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Subject: A pedestrian experiance in drawn out chaos. rss

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Robert .
United States
Royal Oak
Michigan
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Bang!

Components (Bits):


Usually Mayfair games lack quality, and have fairly poor cards, but Bang! is the exception to this rule, as its cards are very good. The box is one of those lovely little Amigo style card boxes that we all love so much. The main complaint with the components is the artwork; it is fairly poor and looks like basic colour pencil drawings. The rules could have used a printing on nice glossy paper with colour illustrations instead of the cheap thin black and white ones included.

Setup and Rules:

Other than being cheap and in black and white on thin paper, the rules are easy to understand, and the game is a breeze to setup. Each player selects a face down character and role card, and then each person is dealt a hand of cards based on how many life points they have. (Usually 3-5 cards)

Theme:

I’m a big fan of themed games, and I have to say Bang does a fine job of presenting a game in the old western theme. The main complaint I have with the theme is that the artwork doesn’t carry the theme well enough, and this costs the game some valuable ratings in this category because some immersion is lost on the lacklustre drawings.

Game Play:

Bang is quite simply a hand management, action card combat style game. Players assume the character of various fictional old west characters, and then take the roll of Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw or Renegade. The objective of the game varies depending on which role you have. The sheriff must not die, and needs to fight off the outlaws and renegade, and avoid killing the deputy if possible. Since the roles are hidden, there is some bluffing, guessing, and gambling going on as to which person has which role, and sometimes you don’t discover who is who until the end! The only exception to this is the Sheriff role, which is known by all players. The game begins, and each person attempts to play cards and win the game based on the role they have. To do this, they must carefully consider their options, gun down other players, set up their defence using special cards like the “Barrel”, and use special action cards. Bang is a fairly involved game, and I’m simply not going to detail all of the game play nuances in this review, it would require extensive explanation which is best left to reading the rules of the game.

Depth and Tactics:

The potential tactics in this game is far too varied to describe in a review, and depends greatly on the role you receive and how you decide to play that role. I will say however, that this is not a very deep game, and is usually played from the hip based on instinct more than strategy. It isn’t brain busting, and certainly doesn’t present a wealth of strategy, but I don’t think this was the intention of the developers. This is more of a light adventure in combat card play with assumed roles and action cards.

Summary:

My initial opinion of Bang was extremely high when I first played it. However after further play, I am less than thrilled with it and it isn’t something I would want to play on a regular basis. One of the aspects I really dislike is the elimination factor – it is quite likely to be knocked out fairly quickly in this game, and then you have to endure another hour of watching other people slug it out. That is NOT very fun or exciting and really limits the appeal of this game for me. Another aspect I dislike is the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the game, and the wild swings it can take at any time. I like to think my decisions have a factor in games, and in Bang, it often all boils down to the luck of the draw and whether or not another player decides he wants to kill you. Given the odds, often there is nothing you can do but die. Bang lasts too long for a filler, often lasting 1-2 hours, and the potential for a stalemate between the last remaining players is a real possibility in this game. Several times I’ve played this, players got tired of the constant back and forth as the game was winding down, and agreed to just end the game and save frustration. Bang isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t one I feel compelled to have in my collection, or play on a regular basis. I rate it only slight above average, there are many card games out there I’d chose over Bang, but it isn’t a bad game, and supports a large number of players.
 
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Dave Riedy
United States
Glen Ridge
New Jersey
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I think you may be playing the game incorrectly somehow, or the people you're playing the game with are putting too much effort into strategy. I've yet to play a game that lasts more than 45 minutes (and they usually last 20-30), which goes a long way to forgiving the luck and elimination factors.

That said, I've only played with up to 6 people. I don't know how much longer the game would go on with more players.
 
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Robert .
United States
Royal Oak
Michigan
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Generally the games last an hour. I would have scored it higher if we could wrap them up in 30 minutes or less. The problem usually ended up there was a bit of a stalemate towards the end as people jostled around with bangs, misses, and beers.

Also this depends on which character each person is, some characters are pretty unbalanced and can prolong the game. We played it correctly, in fact, i've probably played Bang 20 times. More than most games before I review them!
 
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Jeff Cramer
United States
Littleton
Colorado
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If the games are lasting too long, I would recommend adding either the High Noon or Fistful of Cards expansions. Both have specific cards that will shorten the playing time of each session.
 
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