Saturday, November 19, 2011

Accomplices Expansion

News (11/21/11): Rewrote character drafting rules, hoping to bring more clarity. Diagrams will be provided later.

News (11/20/11): Revised how the extra cards are stored up in the character drafting; they now are put into play before the game has even begun. Blue cards are self-explanatory. Brown, purple, and orange cards will function like green cards for simplicity's sake.

I have been working on another short expansion to BANG!. My first expansion, Death Mesa, worked on the player elimination aspect to the game. My second, Robbers' Roost, worked on player interaction and increased gameplay out of turn. This third expansion has a simpler goal: increasing the variety of the game and changing the way characters are distributed at the beginning of the game.

The main way that I hope to do this is through introducing "accomplices" to the game. An "accomplice" is like a character in having a special ability. However, this ability is far weaker, and the accomplice also has no life points. Each player receives an accomplice paired with a character, the accomplice's ability compounding with the main character. This allows for many interesting combinations of abilities that will provide players with no ways of experiencing the game. I have decided what I want to call these "accomplices": accomplices (of course), helpers, followers, partners, companions, henchmen, or cohorts. You will have to tell me your thoughts.

I have created a more unique look for the accomplices. Their cards are oriented horizontally, and the art flows over the card, instead of being in a box in the top center. I haven't nailed down exactly how I want them to look, but this is what I am working with so far. Below is 10 accomplice examples, with some abilities I am considering to include.

Accomplices in BANG!

The difficulty has been of course to identify abilities that are useful, but not too useful. Also, I have to make sure that no combinations are too powerful, contradictory, or superfluous. For instance, it would be stupid to have an accomplice that allows you to play an Ace as a Missed! If that accomplice was paired with Elena Fuente, she would have no extra bonus. To help balance the fact that some pairings will work better than others, I have created a new character drafting method, which is largely based upon the method of picking races in Small World.

(1) The appropriate roles for the number of players are randomly dealt. The Sheriff reveals his role; the others remain hidden. The playing card deck is shuffled.

(2) The character and accomplice decks are both shuffled. Reveal 4 characters at random and lay them face up in a single column. Place the remaining characters face down, in a single stack, at the bottom of the column. Do the same with the accomplices, placing one to the left of each revealed character. Stack the rest of the accomplices in a pile face down to the left of the character stack. You should now have 4 character and accomplice combos face up on the table.

(3) A player is selected to go first. Have all players guess a card's alphanumeric value (2-10, J, K, Q, or A), but not a card's suit. "Draw!" the card on top of the playing deck. Whichever player is closest to the "drawn!" value goes first. Put the "drawn!" card in the discard pile.

(4) That player selects one character and accomplice combo, from among the 4 visible on the table. The cost of each combo is determined by its position in the column. The first combo, located at the top of the column, is free. Each of the other combos, as you move in succession down the column, cost 1 additional playing card. That cost is paid by the player dropping 1 of the playing cards (that he would typically start the game with) face down to the left of each of the combos situated above the combo he wishes to pick. These cards are provided from the playing deck.

If the combo a player selects contains some playing cards (dropped by players who previously passed up this combo), the player pockets these cards. He must still drop 1 of his own playing cards on each of the combos located above the one he selects (if any), however.

(5) The player places his combo selection in front of him. Any cards he gained through the combo selection are put into play in front of him. Since these cards may be brown, orange, or purple cards, such card colors when put into play are considered green cards. Their effects may be stored up to be used in or out of turn as the effects dictate.

(6) The player draws playing cards from the deck equivalent to his life points minus any cards he expended on character and accomplice combo selection.

(7) Finally, the player replenishes the column of combos available to others. He slides existing combos (and the playing cards to the left of them, if any) up one position in the column, so as to fill the void, and reveals a new combo from the top of the stack, if appropriate. There should thus always be 4 combos visible to all players, on the table.

When every player has selected a character and accomplice combo, remove all remaining characters and accomplices. Remaining playing cards spent for combos are put into the discard pile for playing cards. The game then begins with the Sheriff's turn, and proceeds like usual.

One thing I also like about this expansion is that it is easily made with a POD. The unusual size of the accomplices won't matter since they are their own set of cards, much like the Dead Men's Deck in Death Mesa. Any feedback on this accomplice idea?


