Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Character Guide: Lee Van Kliff

Lee Van Kliff BANG! card game character

Character Name
: Lee Van Kliff.

Inspired by: Lee Van Cleef, who played in numerous villian roles in Western films, such as the Bad in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. 

Life Points: 4. 

Ability Type: Offensive. 

Ability: "During his turn, he may discard a BANG! to repeat the effect of a brown-bordered card he just played." 

Activation: After he has played a brown card during the playing phase of his turn. 

Cards enhanced by Lee Van Kliff's ability: BANG!, Indians!, Springfield, Punch, Gatling, Duel, Beer, Whisky, Tequila, Saloon, Cat Balou, Brawl, Panic!, Rag Time, Stagecoach, Wells Fargo, and General Store

Good roles for Lee Van Kliff: Outlaw, Deputy, Renegade. 

Characters that counter Lee Van Kliff well: Slab the Killer (his attacks are very difficult for Lee Van Kliff to defend, and he doesn't want to store 2 Missed! in his hand anyway), Willy the Kid (Willy the Kid's strong offense can be hard for Lee Van Kliff to respond to), Calamity Janet (her conversion ability allows her to avoid most of Lee Van Kliff's offensive combos), to some extent El Gringo (after taking a hit from his brown card, he has a good chance of stealing the BANG! required for replication from Lee Van Kliff's hand), Jesse Jones (he can steal BANG! from his hand), Belle Star (Lee Van Kliff's defensive cards in play will do him no good against her, and he cannot replicate his cards out of turn), at times Sean Mallory (when he has a good hand built up he can fend off Lee Van Kliff's attacks and fight back), somewhat Apache Kid (when Indians! or diamond BANG! are played against him they have no effect, and neither do their replications; however, a diamond BANG! may be used to replicate the effect of a non-diamond offensive card to hurt Apache Kid), and Flint Westwood (he can swap out a non-BANG! from his hand to hopefully steal BANG! and powerful brown cards Lee Van Kliff was hoping to replicate). 

Characters that Lee Van Kliff counters well: Elena Fuente (He can replicate the effects of Duel and Indians! against her, as well as hit her with devastating offensive combos), Gary Looter (Able to discard BANG! to replicate brown card effects makes it quite unlikely he will exceed his card limit), Big Spencer (his ability to almost always produce some sort of offensive combo makes it very unlikely that Big Spencer will be able to protect himself from his attacks). 

2-player value: Excellent. While he can no longer gain more life points by replicating the effects of Beer, he should have a very strong offensive position. 

General Strategy as Lee Van Kliff: One of the most important things to remember about Lee Van Kliff is that discarding a BANG! does not replicate a card, but its effect. This means that the brown cards that require discarding another card to play them are much more powerful for Lee Van Kliff if he has a BANG! available. If he replicated the card, he would have to discard a card again. But since he replicates the effect, he gets the powerful effect at no extra cost! Thing of how powerful it is to Brawl, Rag Time, or Springfield twice in a row! Or how much health he can regain with a Whisky, or help another ally with a Tequila. Lee Van Kliff should never forget this. One other point on his replicating effects versus cards: if he plays a Wells Fargo or Stagecoach and replicates their effect, a new Wild West Show event card is not brought into play. This only occurs when cards are played, not their effects replicated (see Wild West Show FAQ Q19).

Next, Lee Van Kliff should be aware that he can use his ability as many times as he likes during his turn. No rules in Wild West Show or questions/answers in the FAQ preclude him from doing so. While using his ability more than once is dependent on having 4 brown cards in his hand that can be used during his turn (2 of which would have to be BANG!), this is a definite possibility. This is especially the case when Lee Van Kliff uses cards that allow him to draw more during his turn (besides the obvious ones, don't forget about Derringer or steal cards like Panic!, Conestoga, or Rag Time). Some of these like Wells Fargo and Stagecoach you will definitely want to replicate. The cards drawn will most likely allow you to use his replication ability again during the same turn. 

As a final clear up about his ability, when he replicates the effect of a card, he does not have to select the same target with the replication. Thus, I could play a Springfield against one player, and then replicate the Springfield's effect against another player. This is cleared up in the Wild West Show FAQ Q13. While it is tempting to come out at the beginning of the game with guns blazing, Lee Van Kliff needs to take things slowly if possible. He should not try to make any quick enemies, since his ability will not work in a defensive manner for the most part. He can only use his ability on his turn, and so this eliminates the ability to replicate the effects of out of turn cards like Missed! and Dodge. He can still use his ability to replicate the effects of life point modifiers on his turn, but he cannot use it to replicate last chance Beer (except in rare cases where a last chance Beer was played during Lee Van Kliff's own turn, say to deal with Dynamite or losing a Duel played on on his turn when he is at his last life point).

