Character Name: Belle Star.
Inspired by: Belle Starr, an American Outlaw and crack shot, who joined the Cherokee Starr clan, from whom she learned how to organize and execute cattle rustling and robberies. She was brutally murdered at the age of 40.
Life Points: 4.
Ability Type: Offensive.
Ability: "During her turn, cards in play in front of other players have no effect." As the rulebook explains, "This applies both to the blue as well as to the green-bordered cards."
Activation: Whenever it is her turn.
Cards enhanced by Belle Star's ability: Volcanic, Panic!, Punch, BANG!, all guns
Cards more powerful when played against Belle Star: Jail.
Cards less powerful when played against Belle Star: All defensive green cards, Barrel, Mustang, Hideout.
Ideal roles: Outlaw, Deputy.
2-player value: Excellent; the distance modifiers and Barrels that are very useful at this point in this game only benefit Belle Star.
Characters Belle Star Counters Well: Lucky Duke (an ineffective Barrel against her attacks is devastating to Lucky Duke's ability), Vulture Sam (he cannot turtle up well against her attacks or get big defensive bonuses against her when other players are eliminated), Pixie Pete (3 life point character and the defensive cards he plays in front of himself have no effect on her turn).
Characters that Counter Belle Star Well: Jourdonnais (has nigh a permanent Barrel), Apache Kid (Ability nullifies diamonds played against him), Elena Fuente (Her ability applies to defensive cards in her hand), Molly Stark (Her ability applies to defensive cards in her hand), Calamity Janet (She can use BANG! in her hand to defend herself against Belle Star's attacks), El Gringo.
General Strategy as Belle Star: Belle Star is a very powerful offensive character because the cards in front of other players have no effect on her when it is her turn. Thus, players cannot effectively use cards from in play in front of them when Belle Star fires at them. I suppose they could choose to use them anyway, but then they would simply be a waste. Barrels could be "drawn!", but no heart "drawn!" could provide the necessary Missed! This devastates Lucky Duke, who cannot profit from the 2 cards drawn on Barrels when Belle Star fires at him. Thus, Belle Star is a character who is a great counter to players who have had time to build up a strong defensive base and get many cards in play in front of them. Belle Star can help deal out some serious damage to a Sheriff if she is an Outlaw. However, this also makes Belle Star a bigger target by her opponents. They will be more likely to simply take hits from Belle Star where necessary to cover damage from other players, but also shoot at her more as she is a higher threat to their strategy. Thus, the general strategy for Belle Star should be to lie a little low and gain some defensive cards herself at the beginning of the game. Since building up defensive cards will benefit her and not her opponents, Belle Star shouldn't worry too much about doing this. She should strive to gain a Barrel, distance modifiers, and defensive green cards. Of course, Belle Star does need to be concerned about the status of her team mates, if she has any, so she cannot wait forever.
When Belle Star shifts to the offensive, there are a few things she should try to do. Belle Star should try to have at least 2 attack cards to use against an opponent at once. The green-bordered attack cards can help with this. Since other players are bound to be more certain to have Missed!/Dodge in their hands when Belle Star is in play, Belle Star could profit from using cards that steal or discard cards from other players' hands (Panic!, Cat Balou, Can Can, Conestoga, Brawl, Rag Time). When using these cards, she should have a good chance of nabbing a Missed!, Dodge, or Beer from their hands. After depleting her opponent's hand, Belle Star should follow up with 1 or more attack cards to deal out damage. There are plenty of useful combos, but the best tend to pair an Indians!/Duel with another attack card. To maximize the effectiveness of her combo, Belle Star should pay attention to the cards she was able to remove from her opponent's hand before attacking them.
Except when Paul Regret is in play, Belle Star can always steal cards from the players adjacent to her with a Panic! She should try to keep a Panic! in her hand for when one of them gathers an extra useful card in play in front of them (especially the Volcanic).
Playing against Belle Star: While Belle Star is very effective on the offense, she doesn't have any benefit on the defense. Belle Star's ability only applies on her turn, so all of the offensive cards you have in play in front of you (green attack cards, scope/binoculars, guns) will affect Belle Star. With this in mind, recognize that taking time to build up defenses is really only to Belle Star's advantage. She will be able to use her ability to nullify your defenses, but you cannot nullify hers. Thus, if it is clear that Belle Star is your opponent, it is not a bad idea to attack her in the early game. As with Willy the Kid, it can be good to put a shot her way just to see the way that Belle Star reacts, even if you do not have a good idea what role she is. This, of course, works better if you are the Sheriff.
If Belle Star lives past the early game and she has built a defensive base, you will have to start worrying. You can blunt the edge on her ability to make an offensive push by throwing Belle Star in Jail (since her ability only works on her turn, she gets no benefit from it when she is in Jail), and by using Indians! and Duel against her. This is especially important when you are adjacent to Belle Star, since you cannot use your distance modifiers effectively against her. Missed! and Dodge become more important cards to have in your hand, as you cannot rely on Barrels and green defensive cards to protect you. Of course, Belle Star will respond to this by discarding and stealing cards from your hand. You should try to do likewise, while also being mindful of offensive green cards in front of Belle Star that you can nab. This should again get rid of ammo that Belle Star will use against you. Thus, your general strategy against Belle Star is to try to remove her attack power, keep her defenses low, and hit her with a strong offense yourself. This is not easy when Belle Star tends to have a stronger offensive ability than other characters. But fortunately, as listed above, there are several defensive characters that have an edge against Belle Star as well.