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Subject: Roll and Move, but with Horses rss

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Zach May
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Long Shots is a game about horse racing. Player's purchase horses, place bets and play cards to get their horses across the line first. Now, horse racing can be pretty exciting. Unfortunately, this game feels more like mucking the stalls.

The game works as follows: the game follows the course of a single race. There are 10 horses, each unowned at the start. On a player's turn he or she rolls the two movement dice. One specifies which horse(s) move, the other says how far. Then that player can: (1) Play a card, (2) place a $5 bet on any horse, (3) buy a horse, or (4) discard two cards to take $5 from the bank. Then the player draws a card and the turn moves to the next player.

Each horse costs a certain amount of money, from $10 to $25 and if a horse you own wins you get $100, $75 for place, and $50 for show.

Each horse always gets to move when its number comes up, but each horse also has a list of other horse numbers that, if rolled by the horse's owner, also result in movement. For example, if the 6 horse lists 1, 7, 8, and 9, a 6 rolled by any player lets it move, but 6 also gets to move on its owner's turn if any of the other numbers gets rolled.

The more expensive horses have more numbers, so they are more likely to get to move. Thus, the payouts for bets on these horses are lower. Horses also have special abilities that come up from time to time throughout the game.

But all these little wrinkles fail to hide that sad truth. This is really just a roll-and-move game. You can try to buy up the most expensive horse, hoping for a big win/place/show bonus, but even the best horse is useless without the dice rolls to keep it moving.

Up to a certain point, you build up bets on any or all of the horses, but you have to use a whole turn to add $5 to your wager. So if you want any kind of reasonable payout, you can only bet on a couple of horses. And if their numbers don't get rolled...

Well, there are the cards, right? Well, I guess. But these don't really help.

For a game this frustratingly random, there's a huge screw-factor in the effects of these cards. Oh look, your horse just burst into the lead! What a luckly roll! Then the next three player's blast him with cards into last place. Your horse just lost the race--because you got a good roll!

There are also a large number of cards with valuable effects--if you own the specific horse. For example, for each horse, there is a card that will give you like a decent amount of money if you own that horse. If not, the card is only slightly better than a blank (which you could discard with another card for $5). It's really frustrating to draw a ton of useless garbage for your one card draw per turn.

Mechanically, there's a lot going on here. The horse abilities can be surprising, there's a decent amount of variety in the cards, etc. But it's all a lot of empty mechanical noise obscuring a really frustrating roll-and-mover.

Let me also mention the theme. I'm typically not one to nitpick in this regard, but the whole idea of buying horses and placing bets during the race is rather dumb. The game does push you to buy and bet early, but come on. If I could wait to place my bet until after I see which horses stumble at the gate, my winnings at the track would be much better.

As an aside, it would also be cool if the game implemented an actual paramutuel wagering system. That would make betting a far more interesting exercise, where smart players can make value bets and play the odds. The current system just seems like a shot in the dark.

Ultimately, Long Shot is an frustrating, overly long experience. Screw-you card play on top of a heavy dose of randomness is a mechanical kiss of death in my view. The one real game-play positive here is that there is excitement at the end, as with a real horse race, to see how your bets paid off.

But a real horse race is less than 2 minutes. Long Shot takes 45 for the same effect.

Ouch.




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Chris Norwood
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I totally and utterly agree.
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McDog
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Not for everybody I guess. I find it to be probably the funnest light game I own. Everybody I've shown it to has really liked it. Some strategy, some luck, exciting finishes most of the time.
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Robert
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Our gaming group has found that this is a fun "end of night" type of game. It also helps that it supports up to eight players. While I agree the mechanics are light, and it is, as you say - roll and move, it's still quite fun as a light party game.

Besides, where in real life are you going to find a horse you can buy for $10?
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Steve Duff
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It's a light, humourous, dice rolling race game. It's *supposed* to be random and unrealistic.

I never understand why some folks buy or play these games expecting strategy and realism.
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Doobermite
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You absolutely can alter the progress of certain horses through horse purchase and card play. Many times already I have successfully guided my horse to 1st or 2nd place. The randomness and uncertainty in the game increases the overall level of excitement , otherwise you might as well play be playing Chess with horses.

