Bang!

This is a game that was given to us almost a year ago. When we opened it, however, we realised that what we had was the French version, which was a tad problematic — for me, at least. So the game ended up being put to the side and largely forgotten. A few weeks ago, however, Alex picked it up and suggested we give it a go and a quick search for a translation of the rules ensued.

Luckily, the publisher has downloadable rules in a multitude of languages. They also provide a handy description of the game:

When a man with a pistol meets a man with a Winchester, you might say that the one with the pistol is a dead man… unless his pistol is a Volcanic!

In the wild west, the Outlaws hunt the Sheriff, the Sheriff hunts the Outlaws, and the Renegade plots in secret, ready to join one side or the other.

Before long, bullets start to fly!Which gunmen are Deputies, ready to sacrifice themselves for the Sheriff? And which are the merciless Outlaws, looking to gun him down?

The world’s best-selling wild west card game is back in a new, richer format. Easier to learn and play than ever before!

I’m not sure about that last line. There can’t be that many wild west card games in existence and being the leader in a field of one isn’t as impressive an achievement as it sounds.

As for the game itself, I shall start by noting that I may be being a little unfair to the game here. A lot of the information necessary to play is printed on the cards which should make for a reasonably fast flowing game. However, with all the cards are printed in French, I have to keep referring back to the rules in order to understand both the character abilities and what the cards can do.

It’s not a bad little game, but nor is it great.

Bang! is a card game and it’s about players shooting each other. It’s not open warfare, though, as each player has a role. In the four player game, there is a sheriff, who has to eliminate everyone else from the game; two outlaws who have to eliminate the sheriff and a renegade who needs to be the last man standing.

Each turn, the player draws two cards, plays as many cards as they can and then discards excess cards until they no longer exceed their hand limit (which varies from player to player and over the course of the game). And I think it’s the need to discard cards that is my main issue with the game because this makes everything heavily dependent on luck. If you have a card that can be played, you really need to either play it or lose it and this makes it near impossible to hang onto a card in order to spring a nasty surprise later in the game.

The game is also a lot easier for the outlaws to win, and very difficult for the renegade, which can make for some very frustrating gameplay.

Linked to this is the fact that the large number of defensive and recovery cards can cause the game to drag somewhat. This is especially notable as players are eliminated and those remaining become increasingly difficult to knock out. This is not helped by the fact that only one Bang! card (the main method for shooting opponents) can be played per turn.

That said, at it’s core the game is a good one and we have played it several times, so much so that the game is flowing a lot more easily. With a bit of tuning, it could be a great game.

We may play around with the rules a bit at some point in the future, just to see what happens if we ignore the hand limit as well as the rule about only playing one Bang card per turn. Because, for me, a Spaghetti Western should end in a massive shootout, and not a long slow grinding of each other down.