Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Character Guide: Uncle Will

Uncle Will BANG! card game character

Character Name: Uncle Will.

Inspired by: Will Niebling, former CEO of Mayfair Games, which published BANG! in the United States until 2010.

Life Points: 4.

Ability Type: Neutral.

Ability: "Once during his turn, he may play any card from hand as a General Store."

Activation: During his turn, when he has a card in his hand to play.

Cards enhanced by Uncle Will's ability: All cards in his hand (except General Store itself); especially blue/green duplicate cards.

Cards more powerful when played against Uncle Will: Jail.

Good roles for Uncle Will: Outlaw, Renegade.

Characters that counter Uncle Will well: Jesse Jones (Removes cards from his hand to play as a General Store), José Delgado (when Uncle Will plays General Stores there is a good chance of him revealing blue cards that José Delgado can use to draw more cards), Elena Fuente (General Stores give her a free Missed!), Sid Ketchum (General Stores provide him with 1 out of 2 cards to discard to gain a life point), Doc Holyday (General Stores provide him with 1 out of 2 cards to discard to play a BANG!), somewhat Slab the Killer and Willy the Kid (General Stores tend to reveal 1+ BANG!).

2-player value: Not great. While he can play certain cards to have some use versus no use (duplicate cards, Beer), in conjunction with his general ability, the General Store play can backfire. It is only useful if 1 of the 2 cards revealed is far better than the other, and you cannot guarantee this.

General Strategy as Uncle Will: Uncle Will is very much a strange team-oriented character like Claus the Saint. Both of them provide cards for all other players when they use their abilities. However, Claus the Saint's ability makes it so that only he sees all of the cards, and he chooses to whom each card goes. Uncle Will's dissemination of cards is very much contingent on the order of players to his left, as this is the order in which a General Store is resolved. On the flip side, Uncle Will does not always have to use his ability on his turn; Claus the Saint must do so always, even when his allies are dead! Uncle Will also has 4 life points, while Claus the Saint has 3, so their characters do balance out somewhat. Nonetheless, the success of each character is largely dependent on getting the right cards to the right allies at the right times.

Uncle Will can try to use the early grace period in BANG! to his advantage. He could play General Stores quickly to nab some excellent cards to play in front of him (a decent gun, a Mustang, a Barrel, etc.). However, once it is clear who is whose ally, Uncle Will needs to be much more careful when playing General Stores. If his allies follow quite quickly after him in the General Store succession, then he should play them quite frequently. These extra cards for his team mates can be very beneficial: giving Willy the Kid and Slab the Killer extra BANG!, giving Sean Mallory more cards to store up, providing Elena Fuente with a free Missed!, getting cards for Sid Ketchum and Doc Holyday to convert into a life point/BANG!, providing José Delgado with blue cards to discard, and so forth. Of course, these characters could be Uncle Will's rivals, so he needs to take their abilities into consideration. When Uncle Will's rivals are close in order when he plays General Store, it is generally not a good idea for him to use them (except in crises). Uncle Will should try to cut his way over on the left towards his allies, so he can give them better cards during General Stores in the future. This can be a very difficult thing to do when Uncle Will is an Outlaw and the Sheriff is immediately to his right, so some situations don't lend themselves too well to this strategy.

Not all of the General Stores played have to be made with helping allies. Uncle Will can try to use his General Store strategically after building up a decent hand. For instance, if he gathers many BANG! in his hand, he should try to discard a card that lacks an offensive use to play a General Store. Then, he might have a good opportunity of drawing a Volcanic or a Panic, Conestoga, or Rag Time, which will enable him to steal a Volcanic from one of his nearby opponents. A General Store can also be played as a defensive move, as a sort of last ditch effort for Uncle Will to gather a Beer, other life point modifier, or Missed!

Uncle Will should also be selective in the card he chooses to play as a General Store. You should typically not try to play a BANG! or Missed! as a General Store if you only have 1 in your hand. Blue/green duplicate cards are especially useful to play as General Stores, since you could not play them in front of you even if you wanted to do so. They end up being stuck in your hand, and so Uncle Will's ability helps clear up his hand from any duplicates.

Playing against Uncle Will: Uncle Will is not the most difficult opponent to have. He is typically only a threat when played by a skilled BANG! player who knows when and when not to use his ability. "Noobs" will tend to use Uncle Will's ability too often, and help his rivals more than his allies. Since each time Uncle Will uses his ability a General Store is played, you can take advantage of Uncle Will's ability by trying to get close to his left side. Kill rivals that lie in between the two of you on that side, so that you can get better use out of Uncle Will's General Store.

When Uncle Will has a fortunate setup where his allies are close at hand on his left side, pressure Uncle Will, so that he cannot play as many General Stores. Steal and discard cards from his hand, and also shoot at him, to make it difficult for him to play cards as General Stores. It will be difficult for him to afford to play them in this way. You can also throw Uncle Will in Jail to keep him from hooking up his buddies.

Besides this, also try to pick off Uncle Will's allies. He will be less likely to want to play a General Store when it benefits many other players that are not his team mates. He will rarely ever want to play one when it is only his rivals that are left. The Renegade Uncle Will has a little more leeway here, perhaps play General Stores to balance out the rivaling teams, or to get really powerful cards after building up a hand.

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