Long Shot has even more control than a real horse race.
If you go to a real track you can't strategically alter the horses' movements. However in Long Shot you can alter the horses' movements through skillful card play and lucky die rolls.

I simply love the constant betting throughout the game. Since it takes up an action to bet, you're torn between playing cards, buying horses, and betting. You know you should be betting and before you know it the horse you own is winning and you haven't bet anything yet.

We've been having fun with the game and continue to play it.

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Zach May
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I wasn't expecting this to be chess with horses, or anything of the sort. My primary complaint is that it puts you at the mercy of both the dice and the other players. A lucky roll and skillful card play help, but you're still in trouble if the rest of the table messes with your horse.

That combination of randomness and screwage is really, really frustrating to me and it's something I prefer to avoid in games. I went into this one blind, but had I known more about the game prior to sitting down, I definitely would have avoided this one.

As far as thematic issues, obviously a truly accurate representation of a single horse race would make for a very boring game. As I said in the review, I normally don't nitpick over thematic inconsistencies, but for whatever reason, they bothered me here.

I still maintain that an actual paramutuel betting system would make the game more interesting. Might be a good variant to try.
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Steve Sartain
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funkhauser wrote:
My primary complaint is that it puts you at the mercy of both the dice and the other players. A lucky roll and skillful card play help, but you're still in trouble if the rest of the table messes with your horse.


This statement makes no sense to me. Why count on your horse(s) at all? IF someone screws with your horse, bet on one of their front runners. If they mess with your horse again, then bet on their front runner again. They'll just be increasing your odds of winning the bet by screwing with your horse AND by moving theirs! I have won this game without any of my horses winning, placing or showing. Using cards at the right moment can also increase your odds greatly. I find that most players tend to use some cards right away and not save them for the optimal time to play. Also, I have nearly won this game without having bought a single horse (not a strategy I would recommend however).

Sorry, but from my perspective your review just seems like a lot of horse manure. This is a great (albeit light) game that will see many plays by most of us BGGers who own it or are lucky enough to know someone who owns it.
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Zach May
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vkandtj wrote:
Sorry, but from my perspective your review just seems like a lot of horse manure. This is a great (albeit light) game that will see many plays by most of us BGGers who own it or are lucky enough to know someone who owns it.


I have to say I'm a bit surprised at the strong reactions to my review. I don't begrudge anyone who enjoys the game, but it really rubbed me the wrong way.

vkandtj: Obviously you can bet on other people's horses, and I was successful doing just that when I played. But you're still at the mercy of the dice and other players.

In general, I don't doubt that there are nuances to this game that I didn't get immediately. That doesn't change the fact that I found the game really unenjoyable for the reasons I discuss above.
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Ryan Bruns
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I just picked up this game this week, and although I disagree I appreciate your take on the game, we need more of these reviews.

And, I guess being from Kentucky you have the real thing there.

Spiel On!
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Chris Norwood
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vkandtj wrote:
Why count on your horse(s) at all? IF someone screws with your horse, bet on one of their front runners. If they mess with your horse again, then bet on their front runner again...
Why own a horse if you're not going to "count" on it to some extent? Plus, many of the cards give you benefits (or extra benefits) based on owning specific horses (even though drawing those specific cards is yet another ridiculous matter of luck in this game).

And sure, you can always choose to bet on a horse, but that is always at the expense of not playing a card. And, since there is no real way to consistently control, influence, or predict the movement of any horse, even betting on the front-runner is only a blind guess as to how you think it may progress in the future.

I completely understand that Long Shot is supposed to be a light, party-ish game. But its 60 minute (or more, especially with a party-level number of players) playtime and several frustrating factors make it a total flop for me. I'd rather play absolutely any other race game that I've been exposed to (including Winner's Circle, Top Race, Cartagena, PitchCar, RoboRally, Giro Galoppo, Ave Caesar, and Wicked Witch's Way) rather than this clunker.
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McDog
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funkhauser wrote:
vkandtj wrote:
Sorry, but from my perspective your review just seems like a lot of horse manure. This is a great (albeit light) game that will see many plays by most of us BGGers who own it or are lucky enough to know someone who owns it.


