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Subject: Gaming with my Girls - Part XXI: Long Shot rss

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Brian Homan
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This is part twenty-one in a series of reviews that I am writing about the games that my family plays, why we love them and what you should know before making a purchase. I have three unique daughters, ages 12, 10 and 7 who love to play games with me, and a wife who sometimes likes to join in. We also have a new addition to the family: one of Kristin's co-workers, Marisa, is now living in our basement and she's made it her goal to play each and every one of my games. Who am I to argue with her? Finding games that we all enjoy can be a challenge, so I am constantly trying to introduce more games to the family to build a collection that we can all appreciate. Today's review:
Long Shot



I made a trade last month with one of our fellow geeks to get rid of some games that weren't getting played in favor of a few that I thought my family would enjoy. Long Shot was one of the games that I received, and I was not disappointed.

I'll admit, I was a little skeptical about this game before I played it. I had previously owned and played Winner's Circle, which was okay but lacking something. I never felt there was much tension in Winner's Circle, nor did I feel very invested in the game while playing it. I understood what it was trying to do, but it fell short of it's goal in my opinion. I was hoping to not have a similar experience with Long Shot. Upon opening Long shot, I noticed some nice cardboard and plastic components. There are ten plastic horses (in a few different colors) which need to have their numbered stickers applied to distinguish one from another during the race. Two sets of stickers are included, just in case something happens to the first. Several sets of betting tokens and re-roll tokens are also included and made out of nice thick cardboard. The board is nicely presented, though nothing special to look at. At two corners of the board are turn instructions as a reminder to players. There are also ten horse cards, a large deck of Long Shot cards, a stack of paper money shake, a movement die and a horse die.

Setup
Place all ten horses on the track in numerical order. Shuffle the Long Shot cards and give three to each player. Give each player a reroll token and (optionally) a set of betting tokens. Give each player $25 and then have them roll the horse die to see who goes first.



Gameplay
A turn consists of four phases:
1. Horse Effects

Each horse has a horse effect that must be checked at the beginning of its owner's turn. These effects may help a horse's movement, or gain the owner additional cards or money. Every horse has a different effect, so be sure to know what a horse's effect is prior to purchasing it.


2. Horse Movement

The active player rolls both the horse die and the movement die. The indicated horse then moves that many spaces around the track. The movement die contains one zero, four ones and one three. Most of the time the horse move only one space, but some horses can get a charge going and really make things interesting.

If a player does not like a the number that was rolled on one of the dice, she may use her re-roll token to roll one of the dice again. the second result must be used. Each player gets only one re-roll token for the whole game, so make sure you use it wisely.

In addition to the movement of the horse indicated on the horse die, the horses owned by the active player might also move one space this turn. The active player needs to check the movement bar of each horse that he owns. If the number rolled on the horse die matches a number on the movement bar, then that horse also gets to move one space this turn. Keep in mind that this special movement only affects the horses owned by the active player on their turn. Other players horses are unaffected.

3. Take an Action

The active player may now take one of four actions:

a. Play a Long Shot card
b. Buy an unowned horse
c. Bet $5 on any horse that is not in the "No Bets" area
d. Discard two Long Shot cards for $5

On a player's first turn, they should seriously consider buying a horse. Depending on how many people are playing, players may want to consider owning 2-3 horses over the course of the game to improve their chances of their horse winning the race.

Long Shot cards are a great way to get extra money, place larger bets and affect the movement of the horses in a non-random fashion. Some of these cards are horse specific and give the owner of that horse double the benefit if they are the one playing the card. Don't underestimate the power of these cards!

Betting is crucial in this game. If you don't bet on horses, you won't win. Your horse can finish first, netting you $100, but if you didn't bet on him then you've lost out on additional income. Worse yet, if your opponents did bet on your winning horse, they might win more money than you off of your own horse! When placing a bet, just slip the money that you are betting under the betting token of the horse you are betting on.

The last action is really only something you want to do when you can't do one of the other three options. If you're cash strapped, it's a way to get some scratch for the next round.

4. Draw a Long Shot Card

I'm not sure why, but people tend to forget this phase. Always remember to draw a card at the end of your turn. If you don't remember and you lose, it's your own fault.

Game End

After a player has completed her turn, she passes the dice to the next player and they take their turn. Play continues in this fashion until three horses have crossed the finish line. As horses cross the line, be sure to put them in the correct spots in the Winner's Circle.

Award the owner of each horse that crossed the line the amount indicated in the Winner's Circle: $100 for first place, $75 for second and $50 for third.

Next, payout bets made on the top three horses based on the odds indicated on the horse cards.

The player with the most money wins.


So what's so great about this game?

laughThis is horse racing done right. As mentioned earlier, I used to own Winner's Circle which got the basic idea down, but left out the fun and excitement. Long Shot is a big improvement. There is a random element, which there must be for this kind of game, but the Long Shot cards give you a bit more control over the outcome of the race.
thumbsupd10-8This puppy plays up to eight people, so even really large families can have some fun together. Many games get mired down with more players, but I have heard many people say that this game is more fun with more people. I have personally played this with 3-4 people and really enjoyed it. I believe it would be more fun with 6-8, but only if people took turns quickly (which should be the case)
bacon Gamers and non-gamers alike can enjoy this title. In fact, it could have non-gamers leaving the game saying, "So what else ya got?". That's bacon baby!
It's pretty cheap and widely available! You can find a copy online for $24-$35. If you catch it on Tanga, you might get it cheaper!
The components are pretty nice. The board is mostly just functional, but the horses, the cards, the betting chips and the dice are quite well done. There are two sets of stickers that come with the game, just in case they start falling off the horses.
It hits the sweet spot for length of play. If it was longer, it would drag out the race. If it were shorter, it would leave you wanting more. As it is, the game plays very well, usually has a tense finish and often leaves people wanting to play again.
It's perfect to play with kids 6 and up (if they are pretty good readers). A lot of times kids can get frustrated with strategy oriented games where they just can't compete with adults. This game helps to level the playing field a bit, and it keeps them engaged the whole time (well, most kids anyway).
The cards can be a little text heavy, but most of the information is pretty plainly presented. Once you become familiar with the different types of cards, everything flows very smoothly.

