‘Sorry, but you’re the only person around this table that I can bang’
‘But I’m your sister!’
Not a conversation you ever want to have. However one that is very typical in your average game of Bang! I first came across this enjoyable game when I was couchsurfing in America. Suffice to say that when you rock up to a stranger’s house and interrupt them playing a strategy card game, then you know you’re in good company.
Setup done, let the banging begin!
The premise of the game is very simple: there are four different roles (Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw and Renegade) and each role has their own winning criteria. Each players’ role is secret, with the exception of the Sherriff who has a nice shiny badge to put on (everyone loves a badge!) Once everyone has selected a character who has an assigned skill and finite amount of life, the game proceeds, with each player drawing two cards and playing as many as theyneed to achieve their goal:
The Outlaws must kill the Sheriff
The Sheriff and their Deputies must kill the Outlaws and Renegade
The Renegade must be the last man standing, with the Sheriff being killed last.
There are a range of cards to help you achieve your goal, including: Bang! Cards (shoot someone), Missed! (avoid getting shot), a range of guns, a variety of useful tools (a scope and a barrel), beer (for health, obviously) and the ever infuriating Dynamite.
There is plenty of strategy to get your teeth into here. The hindrance of not being able to declare your role means you need to find other more subtle ways to identify yourself to your allies. Add to this a range system which means that at the beginning of the game you can only shoot those on your immediate left or right and this becomes more of a problem. The Sheriff will quickly gain the upper hand if left for too long, and it is often advisable to start shooting fairly quickly.
Individual player card
Bang! is a beautifully designed game, visually very pleasing and a great laugh with friends. I have introduced it to a number of friends who aren’t so familiar with games who have all loved it. If you were to level one, small criticism it would be that the function of each individual card is not always crystal clear, and there have been some debates about what you can and can’t do with them. Provided you are with a group of fair minded individuals this shouldn’t be a problem however.
Seemingly complex, but surprisingly simple to play, Bang! is a thoroughly enjoyable game that has become an old favourite in our little group. Easily accessible for players of a range of ages and experience – admirers of artwork, and those who seek out a narrative in their gaming will find something for them here as well. Definitely a game I would recommend to anyone.