Camel Up originally came out in 2014 and now a shiny new edition has been released by publisher eggertspiele. As with the original edition, this second edition lists Steffen Bogen as the designer and Chris Quilliams as the man behind the artwork. One slight change from the offset is that Camel Up 2.0 is a 3 – 8 player game, while the original had 2 – 8 on the box. Has the new lick of paint and plastic done enough to make current owners want to upgrade or is this more a slightly nicer set for new gamers? Let’s find out!
Editor’s Note: This is a comparison between the first and second editions of Camel Up, including the new content. For a review of how the game plays check out our review of the first edition here.
The biggest addition to the game comes in the form of a pair of crazy camels. These are black and white coloured camels that go the wrong way around the track, potentially taking racers backwards with them. While they cannot be bet on they can still influence the race. A grey dice is placed in the pyramid alongside the dice for the racers. This special grey dice has numbers in white and black on it, and whichever is showing when it is rolled indicates which crazy camel to move and how far. They aren’t instantly “in play” despite always being on the board. Starting at the finish line, it takes a few rounds for the normal and crazy camels to get to a similar section of the track.
The crazy camels add another element of randomness into the mix but the original was not exactly a game to play if you didn’t like the camel based chaos. While not written in the rulebook as such, they feel like a micro-expansion or a module that new players could leave out for an initial play. I’d suggest this as they have a couple of rule exceptions as to which one moves. For instance, if only one crazy camel has a racer on top it will move regardless of what is on the grey die when rolled. These rules exceptions aren’t complicated, and could be skipped, though they almost guarantee some impact from the crazy camels – for better or worse.
Borrowing an element from the Camel Up Supercup expansion, the second edition includes betting partnerships for when playing with 6+ players. Each player gets their character’s betting partnership card and at the beginning of each leg places it face up, the available side, in front of themselves. A new action is available as long as you have your available card in front of you. On your turn, you can trade your partnership card with another player, which sees both cards exchanged and flipped to the partnered (unavailable) side. Note that these partnerships cannot be refused. When it comes to scoring the leg both players in the partnership can score one of their partners betting or pyramid tickets as a bonus. All partnership cards are then returned to their respective owners before the next leg of the race begins.
The desert tiles of old have almost been left alone, only changing to being referred to as cheering tokens. When placed they are now put on the cheering or booing side, though they mechanically work just as the oasis and mirage sides from the original. These interact with the new crazy camels in the way you’d expect them to, in the opposite direction to that of the normal racers.
The components are where the two versions really stand apart. The original edition opted more for wood and cardboard, whereas the new 2nd edition utilizes more plastic. Before playing I asked myself “how different can two pyramids used for dropping dice be”. Instantly, the new plastic pyramid feels more robust. There are no rubber bands to worry about breaking or going solid over time. The new internal catch system is also a big improvement. With the new editions pyramid it’s extremely rare for two dice to fall out, which was an issue players had to work around with the original. Then, there are little things like the dice fall out of the bottom of the pyramid, not the top. All in all, as the pyramid is one of the stars of the show to have seen an improvement is important.
Not every aspect is an improvement though. Showing that bigger isn’t always better, the new bigger board is at best on par. The two editions come with boards that are about the same thickness, which is okay but could have been an element to improve on. Coming with more board space an area of the new board is taken up by a pop up palm tree. It is a bit gimmicky and a branch is already bent, making the board look a little tacky. If the gimmick was needed why not include a separate cardboard standee style palm tree. This would also allow it to be moved to not interfere with players behind it from picking up betting tickets and blocking their view of the board. It feels the decision was made to give the board a wow factor when first opened, and it does to some extent – it just isn’t ideal for long term usage.
A few other changes have occurred in the plastic conversion. The camels are no longer wooden and are a touch smaller than before. They still stack very well with the W like hump design, so this comes down to a personal preference, if you’d side with the original or new edition. The money tokens have also become plastic. Being rather light in weight, the colour helps differentiate the two coins. Alas, it is harder to read what denominations the coins represent than on the old cardboard tokens.
The new edition also features smaller dice, which are also now plastic. They are an improvement though as they are more legible, especially the blue die where the black font on the old dice was hard to read in low light conditions. The betting & pyramid tickets are still cardboard and the cards for end of race betting are still cards. They all work just as they originally did. Aside from some graphical changes these are about the same, being easy to read at a glance – therefore they can’t really be deemed an improvement.
Compared to the original Camel Up the differences, with the new content, do make the second edition an upgrade. While the values on the coins are slightly harder to read and the pop up tree is an unfortunate gimmick, the new edition has made little improvements across the board – especially when it comes to the pyramid. For owners of the original edition, unless your copy is showing a lot of signs of wear and tear, the component improvements and the small additions don’t add up to be enough of a reason to chuck out the original. Nevertheless, for those that do not own the game the second edition is the version for you, and will provide many hours of entertainment!
(Editor’s Note: Camel Up 2.0 was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The game is currently available from local board game stores, some of which are reopening! Find your local store here.)