Now who are these five?
Come, come, all children who love fairy tales.
This is the second review I do after I decided I'd review all the games in my collection and not just those I wanted to review.
Bang! is one of those games I reluctantly review, not because I don't want to review it, but because I know there already are reviews out there, of probably better quality than I can muster. The decision to post a review anyway might thus seem to be… rather daft, but I do so convinced that my opinion, and none other than mine, might, just might, be read by someone who just might get something out of it that wasn't clear in the other reviews. Or perhaps they didn't bother to read the others.
Shortly, Bang! is just my type of game. It's silly, it's fast and it's hilarious. However, it has some flaws that need to be taken care of. They aren't really inherent with the game, but rather with the group you play with. So be warned.
I don't even know why I need to have this "components" in this sort of review. Bang! is a deck of cards, the end. OK, they're good quality. Glossy. You may eat crisps while playing my copy. And oh, the illustrations are OK too. good flavour.
Short game overview
Bang! is a game for 5 players or more. Not unlike Werewolf, the social game for game groups of 12 people and more, you get a secret "role" with it's own goals. In Bang! the roles are four: The Sheriff, who's supposed to kill the outlaws, the Deputies, who have the same goal as the Sheriff, the outlaws who're out to get the sheriff, and the renegade, who just has to kill everyone. Only the sheriff is known, the other players hold their role hidden until they're killed.
The game ends when the sheriff is dead, or the outlaws are dead. So, naturally, the renegade can't start firing away at the sheriff. He needs to kill the outlaws first. So the sheriff will see some people sniping away at him and conclude that "hey, they're probably outlaws", but those NOT firing at him… well, they might be deputies helping him out… or not.
When roles have been decided, all players get playing cards, that can roughly be divided into 3 categories: "Bang!" (shoot another player), "Mancato" ('miss' card - played when someone plays a Bang! card at you) and the rest of the cards that can be anything from events to equipment to whatever. There are the guns that allow you to fire from longer distance, barrels that give you a chance that the opponents will miss you, there are cards that steal or discard cards from others, events like indians that force all to discard a Bang! card, and there is the infamout hot potato dynamite card that goes around the table, occasionally exploding and killing whoever happened to have it.
Player turns consist of draw 2 cards, play whatever amount of cards you want (the only limit is that only 1 Bang! card per turn can be played) and then discard cards if you have more cards than you have life points. Then turn goes to next player.
Game continues until the sheriff is killed or all outlaws and the renegade is killed (exception is if a Deputy and a renegade are still left, the fight goes on until one of them stands).
The verdict is pretty much already said – I really like this game, mostly because of the flavour. It's a good game for many people, it's a bit psychological, it's interactive, it's crazed, random, and silly. It's not so much that you need to be in the right mood, that you need to be of a state of mind to enjoy it, though. Someone plays a Jail card on you. Then a Bang! card. Then you get the dynamite which explodes and you die. Now, some people might say "hey, that's unfair/random/untactical/Ihadnochancewhatsoever" and call the game no fun at all. And some people laugh out loud at the prospect of first being thrown in jail for no reason whatsoever, then suddenly shot - while in jail, and shortly afterwards some lunatic lobs a friggin dynamite through the bars and boom. I am of the latter type. Goes without saying who has the most fun.
However, there are flaws –or rather, traps that you need to be careful with, and it has to do with playtime. To put it bluntly, if this game is played slowly, it quickly develops into a stinker. Your go should take no more than 10 or maybe 20 seconds. There are a lot of players involved, and moreover it's player elimination, so downtime is a big, big, no-no.
One of the game-slowing effects had to do with the game. To internationalize the cards, they're decorated with symbols instead of informative text. This causes the game to roll a bit slowly the first time as people decipher the symbols and grasp the flow of the game and the aspect of distance. But some people tend to continue being slow, and… well… don't play this game with them.
This isn't a game of deduction, like Werewolf. This is a fast spaghetti-western shootout and should be played accordingly. The sheriff has no idea where to shoot at first? Care? Hell no, fire away at some guy who just beat you in Ticket to Ride. Hear him scream incredulously "HEY! I'm the deputy, you wanker!" "Yeah yeah, that's what they all say, by the way, some indians come by! I'm done your go!" "Fear me, I have a Mustang! And I fire at… ehm… YOU!" "WHY ME?" "…well, whatever. You sat there looking… hungry! And furthermore, you didn't pass the tea when I asked you to! So there!".
After 30 minutes or less, the game is won by whoever.
And if you're like my group, EVERYONE will want to play again.
I agree with the comment above. from me.
Just call me Erik
This "reluctant" review is tons better than some "non-reluctant" ones I've read. I'm torn between encouraging you to write more reviews (especially of games that need them) and bugging you about the Return to Heroes expansion set you're working on!
aka. Washu! ^O^
I'd say write moar reviews. Mostly because I dislike RotH intensely.