Monday, March 26, 2012

Character Guide: Gary Looter

Gary Looter BANG! card game character

Character Name: Gary Looter.

Inspired by: Gary Cooper, who starred in numerous famous western, such as when he played as Marshall Will Jane in High Noon.

Life Points: 5.

Ability Type: Neutral.

Ability: "He draws all excess cards discarded by other players at the end of their turn."

Activation: During other players' discard phases.

Cards enhanced by Gary Looter's ability: Wells Fargo/Stagecoach/Pony Express (higher card limit makes it easier for him to hold on cards drawn from playing these cards), Duel (higher card limit gives him a greater capacity to hold BANG! to use during Duels), General Store (besides causing greater card selection, it also causes all other players to draw an extra card, making it more likely for them to exceed card limits by their discard phases), and Tequila/Whisky/Springfield/Brawl/Rag Time (higher card limit makes it easier to discard a card from his hand to play these cards).

Cards less effective when played against Gary Looter: Wells Fargo and Pony Express (extra cards drawn make it more likely that you will exceed your card limit), Dynamite (base 5 life points make Dynamite less likely to eliminate him), Indians! (higher card limit gives him a greater capacity to hold BANG! to respond to Indians!), Duel (higher card limit gives him a greater capacity to hold BANG! to use during Duels), and General Store (card causes all other players to draw an extra card, making it more likely for them to exceed card limits by their discard phases),

Ideal role for Gary Looter: Sheriff (especially in larger games).

Characters that counter Gary Looter well: Sean Mallory (he is very unlikely to exceed his card limit), Willy the Kid (lack of BANG! limit makes it easier for him to not have to discard during phase 3), Calamity Janet (able to use Missed! and BANG! interchangeably allows her to better manage her hand so that she does not exceed her limit), Sid Ketchum/Doc Holyday (Their abilities allow them to voluntary discard cards during their playing phases to create effects, undercutting Gary Looter's ability to draw cards from them), Lee Van Kliff (BANG! replication ability makes it unlikely that Gary Looter will be able to get cards from him), to some extent Big Spencer (while his life points are high, his high card limit makes him incredibly resistant to phase 3 discards), and Youl Grinner (syphoning off cards from other players makes it less likely that Gary Looter will get cards from those other players).

Characters that Gary Looter counters well: Clause the Saint/Uncle Will (abilities cause all other players to draw an extra card, making it more likely for them to exceed card limits by their discard phases), Pixie Pete (base 3 card limit in combination with drawing 3 cards a turn makes it difficult for him not exceed his card limit), defensive 3 life point character such as Paul Regret/El Gringo/Elena Fuente/Apache Kid/Teren Kill (defensive stance with 3 life points make it more likely that they will exceed their card limits), Bill Noface (he draws more cards when his life points--and therefore card limit--are lower, making it very difficult not to exceed his card limit), and to some extent Chuck Wengam (dropping life points to gain cards lowers his card limit, creating a greater risk of having to discard during phase 3).

2-player value: Depends on the amount of life points he enters in with, but all things being equal, his life points give him a nice advantage. Nonetheless, with only 1 opponent it will be difficult to gain cards since they will likely make sure to expend their cards so that Gary Looter cannot get any extras.

General Strategy as Gary Looter: To other players Gary Looter is an annoying character, and depending on his role, also an intimidating character. Players always have to think about whether or not they will go over their card limits. New players will not immediately recognize this, and even seasoned players will forget from time to time. Since Gary Looter is a nuisance, he is more likely to be a target. It is very important that Gary Looter's team mates recognize their ability to almost freely give him cards whenever they are over their limits. This can be used to aid Gary Looter when he is in trouble or to help him achieve strategic objectives, such as eliminating a player that Gary Looter can see but his team mate cannot. One could pass him a Volcanic to use to annihilate one of his adjacent players. At the beginning of the game, it is also a useful means of securing a decent card base for Gary Looter if he is having trouble. Gary Looter should try to keep valuable card-feeding allies alive. Of course, if Gary Looter is a Renegade, the chances of him getting high power cards from other players is slim.

Gary Looter can play in such a way as to try to maximize his ability to gather other players' cards. For instance, playing General Store has the added benefit of increasing the amount of cards in all players' hands, on top of the better card selection for him. This can help allies pass cards and make it hard for rivals not to discard cards at the ends of their turns. Gary Looter should also be mindful of playing/using cards that require discards from all other players, such as is the case with Indians!, Gatling, and Howitzer. Since these cards can create many players to drop in their life points, and therefore card limits, Gary Looter can gain many cards within a round as a result. Of course, there is the possibility that the other players will have the right discards, making it therefore less likely for Gary Looter to draw cards from them during their discard phases. Gary Looter should pay attention to the number of cards in his rival's hands, as well as their playing styles, to judge whether or not playing such cards is momentarily worth it.

Gary Looter can also make it difficult for other players not to discard cards. This can be done by increase his distance from other players, so that unusable BANG! build up in their hands. It can also be done through who Gary Looter chooses to attack. If he has 2 rivals, and 1 is more defensive, ignore that rival and focus on the other. The build up Missed! and other defensive cards in that player's hand will make it hard for him not to exceed his card limit. The same goes with players who only have 3 life points. Finally, if there is clear evidence of a player having far more cards than his card limit, Gary Looter may not want to put that player in Jail, as he will then have no discard phase to pass the excess cards on to him.

Besides this, Gary Looter can use his higher number of life points to his advantage to play Dynamite (it exploding on him is far less devastating) and also build strong offensive combos to take out a rival in one turn if possible. If he has a more defensive objective, he should try to make sure he has decent defensive cards in play before he does so.

