Recently a friend of mine discussed Junta and why he liked the game. Only a few days later I found it for sale and got it especially as pre-party entertainment for New Year’s Eve. It was an instant hit. In Junta the players represent the leading clans of ‘La Republica de los Bananas’. The small country survives on foreign aid and your sole objective is to transfer as much of the incoming money to your Swiss Bank account. One player is ‘El Presidente’ who has two important tasks: each round he distributes the military and political positions amongst the players and proposes a budget. All the players then vote on the budget and when it passes the money is distributed straight into the players pockets accordingly. (Well you didn’t expect a budget that would have benefited the population would pass, did you?). When it does not pass the Minister of Internal Security can use his police to force the budget at gunpoint but off course this might spark a coup later.
The game proceeds through two distinct phases: a political phase where the players struggle to gain as much control over the funds. During this phase players can try to assassinate one and other, especially if someone tries to go to the bank to deposit his ‘hard earned’ pesos. Occasionally, the game goes into a coup phase where the players struggle for the control of 5 power-centres. During this phase the game switches into a strategic mode with the players moving their armies, police force, protesting students around the map or calling in air strikes on opposing factions. These phases are fairly brief and the gameplay is mostly political.
Junta is an excellent game, especially if you enjoy its politically incorrect or satirical nature. Most cards are humorously drawn and written, adding to the general atmosphere. My personal favourite is the “Students Circulate Petition Condemining Represssion” event-card (yes that’s how it’s spelled), which obviously has no effect whatsoever. It caters for a wide variety of players because of the political, strategical, and social elements. There is ample opportunity for role-playing and impromptu political speeches.
If the game has a downside it is that it is procedure heavy: it requires a play-through of the different phases before it becomes clear. After two half-finished but highly enjoyable games I am about to re-read the rules to grasp all the details, and to find out what the ’cousin’ counter is for.