Friday, May 15, 2020

Bandido proves a good game for lockdown

I had no interest in Bandido until the free, Covid-19 version was offered as a PnP for folks stuck in lockdown. You know, a whole lot of people right now.

Bandido is a very simple cooperative tile-laying game with every tile showing tunnel paths. The game begins with the bandido tile as the starter tile with eight tunnels leaving it. Everyone has a hand of three tiles and you are trying to lay down tiles to block the bandido from escaping with loops and dead-ends so that the whole tunnel system is closed.

The PnP retheme has half the cards of the original version and is themed around Covid-19 prevention. Instead of a bandido, the start tile has the corona virus and the dead ends are healthy habits like washing your hands and social distancing.

While Bandido reminds me of a _lot_ of different tile-laying games, the game it really makes me think of is a very simplified Ambagibus. And Ambagibus is already a really simple game so that’s saying something. I am pretty sure that Bandido, with the half-size deck of the PnP version, is more difficult than Ambagibus because fewer cards makes luck of the draw stronger. (I wonder if making two sets and combining them would offset luck of the draw.)

But here’s the kicker. Our six-year-old does enjoy occasionally playing Ambagibus but find the placement restrictions annoying. So I thought that Bandido would be a good fit, particularly with a Covid-19 awareness theme. That was enough to make me make it.

I tried it out as a solitaire first and found it to be about what I expected. A very simple tile-laying game that really didn’t have much to set it apart from any of the many tile-laying games I’ve played.

However, when I showed  it to our son, he was quickly interested. Thanks to his interest in Ambagibus, he already knew how to play and he wanted to identify and discuss the healthy habits. We played three or four times in a row, counting him eventually going through the deck to find the perfect card.

Earlier in May, I tried out My Little Castle, another very light PnP tile-laying game and found it meh. Almost all of my criticisms of My Little Castle apply to Bandido. Neither game has anything that really makes it sparkle or stand out as a game. However, between healthy habit theme and ease of accessibility, Bandido Covid-19 really worked for us as a family game. I wouldn’t suggest it for gamers but I’ve already recommended it to friends with small kids.

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