Translation: “Draw!” at the beginning of your turn. If it is a heart, read the manual (or if it is a heart, read the description and the manual).
Description: “Discard the card, play normally. Else discard the Jail and skip your turn.” (4th Ed.)
Manual Explanation: “Play this card in front of any player regardless of the distance: you put him in jail! If you are in jail, you must “draw!” before the beginning of your turn:
- if you draw a Heart card, you escape from jail: discard
the Jail, and continue your turn as normal;
- otherwise discard the Jail and skip your turn.
If you are in Jail you remain a possible target for BANG! cards and can still play response cards (e.g. Missed! and Beer) out of your turn, if necessary. Jail cannot be played on the Sheriff."
Playable: On your turn, during phase 2 only, on any player except the Sheriff. In 3-player, since there is no Sheriff, the Jail can be played on anyone.
Resolved: At the beginning of the turn of the player Jail was played on. He “draws!” for Jail after dealing with Dynamite. The BANG! the Bullet rulebook states, “If you have both the Dynamite and a Jail in play, check the Dynamite first.”
Suit and Value: 4♥, 10♠, J♠.
Card color: Blue.
Card Family: Jail.
Included in: BANG!.
Roles greatly enhanced by playing this card: Sheriff, Deputy.
Characters greatly enhanced by playing this card: José Delgado (can be discarded from hand to draw 2 cards), Pedro Ramirez (he can chain-Jail the player to his right), Uncle Will (He may play the Jail as a General Store), Johnny Kisch (While unlikely, he could play a Jail to put a rival in Jail and free an ally from Jail).
Characters that cope well with others playing this card: Lucky Duke (Being able to “draw!” 2 cards and choose one makes it extremely unlikely that Dynamite will explode on him), Kit Carlson (while unable to protect himself, Kit Carlson can stack a heart on top of the deck to insure that an ally to his left in Jail gets out), Jourdonnais (his defensive ability works out of turn and does not require drawing cards), Bart Cassidy (defensive ability works out of turn, allowing him to draw cards when taking hits), Tequila Joe (last chance Beer can be played out of turn), Pat Brennan (while unable to protect himself, he can steal a Jail played in front of an ally), El Gringo (defensively, Jail is not too problematic since he can still steal cards from his attacker if he takes a hit), Teren Kill (defensively, Jail does not hurt him much as he does not need to draw cards to protect himself), Paul Regret (if he is out of range of his opponents, Jail has little impact on him), Bill Noface (taking some hits while in Jail is not too problematic if he is near full health; he can draw many cards on his next turn if this happens), Sid Ketchum (he can use his life point regaining ability out of turn), Vulture Sam/Herb Hunter/Greg Digger (their abilities activate upon player elimination, regardless of when it occurs; however, it will do them no good if they are the ones eliminated), Apache Kid (immunity to diamonds applies while in Jail), Molly Stark (she can still cards out of turn and draw more cards), Elena Fuente (while she can discard card from her hand as a Missed!, if she has few cards Jail could really hurt), Youl Grinner (unable to draw more cards, there is a good chance he will get cards from other players who will have more cards than him), Gary Looter (ability applies out of turn), and John Pain (If he has less than 6 cards in his hand, the card “drawn!” for resolving Prison goes into his hand).
Characters that cope poorly with others playing this card: Jesse Jones (in Jail, he cannot draw a card from another player), Paul Regret (if he is in range of his opponents, Jail can ruin him), Slab the Killer (nullifies his offensive ability), Willy the Kid (nullifies his offensive ability), Black Jack (he cannot draw cards while in Jail), Kit Carlson (While able to help the player to his left who is in Jail, Kit Carlson loses his ability while in Jail himself), Pedro Ramirez (Jail makes him lose his drawing phase; however, if he luckily “draws!” a heart, he can draw the Jail played on him and play it on another), Doc Holyday (ability only works on his turn), Belle Star (her offensive ability only works on her turn), Big Spencer (large amount of health makes him resistant to hits while in Jail, but the inability to play Missed! makes the extra health precious), Sean Mallory (unless he has had time to store up Beer or Missed! in his hand, Jail could really hurt him), Pat Brennan (while able to free others, he cannot use his ability in Jail), Pixie Pete (he loses his ability to draw 3 cards during his drawing phase), Vera Custer (if she is successfully placed in Jail, she has no ability until her next turn; see Q13 of the Dodge City FAQ for details), Claus the Saint (he cannot use his drawing and disseminating cards ability), Uncle Will (he cannot play a card as a General Store), Flint Westwood (he cannot swap cards with players out of turn), José Delgado (he cannot discard blue cards out of turn), and Lee Van Kliff (his replication ability only works during his turn).
Works poorly against defensive players with: Beer, Missed!, Dodge, Bible, Iron Plate, Sombrero, and Ten Gallon Hat.
Commentary: The Jail card is a Sheriff’s best friend. Immune to the card himself, he can use it to weaken and punish a pesky Outlaw for 1 round (he has a 75% chance of getting him in Jail). It is especially useful when an Outlaw becomes volcanic-ized, or when Willy the Kid has the Sheriff in range. It counters card-drawing abilities like Jesse Jones’, and allows the Sheriff and any of his allies (Deputy, Renegade) to focus fire on the Jailed person. Of course, they might focus fire on a weaker character, simply Jailing the other to get him temporarily out of the way. Outlaws can still use the Jail to silence the turncoat Renegade or Deputy, so that they can focus fire on the Sheriff, but it is clearly less useful for them. One particular character is very powerful with the Jail card--Pedro Ramirez. He can chain-Jail the player directly to his right if that player is not able to “draw!” a heart to escape Jail. The Jail will almost always be on top of the discard pile for him to pick up during his drawing phase if that player remains in Jail. An ally will need to play a card that will discard/steal it to remove it, or play a Dynamite, which will force Pedro Ramirez to “draw!” at the beginning of his turn, covering up the Jail that had been on top of the discard pile. As a file note, players in Jail can still play Beer on their turns as long as it is a last chance Beer. As Question 15 of the official BANG! FAQ resolves,
Q15. Can a Jailed player play a Beer in his turn?
A. Only if he is losing his last life point.