30 July 2022
On the Right Track
If Long Shot: The Dice Game proves anything, it’s that you shouldn’t judge a board game by its theme. This latest title from designer Chris Handy (actually a streamlined roll-and-write-ish remix of his 2009 game Long Shot) takes place in the world of 1930s horse racing, with players betting on and/or buying horses while racing them around its dinky, cartoony track. It’s not a world that’ll be to every player’s taste – especially those of us who question the sport’s treatment of its equine participants, and the social cost of gambling on its outcomes. But even if you wouldn’t go within a mile of Ascot and couldn’t care less about the Grand National, you’d have to try hard not to enjoy this fast-paced, push-your-luck experience.
Each player gets their own brightly coloured player sheet, which they’ll scrawl on with a dry-erase marker. They’ll mark their bets on the eight competing horses, while also noting other bonuses, especially on the Bingo-like “concessions” grid, where a completed row or column of horse numbers earns a valuable boon. At the start, nobody owns any of the steeds, but each turn the active player will determine which advances around the track by rolling two dice: one (eight-sided) to select which horse moves, and one (six-sided) to determine how far. One or more other horses may edge forward a space, too, if they’ve been marked for “secondary movement” on the active horse’s card. Then all players take it in turns to perform an action connected to that horse.
You might want to place a bet (of up to $3 per go) on it. Or you might want to purchase the horse, gaining its card and unique power, plus some bonus cash if it places first, second or third by the game’s end. But you can also mark an “X” on its “Helmet” space to allow you to continue placing bets on the horse after it passes the “no-bet” line on the track; or mark its “Jersey” space to add an “X” of your own on any horse card (this will increase the chances of your chosen horse benefitting from secondary movement).
Then there are the aforementioned concessions. This is where the fun really happens. As well as getting to add more cash or place free bets, if things aren’t going your chosen horses’ way, you can always score a concession which allows you to boost its movement. Or, conversely, move another horse (or two) back. This means the game, despite its subtitle, isn’t simply a matter of rolling dice and reacting to the results. You can really mess with the action, pulling seeming sure bets back from the finish line at the last minute, or nudging a dark horse towards victory.
It might sound like there’s a lot going on, but the game flows smoothly and surely, and it’s very easy to learn, too, making it ideal for any newcomers to your gaming group. It also scales faultlessly to different player counts, working as well with just two of you (or a solo player) as it does with a table-crowding eight. This flexibility, combined with its potential for delivering sudden, thrilling reversals of fortune (or misfortune) on the track, make Long Shot: The Dice Game a real winner.
PLAY IT? MUST-PLAY
A fast, fun game of racing, betting and doing everything in your power to swing the action in your favour. So good, you’ll enjoy it even if you don’t like horse racing.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED THE QUACKS OF QUEDLINBURG…
Thematically and mechanically Long Shot is completely different from Quacks, but in terms of accessibility and the enjoyability of its luck-pushing, it’s sure to appeal to the same crowd.
Designer: Chris Handy
Time: 25 minutes
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This review came from Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
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