i came away quite impressed with Long Shot: the Dice Game, a roll & write title that supports up to 8 players (though i’m not sure you’d want it to…?) The game appeared on my Top Ten New Board Games of 2021 list, and you can even watch me play it in my cute little green visor. Here’s a video rulebook to teach the game:
Hi – it’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and this is Long Shot: The Dice game, a horse racing roll n’ write for 1 to 8 players. Perplext has asked me to teach you how to play, so let’s get into it!
It’s a beautiful day at the races in a UPA-style 1930’s racetrack with 8 horses lined up at the post. Each horse is represented on a different card. You and your friends will take turns rolling the dice to send the ponies trotting around the track, all while placing bets on them on your dry erase player boards. You can buy helmets and jerseys for each horse to get extra benefits, you can mark the coins in your concession stand to get special powers to influence the race, and you can even buy the horses while they’re racing in the hopes of raking in big money in the winner’s circle. When the first three horses cross the finish line, you tally up all the money you’ve earned, and the richest player wins!
The horses are numbered in order of their favour to win. Horse #1 is on the inside of the track and has a shorter distance to travel, while horse #8 is on the outside, so that horse has the greatest odds – the long shot. Beginning with the start player and going clockwise, the active player rolls 2 dice – an 8-sided die and a 6-sided die. The 8-sided die tells you which horse will move, and the green die tells you how many spaces it will go.
But each horse is connected to one of these cards, and the cards have x’s on other horses. Those x’s tell you which other horses will move along with that horse. So if horse #1, Chain Reaction, moves any number of spaces, then horse #6, Miracle Worker, will move 1 space as well. You always move the horses in order from the lowest number to the highest number.
Only the active player rolls the dice, but all players get to take an action.
The suite of actions you can take is here. Everyone picks one action, performs it, and then the dice get passed to the next player going clockwise.
Here’s what the actions do.
The action you’re performing is always in relation to the horse number that was rolled.
So if horse 4, Early Bird Special, was rolled, and you choose to take the Buy Horse action, you’re buying Early Bird Special. Decrement your cash by the cost of the horse, and take the card. Each horse you buy gives you a special ability, and if a horse you own ends up in the winner’s circle, you get a cash bonus at the end of the race. You’re not allowed to buy a horse that’s already finished the race, and you can’t buy a horse that someone else owns.
By taking the bet action, you can bet up to 3 bucks on the horse that just moved. Again, decrement your money and write the amount you’re betting in that horse’s square. If you’ve already bet on that horse in a previous turn, you can increase your existing bet.
If you buy a jersey for the horse that just moved, place a little X in its jersey space. Then, you get to place an X on that horse’s card to make it drag one of the other horses along with it whenever it moves. So if there’s a horse you’re favouring, you can increase its odds of winning by lashing its movement to other horses.
If you buy the helmet for the horse that just moved, mark an X in its helmet space. There’s this red “no bet” line on the racetrack- once a horse has crossed that line, you’re no longer allowed to bet on it because it’s too close to the end of the race. But if you own the helmet for that horse, you can break that rule, and bet on that horse on a future turn, even if it’s passed that line.
The most complex action is the first one in the list: the concession. If you take that action, you can cross out a coin in this array matching the number of the horse that just moved. If you manage to cross out a full row or a column, you get to pick one of these prizes below and cross it out:
Extra money up here
Free bets here – just increment your bet on any horse by 3 bucks without touching your cash-in-hand
Get any horse’s helmet or jersey here and here
Buy any available horse for free – you still can’t buy a horse that’s already finished the race, or a horse that someone else owns
And these spaces allow you to move one or two horses forward or back the indicated number of spaces.
A horse can only win the race from being moved by a dice roll, or through its secondary movement by having an X on another horse’s card. You can never send a horse to the winner’s circle by using one of these “move ahead” concession perks. So if #3 Scatter Shot was 2 spots from finishing, and you landed this concession perk, you could only move Scatter Shot 1 place, just behind the finish line.
You can’t use one of these abilities to move a horse backwards behind the finish line.
If you manage to complete more than one row or column in the concession stand in one go, you get to claim multiple prizes. You don’t get a prize for completing a diagonal.
Timing can be important in this game, so you should take your actions in turn order going clockwise from the active player. Once the third place horse crosses the finish line, no other horses can finish the race – the farthest they can go is to nose up against the line, even if their secondary movement or a certain player power would send them across the line.
The wild horseshoe spaces down here give you a little wiggle room. If you cross one off, you get to perform an action involving any horse – you’re not bound by the horse number that was just rolled. If you need to take a mulligan on your turn, you can erase one of your horseshoes to free it up for a later turn – and that’s your whole action for this turn.
