Character Name: Herb Hunter.
Inspired by: While it is clear that his ability and the "Hunter" part of his name strongly suggest he is a bounty hunter, a common character in Western films, it is not clear what the "Herb" refers to.
Life Points: 4.
Ability Type: Neutral.
Ability: "Each time another player is eliminated, he draws 2 extra cards."
Activation: Whenever another player is eliminated.
Cards enhanced by Herb Hunter's ability: Volcanic, Dynamite, Gatling, Indians!, Howitzer.
Ideal roles: Deputy, Renegade.
2-player value: Terrible. Like other characters whose abilities depend on character elimination (Vulture Sam and Greg Digger), Herb Hunter's ability now is useless. Fortunately, he will enter this phase with 2 more cards in his hand, but this benefit will quickly disappear unless he can finish off his opponent right away.
Characters Herb Hunter Counters Well: Vulture Sam
Characters that Counter Herb Hunter Well: Pat Brennan (His ability to remove Herb Hunter's distance modifiers at crucial moments when Herb Hunter wants to eliminate an Outlaw can be brutal).
General Strategy as Herb Hunter: Hopefully Herb Hunter's role is a Deputy, Renegade, or Sheriff. That way Herb Hunter can store up offensive cards and attack Outlaws when they are weakened to pick up a 5 card bonus! Even if Herb Hunter is an Outlaw, if his team mate gets weakened and doesn't look like he has a good chance to recover, Herb Hunter should finish him off to get 5 cards and keep his opponents from getting the bonus. Basically, regardless of Herb Hunter's role, his aim should be to get 5 cards at every Outlaw death. While causing other deaths are also beneficial in giving him 2 extra cards, these are given to him regardless of whether or not he pulls the trigger.
The way that Herb Hunter can best do this is by storing up offensive cards, keeping outlaws in attack range, and not drawing much attention to himself. The green cards from Dodge City are very helpful in storing up ammo without contributing to Herb Hunter's card limit. For some of the cards like Knife and Derringer only reach one distance (as well as the brown card Punch), so Herb Hunter will want to get your hands on a Scope or Binoculars if he can. The distance modifiers will also be a good idea to join with a Volcanic, if Herb Hunter can get your hands on one. The Volcanic is nice not only for eliminating a player, but allowing him to chain eliminations. If he kills an Outlaw and gets a 5 card bonus, chances are he will pick up 1-2 BANG!, which his Volcanic will enable him to use on his next target. Of course, he will have to gauge whether or not they are worth expending on this new opponent at that time.
Other offensive cards besides the green will contribute to Herb Hunter's card limit, and so will be more difficult to store up. Of course, Herb Hunter will want a BANG!, and with it a gun that can reach players. If he cannot get his hands of a gun, then using the BANG! with a Duel can help mitigate this problem. Then, there are those lovely "attack all other players" cards, Gatling and Indians! Dodge City also adds the "play with another card" attack cards, which provide more powerful attacks that also allow Herb Hunter to do an extra non-BANG! attack on his turn. With these various attack cards, try to form at least a 3-hit combo. Then monitor carefully the life points of Outlaws, and when it looks like you have a good chance of eliminating them on your turn, unload your attack combo on them.
Herb Hunter, like Vulture Sam, Greg Digger, and Lucky Duke, is one of those characters where throwing out a Dynamite is a wonderful idea, especially in a larger game. Sure, it might blow up on Herb Hunter, but the chances are much higher that it will hurt someone else. Since the Dynamite takes off 3 life points, there is a good chance that Herb Hunter's ability will be activated. Of course, Herb Hunter should gauge how the Dynamite could affect his allies. It is always easier to play the Dynamite when Herb Hunter is a Renegade. The only real thorn in this strategy is if Pat Brennan is Herb Hunter's opponent and he just draws the Dynamite on his turn. On the other hand, Herb Hunter did knock out Pat Brennan's drawing phase by having him do this. So there is some benefit to playing it anyway.
Besides just storing up offensive cards, Herb Hunter should try to not draw attention to himself, as Vulture Sam should try to do near the beginning of the game. If you have cards that are exceeding Herb Hunter's card limit, he should try to attack or remove a card from a player that cannot reach him. That way he will not have to worry about incurring that player's immediate wrath and have to play on the defensive. You should try to generally turtle up, and look for opportunities to exploit your ability. Also, the deception you can create at this point in the game can help protect you. Other players know that your ability counts on player elimination and so may wish to attack you right off the bat. But keeping yourself low key will make them worry about eliminating their ally.
If Herb Hunter is the Renegade (or Outlaw in some scenarios), the 2-player duel with the Sheriff could be very difficult as his ability will no longer be of any use to him. Thus, Herb Hunter will have to plan ahead for this scenario by getting good cards in play in front of him and trying to lower the Sheriff’s life points before he gets to the 2-player duel.
Playing against Herb Hunter: Herb Hunter can be a difficult opponent if you leave him alone, but unless he reveals his role very quickly in the game, you don't want to just eliminate him, as he could be a useful ally. If you are a Sheriff, a good way to try to discern Herb Hunter's role is to shoot him once, but judiciously shoot other players too. By spreading the damage you do not have to worry too much about endangering your allies. If he responds by attacking you, you know which role he is. An intelligent player will probably ignore your attack, but it is worth trying to weasel Herb Hunter's role out. As an Outlaw, if Herb Hunter is in range of the Sheriff, and does not attack the Sheriff on his turn after you do, you have a pretty good chance of him not being one of your fellow Outlaws. If Herb Hunter shows that he is not your ally, you may want to make him your number 1 goal in terms of player elimination before he becomes a much bigger threat in mid-late game.
When you see Herb Hunter playing slow and gathering a bunch of offensive cards, and you or your allies (or an Outlaw) do not have much of a defense, throwing him in Jail can save you from him unloading on you and them. Stealing or removing these offensive cards from his hand or in play in front of him can also counter his offensive preparations. Removing his Gun, scope, or binoculars that makes a weak player within his range should be your first goal.
You will always want to monitor the health of the Outlaws (even possible Outlaws) in play, and make an intelligent guestimate of how many offensive cards Herb Hunter has in his hand and in play in front of him, and an intelligent guestimate for how many defensive cards the Outlaws have in play and in their hands. I'd even give a +1 to Herb Hunter's attack cards to take in account his drawing phase. Subtract this defensive guestimate from the offensive guestimate you made for Herb Hunter. If the number is positive, subtract this number from a reachable Outlaw's life points. If the outcome is less than or equal to zero, then you have a good idea that Herb Hunter has a chance to eliminate this Outlaw and gain a 5 card bonus on his turn. At this moment, you have 3 main choices: (1) Try to neutralize Herb Hunter's offense yourself by using Duel, perhaps an Indians!, or removing his offensive cards and distance modifiers. (2) Eliminate the Outlaw before Herb Hunter can. (3) If it looks like you are not going to be able to eliminate that Outlaw before Herb Hunter's turn, and Herb Hunter seems like he has a very good shot at eliminating that Outlaw without your help, don't shoot at the Outlaw. At least force Herb Hunter to waste on the Outlaw the ammo required to eliminate him. This will remove some of the "sweetness" of the 5 card bonus.
If you can get Herb Hunter down to a 2-player duel and he doesn't have fantastic cards in play in front of him, you should have a competitive chance of playing against him. His ability can never be activated again in the game, so as long as you don't have bad luck on your card draws, you should have the upper hand against him.