(Upstate New York (USA))
Rio Grande Games
Number of players:
Change Horses is a slow-moving game for a horse race.
The game and gameplay
The goal is to own the slowest horse on the race track. Players select a horse at random, and keep their horse identity secret from all other players.
Players then select three horse movement cards for the round and reveal them simultaneously. Each movement card denotes two different horses, using a letter/color combination.
Play proceeds by random selection of numbers. During your turn, you select a movement card and place them in the center of the board. Once all players have played a card, you look at the combination.
Here’s where it gets tricky. With five players, a total of ten horses will be displayed (five movement cards each showing two horses).
If a horse shows up an EVEN number of times, it doesn’t move. If it shows up an ODD number of times, the horse moves forward on the racetrack.
The player who laid his movement card last received the #1 card for the next round, and will get to go first. Everyone else selects their play order by random draw.On your turn, you play a second card into the center of the board (adding it to the ones already played). Once all players have done so, then you again look at the combination, decide if each horse shows an odd or even number of times, and move the racers forward as appropriate.
Players then select two additional movement cards from their reserves, clear the center of the board, and play another set of rounds. Play may be slightly affected by the two wild cards each player receives at game start.
Once a horse crosses the finish line the games ends; the horse in dead last wins.
Pros and cons
The game has an intriguing premise, but I found gameplay to be rather dull. I also found the color/letter, odd/even tallying difficult.
With five people, you end up with ten cards and twenty horses, with several different colors and it was simply too busy to focus easily.
Structurally, the horse pieces could use some modification. The horses’ letters were obscured by the horse figures themselves and the pieces are a bit fragile; one horse parted from its base after a barely enthusiastic gallop.
Trot Change Horses out for younger players. The novelty of coming in last will amuse them, and they may enjoy trying to guess who owns which racer.