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Subject: 20 Questions About Bang! The Bullet... rss

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The Compulsive Completist
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1) What kind of games do I own and like?
I mostly like the gateway games because of the ease of learning and teaching. My collection (and reviews) include games like PitchCar, Dominion, Carcassonne, Pandemic, Cosmic Encounter, Lost Cities, Dixit, Ticket to Ride, Survive: Escape from Atlantis, No Thanks and For Sale.

2) Why was I interested in BANG?
The theme. Who can resist old west shoot outs? Who can resist friends that may secretly be enemies? Who can resist badges and guns, horses and rifle scopes? This seemed to have it all.

3) So how was the theme?
Bang! is dripping in theme. This is probably the most thematic game I own in my small collection. Everyone gets a cool old west name like Lucky Duke, they get to arm themselves with an array of weapons including a Buffalo Rifle and they get to shoot each other point blank. I really, really love the theme.

4) What is included with BANG! The Bullet?
You get BANG! You get DODGE CITY! You get HIGH NOON! You get A FISTFUL OF CARDS! You get 5 promo cards that are now only available in The Bullet edition. If you want BANG! This is the edition to get. No question about it.

5) How was the component quality?
It is just cards of decent quality and a cheap plastic badge. The bullet shaped case it comes in outshines the contents.

6) Is the bullet shaped case cumbersome?
It sits awkwardly on the game shelf and a spot has to be cleared just for it. The case itself can be a little difficult to open. The plastic insert is poorly designed. It is divided into three slots to hold all the expansions in no particular order. The case could probably hold a gallon of milk but it struggles to hold what amounts to basically 4 decks of cards. It is a poor functional design inside and out but it is awesome looking and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Bring this thing out and it will get some attention.

7) Does it have Italian and English text?
No need to Panico! it does have the Italian text which is what gives it its charm. I would never have purchased the game without it.

8) Does it come with the player mats and bullet scoring tokens?
No, using the backs of the cards for scoring is much slicker and the player mats are more useful as a learning aid but make it far less portable. The player mats and tokens aren’t necessary and aren’t crucial to whether this game will succeed or not.

9) Did I have the misprinted Rag Time card?
My edition did have the incorrect card. I contacted the manufacturer by e-mail and didn’t here back from them but in less than a week had a replacement in my mailbox. Outstanding customer service! I would imagine any game purchased today would not have the corrected printing anyway so this should be a non-issue.

10) Are the rules clear?
Not really. The cards have icons on them which is frustrating. Why not just write ‘draw two cards’ rather than have a picture of two hands each holding a card? There is plenty of room for text explanations but they dropped the ball by relying on icons. I know companies typically use icons to make their games available internationally but these cards have English and Italian all over them already. There are also many ticky-tack type rules that will keep you returning to the rule book for awhile.

11) How well do the secret roles work?
The secret roles was one aspect of the game that really grabbed me. Unfortunately, it doesn’t play as well as it does on paper. Deputies and Outlaws are discovered rather quickly. The Renegade has a bit of mystery but that is only if he hasn’t been eliminated himself early on.

12) How about all the character roles?
I love games that offer variable player powers like Cosmic Encounter and Pandemic. This is one of the strengths of BANG! The Bullet. There are 42 characters available offering a wealth of variety. I have not played enough to be certain but there appears to be some characters that are out of balance but if you enjoy playing BANG! it will be fun experimenting with them.

13) How well does the shooting distance mechanic play?
It plays decently but can get confusing. Player A may be able to reach all the players at the table while everyone else can only shoot their neighbors. It reads easier than it plays and is one of the things that needs to click for newbies if there is any chance of this game succeeding.

14) How important is it to have the expansions that are included?
Dodge City adds 15 characters and 40 playing cards that I would never play without once you get beyond the teaching games. High Noon or A Fistful of Cards is important to keep the playing time in check. They offer a variety of situations that take effect for a round and more importantly introduce unavoidable finality to limit game length.

15) Do I need the latest expansion Wild West Show?
As a completist; of course I needed it. It addresses the problem of early elimination by introducing Camposanto (Bone Orchard) which brings eliminated players back into the game. It comes across as a half-hearted attempt and comes across af a band-aid and not a true fix to the game. Good luck fitting the 10 Wild West cards into the plastic insert, there is just no extra room in that thing. Rip out that insert!

16) What is there not to like?
Players will be eliminated early and have to watch as the game chugs down the track like a slow locomotive. I have played many games that eliminate players early but this one is vicious. I have seen first round dynamite do some ugly, ugly things. Elimination can happen early and at no fault of the player. Because of the oh-so-early elimination the player has nothing invested in the game and it can be boringly painful to sit and watch the game play out.

17) How did I make this game better?
I printed and laminated my own Colt .45 cards to give out to each player. There seemed to be confusion about whether they could shoot or not without it. This wouldn’t be something that would be needed for long but it is helpful for teaching newbies. I ripped out the plastic insert and have all the decks separated by expansion. You’ll also have to upgrade to a nice, shiny, metal badge with some heft to it. The plastic one included just won’t do.

