Friday, April 29, 2011

Alternate Gameplay: Rival Gangs Advanced

In a previous post, I introduced a new way of playing BANG! by having 2 gangs, with hidden leaders, fight against each other. Killing the enemy leader spelled victory for the opposing team. There are a lot of things I like about that variant, such as teams being able to collaborate on a much better basis their attacks and abilities.

However, one thing I thought was somewhat lacking from this variant was trying to deduce who you needed to kill. There was the element of the hidden leader, and the hidden characters, but there wasn't really a great means of determining who the leader was. Perhaps you could try to make educated guesses by the way one character played or how some characters played to protect another, but I felt there should be a clearer way to come to understand who the Leader is. Agreed that even the original BANG! rarely has you guessing that long, but I want something more. And so I am working on Rival Gangs Advanced. The original I have named "Basic," as I think it is fun on its own merits, and it also incorporates many elements that are expanded in this Advanced version. In the rules explanations that follow, I will include the rules explained in the Basic version. I will also explore the elements that I wish to add to the game, and will hopefully benefit from your suggestions.

Rival Gangs Advanced Rules:

This is a 4, 6, or 8 player variant (recommended for 6). I am working on a 5 and 7 player version, which includes a law man trying to restore order to the town. I will keep you posted on this in the future. The basic premise is that there are two gangs fighting each other over the control of a town.

Goal: The object of the game is for each gang to eliminate the other gang's leader.

Roles: Each gang has a leader, symbolized by the Renegade card, and has 1 or more followers. The leader has 1 more max life point than other roles like the Sheriff in the original BANG! There are 2 kinds of followers, with their own kinds of benefits. The first kind of follower is the Lackie, symbolized by the Outlaw card. The Lackie has 1 free last second beer when he is at his last life point. The second is the Thug. While there is a 3 card bonus for eliminating another team's Thug (none for eliminating your own), if a Thug dies, he gets to disseminate all of his cards remaining when he dies to his team mate(s) (this includes the cards in his hand and the cards in play in front of him). If Vulture Sam is in play, Vulture Sam gains all of the Thug's cards. Afterwards, the Thug draws the same number of cards from the draw pile as the number of cards Vulture Sam gained. He then disseminates these new cards to his team mate(s) before he dies. Thus, each role has a benefit: Leader (+1 max health), Lackie (1 free last chance Beer), and Thug (card dissemination upon death).

All roles in Rival Gangs Advanced are hidden. However, gang members are aware of one another's roles. They look at them at the beginning of the game after they are dealt out to each other and the gangs are separated. Thus, each gang is unaware of the roles of the members of the rival gang. Roles are only revealed when a player dies.

Roles are as follows for 4/6/8 player games:

4-player: Each gang has 1 Leader and 1 Lackie.
6-player: Each gang has 1 Leader, 1 Thug, and 1 Lackie.
8-player: Each gang has 1 Leader, 1 Thug, and 2 Lackies.

Characters: All the usual BANG! characters (and Robbers' Roost ones if you use it!) can be incorporated into the Rival Gangs variant. All players are dealt 1 (this can be modified with house rules of course, but this is the default), but these characters remain hidden (they are kept for down). At the beginning when gang members show each other their roles, they can also show each other their character cards. Thus again, each gang is simply unaware of the characters of the members of the rival gang. These characters remain hidden until their character ability is used. In fact, even their amount of life point remains hidden if you are using the back of another character card as life point indicator. Until the character is revealed, place all characters on the indicator at 4 life points. Adjust accordingly when either the character is revealed or the hidden 3 life point character reaches 1 life point instead (he dies). There is an exception to this rule for the Gang Leader: His extra life point remains hidden when his character is revealed. Appearing as the typical 3/4 life point character when his character is revealed, he only shows an extra life point when he loses his apparent last life point. Yet, he should not say he is doing this because of being the Gang Leader. Rather, he should claim his role allows him to do this. With this extra life point appearing, the rival team actually does not know whether he is the Gang Leader or a Lackie. Since the Lackie has the free last second beer, he also will show an extra life point. He too should claim his role allows him to do this. Thus, the Gang Leaders' extra life point will not reveal to the opposing gang that he is the Gang Leader (unless he gets back up to full health from 1), although it will reveal that he is not a Thug (in 6 or 8 player games).

Investigation Cards: Besides this incorporation of new roles into Rival Gangs Advanced, the second biggest change is the incorporation of Investigation Cards. These cards help gangs discern the roles of the opposing team. The cards are not straight forward revelations of roles, however. They will provide clues, which can cumulatively help a gang discern the appropriate roles in another gang.

Investigation cards work in the following way:

1. Once a round, each gang may discuss and select a member from the opposing gang to draw an Investigation Card before his drawing phase (this action is not required). No player has to draw 2 investigation cards in a row. Thus, Jail, Dynamite and some special abilities must be resolved before an Investigation Card is drawn. If the player is in Jail or dies before drawing the Investigation Card, they may select another member from the opposing gang to draw an Investigation Card on his next drawing phase. If this slips into the second round, then they select 2 players to draw investigation cards from the opposing team.

2. At the chosen player's drawing phase, he draws an Investigation card. He may show it to his team mates. They can also discuss the card, if they wish, but they probably do not want to do so because it will likely reveal their roles. An investigation card requires that its possessor, upon certain conditions, perform a certain action by the end of his turn. The form of each investigation card in 6 or 8 player is this:

If you are role A or role B, and condition X is true during your turn, then you must do action Y.

In 4 player, the investigation cards are simplified:

If you are role A, and conditions X and Y are true during your turn, they you must do action Z.

So, particular examples of investigation card are:

  1. If you are the Gang Leader or a Lackie, and you have a green card in play during your turn, then you must use it if you can.

  2. If you are the Gang Leader or the Thug, and you can attack twice during your turn, then you must do so.

  3. If you are the Gang Leader or a Lackie, and you have 2 or less life points during your turn, then you must gain 1 life point.

Thus, each investigation card creates a double conditional. The possessor first checks to see if his role applies to the investigation card. Thus, in the first example, if the possessor were the Thug, then the first condition would not be true. He would not, out of necessity, have to perform the action. He could opt to do so anyway (play a green card during his turn). If the possessor were the Gang Leader or Lackie, then the first condition would be true. He might have to perform the action if the second is true as well.

The truth value of the antecedent in this second conditional is determined by discerning whether the described state of affairs is the case during the turn at any time. Thus, in the third example, let us suppose that a Lackie drew this card. He fulfills the first condition (being Lackie), but at the beginning of his turn he does not fulfill the second (he has 3 life points). However, during his turn, he plays and loses a Duel. Now that he has 2 life points, the second condition is true, and now he must gain 1 life point by the end of his turn. This necessary action can be fulfilled 3 ways:
  1. By himself: he can accomplish this through playing a Beer, Canteen, Saloon, Tequila or Whiskey. Since he is a Lackie, and has the 1 free last chance Beer, he might somehow fulfill this condition himself by also losing his last life point.

  2. By another player: (if you are using Robbers' Roost) who plays Bandage on him, or by Johnny Pope using his ability on him.

  3. Automatically: If the action is not completed by the end of his turn through his own or other's efforts, the action will automatically occur. When an automatic action occurs, the player must state, "The investigation card made me do this."

Why would a player not always opt for (3) automatic occurrence? This is due to what occurs at the end of the player's discard phase.

3. At the end of his turn, the possessor of the investigation card must hand the card over to the rival gang. If he is one of 2 applicable roles, and did not fulfill the additional condition, he may report that he "did not fulfill the card's conditions." If he did fulfill the conditions and the action was fulfilled, he may simply hand over the card without reporting anything. If the possessor of the card had the odd role out and he did not fulfill the action, he must report that he "did not fulfill the card's conditions." If he bluffed through doing the action described on the card anyway, he may simply hand over the card without reporting anything.

Now that the rival gang has the Investigation Card, they may read the card and discuss what happened during the possessor's turn. If the player reported that he could not fulfill the conditions, they may search the cards in play and the cards that were placed in the draw pile during that turn. If they suspect that the player cheated by fulfilling the conditions and not doing the action, they may call for an accounting from the possessor's team mates. If it is found that he was cheating (or forgot to do an action that he could have to do what was required), then he must state whether or not he is one of the 2 roles described on the Inspection Card. If he was truthful, then the Rival Gang will not have gained any information about his role.

