Monday, December 23, 2013

The sheriff shot me

Bang! is one of my favorite games that I never play. The box says it can play with 4-7 players (3-8 if you have the Dodge City expansion), but the four player version doesn't balance very well, so it really needs five or more players to be a satisfying game experience. It's also one of those games that tends to polarize gamers: they either love it or they hate it, so rounding up five or more people who want to play can be a challenge. For our game we co-opted our weekly role playing game group, most of whom like the game and have played it before.

The game simulates all the drama and tension of a climactic spaghetti western shootout. Each player is given a role: the Sheriff, the Deputy, the Renegade, and two or more Outlaws. All the roles are kept secret except for the Sheriff (even his own deputy), and each one has its own victory condition, so you never really know the other players' motivations. You can just imagine them all squinting at each other across a dusty street, sizing each other up.

Cards represent shots, dodges, weapons, horses, and other trappings of the genre, that will either help or hinder the players as they try to achieve their victory. The Sheriff must get rid of the Renegade and all the Outlaws, the Deputy must keep the Sheriff alive, the Outlaws win collectively if the Sheriff dies, and the Renegade must be the last man standing in order to win.

Additionally, each player is given a character to play, with a unique ability that gives the game some extra variety.

To make the spaghetti western theme even more pronounced, the game was originally published in Italy, so all the card titles are in Italian, making them look like the credits to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The action is pretty fast paced, with enough wrinkles to keep it interesting. In one of our games, I was left holding the Dynamite card, which travels around the table until it randomly explodes. The player playing the Sheriff shot me dead rather than end up with the Dynamite...

Rating: 4 (out of 5) I think Bang! is a thrilling western action game, one of the surprisingly few on the market. The only barrier to playing it a lot is the relatively large number of players required.

  • Bang! official website (you'll need a translator unless you can read Italian)
  • Bang! on

Date played: December 2, 2013

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