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Bandido: The Dutch El “Chapo” Guzmán

Alexis Ibarra-Ibarra

Let me start stating something you should all know: Mexico is lovely. This country has a lot of bright and happy colors, sounds, flavors, and traditions. It has beautiful modern and colonial cities, traditional towns with lovely clay roof tiles, stunning archeologic sites and pyramids. On top, it has gorgeous warm-water paradisiac beaches (white sand and crystalline turquoise/aqua water, and gold sand with dark emerald water), vast tropical forests and rainforests, jungles, deserts, mountains… and almost all possible ecosystem. Mexicans know how to party and are incredibly welcoming and friendly. Yes, of course, it has a lot of other problems like narcs and machismo, but it’s still an enchanting place. Besides, if you stay in the tourist area, you are completely safe.

I had to state that because I’ll talk about a very peculiar Mexican character that gave Mexico a bad reputation (granted, along with many other guys…). He was once on top of the list of the most wanted men in the world: el “Chapo” Guzmán. He was a narc and escaped prison a couple of times in the most incredible ways… For example, one time, he escaped from jail inside a laundry cart. His lastest breakout (that is important for the sake of this article) was when he escaped through a one kilometer tunnel that looked like it was designed by an engineer. Most probably, he is planning how to escape from his new home right now: a US Maximum Security Federal Prison.

Now, not so long ago, I was at Amsterdam’s airport and decided to go window shopping while waiting for my flight. Surprisingly, I found a board games section in a bookstore that looked kind of dull. Then, it happened: a little box caught my eye. It was like love at first sight. The box had a very charming graphic design based on the stereotypical Mexican landscape of a desert with cacti and the cliched figure of a thief. The game seemed to be made with care and excellent materials, and it wasn’t expensive. The name OBVIOUSLY was in Spanish, Bandido, and together with all the visual symbols, the game was definitely hinting that the criminal was Mexican or at least in Mexico (ok… maybe it was my subconscious, and it was meant to allude the Old West). They concatenated another stereotype: the instructions talked about preventing the bandit from escaping through a tunnel. Everything looked like a big stereotype, but, at the same time, it looked pretty, fun, and funny, so I bought it after going through some outstanding reviews on Google.

I noticed the game was in fact produced in The Netherlands by Helvetiq, so it was gonna be my first Dutch board game (card game). I opened it on Christmas Eve, and read the instructions. The game looked extremely simple and somewhat boring because it wasn’t about competing against other players but about beating the game (a.k.a. the inanimate Bandido card). I even joked and said out loud: “the Dutch are becoming commies!” The first time I played with my family, and we beat him in just one round, so we thought the game was trash. However, we gave it another chance, and our opinion changed radically. We continued playing for hours. It was extremely amusing, you needed tons of strategy, and believe in the cleverness and luck of the other players. Moreover, it ended up being exasperatingly tricky and challenging even on easy. The rules were so simple, yet, the fucking Bandido escaped over and over again, just like El “Chapo” Guzmán. Was that on purpose? Were they trying to mimic him? I don’t know, but if Helvetiq was attempting to create a Dutch El “Chapo” Guzmán, it excelled on it.

The only times we have caught him has been because of luck (basically, getting amazing cards that allows us to catch him in the first round). I have played that game on solo mode, have had a lot of fun and have been really close to celebrating my “Gotcha!” moment, but in the end, he always finds a way out. However, the difficulty of the game does not make it less fun, it actually makes you want to continue playing to get that son of a bitch! He is indeed wanted as the box says, and it becomes more and more wanted every time you play and fail. So, I’ll keep playing waiting for the Bandido to let his guard down and try to produce his own TV series just like El “Chapo” did (that’s ACTUALLY how and why they caught him this time… FOR REAL). To be completely honest with you, Bandido going a crazy narcissist just like El “Chapo” would probably be my only chance to get him…   

I checked on Amazon, and it’s at least 10 euros/13 dollars ~ more expensive there than in The Netherlands. Still, it’s a game that worths it, and you should definitely play it! Besides, it is equally fun with friends and no friends, so don’t worry if you are shy, an introvert or a true forever alone, you will enjoy it!

Disclaimer: I promise that Helvetiq did not pay me for this article (they should though) and that the Mexican government didn’t pay for the first ad either. So trust me, you will have a lot of fun playing Bandido (during and after the Quarantine) and visiting Mexico (after the Quarantine, please)! If you can do both, thank me later! 😉

Update: I CAUGHT HIM! On Easy AND Difficult! No luck, only Strategy! “After all this time”… Pics or it didn’t happen:

Easy: Piece of Cake (now XD)
Hard: Piece of Cake (now XD)

One reply on “Bandido: The Dutch El “Chapo” Guzmán”

The game ‘Bandido’ is great. It’s a simple game but plays a lot with combinatorics. Subtle but powerful. But, the way you describe it, it simply makes it a million times better.

Liked by 1 person

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