Character Name: Youl Grinner.
Inspired by: Yul Brynner, famous actor best known for his role as Mongkut in The King and I. However, he acted in numerous westerns, such as when he portrayed Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven.
Life Points: 4.
Ability Type: Neutral, although its power offensively/defensively will depend on his playing style and those of other players.
Ability: "Before drawing, players with more hand cards [cards in their hand] than him must give him one card of their choice."
Activation: Before other players' drawing phases, after they resolve Dynamite, Prison, and event cards.
Cards enhanced by Youl Grinner's ability: non-BANG! attacks besides Indians!/Duel (as he can quickly play them during his turn to drop the amount of cards in his hand), green defensive cards (Sombrero, Iron Plate, Bible, Ten Gallon Hat), Canteen, Barrel, Mustang, and Hideout. General Store can be great in helping increase the amount of cards in others' hands.
Cards weakened by Youl Grinner's ability: Duplicates of cards in play and defensive cards that remain in the hand (Missed!, Dodge), as he cannot voluntary play them to drop the amount of cards in his hand. Gatling and Indians! can still be powerful attacks, but by often lowering the amount of cards in all other players' hands, he may be weakening his leaching ability.
Cards less effective when played against Youl Grinner: Steal and discard cards targeting his hand (Panic!, Cat Balou, Can Can, Brawl, Rag Time, Conestoga).
Ideal role for Youl Grinner: All. As a Renegade it doesn't often matter whose cards he steals, as a Sheriff he can get hooked up from his Deputy with great cards, and as an Outlaw he will almost always being syphoning off cards from the Sheriff who tends to have more cards in his hand (5 life point character usually).
Characters that counter Youl Grinner well: Pat Brennan (he can steal cards Youl Grinner and others have in play instead of drawing cards, allowing him to control his the amount of cards in his hand well), Suzy Lafayette (she can pass on cards creating hiccups in her chain-drawing ability--typically, Missed!, to draw many more cards during her turn), Bill Noface (his ability is maximized by starting his turn with fewer cards in his hand due to card/life point constraints and then picking up a lot during his drawing phase; he may be able to mostly avoid giving cards to Youl Grinner), Willy the Kid (ability to dispose of BANG! makes it hard for Youl Grinner to have fewer cards in his hand than Willy the Kid; however, it does make it hard for Willy the Kid to store up BANG!), Sid Ketchum/Doc Holyday (transmutable abilities allow them to drop down the amount of cards in their hands), Lee Van Kliff (depleting BANG! to replicate cards in his hand helps drop the amount of cards in his hand), and Teren Kill (living on the edge ability makes it unlikely for Youl Grinner to steal cards from him).
Characters that Youl Grinner counters well: Sean Mallory (storing up cards for his card limit benefit makes it so that he will likely always have to hand cards over to Youl Grinner), Big Spencer (if he can store up cards due to his amount of life points, chances are he will always have to give cards to Youl Grinner while his life points are high; however, since Missed! are worthless to him, Big Spencer can pass those on easily in some occasions), Jesse Jones (if he uses his ability against Youl Grinner, Grinner has fewer cards in his hand, making it easier for Grinner to nab cards from others), El Gringo/Bart Cassidy (while losing life points makes them gain cards, they will likely have to hand the gained card to Youl Grinner at the beginning of their turns), Slab the Killer (who will draw Missed! from other players, and so playing 2 to avoid Slab the Killer's BANG! is both doable and beneficial for his ability), Flint Westwood (card swapping ability increases the amount of cards in his hand, making it easier for Youl Grinner to steal cards), John Pain (drawing on "draws!" makes it likely he will hand cards to Youl Grinner at the beginning of his turn),
2-player value: Excellent; the card pressure will force his opponent to use cards or pass them to him. However, his rival would be wise to pass non-efficacious Beer in their hand to Youl Grinner.
General Strategy as Youl Grinner: Youl Grinner's ability has a stronger effect on the players whose turns follow closely after his. Since he only gains cards when players have more cards in their hand than him, he will (all things being equal) be at his lowest card amount at the end of his own turn. Then, during the next couple of turns, he will pick up cards from players to his left. In larger games, players to his right may hardly feel the impact of his ability until later on in the game. This can be really good or bad for Youl Grinner depending on whether or not his allies (if he has any) are on his left or right sides. If his allies are to his left, then his team should work on making Youl Grinner their main attack force. As the store up defensive cards, they can pass on their most powerful offensive cards to Youl Grinner. Grinner can use them to deal out damage and deplete his cards to pick up more from his allies. Of course, when needed, defensive cards may also be passed.