When the first three horses cross the finish line and take their place in the winner’s circle, you tally up your cash to see who came out on top.
First, if you own any of the winning horses, you get 35, 25, or 15 bucks depending on where your horse placed. And of course, those totals stack if you own multiple winning horses.
Next, for every set of helmet and jersey you collected on any horse, you get 5 bucks.
Then, you tally up your bets. For each horse that you bet on that wound up in the winner’s circle, you take the amount you bet, and multiply it by that horse’s odds to win. So if horse #5, Charly Horse, came in second, and you bet 4 bucks, you multiply 4 by Charly Horse’s second place odds – so you win 16 bucks for betting on Charly Horse.
For any horse that was past the red “no bet” line when the race ended, you get your bet back. So if you bet 2 bucks on horse #7, Better Safe than Sorry, then because that horse crossed the line, you write 2 bucks in the rightmost box.
In the last scoring box, you write down your cash on hand. Tally it all up for your total score, and the richest player wins! If two or more players are tied, whichever player owns the horse that placed the highest, wins.
To set up the game, line all of the horses up in order from the inside of the track to the outside. Everyone gets a player board and a dry erase marker.
Shuffle up the starting cards and deal 1 card to each player. These cards let you mark a few initial concessions on your board, and give you a couple of free bets on two certain horses. Everyone starts with 12 dollars.
Lay out the 8 cards representing each horse. The horses come in different sets – my copy of the game had an apple core set and a gate set. You can play with one set or the other, or mix and match the sets, as long as there’s only one card for each numbered horse.
The first player is whoever has the biggest tattoo of Seabiscuit.
Here’s a quick runthrough of the special powers you get when you buy the horses in either the apple core or gate sets.
#1: Chain Reaction lets you mark any concession coin whenever you complete a vertical concession column.
#2: Too lucky earns you 2 bucks whenever she’s rolled.
#3: Scatter Shot lets you mark a coin on your concession stand that’s one number off of the horse that was rolled. So if #5 was rolled when you take the concession action, you could cross out a 4, a 5, or a 6.
#4: Early Bird Special… when you take the betting action, if it’s your first time betting on the horse that was rolled, you get to place your presumably 3 dollar bet for free.
#5: Charley Horse lets you move any horse back 1 space whenever you complete a horizontal concession row.
#6: Miracle Worker lets you mark any single concession coin, helmet, or jersey when you buy him.
#7: Better Safe than Sorry gets you an addition 2 bucks for every horse you bet on at the end of the race, whether or not those horses placed.
And #8 Nitro Nellie lets you move a horse ahead 1 spot whenever you buy its helmet.
And here come the horses in the gate set!
#1 Row Your Boat gets you 2 bucks when you complete a horizontal concession row.
#2 Make it Rain gets you a free 1 dollar bet on all even or odd numbered horses when you buy him.
#3 Cook the Books gets you a free $1 bet on any horse whenever you take the betting action.
#4 Mint Condition lets you bet up to 2 bucks of your own money on the horse that was rolled whenever you buy a horse’s helmet.
#5 Bottom Dollar lets you recoup the money you bet on horses that didn’t pass the no-bet line.
#6 Dirty Laundry lets you buy the jersey for any horse you’ve placed a bet on when you take the jersey action
#7 Cheer Up Buttercup lets you move the rolled horse ahead three spaces whenever you bet on it, and only if that horse is in last place, or is tied for last.
And finally, the long shot:
#8 Donut Dollie gets you an extra space whenever you cash in a concession to move one or two horses ahead or back.
The 1-player version of Long Shot: The Dice Game has you squaring off against racing tycoon Roland Wright in a shameless crossover appearance. Roland gets this AI board and a starting card. You mark off his starting bets, but he doesn’t have any concessions to mark off. He also arrives at the track significantly richer than you, with 20 bucks cash in hand.
Every round, you roll the dice and take your turn as usual. To determine what Roland does, look at the intersection of the numbers on the green die and the horse die, and do that thing. Sometimes the box will have a horse die icon in it, so you re-roll the horse die to complete Roland’s action. If the action is impossible to complete, Roland performs the asterisk action at the bottom of the column.
Roland buys horses in a lot of the actions in the “1” column, but he doesn’t get to use their special powers.
Sometimes Roland can perform his action on multiple horses – in that case, you favour the lowest numbered horse.
When the race is over, tally up Roland’s score and compare it with your own. Whoever wound up with the most money, wins.
And now you’re ready to play Long Shot: the Dice Game! And they’re off! (multiple botched attempts to play the first post on trumpet) And… they’re off. (first post on kazoo)
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