Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Alternate Gameplay: Introducing BANG! Tactics

While many have noted that BANG! is a fun way to pass the time, trying to exert what little influence one can over many random elements, others have lamented that there is not more strategy involved in BANG! to help you win the game (especially considering how you might be eliminated in the first round). I have tried to conceive of an alternate way to play BANG! that might accomodate these complaints, and I have named this project BANG! Tactics (BTact). BTact does not remove all of the random elements of BANG!, but rather mitigates them to encourage far more foresight and thought on behalf of the players. How? BTact introduces a real shop into the mix, where players can purchase cards to help them accomplish their goals or thwart the goals of others. Instead of drawing 2 cards from the deck each turn, players draw only 1 card instead (despite some character abilities). Besides drawing this 1 card, each player also receives 5 gold during his drawing phase. With this gold, players can purchase cards of different values. The shop does not require another set of BANG! cards for purchasing purposes. Rather, the BANG! deck is relatively cut in half, maintainly the general probabilities of drawing certain cards as before. Certain kinds of cards, as also when there is only 1 of a certain type of card, are available only in the draw deck or in the shop. The shop, with some exceptions, tries to reproduce the low probability of drawing certain cards in the draw deck by placing them at a higher cost. After a quick test (that definitely needs some more work), the specific breakdown per card between the draw deck and the shop (with its associated cost) is as follows:

Rev. Carabine10n/a
Cat Balou2212
Wells Fargo10n/a
General Store20n/a

Thus, to setup the BTact shop, separate the above-listed cards from the draw deck for the shop. Then set up the shop by arranging the separated card types face up. I arrange them so on the table:

You will notice on this grid that there are spaces for BANG! 1-4 and Missed! 1-2. There are a lot of BANG! and Missed! cards and this is why there are separate stacks. The stacks are to be arranged so that each card in the stack leaves the title of the card below it showing:
This is so that an inventory of the cards can be taken at any given time. The inventory is needed due to the mechanics of the shop. Whenever the shop is below its maximum inventory in any card type, and a card of that card type is played by a player, instead of placing this used card in the discard pile it returns to the shop. If the shop is at maximum inventory for this card type, it is placed in the discard pile instead. Arranging the cards as described above makes it easiest to discern whether the shop is fully stocked or not.

Anyway, on a player's turn, once they have drawn 1 card from the deck and earned their 5 gold, he can choose whether or not to purchase card(s) from the shop. While rare, there are certain limits of how many cards of a specific card type a player can purchase on his turn. A player can only purchase 1 beer on his turn. He can only purchase 2 of a BANG/Missed! combination (thus, a player can buy 2 BANG! and 0 Missed!, 1 BANG! and 1 Missed!, or 0 BANG! and 2 Missed!) on any given turn. After purchasing or opting not to, the player ends phase 1 of his turn. Purchasing can only occur during phase 1.

Gameplay follows as normal. Players play cards as they wish, and when they are finished, they must discard cards of their choice when they are over their card limit. The discarded cards, as noted above, go to the shop if the card type they belong to as not at maximum capacity. At the end of a turn, certain gold bonuses can be accrued. Not purchasing any cards with gold on your turn gives you a +1 gold bonus, as well as does not playing any cards on your turn +1 gold at the end of your turn, for a total potential of +2 gold. The gold is immediately gained at the end of your turn. Doing so is beneficial: by gaining both bonuses, you can purchase a Cat Balou on your second turn (5 gold from first turn + 2 gold bonus + 5 gold from second turn = 12 gold needed for Cat Balou). The bonuses make you plan carefully whether you should purchase/use cards or not. Gold accrues between turns and allows you to purchase more powerful cards. There is no limit to the amount of gold you can acrue, but it is unlikely that it will get that high, as you will need to purchase cards to protect yourself from the advances of other players.

