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BANDIDO is a 1-4 player, cooperative, tile laying, escape-not game from Martin Nedergaard Anderson with neat illustrations by Lucas Guidetti Perez

It is published by Helvetiq and available in the UK via the excellent COILEDSPRING Games company

For the setup you have two options, play with the 'easy' side of the Start Tile, which has five exit tunnels, or the slightly harder side that has six. To be honest it depends more on the number of players and the cards they have drawn than it does the number of exits out.

BANDIDO has managed to get himself locked up in a deep, dark Federal Prison. Luckily he is a master at tunnelling and as there are no actual guards around to stop him he can 'dig' tunnels to his heart's content. In fact the only way he can be prevented from escaping is by someone (you - the player/s) blocking off each tunnel as fast as you can.

There are no 'moving pieces' to worry about, this is a simple tile laying exercise. If, when all the tiles have been used, there is at least one open end then Bandido can escape and you have lost. If, however, you manage to block off all escape routes so he cannot escape, there are some tiles that are specifically designed to block - these have a hand holding a beaming torch - and there are other tile shapes that can cause tunnels to go around in circles with no exits. Either way stops Bandido from escaping.

On our third game on the 'easy' side we blocked his escape with just four tiles - lucky draw. Our first two games one each 'easy' and 'harder' saw him escape with 5 and 4 exit tunnels respectively. It's a game that can end in seconds or go on for 15-20 minutes. Luck of the draw and carefully planned tile placing count high towards success. You can communicate with any other players but you may not show them your tiles. So you can explain what you hold or advise players not to play in a specific place as you can block it off on your next turn. You win or lose together so there is no ulterior reason or purpose for not working together.

The rules are simple and have been used in more games than I could ever list. Play a tile, draw a tile. That is the entire game mechanic. The only rule is you must place tiles so the tunnels shown on them are not blocked by other tile edges, they must link up to a previously placed tunnel (or part of the Start tile). They can be side to side adjacent, length to length, half-side to half side etc as long as the open exits on them are get-at-able.

What happens if you run out of table?
This isn't covered but common-sense usually dictates if you cannot play a tile to block an exit then the exit remains open, so all I can say is be careful on how you allow the maze to meander.

The photos on this page should be viewed from top to bottom as they show stages of a game in play

Each player has 3 tiles in hand and can select from these which to play. If they don't like what they are holding a player can take their entire hand of 3 tiles and add them to the bottom of the deck (note Not Discarded. These cards can come back into play) and draw 3 new tiles, as their turn. Remember by putting poor tiles at the bottom of the deck you can count on them coming back to haunt you later on.

The three tile hand is generous when you have a full compliment of players as it means there are 12 tiles to choose from (especially if you converse right neighbourly). When you play solo you are at a disadvantage as you only have 3 tiles each turn.

If you are playing solo and find you are losing far more than you think you should be, try adding a dummy hand or two, playing these in turn as you would if you had 1, 2 or 3 other players at the table. Be fair and turn each hand back face down (and don't look at the drawn tile) until it's time for that 'hand' to be at turn again. Obviously you should remember what tiles are going to be available, but you also may forget.

BANDIDO isn't fantastic, it isn't a classic, it doesn't have amazing art, and as already said, it uses an age-old well proven game mechanic. What it is though, is a frustratingly enjoyable ever-changing puzzle. Good for 15-20 minutes solo gaming and great as a two-player game, in fact I would, rather ironically, highly recommend it for playing during Lockdown.

Priced around £8.00 it is about the same price as 2 Cappuccino's. It's also just as enjoyable and it lasts longer.  But not as long as Mat (below) seems to be taking 

Coiledspring Games Marketing Assistant Mat and his bony pal playing Bandido!

Games Gazette Staff: We haven't had any players take so long that their opponent has skeletonised - yet!

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021