Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alternate Gameplay: Rival Gangs Basic

I have read up on various rival gang variants, but I have been unsatisfied with many of them. They lose much of the mafia-like intrigue of BANG!, which is why it is much loved. I have tried to incorporate some elements from these variants, while also adding many ideas of my own and combining it with the hidden characters house rule. I hope the outcome of my Rival Gangs is satisfying.

Rival Gangs Variant Rules:

This is a 4, 6, or 8 player variant (recommended for 6). Two gangs fight each other. Each gang has a leader, symbolized by the Renegade card, and 1 or more followers, symbolized by the Outlaw cards. The object of the game is for each team to eliminate the other team's leader.

Use the Dodge City buffalo symbol role cards for one gang, and the original game role cards for the other (if you do not have the Dodge City expansion role cards, you can use the Renegade and 1-2 outlaws as one team and the Sheriff and 1-2 deputies as another; with 8-player you can just write roles on slips of paper and hand them out). Shuffle the role and character cards and deal them out to the players. Character cards are kept face down. They are only revealed once a character uses his ability. In fact, even their amount of life point remains hidden if you are using the back of another character card as life point indicator. Until the character is revealed, place all characters on the indicator at 4 life points. Adjust accordingly when either the character is revealed or the hidden 3 life point character reaches 1 life point instead.

Each gang may get together and consult with one another before the game. To insure there is no cheating, gang members show each other their role cards, so they know they are in the same gang and who their leader is. Of course, each gang does not know who the other gang's leader is. The game involves deception in trying to determine the leader of the other gang while hidin te leader of your own.

The leader of the gang is given 1 extra life point like Sheriffs in the normal game. However, this extra life point is hidden, and only revealed when the leader would have died (when he is shot at his supposedly last life point with no last second Beer left). Eliminating any player gives a 2-card bonus, whether that player is on your team or not.

The player order in the game can be done 1 of 2 ways: (1) The order of the players is dependent on the original dealing of the roles, so that 1 gang member can be between members of the opposing gang, or (2) The order of the players is dependent on each gang. Each gang decides the order of their gang (half of the circle); which players are next to who. This allows player's to maximize setting up their hidden characters to be most beneficial for one another (placement of Pedro Ramirez, or Kit Carlson, could be crucial for instance), and maximize their abilities. This is the recommended set up.

To determine which player goes first, all players "draw!" The player with the highest value (with Poker ranking of suits, so that an Ace of Spades is higher than an Ace of Hearts that is higher than an Ace of Diamonds that is higher than an Ace of Clubs) starts the game. If there is a tie, those players "draw!" again. "Drawn!" cards are placed in the discard pile. The rest of the game procedes like normal BANG!, and the game ends when a gang leader is eliminated.


  1. This looks very interesting. I've been looking for a variant of Bang where the teams were set in stone like this. I've been toying with all kinds of ideas where Dodge City's Sceriffo and his two Vices faced off against the same roles from "Classic City," as I've dubbed it. You could potentially use those roles instead for this (in six player games), it seems merely aesthetic. I've gotten back with my Bang-playing pals and I've been introducing all kinds of things which I've read here (namely, using Birra and other cards with no effect, which makes Suzy Lafayette a lot more powerful and fun to play than I first imagined). I'll be bringing this up with them and we'll most likely try it (as well as many of your other varients) sometime soon.

    I can't wait to see how it plays and I'll be sure to take some notes to help improve it.

  2. Good suggestion regarding using the Sheriff and deputies from the original game; I edited the post to include that. Paper would still have o be used for 8 player.

    I also added something to help with the character hiding. If players are using life point indicators, all hidden characters are at 4 life points until the characters are revealed. That way they can't use the 3 life point mark as a means of determining their character or as a reason to target them.

    Let me know how it goes, and I am glad that you are willing to try these variants out and utilize what I have placed here in this blog. Thanks!

  3. Here's my (delayed) report:

    I was able to play this with my friend the other day. There were only two of us, so we instead dealt it out for what would be six players and took control of each respective gang and set up on each half of the circle, as recommended. I never incorporated the hidden character rules (forgot entirely) so we did not play with that aspect.

