom of a stack of camels, almost certainly ruining its chances for victory.  The betting system rewards those who bet first, but penalizes those whose bets are incorrect.  And earning pounds through the Desert or pyramid tiles are slow and steady, but not as rewarding as correct bets.  Plus who wouldn't like large piles of multi-colored camels standing on top of each other?  Camel Up is a whole lot of fun for pretty much all ages.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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