If, however, the action was done that was described on the card, the rival gang can try to infer that player's role. If the action was done automatically, then they will know immediately that the possessor is one of the two roles described on the card. If the action was done by the possessor, then they do not know this necessarily. This is because the odd role out (the Thug in the third example), could have opted to do this action on his own. That way he could have bluffed that he was 1 of the 2 roles described in the Investigation Card. He could not, however, have the action occur automatically for him. That is only possible when the 2 conditions are met. So a possessor of an Investigation Card will often want to not have (3) automatic occurrence happen if he can help it.

Gangs can keep the Investigation Cards they gain from the other team, and also write down notes on a slip of paper their thoughts about other players' roles.

I think the idea of the Investigation Cards, much like the Hermit Deck in Shadow Hunters, could add an intriguing element to Rival Gangs Advanced. The conditions may be too difficult at the moment, but I am also worried about them being too easy. I would love some suggestions.

Preparation: Use the Dodge City buffalo symbol role cards for one gang, and the original game role cards for the other. If you do not have Dodge City (or the Bullet which includes it), you can simple write the roles on slips of paper. I would draw star symbols on one group of roles to distinguish 1 gang from another.

Shuffle the role and character cards and deal them out to the players. Each gang may get together and consult with one another before the game. To insure there is no cheating, gang members show each other their role cards, so they know they are in the same gang and who their leader is. Of course, each gang does not know who the other gang's leader is. The game involves deception in trying to determine the leader of the other gang while hiding the leader of your own.

The player order in the game can be done 1 of 3 ways:
  1. The order of the players is dependent on the original dealing of the roles, so that 1 gang member can be between members of the opposing gang. The difficulty here is that this stray gang member can easily be picked on.

  2. The order of the players is dependent on each gang. Each gang decides the order of their gang (half of the circle); which players are next to who. This allows player's to maximize setting up their hidden characters to be most beneficial for one another (placement of Pedro Ramirez, or Kit Carlson, could be crucial for instance), and maximize their abilities. The difficulty here is that each gang has 3 turns in a row, which can be very devastating to 1 player they choose to pick on from the opposing team.

  3. The order of the players is dependent on each gang. Each gang decides the order of their row; which players are next to who. This allows player's to stick next to each in terms of distance, and somewhat maximize their hidden characters so that they are most beneficial for one another, and maximize their abilities. Gang members sit across from one another. However, turn order is altered to go in a zig zag. After 1 player finishes his turn, the rival gang member that sits across from him starts his turn. Then it jumps to the opposing gang member that sits to the right of the player who played before him. Then, after he finishes his turn, it goes to the rival gang member across from him. This figure should help explain what I am getting at:
    Rival Gangs Player Setup 1

    So turn order does not follow range and distance. Once a player is eliminated in this model, the turn order skips that player and jumps to the next player instead. Let me explain what that means. Let's say that player 6 in the figure above was eliminated. Typically, player 1 would follow player 6 when player 6's turn is over. So after player 5's turn is over, it now jumps to player 1's turn. This figure demonstrates the new path:

    This setup should minimize the ganging up on 1 player problem, while still allowing gang's to somewhat maximize their position and character abilities. Some abilities such as Kit Carlson's and Pedro Ramirez's will be compromised, which is unfortunate. You could have a discard pile for each gang to help Pedro, and Kit could optionally place a card to the side of the draw of the draw deck for the next gang member to pick up instead. It is up to you.

To determine which player goes first, all players "draw!" (or roll dice if you have them). The player with the highest value (with Poker ranking of suits, so that an Ace of Spades is higher than an Ace of Hearts that is higher than an Ace of Diamonds that is higher than an Ace of Clubs) starts the game. If there is a tie, those players "draw!" again. "Drawn!" cards are placed in the discard pile. The rest of the game procedes like normal BANG! (besides the addition of the new roles, rules explained above, and the Investigation Cards) and the game ends when a gang leader is eliminated.

Suggestions/Criticisms? Before I go about making Investigation Cards, I wanted to get feedback from people to see if they thought this idea was intriguing or worth the effort. I also wanted to see if there is any adjustments I should make before making them too. Fortunately, since the Investigation Cards are a separate deck, they can be printed off on slips of paper and have little aesthetic touch to them. Thus, they should be easy for anyone to incorporate.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Death Mesa: Available Online Today

Death Mesa BANG! Expansion Available

EDIT (8/8/2011): Death Mesa is no longer available for purchase online. You may, however, download 18" x 12" files and make your own personal copy of Death Mesa. You are only authorized to make 1 personal copy, and you cannot sell your copy to another person. I have provided a tutorial teaching how to use these 18" x 12" files with an online printing service to make yourself a high quality of Death Mesa. It is easy and should take little time and effort on your part.


The much anticipated POD version of Death Mesa is now available online! You can order your print of Death Mesa today. The cost at the moment is $8.99 + shipping. For an explanation of the cost structure or the shipping costs, see below. But in terms of good news, I have been able to significantly drop the price on international shipping. Also, I didn't want to make you pay $3.00+ for a printed version of the guidebook, so you will have to grab the Death Mesa Guidebook online. I will work on a simpler black and white player aid/quick reference that you can easily print off and have during games. The guidebook is not quite practical to store around with you, or pass around with other players.

About Death Mesa. BANG! is an excellent western-themed card game. However, many BANG! fans have lamented the element of player elimination. After all, it can be pretty boring waiting around 15-45 minutes for a game to end. Death Mesa creates a solution to this problem by having eliminated players remain in the game as ghosts, which are able to impact the game's outcome, help their team mates, and even succeed in their roles. Ghosts have no life points, no distance constraints, cannot die, and also draw from a specialized deck of cards called the Dead Men's Deck. Cards from this deck allow the ghosts to possess the living, bequeath items from their will, inspire or weaken others, reveal information on cards in player's hands, warn of impending doom, and so forth. Ghosts however, can spoil each other's plans. With a strong thematic background, Death Mesa should add to the fun of BANG! and draw new fans to it who could not stand the player elimination.

Death Mesa's Cost Structure. As I have repeatedly expressed in my posts, I am making no money off of Death Mesa. I have simply wanted to make it easier for BANG! fans to enjoy a high quality version of this unofficial expansion. My solution was to find a POD (Printer on Demand) that would allow people to order a print of Death Mesa online. That way neither the player nor myself would have to go to Kinko's to print off the free cardsheets (or use an inkjet printer at home). This could take a lot of time, the ink from a home printer is much more likely to smear, and the cardsheets from are not that cheap. Thus, the costs for Death Mesa are simply the POD's costs of processing and production. Let me provide some proof of this for the $8.99 fee for Death Mesa. First, the POD sets the following price for one printing of a 54-card deck: $6.75. See the image below.

Death Mesa Cost Structure Shot 1

Then, for items placed in the Publisher's Warehouse, they also have costs for processing and packaging. They communicate this on their website, and say it will cost around $2.00. See the image below.

Death Mesa Cost Structure Shot 2

So a flat $2.00 processing fee would make it $8.75. However, the site just said they would probably ask that amount. For this order, they asked for $0.24 more. In my e-mail correspondence, I was told (as is captured in this image):

Death Mesa Cost Structure Shot 3

This should explain as best as possible why the cost of Death Mesa is at $8.99 and how I am not making money off of this expansion. On the other hand, it has cost me a lot of personal time and money to make it available to others.

Shipping Costs. When I originally explored using a POD to make copies of Death Mesa for BANG! fans, I was shocked by the international shipping costs. There is a large group of BANG! fans in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and I wanted to make the expansion available to them. I was quite disappointed when I saw shipping costs for PODs ranging from $40-$110 (€27,16-€74,69) to ship to European countries. However, I have worked with the POD to significantly drop the shipping costs. In the United States, shipping is $6.50. As far as I can tell, all international shipping (including Canada) is $15.50 (€10,57). This is far better than the prices I was getting initially. I will try to see if I can cut international shipping costs more, but that may not be possible.

