Bandida, Image Sophie Brown

‘Bandida’: My Favorite Card Game Gets Upgraded (But Is That Good?)

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What is Bandida?

Bandida is the sequel to Bandido, a miniature card game in which you attempt to stop a bandit from escaping prison. Bandida offers two new gameplay modes (plus a twist on the original), and adds in a number of new item cards to make each game that bit more random.

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Bandida Components

  • Ten Object Cards
  • Two Alarm Cards
  • One Ladder Card
  • One Start/Super Card
  • 56 Standard Cards

How to Play Bandida


Setup for Bandida consists simply of placing the Super card on the table with either five or six exits depending on your level of difficulty. You then shuffle the remaining cards and deal three to each player (if any alarm cards are drawn at this point, they should be shuffled back into the deck and replaced), before placing the remaining cards face down to form a draw pile.

Bandido and Bandida, Image Sophie Brown
Bandido and Bandida, Image Sophie Brown

There are a few additional instructions depending on which of the game’s three modes you are playing.

Mode One: Catch Bandida
Remove the ladder card from the deck before beginning.

Mode Two: Help Bandida Escape!
Standard mode, no additional instructions.

Mode Three: The Lovers’ Escape
This mode requires you to also own the original Bandido game (or another copy of Bandida for an LGBTQ take!). Shuffle the Super card from the other game into the deck before beginning.


As mentioned before, there are three gameplay modes in Bandida, all of which are cooperative. For this review, I will focus on Mode Two. This is because Mode One is effectively identical to Bandido only with added Item Cards (you can read my full review of that game for instructions), and Mode Three is the same as Two, only with a second Super card mixed into the deck.

To play Bandida, players take turns placing one of the three cards from their hands anywhere onto the table, making sure to connect up with the existing passageways and not block off others illegally. Players MUST play one of their cards if it is possible—skipping a turn if another player has a better card is not allowed. If a player cannot play, they can return all three of their cards to the bottom of the deck and draw three new ones.

A Successful Game of Mode Two, Image Sophie Brown
A Successful Game of Mode Two, Image Sophie Brown

The aim of Bandida Mode Two is to help Bandida escape. To do this, you must block off all exits but not until the Ladder Card has been drawn and placed, therefore pushing Bandida to escape by climbing it. In Mode Three, the second Super card must also have been placed prior to sealing off all the tunnels in order to let the lovers meet up and escape by climbing the ladder together. If you can seal off all the passageways before the draw deck runs out, you win!

Item and Alarm Cards

Two things that are new in Bandida are Item and Alarm cards that impact the game when they are played. Item cards have an effect when they are played on the table, while Alarm cards have an effect at the point they are drawn.

The Item and Alarm Cards in Bandida, Image Sophie Brown
The Item and Alarm Cards in Bandida, Image Sophie Brown

Backpack: Draw one extra card at the end of your turn. You then keep to that hand number unless something else changes it.

Dynamite: Play another card now, then draw two cards at the end of your turn.

Broken Tool: Play all your cards without drawing new ones, then draw three new cards. If you had a four- or five-card hand because of a Backpack, this resets your hand back down to three.

Map: Remove three cards already placed on the table. These cards do not have to be next to one another, but cards cannot be removed that will disconnect the tunnels and leave two or more separate clusters.

Water Bottle: Players cannot talk for an entire turn until the player who placed the Bottle plays again.

There are also two Alarm cards (these have an alarm pictogram on their back). The -1 Alarm Card forces all players to discard one card from their hand and continue the game with the resulting hand size (unless another card adjusts it again). The -5 Alarm Card means the top five cards of the draw pile must be permanently discarded. Should the Ladder or another Super card be in the five, they are shuffled back into the deck and not removed.


Bandido was my favorite game of 2020 thanks to its super-simple, easy-to-play rules that made it ideal for a fast and fun family game, so I had high hopes for Bandida.

Bandida adds a lot of extra options and interest without losing the key themes and gameplay style that made Bandido so enjoyable in the first place. I have enjoyed playing both new game modes (so far, I have only won on Modes One and Two) that add a slight twist to the original, and I love that Bandida is still just as accessible as a single-player game as for a couple or a family.

An Unsuccessful Game of Mode Three, Image Sophie Brown
An Unsuccessful Game of Mode Three, Image Sophie Brown

Unfortunately, our family felt that the Item and Alarm cards ended up detracting from the experience rather than adding to it. What we all loved about Bandido was how incredibly simple it was—it’s one of the only games I have ever reviewed here that we have gone out and bought for older relatives because of just that. In Bandido, we have never once needed to refer to the rule book, yet Bandida strips this element away and adds complications with various items that can occasionally stack together making things even trickier. Of course, you can simply ignore these and play the Item cards as regular tunnels, but then you do begin to wonder about the point of buying it over a regular Bandido deck.

Whether or not I would recommend Bandida then comes down to, have you played Bandido and, if so, what did you enjoy about it? If you haven’t played Bandido, then I would suggest picking up Bandida over Bandido as it offers multiple game modes and can easily be converted to play it using original Bandido rules (treat Items and Alarms as regular tunnels and the Ladder as any other block card). However, if you have played Bandido and loved its simplicity most, then I would recommend skipping this one, but if you were hoping for something with a little more depth, then definitely give Bandida a try.

GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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