So what's not so great about this game?
cryThere will be gamers who try this game and really want to like it, but just don't. If you are one of those people who wants eminent control over your fate, then this game is probably not for you.
soblueThey give you two copies of the stickers because they don't stick to the horses very well! Also, the paper money is a bother and there's not enough of it. I believe you can print out some $50 bills for this game in the files section to alleviate this problem. Alternatively, you can just use poker chips, which would only add to the gambling atmosphere.
zombieIf you are a person with AP or know someone who is, then you should know that AP prone players should not play this game. Oh they might enjoy it just fine, but they will frustrate the tar out of everyone else who's playing! Turns are streamlined purposely to make them fast. With that in mind, it's best to plan what card you are going to play before it becomes your turn so the natural progression and tension of the game does not come to a screeching halt.

So what do we think about it?
Beka's (12) Opinion: I like the fact that it's more random, but it gives you some control. It's not all heavy strategy. Beka's Rating: 8.
Lindsay's (11) Opinion: It's a really fun racing game that is different than any other game we have. I really like this one. Lindsay's Rating: 9.
Abby's (7) Opinion: I like owning lots of horses, cuz the more horses you have, the better chance you have of winning. Abby's Rating: 8.
Marisa's (21) Opinion: It's fun, quick, easy and different every time. Marisa's Rating: Couldn't pin a number on it.
Kristin's Opinion: This is a fun, easy family game that moves pretty fast. It's also different than anything we have. Kristin's Rating: 8.5.
My Opinion: This game is excellent and fills a niche in my collection that was sadly lacking before. This is by far one of the better trades that I have made in terms of receiving a game that is loved by all and will see lots of play time in the future. I will play this anytime. My Rating: 9.

Overall Opinion: I have not only taught this game to my whole family, but have also taught it to my sister, my brother-in-law and my nephew. They all love it (or at least like it pretty well). The stickers are a bit annoying, but several users have taken to painting the numbers on their horses, with some pretty good success. Long Shot is the only board game we have that plays up to eight without having to resort to teams. It's perfect for parties and get-togethers, or just a fun evening with the family. I can't recommend this one enough. Overall Rating: 8.5.

My series of reviews can be found here.

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Jeff Kayati
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Excellent review of Long Shot. It's one of my favorite games to go to as a gateway, family, or party game. Always a good time.
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Jeff Wells
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Nice review. This is a game that my family and I enjoy as well. I myself have never used the paper money; I just get out my poker chips and play with those.
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Dean Gardiner
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Thanks for the review I also really enjoy this game and agree that poker chips are the way to go. We also use a House Rule with 6 or more players that you can place bets in between everyone's turn. This helps with the downtime and doesn't seem to affect game balance adversely.
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Brian Homan
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Long Shot » Forums » Reviews
Re: Gaming with my Girls - Part XXI: Long Shot
Thanks everyone for the kind comments! I really enjoy writing these (when I can) and hearing what others have to say as well.

gardinerdean wrote:
Thanks for the review I also really enjoy this game and agree that poker chips are the way to go. We also use a House Rule with 6 or more players that you can place bets in between everyone's turn. This helps with the downtime and doesn't seem to affect game balance adversely.


That's an interesting house rule. I will have to try that with my family the next time we play. I think that will definitely add to the tension and excitement.
 
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Kenneth Hon
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gardinerdean wrote:
We also use a House Rule with 6 or more players that you can place bets in between everyone's turn. This helps with the downtime and doesn't seem to affect game balance adversely.

That's an interesting house rule. I wonder if you find that this increases the importance of betting in contrast to ownership of horses? Per the original rule, each person can bet only $5 per round (except using cards), but if they can also place bets in between everyone's turn, would they have much more money on the horses by the end of the game?
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Brian Homan
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I find that most players don't have an extraordinary amount of cash on hand throughout the game, so betting that extra $5 or $10 between turns would place more emphasis on the betting, but not overtly so. That's really where the focus is intended anyway (in terms of strategy). Players with winning horses may have a slight advantage over other players, but I find this is often mitigated by players who bet a lot and bet wisely. If a 9-1 horse finishes first and you have $10 on him, then you made almost as much money on that horse as the owner did for a 1st place finish. That's pretty good for $10! If you're not maximizing your betting in this game, then you will likely get beaten by players who are.
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John Snow
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Great review. My family and I also love the game.

I don't mind the paper money so much. I think it adds to the theme of this game a bit, but it can be annoying. I have also run out of the money a few times.

As for the stickers, they definitely do not stay on well. I super-glued mine on and have had no problems. Annoying to have to do that, but that one-time minor annoyance should not keep anyone from getting into this game.

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M Hellyer
United States
Aurora
Illinois
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Excellent review, and fun to read. I've owned this game but haven't gotten to play it yet, I will try harder to do so now. My feelings about "Winners Circle" are the same -- it's a decent game, mostly I've played it solo and enjoyed it, but it does seem to lack some spark. Thanks for the great review of Long Shot!

PS. For another fun racing game that plays all the way up to 10 players, check out Formula De'. Fast and fun and fairly simple rules
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Brian Homan
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Thanks for your interest! I have thought about getting Formula De, but after the disaster that was Snow Tails, I am not sure. I would like to play it myself before buying it, just to get a feel for whether or not the family would enjoy it. Thanks for the suggestion, though!
 
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