Monday, 21 July 2008

Royal Turf

Royal Turf is a horse racing and gambling game. It consists of 3 races, and you try to win the most money by betting on horses. There are 7 horses in the game. You win money by betting on the first three that pass the finishing line, and you lose money if you have bet on the last horse. On your turn, you roll a die, and then move a horse. When you move a horse, you shift it's tile to indicate that it has moved. This horse cannot be moved again by anyone else until all other horses have also moved. Once all horses have moved, you reset the tiles, and all horses can move a second time.

Each horse has a movement tile with 4 icons and corresponding numbers. These 4 icons appear on the die. The horse head appears 3 times. The saddle, cap and horse shoe appear once each. After you roll the die, the icon on the die tells you which icon you must use for moving a horse. So the movement tile basically defines the characteristic of the horse. Some horses will likely move at a medium pace most of the time, e.g. head=4, saddle=5, cap=8, shoe=6. Some horses mostly moves slowly, but can have some unexpected and huge bursts, e.g. head=1, saddle=20, cap=3, shoe=1.

The game board. In this race the horses are quite spread apart. The tiles at the top define the characteristics of each horse. Horses which have moved have their tiles shifted slightly upwards. The table at the centre of the board is the payout table. Payout depends on the position of the horse (1st to 3rd only) and how many people have bet on it.

Close-up of race. These first 4 horses are very close to one another.

I played this with Han, Chong Sean and Simon at Carcasean. I don't remember which ruleset I used. There are 2 versions of this game, the other being called Winner's Circle, and the rules vary slightly, but the components are the same. I started very very badly, and never recovered from it. I actually managed to get in debt after the first race. In this game you get 4 betting tokens of values 0, 1, 1, 2 which you must place on different horses. In the first race, my 1 tokens were placed on horses that weren't in the top 3, and my 2 token was placed on the last horse. This is the worst possible outcome of a race. So I was $200 in the red. The biggest lesson I learned from that is try to avoid betting on a horse all by yourself. It will become the target of everyone else. There is some group psychology in this game, because of the hidden bets. Actually hidden bets is a variant, but Chong Sean told us it's much better to play this way.

Royal Turf is just an okay game for me (maybe because I lost very badly). There is definitely some group psychology in this. One interesting thing is the payout is less if there are many people betting on the same horse. Yet if you are the only person betting on a horse, it will be difficult for it to win in the first place. This is a light game suitable for new players, and I think it is good with larger groups.

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