I have to say I'm a bit surprised at the strong reactions to my review. I don't begrudge anyone who enjoys the game, but it really rubbed me the wrong way.

vkandtj: Obviously you can bet on other people's horses, and I was successful doing just that when I played. But you're still at the mercy of the dice and other players.

In general, I don't doubt that there are nuances to this game that I didn't get immediately. That doesn't change the fact that I found the game really unenjoyable for the reasons I discuss above.


I don't mind your review at all. If I were you I'd not play it anymore. I've played with everyone I know who games and they loved it. My daughter ran out and bought it after playing at my house and she taught it to her grandmother who isn't really into games and she liked it. That would be my mother and she has only played cards in the past. I played with my buddy, we usually play imperial, twilight struggle, le havre, agricola, etc....and he loved it.

To each his own...
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Bruce Bernard
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Certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, and this game will admittedly not appeal to people who are looking for a pure strategy game. My all time favorite game is Vinci, which I think is about as close to pure strategy as one can get in a non-abract game (although some would argue that it is abstract since the the empires being portrayed are fictional). But that's not the point. Ultimately my rating of a game is based on its "fun factor." Our group can play very serious games, i.e. we have done Napoleonic Wars several times. But tonight we had a group of 7 so we did Long Shot and had a blast. There was much excitement and anticipation with each roll of the dice. The races were all close and there is a lot of strategy involved; it is not a simple "roll and move" childrens game. The bottom line is if you are looking for some serious or intense gaming experience, this certainly isn't it. But if you are looking for some fun and laughter you won't go wrong here, especially if you like going to the races.
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@Chris Norwood and Zach May
im sorry but both you and Zach May have completely missed the point of this game

it is HORSE RACING GAME called LONG SHOT
meaning its trying to figure out through statistics and timing exactly who is going to win and maybe with a little luck you just might. There are no definite answers. Its not chess. Its supposed to be frustrating just like *drum roll* REAL HORSE RACING

There is a huge fun factor in this AND huge room for strategy. There are numerous things you can do to win that doesnt involve your horse placing first. If you cant figure any out then i'm sorry to say you're just not a good strategist.

Quote:
Obviously you can bet on other people's horses, and I was successful doing just that when I played. But you're still at the mercy of the dice and other players.


what board games have you been playing? every game that includes a pair of dice or interactive versus play will always be at the mercy of the two

I'm sorry but this review seems just that of a sore loser
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Chris Norwood
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Wow, I think he just called me stupid three different ways in that entry. Merry Christmas to me, then!

I will rebut with but one statement. I played the game and had absolutely no fun at all, so I don't like it. I'm sorry that my personal opinion of the game is apparently so incorrect, and I'll try to be a better person next time.

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Dale Prather
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I always appreciate a well constructed critical review of a game I'm thinking about buying. It's just as useful as a glowing review. In this case it helped in my decision to ultimately buy this game since so many people commented that it's a great game and not many people agreed with your reasons for it being a bad game.
I should be getting it tomorrow and I'm excited to try it. If I think about it, I'll post my impressions once I get a chance to play this weekend.

Thanks for your review. We need more like it.
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McDog
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dale12 wrote:
I always appreciate a well constructed critical review of a game I'm thinking about buying. It's just as useful as a glowing review. In this case it helped in my decision to ultimately buy this game since so many people commented that it's a great game and not many people agreed with your reasons for it being a bad game.
I should be getting it tomorrow and I'm excited to try it. If I think about it, I'll post my impressions once I get a chance to play this weekend.

Thanks for your review. We need more like it.



We played 2 games last Monday, had a great time. It's a light game that's heavy on fun.
 
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Don D.
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Longshot may accurately depict the luck and craziness of a horserace but that doesn't mean its not an obnoxious luck driven game nearly devoid of strategy....What's with this persistent notion on the geek that just because a game manages to accurately simulate or capture some real life event or occurrence we should overlook bad mechanics or change our minds about how much we enjoy it?? Poster a few posts above makes this argument and its mind numbing. Im going to design a game that accurately simulates the feel of waterboarding and you all had BETTER not complain that the game is no fun just because your opponent dumped a bucket of water on your face at the game store...