Playing against Gary Looter: Always remember how Gary Looter impinges on you. Whenever your discard phase arises, if you have to discard a card because you are over your alotted limit, Gary Looter picks it up. Try, therefore, to use as many cards as are necessary to get you below your card limit before your discard phase. Of course, you will always want to try to have a Missed! and a BANG! in your hand for defensive reasons, but try to make sure your hand is not getting bogged up with cards you can't play. Make sure you can play many cards before playing a Wells Fargo or Stagecoach. Otherwise, Gary Looter might inherit many of your cards. If you are too defensive, you will start having defensive cards in your hand that you cannot play since (perhaps) no one is attacking you; you will soon have no option but to hand cards over to Gary Looter. Be more offensive, so that your rivals cannot ignore you. Also, make sure that your BANG! are playable. If you cannot see a rival, you will only be able to play BANG! on your allies or likely have to pass a card(s) to Gary Looter on your discard phase. Try to secure a gun or offensive sight modifier, so that does not become an issue. Replace guns, so that gun cards do not get stuck in your hand, unless it very adversely affects your gameplay. Be wary of duplicate cards that can also get stuck in your hand. If you are playing with Dodge City, you may be able to play a card that requires discarding another to get rid of the duplicate. If you have any abilities that allow you to freely discard cards, use these to circumvent the card limit problem as well.

Besides being cautious of your hand, also be careful when playing General Store, and cards that either reduce the card limit or increase the amount of cards in all other players' hands. These could potentially greatly benefit Gary Looter. Gary Looter is rarely a solo opponent. Be aware of his team mates and how they are feeding cards to him. If one ally is feeding him a lot of cards, focus fire on him, and try to play cards that could greatly reduce the amount of cards in his hand. Duel is the best example of that, but many other cards are useful for this (Panic! and Cat Balou when they target his hand). It may be to your advantage to eliminate Gary Looter's team mates before moving on to him, so consider it.

All you have left to worry about is Gary Looter's greater number of life points. This is a problem, but not unsurmountable if you play carefully as outlined above. Just put the pressure on Gary Looter and use offensive combos where possible. Dynamite can work to your disadvantage depending on the number of life points Gary Looter has.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Adjustments to Accomplice Abilities

Accomplice Ability Adjustments:

Big Nose Nick: Removed Duel Immunity. Now, "You may discard any card from your hand as a BANG! during a Duel." Thus, cards are still depleted during the Duel, even though the person possessing Big Nose Nick has a high probability of winning the Duel.

Ellie Cashman: Simple indicator adjustment, as well as shift from "next turn" to "next draw phase" activation to avoid possible Jail confusion. Now, "If you do not play or use any cards during your turn, you may draw an extra card at your next draw phase. Rotate this card vertically to indicate you will draw an extra card."

Debating over Adjustments:

Albert Boothwell: His ability has read thus, "Once on your turn, you may discard a card to disable a card in play. Flip it face down to show it is disabled. While disabled, the card cannot be used or utilized. On his turn, that card's owner may discard a card to enable it." With more thought, this ability appears to be very powerful, especially depending on turn order. The card disabled is out of play until the affected player's next turn, in which he can get pummelled by you and your allies if it was an essential defensive card (Mustang, for instance). I think this is far too powerful an ability for an accomplice, but how to adjust it for greater balance? Should the cost for disabling be 2 cards? Or should the disabled card's owner not have to pay any card to enable it? Or should the disabled card's owner be able to enable the card by discarding a card at any time? Or should only 1 action be able to be carried out against the disabled card's owner before the card is re-enabled? What do you think?

Lilian Smythe: Her ability reads, "Give up your draw phase to discard 1 card from the hands of 2 separate players." I don't know how often a player would want to do this; he would have to be pretty secure to give up his draw phase, and what if he draw 2.5+ cards a turn? The chances of him using Smythe's ability is quite low. The 2 separate player stipulation also makes it difficult once only 2-3 players are left alive. Thoughts? Perhaps she could forego drawing a card during her draw phase to discard 1 card from another player's hand? That way if Black Jack succeeded on his guess for his second card, he could discard instead of draw a third card, and Pixie Pete/Bill Noface wouldn't be negatively affected.

Jay Bryant: His ability reads, "At the start of your draw phase, call a suit. If any cards drawn are that suit, you may pass 1 with that suit to another player. You must show the card to verify it is of the called suit." My question is whether or not Jay's owner should have to show the card to verify the suit, or simply show the card's suit (masking the rest of the card with his hand/another card if he wanted)? What do you think?

Grue Duck: His ability reads, "If you play a BANG! at a player whose gun range is less than yours, that player cannot play, use, or "draw!" any spades or hearts to avoid your attack." I like using the gun range numbers against each other, but is his ability too powerful or too useless? Should a scope/binoculars augment "gun range," since technically the cards only refer to sight?

Sally Skull: Her ability reads, "Once a turn, you may lose a life point to negate the effect of a card just played or used." Must Sally do her negation immediately when the card is played, or can she witness what its outcome would be and then negate it? We could imagine her seeing what a played Indians! would do, and then choose to negate it, or simply negating it the moment it came into play. Losing a life point is a big deal, so I thought the "foresight" might make the ability more useful. But would it be too useful?

2 New Ideas:

(1) You may discard any card as a BANG! when Indians! is played.

(2) At the end of your discard phase, you set aside the card on top of the deck. This will be the first card you will draw at the beginning of your next turn, but you may look at it at any time before then. NOTE: If this is too weak, perhaps the player at the end of his discard phase could look at the card on top of the deck and choose whether it will be the first card he draw on his next turn. If he chooses that it is not, it returns to the top of the deck. But that seems perhaps too powerful.