Running with the Bulls review
Smash Up creator Paul Peterson takes dice-rolling as the leaping-off point for this accessible effort, using a healthy stock of coloured cubes to represent the racers and pursuing bovines participating in the titular chase through a thriving town.
Dice results dictate the direction of the human and bovine participants, leading them semi-randomly down ‘even’ and ‘odd’ paths towards a number of random destinations offering VP and other benefits for future rounds. Think of it as a tabletop version of those 2p arcade machines where you believe you can alter the result by banging on the glass – even if your attempts ultimately have little effect on the final outcome.
The results can be altered as players play a single action card at the start of each round, although, given the strong emphasis on luck and ubiquity of re-roll-focused cards, there appears to be very little opportunity to deliberately assist your runners.
Humans move first and are chased by bulls, with all runner dice being re-rolled upon meeting a charging toro – matching the upwards face on the bigger red die means elimination via trampling (even once runners make it to the bottom destinations) and the start of a new round.
The board is overwrought and crammed with visual Easter eggs to dig out, with the busy style (it reminded us of Where’s Wally?) making it quite hard-going on the eyes. This isn’t helped by the undersized spaces for the masses of dice, which quickly spill out into the surrounding illustrations – playing with smaller groups is recommended for intelligibility.
It’s quite exciting to roll the dice and see runners charged off the table, but as the rounds are extremely repetitive with no real feeling of being able to actually strategise – it’s essentially a bean machine with dice – this can quickly lead to boredom.
Publisher: Calliope Games
Genre: Dice rolling
Time: 40-60 mins
This review originally appeared in the April/May 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.