Publisher: Schmidt Spiele
Los Banditos is part of the Schmidt Spiele EasyPlay series that arrived with very little fanfare and quickly went out of print. It was not widely available and in fact, probably never available outside of Europe. Many gamers never had a chance to play these simple designs…… until now. Boardgametable has republished and rethemed Big Points as Bites. Level X and Finito will be up next. Unfortunately, no one is redoing Los Banditos which is really too bad because I consider it the best game in the EasyPlay series.
Los Banditos is a dice variant of Knizia’s popular Schotten-Totten also known as Battle line. If you haven’t played either game, you should give it a try. In Los Banditos, 4 of the 10 chips are placed in the middle with values ranging from 1-3. The goal is to win chips with a total value of 10 points before your opponent beats you to it. During your turn, you take 2 dice from the bag, roll and then assign the dice to any chip of your choosing. Your opponent does the same, but on their side of the table. The whole purpose is to win the chip by forming the best poker hand with a set of 3 dice. There are 24 dice in 4 colors, so one can try to assemble a straight flush, which would beat all sets. As soon as a chip is claimed, players flip over a new chip to replenish. Eventually, someone will reach 10 points.
Incredibly, Knizia introduced a rule which made the game more cerebral: One can claim or abandoned a chip before or after the die roll. This rule allows one to claim a chip if you can prove a winning hand which cannot be bested. Alternatively, you can also abandon a chip and flip a new one before the dice is allocated. It may be tactical to abandon a claim because the odds are stacked against you may anticipate the next chip to have a higher value. In either case, this rule enables opportunity for clever play.
This is easily my favorite game in the entire EasyPlay series. I love the short but also tactical nature of the game. In some ways, Los Banditos may even be preferred over Schotten-totten in terms of getting the same flavor in a shorter time frame. True, you can be at the mercy of the dice but in Schotten-Totten, you are also at the mercy of the card draw. Regardless, both are good games. Unfortunately, there is no reprint scheduled for Los Banditos and it remains, a hidden gem.
Initial impressions: good