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Subject: Los Banditos - A Light Review rss

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New South Wales
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Ok look - I'm pretty sure I owe someone a copy of Freya's Folly. If that is you please contact me - cheers...blush. UPDATE - figured it out - yay!

Image Courtesy of Dr. Fu

All of my 'Light Reviews' aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what a game may offer them, the options involved and general flow of play.

My modern Light Review format aims to keep the length under 2000 words, which may sound like a lot but really, it is quite succinct.


Game Type - Dice Game
Play Time: 10-15 minutes
Number of Players: 2
Mechanics - Dice Rolling, Set Collection
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in 10 minutes)
Components - Very Good
Release - 2008

Designer - Reiner Knizia - (Lost Cities, Tigris & Euphrates, Pickomino, Samurai, Amun-Re, Through the Desert, Lord of the Rings, Modern Art, FITS, Ra…and the list goes on!)

Overview and Theme

Los Banditos is a filler dice-game from the old Doctor, from a little ways back now - 2008. I'm happy to have reviewed this one because it doesn't have a review in the BGG database to date.

The theme here is one of Mexican Banditos gambling their ill gotten gains, but like many a Knizia game, this could have been anything from chipmunks hoarding nuts to toddlers stockpiling dummies (pacifiers).

In truth it is a straight dice rolling, build combos to beat those of your opponent, type game. In fact it really is a re-implementation of games like Schotten Totten (Battle Line) and Lost Cities in many ways, but using a dice-based format with a slight twist.

It is also worth mentioning that Los Banditos plays with two only and at 10-15 minutes it really is a filler game.

So the key question here is does being a re-implementation with a twist make a game a bad game? Is there anything to like about Los Banditos?

Grab that sombrero and load your pistol...we have work to do!


The Components

For a game of this light-weight I am very impressed by the quality of the components that Schmidt Spiel has put in the box.

d10-1 Dice - The game revolves around dice but I have seen many a game of this weight throw some pretty cheap dice at gamers.

Not so hear as these are lovely rounded corner dice with a marble finish and gold-filled pips. They are lovely to pull out of the bag and hold in the hand.

Image Courtesy of scottredracecar

d10-2 Loot Tokens - The Loot Tokens are rounded discs that feature a value of 1, 2 or 3 and each value features its own illustration (diamonds, bag of gold or cash bills).

The thickness of the tokens is the pleasing aspect hear and the size of the tokens. I suspect if the game was produced today these tokens would be of much poorer quality.

Image Courtesy of scottredracecar

d10-3 Ranking Board - The game sets out a series of ranked hands and these are featured on a rectangular board for both players to see and refer to during play.

Image Courtesy of scottredracecar

d10-4 Rules and Cloth Bag - Finally the game comes with a cloth bag to hold the dice (for play rather than simply pack-up) and the rules are laid out well. I'm not sure if this is indicative of all rulebooks for the game globally, but mine came with a multi-language set that did not feature English. This may well be the nature of Schmidt Spiel productions.

A simple 1 page print off from BGG is all that is needed to learn the game in very quick time.

Image Courtesy of Alice87

Not surprisingly, the components needed to play the game are rather minimal but what is included represents excellent value for money.

Image Courtesy of Haffner


The game is easy to set up as all of the dice remain in the cloth bag. All that is needed is to set the Ranking Board in plain view of both players and to mix up the Loot Tokens and select 4 at random and place them in a line between the two players.

The game is ready to begin.

The Play

This won't take but a minute...

d10-1 Draw and Roll Dice – The players take turns to draw dice from the bag. The first player only draws one dice but all turns from that point require two dice to be drawn.

Once dice are drawn the player must roll them one time only.

d10-2 Allocate Dice – After that single roll, the active player must allocate them to the available columns that are formed by the 4 Loot Tokens.

A pair of dice can be allocated to the same Loot token or to two different Loot Tokens.

The only restriction is that any location cannot have more than 3 dice allocated to it in total.

d10-3 The Objective – And so we get to the crux of the game. What the players are trying to do is to create the best ranked set of dice at each location in order to win the Loot Token at that location.

In all there are 7 different combinations that can be formed with 3 dice and many of them will be very familiar to Poker players, whilst others are versions of poker hands.

Values are key as two opposing combos of the same rank will be won by the combo with the higher values. For example a three-of-a-kind in 4s will beat the same combo in 2s. A straight of 4-5-6 will beat a straight of 3-4-5.

Colour is then very important as several of the ranks require colour matching. This is namely how the game creates the concept of a Flush, where cards use the suits.

