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Subject: Banditos - A simple and critical review rss

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Royce Banuelos
United States
St. Louis
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Gameplay - You are robbing banks in Mexico and bringing the money back to a border state in the US to your hometown. In order to rob a bank you need a vehicle, a weapon and a full tank of gas. All the items in this game are represented on cards and are part of a giant deck that you can draw 2 cards from on each turn. Each turn breaks down to this - Part a: Illegal actions Part b: legal actions and Part c: discard down to 5 cards. In order to use a vehicle, weapon, inside information (used to make bank heist easier) or fill your gas tank you must spend American dollars to pay for it from your hand or steal it from your discard pile. Each player has their own hand, stack of American dollars, gas tank and discard pile. Any time you steal (from the banks, gas or from your discard pile) you roll a 12 sided dice. The base number to roll higher than is 1, but that number changes depending on how much illegal activity you've done previous to other words, the more you do illegal actions the harder it is to continue to do illegal actions. The game is played on a giant map of Northern Mexico and the border US states with wooden cubes representing the characters who move around the board city to city using purple lines to determine which cities connect to which. Who ever steals a total of 1,000,000,000 from Mexico is the winner.

The Good! - The game art is fantastic, very well done to create the light hearted nature of the game. The game is also very interactive as you can mess up other players bank heist and vehicles as well as sell each other items. For the most part everything "makes sense" connecting the theme with the gameplay. My wife and I played through the game twice in about an hour including explains the rules, so it's easy enough to pick up and go and play multiple times. The dice roll ( although obviously random ) is dependent on your actions, the safer you play the easier your roll will be and vice versa. If you think you will like this game, you will simply because it does everything it says it does to perfection. The box is sturdy and has a tray that everything fits into nicely.

The Bad! - All the items are all in one giant pile of cards, if they are not shuffled evenly you might have situations in which no one has money to do anything, no vehicles to buy/steal or no weapons either. Shuffling is very important but can be difficult with 200 something cards, giving the chance that a game might be bad. Movement is also an issue because if you have a vehicle you can move to just about any space on the board with no problem and if you don't have a vehicle you're stuck moving from city to city or paying $20 to move to any city as long as you're in the US and you can't move into Mexico without a vehicle. Essentially there is no reason to move without a vehicle making the movement process almost unimportant, the only saving grace to it is that you use a quarter tank of gas to move your vehicle so it's a bit of a balance. The rules are written some what in a vague manner so the first play troughs will have you scratching your head. As you play the game some of it starts to make more sense but it still leaves too much open for interpretation as the rules are written. The game comes with a full color glossy advertisement for the company's other games filled with pictures but the rules are printed on regular paper and have no pictures for any kind of set up. I don't mind the advertisement, I just don't understand why it was more important than the rules for the game I just bought. Although the game has elements of randomness it seems as though whoever has a vehicle first will have the best advantage for winning the game. In order to win you have to pull about 3-4 heist, so if a player gets lucky with a vehicle and weapon first and have already pulled a heist before anyone else, it's a huge advantage! The random nature of the cards in the game will leave some frustrated by it all.

The Ugly - It must have been an awkward moment for the game makers when the game came back from the printers because there is a huge problem with some of the cards. When you rob a bank you get to draw from a separate pile of Nuevo Pesos cards, there are 2 cards in the deck repeated about 50 times. Remember the object of the game is to reach 1,000,000,000 in Nuevo Pesos, but the only way NP's come are in denominations of 10,000 and 15,000 ... that could take a while to win. It was a simple typo but none the less must feel like an embarrassment for the game designers. It doesn't affect game play in the least as all you have to do is multiply your NP's by 1,000. The game company has pointed the flaw out and post it everywhere they can online. The other issue is the back of the cards are different colors but at first glance it's hard to tell, another errors as the artwork looked differently on the computer and the designers didn't think it would print like that.

Overall - All the printing issues, rules ambiguity and random card draws aside this game is fantastic! It shines through all the problems and the printing errors are almost a funny story to add while explains the rules and makes the game better. There's a light hearted funny element to the game that keeps serious players away and that's fine by me. Board games are supposed to be fun and 10 out of 10 this is a fun game.
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