 
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John Snow
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Thanks for the review. Many valid points. This game is definitely not going to be for everyone. If you don't like not having control and some chaos in a game, this won't be very fun.

For me, I absolutely LOVE the game. I know it is in no way a realistic representation of a horse race, but I really think it conveys some of the feeling of being at a horse race. When I have played, people are cheering for their horse, cheering for horses on which they have bet, have screamed in agony, etc. It is just a blast with the right group and if you have the right mindset for the game, knowing what to expect. The manipulation of horses and luck factor of the dice can indeed be frustrating, but for me, in a game that focuses on betting, I want some randomness. I want people to bet on the wrong horses, and some to get lucky. That's what gambling is all about, and this game really conveys some of that fun, all without having to bet real money! I love that the game has many options. You can buy a horse and try to get prize money, or you can just sit back and bet on horses. You can do a combination of those things. You can try to screw with other horses (naturally with a chance that you might get screwed with as well). A fun game with a lot of choices, with the understanding that your choices may not pan out. But that's like a real horse race anyway. You never know the outcome.

I love strategy games as well (not that I would put Long Shot in the category of a complete party game; it does have some strategic elements; I am generally not a big fan of pure party games). But sometimes I am just in the mood for some hooting and hollering and some good old fashioned fun. For me, this game delivers that in abundance. I have had fun with both kids and adults. My seven year old daughter couldn't have been more excited when her horse, Wonder Bred, won the race last time we played (she didn't win the game, but that mattered little to her).

I highly recommend the game, but certainly understand that it will not be everyone's cup of tea.
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Ken Goad
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I love this game and I'm a Wargamer mainly. The way I view a playing is a series of races ( a season ) vs. single race, and in that you may find some comfort.

Now, what I haven't heard from anyone is the " psychological " aspect of this game and oh yeah, it's there!. Take it from a Wargamer it is there and if you take this game mindlessly / too lightly , you will certainly be beaten FAR more often than not even against any somewhat competent players.

Is it a light game?, sure it is, but there's more to it than most think ( even some of the ones who love it ), just because it's labeled light doesn't necessarily mean the strategy isn't there, I've seen some lighter wargames ( though my standard of a light wargame could be heavy for some ) that had tons of strategy in them. In some ways it takes on the form of a wargame: deception, manipulation, misdirections ( mindgames ) of which all can lead to some serious thought and all can be achieved without saying a single word ... it's all this game and then some. The last time I checked, it still takes skill to pull these traits of strategy / tactics off successfully. The fun factor is so high I don't think many think ( or care )about the strategy the game really has to offer. I've read about other Horse-racing games and though I haven't ever seen another one, they sound to me to be rife with boredom, I could be very wrong though.

The game is about maximizing what little you have as with other games and in life. Not to prematurely complain how unfair everything is, it's up to you to make yourself better at it. Not trying to be rude but did you not think that what your opponents were doing to you could be a bad move on their part. Work around problems and use their deficiencies against them.

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Chris Handy
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Wow Ken,

Some new and interesting insights. I appreciate it.

Long Shot for mobile coming in 2014!



 
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Ken Goad
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ChrisHandy wrote:
Wow Ken,

Some new and interesting insights. I appreciate it.

Long Shot for mobile coming in 2014!



You're very welcome Chris. I had to edit that post just to clean up some things and make it more clearer. I had company and was being well, pestered while writing the original. And I thank you for the game. I really have some amazing stories ( actually one that I can remember in detail ) on this game .... unbelievable LONG SHOTS! And that one story has to be in at least my top 5 game experiences I've ever played in all my MANY years of playing games. And I thank you for that!
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Chris Handy
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That's great to hear. I've certainly experienced some great times with this game too. But please, share your story. Maybe share as a new post. This is the kind of positive stuff I like to see for any game...especially as we seasoned gamers are getting so picky and exact in our gaming experiences, sometimes missing the whole point.

Hoping you'll share.
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