If his rivals are to his left, he is in great position to drain them if he lowers the amount of cards in his hand. However, defensive cards may be necessary as they will hate his constant leaching. This can be best compensated by getting green defensive cards, a Barrel, and defensive sight modifiers in play. That way if he plays several offensive cards, he still has a defense if they want to quickly retaliate. Fortunately, as long as they have more cards than him, he will always get at least 1 additional card before he is attacked. He should be careful with expending all of his BANG!, though. All the cards he puts in play will do little to deflect Duel or Indians! played against him. Ideally, he should try to get down to a BANG! and a Missed! (or have a defensive card in play) by the end of his turn. This will maximize his leaching ability, while still protecting him.
With his discard/steal cards, he should likely make sure not to waste them on players with more cards than him (as he will likely steal from them anyway). Otherwise, he may end up losing the card he would have stolen from them anyway. This danger is increased when the discard/steal cards are Conestoga or Can Can. He should try to use them on players that already have fewer cards than him to compound their weaker situation.
Playing against Youl Grinner: Youl Grinner is another one of the irritating characters in Wild West Show that affects the way all other players play and manage their hands. With Gary Looter, most players could make sure that they did not exceed their cards limits, so Gary Looter tended to only benefit when people wanted to hand him cards (which works obscenely well when he is Sheriff). Of course, with both Gary Looter and Youl Grinner, players had to be somewhat careful when playing draw cards like Wells Fargo and Stagecoach. However, Youl Grinner is more irritating because you are not only monitoring the amount of cards in your hand more closely, but also the amount of cards in Youl Grinner's hand. Generally speaking, you will not want to have more cards in your hand by the end of your turn than Youl Grinner if it appears that you will have more cards in your hand them him by your next turn (turn order, as explained in the previous section affects this quite a bit).
When you do end up giving cards to Youl Grinner, look at the cards he has in play and those that you have seen him pick up/play to try to give him a less advantageous card. Also consider the card(s) you will be playing during your turn. If you are going to play an Indians! or Duel against Youl Grinner, you will probably not want to hand him a BANG! to defend against them.
In some ways, Youl Grinner's ability can be exploited. If you want a player to your left to lose a card if he has the same amount of cards in his hand and Youl Grinner, see if shooting at or discarding/stealing a card from Youl Grinner might remove a card from his hand. He may opt to take a hit instead of drop a card (or deflect it with a green defensive card or Barrel), but maybe not. Then, at the next player's turn, he will have to give a card to Youl Grinner. This could be used advantageously both as a rival or an ally of Youl Grinner.
Often with Youl Grinner, killing him is about prioritizing. Since he is leaching cards from players close to his left, think about whether or not those players are his allies. If he is a Sheriff, those other players will be of huge benefit to him, and so you may not be able to ignore them if you are an Outlaw. You might want to kill them first. Even if he is not the Sheriff, killing off his allies can be a great move. Since defensive cards will tend to sit in his hand, this can increase the amount of cards in his hand if Youl Grinner is not targetted. While a smart Youl Grinner will try to use more offensive cards to compensate, this will still make his ability activate less often. This will work even better if you adjust his sight constraints, so that he cannot easily use BANG! against his rivals. Your steal/discard cards will work well against the cards he has in play as they will not modify the amount of cards in his hand. Using a Jail on Youl Grinner when his card limit is maxed out (or the amount of cards in his hand is higher than others) can also help. After nuking out his allies, you will have to focus on Youl Grinner.
Once Youl Grinner is your direct target, you can avoid his ability in some ways. Get defensive green cards, defensive sight modifiers, and a Barrel in play, and then become more free with depleting your hand (made easier with a Volcanic). Offensive combos can also be powerful, but they have the difficulty of being stored up. If played correctly (and luckily), as Youl Grinner's life points drop, you will still tend to have in your hand less than or equal to the amount of cards in his hand.