Do you remember that classic series of movies called Smokey and the Bandit? Well this game has nothing to do with that. You see it is called Bandido not Bandit.
Instead of it being a bootlegging automotive romp in America, Bandido is a co-operative family-friendly card game. One of the many small-box games produced by Helvitq. It is designed by Martin Nedergaard Andersen and illustrated by Lucas Guidetti Perez.
So in the game you have to be quick, the Bandido is trying to escape… again! He will sneak along a sprawling network of tunnels and you have to stop him. So it’s a bit more Great Escape than Smokey and the Bandit!
The game is set up by placing the locked up Bandido tile in the middle of your play area. This is double-sided, allowing you to choose between 5 or 6 tunnels to block.
The 1-4 players then each take three cards. Playing in turns, all players have to lay one of their three cards, drawing another card from the draw deck. Some of these tunnel cards will create a dead end, others will make the network of tunnels extend further. If you manage to plug all exits before the deck of cards run out you all win and the Bandido remains in his cell. Fail and he escapes reaping criminal havoc across the country… and what’s worse, it’s all your fault!
It really is as simple as that.
What it’s like
Bandido is a simple, yet strangely addictive game. You will win often, but lose more. Both victories and defeats leave you with a yearning to play again. It is a co-operative game scaled down to its bare necessities.
It is this simplicity that makes it so accessible for all ages. My five year old can play and grasps the concept of trying to decrease the number of open tunnels wherever possible. As a grown-up I still enjoy the challenge of it and it is a very real challenge. Some might say there is a bit of luck involved in what cards drawn and they would be right. Generally though, it will be the strategy and placement of these cards that dictates whether you win or lose.
You will soon learn that you cannot rely on the illusive dead ends. Instead you will loop tunnels around to block off one another. Trying desperately to minimise the exits of each card to contain the maze of tunnels.
Don’t be fooled by the small box. This game needs some serious space to be played as it will sprawl over and fill a tabletop in minutes! That is the other joy of the game – a game will generally take 10-20 minutes. This means that the younger player’s attention will not dwindle and you will probably end up playing it again.
The box has cool and clean artwork. The cards are of an irregular size, smaller than a playing card. This means they fit in the small little box which would literally fit in your jean pocket. I know because I have just tried it. Mind you I’m not cool enough (or thin enough) to wear those skinny fit drainpipes the youth like so I cannot testify whether it fits in those. From my viewpoint nothing fits in those jeans!
Back to the cards! They are as refined as the game, enough design to give them a good look, but stripped back to all that they need to be. They will not win awards for being the most beautiful, but the designs and the way they all fit together are jolly clever. Imagining someone coming up with all the inter-fitting tunnel shapes makes my brain hurt.
The instructions are clear and concise and come in a handful of languages.
Final thoughts on Bandido
If Forbidden Island and Labyrinth had a child together it would probably arrive looking like Bandido.
It is a fast co-operative card game for all the family. There is something refreshing about it being so scaled down and simplified. While its charm lies in the simplicity this is offset with some strategy that will ultimately win you the game, or not. It will also make it more entertaining for older players giving it more replayability.
My children love Bandido, particularly my youngest who is five years old. I have found all three of my children enjoying this together andr playing on their own, trying to beat the game solo. It really works as a single player game.
The quick play time means that you are left wanting more rather than feeling like you are trapped in a prison cell monotonously plodding along the escape tunnels. It has certainly kept my family entertained.
With an RRP around a tenner it is a steal… fortunately not the sort of steal that would make you a Bandido!
Number of players: 1 to 4
Board Game Review Recommended Age: 5+
Publisher’s Recommended Age: 6-99
Playing Time: 15 mins
Setting Up and Take Down Time: 1 minute
Designers: Martin Nedergaard Andersen
Bandido is a huge amount of family fun packed into a little box. Don’t let this box fool you, this card game needs some space to play. It has enough strategy to keep your interest and make you feel like you have earned the victory when it comes. It more than justifies what very little shelf space it requires to be added to your collection.
Artwork and Components
Value for Money
- Great family game for all ages
- Co-operative game
- Small box
- Some strategy
- Takes up a lot of table space
- Element of luck
- Not masses of interaction
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