One Death Mesa fan (Stefan) from Finland has already ordered a copy and this was his response:
Martin you are amazing. Everything worked fine. I just ordered a Deck with shipping costs. 24USD total with Paypal. Great work. I am looking forward to get the deck soon. Juhu!
One good way to save costs on local or international shipping is to order multiple copies for a group of people. It costs the same amount to ship 7 decks as it takes to ship 1! After 7, the shipping to Slovakia went up from $15.50 to $25.50 (€17.40). After that, the shipping costs from 8 to 32 decks were the same at this price ($25.50). I can't imagine anyone ordering over that, so I will stop the stats there. In terms of ordering multiple decks for a group, it will be easiest for friends living in the same area that do not have to ship again once they get the package. Reshipping might be worthwhile anyway, so I will leave that up to you.

For the Future. Now that Death Mesa can be ordered online, I want to get out translations of Death Mesa into other languages. The most pressing would be Spanish and Czech translations, although German and Portuguese are important too. While I have had offers from people to translate the expansion in the past, little came of these offers. I will be making some slight tweeks to the Death Mesa rules this coming week, and after that I will release a text file for people to download. This file will include both card names, descriptions, and the guidebook's info. If any people are interested in translating, I ask them to download that file and then e-mail me their translation. That way multiple languages will be able to order Death Mesa online.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Robbers' Roost: Last Day of Release

Today I made the final touches on Robbers' Roost. I edited and reuploaded all of the previously released cardsheets to include changes I made in the guidebook. I edited the guidebook, and added some more information, such as expounding further on Porter Rockwell's ability. I fixed some typos in there, although I am sure there will be plenty more for me and others to catch. The guidebook has also been uploaded. Besides this, I am also releasing the final cardsheet, as well as the sheets containing the backs for playing cards and characters.

Robbers' Roost BANG! Playing cards

This cardsheet simply has the last few cards to balance out the expansion, including another dread Jail. Some cards have not had as many added because many orange cards might provide similar functions, so bear that in mind. And don't forget to also consider the optional functions in the bottom right hand corner of many orange cards.

Here are some quick shots of the character and playing card backs:

Robbers' Roost BANG! Playing Card Backs
Robbers' Roost BANG! Character Card Backs

Anyway, all 56 playing cards and 16 characters have been released! I hope people will enjoy this expansion and help playtest it to make it better than I was able to in this alpha release.

Download the 9th Robbers' Roost Cardsheet (Playing Card Set #7)

Download Robbers' Roost Playing Card Backs

Download Robbers' Roost Character Card Backs

Monday, April 25, 2011

Robbers' Roost: Guidebook Released

Update 11/16/2011: Revised Guidebook added.

Sorry that I goofed up the last couple release days. The guidebook took a lot more time that I inticipated. It had more information to stick in it than I had to for Death Mesa, and I also wanted to make some of the cards clearer, so I added in a few diagrams. As I wrote the guidebook, I also noticed some inconsistences with the cards and some other minor changes I had to make to some playing cards/characters. I will update the cardsheets to match the guidebook changes soon. More importantly, family came into town for Easter, and that took priority. Now that the holiday is over, I can get back to finishing up the Robbers' Roost release. Today I am adding the fancy guidebook, which includes:
  1. Historical information on Robbers' Roost.

  2. Rules for playing Robbers' Roost.

  3. Card by card explanations for the playing cards.

  4. Character explanations with a snippet on the historical figure that inspired them.

  5. 2 Methods of Production.

Here are some shots of the guidebook:

Robbers' Roost BANG! Guidebook Shot 2
Robbers' Roost BANG! Guidebook Shot 1
Robbers' Roost BANG! Guidebook Shot 3

Download the Robbers' Roost Guidebook.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Robbers' Roost: Release Day 8

Robbers' Roost BANG! Playing Cards

As mentioned in yesterday's posts, the rest of the cards released will be cards from the original game meant to balance out the probabilities of drawing certain cards. This set, for instance, adds 7 BANG! and 1 Panic!. Not very exciting to see, but important for balancing out the expansion. I used an older image of the BANG! to give some variance from the current edition.

Download the 8th Robbers' Roost Cardsheet (Playing Card Set #6)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Robbers' Roost: Release #7

Robbers' Roost BANG! Playing Cards

Today I am releasing the last set of orange cards. This batch includes Taunt (forces a player to shoot at you if possible), Confiscate (borrow a card in play in front of a player for a while), Dive (take a hit for another player), and also the green card Artillery (shoots in a line of fire like Cannon). I had a little more trouble getting the right art for these cards. They work, but I wanted something better. Oh well, maybe for an update. The next two releases will be less exciting, comprising of cards from the original game needed to balance Robbers' Roost. The last release, which may come in chunks, will be the Robbers' Roost guidebook. Thanks for your patience!

Download the 7th Robber's Roost Cardsheet (Playing Card Set #5)

Robbers' Roost: Handcut Cards Examples

I wanted to give a preview of handcut cards I made for a prototype of the Robbers' Roost expansion using the templates with printing on my Canon ip90 printer, cutting using the Fiskars Premium Paper Trimmer 12", and rounding the corners with a Paper Shapers' small Corner Adorner. Eventually, I will include a tutorial of how to do this in the productions section. I have already given a tutorial on how to create your own image for a custom BANG! character.

Here is an example of some prototype blue cards from the Robbers' Roost expansion with a Barrel from the original game to the left of them as a comparison.

You should notice some things right off. First, the blue border in my prototype cards is a little darker, but this isn't that important. The titles are much smaller on my cards, since I poorly assumed that the font size for the character cards was equivalent to the font size of the playing cards. I didn't recognize this problem until after I had printed the cards. Silly me. I have fixed this since, as you can tell in the card sheets I have realeased. To deal with the bigger font size on the playing cards, I also had to hack the text descriptions, which I think ended up being a good thing. The font for the card values in the left hand corner I never could identify, but I tried to find a similar scripty font. However, one playtester for Death Mesa said he had trouble reading the values in this font, so I changed to a more legible Microsoft Himalaya font. That is used in both the Death Mesa POD, and in the Robbers' Roost cardsheets now. Matching the colors for the backs ended up being more problematic:

While not terribly off, the woodgrain between the original card (the 3rd in the row) and the Robbers' Roost prototypes in clearly different. The discerning player could tell if a card on top of the deck was a Robbers' Roost card or not in good lighting. This could/could not be so bad, as that means he knows that it is one of 56 new cards in the deck, but since some of those cards are from the original game (BANG!, Missed!, Beer, etc. to balance out), he cannot infer too much. One way of dealing with the color management issue was for me to make the orange cards necessarily placed in front of other players. That way everyone would know that it is an orange card from the expansion anyway, so it undercuts that discerning knowledge.

Now for some tan and orange cards:

Nothing really new to explain about these cards beyond what I said about the blue cards. I apologize for the blurry/darker picture of the orange cards. Of note, I renamed "Old Nag" to "Wild Stallion" (tribute to Bill & Ted), and the values of these tan and orange cards I have mostly changed.

As for character cards:

Fanny Porter, the second character in the row (and now Maggie Mae in the official release), is the prototype character. Gary Looter from WWS is on her left, Uncle Will from the Bullet on her right, and Paul Regret from the original game is at the far right. I placed these characters in a row to show some of BANG!'s own variance in color throughout the expansions. Paul Regret's border is clearer the darkest, with Uncle Will lightening up some more, and Fanny Porter and Gary Looter are nearly the same hue. These borders have a lot more flux in them. Character images too: Uncle Will is far lighter than Gary or Paul, with Fanny somewhere in between. The strokes on Fanny Porter have a more magenta tint however. The font sizes are correct across the board. In terms of text, both use Palatino Linotype, but Fanny only includes an English description (also italicized as in the others). As for the backs:

The colors are closer here, but again the woodgrain is off, having more of a magenta than orangey tone to it. Getting this back right is less problematic for gameplay as the characters are all dealt at the beginning of the game. Nonetheless, it is aesthetically pleasing to get things as close as you can.