Should both players have the exact same dice combo and they are identical values...the player who had completed their set of 3 dice first is declared the winner at that location.

d10-4 Claiming and Forfeiting a Location - The most common way to take the loot at a location is if your 3 dice are superior in rank/value to the 3 dice of your opponent.

If your opponent does not yet have 3 dice in place, you may still be able to claim the Loot Token if you can prove that you cannot be beaten (based on the values already present on your opponent's side or if there are not sufficient dice of a given colour left in the bag to achieve a higher rank). This will feel quite familiar to Schotten Totten and Battle Line players.

When a Loot Token is claimed, the player adds it to their haul and these are left in plain sight. All dice that were at that location are returned to the bag for future draws and a new Loot Token is turned face-up to replace the old.

If a Loot Token is won and none remain in the draw pile to replace it, the game simply continues with the Loot Tokens that remain.

It should also be noted that a player can choose to forfeit a Loot Token if they think it is to their advantage. Both the claiming and forfeiting of a token can be done before or after a die roll.

It may seem silly to forfeit a location before it has been won but this is not always so. If you are fighting for a critical 3-value Diamond lacation but you need to draw a red dice to help complete a Flush ranked hand, then it may be worthwhile forfeiting that 1-value location where 3 red dice have been allocated. Doing so will get them back into the bag and increase your chances of drawing them. Of course whether you can roll the value needed is another matter!

d10-5 Winning the Game – The game continues in the above fashion until one of the players earns a total of 10+ in Loot Tokens.

It's as simple as that.

The Final Word

Image Courtesy of Ceryon
I'll admit that I really didn't expect too much from this game upon first glance. It looked like a game from Knizia's re-theme and re-badge period and that is largely what it is. But there is a charm here that I quite like.

The game really is about timing with an added touch of luck thrown into the mix. The luck is not just present in the dice-rolling (which really serves to substitute for the drawing of cards in other implementations) but you are also hoping to draw certain colours from the bag at times as well.

The timing element is present in the form of trying to prove that your opponent cannot beat you at a given location. Sometimes they are after a very exact colour/value combo (a red 5 for example) to complete a three flush or straight flush. If there is only a single red dice left in the bag then you are both in a race to draw it first. Timing is again present because your opponent will also need to draw it before all other locations are full, which would force them to place a dice of another colour at that critical location.

The game is also open to more subtle plays because your opponent may deliberately complete another location, in turn throwing you a win, but in doing so 3 red dice are returned to the bag and are now back in the mix!

Perhaps a better word than timing is the need to keep one's options open. In this way the core of Los Banditos is very much the same as Lost Cities and Battle Line. You really don't want to commit too many dice to a single location until your opponent has been forced to show their hand. Once you know the value of your enemy, you can go about aiming for a rank that will beat theirs. Of course this is easier said than done as Los Banditos only offers 4 locations at any one time with a max of 3 dice at any location. This is in stark contrast to the 5 locations of Lost Cities with up to 12 cards playable at each or the 9 locations of Battle Line with 3 cards playable at each.

The other feather in its cap is that Los Banditos allows for a win from almost any position if you plan well enough and get that ounce of luck. Depending on how the Loot Tokens are revealed, some games are a lightning race to the finish, others are a slow burn, but a come from behind win is always possible.

When all is said and done Los Banditos is not a truly unique design, we have seen its like before. For me though this is a re-implementation that is in many ways superior to its forebears. Dice for me always trump cards and here they can come and go from the supply (the bag) unlike cards in a deck. The game also knows exactly what it is and the 10-15 minute time-frame means that 3-4 games can be played in an hour, which allows for fun, best of three comps and the like.

The rule-set is such too that you really can't forget how to play this game and so it doesn't matter if there is months or years between plays...it is easily accessible.

I am a little sad to give this one away in a Chain of Generosity but you win some and you lose some.

Till next we meet, may all your loot be diamonds and may peasant cash bills fill the pockets or your adversaries! angry

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Black Bart
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I find the game fairly unique as there aren't many head-to-head dice games I know of.

One component problem I had: two dice colours are indistinguishable for me, and a third almost. I've had to replace the dice with cheaper but more brightly coloured ones while keeping the original ones as a supply for other games (as they are very nice otherwise).
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New South Wales
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Ok look - I'm pretty sure I owe someone a copy of Freya's Folly. If that is you please contact me - cheers...blush. UPDATE - figured it out - yay!
urbanus wrote:
I find the game fairly unique as there aren't many head-to-head dice games I know of.

One component problem I had: two dice colours are indistinguishable for me, and a third almost. I've had to replace the dice with cheaper but more brightly coloured ones while keeping the original ones as a supply for other games (as they are very nice otherwise).

Yeah that could be very true in relation to dice colours.
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