    Overall, this played very well. Frankly, we loved it. Nothing as far as gameplay was out of place; nothing seemed unbalanced as far as we could tell. Even with the "close collaboration" between gang members, everything still felt fair.

    The whole variant can considered more straightfoward, because you knew exactly who are your teammates and who are your enemies. But the new strategy of placing specific characters to maximize potention was a refreshing change from the very random setup of the original Bang!

    I particularly enjoyed how well it worked as a two-player variant. It gave off a strategy game kind of feel. I'd recommend trying it.

    Of course, we could only get a couple of games in, so there's still more to experience. We also have yet to actually test it with physical players. But for the time being, our verdict is good. I'll keep you posted for when we get around to testing it further (tomorrow is highly likely).

  4. Hitman, thanks a lot for your feedback! I am glad it worked out so well, at least as a 2-player variant. I agree that it is more straightforward, minus the hidden characters and hidden leader. I thought, as you mentioned, that it would be fun to try to maximize your character positioning and team gameplay. Let me know how it goes as you test it some more, and get some more players involved. In the meantime, I might try to consider some more ways that more Mafia-like/Shadow Hunters elements could be incorporated into it.

  5. Another delayed report. This one is a little more story-like and pretty lenghty.

    During this week my friends and I had the opportunity to play this variant with physical players.

    A few house rules/stipulations for context:
    - Leaders were chosen by the gang members, not randomly placed.
    - Character cards where dealt in threes (as opposed to two; long time house rule) and those triplets could not be separated, but they could be passed.
    - There was a "draw!" which used odd or even numbers to determine which gang went first.
    - Characters were not hidden.
    - We play with our newly aquired WWS expansion, characters and situation cards.

    The first game we had was incredibly fun, and also an amazing comeback story. Because of this (and following games) I've realized the usefulness of hiding characters in addition to roles (for one game, we could not resist assigning Teren Kill as our leader, and of course, he was immediately targeted). There is a definite strategy to assigning a leader, and it can be based on many factors. One important one is if you are playing with people you know you and how you play very well. I had been assigned leader for my gang on the first turn, as I was attempting to use Chuck Wengam to make the other gang assume that I was not concerned with dying. This was a fatal move in two ways. Firstly, I'm the third most experienced player in our entire group, the first most at that table. Secondly, I had previously shown how truely powerful/useful Chuck actually is (especially in my hands). So naturally, I was targeted rather harshly before my first turn. I was even forced to reveal my role, which came as no surprise to anyone in the other gang. Fortunately I surived long enough and was back to full within a few turns. I was lucky enough to be sitting next to one of the most defensive players in our group who was also playing one of the most defensive players in the deck, Elena Fuente, so surviving against her was no issue. Our gang was able to very quickly collaborate (personally my favourite aspect of this variant) and seize control of the enemy gang's range. It's really fun to be able to collaborate cards so closely teammate, which could almost never happen in normal Bang. And it's not bad considering that both gangs are easily capable of the same thing. The one thing to warn about though is one player literally leading the entire gang. This player is most certainly me. I started barking order as soon as we got our turns and it went downhill from there... for the other gang, that is. We eventually tore down one of their gang members (that was prompty brought back by Bone Orchard) and lost one of our own before we were able to take down their leader.

    Many of my previous statements about the variant stand: The overall consensus is that this variant is very fun, with few blemishes (as far as straight gameplay). However, the interactions between players seems a bit unrestricted. I will argue that this allows for a greater control over the game, relying less on luck and more on resourcefulness of your gang. Always a plus. The possible problem is that one player could bark orders and dominate the whole game. Though, I'm not sure how that could be regulated, other than a possible mutual agreement that players may only make "suggestions," or something of that sort.

    Next week, I'll introduce the advanced version, which may or may not include investigation cards, depending on how handy I feel over the weekend. Very interested in seeing how those new roles play.

  6. Thanks for the thorough review, Hitman. Your games did sound fun! I will have to consider how to balance player domination. You will have to let me know how it works with the hidden characters if you choose to play that way. And if you play on doing the advanced version, I don't mind whipping up some investigation cards for you to try out.

  7. If you'd like to make some, that'd be great. They are your original idea, after all, it would make sense that you come up with the first version. And presumably you have more idea beyond the three you have posted on the advanced version.