Running with the Bulls = Dice Plinko

Running with the Bulls board game and Plinko

Have you ever wanted to play Plinko?

According to The Price is Right Wiki, the most famous pricing game on the show is Plinko.

After a contestant earns Plinko discs, they take them up a set of stairs to the top of the Plinko board. The board is made up of a field of pegs, with each row offset from the previous row. At the bottom of the board are nine slots marked with different dollar values. One by one the contestant drops a Plinko disc and watches it bounce its way to the bottom – hoping they end up with high payouts.

Aside from educated guesses to earn more Plinko discs to drop, results in Plinko are completely determined by luck.

Running with the Bulls board game

Let’s take to the streets in Running with the Bulls!

You may be asking yourself why I’m writing about Plinko on our board game review site. Well, it’s because the game we’re reviewing today reminds me a lot of Plinko.

Running with the Bulls is a board game by Calliope Games that I was introduced to at Gen Con last year.

While players aren’t dropping discs down a peg board, in Running with the Bulls players are directing their dice through dividing pathways to get them to end up in the most lucrative end points.

Similar to Plinko, there’s plenty of luck involved in Running with the Bulls. However, unlike Plinko, in this game players get to manipulate things along the way to influence the outcome!


How to play Running with the Bulls

As you might imagine, the theme of Running with the Bulls hearkens to the annual Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona, Spain where bulls are let loose to run through the town streets.

In the game Running with the Bulls, players have a team of Runners (dice) that scramble through the streets of El Toro trying not to get trampled by the Bulls (big red dice) and trying to end up in favorable locations at the end of town.

The game is played over 3 “Days” (rounds) and the same process is followed each round. The player with the most points after 3 rounds is the winner.

Running with the Bulls board game

The streets of El Toro are pretty busy when the Bulls start to run.


Set up

This same set up is followed to begin each round/day.

First, the Destination cards are shuffled and 5 are randomly drawn and placed at the bottom of the board in the designated finish spots.

Running with the Bulls board game

The Destination cards are randomly set out each Day.

Next, players are dealt 5 Action cards that make up their hand. The rest of the Action cards form a draw deck.

Then the Bull (red) dice are placed. Starting at Roundabout #2 at the top of the board, 1 Bull die is rolled and placed in the roundabout. The same thing is done for roundabout #3 through #6.

Then each player rolls their Runner dice and places them on the starting roundabouts corresponding to their result. Any Runner dice results showing “1” can be placed on the roundabout of that player’s choice.

Then a 6th Bull die is rolled and placed on the roundabout matching its value.

Running with the Bulls board game

The Runners and Bulls are set to start running.


Running the streets

Starting with the first player and going clockwise each player plays 1 Action card from their hand and carries out the indicated action.

The actions mostly involve manipulating the dice in various ways. For example, they may include re-rolling a group of Runners, removing Runners, moving Bulls, or placing Direction tokens.

Running with the Bulls board game

The Action cards mostly let players manipulate the dice.

After each player has played an Action card, all the Runners advance down the board to the next roundabout. They move down the paths based on whether they’re showing either an Odd or Even number.

Running with the Bulls board game

Runners and Bulls advance downs paths that match their number.

Once all the runners have advanced to the next roundabout, the Bulls charge.

Like the Runners, each Bull die also moves down the path corresponding to their number (Odd or Even). However, once they reach the next roundabout with all the Runners, they may trample some of the Runners.

Any Runner die that is showing a matching number of a Bull in that same roundabout must be re-rolled. If after re-rolling, the die matches a Bull, the Runner is trampled and the die is returned to the player. While it’s eliminated for the rest of this Day, the Runner will rest and be back in the running the next Day!

Running with the Bulls board game

The Runners showing 3 must be re-rolled. It the end up showing the same as a Bull, they’ll be trampled.

The rest of the Runners are all safe (for now) and continue running through the streets.

The First Player marker is passed to the next player in order and a new series begins with players in turn playing Action cards from their hand, moving their runners, then moving the Bulls.

