FX Schmid, £15
Designed by Wolfgang Kramer
2-6 players, about 20-30 minutes
Reviewed by Neil Wilson
Viva Pamplona! is the latest offering from Wolfgang Kramer and is a game for 2-6 players from age 8 upwards. The location is Pamplona, Northern Spain, the month July. An enraged bull charges through the streets towards an arena, surrounded by brave young locals.
Each player controls three of the young locals and endeavours to manoeuvre them to be as near as possible to, though always in front of, the bull as it careers through town. This is achieved by throwing two special die and moving one playing piece forward the number of spaces on one of the die, a second piece the number on the other dice. The die are special in that some of the numbers are replaced by an arrow which means that any number of spaces from one to six can be moved. Once all players have thrown the die & moved two of their pieces in this way, a card is turned over to see if the bull charges through the street or attacks. It is during this latter action that players score bravery points, the ultimate objective, for being within goring range of the bull.
All pieces on the same space as the bull score three bravery points from the bank, one space in front two points, two in front one point, while all those behind lose one point for each space behind the bull. Play then continues with each player throwing the two die again, moving on etc. As I said, the object of the game is to earn bravery points for proximity to the bull. However, there is another way to get bravery points and that is to jostle other players by having more of your pieces on a space than theirs. They then give you bravery points according to how much you outnumber them by and you add insult to injury by moving your opponent's piece forwards or back that number of spaces also. Even better to land on a space where you outnumber quite a few opponents pieces.
Dotted around the streets are Safety Spaces where players hide from the bull. Landing on one of these spaces incurs a penalty of one bravery point to the bank. Therefore if you are jostled by another player onto one of these spaces, not only do you give him bravery points, but also one to the bank. Nearing the final arena are two Tomato spaces which are difficult to pass. Neither the bull nor the locals may land on either space, but slip back to the space before the tomatoes where quite a bottleneck can arise and much jostling occur. The streets end at the arena and the trick here is to get into the arena as late as possible but before the bull. First player into the arena scores one bravery point, the second two, and so on but the game ends as soon as the bull arrives. So those lagging behind hoping for larger points in the arena may find themselves with none as the bull sprints in. The game finishes, players count up their bravery points & the player with the most bravery points wins.
That is essentially it. The skill lies in choosing which pieces to move (particularly when the arrows are thrown), jostling other players and trying to keep up with the bull while keeping your pieces together to make them less vulnerable. While firmly in the family game camp, I was surprised at just how much fun it was. Some games the bull hardly moves at all, giving you plenty of chances to jostle but sometimes he shoots off and it's all you can do to bring up your backmarkers in case the bull attacks and you suffer heavy losses.
The game plays very quickly (maximum 20 minutes for three players) and it is probably best played a number of times so that each player can have the disadvantage of moving off first, increasing their likelihood of being jostled. In many respects the game reminds me of Midnight Party, another of Kramer's games, choosing which piece to move and chanting 'Hugo, Hugo' every now and again. Viva Pamplona! is definitely a more skilful game and noise addicts can always shout 'Ole, Ole' to their hearts' content.
On to the review of Nippon Rails or back to the review of Stalingrad Pocket.
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