Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game Review

Reviewing a game that is 21 years old brings with it a share of pressure. After all, I’m only a few years older than the game, and it’s slightly worrying that an internationally loved board game may have achieved more in its life than I have.

Ignoring my identity crisis for a second I decided to take a neutral look at the game and treat it as a first time player. Can the game still compare today, or are its best races behind it?

The concept is certainly a sound one. Players compete over six races in order to win the most money by placing bets on the outcome. You can choose to either bet that you’ll come 1st, 2nd or 3rd or that a competitor will win, which makes things interesting. As you are rolling the dice, you are always moving forwards, so aiming to lose a race is much harder than it sounds.

You play the Really Nasty Horse Racing game on one of the biggest boards ever, which contains a race track – complete with jumps - betting stats and a winner’s podium. Each race plays like a basic board game, as you attempt to be the first (or last) over the finish line. Like any good board game there are also cards that can be played to affect players.

These cards are called “Really Nasty Cards” and include actions like: skip a turn, force a race restart, force a player to lose or make it so the 2nd placed horse wins. That’s just a few of the options, and you can use them on yourself or other players, depending on which horse you need to play better. It makes races highly unpredictable, and some of the possible outcomes are real wild cards that can destroy an entire race’s hard work in an instant.

Betting is done in secret, and is also based on how you score your horse from 1-6. These scores determine where you start on the board, and are another strategic factor. They also form the basis of your winnings, so you may choose to pick a horse with good odds, or bad odds, depending on whether you believe they are trying to win the race or not.

The benefit of having six races is that you can get revenge if someone causes you to lose money, by causing them problems in a later race. It’s also highly frustrating to bet on someone to win and then find out they’re trying to lose the race.

Playing the Really Nasty Horse Racing game is probably the most angry you’ll be playing a game, but it’s an anger born of fierce competition and double crosses. I always try and ruin other player’s chances on any game (be it Monopoly or Mario Kart) so for me the Really Nasty Horse Racing game is ideal.

Coming from the era of Monopoly, this isn’t a short game, with it taking up to 2 hours depending on the number of players. It’s also a complex game to explain initially (the 2 page instruction manual does a good job laying it out, but it’s a lot to run through and double check the first time around). I’d love to see a cue card that sums it down to 10 points, as it’s not that complicated at all when you distil the game down to the core points and learn what the cards do.

Although there are a lot of elements to the game, you don’t need an understanding of horse racing to play it. If you can understand Snakes and Ladders then you’re already there as it’s really just an enhanced version of that. Once you’ve played it once it’s a simple game with an excellent layer of deception that means no game is ever the same, and that family rivalries can really come to the fore.

Provided by University Games

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Every product on this site has been received for free, and given to me by the product manufacturer or their associated PR organisation in return for a review.

I have no other personal or business association with these companies, and all reviews are written truthfully and based on my own experience. If I hate a product I will say so (and have done on many occasions!).