What is Bandido?
Bandido is a miniature cooperative card game in which players try to prevent Bandido from escaping his prison cell. It’s small, easy-to-learn, and utterly addictive. The game is for one to four players aged from six and up and can usually be played in around 15 minutes.
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- 69 Cards
- 1 Extra-Thick Starter Card
I love the packaging of Bandido. The entire game is packed into a tiny box measuring just 2.5×4.25×1.25 inches, making the game ideal for taking with you on-the-go but also meaning it won’t take up much of your valuable shelf space. The game also contains no plastic parts although it does come wrapped in plastic, and its tiny size makes it extra environmentally friendly.
We did find that the cards quickly developed white nicks along the edges due to shuffling although this wasn’t detrimental to play.
How to Play Bandido
Remove all the cards from the box and shuffle them, then deal three to each player; the rest should be placed face down in a pile to form a draw deck. The Starter Card should be placed in the middle of the playing area with either the five or the six exit side face up depending on the difficulty level you wish to play.
Bandido is a play-a-card, take-a-card game. The goal is to block off all the tunnels leading from Bandido’s cell, either by ending them with torch cards or by looping them around to connect with other tunnels.
Players take it in turns to place one of the three cards in their hand somewhere, connecting it to the existing tunnel network. Because the game is cooperative, players should work together to discuss how to place their cards but they are not allowed to show one another the cards in their hand directly. Once they have played a card, players take another card from the top of the deck and add it to their hand.
All cards played must fit perfectly and cannot block tunnels with the edge of other cards (think Carcassonne rules about road placement). If a player cannot play any of the cards in their hand because they will not fit anywhere, they may place their current hand at the bottom of the draw pile and take three new cards from the top.
Play continues until either all Bandido’s escape routes are blocked (the players win) or the deck runs out and no further cards can be placed with at least one tunnel still unlocked (Bandido wins).
Bandido became one of our favorite games within minutes of our first game. Not only that, but it has become an instant favorite with everyone we have played it with—including family members who usually refuse to play any new games because everything newer than Monopoly is “too complicated.” We’ve played Bandido with friends during games night, as a quick family activity before bedtime, and on the table at grandma’s house, and every time, one game has spiraled into many as everyone wants just one more try at stopping Bandido’s escape!
Bandido is also one of those rare games that’s just as much fun to play solo as it is to play in a group. I’ve often found myself shuffling the cards for a quick one-person game before bed, or if I’m stuck in my writing and need something to do to clear my head again. It is addictive in the best of ways.
One issue we did have with Bandido was the lack of clarity in the rules. Many situations we encountered were not mentioned, leading to the need for multiple house rules. For example, in the rules, the players only lose if at least “one tunnel remains open after all other cards have been placed” but there is no explanation of what to do if a tunnel will crash off the edge of a table (can you slide the existing cards away from the edge or do you lose?). Similarly, if a player discards their hand and draws three new cards, do they still get to place a card or do they lose their turn?
I can see Bandido becoming a long-time favorite in our family and one that will be played so regularly it is rarely ever put away properly. It is ideal as a quick time-filler, very fast to learn, and accessible by most which will make it perfect for family gatherings—just be sure to have plenty of space to play it on.
Even though it is only March, it will take a lot for anything to unseat Bandido as my favorite game of 2020 and I simply can’t recommend it enough.
GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.