Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet!
I've been looking forward to trying this early Alan Moon effort... and our racing theme gave me the perfect opportunity.
First things first: this is about the Pony Express like Medieval Merchant is about 13th century trade in Europe... this is REALLY a horse racing/gambling game. (For the record, Medieval Merchant is a railroad or airlines game dressed up for a RenFair... I still like it, but it's in costume, for crying out loud.)
Second: it's a bit fiddly. The game begins with players adding cards to the 7 different horses, which not only change the betting odds on the horse, but also provide the horse with cards for the actual race. At the same time, players are betting on these same horses... and the player with the most riding on each horse at the end of the "poker" round ends up running the horse during the race. All of this is very clever... almost too clever. Mind you, I liked it, but it's a bit much to wrap your brain around the first time.
Third: the race itself is a lot of fun - the rules are simple enough to keep it moving while offering enough strategy to keep it interesting.
Fourth: I'm not sure how much you can really control what happens here... a couple of bad rolls by Jarrod late in the game doomed the yellow horse to finish out of the money - but except for those, he'd have probably won the game.
With all that said, I really enjoyed the game and would gladly play it again. Considering I paid DM 10 (about $5 American) for it, I've already got my money's worth!
All of us had two horses in the race except Jarrod, who had chosen to fight with me over the yellow horse (which I let him have). Bob had one horse blow two rolls early (thus dooming him to the glue factory) while I was doing pretty well with both my horses. A late game falter by Jarrod allowed the three horse right behind him to win. (We all forgot that we had a reroll card - so none of us used it!) The prize for first place is 15 chips (2nd = 10 chips, 3rd = 5 chips)... without this prize, the score would have been rather different (Shintaro - 21, Bob - 20, Mark - 19...)
Results: Mark Jackson 34 (and the first place horse) Shintaro Fukai 31 (and the second place horse) Bob Trezise 25 (and the third place horse) Jarrod Henry 3
Ratings: Shintaro 7, Mark & Jarrod 6, Bob 4