  1. its a pretty good idea but i won't play with it.
    i prefer to create more characters instead to increase the variety.
    an other point is if you play with beginner it will be even harder to understand the game and don't forget the character abilities. But if you play with pros i see no problem with it.
    i like your ideas keep it up!

  2. and the layout for the accomplice looks amazing! ;)

  3. Its a good idea, but as you said, the accomplice can't have a powerful ability or a powerful combination with some character. However if you introduce the idea of non-permanent accomplices, you won't worry so much with unbalanced abilities.

    Players might eliminate/steal others player's accomplices or something you did in the game gives you an accomplice during some turns or you could buy an accomplice as an equipment as Gold Rush expansion.

    Well, I'll talk with others players to see what they have on mind about this idea.

  4. I've had an idea for a card or ability of some sort for a while, not sure if would help here or not, but what if you only gain an Accomplice if you discard your whole hand when you are holding cards equal to your max life?

  5. Discard a whole hand, open defenses to get a accomplice that doesn't have a overpower ability? I don't think it's a good idea, in a 7-players game, you wouldn't even survive to use his ability in most scenarios. We can find another way to gain accomplices during the game. I like this idea, just disagree with the way to gain the accomplices.

  6. Personally, I think it is best to pass them out in the draft mode I described above (but I suppose I would since I suggested the idea). If you wanted to make it so that they were more "removable" then I would just say the all have 1 life point. Another player can target the accomplice directly. The accomplice's owner can play missed for him. If he doesn't protect him, the accomplice is dead (turn him sideways, flip him over, whatever to indicate this). However, the accomplice's owner can still play alcoholic beverages/Saloon to "resurrect" the accomplice. Now, the accomplice will not keep a player alive if he is still around when the main character is dead. If the main character dies, that player is eliminated.

  7. I have an idea, based on DShirke's.

    All players starts without accomplices. Shuffle all accomplices cards and put them face down. Reveal the top accomplice, s/he is called the "the Mercenary in town".

    On the beginning of the player's turn, after draw his/her 2 cards, s/he can starts the auction to get that accomplice. If the player does, s/he offers how many cards he will discard to get that accomplice.

    The players can raise the offer or fold (exactly like poker, except you can't call an offer, just raise or fold). The player that have the best offer, discard the cards and get the accomplice. A new one is reveled from the accomplices' deck and the next player in game order will be able to start a new auction.

    1- If a winner player's already had a accomplice, s/he will replace the old accomplice to the new one. Put the old accomplice on the bottom accomplice's deck.
    2- When a player is eliminated, the player who killed can start a new auction for the accomplice of the player eliminated. (s/he gets his/her reward first, if s/he has one).

  8. I like your idea Fernando. In my experience with character selection we like to have a fair bit of choice as we play it casually every day at lunch time with 3-5 people. Martin's way just seems a little complicated (or maybe I just haven't understood it properly).

    My idea of discarding a whole hand would leave you completely open as Fernando pointed out, so you would have to get something worthwhile in return. The auction idea is quite good, I like it. I will give it a go this week.

  9. I guess I will have to find an easier way to explain my idea; if you have played Small World, it is very easy to understand.

    I don't like the bidding idea (at least as I understand). Since auctioning can occur (and often will from turn to turn), it seems to intervene in the game far too much. I don't like slowing down BANG! significantly; it is slow enough. But perhaps I don't understand your idea too well either. :)

  10. I rewrote the character drafting rules; perhaps they are clearer now. I will put a diagram in a day or so, if visualization is needed.

  11. Sounds better now and I understand it.

  12. I understand your idea Martin and it doesn't intervene in the game too much as my idea. However, don't you think you'll unbalance the game, when you take cards from players to give to another players. Of course this only happens when a player choose a powerfull combo that it's located at the bottom of the column.

    Well it's a good idea, but I personally wouldn't like to give cards to a probable enemy. So I will always choose the first combo, except it was an awful combo, then I would choose the second one.

  13. It's your idea, so it blows me away again! But I saw a suggestion of buying/hiring them during the game. I think that's a good idea as well. Maybe you can buy them by discarding a gun or something like that...

    But like I already said, nice work!

  14. Of course, the pressure is to select the first combo. But you'd be surprised how much combos are passed up in small world. Perhaps the sacrifice for skipping needs to be weakened. But those who get a weaker combo should be compensated.

