Quick Look: Camp Out
Designer: Gary Lundstrom
Artist: Gary Lundstrom
Publisher: Great Lake Design
Year Published: 2020
No. of Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 15-45 min.
From the publisher:
Camp Out Is a camping themed card game for the whole family, ages 8 and up. It consists of 84 illustrated cards; 72 item/activity cards, 6 “Match Cards,” and 6 “Trail Mix” cards. Your goal is to build sets of various camping related items and activities to the point where you can ‘Camp Out’, or ‘go out’ when you lay down your completed hand.
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
WARNING: This is a preview of Camp Out. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.
My family received two different prototype copies of Camp Out for the purposes of this review, but all opinions here are our own!
Review: Camp Out
Overview and Theme:
As you’d expect from the title, Camp Out is all about camping, inspired by the Minnesota-native designer’s experiences in the Northwoods. The brightly illustrated cards include items that are familiar to camping families everywhere, from s’mores and horseshoes to raccoons and canoes.
Camp Out is a set-collecting card game that is suitable for players as young as six or eight on up to adults. It blends comfortably well-known mechanics with a few unique twists to make the game easy to learn and quick to play.
Components and Setup:
Camp Out is the kind of pure card game that only needs the box of cards to play, making it easy to take on outings to the park or actual camping trips without worrying about losing chits and counters. The art here was done by the designer, Gary Lundstrom. I was impressed with the quality of the prototypes I was sent, though obviously the final production copy will be somewhat different.
There are 84 cards in the Camp Out box:
- 72 Item/Activity Cards (12 in each of 6 colored categories: Camp Site, Food & Drink, Wildlife, Hiking & Fishing, The Beach, and Relaxation)
- 6 Match Cards (1 in each of the 6 main colors, to act as wilds)
- 6 Trail Mix cards (game-changing action cards that make you pass cards, pick a card from anywhere in the discard pile, or lose your turn)
Setup is as simple as shuffling the deck and dealing eight cards to each player.
The game is playable at two players, and in fact is a little easier to learn and win at that count because you have greater opportunity to get the cards you need and there’s less to keep track of. As you get more comfortable with the game, or if you’re already veteran card players, you may find that it is a meatier game with more players. It’s most cutthroat with six, of course, because the cards become harder to find, so my family prefers to play it with four players.
In addition to the variable player count, you’re also given the option of how long to continue the game. Camp Out plays in a series of rounds in which you are trying to accumulate points when one person Camps Out or goes down with three sets of three cards, and so, if you’re teaching the game or playing with younger friends, you might decide to play just one round.
The rules say that players should agree before starting whether to play a certain number of rounds (suggested 5-10 rounds) or a certain number of points (perhaps 100), or whether you’ll play for a given length of time (maybe an hour). This flexibility makes it easier to fit in a quick game of Camp Out between other activities or to allow it to stretch out into an evening’s entertainment around the fire.
Game Play and Mechanics:
Camp Out game play (take turns drawing from the deck or the discard pile, collecting cards until you have three sets of three) is fairly common for folks who play a lot of different card games. It’s easy to explain to friends and has just a few unique twists to set it apart from the pack.
One mechanic, similar to UNO, has you call out “Camp!” when your hand of 8 cards contains two sets of 3 and a pair, just waiting for that final perfect card to complete the round. If you go out in the next round, you get bonus points for having called Camp.
Another mechanic adds a specific logo (the words Camp Out, a campfire, or crossed marshmallow forks) to each card and gives you a bonus for a set where your cards either all share the same logo or have all different logos.
Match cards are used like wilds, but also have a color that could match the set you are building–you’ll get bonus points if it does. Trail Mix cards are action cards that have players pass cards, allow you to draw from deeper in the discard pile, or force you to lose a turn. You can hold Trail Mix cards and play them when it’s advantageous, but if you’re left with any in your hand at the end of the round, you will lose points.
There’s also the mechanic of Berry Picking–which was completely new to our card-playing family. If the top two cards of the discard pile are in the same category (but not actually the same item, so for example a turtle and an eagle from the Wildlife category, but not two turtles), you can take them both on your turn. This was the most interesting twist for us because it added a layer of strategy to discarding cards.
The prototype rule book that we received (which I assume is a good representation of how the rules will look in the final product) has a very detailed page of scoring examples, which clarifies all the scoring rules and makes it easy to figure out each player’s score at the end of the round.
I love the theme! I am drawn to games that have everyday or nature themes (Cottage Garden, Wingspan) and this is a little of both. I also grew up in North Dakota, so the designer’s choices based on Minnesota camping felt right at home to me.
The art is charming and the kids who tried the game enjoyed the colorful cards.
We enjoyed the flexibility of the game, which has a different level of competition at different player counts, and which can also shift from a one-round filler to an all-evening event.
The Berry Picking mechanic was new to us and we enjoyed the twist that it adds.
As a gameschooling mom, I enjoyed being able to discuss the various items on the cards and talk about why they were included (a mini unit study on camping and the wildlife of Minnesota!). There’s also a light amount of math and logic involved in computing the scores at the end.
The cards could use some help to become colorblind friendly. Right now, the images are broken down into categories (Wildlife, Food & Drink, etc.) and each category has a different colored border to help distinguish those categories. Although a colorblind player could determine most of the cards’ categories fairly quickly, that adds an extra layer of difficulty for them. It would be fairly easy for the designer to add a small category icon to the bottom corner of each card to help our colorblind friends.
Camp Out is a fairly simple card game with a common premise and only a few little details to set it apart. Some of my friends thought it was too simple or too similar to games they already had to want to add it to their collection. On the flip side, its theme can certainly be a draw for families who are camping fans.
Players Who Like:
Groups who enjoy set collecting card games from Coloretto to Sushi Go to Christmas Lights may enjoy the familiar mechanics of Camp Out… friends and families who love camping or have ties to the Northwoods may enjoy it for the theme!
Especially as the weather starts to warm up and we’re all itching to get out of our homes into the big wide world, the comforting theme of Camp Out is a big draw or us. Who doesn’t want to be thinking about campfires and roasting marshmallows right about now? This family-friendly card game is easy to teach due to its familiar mechanics and goal, compact and flexible enough to play in a variety of situations, and thematic enough to earn a permanent place in our collection.
Check out Camp Out on:
Alexa Chaplin– Reviewer
My name is Alexa: I’m a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I’ve loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We’ve played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids. In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun! You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!
See Alexa’s reviews HERE.