CARAMBA ! - Reviewed by Mike
This colourful game, which can best be described as belonging to the Family Game category, may be of interest to readers as a useful little filler as the closing game of a session and, being very luck-orientated, it provides an amusing diversion, particularly if used after a long 'heavy' game.
Nice-looking components consist of : -
- large board depicting a route from Acapulco to Mina de Plata
- set of 6 die each numbered 0-5
- set of 6 ambush markers
- set of 6 large plastic sombreros for players movement piece
- set of 6 CARAMBA cards outlining the cost of certain actions
- a hat band to denote the turn leader
- 'gold' and 'silver' chips
- a bowl into 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 1 player has no chips left with which to start the next race and the player with the most chips at that time is the winner. 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 highest throw of a dice, they each place their sombrero on 1 space of their choice , somewhere between Acapulco and the Mine.
The route covers 3 different types of terrain namely 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 other players. Only 1 playing piece is permitted per space so the choice is restricted and the placement of their sombrero will affect their postion in the race and their movement capability as described below.
In a turn players throw the number of die equal to their postion in the race at the start of the turn, hence first throws 1, 2nd throws 2 etc. throw.If all blanks are thrown they remain where they are(very useful !)
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 die to be thrown by 'buying off' die at the specified cost, which starts at 1 chip in the first race and increases through inflation for each subsequent race; these are printed for easy reference on the CARAMBA card. The chips spent on this action are placed into the bowl which contains the 'pot' for this particular race.
If a player's sombrero finishes its move on another players sombrero he receives 1 chip from that player but he must roll 1 dice again and continue to move.
If a player's sombrero lands on an ambush marker (even on his own !!) they must move again by throwing a number of die in accordance with the terrain they are on ; stone = 3, gravel = 2, clay = 1.
If as a result of any penalty move they incur another penalty that's tough luck, they just have to continue.
During a move another player can offer to pay 10 chips to the current player to throw an additional dice...this can be very useful near the end of a race when only 2 players are left in and you want the other player to finish before you.
When all the sombreros have passed over a particular ambush marker it is returned to the owner for subsequent replacement in their next turn.
As players finish a race thay pay chips into the bowl according to their finishing order, so first pays 1, 2nd 2 etc. and once again this increases for each race due to inflation.
The last player to finish wins the 'pot' and is the first to place their sombrero for the next race, others adding theirs in reverse order of which they finished.
Play continues in this fashion until 1 player has no chips left and the game ends and the player with the most chips is declared the winner.
Readers will realise from the brief description of the game that this is just a dice-rolling exercise wrapped up into a Mexican Bandit theme but the options to buy off die allow for some tactical play, however simplistic. In our game the roar that greeted a player in 5th place, who had just paid to buy off 2 die and then threw 3 5's to race into the lead was the loudest of the night. Also 1 player was going along nicely at the back until he landed on an ambush marker, had to throw 3 die, landed on another player, throw 1 more die, landed on another sabotage marker, throw 2 more die and then move forward 6 spaces...last to first in 30 seconds !!
CARAMBA is far from a cerebral exercise but it contains a great fun element and as I've said it provides a nice relaxing game to finish a session. Released in 1992 it should still be available in the shops but I got my copy from Games Corner for 10 pounds.