Friday, September 05, 2008

#68: Kameltreiber AG

Kameltreiber AG
  • designer: Heinz Meister
  • publisher: Schmidt Spiele
  • date: 1989
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/4.58
  • age: 6+
  • # of players: 2-5
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: $30.00 (Troll & Toad)
This is one of those times where the "conventional wisdom" of the Geek & I disagree - while I don't think that "Camel Drivers Inc." (a rough English paraphrase) is the be all & end all of kid games, I think it's a whole lot better than 4.58. Sheesh.

The designer, Heinz Meister, has a gift for taking pretty standard game ideas and coming up with really interesting games - in this case, he's taken a race game & powered it with a memory element - an EVIL memory element. See those number chips in the picture? They're double-sided, but not necessarily with the same number.

In order to move, you flip over one of the number chips & move your camel that many spaces forward. Land on a camel space, your turn is over. Land on an oasis & you get to turn over another number chip. Land on a snake, and you are moved to last place.

And rather than this being a "point A to point B" kind of race, this is a "pursuit" race, where players are eliminated by being lapped. (Yes, I know that it's become sort of "gamer lore" that player elimination is bad because it happens in Monopoly and everything that Monopoly did is bad because it's just bad, bad, bad with a capital B... but, as you can probably tell from my sarcasm, that ain't necessarily so.)

A nice design element in the game is that the race speeds up as players start to remember where various numbers are hidden, thus lengthening the distance they can move.

My son wasn't able to enjoy this game until the recommended age of six - I don't think it's so much an issue of age as it is an ability to handle the numbers and figuring out where you'll end up if you pick a particular number.

A final note: I'm curious how much this design affected the design of Chicken Cha Cha Cha.

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