Thursday, July 21, 2011

Design: Character Ability Stats

In an effort to help modders (those wishing to make their own custom expansions for BANG!), I have created a spreadsheet that expounds the intricacies of each character ability in the official BANG! card game and its expansions, as well as in Robbers' Roost. Such a spreadsheet should be useful for modders in both thinking of new characters and balancing the abilities that they think of by comparing them with characters in the game already.

The spreadsheet contain the following information on characters:
  • Character Names.

  • Expansion included in.

  • Number of Life Points.

  • Character Type. As with the character guides, I have broken these up into 3 general categories: offensive (i.e. Slab the Killer), neutral (i.e. Black Jack), and defensive (i.e. Elena Fuente).

  • Ability Type. I have provided several hopefully helpful labels of character abilities that should allow you to sort characters together by their ability type. Thus, Rose Doolan and Paul Regret are both given the ability type of "Sight Modification." Sid Ketchum, Elena Fuente, José Delgado, Doc Holyday, Uncle Will, Porter Rockwell, and Crazy Wolf are labeled with the ability type "Card Transmutation," since they can play a card(s) as something else/for some other effect.

  • Mode of Operation. This column has 2 values: optional or necessary. Generally speaking, it identifies whether the ability can be activated by the character's choice (Chuck Wengam) or if it is forced (Claus the Saint, Paul Regret).

  • Activator. This column describes who brings about the ability's activation. Sometimes this is done by oneself alone (Slab the Killer when playing a BANG!), by others (when Jourdonnais has a BANG! played against him), and by both (Suzy Lafayette, when playing her last card, or by having another player discard the last card from your hand), and sometimes this does not apply (Pixie Pete when he draws his 3 cards; he didn't bring it about, it occurred from the normal course of his turn).

  • Activating Time or Event. This column explains when the ability an be used, such as during a specific phase of a turn, when the target of a specific card, when "drawing!", etc. Sometimes, the ability is continuous (Sid Ketchum, Apache Kid).

  • Cost. This column notes if the ability has a cost to activate it, such as discarding/playing a card(s), losing a life point (Johnny Pope), using a card out of turn from one's hand (Molly Stark), not drawing cards from the deck (Pat Brennan), giving up copied abilities (Greygory Deck), and so forth. Often, there is no cost to use the ability, and this is also noted.

  • Outcome. This column observes the outcome of the ability after all else is considered. Thus after playing a brown card and discarding a BANG! during phase 2 of his turn, the outcome of Lee Van Kliff's ability is that the effect of the brown card is replicated. Some of these outcomes are complicated (Crazy Wolf, Claus the Saint), but I try to express them as best I can.

The hope is that this spreadsheet is that you will be able to group together characters with a similar ability type to a character you are considering to create. If his ability tends to be stronger than characters of his ability type, this should suggest to you that the ability needs modification.

I would love to get some feedback on this spreadsheet. It has taken a good chunk of time to put together, but I am sure there are typos, inconsistencies, and some poor labels. Feel free to post comments here.

I have made the spreadsheet available in both Open Office Calc and Microsoft Excel formats.


  1. damn, if I could work with excel...

  2. Thanks for the info.This will come in handy.

  3. Open Office Calc is free for download. You don't need excel to view this. In fact, I didn't have excel on the computer I created it on. I did so in Calc and then converted it to excel for others. If needs be, I can place it on a Google Doc spreadsheet too.

  4. Greg Digger seems to be missing from the Excel file.

  5. Good catch; I bet it is missing from the OO file too. I will get on that without the next day or so and reupload the files.

  6. The Character Stats have been updated to include Greg Digger, whom I somehow omitted. I also relabeled a few character abilities.