This means that Lee Van Kliff should use the early game to get some important defensive cards in play: defensive sight modifiers, a Barrel, and some defensive green cards. Besides providing defenses, they also keep him from maintaining cards in his hand that he cannot replicate (Missed!, Dodge), making room for more useful cards. Once those are in place, Lee Van Kliff should try to build up a powerful attack combo. He should try to pair the BANG! with other offensive cards, not wasting a replication on a BANG! unless necessary. Duels are poor choices to replicate as entering into Duels often requires discarding the BANG! he needs for replication. Indians! and Gatling are powerful cards to replicate, but he should remember that they affect his allies as well. Springfield is a beautiful card to replicate if his rival is out of range. Punch can be replicated if it is all you have left. Supplement your replication attacks with green offensive cards if possible. The target of your offensive combo should probably be the weakest link, especially if you are a Deputy or Renegade (or Sheriff), and have a good chance at scoring a card bonus for eliminating an Outlaw. You will probably be able to utilize those cards that turn. You will find that being able to discard BANG! will make it so that you rarely exceed your card limit. Anyway, when hitting your target, think of how your replication ability can be used to weaken his defenses. You can replicate Panic!, Rag Time, Brawl, and Rag Time against your target to remove defensive cards he has in play and that are in his hand. Combine that with an offensive combo and you are in business. When unable to eliminate an enemy, try to keep at least a BANG! in your hand by the end of your turn to protect yourself from Indians!. It is often worth taken the hit from a Duel, if you can afford it, so that you have BANG! ready in your hand.

Playing against Lee Van Kliff: Lee Van Kliff is a very powerful enemy. So powerful, in fact, that many other players—including his unknowing allies—will probably make some efforts to weaken him in the early game. Once it is ascertained which team (if any) he belongs to, there are a few strategies you can use to weaken him. First, remember that his ability only works on his turn. This means that Jail will nullify his ability for a round. It also means that his replicating ability will not work on defensive cards like Missed! or Dodge, and it will not work on out of turn last chance Beers. Of course, he can still use his ability to replicate the effect of Beer (or other life point modifiers) on his own turn. Nonetheless, Lee Van Kliff is more open to attacks than you might expect. He will try to compensate his weaker defensive state with either cards he has in play (Mustang, Barrel, etc.) or a really strong offensive stance. As long as you try to hit him hard, he will be hard pressed to always use his BANG! in offensive ways. Second, since his replication ability is dependent upon having BANG! in his hand to discard, you can weaken him by removing his BANG!. You can do so by playing Duel, Indians!, and stealing or discarding cards from his hand. Also pay attention to when BANG! appear due to a General Store; make efforts to keep him from getting it, as well as powerful brown cards that he could replicate with a BANG!.


  1. This character is too strong. Playing with these kind of characters is hurting nice older characters like Vulture Sam or Bart Cassidy who are much weaker. Nice review btw :-)

  2. Dave Lai:
    I don't think we should allow him to play several Bang!s to replicate the (different) effects per turn. I think one bang! to replicate 1 effect 1 turn is enough..

  3. I agree he should only use his ability for a limited times (but I think twice per turn is also acceptable). Or maybe the first he use his ability, he only need to discard one BANG!. However, when he want to use it more than once, he discard two BANG!. Or maybe ask he to discard maybe BANG! cards which are black or on royals or something like that. I think it is not fair that the current Lee Van Kliff has four life points, he should only deserve to have 3.5 life points as Paul Regret. BTW, good character guide.

  4. I think he is too strong as well. I think picking that it works only with BANG! of clubs/diamonds or with Missed! cards is the best solution for him.

  5. Dave Lai:

    do you guys think to activate it only once per turn is too weak? We play it like that and we STILL feel he is too strong of a character.

    C'mon. Literally every turn he has a chance to do one of the following:
    2 indians
    2 discards
    2 panic
    draw 4, draw 6 cards
    2 duels
    2 beers


  6. I have had some good experiences putting his ability like this: "ONCE during his turn, he may discard a DIAMOND BANG! to repeat the effect of a brown-bordered card he just played." This makes him still nice to play, but he cannot use his ability so often.
    If you think that he can can still trigger his ability too often, try Martin's idea of using clubs instead. With Dodoge City Expansion, there're 13 diamond BANG!s and 11 club BANG!s

  7. And hey, if you guys agree with me that most of the Wild West Show characters are overpowered, join the discussion in forum: http://bangcardgame.blogspot.com/p/bang-blog-forum.html

  8. When he replicates the effect of a brown-bordered card, can he replicate it again with another BANG!?
    For example, 1 Indians! followed by 2 BANG!s = 3 Indians!
    I have not seen anyone clarify this, but I would think for sure he's only limited to one replication per brown-bordered card. Otherwise, if he were to stockpile BANG!s and used them with Wells Fargo, he could potentially get an infinite amount of cards assuming he keeps drawing BANG!s. Or if he knew the person to the left was a teammate, he could replicate General Store infinitely by constantly looking for a BANG! within the General Store, allowing his teammate to amass a bunch of offensive cards.

  9. You are correct, Lee Van Kliff is limited to 1 replication per card. However, he can do several replications during one turn. So 2 Indians! + 2 BANG! = 4 Indians!.

  10. Can Lee Van Kliff discard a BANG! to duplicate a BANG! In other words, since his ability duplicates the effect and not the card, can his ability be used to slightly override the "One BANG! a turn" rule without a Volcanic?

    1. As the rules are explicit on saying you can't play a second Bang! i believe you can not repeat the Bang! effect. Unless there is a law or something else going on...

  11. Well, i do not believe Lee Van Cleef is that good... I would prefer playing with like 10 other characters before considering him a good choice.