Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game

We were sent The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game from University Games to try out.  As it is a game for ages 12 and up, I waited until I could get my grown-up nephew and my parents to help with the review.

The game is based on the world of horse racing where you compete in a series of races hoping to get to the end with the most cash!  To come out triumphant though, you have to do your best scheming, conniving and plotting to bring down your opponents before they get you!

The game consists of the race board, horse and jockey playing pieces, lane cards, Really Nasty cards, a riderless horse to create havoc, a Bookie's board, betting slips and a dice, pencil, pen and money. The object of the game is to win the most money at the race meeting and this can be done in one of two ways. Firstly, by getting your horse placed first, second or third in the race and secondly, by placing bets on winning horses.

Each player (up to six players) gets a number of Really Nasty cards, £20,000 cash and of course, a betting slip. The game lasts for a race meeting of six races. Each player gets six horses, one for each race. The horses are graded 1 to 6, with1 being the best horse and 6 being the worst horse. Before racing starts each owner has to decide which race each horse will run.  Then after picking which lane they will run in, the odds are calculated using a chart on the race board.  You then get to place your bets and put them in the middle of the board.  You don't have to back your own horse to win, you can strategise and back an outsider, then do your nastiest best to nobble the other horses in the race!

The horse that draws the inside lane starts. Movement is decided by a throw of the dice: one length for each spot on the dice. There are rules that control the manner of racing as well, such as changing lanes, cornering and blocking, plus the special Early Pace, Quicken Up and Finish Well sections that give extra momentum for some horses. 

The set of mischief cards helps players create havoc with the other horses and riders in the race.  Horses can be made to fall at fences and unseat riders.  You can launch a steward's enquiry or demand photo finishes.  You can sabotage other horses' victories to ensure the horse you are backing wins, or to make sure your horse wins the prize money in the race by coming in the top three. 

The rules and instructions were very long and seemed quite complicated.  To be honest they went completely over my mum and Kizzy's heads, but we proceeded with the game checking the card meanings and the rules as we went along.  We were all quite polite at first, but quickly saw the benefits of dirty tactics.

As soon as the Really Nasty Cards came into play, things got interesting.  My nephew Tom took great delight in blocking opponents and making horses fall at the fences.  My horse went out of the race taking a tumble at Beecher's Brook at the hands of Tom.  An unseated rider resulted in a riderless horse causing problems for the other horses in the race.

There were a lot of laughs and a lot of heckling as everyone tried to get to the finish line without falling off or losing their rider or getting hindered by the riderless horse.

It all came down to a two horse race by the end of the round.  My dad came from behind and enjoyed beating all the other horses to become the winner of the Queen's Cup and take the prize money.

The first game of this took a long time as we tried to get to grips with how everything worked.  It is quite complicated.  You need a bit of an understanding of odds etc to be able to make an informed bet.  Deciding how best to play takes some skill.  You have to work out which horse to run in what race, whether to play to win or try to make money from the gambling.  Playing the Nasty Cards can be used to your best advantage with some clever plotting and you need a thick skin in case someone plays one against you.  You could be first across the line and still be disqualified with the throw of a dice from an opponent.  

As the game is played in six rounds it doesn't feel too long winded.  Each round involves skill but there is also a lot of luck involved, so anyone could take the prize pot or back the winning horse if they get lucky.  The game play gets easier as you get used to when best to use your Really Nasty Cards and what strategies work best for you.  

The game has an RRP of £18.99.  It is celebrating its 21st year and is considered something of a board gaming classic.  

It is definitely one for the grown-ups and older children.  I can imagine some heated races going on over the festive period.  I can imagine the addition of some seasonal tipples for the adults would add to the enjoyment factor!  It'd be like a fun day at the races...only much nastier!!


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