I hope this gives you a good feel for the custom cards you can make using the templates and your own printing/cutting tools. Mod on!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Robbers' Roost: The 6th Day of Release

Robbers' Roost BANG! Playing Cards

There are more orange cards to exhibit and make available for download today. Most of these have already been seen, but Stampede (which creates a 2-way shield between 2 players), Stand Off (which creates a 3-player duel), and Hit Me (which has you and another player draw a card) have not been released in a card sheet yet. Text descriptions have been cut again to make more room on the cards and have the type be in a more legible font size.

Download the 6th Robbers' Roost Cardsheet (Playing Card Set #4)

Robbers' Roost: 5th Release Day

Robbers' Roost BANG! Playing Cards

Another day, another set of cards to release. Following up on yesterday's introduction of the orange cards, I am posting another set of of them. This time, most of the orange cards are defensive cards of some sort or other. For these cards, I shortened the text descriptions, as I felt that I was having too many of the rules on the cards themselves. I even went back and uploaded a new version of yesterday's cards to have shorter descriptions too. Rules more properly belong in the guidebook. Perhaps I will also make one of those card "player aids" that you often see floating around for BANG! and Dodge City as well. Besides this, I replaced the "Rope" card (which was too similar to Lasso anyway) with "Disarm," a card that can remove another player's gun.

Download the 5th Set of Robbers' Roost Cards (Playing Card Set 3)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Robbers' Roost: Release Day #4

Robbers' Roost BANG! Playing Cards

Today I am finally releasing some of the orange cards for the Robbers' Roost expansion. I spent some time carefully rewording the text, although I cannot say I am completely happy with the text yet. Hopefully, playtesting will show we what wording is confusion, so I can fix it some before trying to have prints ordered through a POD. Most of the orange cards I am releasing today are offensive or distance modifiers. In this sheet is also "Face Off," the green duel card.

As a side note, I spent some time trying to find good art for these cards, so I hope you enjoy them.

Download the fourth Robbers' Roost cardsheet (Playing Card Set 2)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Robbers' Roost: Third Day of Release

Robber's Roost BANG! Playing Cards

For the third day of the release, I am posting some of the playing cards. This card sheet does not include any of the orange cards, but contains 8 of the other playing cards I plan on adding to the deck. It was hard to make a choice, but so far Cowboy Boots, Bulldog, James Dougall (which I earlier axed, but have now brought back), Distracted, Rattlesnake, Tomahawk, Pay Day, and Cannon. You will notice Cannon has the nifty "line of fire" symbol I created for it. Hopefully my choices are not too depressing.

This card sheet, as is the case with the character card sheets, is specifically designed for the card stock templates. Unfortunately, the cards will have to be trimmed and rounded. I have done this for my prototype deck and it turned out quite well, but it was somewhat time consuming. Sadly, PODs won't do custom-sized decks for small runnings. However, I have contacted a POD who is willing to cut the cards for me for $40/hour. He says he can do about 10-12 72-card decks in an hour. My hope is to be able to create a sort of groupon deal that splits the costs of cutting. That way people only have to be pay around $3.50 more for the cost of the trimming. That is the only way I can think of at the moment to keep the costs cheap and cut out the labor (I could of course, pay for 10-12 decks myself up front, and then give them to people on a case by case basis as they pay for the production costs; but I would prefer not to front $100+ if I can). I'll keep you posted on POD possibilities for Robbers' Roost in the future.

Download the third Robbers' Roost cardsheet (Playing Card Set 1)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

New Variants and Custom Expansions Pages

I didn't add as much content this past week because I was busy on (1) preparing for the Robbers' Roost release, and (2) adding new pages on BANG! custom expansions and variants. The first you are already aware of, but the second I haven't mentioned yet. Before the top menu bar mostly led to collections of blog posts under certain labels. While this is certainly true for many still, I have slowly been phasing these out, adding custom pages for Robbers' Roost, Death Mesa, the BANG! character guides, and now the Variants and Custom Expansions pages. The Custom Expansions page gives a short description, overall review score, and link to several custom BANG! expansions. I only included in this page expansions that were vast and complete (except for the being-released Robbers' Roost). At the moment, this collection is limited to Death Mesa, El Dorado, O. K. Corral, the Peterson Pack, and Robbers' Roost. If you know of other complete custom expansions, please leave me a comment. So the 1-2 set of custom cards that you see floating online from time to time from various authors are not included. In the future, I will try to gather together a lot of these custom cards into a large "custom card pack" all placed in a zip file for you to download.

As for the Variants page, I have tried to collect both BANG! "alternate gameplays" (which give a far vaster change in how to play the game) and "house rules," which only affect a few cards or game elements. So far I have collected 40+ variants. I know there are many others, especially "alternate gameplays," to add. It will take me a while to both try these out and write reviews for them. If you know of any good variants or "alternate gameplays" please comment on the Variants page; I left comments open there.

I hope that these two pages will help organize some of the information available on this site better and give you cards or ideas that will enhance your fun while playing BANG!

Robbers' Roost: Second Day of Release

Robbers' Roost BANG! Expansion Cardsheet 2

Today is the second day of the Robbers' Roost release. I am releasing the next (and last) set of characters for this expansion. While others again may make it in a bonus pack, these are the core Robbers' Roost characters. As with the set of characters before, many of these abilities have undergone changes, as well as the art and names. I think you will find this set of 16 characters satisfying, or at least that is the hope.

I had a lot of fun with this last set of characters, adding in a lot of new ideas, such as: the use of "traps" with Eva Place, card swapping with Maggie Mae, salvaging used cards with Laura Billion, exploring different gun mechanics with Lil Sure Shot, a "tapped" ability with Turd Ferguson, overcoming distance through discards with Porter Rockwell, and a "Cat Balou" ability with Queen Anne. I am not certain on the life points of certain characters such as Maggie Mae and Eva Place, but playtesting should help figure that out.

Answers to many anticipated questions regarding these character's abilities will be in the upcoming Robbers' Roost guidebook. Anyway, 8 more days! See you tomorrow.

Download the Second Set of Robbers' Roost Characters

Friday, April 15, 2011

Robbers' Roost: 10-Day Release and Development News

After some long consideration, Robbers' Roost will be a smaller expansion than I initially planned. Several factors have come into to making this decision, including (1) easier testing/balancing, (2) easier fit into the traditional BANG! experience, (3) easier production as there are fewer cards to cut, (4) more focused gameplay change in the expansion, and (5) cheaper costs for myself, others, and potentially a POD.

The smaller expansion will feel much more like the Dodge City expansion (an excellent expansion I might add). The 100 or so characters I have developed, I have culled down to 16. Here, I have tried to focus on characters that either add a fun new angle to the game, or fit well with the game's core mechanics (Jack West or Flint Dixon for instance). In simplifying the amount of characters, I have changed around some of the artwork to include the drawings I liked best. Some names have been changed, and several abilities have undergone modification. Comparing the released Robbers' Roost characters with the prototypes will show drastic changes.

However, in terms of what I feel to be good news, I will be keeping all of the orange cards. There will be 32 of these orange playing cards added to the deck. They are the main focus of this expansion in terms of the new mechanic that they add to the game, as the green cards were in Dodge City. Dodge City also had the discard another card to play a card idea, but there will be some new blue, green, and brown cards in Robbers' Roost that should make things interesting. The "line of fire" idea of cannon and artillery I think is really fun, for instance. Nonetheless, I plan to only add 10 of these to the deck (sorry). The other 14 cards will include cards from the original game to help balance out the probabilities. So, as a total, the Robbers' Roost expansion will include 72 cards (16 characters + 56 playing cards). This is still a hefty expansion in my opinion.

Those who were really looking forward to the other cards and characters, do not completely dismay! I will likely create a bonus pack or other expansion that will include these cards. For now, I just want to keep Robbers' Roost a little cleaner and controlled, rather than containing every BANG! playing card idea that Martin Pulido ever had in his head. So if there is any card that you really think should be placed in Robbers' Roost or a bonus pack, please let me know.

Besides this mixed good/bad news on Robbers' Roost, I do have a clearly positive item to share: The Robbers' Roost expansion will be released over the next 10 days. Each day, I will release 1 of the 9 card sheets, and on the last day I will release the guidebook. At least that is the plan. As an indicator that this is actually happening, I release the first cardsheet today:

Robbers' Roost BANG! Character Set 1

Download the first Robbers' Roost Cardsheet (Character Set 1)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alternate Gameplay: Survival of the Fittest

In this alternate gameplay created by Tyler Ziegler, BANG! players absorb the character abilities of those they eliminate.

