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2-6 players, 45 minutes

designed by

reviewed by

This is a colourful, family game that may be of interest to Sumo readers as a useful filler for the closing game of a session. Although very luck oriented, it provides an amusing diversion, particularly if used after a long, `heavy' game. The nice looking components consists of a large board depicting a route from Acapulco to Mina de Plata, dice (numbered 0-5, rather than 1-6), ambush markers, `sombrero' playing pieces, gold and silver chips and a bowl in which chips are placed to form the `pot'.

The game consists of a series of races the winner of which is the one who is LAST to arrive at Mina de Plata and they grab the pot for that particular race. The number of races that make up a complete game is variable, with the game ending when one player has no chips left with which to start the next race. The player with the most chips at that time is the winer. Normally a game consists of 3-4 races, each lasting about 10 minutes.

Players start with chips to the value of 30 and, in a turn order determined initially by the throw of a die, they each place their sombrero on a space of their choice somewhere between Acapulco and the Mine. The route covers three different types of terrain -- stone, gravel or clay -- and each type attracts different penalties under certain conditions (see later). Players then place their ambush marker where they think it will do most damage to the other players. Only one playing piece is permitted per space.

In a turn players throw the number of dice equal to their position in the race at the start of the turn and they move forward the number indicated. As the object of the race is to be the last to arrive at the mine, players may, if they wish, reduce the number of dice to be thrown by `buying off' dice at the specified cost, which starts at one chip for the first race and increases subsequently. Chips spent this way are placed in the bowl which contains the pot.


If a player's sombrero finishes its move on another player's sombrero, he receives one chip from that player but he must roll one die again and continue to move.

If a player's sombrero lands on an ambush marker (even on his own!!) he must move again by throwing a number of dice determined by the terrain.

When all the sombreros have passed over a particular ambush marker, it is returned to its owner for subsequent replacement on the player's next turn.

If as a result of any penalty move they incur another penalty, that's tough luck, they just have to continue.

Optional Penalty

During a move another player can offer to pay 10 chips to the current player to throw an additional die. This can be very useful near the end of a race when only two players are left in and you want the other player to finish before you.

As players finish a race they pay chips into the pot according to their finishing order. The last player to finish takes the pot and is the first to place their sombrero for the next race.

Readers will realise from this description that this is just a dice rolling exercise with a Mexican Bandit theme, but the options to buy off dice allow for some tactical play, however simplistic. Caramba is far from a cerebral exercise, but it contains a great fun element: in our game the roar that greeted a player in 5th place, who had just paid to buy off 2 dice and then rolled three 5's to race into the lead was the loudest of the night. Also, one player was going along nicely at the back until he landed on an ambush marker, had to throw 3 dice, landed on another player, had to throw another die, landed on a second sabotage marker, two more dice and then move forward 6 spaces -- last to first in 30 seconds. The game was published in 1992 but should still be available. I got my copy from Games Corner.

Mike Oakes

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Next: TOR Up: No Title Previous: HIGH SOCIETY
Stuart Dagger