Saturday, August 6, 2011

Character Guide: Big Spencer

Big Spencer BANG! card game character

Character Name: Big Spencer.

Inspired by: Bud Spencer, a famous Italian actor who starred in many spaghetti westerns. His corpulent appearance made him like like a jolly Santa Claus.

Life Points: 9.

Ability Type: Offensive.

Ability: Has 9 life points (10 if Sheriff). Additionally, "He starts with 5 cards. He can't play Missed!."

Activation: Continuous.

Cards enhanced by Big Spencer's ability: Volcanic, Duel, Dynamite, Stagecoach, Pony Express, Wells Fargo

Cards weakened by Big Spencer's ability: Missed!.

Cards less powerful when played against Big Spencer: Dynamite, Duel, Indians!, and steal/discard cards aimed at his hand.

Cards more powerful when played against Big Spencer: Jail, BANG!, Springfield, Punch, Gatling, Buffalo Rifle, Derringer, Knife, Pepperbox, Howitzer, Volcanic, Cat Balou, Rag Time, Brawl, Can Can, and Conestoga.

Good roles for Big Spencer: Sheriff (it depends on the position of the Outlaws, and whether or not they can rally quickly to attack Big Spencer or not), Outlaw, and Deputy.

Characters that counter Big Spencer well: Willy the Kid (It is very difficult for Big Spencer to avoid BANG! and Willy the Kid has no limit on how many he can fire), Calamity Janet (her conversion ability allows her to fire BANG! at Big Spencer constantly), Rose Doolan (Her perma-scope makes it so that she can target Big Spencer more often with BANG! and steal valuable cards from in play in front of him), Doc Holyday (His 2 cards to BANG! transmutation ability allows him to target Big Spencer more often with BANG!, and allows him to fire 2 BANG! at Big Spencer on his turn), Belle Star (Big Spencer's primary line of defense--sight modifiers, the Barrel, and green defensive cards--have no effect on her turn), Pat Brennan (He can steal the most important defensive cards in play in front of Big Spencer), Johnny Kisch (He can discard the most important defensive cards in play in front of Big Spencer by playing them in front of himself), Flint Westwood (his card swapping ability makes it difficult for Big Spencer to gain good cards, especially when Flint Westwood can hand him a Missed!), Youl Grinner (He is likely to have more cards than Youl Grinner when he is strong, and so have to pass him a card of his choice--probably a Missed!), and Lee Van Kliff (he can replicate basic attacks against him, firing to at him in one turn).

Characters that Big Spencer counters well: Slab the Killer (He wouldn't have likely defended himself against Slab's shot even if he could play Missed!, and so the extra life points give him an advantage), El Gringo/Jesse Jones (the large amount of cards in Big Spencer's hand makes it hard for them to hurt him by stealing a card from his hand; they might steal one of his useless Missed!),and Gary Looter (not likely to exceed his card limit).

2-player value: Depends on the amount of life points he enters in with. Since Beer no longer have an effect, if he is low on life points, he is significantly disadvantaged with being unable to play Missed!.

General Strategy as Big Spencer: With 9 life points, Big Spencer looks immediately as if he is incredibly strong. However, once one reads his handicap--his inability to play Missed!, judgments quickly change. This handicap means that Big Spencer cannot defend himself easily against the basic attack cards in the game, the most common of which is BANG!. Furthermore, the Missed! cannot be discarded easily since he cannot play them. Big can only get rid of them by using a discard card to remove them from his hand or by exceeding his card limit. But they are not all a nuisance--since his card limit starts high, they may keep him from losing valuable cards when rivals try to steal/discard cards from his hand. All in all, Big Spencer's value is thus directly proportional with the amount of life points (and cards in his hand) he has. If they are high, his value is high; if they are low, his value is low.

At the beginning of the game, Big Spencer starts with 5 cards, placing him at about medium value. Knowing his handicap, there are several things he should do to prepare himself. First, he should try to gain defensive sight modifiers (Mustang and Hideout), a Barrel, and green defensive cards as quickly as he can and play them in front of himself. This can be through drawing phase, General Store, or more likely through playing steal/discard cards. His initially large amount of life points should make it easy for him to store up those cards (the most common of which are Panic! and Cat Balou). The moment he can use them to steal offensive sight modifiers (Scope and Binoculars), and discard guns (especially the Volcanic!), the better off he will be. The same can be said of stealing the defensive sight modifiers, Barrel, and the green defensive cards. These will help protect him from enemy BANG!, often by keeping him out of the range of his opponents.

