The Nacho Incident Review
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Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 30 minutes

Bring out the nachos and salsa—and blend up a few Margaritas while you’re at it. Because you’re in for a crazy night of fun and games…and Mexican food.

Your mission is to smuggle Mexican food into Canada and set up the best cantina in the province—while avoiding the Mounties—and to make more money doing it than your opponents.

The game is played in three rounds of four turns each. To set up, four province cards (one each for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec) are placed in the center of the table. Each card lists which kinds of Mexican food (peppers, tortillas, salsa, etc.) are in the greatest demand in that province—and how much people are willing to pay for it. Twelve Mountie cards are placed in three piles of four cards, with only one card face up. Players each start the game with ten gold coins (which are tallied on two score cards), two items of food (which are actually little color-coded plastic cubes), eight smuggler cards, and four cantina cards (one for each province).

To begin each round, players look at their smuggler cards and determine which smuggler they want to use to smuggle which food to which province. Smugglers may only go to certain provinces. Some also cost more than others, and some do a better job but are more likely to be caught by the Mounties than others. Players then take turns smuggling their food into the chosen province. They collect the payment and pay their smuggler—and the smuggler then sets up a cantina in that province.

At the end of each round, players get extra gold coins for having the best cantina in each province. They then restock their supply of smuggler cards and continue to the next round.

After three rounds, the player with the most gold coins is the winner.

The Nacho Incident isn’t a quick game to learn—so be sure that you have at least an extra half hour to spend figuring out the setup and the game play before trying it out the first time (and you might want to hold off on the Margaritas until you've got it figured out). But once you figure it out, you’ll be as hooked as I am. It’s a strategy game—but not a serious strategy game, only for the most hard-core strategy game-players. Sure, there are plenty of things to keep track of—and there are plenty of strategies to play. You’ll have to carefully determine which smugglers to use and where to set up your next cantina, all the while trying to beat out your opponents. But it’s not especially overwhelming or time-consuming. And the great theme and amusing illustrations make it even more light-hearted and fun to play (and I now understand why, in all my time spent in Canada, I could never find a really good Mexican restaurant).

This one will definitely be taking a place of prominence in my game closet.

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