This continues until the Runners and Bulls reach the Destination cards.

After checking to see if any Bulls trampled Runners at this end point, players score points for each Runner that ends safely at a Destination.

Running with the Bulls board game

These 4 Runners made it safely to the Bank and will each score points.

Each Destination card shows the number of points that each Runner ending at that location scores. In addition, some Destination cards have penalties or bonuses that apply to Runners who end up there.

Players are awarded their points and then move on to the next Day. All of a player’s Runners are back in action at the start of each new Day.

After scoring points for the 3rd Day, the player with the most total points is the winner!

Running with the Bulls board game

Whoever has the most points after 3 Days wins!


Can the whole family enjoy Running with the Bulls?

Running with the Bulls is simple enough to be understood and played by anyone in the family. The publisher recommended age is listed as 8+ and we think that’s a good fit.

Yes, kids younger than 8 can understand how to play and may enjoy the game. However, since throughout the game players are re-rolling and manipulating dice, we’d suggest you first consider the feelings of said younger children.

We know what it’s like for a child to feel betrayed by a parent when a parent has a direct hand in something bad happening to them. And since players have opportunities to re-roll opponent’s dice, kids may not like such direct attacking of their Runners – especially when it results in their Runner being trampled by a Bull or sent down another, less enticing, pathway.

But that aside, Running with the Bulls is a light and silly fun family game.

If you’re looking for a meaty strategy game, look elsewhere.

If you’re looking for a light and easy game where you get to roll a lot of dice and can mess with other players along the way, then Running with the Bulls delivers!

Running with the Bulls board game

Up to 6 players can play Running with the Bulls.


Luck vs. Strategy

It’s easy to see that Luck is a big driver in Running with the Bulls. So much depends on the results of random dice rolls.

Right from the start when players place their Runners on the roundabout matching the dice results, some of their Destination options may immediately be cut off. For example, starting on a Roundabout on the far left or right sides will preclude those Runners from being able to get to the Destination on the opposite side of the board.

And as the Day progresses, the potential Destination options left for each Runner to reach will be narrowed.

Likewise, the random results of the Bulls will determine which Runners may get trampled and which will run free.

Running with the Bulls board game

This roundabout has 3 Bulls! Every Runner needs to be re-rolled and see if they get trampled.

If that’s all there was to the game, we’d quickly throw it out.

However, thanks to the Action cards, the game isn’t a complete luck-fest.

The Action cards players choose to use on their turns can greatly impact the outcome.

It can mean the difference between being trampled & surviving and/or going left or right.

Running with the Bulls board game

Moving a Bull can save some Runners and doom others.

In addition, some of the action cards let player place Direction tokens. This means that players can place one of their colored cubes on a signpost on the board. Then, every time their Runners come to that roundabout, they will go in the direction of that cube – regardless of their result (odd/even).

That being said, we still wouldn’t call the use of Action cards “Strategy”. Yes, it allows player choices to impact the game. But there’s no long-term strategy planning in Running with the Bulls. That’s because your opponents will most likely be messing with your dice too.

So don’t go into Running with the Bulls with your serious hat on.

Toss that serious hat aside, kick back, and just enjoy the dice-rolling running through the streets of El Toro.

Running with the Bulls board game

Yellow scores big this round.


How does Running with the Bulls score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Running with the Bulls board gameRunning with the Bulls is a fun game that’s earned a permanent spot in our game closet because of it’s light game play. The set up is so simple that it’s easy to play multiple times in a row.

Or better yet, rather than playing 3 “Days” like the rules say just keep playing as many Days as you’d like. After all, the real festival in Pamplona lasts for 9 days. It’s a great chance to see how high a score you can get.

We may not reach for it every game night, but when we’re in the mood for lots of dice rolling, Running with the Bulls is a great game to pull out and play.

Plus, the cartoony artwork is fantastic and has a lot of hidden gems.

We’d like to thank Calliope Games for a review copy of Running with the Bulls.



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