18 November 2019
Bahamas feels like an economy-class version of a better gangster game.
If you ever wonder what spawns the idea for a new game, then Bahamas will give you plenty of mental fodder. Was it inspired by the true story of D. B. Cooper, who in 1971 parachuted from the plane he’d hijacked with $200,000 in a suitcase, never to be found, or the traditional card game Old Maid?
You’re scum and villainy with special abilities, arguing over the loot you’ve stolen, but your plane is going daaahn and there aren’t enough parachutes. Worse, there are fake parachutes that look like a fluffy backpack, and ending the game with one is an instant lose. Can you (a) survive, (b) with the most money?
It sounds like Cash ‘n Guns on a plane, only without the guns. Actually it’s a dice-drafter, and the die you choose (or get stuck with) determines your action. You can draw action or cash cards, steal them from other players, or use your character’s special power. Cash sits in your hand until someone steals it, while actions can be played at any time. It ought to be fast and furious, but the cards are mostly about stealing cards or changing dice.
The trouble with Bahamas is that it’s all take and no give. You can grab cards from other players, but only a few action cards will tell you if they’ve got the parachute you desperately need. Plus there’s no way to give away a fake parachute; you have to hope someone will steal it by accident – and that’s the core of Old Maid, a card game we played as kids.
There’s nothing wrong with reusing old game systems, but Old Maid isn’t a good fit for gangsters staring death in the face. Bahamas is fun enough but it’s lacking in surprises or teeth: you can’t stab your friends in the back, shoot them in the face or pawn off a fake chute as a real one. Combined with rules that read like a bad translation (but designed to look like a plane safety card, a nice touch), Bahamas feels like an economy-class version of a better gangster game.
PLAY IT? PROBABLY
Designer: Nicolas Normandon
This review originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.