A preview copy of this game was provided by Perplext, upon Patrick Hiller’s request.
Patrick: I’ve been playing Chris Handy’s Long Shot for a long time. It’s a favorite in our game group as we can start off or end the night with it, because it plays well with large groups. When you told me that Chris Handy’s publishing company, Perplext, offered Punchboard Media a preview copy of the roll-and-write version of this game, I was pretty thrilled. Are you familiar with the original Long Shot, or the Roland Wright: The Dice Game that he did?
Eric: I have not played either of those, no. So although I have played my fair share of roll-and-writes, and roll-and-write spin-offs based on existing board games (Kingdomino Duel, Corinth, Rajas of the Ganges: The Dice Charmers, etc.), I came at Long Shot: The Dice Game fresh as far as that goes.
You received the preview copy, so tell us about the components before we get into the gameplay.
Patrick: I was impressed with how it looked. The game is in a sturdy box with a magnetic lid, similar to the last game I got on Kickstarter from Perplext – Roland Wright. The various cards and player boards are all heavy, glossy stock that is meant to be wiped off. Roland Wright-branded dry-erase markers with erasers are provided. The chunky horse blocks, similar in style to the Burgle Bros. characters with the decorative art on the sides, are numbered on the top to make them easy to identify.
Eric: I love magnetic lids for games. Having now played both the original and this roll-and-write version, how do they compare?
Patrick: First, let me explain a bit about how it works for the readers. It plays quite similarly to the original — eight horses are lined up on the track, numbered 1-8, and are also available to purchase. A pair of dice are rolled. One is an eight-sided die with each face representing one of the horses, the other is a six-sided die that has faces from 1-3. So you might roll the two dice and get a purple 8 and a 2, which would move the purple #8 horse two spaces. Then you’d look at the bottom of the #8 horse’s card. Any other horses marked with an X on that card would also move a space.
The next bit is where the roll-and-write part of the game comes into play, and changes things from the base game. All players take an action of their choice using the face of the eight-sided die. Perhaps they fill in the matching color on the concession dice, or check off a box on the matching horse’s jockey or jersey, getting the corresponding reward. You can also bet on the matching horse or buy that horse, if it’s still available, which will potentially improve your end game score.
After completing a row or column in the concessions area you get a reward — money, a free bet on a horse, a free horse purchase, advancing or slowing down a horse, etc. These reflect the cards in the original game. When you buy a horse, it has a special ability, and if it finishes the race in the top three, you get extra points. Betting allows you to get points if that horse wins, even if you don’t own it.
Once three horses cross the finish line the game ends. The top three horses’ owners get points based on how they placed. Players also get points based on how they bet on the horses, for having matching pairs of matching jockey helmets and jerseys, and for any remaining cash they have on hand.
Fortunately for me, in our game my two horses placed first and second, so that kind of locked in the win for me. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. What are your thoughts?
Eric: I mean, I’m not pleased that you bought the two winning horses and nearly doubled my score in that game, but that was smart playing on your part.
Patrick: I meant your overall thoughts on the game, not that specific play.
Eric: Oh, yeah. There’s a lot to like about Long Shot: The Dice Game, and I look forward to exploring it more. I think the eight horses each being unique, with different costs, chances of winning, and abilities, helps to make the game more interesting, and mimics actual real-life horse racing well. The game felt very tense at the end, and it really did come down to a photo finish. The dice definitely added a fair amount of randomness to the game, but it worked thematically with the horse racing theme. You can’t have a game about horse racing without a certain amount of luck involved, right?
Patrick: Do you think this is a racing game or a betting game?
Eric: I’m going to give you a non-answer answer and say both. With Camel Up, for example, you cannot own any of the camels, so that is clearly a betting game. With Rallyman, on the other hand, you can’t win unless your car wins, so it’s a true racing game. With this, like in Downforce, it’s a mix of both. You can buy a horse, which will earn you a lot of money if it wins, or even if it places, but you can also win without buying a horse by winning bets and earning money through other actions.
Circling back to the concessions area, did you feel that area was very strong, and where a lot of your actions went, until it filled up late in the game?
Patrick: It feels like the clear choice early on to get the bonus actions, particularly as it’s the only way to get a free horse or more money beyond the $12 you start with. I’ve also found after repeat plays that you do need to focus on helmets after it becomes clear who will win, so you can bet on those horses after they cross the no-bet line, and on jerseys to speed up the horses you own and/or have bets on.
Eric: So, yeah, my suspicion from my one play seems correct — allocating the dice to the concessions is strong, especially early on. But the other options — while possibly not as obvious — are also quite useful, especially if timed correctly.
What are your overall thoughts on the game?
Patrick: I think this is a good game for fans of the original, and for people who like roll-and-write games. I think this is not going to be for people that dislike randomness and that are bothered by not having a lot of control.
Eric: I feel it’s worth noting, given the current state of the world, that this game plays well over online video chat, which is, in fact, how we played. It also plays solo. I haven’t played the solo mode, but you have. What are your thoughts on Long Shot: The Dice Game as a solo experience?
Patrick: It was hard. The solo character has a board that takes actions based on the dice rolls. They start off with more money, buy lots of horses, and get away with breaking a lot of the rules like bots get to do. Otherwise it’s the same game — buying and betting on horses, and hoping you get a higher score than them.
Eric: Before we wrap up, I’ll reiterate that I’m really glad I got to play this with you, and I’m almost certainly going to pick it up. I’m always looking for lighter, quicker games that I can play solo, and with my family and friends, especially if it’s possible to play it with others remotely.
One final question for you, Patrick. Having played both the original Long Shot, and this roll-and-write take on it, which do you prefer?
Patrick: I’m leaning toward this version. Everyone taking an action each turn helps keep all players involved. The play is pretty similar and the original is nearly impossible to find so this should make people happy to get a hold of.
If you want to find out more check out the Kickstarter here.