Billabong Boardgamers

Viva Pamplona

Publisher: Amigo
Players: 2-6
Reviewed by Debbie Pickett
Reproduced here with kind permission from Funagain Games.

Strut Your Mucho Stuff

Most people are familiar with the annual spectacle in Pamplona where the young men of the town run down narrow streets with an irate bull raging behind. I admit to being somewhat perplexed as to why a grown man would want to do this, but I am sure that the participants view it as an important ritual of manhood. It is this essence of machismo that Viva Pamplona! captures.

You control three participants in the race, who try to run so as to be in front of the bull - but not TOO far in front (that would not be macho). Each turn, you roll two dice and move two of your three participants forwards that many squares. Some faces of the dice are wild and allow you to move a piece anywhere from zero to six spaces. Since you can only move two of your three pieces each turn you have to manage your movement across turns carefully or one will be left behind. Being behind the bull is bad because it is the safest - and thus least macho - place to be.

Every time around the table, a card is turned over that moves the bull forward a number of spaces. (It is important to make this card-drawing cycle around the table or the game becomes biased against those who go earlier; I think this was a house rule and not in the official rulebook.) On four occasions, the bull charges instead, and players on the same square as the bull earn big points. Points represent machismo of the participants, and they diminish the further ahead of the bull a participant is. Participants behind the bull score negative.

A few complications make for a little more player interaction. If your participants outnumber those of an opponent on a square, you can push them forwards or backwards (and they must pay a point to you, because pushing is macho, and allowing yourself to be pushed is not). This can affect the game quite a bit.

The game ends when the bull crosses the finish line. Those participants who have crossed the line themselves score additional points, again, the most points go to the participants who finished closest ahead of the bull.

Viva Pamplona! is a fun game that captures its theme well. I found myself getting right into the game, and the first time I played I won. I'm trying hard not to think about the consequences of this. Now pass me a beer.

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