Some of Their Parts – Camel Up’s Pyramid

This series focuses on a small aspect of a game we love.

The worst thing about writing a post about Camel Up is that I have to go on record stating that I believe the name of the game is Camel Up and not Camel Cup. If you are in the Camel Cup camp I hope we can bet past this without getting all “Little-Endians” and “Big-Endians” about it.

I really enjoy Camel Up, so much so that I recently bought the Supercup expansion and I’m about to order some extravagant Camel Meeples form Meeple Source. I know what you’re thinking, if the expansion is called Supercup doesn’t that undeniably prove once and for all that the name of the game is Camel Cup?

The Pyramid is the first thing people are going to notice about the game when they’re introduced to it, mostly because the person showing them the game will say “Check out this unnecessary pyramid”. It’s also a major cause of anxiety when first opening the game as it comes flat packed with assembly required, cardboard is even less durable than most Ikea furniture so the possibility for errors is high. Just think of it as a bonus dexterity game you have to play before unlocking the main game.

It’s surprisingly easy for those playing for the first time to use the pyramid incorrectly and have a bit of anticlimactic moment. No matter how much you stress when teaching people the game new players will get excited when it’s their turn and forget to press it flat against the table causing all the dice to tumble out together.

So far, I’ve made this thing sound like a cause of worry, completely unnecessary and easy for players to make mistakes with. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a strangely titled and pointless take down of a popular family board game. So I’ll go on record as saying I love everything about this pyramid, I love showing it to people who haven’t played before, I love using it during the game and I especially love how much it makes Camel Up the game it is.

Imagine playing this game without the pyramid. I know what you’re thinking, you’d just use a cloth bag to pick dice out and then roll them. Or if you have no regard for decency, maybe you’d roll all the dice at once and then use the order they end up in as the order the camels move. You probably think it wouldn’t change the game that much. But you’d be very very wrong.

The pyramid is so good because it reveals the colour and the number on the dice to everyone at the same time but it also forces you to do this one dice at a time. If you rolled all the dice out you could quickly work out what was going to happen in the whole round. If you picked the dice out of a bag and rolled them then you’d know the colour before the number, causing the end result of the roll to be much less exciting. The reveal of the dice in Camel Up is such a central part of the fun and the real reason it can cause cheers or groans around the table is because of the reveal of both aspects of the dice at the same time.

If the pyramid had been a cloth bag, or almost any other solution other than the strange, hard to use pyramid we’ve ended up with then Camel Up would be a good game, the pyramid makes it a unique game and a great game.

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