  15. The sacrifice for skipping is often made in Small World, but the sacrifice is not as great I think. I will try to think of a weaker compensation.

  16. I love the idea of accomplices. I don't necessarily like the Small World style character distribution. Here's the way I think I'd approach things. Distribute the characters as you usually do. Then distribute the roles. Then deal an accomplice to each player, don't show your accomplice right away. Then each player decides if they want to keep their accomplice or get a new one. Discarded accomplices are shuffled back into the deck and redistributed to accomplice-less players. Your second accomplice is your accomplice.

    Then since my group plays with high noon/fist full You could add 2 or 3 (depending on preference) event cards to your deck. Put these extra cards facing wrong way and then shuffle the event cards (except for the game-ender). Then when you move a new high noon card into play and a face down card appears as "the next event" immediately institute a "New Mercenary in Town" event where players can choose to trade in for a different accomplice or stick with their current accomplice. Then proceed to deal with whatever event was actually put into play. (As an example because that description is terrible: The player to the left of the sheriff finishes their turn. Russian Roulette enters play. The even card on top of the stack is now a face down card. Every character decides if they want to keep their accomplice or shuffle it back into the deck. Then accomplice-less players are dealt a new accomplice. The face down event card is put at the bottom of the stack of "already used" event cards (the stack that Russian Roulette was just added to) and a new event now Peyote is the "Next Event", and Russian Roulette's affect is then played out.

  17. Just tried playing with the accomplices and Martin's setup and the rest of the guys really didn't like it. So much so that stopped half way through the character selection and went with the auction method Fernando suggested instead.

    We had to come up with some extra rules for the auction. You can only call 1 auction on your turn. If you call the auction, you must bid at least 1 card.

    We also thought that giving the accomplices 1 hit point was a very good idea. They can be shot at only with Bang!'s but the player who's accomplice it is, can only play misses to defend them. The accomplice is at the same range as the player that currently has them.

    This was tested with a 4 player game and seemed to work fairly well.

  18. My group does fine with the player selection, and think it tends to bring more balanced games than when characters are just randomly dealt out that may or may not fit with roles. It clearly is better than the official rules where you get no selection at all; just dealt a random character. We adjusted the giving a card to another player by having all players draw 3 cards before they made their selection, and then could choose whether or not they wanted to sacrifice a particular card for a better combo. The cards did not become green cards (this earlier was instituted to deal with the card limit issues), but just became cards in those players' hands. We also thought instead of giving a card to another player for moving down the combo, we could just discard the card instead. But if others don't like the character drafting method, so be it.

    Curiously, Dshrike, what accomplice-character combos did your group try out?

    I am fine seeing other ideas experimented with, of course. There will be lots of experimentation going on to work the kinks out of this idea and the accomplice's abilities? Perhaps one should try passing out accomplices without any adjustments--players are dealt 2, pick 1. That is the least time consuming.

    My issue with the auction is that it interrupts the game consistently, and it favors 4+ life point characters (typically having more cards for auctioning), including those with card accumulating benefits (Jose Delgado, Black Jack, Flint Westwood, Gary Looter, John Pain, Youl Grinner). It can also really punish some abilities, which involve card transmutation or drawing phase sacrificing, such as with the abilities of Pat Brennan, Doc Holyday, or Sid Ketchum. Is there a way to set up the auction so that this does not occur (interruption and character ability favoring)? Can the auctions not all proceed as a special phase at the beginning of the game, so they do not interrupt turns? Characters could be hidden during the auctions, helping with bluffs.

  19. As a quicker alternative to the typical draft method:

    Pass out characters at random like usual. Then reveal 4 accomplices in a column. You pick 1, but one's below the top have the 1 card cost like before. But the cards are simply discarded, not given to another player. The pick is just for the accomplice. I think this would be the quickest way of getting them out at the beginning of the game.

    Dshrike, what did your group not like about the drafting method from before? I am just trying to figure out what needs adjustment and tweeks.

  20. The auction only takes about 30 seconds to resolve. Flip the top accomplice, read out the ability and then make an offer. Only takes 1 or 2 passes of all the players to say their bid or pass. We found it didn't slow things down at all.

