Friday 10 February 2012

The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game review

 We received The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game to review before Christmas but, after having a quick look and finding it all a bit complicated and daunting, it got put to one side when the influx of Christmas toys took over. However, with all the cold weather, we've been playing more board games recently so we pulled it out to have a proper look. I was surprised to learn that this is a game that has been around for 21 years because, I must admit, I'd never heard of it before. It's designed for players aged 12+ so playing with 10-year-old Sophie (with 6-year-old Juliette wanting to join in) risked being a bit problematic.

At its most basic level, it's the same concept as most board games - you throw a dice to move your horse around the board, competing with other players to be the first to arrive at the finish line. To liven things up, you have a number of Really Nasty cards that allow you to nobble your opponents and cause mayhem, making riders fall at the different jumps so that they are eliminated from that race, demanding a steward's enquiry if you didn't win or making a horse start off facing the wrong way. This is the "nasty" part of the game because you can severely hamper the other players' chances of winning or get revenge on someone who caused havoc for you in an earlier race. The girls particularly liked using these cards !

But an important part of horse racing is betting and this is where things start getting complicated. I have never bet on a horse in my life, even for the Grand National, so I have absolutely no idea of how odds or betting slips work. Following the detailed instructions point by point is simple but quite laborious so, until you get the hang of things after playing a few times, be prepared for a game with lots of stopping-and-starting as you keep checking the rules.

The first thing to do is shuffle and lay out the cards to decide the order of the six races that will make up the game. Each player gets six horses, one for each race, and before play starts, you have to grade your horses from 1 to 6, with 1 being the best and 6 being the worst, deciding which horse to run in each race. The clever strategies have to come out straight away as you look at the prize money on offer, deciding whether to play a rubbish horse as an outsider with good odds in a high earning race to try to make the big money or play a good horse in a race with less prize money but better odds of winning.

The Lane Cards add an element of chance as you find out which lane your horse is running in, and the "stable entry" horse grade and lane number are used (with a handy table on the board itself) to calculate the odds of each horse. The Bookies' Board allows you to keep track of all these numbers which is just as well because it all gets a bit confusing, especially for younger players.

Now it's time to place your bets. Will you bet on your own horse to win or lose ? Will you go all out to sabotage your opponents so that you can win or bet on your opponents (especially if they are not the favourite to win so have good odds) and then nobble your own horse to make sure you lose ? It was really interesting for the girls to see that it wasn't always the owner of the winning horse who won the most money and, to be honest, we all still have a long way to go before we really understand how to place a good bet !

The girls had fun though - Juliette's job was banker (with a lot of help) and, as the only adult,  I played fairly nicely so that Sophie didn't get too stroppy if I kept sabotaging her ! I know we're not playing it 100% right but the first few times, you have to get a feel for how to play and how the betting and race strategies work. It's definitely a game that we will be able to play much more as the girls get older and that adults would also enjoy, and it certainly makes a change from the usual Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly for grown-up games evenings.

We played with two or three players, but I actually think it would be a lot more fun with more (up to a maximum of six) and some extra adults, who would understand all the finer points of betting and plotting.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £18.99

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  1. Sounds so much fun!! I'll have to see if I can find it to get them for Easter - we don't buy them eggs as they are way to dear for whats in them & lots of relatives insist on buying them all some anyhow, so we buy them a game or a DVD between them all last alot longer than the chocolate!

    I remember a friend of mine having a horse racing game when I was younger think it was Totoply or something similar, we loved playing it as like most girls we was into our horses & ponies.

    Loving the different slant on this one, the way you can nobble someone elses that will bring some laugh (& maybe a few tears!) in our household.

  2. Looks like it might be fun.

  3. sounds fun for a night in - my kids are too young but nothing to stop us adults!

  4. Sounds fun, yes, but a bit complicated to me...

  5. Goodness this sounds complex!! I quite fancy it but I am useless at working out odds and things so I think I would need a lot of help from the other half!

  6. I discovered this game about 10+ years ago... in that time if im invited to a dinner party etc im begged to bring it. Its so easy to understand if you do a practice game... lasts about an hour... and even if you are in last position come the final race... if you play abd gamble right you can emerge as overall winner... i play a lot of board games and seriously its the best around.


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