BANG! is a great game. First off, who's kiddin' who - the name of the game is BANG! - all caps, with an exclamation point at the end...I think that's funny (okay, so it's the little details that strike me). But seriously, to comment on what a lot of other folks who've reviewed the game have said, the theme here is fantastic. This is another example of a card game that really has a great theme. To me, this is impressive because so often a game's theme is determined by the bits and the board. Since a card game really has neither, it has to rely on the character of the cards themselves and, more over, the actual game play mechanic itself to establish theme.
To begin with, the art on the cards are fairly simple pencil sketches which I really like. They're not precise, finished images. Rather they're very loose drawings - perfect for a "rough and tumble" game set in the old west. Second, there's the right amount of cheese to make them funny - it's almost the same kind of appeal as going to the the Enchanted Tiki Room when you're at Disneyland. You can imagine the really bad foreign made western movies with really bad voice overs. Fabulous!
But the real charm of the game is the mechanic. Depending on where you sit at the table of play, you are a certain "range" from other players. For example, players to your direct right or left are a range of one. Players sitting next to players to your direct right or left are a range of two, and so on. Various cards allow you to shoot at, mess with, catch up to (etc.) your opponents. I should mention (now that I think of it) your goal depends on which type of character you are - either the Sheriff, a Deputy, a bad guy, or a renegade. In any case, you want to kill your opponents in various combinations depending on which type of character you are.
The variety of cards bring a lot to the game as well - particularly the dynamite card which gets passed around the table like a hot potato until it blows up, usually wiping out the poor soul who's holding it when it goes off. There are also indiands (what would a western game be without them?), a general store, and BEER (yes BEER) cards. It's great - if you get hurt you can play a beer card and regain some life. Nothing like a good mug of suds to perk you up after you've been shot!! As far as I'm concerned, that makes the game great by itself! Too bad there isn't a "Cigar" card - who knows what benefits that might grant characters...sounds like a good variant to me!!
In any event - the only down side to BANG! are the rules. For some reason I find that the game is kind of hard to explain to people who haven't played. And it takes a few times through to really understand it. This is mainly because of trying to remember what all the cards are, when to play them, and what they do. But once you've played it, the game comes very naturally.
This is one of the best card based games around. Strongly recommended. For another great western card game, check out the Mother Load of Sticky Gulch. Not as complex as BANG!, but a great time, never-the-less!!
Re:User Review- A few Dollars More
I have to add my "few dollars More" to David's review.
First, this is a wonderfully simple (once you understand the symbols) multiplayer game. Not knowing which players are the outlaw, who are the deputies, etc. really makes it a clever game.
Various weapons increase the players "range" and horses either make it harder for your opponents to shoot you or easier for you to shoot your opponents. (and you can have one of each type of horses and manage to do both)
Each player has a character and that character has a unique ability or strength. This adds even more fun to the game.
A player can be put in jail, or a bundle of dynamite can be lit and passed down. The funniest thing that happened was the dynamite blew up a player in jail.
As David stated, the rules aren't the most intuitive, I imagine that is because they are translated from the Italian. Once understood you have an awesomely fun game.
Another Western Theme Card Game that is fun and simple is "Wyatt Earp" but it does not provide the laughs that "Bang!" provides. Bang is a great game that doesn't take itself seriously and laughter usually surrounds the table where it is being played. The more players involved the more fun it is.
I join Mr. Peterson in offering it as a recommendation.
David "the preacher" Wilson