Some non-traditional tactics should also protect him from attacks, such as storing up Indians! and Duels to be used defensively to keep the amount of BANG! in rival hands at a minimum. Other cards are useful to store up in his hand: such as Dodge, Beer, Whisky, and Tequila. The Canteen would also serve greatly for regaining life points. To help Big Spencer as he tries to establish a defensive base, he should make sure he does not attack any other player right off the bat. He should try also to not tick off the players who have him in their sights. Players will start fire at Big Spencer soon enough, but he should not help instigate the attacks.

Once he has a defensive base down, Big Spencer should try to shift to an offensive strategy. His huge card limit lends itself well towards offensive combos. He should try to get such a combo that provides defense as well (Indians!, Duel) as he prepares to build up a stronger hand. Then he should try to use the combo to finish off a weaker rival. This will, of course, be more effective for him if his rival is an Outlaw, for the card bonus will help him replenish the cards he used up. His large card limit also makes the Volcanic with stored up BANG! highly desirable. And if Big Spencer has some defenses and a lot of life points, he is far better defended against a Dynamite blast. He might consider throwing one of those out, especially if 3 life point rivals are around. To counter the most offensively-suited rival, he should throw that rival into Jail.

Playing against Big Spencer: Big Spencer can be a terrifying opponent if you let him build up a strong hand and defensive base. Thus, your goal is to keep Big Spencer's hand small and keep him on the defensive. While you might want to unload a ton of BANG! into Big Spencer at the beginning of the game, you need to be careful, as you might be weakening a potential ally. Thus, just try to insure that a BANG! gets fired at him from time to time. You might also want to discard/steal defensive cards that Big Spencer gets in play in front of him if he has not been weakened much, and a Jail can also keep him from drawing cards during a turn. Be careful when playing General Store; check where Big Spencer stands in the line up, so that you do not provide him with a powerful defensive card.

Once you are certain that Big Spencer is your enemy, there are several strategies you can implement. Your basic attacks are your strongest weapon against Big Spencer, so make sure that you can reach him with BANG! If you cannot, remove his defensive sight modifiers (Mustang and Hideout) as quickly as you can, and grab a gun/offensive sight modifier, while hitting him with distanceless basic attacks (Buffalo Rifle, Springfield, Howitzer, and Gatling) where possible. When his hand is large, Indians! and Duel can be a bad move. He will likely have BANG! to discard and you will likely lose the Duel. Furthermore, they get rid of your fire power and those of your allies. They will only be useful when Big Spencer has low life points. So your basic attack (especially BANG!) are your best weapon against Big Spencer. Try to get yourself a Volcanic and yourself within range of Big Spencer with it if you want to deal out the most damage against him. And get rid of any pesky Barrel that Big Spencer might have in play.

Other strategies are weak when Big Spencer has a large hand, such as trying to steal/discard cards from his hand. There is a good chance that you will only nab a useless Missed! from him, and rarely something worthwhile. Dynamite will likely not be to your advantage to play while Big Spencer's life points are high. The chances of it eliminating an ally are far more likely, and it will only weaken Big Spencer somewhat. It can be far more potent against him later on.

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  1. Nice guide!

    I'm not an owner of Wild West Show, but I have been thinking to buy it. However, I found the characters more or less OP, especially if you think them and the orginal characters.

    So if you're going to make guides for the rest of the WWS characters, give some opinions how to make the character balanced.

  2. Thanks for the compliment on the guide. I agree with you on the OP-ness of the characters, as my review of the expansion clearly divulges. Why not try out my Robbers' Roost characters instead?

    As for adding the balancing into the guides, I would prefer to place those in the variants section.

  3. Hey, martin.
    "Start with 5 cards" means whenever he has less than 5 cards before his turn, he can refill to 5 and draw the usual 2 cards right?

  4. No, this is not the case with Big Spencer. Starts with 5 cards means that at the beginning of the game he draws 5 cards (not up to his full amount of life points: 9 or 10). It has no application after that.

  5. As long as you deplete cards out of Big Spencer's hands, he is not as OP as we thought. This can happen especially when you have aggressive outlaws and Spencer is sheriff. He may be a better character for other roles (possible deputy or renegade? I am leaning towards deputy.)

    By the way, love your reviews on the WWS characters. More to come? Looking forward to a review on Flint Westwood!

  6. Glad you enjoy the WWS character guides. There are definitely more to come: Lee Van Kliff, John Pain, and Greygory Deck have recently been completed.

  7. Question with Big Spencer and Hangover , Can he play miss since he looses his ability ?

  8. Question with Big Spencer and Hangover , Can he play missed since he looses his ability ? Sqmer

    1. Yes he could. That is an excellent scenario card for him.