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Subject: Hole Card Variant rss

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Brent Ross
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This is a variant I've been working on to alleviate some of the pain of being knocked out of the game before getting to play a card. Comments are welcome.

After the hands have been dealt out, each non-Sheriff player chooses one card from their hand to place face down in front of themselves. This hole card is considered "half" played. The hole card has protected status and cannot be destroyed or stolen (ie Panic, Cat Balou, Jesse James, etc.) until the owning player gets their first phase 2 (exception: Vulture Sam still gets it if the character dies). The first time you enter phase 2, you immediately pick up the hole card and return it to your hand if it has not been flipped or used yet. Play continues as normal from that point.

If the hole card is a permanent it can be flipped over at any time and used for it's normal out of turn usage. If it is flipped it should be tilted sideways to signify that it cannot be stolen or destroyed yet. The first time you reach phase 2, a flipped permanent immediately becomes a regular permanent (see Jail below for an exception)... untilt the card to signify that it can now be targeted.

Details on flipping permanents:

Barrel - can be flipped and used as normal in response to being shot at.

Mustang - can be flipped to move out of range. Player who played the Bang! can choose a new target. If no such target exists the Bang! is wasted. Note that the shooter cannot play an Appaloosa until after the Bang! resolves.

Jail - can be flipped and played (untilted) upon the current acting player in response to them causing you damage or taking a card from your hand (ie Panic, Cat Balou, Jesse James, etc.). They do not draw! (and perhaps lose a turn) until their next turn. Note that if the damage is lethal you still get the opportunity to use the Jail on them before death (or Vulture Sam). In cases where there are multiple targets (ie Indians, Gattling Gun), each damaged player in turn order (starting with the next player after the current) gets a chance to Jail the current player. Note that the original rules still apply: you cannot play a Jail on the Sheriff this way, nor can you play a second Jail on a player.

Jail can also be flipped in advance as a deterrent. In this case, it remains face up and tilted in front of the flipping player until either it is used (in response to an offense as above), or until the flipping player's first phase 2 (at which point it is returned to the player's hand immediately). Note that a tilted Jail card in front of a player does not count as a played permanent... Jail can still be played on them and they do not have to draw! (or lose a turn) because of it. It is simply a blank warrant.

Dynamite - is not drawn! for or passed until the turn after it is untilted. In short, it doesn't count as played until your first phase 2... it only has psychological impact.

Guns/Appaloosa - like Dynamite, these have no effect when flipped other than showing that you have them.

If the hole card is not a permanent it can still be played as if it was in the hand (ie Misses and Beer can be used in response to Bang cards and lethal damage, Bangs/Misses can be used in response to Indians/Gatlings/Duels, etc). Other than that, the card remains on the table in protected status until you enter phase 2 for the first time. At that time, if you have a face down card it is immediately returned to your hand.
 
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Brent Ross
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Re:Hole Card Variant
A couple things and clarifications just came to me.

Mustang - the shooter doesn't have to choose a new target, nor can they play a gun to increase range until after the current Bang! is resolved (basically, no card can be played until the effects of the current played card are finished).

Dynamite - as a deterrent: if the player dies before their first turn, flipped dynamite (which may have just been flipped on death) is not discarded or handed to Vulture Sam. Instead, on what would have been the player's turn (had they still been alive) it is passed untilted to the next player still alive, who proceeds to draw! for it at the start of their turn. The Dynamite maintains its protected status until this point.

Flipped Permanents - a flipped permanent which hasn't been used may be returned to the player's hand at the start of the player's first phase 2 (instead of leaving them in play and simply untilting them). It is only Barrels and Mustangs which have been used in response to being shot at which must remain on the table. For example, you could flip a Remington face up and then at the start of your first phase 2, return it to your hand and play a Volcanic you just got from the General Store... or you could flip up Dynamite as a deterrent and then at the start of your phase 2 decide that you don't want to play it yet and return it to your hand. A card that has been flipped cannot be unflipped, however (so if you die with flipped Dynamite it starts up even if now you don't want it to). In any case, once you have reached your first phase 2, you can no longer have a face down or tilted card in front of you.
 
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Emiliano Sciarra
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Re:Hole Card Variant
bwross (#32929),
that's interesting and strategically sound.
However, if you are concerned with first-turn player elimination, you can simply state that you cannot kill a player if he didn't play his turn yet.
Or, you cannot kill anyone before the Sheriff begins his second turn.
 
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Brent Ross
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Re:Hole Card Variant
Alkan (#33030),

Typically we play that mostly as an etiquette issue (avoiding intentionally killing players before they get a turn). However, that doesn't stop a character from being Jailed, damaged, and losing most of their hand on the first turn (and possibly killed during the second due to a lack of abiity to defend against Indians or Gattling).

Which brings us to the other thing I was looking to smooth out a bit... in a seven player game, the last few players start at quite a bit of a disadvantage. The early players are unlikely to be Jailed before their turn, or suffer community (or just regular Bang!) damage... the effect of which is that they've got a larger guarantee of getting the first turn and being able to hold more cards at the end of it (transfering the advantage to the second round). Later characters are more likely to either have cards sucked out of their hand before their first turn or have taken the damage which results in a smaller handsize going into round two. Quite frankly, the early characters get what we call "card advantage" (essentially, more cards being used more efficiently).

This variant helps a bit with that. Every player gets a chance to play that first Barrel or Mustang at the same time (which might save you some cards in reaction or from some early damage allowing you to hold an extra card at the end of that first turn)... the early players certainly get even more advantage just for playing a Barrel earlier in the regular game, and the hole card equalizes the playing time for everone there. The fact that the later players cards are protected for longer is also a bit of a counterweight to the advantage of the early players going earlier (they get to use their Barrel for a longer time before it can be stolen or destroyed).

It also comes down to a bit of where the idea for this variant came from. When looking at the disadvantages of the later players I started with early death and worked back to the fact that there's more opportunity for them to be hit with Indians/Gattling and other things that require countering with cards or taking damage when they've received two less cards than any player who's already had their first turn (something which gets amplified at the begining of the game because the percentange difference between 4 and 6 is much greater than 28 and 30... less cards meaning that you have less capability to respond to things and thus take more damage, which results in less cards into the next round). The end result was looking at rules that would pretty much mean that everyone would end up holding back during the first round, only playing defensive permanents, and waiting for the real action to begin in round two. Thus, I figured maybe we should try allowing players to just play those permanents and start the game... the end result, a hole card.
 
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