Object of the Game: Be the last man standing.

Set up: Get rid of the role cards (Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw, and Renegade). Deal out the characters. Play as you normally would, with one rule change:

When you eliminate another player you absorb that player's character abilites.

Tyler Ziegler gave the following examples of how this works:
For example: Player A (Calamity Janet) eliminates Player B (Willy the Kid). Player A takes Player B's character card and places it next to his own. Player A can now use Calamity Janet's ability as well as Willy the Kid's!

Example 2: Player A (Calamity Janet/Willy the Kid) is eliminated by Player C (Slab the Killer). Player C gains control over both of Player A's character cards. Player C is now empowered with all three character abilities.

The game continues until only one player remains. Because there are no identity cards, players can feel free to kill whomever they wish. The last man standing wins!

I think this variant will only be fun if there are 2 changes made: (1) "Absorbing powers" is understood thus: the abilities of the two character cards do not function simultaneously, but at the beginning of each round (perhaps even each turn) a player chooses which ability is in effect. They symbolize this by playing that character card on top of the other(s) they player may have. If they do not make this change during the draw phase of the player who begins the round/turn, then they cannot swap abilities. This keeps the player from gaining ridiculous combos such as Suzy Lafayette + Elena Fuente (infinite Missed!), and provides order the ability swapping. (2) To keep players from getting targeted from the getgo without being able to build any cards up, I suggest playing this variant with the hidden characters house rule, or at least the early game elimination penalty rule.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alternate Gameplay: Headhunter Role

News (8/19/11): Added in the role card and PDF of the rules kindly created by Nevofix. Download the picture below, and check the link at the bottom.

While toying around with alternate victory conditions for the Renegade, I thought it could possibly be neat to add in a new role, "The Headhunter." The idea is sketchy at the moment, and may need some cleaning up. In essence, the headhunter's only object is to kill a fixed amount of other players (2 or 3, depending on the amount of players in the game). While he can kill the Sheriff as his last kill, he cannot do so beforehand otherwise his victory condition is not fulfilled and the Outlaws' victory condition is (Outlaws win). When players are eliminated, they give 1 unused character card to the killer. This will provide the proof that the Headhunter has achieved victory when he declares it, but not reveal anything about his role during the game because unused character cards are given to any player that kills another. To accomodate event cards that bring players back to life, the Headhunter can only achieve his goal by killing players who have not died before. Finally, there is a 2/4 bonus for killing the Headhunter once he has eliminated 1/2 players.

I think this could create some fascinating mechanics. Renegades and Deputies will have to be careful in the amount of players they kill or other players will think they are the Headhunter, and get bloodthirsty to eliminate them. Of course, play testing will reveal all the interesting facets in bringing this to the game.

I would not recommend adding the Headhunter until 5-player, but he would be best in 7-8 player I think.

Thus, the following set up occurs:

5-player: 1 Sheriff, 1 Deputy, 2 Outlaws, 1 Headhunter (1 Renegade removed)

6-player (most difficult to balance): 1 Sheriff, 1 Deputy, 2 Outlaws, 1 Renegade, 1 Headhunter
OR 1 Sheriff, 1 Deputy, 3 Outlaws, 1 Headhunter
OR 1 Sheriff, 1 Deputy, 3 Outlaws, (1 Headhunter or 1 Renegade, randomly dealt in)

7-player: 1 Sheriff, 1 Deputy, 3 Outlaws, 1 Renegade, 1 Headhunter

8-player: 1 Sheriff, 2 Deputies, 3 Outlaws, 1 Renegade, 1 Headhunter

For 5-player, the Headhunter would have to eliminate 2 other players to win, and in 6-8 players, the Headhunter would have to eliminate 3 other players to win. If you wanted to include the Headhunter in 4-player, I would just remove the renegade again:

4-player: 1 Sheriff, 2 Outlaws, 1 Headhunter

As in 5-player, the Headhunter would have to eliminate 2 other players to win.

If you have any suggestions or comments, let me know what you think. I am sure it will be difficult to balance this role, but I think it could be interesting.

Download the rules for the Headhunter Role.

Alternate Gameplay: Rival Gangs Basic

I have read up on various rival gang variants, but I have been unsatisfied with many of them. They lose much of the mafia-like intrigue of BANG!, which is why it is much loved. I have tried to incorporate some elements from these variants, while also adding many ideas of my own and combining it with the hidden characters house rule. I hope the outcome of my Rival Gangs is satisfying.

Rival Gangs Variant Rules:

This is a 4, 6, or 8 player variant (recommended for 6). Two gangs fight each other. Each gang has a leader, symbolized by the Renegade card, and 1 or more followers, symbolized by the Outlaw cards. The object of the game is for each team to eliminate the other team's leader.

Use the Dodge City buffalo symbol role cards for one gang, and the original game role cards for the other (if you do not have the Dodge City expansion role cards, you can use the Renegade and 1-2 outlaws as one team and the Sheriff and 1-2 deputies as another; with 8-player you can just write roles on slips of paper and hand them out). Shuffle the role and character cards and deal them out to the players. Character cards are kept face down. They are only revealed once a character uses his ability. In fact, even their amount of life point remains hidden if you are using the back of another character card as life point indicator. Until the character is revealed, place all characters on the indicator at 4 life points. Adjust accordingly when either the character is revealed or the hidden 3 life point character reaches 1 life point instead.

Each gang may get together and consult with one another before the game. To insure there is no cheating, gang members show each other their role cards, so they know they are in the same gang and who their leader is. Of course, each gang does not know who the other gang's leader is. The game involves deception in trying to determine the leader of the other gang while hidin te leader of your own.

The leader of the gang is given 1 extra life point like Sheriffs in the normal game. However, this extra life point is hidden, and only revealed when the leader would have died (when he is shot at his supposedly last life point with no last second Beer left). Eliminating any player gives a 2-card bonus, whether that player is on your team or not.

The player order in the game can be done 1 of 2 ways: (1) The order of the players is dependent on the original dealing of the roles, so that 1 gang member can be between members of the opposing gang, or (2) The order of the players is dependent on each gang. Each gang decides the order of their gang (half of the circle); which players are next to who. This allows player's to maximize setting up their hidden characters to be most beneficial for one another (placement of Pedro Ramirez, or Kit Carlson, could be crucial for instance), and maximize their abilities. This is the recommended set up.

To determine which player goes first, all players "draw!" The player with the highest value (with Poker ranking of suits, so that an Ace of Spades is higher than an Ace of Hearts that is higher than an Ace of Diamonds that is higher than an Ace of Clubs) starts the game. If there is a tie, those players "draw!" again. "Drawn!" cards are placed in the discard pile. The rest of the game procedes like normal BANG!, and the game ends when a gang leader is eliminated.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Alternate Gameplay: Dead Man's Hand

Dead Man's Hand is a BANG! variant, conceived by Kevin O'Hara in 2005, which keeps eliminated players entertained as they wait for the BANG! game to end. Essentially, dead players play a separate game similar to Knock Poker with the BANG! cards they draw each turn. O'Hara explains the rules, with some slight modifications, thus:
When a player dies, he discards all of his cards and reveals his role (as per the regular rules). He immediately draws seven new cards. He then declares who he thinks is next to die. The Dead Players continue playing in turn order, but now are playing a separate game similar to Knock Poker. They do not affect the main game.

Dead Player’s Turn

The dead player’s turn are meant to go very quickly as all decision making should happen between, and not during, his turns. On the dead player’s turn, he:

• Draws his hand back up to seven cards from the draw deck.
• Declares who he thinks is next to die. As soon as another player dies, he gets a bonus card if he was right, otherwise he must wait until his next turn to make a new declaration.
• Discards his hand down to five cards.

Out of Turn:

Anytime between all dead players’ turns, they may play Bang! cards on each other. If the targeted dead player does not play a Missed! card, he must forfeit one card at random from his hand. This is done out of turn order so that it does not interfere with the living player’s game (in other words, try not to interrupt the living players while you shoot each other in the afterlife).

End of Game:

When the regular game ends, the Dead Man’s Hand ends as well. The last player to die draws seven cards. Dead players compare legal five card poker hands at this point and to see who wins the Dead Man’s Hand. Duplicate cards do not count; for example, if you have two Ace of Spades, one of them is a null card for the purpose of completing a poker hand. Sorry hombre, no having five Aces.


• Dead Players do not have the character special abilities they had when they were living. Dead Players cannot play any card on a living player. The only cards that they can play are Bang! and Missed! cards on other Dead Players.
• Dead Players do not count in determining distance between Living Players. Dead Players are always within range of all other Dead Players.
• Dead Players are immune to all powers and cards played by Living Players except General Store (which they take part in as if they were a Living Player).
• Dead Players can still potentially win the Living Game under normal rules for Outlaws and Deputies. Renegades cannot win the main game.

High Noon Special Rule: if Ghost Town card comes up, Dead Players ignore their Dead Man’s Hand and play as per High Noon rules for that round.

While this variant does provide a way for dead players to entertain themselves while a game of BANG! ends, I find all of the card drawing from the regular BANG! deck disruptive to the living players' strategies (hurts Kit Carlson's set-up strategy if the next player is a ghost for instance), and it slows the game down. Why not just get out a deck of playing cards and play another game while BANG! finishes. The dead players will probably be more entertained and BANG! will finish quicker. I highly recommend using Death Mesa or Dead Reckonin' instead.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Design: BANG! Card Generator Returns

Srab's BANG! card generator, designed in 2006, has returned. I have received several questions when it will be back online, and I thought I would inform everyone that it has returned today. I think many of the comments I made about the generator's limitations still stand (low-res outcome, bad border colors, no option to have card print back to back, no clear simultaneous action card like Dodge option). However, srab has improved the generator somewhat by allowing to symbols to be added to the card. Unfortunately, the 2 symbol addition only accomodates well 2 symbol cards like Cat Balou (discard symbol + 1-player symbol). It doesn't have the nice Dodge! 2 symbol format (Missed! symbol, divider underneath, and draw 1 card symbol underneath that). Nonetheless, the card generator is a nice, free option for those modders who don't care too much about getting the highest quality card. And clearly it is better than drawing your own! Many modders would benefit from at least using this generator.

Character Guide: Apache Kid

Apache Kid BANG! card game character

Character Name: Apache Kid.

Inspired by: The Apache Kid (Has-kay-bay-nay-ntayl), a White Mountain Apache scout and outlaw, who lived in Arizona and New Mexico, and later in the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua in the late 19th century.

Life Points: 3.

Ability Type: Defensive.

Ability: "Cards of Diamonds played by other players do not affect him." The wording on this ability is somewhat poor, especially the nature of "played," so consulting the Dodge City rule book and FAQ helps us somewhat. The rulebook states, "he is unaffected by cards from the suit of Diamonds played by the other players. During a Duel, his ability does not work." This last statement about Duels makes sense, because BANG! in duels are not played, but discarded. Thus, diamond BANG!s can be discarded in a duel with Apache Kid and be effective. But what about diamond Missed! cards that his opponents play to avoid his BANG? Furthermore, what about cards that are played in front of other players, such as the green and blue cards? A casual reading of Apache Kid's ability could conclude that scopes of other players do not work on Apache Kid. Fortunately, the Dodge City FAQ gives us a detailed explanation of the application of Apache Kid's ability:
Q10. Does the ability of Apache Kid prevent other players to play Missed! cards of Diamond against his BANGs?
A. No. Apache Kid’s ability applies to cards played by other players only, thus during other players’ turns. Therefore, he is unaffected by about half of the BANG! Cards, by all Indians!, by Conestoga and by some Cat Balou and Panic! played against him. Other cards (General Store, Hideout, weapons, etc.) always works normally.

From this we can gather that only cards played against him that affect him (Missed! cards do not affect Apache Kid, they affect the player who played the Missed!), which expire immediately on their use (green and tan offensive cards), activate Apache Kid's ability. Blue cards do not.

Finally, to be a stickler, cards of diamonds can be played against Apache Kid, they just have no effect (like Beer in 2-player or when a player plays Beer when he has full health). Thus, a hard-nosed interpretation of the rules could make a player not be able to take back a diamond he played on Apache Kid. The move was legal; it just had no effect. This interpretation is also to a player's advantage in some rare scenarios. Think of playing with the Wild West Show expansion and Gary Looter is in play. You are 1 card over your card limit, and Gary Looter will pick up your card if you discard. Apache Kid is the only player within reachable distance, and so you choose to play a diamond BANG! against Apache Kid just so Gary looter will not get a card. Let me present another less obscure example: say Suzy Lafayette is trying to chain her ability, and the last card she has in her hand is a diamond. If Apache Kid is the only player that she can reach or target with it (such as when only 2 players are left standing), she can still play the card against him and draw another card.

Activation: On other players' turns, when another player plays a card against Apache Kid (that affects Apache Kid), which immediately expires upon use.

Cards less effective when played against Apache Kid: BANG! (13/28 are diamonds), Cat Balou (3/5 are diamonds), Indians! (3/3 are diamonds), Panic! (1/5 are diamonds), Conestoga (1/1 is a diamond), and to some extent a Duel (1/3 are diamonds).

Cards more effective when played against Apache Kid : Duel (2/3 are not diamonds, and using one against Apache Kid allows you to expend the diamond BANG! against him), Dynamite.

Ideal role: Sheriff.

2-player value: Great. Many offensive cards will not work against you, and it is very difficult to remove cards from in play in front of you (36% do not work against Apache Kid).

Characters that counter Apache Kid well: Doc Holyday (he can use his ability to shoot a non-diamond BANG! at Apache Kid, as long as one of the discarded cards is not a diamond), Calamity Janet (12/13 Missed! that she may use as BANG! are not diamonds).

NOTE: To some extent characters that draw more cards, or have a greater selection of cards to choose from, will have a much greater chance of picking up cards that can be used against Apache Kid (Black Jack, Kit Carlson, Pixie Pete, in some scenarios Bill Noface, José Delgado, and Vera Custer).

Characters that Apache Kid counters well:Willy the Kid, Slab the Killer.

General Strategy as Apache Kid: Since Apache Kid has a great resistance to cards being stolen or discarded from him (36% do not affect him), he should work hard in the early game to not make any enemies while trying to build up a good card base. It shouldn’t be too difficult to avoid “unintentional hits” from cards played that hit most players, as only Gatling and Howitzer can affect him. These are often played during early game when players don’t want to expose their roles. Allies can worry less when playing Indians!, as they will not hurt Apache Kid. Apache Kid should try to get distance modifiers, a gun, and offensive/defensive green cards in play in front of him.

I would also recommend for Apache Kid to save up a card that allows him to steal or discard a card from another player(s). All green offensive cards are non-diamonds, and can thus hurt Apache Kid. It will be a good idea to remove this card from an opponent before he can use it on you. While Volcanics are very dangerous for 3 life point characters, they are less problematic for Apache Kid, as nearly half of the BANG! cannot affect him. So while dangerous, their being in play is less problematic than might be supposed. Apache Kid should be more nervous about deadly non-diamond attack combos that can be played against him. That is why he should monitor the green offensive cards, and try to cards from the Missed! family in his hand or in play in front of him. He will always have a round to anticipate them, and hopefully a turn to act against them (as long as he is not thrown in Jail).

After Apache Kid has built up a decent card base in the early game, then he can shift to targeting a player he needs/may need to eliminate. I wouldn’t have Apache Kid make too many enemies, but he should expect an ally to back up the player he attacks. It would be helpful if he attacked an enemy that one of his own allies could also reach, or one where it will be very difficult for an ally of an opponent to back him up.

Apache Kid should moderate his BANG! use. If Apache Kid has many BANG! in his hand and he wishes to play one, he should choose to play a non-Diamond BANG! While this adds a non-BANG! to the discard pile, which will eventually shuffle into the draw deck, it protects Apache Kid from having a BANG! stolen from his hand that can then be fired against him. When General Stores are played, he should try to grab a non-diamond BANG! and other non-diamond card that can be played against before his opponents can get it.

If someone plays a non-diamond Duel against Apache Kid, in most cases it is better for him to take the hit, rather than expend his BANG! I say in most cases, because there are times when opponents have fewer cards in their hand and Apache Kid may have 1-2 BANG! Since there is no defensive penalty for Apache Kid expending all of his BANG! (as he is immune to Indians!), getting rid of all of them to win a duel is not necessarily a bad idea. It is something for Apache Kid to consider when duels are initiated, and something for him to consider if he has a Duel and many BANG! himself (he may wish to initiate a duel).

General Strategy against Apache Kid: Apache Kid is a very annoying opponent to have, as many of the cards you want to play against him will have no effect on him. However, he is a 3 life point character, which makes him very vulnerable to Dynamite, and to attack combos. Unfortunately, the latter is a little more difficult to pull off. Apache Kid is immune to Indians!, and 36% of the cards that you could use to discard or steal defensive cards from him do not affect him either. This means that you will have to have a very specific card set to lower his health. The General Store can help you here some. It should give you some non-diamond cards to choose from that can help you against Apache Kid. Especially useful in the store is the Duel. If you pick up a bunch of BANG! that he is immune to, try to get a Duel as the BANG! discarded in the Duel can be diamonds. At least that way you can get rid of generally useless BANG! and take a life point off of Apache Kid. The green offensive cards are another great bunch to add to your combo, as all of them are non-diamonds. Unfortunately, you do have to wait a round before you can use them against Apache Kid.

After getting a least 2 cards with which you can attack Apache Kid (and hopefully some card that will remove a defensive card from his hand or in play in front of him), you should be able to knock off a life point from Apache Kid. This will hopefully get another ally to attack him during this round, and force him to discard cards during his discard phase for being over his card limit. If possible, you will want to eliminate Apache Kid before a 2-player duel, as he is a very tough 1-on-1 opponent. Finally, remember as I presented above that diamond cards can be played against Apache Kid, they just do not affect him. This can be useful in some scenarios, especially with Suzy Lafayette.

Return to the BANG! Character Guides Portal

Monday, April 4, 2011

Death Mesa: Unveiling POD Prototype Results

Today, I opened up my mailbox and I finally got my Death Mesa Prototype that I had ordered from a POD. Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome, and I am confident I can fix the errors that creeped into this one. As I walk through my judgments, I will show pictures to aid the narration. When I opened up the package, my custom deck was nice and tightly shrinkwrapped. The cards did not show any sign of being bent or warped.

A Shot of the Shrink-wrapped Deck.

The Shrink-wrapped Deck in my Hand.

As I opened up the deck, there were many things that I like. The card stock is very sturdy and has a good flex to it for shuffling cards. The cards printed in the areas I had planned and were cut about as good as I could hope for. The text printed cleanly (despite the photos on this page, which I took quickly with a camera borrowed from my work place), the fonts showed up well, and the cards had a slight glossy finish to them. In terms of the colors, however, I had mixed results. To specify, it was really the brightness/darkness of the cards where I had some problems. I would have done some color management work, but I don't know what printers they have, and they weren't going to do it on their end, so this was bound to happen. Fortunately, I can tweek the colors for the official release. Anyway, time for some pictures. Some cards I think turned out really well:

Others were a little dark:

And sadly, others were way too dark:

I will have to adjust some of these cards' brightness for the official release. This was the only real problem with the cards, and that is very fixible. I might have to spend a little time on the phone with the POD, but I am confident things will turn out great. I should be able to set up online also I way for you to order your own copy for around $7.20+shipping. Details on that I will post soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Character Guide: José Delgado

José Delgado BANG! card game character

Character Name: José Delgado.

Inspired by: Unknown. It is possible that he is inspired by Cisco Delgado (played by José Suárez), who is the rich and sadistic Mexican crime boss in Texas, Adios who murdered the father of a Texan Sheriff.

Life Points: 4.

Ability Type: Neutral.

Ability: "Twice in his turn, he may discard a blue card from the hand to draw 2 cards."

Activation: Whenever it is his turn and he possesses a blue card in his hand.

Cards enhanced by José Delgado' s ability: All blue cards, Volcanic, General Store, Pony Express, Wells Fargo, Stagecoach, Panic, Rag Time.

Cards more effective when played against José Delgado: Jail, Cat Balou, Can Can, Brawl.

Ideal role: Sheriff.

2-player value: Great. While he may wish to play blue cards in front of him wherever possible, many will not be useful enough and can be exchanged for other cards.

Characters that counter José Delgado well: Jesse Jones, Kit Carlson (when he is immediately to the right of José Delgado he can insure that 1 of the 2 cards José Delgado cards is not a blue card).

Characters that José Delgado counters well: Pat Brennan (instead of playing cards in front of him, he can expend them, and thus circumvent Pat Brennan's stealing of them).

General Strategy as José Delgado : José Delgado is an excellent character; in essence, he can use any blue card as a Stagecoach. Since his ability can be used twice, there is even a chance that he can draw another blue card by discarding a blue card, and discard this new blue card to draw 2 more cards. This ability can help him throughout the game, depending on his needs, but is often more useful in mid to late game. Initially, the blue cards José Delgado receives he will probably wish to lay down. Guns, distance modifiers, and the Barrel are all nice cards to play in front of him that will help him later on, and enhance the blue cards that he will discard in the future. A scope or binoculars is particularly useful, as it can increase the distance by which he can steal blue cards from other players. However, some blue cards like Prison and Dynamite can be useful for José Delgado to discard right away. They will not reveal anything about his role and give him 2 extra cards to build up his hand or card base (the cards in play in front of him).

Once he has some defensive and offensive blue cards in play, then José Delgado can be more free in using his ability. Drawn gun cards that are inferior to the card he has in play are no longer aggravating; they can be freely discarded to draw more cards. The same goes with blue cards that are duplicates of those he has in play. José Delgado can increase his chances of drawing a blue card by playing a General Store (and of course Wells Fargo, Stagecoach, and Pony Express go without saying). With at least 5 players in the game, José Delgado is almost guaranteed to get a blue card within the mix.

José Delgado should always try to use his Panic and Rag Time to steal blue cards in play in front of other players. That way he can not only remove cards from his opponents, but also discard those cards to gain more cards. Even if he cannot steal a card from any player within range, José Delgado may choose to play a Panic on himself. That way he could pick up a card that is lacking in utility and then discard it to pick up 2 more cards. These new cards could help him eliminate an opponent for instance, or if he has few life points left, an offensive card could be sacrificed in hopes of giving him a defensive card or a Beer.

The discarded blue cards should be used to gather some offensive card combos (although they work well for replenishing defensive cards too), and work great to gather more BANG! if José Delgado can get his hands on a Volcanic. Obviously, getting his hands on a Volcanic should be one of José Delgado's goals. When he gets a good offensive build, he should unload on an opponent. Eliminating Outlaws is especially good for José Delgado, as there is a good chance he will draw a blue card amongst the card bonus, which he can use to draw even more cards. While gathering a good card build, José Delgado has no great reason to draw attention to himself, although he may want to use a BANG! or other less useful card when he exceeds his card limit. Depending on the playing style of José Delgado's opponents, José Delgado may or may not want to store up blue cards in his hand. If they are the sorts of players that will frequently steal or discard cards from José Delgado's hand (if Jesse Jones is in play, the answer will be an obvious yes), then José Delgado may wish to discard his blue cards from his hand as soon as he can.

General Strategy against José Delgado: José Delgado is a tough opponent, and besides general offensive strategies against opponents, there are few things you can do against him to get an upper hand. Of course, like other characters whose abilities are activated on their turns, you can play a Jail against José Delgado to neutralize his ability for a round. Be careful when playing General Stores: try to make sure that all blue cards/panic are picked up before José Delgado gets to pick a card, unless more powerful cards like Stagecoach, Wells Fargo, or Pony Express are available. When José Delgado starts using his ability to pick up cards, you can try to keep him from building up a strong card base by stealing or discarding cards from his hand and playing Indians! Remove defensive cards from his hand or in play to keep him nervous to take a fully offensive strategy. Take a shot at him from time to time to also make him nervous. If possible, you will want to eliminate José Delgado before a 2-player duel, as he is a very tough 1-on-1 opponent.

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Pedro Ramirez and Black Jack: Updated Character Guides

I updated the character guides for Pedro Ramirez and Black Jack to include Dodge City information. There wasn't much more to say for Black Jack, but I do present some important notes on discarding cards from the Dodge City expansion with Pedro Ramirez.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Character Guide: Sean Mallory

Sean Mallory BANG! card game character

Character Name: Sean Mallory.

Inspired by: John (Sean) Mallory, the ex-IRA explosives expert on the run from the British in the western film, A Fistful of Dynamite (also known as Duck, You Sucker!).

Life Points: 3.

Ability Type: Neutral.

Ability: "He may hold in his hand up to 10 cards." How many life points he has does not affect this static 10 card limit.

Activation: Continuous.

Cards enhanced by Sean Mallory's ability: Stagecoach, Wells Fargo, Pony Express, General Store, Volcanic, Missed!, Dodge (these defensive cards no longer painfully take up room in his hand), BANG! (he has no need to discard excess BANG! that he cannot use), Springfield, Whisky, Tequila, Rag Time, and Brawl (these 2 cards to use cards are easier to manage when you have more cards to choose from).

Cards weakened by Sean Mallory's ability: Beer, Whisky, Canteen, Tequila, Saloon (while these cards replenish life points, they do not augment Sean Mallory's card limit).

Cards more effective when played against Sean Mallory: Jail.

Ideal role: Sheriff.

2-player value: Pretty good. As it is with many characters, it depends how much life he has at this point. If he is too low and has few cards in his hand, things will probably not end well for Sean Mallory. However, if he has at least 2 life points, Sean Mallory might be able to build up some cards over a couple of rounds, and then have a decent chance of winning.

Characters that counter Sean Mallory well: Jesse Jones (when he has a fewer amount of cards in his hand).

Characters that Sean Mallory counters well: Pat Brennan.

General Strategy as Sean Mallory: In my opinion, Sean Mallory is the best Sheriff in the game, although El Gringo and Apache Kid are close seconds. With 4 life points, and players timid to target the Sheriff right at the beginning of the game, Sean Mallory has an excellent opportunity to store up defensive and offensive cards. Then, he can unload on an Outlaw that reveals himself, and if he eliminates him, not have any of the 3 card bonus go to waste. Awesome.

As an Outlaw, Renegade, or Deputy, Sean Mallory is an okay character, but he has to worry a lot more about getting eliminating in the early game. Many characters are afraid of Sean Mallory not being on their team, and him eventually getting his hand on a Volcanic. The outcome is sadly that many players choose to attack Sean Mallory in the first and second rounds. Since Sean Mallory only has 3 life points, and his ability is not immediately defensive (unlike other 3 life point characters such as El Gringo, Paul Regret, Elena Fuente, and potentially Vera Custer), he can get extremely weakened or eliminated within these two rounds. Chances are that Sean Mallory does not have a Missed! or Dodge in his hand, and he may not have a BANG! either, making him very vulnerable to BANG! from adjacent players, Duels, Indians!, and Gatling. Pixie Pete is very much in the same boat. Sean Mallory could try to shoot at a player besides his initial attacker on his turn, but with 3 life points, it seems very dangerous to make another enemy just in the hopes of throwing off the initial attacker. This early game elimination tactic against Sean Mallory can sometimes work, but it is always a risk. How do other players know that Sean Mallory is not their ally? If he is, then they shot themselves extensively in the foot. But despite this consideration, Sean Mallory will still get shot up early on.

Thus, surviving as a non-Sheriff Sean Mallory is a good mix of luck with some skill. Generally speaking, early on Sean Mallory should never play any cards on his turn that will shrink the amount of cards he will have in his hand by the end of his turn. Thus, Sean Mallory could play a General Store, Panic, Wells Fargo, or Stagecoach, as these will add more cards to his hand. The only exception to this suggestion is in the case of defensive cards, such as defensive green cards, a Barrel, and the distance modifiers Mustang and Hideout. These cards will help Sean Mallory survive, and that should be his goal at this point. An important Dodge City rule to remember is that you do not have to wait a full round to use defensive green cards. The moment that your turn is over, defensive green cards can be used to block attacks. Only the green cards that you use on your own turn do you have to wait a full round before using them. Any other cards I would keep in your hand. Even if they are not defensive, your opponents do not know what those cards are, and may intimidate them, keeping or making them do actions that they wouldn't do otherwise.

After a few rounds (and given that Sean Mallory has survived), Sean Mallory can be a little more liberal in playing cards from his hand, but he should still try to draw little attention to himself. There are some good ways to do this. For instance, there is no point in Sean Mallory playing a gun card in front of him until he really wants to use the gun. The gun card only takes 1 space in the 10 cards allowed Sean Mallory, so this shouldn't bother him. By doing so, Sean Mallory gets 2 benefits: (1) Sean Mallory keeps the gun from getting stolen or discarded before he can really use it, which is especially useful when it comes to the Volcanic, and (2) Sean Mallory can keep his fellow players in a false sense of security, making them believe that he is not in range. Besides the gun, there are other cards that Sean Mallory may not wish to play in front of him, such as Scope, Binoculars, and some offensive green cards, for the same reasons (this is a great way of skunking Pat Brennan). Before Sean Mallory play a card in front of him, he should think of what sort of threat level about himself that it will generate.

Sean Mallory can also reduce his threat level through another kind of deception. Sean Mallory can afford to take hits. Losing a life point draws him closer towards death, but does not affect his card limit. So Sean Mallory could try to make players think he is weaker than he is by taking a hit from an attack even if he could easily block it with the cards in his hand. He may choose not to replace the lost life point when he has a Beer (or more) in his hand to again make players believe he is weak. And then he can replace his health and use the defensive cards at more opportune moments.

Besides this, Sean Mallory should try to create a hand that has both some defensive cards (Missed!, Beer) and offensive cards that allow him to attack several times in his turn. It will be easier to do this with brown cards--BANG!, Duel, Gatling, Indians!, Springfield, Punch--and storing up a Volcanic, as these can be kept in his hand ready for use. Having a Panic ready to snatch a nearby Volcanic when it is played is a very good idea. The green attack cards, on the other hand, will add to Sean Mallory's threat level. Nonetheless, when he has enough brown attack cards, Sean Mallory can play some of these green offensive cards just before going after a player. Having this offensive combo ready will help him pick off other players when their health is low. This is especially beneficial when Sean Mallory can pick off an Outlaw and get the 3 card bonus that may replenish the cards used to eliminate the Outlaw. After eliminating a player, take some time to regain your card strength. Then move to the next one. It is very important to replenish your cards, if possible, before you enter into a 2-player duel.

Playing against Sean Mallory: As described above, a very effective means of eliminating Sean Mallory is to target him in the first two rounds with BANG! and Duels, and to play Indians! and Gatling. You will likely hurt Sean Mallory very badly or even eliminate him, but there is one problem with this strategy if you are an Outlaw or Sheriff: Sean Mallory may be your ally and eliminating him may have just ruined your chances to win the game. On the other hand, if you are a Deputy/Renegade and Sean Mallory is not the Sheriff this can be an excellent idea (depending on the amount of players in the game of course). So while effective, you have to gauge the risk according to your role when it comes to this strategy.

If you choose to let Sean Mallory live passed the beginning of the game, this doesn't require you to just let him be. You can keep the amount of cards in his hand low and keep him from building up by firing a BANG! at him from time to time, by panicking/stealing cards from his hand, or playing cards that affect all other players. You might get lucky and knock out a stored up Beer or Volcanic. Hopefully, these actions will quickly move Sean Mallory to reveal his role through his actions to you. Just remember that he might be your ally!

To remove one of his drawing phases, you can play a Jail on Sean Mallory. This also works well when Sean Mallory has a large hand and you need some time to recuperate. Another good card to play when Sean Mallory has a large hand is Duel. While you may take the hit in the Duel, you could knock out several BANG! in his hand that protect you from taking future hits. An intelligent Sean Mallory may choose just to take a hit instead, but it is worth a shot. To make Sean Mallory nervous, you can throw out a Dynamite.

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