Friday, March 11, 2011

Alternate Gameplay: The Longest Day

The Longest Day

The Longest Day is an interested BANG! variant created by Sergut. As he explains it, the Longest Day is is a variant for those that like the Bang! game mechanics for gunfighting, but either (i) they are a bit tired of the roles, or (ii) they have more than seven players for a gaming night. Sergut describes the variant as follows:
Before the start of the game, choose randomly N+2 character cards face down (Note: I imagine that this is to up the chances of you not drawing yourself, and even confuse players more)where N is the number of players. For a more deadly game, choose exactly N cards. Then give a character to each player, face down. This is NOT their character; rather, this is their target. This is the person they want to kill (for a personal grudge or any other reason). The players note their targets down and return the cards, without letting anyone know who their target is.

Shuffle the characters and deliver one character to each player again, face up. Now most people have a character and a target (if your target is yourself, you do not have a target). All rules of Bang! apply, with the following exceptions:
  1. There are no roles (Sheriff, Renegade, Deputies, and Outlaws)
  2. When you kill another player, you get his cards as loot (Note: as in Death Mesa, I imagine that Sergut means to remove Vulture Sam from the game, as all characters now have this power), and his character card as a trophy. You do not have to announce who is your target until the end of the game, but you may do so earlier if you wish.
  3. Trophies give victory points: any killing gives you 1 point, your secret target gives you 2 points. If you kill the character that was trying to kill you, you get 2 points.
  4. Saloon and Beer cards are not reshuffled. When they are used, they are removed from the game (to prevent games to last foerever).
  5. The game ends when all living players are at peace with one another, or there is only one player alive. When the game ends, all targets are revealed.
  6. The winner is the player that is alive and has the most victory points.

While it is fun to have 1 target to knock off, it is a little sad that you could have 5-6 victory points from killing others, die, and still not win. Technically, it is possible for several players to win with zero points! For the remaining players could have all played defensively, been at peace with one another, and the last aggressor have died because of Dynamite. I think that is lame. My suggestion is simply for the player with the most points wins, and the game ends when a player can deductively prove that he has more victory points than can be possibly gained by the other remaining players. Thus, he must show that his victory points are greater than both the actual and potential points of all other players. To do so is simple. For the actual, calculate for each player the amount of trophies he has in front of him. To calculate the potential, add 1 point for each of the remaining players (minus 1 if the player you are tallying for is alive), and add 2 more points (just in case that player has/can kill the player who has him as a target and the player whom he is targetting). Sum the total. If your points are greater (whether you are living or dead), call the game. You win.

There may be an honesty problem with targets, and so I would recommend each player writing their name and their character target on a scrap of player, and then sticking it in a hat (or other holding place). After dealing out the character cards to each player (when they are getting their characters), place the remaining 2 character cards in the hat. This should mitigate cheating. Although a player could write down any old name on the piece of paper, they do not know which characters are in the game when they get their targets. There is around a75% chance (with Dodge City) that if they make up a name that they will get it wrong, or write down someone else's target. Thus, at the end of the game you can pull out the scraps of paper and the 2 extra character cards to check on people's target claims. If there is a duplicate or a character name that is not amongst the character cards, then someone was cheating. I think it is good to have a structure that does not encourage cheating, especially when there are not many points to earn in the game. Victories will be close.

Besides this, I wish there was a way in which you could be given a player to protect, but I can't think of any simple system to include that. But I like the way you can deceive other players to do your bidding by claiming that you have a certain target when in fact you do not. Sure, this will create some conflict with the player who has that character as a target actually, but who will necessarily believe their side? Furthermore, it is possible that there is no player that has that player as target, as it may have been amongst the 2 character cards not dealt.

I have yet to playtest this variant, but it sounds pretty fun. Has anyone given it a whirl?

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