The rest of the game goes like normal. Players try to accomplish their roles, discern who their friends and enemies are, and whoever accomplishes their mission is victorious. It should be noted that the purchasing brings a new source of discerning roles for the game. Just as players were able to sometimes discern others roles through what cards they picked up when a General Store is played, you can now study other player's card purchases to surmise their designs. Thus, if a player purchases a gun to reach past the player's next to him, you might have an idea of who he is gunning for. On the flip side, purchases can be used to deceive as much as they can reveal.

Character's abilities are adjusted for BTact as follows:

Pedro Ramirez: Instead of drawing his 1 card from the draw deck, he may draw the last card that was discarded, whether it returned to the shop or is on top of the discard pile.

Kit Carlson: He looks at the top 2 cards from the draw deck, selects 1, and discards the other, placing it either in the shop or the discard pile depending on the shop's inventory. He then proceeds to gain his 5 gold.

Jesse James: Instead of drawing 1 card from the draw deck, he may draw a card from the hand of another player instead.

Black Jack: He draws 1 card from the draw deck, and shows it to other players. If it is red, he draws another. [Alternatively, we have given Jack 10 coins instead of 5 for drawing red. However, this seemed to allow Jack to purchase too many cards to his advantage. The draw deck's randomness seemed more fitting for this ability.]

Vulture Sam: He also takes all the gold an eliminated player leaves into his hand.

Character's abilities that may need to be adjusted:

Suzy Lafayette: SL's ability may be OP when she only has to draw 1 card from the deck. While she starts with 4 cards and will have to get down to fully take advantage of them, it seems that she can draw and purchase cards that allow her to keep drawing cards. This may need to be mitigated. And yet, in the test game we played with her, she got blown away quite quickly (perhaps from fear), so it is hard to know if she needs balancing.

Sid Ketchum: Since he can discard any 2 cards to regain a life point, earning 5 gold a turn can greatly be to his advantage. For only 6 gold, he can purchase 2 BANG! and regain a life! Perhaps to adjust Sid, he earns less coins a turn (4 instead of 5?).

As far as I could tell, no other character abilities needed adjustment for BTact. Of course, as you can already tell, BTact is only designed for the original BANG! at the moment. Lastly, test games have shown that Dynamite tends not to explode as often. I expanded the activation range to 2-J to accomodate this.

I would appreciate it if others play tested BTact and told me their thoughts. If you enjoy this alternate gameplay, please let me know.


  1. Nice idead.

    Need to be tested. But I think system of earning gold coins should be little diference.

    For example:

    voluntarily not drawing any card in phase 1 = +4 $
    voluntarily not playing any card in phase 2 = +1 $
    discarding any card in phase 3 = per card +1 $(after turn)
    each turn earning = 1 $(after turn)

    any ability or card triggers discarding = none gold income and card go to discard pile or to shop(not count as purchasing card)

    any played card go to discard pile not to shop

    new -in case "draw", and result card is missing in shop, result card go to shop(in John Pain ability not trigger).

    new - each time players play FELL FARGO, ...(card trigegering draw from deck), he can instead drawing one card earn 4 $ per not draing card

  2. Maybe Sid Ketchum could sacrifice one card and some gold to restore health, instead of two cards? That would allow for more control.

  3. I appreciate many of the comments that have been made to BANG! Tactics both here and in other forums. I will be giving an update to the rules soon, both from hearing your suggestions, and by my own desire to simplify the variation. Since many people also play Dodge City, I might also want to include that into a new version of B!Tact as an option.

  4. how do you have to play if dodge city is involved?

  5. I am actually working on a new version of B!Tact where the shop is exclusively cards from Dodge City. This helps with recognizing that all cards with the Dodge City symbol in the top right of the card go immediately back to the shop. I expect to work on this in the coming month. The new version will be a B!Tact Basic, as it will simplify many of the ideas I had in the original. Hopefully, making it far better. So at the moment, however, no Dodge City playing cards are included.

    1. How do I volunteer to be a playtester for BANG!?