Banana Republic

A game of bluff and memory for 2 to 5 players. Each game lasts 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the number of players.

The Central American state of Banania, (name changed to protect the guilty), has decided to hold an election for president. Following the example of the superpower to the north, this consists of primary elections for State Voters, who then cast differing numbers of votes for the President, depending on the size of their constituency. The players take the roles of Presidential candidates, who by bribery, and when necessary, assassination, attempt to secure the votes of the Voters.


Cards and their uses


Cheques are used to bribe the Voters. The total of a player's bribe is the sum of all the cheques in his colour placed next to the Voter card. A Voter will vote at the end of the game for the player who has paid him the highest bribe. The cheques come in two different currencies, bananas and dollars. They have an equal value, i.e., eight thousand dollars and three thousand bananas have exactly the same value as seven thousand bananas and four thousand dollars, provided that no journalist is present.


The good folk of Banania have got used to corruption, but are nevertheless very patriotic. If a journalist discovers that a Voter has been bribed, not with home grown bananas, but instead with evil foreign dollars, then the bribe loses its effect. The working of this is that if a journalist card has been placed next to a Voter card, then any dollar cards in the same pile lose their value. Journalists have no effect on banana cards. So if the cards below a Voter card were a ten thousand dollar cheque, a two thousand banana cheque and a journalist, then the player of the two thousand banana cheque would succeed in buying the Voters votes. It is wise to remember that the Journalist affects all dollar cheques in a pile, including any played by the player who lays the journalist card.


As in every civilized land, if a Voter refuses to play along, there remains a final alternative, that of killing him in order to prevent him from voting for your opponents. A Voter who has a killer card in the pile next to him does not vote, having been struck down in his prime just before reaching the hall. If two or more killers are set onto the same Voter, then they succeed only in killing each other and have no effect on the Voter who votes as normal.


A particularly important Voter can be protected by a bodyguard. The bodyguard will prevent one, and only one, killer from reaching his target. The bodyguard is combined with a payment of one thousand bananas to the Voter which counts towards a bribe in the normal way. Examples, if the cards next to a Voter card include a killer and a bodyguard then the bodyguard hinders the killer and the Voter can vote as normal, if however the pile contained a bodyguard and two killers, then the bodyguard would take care of only one killer, allowing the other to do his job and so preventing the Voter from voting.

Object of the game

The players attempt to obtain a majority of the Voter's votes. In order to obtain these, the players can bribe the Voters, or use journalists, killers or bodyguards to influence them.


The Voter cards are well shuffled and laid face down in a row across the table. If there are only two players then one of the Voter cards is removed from play. Each player takes a full set of cards and 11 wooden blocks of the same colour.


First, the players rob each other. Each takes 2 cards from his left hand neighbour, and, after looking at them, places them face down, out of the game, (with 2 or 3 players, each steals only one card). Now each player in turn may look at one of the Voter cards, marking the card he has chosen with a wooden cube of his colour. Once all players in turn have looked at a card, a second round is played in the same way.

Now the game changes somewhat

Still playing in a clockwise direction, the players must carry out two actions per turn. First they must lay a card face down, by one of the Voter cards.( as per the diagram). Next they may look at either, one of the Voter cards, or, at the cards which have been laid next to one of the Voter cards, before replacing the card/s face down on the table. In either case they should place a wooden cube of their colour beside the card or cards that they have looked at as an aide memoire. The cubes should be placed so as to make it clear whether the player has looked at the Voter card or the card/s next to it.

Game end

The game ends when all players have one card left in their hand. Then all the piles of cards are turned over and the cards examined. Voters who have been killed are immediately placed to one side and do not vote. The other Voters give their votes to the player who has paid them most, taking into the account the effect of any journalists present in making any dollars paid worthless. If two or more players have each paid the Voter the same amount, then the Voter's votes are split evenly between them.

All votes received by a player are added together and the player who gets most votes wins the election and so the game. Naturally enough they have a new election every year in Banania so players can play a game of several rounds. In order to determine the most successful player, the votes that they receive in each round are recorded, and the first player to gain in total, for example, 200 votes is the winner.


One variation to make the game harder is to play without the wooden cubes. The game gets a bit easier if all players remove the bodyguard from their set of cards before playing. If you are playing a game of several rounds, you may like to include a bonus for the current president. This means that the winner of the previous round, receives, in addition to his normal votes, the votes of any Voter who has been killed.

Criticism, variants, suggestions and love can be sent to Doris and Frank

This translation by John Webley.

Distributed by Mike Siggins from The Rules Bank.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell