Bandida is a sequel to Bandido and is a cooperative game with three game modes. The aim is to place cards to connect tunnels and routes and develop pathways out of jail. Depending on the game format, players need to either;
- A) close down every route and ensure there are no open exits, or
- B) ensure that the only exit is via a specific ladder tile.
A full explanation of how to play and a summary of gameplay can be found on the Zatu blog. However, Bandida is a game for up to four players. It is a puzzle that will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Primary school age children can enjoy this game and could master the tile-laying element. With the cooperative element, they also could benefit from some adult supervision with some of the decision making.
Thoughts On Bandida
Helvetiq has done it again! I love smaller, pocket-sized games that punch above their weight and deliver a great gaming experience, with streamlined components. The small box is just a little longer, yet narrower than a pack of cards. The 70 cards have a length to width ratio of 2:1. This enables them to be orientated in different directions and have pathways that interconnect. The printing on the cards shows a plan of the tunnels and routes that can be made underground. Most cards are simple pathways. Twelve cards will trigger actions when played.
Players will have three cards in their hand [usually] which will be played in turn. Some actions will allow players to increase their hand limit to four, or even reduce it. This is a clever little mechanic. In playing some action cards [that may be helpful] this will force a player to play other cards from their hand that are less favourable. These little checks and balances are a clever twist.
Whilst playing Bandida the game develops into a sprawling, interconnected map. With almost every card played more branches will open pathways that develop. It almost feels like Hercules chopping off the head of a Hydra, only for two more monsters to sprout. With just 70 cards it soon becomes clear that this is a difficult puzzle. As the deck is being emptied you soon find more open routes than you can deal with. This, together with orientation of some of the pathways, makes Bandida a proper puzzle
This game does have many similarities with Saboteur and Saboteur 2. However, this is fully cooperative. Communication is encouraged and this is the beauty of Bandida. With children, it will encourage them to describe the cards in their hand. Together you can plan ahead. The value of spatial reasoning and planning cannot be underestimated especially in the development of thought processes is in youngsters.
Much has been written about games and mental health. Bandida is a lovely game where players need to focus and work together for success. The sense of community and teamwork is “there in spades”. The fact that this is a hard little puzzle makes victory so much sweeter. In failing to contain the Bandida I have never felt let down by my play or the cards. There is an acceptance that sometimes some puzzles go well. I can solve some cryptic crossword clues from The Times, occasionally! But I know that I don’t have the skill to complete an entire puzzle. So it is with Bandida. I might get victory perhaps 15% of the time, but there is more enjoyment in the 85% where one comes “Oh so close!”
Pocket-sized games are so portable. For Bandida this is true. At this time of year, it can be played on a picnic rug in the park or at the dining room table. The set-up [just a simple centre jail piece and a quick shuffle of the deck] takes a couple of seconds. This is such an accessible game. My only concern will be that the card stock is relatively thin. With repeated play the cards will become worn, but the debate about card sleeves is best left to another blog.
Bandida has a prequel in Bandido. Many gamers will be familiar with this game. Indeed, there is very little difference between the two. Both have the same tile-laying maze-like mechanic. Both need to prevent a prisoner from escaping, but Bandido is meant to be played without communication.
So the question is do you need both? The cards are inter-playable. However, having a double deck will make a bigger challenge. Who doesn’t enjoy a vast web of tunnels to try to close off? By having both games there is the third game variant available where you need to connect Bandido’s super card [jail] to Bandida's network, block all exits except the ladder, and allow the two lovers to escape. This makes for a fun distraction.
Bandida is excellent value for money. For the price of two or three lattes you can have a game that is versatile, fun and replayable. This is something a family can enjoy. This game is just as enjoyable played solo. There is no loss of integrity to the mechanics. The only issue being with one hand of cards there are only three cards to select.
Final Thoughts On Bandida
Too many gaming shelves are cluttered by big-boxed games, some of which are “full of air”. Bandida is the complete opposite. It occupies very little space yet has a great gaming experience – and at an almost criminally cheap price. I know that Christmas is nearly six months away. My advice would be to stock up on several decks of Bandida now and that is the stocking fillers or presents for nieces and nephews sorted for later in the year! You read it here first – just don’t tell too many people because that’s what I intend to do.