Monday, 25 April 2016


It's the ANZAC Day public holiday here in Australia, so we had friends over for a boardgame. This time we played Junta! which seemed to be an exceptionally nasty choice for a group made up of two families, given that it's basically a game of broken promises and cheerful backstabbing. One review I read of it says that you should play it only with very, very good friends or with people who you will never meet again.

The premise, in a nutshell, is that each player is a ruling family in a particularly corrupt Latin American republic. Each year a friendly superpower sends the republic a big wad of foreign aid cash. The President (a position into which one of the players is elected) then assigns the cash to his various ministers, generals and commanders (the other players). Obviously there is never enough cash to go around, so eventually some of these people get unhappy and begin to feel that  someone else could do a better job as the President. Tanks roll onto the streets, student protesters take on the police and the Navy's gunboat shells the Presidential palace. After the mayhem dies down there may be a new President or the original President may still be in power. Generally someone goes before the firing squad.

The aim of the game is not to be the President, however. The aim of the game is to shift as much money as you can into your secret Swiss bank account. Being President can make this easier to do, but not always. As players vie for the President's favour, alliances are forged and destroyed, promises made and broken and assassins stalk the streets.

It's all good, clean fun.

We had the full seven players for our game (which gives each person one, and only one, ministerial position). Actually we had eight players initially, but since Eric had to leave early he teamed up with Claudia. He was also our first President, and proved utterly corrupt, offering miserly budgets and obviously keeping huge amounts of money for himself. Needless to say when he tried to get it to the bank an assassin got him, and Satvik picked up the cash, banking it himself and establishing himself in a strong winning position. He also contrived to get himself elected as the new President, by virtue of some hefty political influence.

His first budget seemed to keep most people happy. His second failed when his Minister of Internal Security (me) led a vote against it but then promised to force it through at gunpoint anyway (I wanted to get all of my police units together in one place for the coup I was sure was coming). Unfortunately Maya stymied this by proposing an alternative budget, which passed despite annoying lots of people. Seeing a pile of cash in President Satvik's hands, and realising that a coup was inevitable and the same hands would soon be cold and dead with the cash being pried from them, I decided to get it for myself. I sent a trio of assassins after the President, gunning him down at home, only to find he'd spent all of the cash sending an assassin after me - I wasn't where the assassin expected me to be, though, and survived.

With President Satvik dead a new President was elected - President Maya. She'd barely stepped inside the Presidential Palace when it was announced that all three army brigades had turned rebel and were advancing through the city. The army brigades had wanted Claudia (now playing without Eric and promising a less corrupt regime) as President. The Air-Force, Navy and Police stayed loyal, but their efforts were not enough. Even a group of student bravely occupying the Chamber of Deputies wasn't enough to save her government, which lasted about 20 minutes. Strangely, though, the new ruling Junta chose not to shoot her. I can't remember who they did shoot. Claudia was duly elected as President.

She proposed a budget. It passed. Then someone assassinated her. I got myself elected President in her stead. The army objected and we had another coup. Fortunately one brigade stayed loyal, assisted by the Air-Force (briefly in charge of the President's brother-in-law). The Minister of Internal Security (Satvik) played a devious game of fence-sitting. The loyal army brigade grabbed and held a couple of key objectives in the city, whilst some carefully-timed airstrikes by the Air-Force ousted the rebels from other positions. The Presidential Palace was saved in part by the President himself offering a huge pile of cash to the troops attacking it if they would change sides. Which they did.

In the aftermath of the coup all of the rebels decided that they were, in fact, totally loyal to the President. Purely as a demonstration of presidential power and justice I had Marco sent to the firing squad; the fact that he was the only rebel with cash in hand (which I got) had nothing at all to do with it.

At that point we had to end the game as Claudia needed to leave, and it's not really a game where people can just drop out and the other players continue. Plus her family were all in the same car anyway. We counted up the totals in the Swiss bank accounts, and Satvik had won, mostly due to the money he grabbed off Eric at the start. Maya almost beat him; I have no idea how she got her money, but she'd obviously played a devious game. Jon had been lucky with secret political donations (one of the event cards) and came a creditable third. The rest of us lagged behind with poor totals.

I was the only President to survive a coup. I would have been a fair and just ruler, had I had chance to show it. And, needless to say, a secretly wealthy one.

It was great fun to play Junta! again. I'd played it a few times in the past, but probably not for twenty years. Catherine had played it once. The others were novices, but soon seemed to pick up the gist of how it is supposed to be played.

I didn't take any pictures. Not even of the presidential sunglasses.


  1. One of my favourite games and best many hilarious hours spent with this gem!

  2. I'm with Phil, a real beer and pretzels game, historical outcomes are the norm...)

  3. Like you, I played it years ago and loved it. I've been thinking of buying it for the family, but do I really want to give the girls more reason to quarrel?

  4. Love this game. A friend of mine always wanted to build miniatures to replace the counters. His plan was to use 1/300th, but I think he also wanted to use 15mm in order to better show the mobs, police force etc.

  5. I have the original, ziplock version of Junta. printed in various shades of brown. As Don M, said, it's beer and pretzels so I don't remember anyone getting hurt feelings or anything in it - unlike Diplomacy - I think it's because Dippy is more intense what with planning out your moves and all - if you're doing good and someone back stabs you, it really deflates you...


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