    The main thing my group didn't like about the drafting method was the time it took and the card penalty. We normally deal 2 normal character cards to everyone plus 1 of your Robber's Roost characters so we have a lot of choice.

    We played the auction method and had the following combos:
    (Sheriff) Jose Delgado + Grue Duck
    (Deputy) Julie "Diamond" Bulette + Ned Kinney
    (Deputy) Julie "Diamond" Bulette + Jimmer McKay

    We found that the Sheriff's combo completely negated one of the Outlaws playing Jourdonnais.

    We will play it again today and see how it goes.

  21. Played again today (5 people) with the deal 2 accomplices to each player at the start of the game method.

    Also played with our modified rules for accomplices:

    * 1 hit point
    * At the same range as the player (eg range IS modified by Mustang & Hideout)
    * Can only be shot by a direct Bang! card
    * Immune to Indians, Gatling etc..
    * Barrels do not work
    * Jail can not be played on an accomplice
    * Only a card that causes a Missed can be used (Missed, Dodge, Sombrero etc..)
    * If your accomplice is killed, you can bring out your second accomplice on your next turn
    * You CAN kill your own accomplice and reveal your second one in your turn. However you can only use the second accomplice's ability if you have not used the previous accomplice's ability yet in your turn

    Combos that were played:

    Sheriff: Jesse Jones +
    Deputy: Jourdonnais + Ned Kinney
    Renegade: Lil Sure Short + Billy Hickman
    Outlaw: Willy the Kid + Ben Formant/Grue Duck
    Outlaw: Black Jack + Jimmer McKay

    Result: Showdown between the Sheriff & Renegade. Sheriff won.

  22. I think this entire expansion sounds amazing. I really like the sound of Martin's draft idea, but think the other ideas have merit as well. Perhaps you can just provide a variant option in the official rules.

  23. Love the accomplice idea, the auction idea for "new mercenaries in town" is also awesome, but I totally agree with Martin on the issue that it delays the game too much if played every single turn, and also that it favours the player with the ability to steal cards from others, so I totally agree with Martin that the auction should be held once every one whole round, and I also suggest that a coin should be flipped, if heads the auction goes as planned but if tails, there's is no new mercenaries available for auction for that round.

    That way mercenaries aren't easily obtian and the abilities of the accomplice could be raised slightly to give a better combo, because accomplices doesn't come by easy and also makes accomplices the primary target of bang!.

    And also I would like to propose the idea that acomplices can take the decisive blow like Saved! and push.

  24. saving the real charcters from the Coup de Grace when he or she is about to be eliminated.

    Then again the coin thing is a bit redundant since we could just "draw" on hearts for the auction, and I tried the idea with my freinds and thought that 1 acomplice per turn + the possiblity of not having able to have an auction if hearts is not "drawn", so we decided to make it like Fernando's original idea about having an auction every single turn in conjunction with the "draw" on hearts.

    Also, the accomplice only has 1 hp and players cannot revive dead accomplices, they are left in another discard pile and to be shuffled when the mercenaries' pile is finished, also, a player can have max 2 accomplices at any moment of the game, and applied the Gold Rush expansion and used gold nuggets instead of cards as a currency for the bidding, and the minimum bid for an acomplice is 3 gold nuggets, and like I mentioned before, accomplices can take the Coup de Grace on behalf of the player as a push! when applied the the owner of the accomplice, and as a Saved! when owner orders the accomplice to take the final hit for another player to prevent elimination and steals two cards from him/her, kinda like a compensation.

  25. In my opinion, the DShrike's solution seems to be the best suited to this game.

    I will adjust it only a bit.
    Usually, we distribute two charac:er to everyone and once is picked; the same could be be done with accomplices (so one choose among 4 possible combo).
    In this way self-shooting to accomplice will be avoided (you just have 1 accomplice at all!)

    weaker/powerful accomplices can be also balanced by adding and extra life point (so 2 hit point instead of 1).

    the curious thing, is that the accomplice's idea allow one to imagine an "accomplice actions deck" (like RR) with suited actions to be added to the standard one.

  26. I don't know if this blog is still active; I'm trying to contact Martin Pulido but I couldn't find an email address or something like that anywhere.
    Anyway, I was wandering if this expansion set has been tested and if an ultimate rolebook has been written. I'm not sure if the rules I read here are definitive.