18) Am I happy with my purchase?
I paid retail ($45.00) for mine at my FLGS and it was way too much. I think you can pick this up online for about $30 and it is worth that if you can get it to the table. I haven’t given up on this game but my family and friends have so I think it may have run its course.

19) What could have improved the game for me?
Less icons, better insert, better badge, smoother game play.

20) Do I recommend BANG! The Bullet?
This game has its place but probably not with me. BANG! doesn’t really shine until you have introduced Dodge City and High Noon/A Fistful of Cards. In order for newbies to get experienced enough to play with those expansions they have to persevere through what can be some painfully poor received games that never feel like they’re going to end and eliminate players far too quickly. I can see it working for some groups but it doesn’t work really well with mine. There is a bit of a learning curve and my people gave up on it long before it had a chance to start clicking. I think this would have been a good game to play with my group in college but at this point in my life it just doesn’t quite fit.
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Eric Clason
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
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Re: 20 Questions About BANG! The Bullet!
It has been my experience that BANG! is popular with casual gamers. With hard core gamers, not so much.

I do not have the Bullet, but I do have all 3 expansions (but not the promo cards or badge). I think the Bullet is an attempt to win mainstream audience. For me, the cumbersomeness of the Bullet outweights it's coolness. I prefer the small box size because it is much easier to fit in my game tub when I'm carrying games someplace.
 
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Marty Pulido

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Re: 20 Questions About BANG! The Bullet!
I recommend trying out Death Mesa, an unofficial expansion to BANG!, to help deal with the player elimination aspect of BANG! Death Mesa creates a solution to this problem by having eliminated players remain in the game as ghosts, which are able to impact the game's outcome, help their team mates, and even succeed in their roles. Ghosts have no life points, no distance constraints, cannot die, and also draw from a specialized deck of cards called the Dead Men's Deck. Cards from this deck allow the ghosts to possess the living, bequeath items from their will, inspire or weaken others, reveal information on cards in player's hands, warn of impending doom, and so forth. Ghosts however, can spoil each other's plans. The expansion is free for download, and can also be ordered online.

In terms of dealing with the slowness of BANG!, you can employ some helpful house rules:

- Quicker BANG! 1: Play only with 3 life point characters. If you Dodge City, this gives you 7 characters; The Bullet, 8 characters; with Wild West Show, 9. Or make all 4 life point characters have 3 life points and only play with them.
- Quicker BANG! 2: Beer and/or Missed! are not reshuffled into the deck. They are placed in a separate discard pile and cannot be reused. \
- Quicker BANG! 3: Players can shoot as many players as they want per turn (given distance constraints), but they can only fire 1 BANG! at each player per turn.
- Quicker BANG! 4: After the deck is reshuffled the first time, all Beer become BANG! Tequila Joe can still play a Beer to regain 1 life point. 2.5/5.

Finally, I have been working on a way to speed up BANG! by adjusting the order of a turn. Typically, BANG! turn order is thus:

Phase 1: Draw Cards
Phase 2: Play Cards
Phase 3: Discard Cards

I think the game will be quicker if changed up to this:

Phase 1: Add cards from separate pile into your hand (see phase 4).
Phase 2: Play Cards
Phase 3: Discard Cards
Phase 4: Draw cards from the top of the deck for the next turn and place them in separate pile, unable to be used until your next turn.

By drawing the cards for your next turn, you can better strategize in between turns and act quicker when your turn arises. This will influence somewhat what cards you will play out of turn (should I expend a BANG!/Missed! in between turns if I know I will not draw one next turn), but I don't think this unfairly benefits any characters too much. If you are placed in Jail, you simply cannot use those cards for another turn. Keep them in the separate pile until you have a turn. If there is an event card in play that limits the amount of cards you can draw, only draw that many. If an event card comes into play limiting the amount of cards you can draw after you have drawn for the next turn, 1 of 2 things could happen: (1) The preferred way is for the event card to affect the cards drawn for the next turn. (2) If you wanted the event card to affect that exact coming turn, you could have the players have cards from the separate pile randomly discarded. (1) is clearly the easiest and quickest.

This adjustment will require a few tweeks for characters:

(1) Bill Noface: Although he draws for his current amount of hit points for the next turn, anytime out of turn where he loses another hit point, he immediately draws another card to add to the separate pile. This way he will have the right amount of cards to draw by the beginning of his next turn.

(2) Kit Carlson: Upon drawing and selecting 2 of the 3 cards, he may pass on the last card to the next player to be drawn (1 turn delayed) or "drawn!" (immediate) for his turn, as long as he does not create any action that requires drawing from the deck.

(3) Pedro Ramirez can swap out a card from the separate pile with the card on top of the discard pile at the beginning of his turn. This allows him to continue chain-jailing and preserves his ability as best as I can conceive.

If you are done with BANG!, these won't do you much good. But if you see something in BANG! worth keeping, you might really value these adjustments.
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The Compulsive Completist
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Re: 20 Questions About BANG! The Bullet!
I appreciate the advice and will see if there is something we can do with it. It is frustrating to have a game that I consider a bit ticky-tack rule infested already and have to add new rules to make it run better.

But I do appreciate the advice. Those tweaks would definately help speed up the game.
 
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