Table Top Takes: Ready Set Bet
The bell rings, the gates open, and the horses take off. Ready Set Bet by AEG and from designer John D Clair promises a fast paced and frenetic horse racing and betting game. But does that match what’s actually in the box, or is there too much game for the rules involved. Let’s put our chips on the table and see what the outcome is, in Ready Set Bet.
How To Play – Ready Set Bet
Ready Set Bet is a real time horse racing and betting game where the goal is to have won the most money by the end of the game. The rules are pretty simple, but there is a fair amount to keep track of in the game.
You play Ready Set Bet over four rounds. Each of them being a race that you can bet on. One player is the caller, this can rotate, who will be rolling two dice which the combined total determines which horse moves. Everyone else is placing down bets on a betting board. You want to go quick to get in bets on the better numbers, but not too quick so you don’t know which horse is going to win, place, or show.
The caller during the race is going to be rolling the pair of dice. Like I said, that determines which horse moves. The horses go from 2 and 3, 4, 5, and all the way up to the combined 11 and 12. So while the odds are more favorable than normal on the 2 and 3 and 11 and 12, they still aren’t good.
The caller rolls, calls out the horse moving and moves it along the track. They also keep track of when a horses number if rolled the second time in a row. If it is, then the horse will move some extra distance depending on the number of the horse.
But the best callers call it like it’s a race. You get into that frenetic excitement of horses passing each other, someone coming from the back of the pack. Warning when betting is going to be closed and more. A good caller improves the quality of the race.
As for betting, each player has tokens that they can use to bet. The tokens are between 2 and 5 with one of each number except two threes. And betting takes place on a number of different areas. You have exotic finishes that up to 3 people can bet on. You can bet on horses to win, show and place. Plus, you can do prop bets on certain finishes like a red horse winning, a red horse beating all the blue horses, or more. Each of these allows one person to bet on them.
The tricky bit is that some of the spots have negatives as well as positives. If you bet and win, it’s great, you don’t pay back to the bank. But if you don’t win that bet, you might find yourself owing money. So bet early, bet often, and bet well.
Along with all of that there are VIP cards. After the first race cards are drafted that let the owner maybe gain a stronger betting chip. Or get some money on specific bets like snake eyes and box cars being rolled. It adds to the game and the complexity for the betters with more to keep track of.
What Might Not Work
This is an interesting one because I do think there are a few things that will make the game not work, and probably not work for a specific individual which hopefully you know if you are one of them. It’s not a knock on the individual, it is be aware of this coming into the game.
Firstly, the game is real time. That is going to be a negative. Some people might get frustrated over a few things because of that. They might lose out on a spot because someone bets faster. Or the decision making might take longer and when the horses hit the red line, well three of them do, all betting stops. So you might be stuck with chips left in hand.
Next, calling a race might not be what you like to do. It is a spotlight position in the game. The game does offer a work around for this. There is an app which has various callers of the race and moves the horses for you. This will take off the pressure, but I also know that some gamers don’t want technology at the table as board gaming is a chance to unplug for a little while.
Finally, there is a lot of luck in the game. This is a betting in real time horse racing game which uses dice. That sounds like a lot of luck to me. You can wait until the last second to bet, but if you do that, you’ll miss out on a lot of the betting locations. So you might win money more often, but in much smaller quantities.
Firstly, let’s say, all of my potential negatives work for me. And they have consistently worked in the games that I’ve played whether people are betting or calling the game. It is fun, because of the randomness in the game you are hoping for specific things to happen, and you get into the dice rolls. And as the roller, the energy of the players and betting does come back to energize you. And a big move by a horse is a lot of fun to talk about.
Also, the game doesn’t vary much in length from two players to nine players. The big thing that might take longer is figuring out money. But if players do that by themselves and just grab the coins or ask for the coins needed from their bets, then that doesn’t add too much time. So games will be consistent in length and teaching the game doesn’t add in too much time.
Ready Set Bet is also a game that brings its own excitement and memories to the game. I talk about games telling stories, sometimes with story books, well, Ready Set Bet tells a story by what happens in the game. Just last play we had the 11/12 horse get a couple of last rolls in a row to pass everyone to finish. They came back while 10 was a space away from winning the race and had been for a few rolls to finish. It was memorable and swung the results.
Finally, the game plays up to 9 players. That is a lot of people and it’s great for being able to do that. Like I said, not longer at higher player counts. But most high player count games are going to be the classic style party game. Or games that take a much longer time to play. Ready Set Bet is a party game, don’t get that wrong, but it’s more of a game as well. So it offers something unique at that player count.
Who Is It For
I think this is a great game for groups that maybe don’t love party games. But they like games where they can beat someone to something. There is enough going on to make it complex enough to feel like you optimize. And still it’s easy enough and fast enough to fall into that party game. So really, this is probably a game for mixed group of people who do and don’t like party games but all want to play something.
This is also an amazing game for people who go to conventions. Set this out on a table and you’ll have a group of people watching besides those who are betting. The experience is noisy and fun and great for those big groups that maybe you can’t find anywhere else but at a convention.
Final Thoughts on Ready Set Bet
Let’s enjoy this experience, that’s what I have to say about this game going into it. It is an experience of a game which I haven’t met other games that really match up to this. And that’s a good thing. Yes, there are going to be reasons why some people might not like the game but in all the games I’ve played I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy it. Some might not have loved it, but they still like it.
It really is a game that tells stories while being a simple game. And even though everything might be a little bit crazy and frenetic, it leads to memories that are just unique in the gaming space. And I don’t generally like real time games. There are some, Galaxy Truckers and Mesozooic that I don’t mind too much, or Tiny Turbo Cars because that isn’t the whole of the game. And with two of them it isn’t a hard timer. But Ready Set Bet has that loose timing mechanism of horses passing the red line. And then the real time of rolling dice and placing bets. And it is just fun because of the racing energy it gives the game.
For me, I love this game. I didn’t play it for a while and I thought maybe it might not work all the time. I am cure that it won’t work every time. But I don’t care, if I can find a group to play it with, I will because the game is just amazingly fun.
My Grade: A+
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: B+
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