Posted by: gschloesser | August 9, 2011

Nacho Loco

Published by:  Buffalo Games
3 – 5 Players, 30 – 45 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser  

I am always on the lookout for fun games that can be played in a family or casual gathering environment.  For me, games that fit this genre should be easy to learn, fun to play, yet have at least a modicum of strategy and not be totally reliant upon luck.  Unfortunately, oftentimes games that are aimed for the family market are sadly lacking in one or more of these aspects.  That is why it is always a joy to discover a game that does contain all of these qualities, and Nacho Loco from Buffalo Games is one of these little gems. 

Nacho Loco is sort of a cross between dominoes and UNO, the popular card game from Mattel.  Participants play cards to the table, and must match at least one side to a previously played card.  Matching special cards can give a player an additional turn, or force players to draw extra cards or lose a turn.  Victory goes to the first player to deplete his hand of cards. 

The game consists of 94 cards, each having the appearance and shape of a triangular nacho.  Each of the three sides of a card will depict a color, an “X”, or a special action.  An initial hand of six cards is dealt to each player, and one card from the draw pile is revealed to form the starting “nacho”.   

Players then alternate placing one card from their hand to the playfield, if they are able to do so.  A card must be placed adjacent to a previously placed card, and must match at least one side of that card.  If a player is able to match two sides, all opponents must draw one card into their hands.  If a player matches three sides – a difficult task – each opponent must draw two cards into their hands.  On the other hand, if a player cannot legally play a card, he must draw a card, playing that card if able.  Otherwise, it is placed into his hand and his turn is over. 

If a player matches two special segments, he immediately executes the action granted.  As mentioned, this can force an opponent to draw three cards or skip a turn, or give the active player an additional turn.  It is difficult to plan for this, and it really is a matter of taking advantage of plays made by your opponents. 

Making placement more difficult is the rule wherein a player cannot match two “X” segments.  Since these “X” segments are plentiful, placement options can significantly decrease as the board grows, depending upon how it develops.   It is possible, however, to use the “X” sides to close the playfield.  If a card is played so that no other cards can possibly be played – meaning that “X” segments are along the entire edge of the playfield – the board is closed.  It can also occur by successfully matching two “X” sides with the one closer card, which is a card with three “X” segments.  The final way the playfield can be closed if every player cannot legally play a card.  

When the playfield is closed, the active player’s opponents must all draw one card.  All of the cards in the playfield are then discarded, a new card is revealed, and play continues.  A round concludes when one player depletes his hand of cards, at which point he scores one point for each card remaining in his opponents’ hands.  Subsequent rounds are played until one player achieves 20 or more points and claims the victory. 

No, there is not a wealth of strategy present, but it is not totally devoid of tactics.  Players should try to keep their options open by retaining cards in their hand that will allow them to play on multiple colors.  It is also wise to retain special cards, playing them only when matches can be made.  If a player has an abundance of one color in his hand, he should play those colors quickly so that he can match them on subsequent turns.  And, of course, a player should also try to play in a manner that will limit the placement options of his opponents.  

These tactics are not complex, and the decisions are not very taxing.  No one is going to be comparing the game to Puerto Rico, Caylus or Squad Leader.  But it is not meant to be a highly detailed strategy game.  Rather, it is clearly meant to be a light, family game this is fun to play, yet not devoid of meaningful decisions.  In that respect, it accomplishes its goal quite well.  Fans of dominoes, UNO and other family games will likely find Nacho Loco to be quite palatable.  Just resist the temptation to dip the cards into the salsa!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: