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Cangaceiros

Set in Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th Century, Cangaceiros is themed around warring gangs of bandidos - think Al Capone and his mobsters transposed from the USA to Brazil. With a machete as the first player marker, Cangaceiros may have a battling 'Ameritrash' theme but it uses distinctly eurogame mechanics.



Tho' the history will probably be unfamiliar to most players outside the Portuguese-speaking world, almost all of the characters in the game are based on real historical persona, tho' designer Roberto Pestrin has also included a card representing the Cuban actor Tomas Milian as homage to his starring role in the 1969 movie O'Cangaceiro.


Actions in Cangaceiros are card driven. Players have a deck always of seven cards, tho' you can swap cards out for others, deck-building style, during the course of play. Each round players have access to all seven of their cards from which they all simultaneously draw three cards for the round. These cards are played one at a time so it's possible that you might select a card and find you can't make proper use of its action by the time you come to play it. The game accommodates that by always allowing the option of discarding a card to take a single basic action (ie: a lesser version of a different card action).


There's an area control element when you take a resource collection action and, crucially, there are events which trigger at the end of each round. These are known at the start of the game, as the tiles for all the events are placed out face up. That means players are able to plan for the events, including the option of placing a garrison to ignore an event's negative effects.



You're outlaws so you can expect to come up against the police, referred to as the Volantes. These spawn each round. They can capture and imprison your garrison meeples but they are not averse to accepting bribes: you can pay them off to leave you alone. Of course you can also fight them: you compare attack and shield (defence) values to determine combat. There's a risk you'll take wounds but defeating the Volantes lets you take those meeples and trade them in for victory points, either directly or through contributing to the completion of 'life goal' cards that give your boss a comfortable retirement. It seems that, as in John Company (Wehrlegig), a comfortable retirement is the Cangaceiros' ultimate aim.


With art by Emiliano Mammucari, Cangaceiros is attractively presented by Ares Games. It's thematically strong: the game feels like a mashup of Western and gangster genres so should appeal to fans of both. Notionally this is a 2-5 player game: the double-sided board offers different 2/3-player and 4/5 player layouts. There's inevitably more interaction as you raise the player count so we've enjoyed the game much more with three or more players than with just two.



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