GTM #209 - Running with the Bulls
Reviewed by Jane Trudeau-Smith & Philip Smith

On our show, we play games for two players or more, particularly from the two-player perspective. Calliope's Running with the Bulls can be for 2-6 and we wished we had more players, because it would have been even more fun! We also feel this is a great game for children – although there’s some strategy needed to win, it’s easy to learn. The next time we play we’re going to invite the family next door!

How's it Played?

The game takes three days to play – okay, kidding – three virtual days or rounds. Each day the tourists (players) are trying to run across the town of El Toro to reach their destination spots (restaurants, casinos, bookstores, etc.) via paths on the board. But, right behind them are bulls! And the bulls are running, too, so you better move faster to get to those destinations or you might get trampled! You gain points as you reach the destinations, and the player with the most points at the end of three rounds wins!

The board is the town with different paths to the destinations. But, one thing we must point out is that this board is a riot! Take time to read the signs and check out the artwork while you play! Each player receives runners and direction tokens in their chosen color. Depending on how many players are playing determines how many of the dice you’ll use, and which colors. In our case, with two players, we had nine runners (dice) each, and used the yellow and blue colors. There’s also a first player token – that player gets to move the “bull” dice (which are red) on the turns.

A set of destination cards are then shuffled, and five random destinations are chosen and placed on the bottom of the board for the runners to aim for. 50 action cards are also shuffled, and each player starts with five each. These cards can be used on your turn to do various actions.

At the very top of the board there are five starting spaces called roundabouts (numbered 2-6). Five red dice (bulls) are rolled and placed on each roundabout to start in order. Then the players roll their dice and place their colored dice on the matching roundabout number – anyone rolling a “1” can be placed on any starting space. Then, a sixth bull is rolled and placed on the matching number.  Then, play begins!

  1. Each player (starting with the first player) plays an action card, then discards it. Sometimes action cards allow you to reroll your dice, other players' dice, gain points, etc.
  2. After all actions are completed, players move their runners down the paths to the next roundabout on the board. If there’s a split in the path, they’re labeled ‘Odd’ and ‘Even’, thus your odd dice go one way and your even dice go the other. Sometimes an action card allows you to place a direction token in your color on a path, which would make your dice follow that colored direction token, bypassing the odd or even labels.
  3. Now comes the scary part – the bulls charge! The person with the first player token moves the bull dice. The bulls move the same way down the path following the odd and even signs. Once the bulls are moved, you compare the bull dice number with the numbers on the runner’s dice. If any match, the runner can re-roll the die to, hopefully, not match the bull. Any dice that match are “trampled” and taken out of the game! (Ouch!)
  4. The first player token is passed to the next player, and steps 1-3 continue until the runners reach the destination cards (if any runners are left) at the bottom of the board. Once that happens, the “day” is over and points are counted!

Each destination is worth victory points awarded to the players, which are tracked with point tokens. Destinations can also have penalties or bonuses, so pay attention to which ones your runners will reach. Once the day is scored, you “reset” the game for another day. Players receive all their runners back for the new day. You can also discard any unused action cards and draw back up to five cards for the new day. Play the same way for day two and three, and the player with the most points at the end of the third day wins!

Timing of the Game

With two players, Running with the Bulls took less than 45-minutes, but we think it’d be a lot of fun with more players, as there would be more options for runners to get trampled, use action cards, etc. Strategy comes with how you play the action cards, because you could cause your opponents or the bulls to be re-rolled, hoping to get more opponents trampled, hence less of the competition receiving points at the end of each day.

Fast Facts:

  • MSRP: $40
  • # of Players – 2-6
  • Age Range – 8+
  • Time to play – 40-60 minutes
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