#43 – Bandu


At a Glance: Bandu is a mystical place where the beans are precious, the pieces are weird, and the fun is undeniable.

Bandu is a tower-building dexterity game for players where the goal is to build your tower as efficiently as possible and force your opponents to take weirdly shaped pieces that make their towers unstable. Included in the game are wooden pieces of various shapes and sizes, some of which are conducive to building, and some are definitely not. Each player starts with a small base, and their tower must fit on the base only; nothing may touch the table. Each player also starts with 5 beans, and these are what is used in the bidding aspect of the game. The beans are completely finite, meaning once you pay them, you can never get them back. On your turn, you choose a piece and offer it as an auction to the player beside you. There are 2 types of auctions you may announce, either a “pay to accept” or a “pay to reject” auction. You might find a good lucrative piece to offer as an “accept” or you may pick a terrible, awkward piece to offer as a “reject”. Players go in order, either paying a bean to accept/reject or passing, but ultimately someone ends up with the piece and must try to place it on their tower. If a player’s tower falls over, they are eliminated and their pieces return to the main supply to be up for grabs again. Last one standing is the winner.

Beans are precious. These are not magic beans, mind you, but it is crucial to not use them all too early in a careless manner. This is because once you are out of beans, then you cannot pay to reject anything, therefore you are forced to take everything offered you in a “reject” auction. At this point, it gets pretty tense and desperate. Starting a “pay to accept” auction is a good way to pick a piece that you want to build, because if no one pays to accept, then you get it for free. With the way the pieces fit together, some actually kind of “fix” the bad pieces. I just really like the player interaction here, which elevates it so much more than Jenga and the like. It’s a bit nasty actually, which is fine, but may turn some people off of it.

This game was originally published in Germany as “Bausack”, then Milton Bradley thankfully released it as “Bandu” in the U.S. in 1991. The pieces are a bit different, but the idea is the same. The pieces are also very nice—all solid wood and in interesting shapes. And they could have just made generic tokens, but the beans actually look like beans, so that’s fun. If you like stacking games like Jenga, give this one a try!

Check it out: https://amzn.to/2RZPqZe

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