Time again for something light. Ted Cheatham dove into his bag of obscure goodies and brought out this mule racing game from Klee. It was new to all of us, so we had the great pleasure of listening to Ted explain the rules while using a mangled Mexican accent. The best part of the explanation was when Ted demonstrated the reaction of the runners (which includes both mules and men) when the first mule reaches the end of the track and turns around, heading back towards the start. The reaction? According to Ted, everyone must yell, " Holy Sh*t!"
The game is quite simple and definitely family fare. Players race mules and men to the end of the track and back. However, it has some interesting features, particularly in the determination of the winner. Depending upon the number of players, in addition to the mules, there are either 1 or 2 men in the race, each of a unique color. Each player guides either a mule or a man. On a turn, two color dice are rolled and the appropriate tokens moved forward. If two of the same color are rolled, then that token moves backwards one space. Simple enough so far.
The twist is that the next player may opt to keep intact one of the dice and only roll the remaining die. This subtle rules twist allows for some 'catch-up' ability, as well as some nice hoseage as it makes it possible to move one player's token on several consecutive turns if all players keep that die intact. This may sound like a good thing for the affected player, but in reality being the first to cross the finish line is NOT always the best occurrence. What? Well, the game has a very clever mechanism to determine the winner.
If you are the first player to have your token cross the finish line, then you only win if the last piece remaining on the track is a man piece. Otherwise, if the final piece remaining is a mule, then that player is the winner! So, you have to make a judgment during the game as to whether you want to try to finish first or last, then attempt to move the other pieces accordingly.
The problem, of course, is that you really don't have much control beyond the decision to keep a die intact and only roll one die on your turn. Still, the game was really fun to play, so much so that Mark Jackson, Craig Berg and I immediately wanted a copy. No, this isn't one with much depth, but it will make for an excellent filler and family game.
Craig won this one by being the final mule on the track.
Ratings: Craig 8, Mark 8, Greg 7, Ted 7
Please note that these ratings are for the type of game it is ... light and fun. It is genre specific and not meant to be a comparison against more 'meatier' games.