This is a rather obscure horse racing and betting game from designer Walter Müller and released by Spielewerkstadte, the company that also released such games as Rette Sich Wer Kann and Flusspiraten. I had heard very little about the game through the years, but secured a copy at the Oasis of Fun back in June.
Five horses compete in a race, with players placing a total of three bets apiece on the horses during the course of the race. Bets placed earlier in the race yield a greater payoff if the horse places (1st, 2nd or 3rd). A series of races are run (we played four races – one for each player) and the player with the greatest total payoffs after four races was victorious.
The board depicts a typical horse race track, but with two adjacent oval tracks as opposed to the traditional one track. This simply serves as a means of keeping track of which horses have already moved on a particular turn. There are also two tracks: one for placing bets and the other listing the payoffs. The betting track has a column for each of the five horses, with five betting slots for each horse.
The rules are easy and short, fitting on the front on a single page of paper. The five horses are placed at the starting gate and each player receives three betting tokens.
Each player, in turn, will roll the die five times, moving a horse of his choice with each roll. Once a horse is moved, it is slid over onto the adjacent track and cannot be moved again until all of the remaining horses have been moved. Once a player moves all five horses, the next player then repeats this process. This continues until three of the horses have crossed the finish line, at which points payoffs are awarded.
Prior to each player taking their turn, all players have the opportunity to place a bet by placing one of their betting tokens onto the chart. The first bet placed on each horse is placed on the top circle, with all subsequent bets placed on a particular horse being placed on the next available spot. As mentioned, the bets that are on the top circle of a horse will payoff more than later bets on that horse, provided, of course, that the horse places! Thus, some of the major decisions to be made during the game are when and on which horses to place your three betting tokens.
When moving the horses, there are some interesting choices to be made. A high roll is usually immediately assigned to the horse wherein you have the highest-valued bet, but since you don’t roll five dice at once, you don’t know what you will roll each time. Thus, do you go ahead and assign that “4” to your favored horse, or wait and hope to get a higher roll? Further, since you must move every horse, you will be forced to move horses that have more bets on them from your opponents. Choosing which horse to assign a particular roll can be tough!
After a race, payoffs are rewarded for the top three horses. There is no currency provided in the game, so these must be recorded. After the prescribed number of races, the player with the most “money” wins.
The game is very light, but also very fun. The few decisions to be made aren’t terribly taxing, but are nonetheless significant. There is a degree of tension involved, as well as some good-natured chiding and ribbing. Another advantage is that the four race series played to completion in about 40 minutes. These factors should mean that the game will see regular table-time with our group.
Keith and traded top payoff spots in our first two races and were significantly ahead of both Jim and Spouey. Jim began charging hard in the final two races, however, but I managed to keep my winnings significant enough to hold him off for the victory.
Greg: 52 + 41 + 45 + 57 = 195
Jim: 40 + 12 + 64 + 65 = 181
Keith: 50 + 57 + 16 + 8 = 131
Spouey: 38 + 41 + 39 + 0 = 118
Ratings: Jim 7, Greg 6.5, Keith 6.5, Spouey 5.5
Big Fat Tony
Thanks,very well written, I think that I will like this game.