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.


  1. I made a special role card for the headhunter and I want to share it, but I don't know how.

  2. I was wondering, is it possible to play up to 9 players this way by just adding the Headhunter?

  3. I believe you can share the role card in the forum. You can select the forum from the dropdown menu. It is the first option following "Community." When writing a post there is a button in the menu entitled "More Options." The first option allows you to "upload a file." Otherwise, e-mail me at martinpulido2 at gmail dot com.

  4. As for just adding him in for a 9-player game, I do not know how well that would work. Playtest it and let me know. I still think he should only need to eliminate 3 players--4 seems obscene, especially when he has to wait far longer for a turn.

  5. Another comment I have: maybe it should be named Bounty Hunter instead of Headhunter.

  6. I really love this role and I can't wait to playtest it.

    I see one big problem with this variant though. What happens if there are not enough players for the Headhunter to possibly win?
    For example, he has to kill 3 targets, he couldn't kill any so far and there are only 3 players in play (including himself). In this situation, he would be alive but with no goal at all.

  7. He would lose in that situation, sort of like is nigh guaranteed when a renegade is caught with a sheriff and deputy alive, or an outlaw is caught with all of his team mates eliminated and many others are alive.

    But if you wanted it so there was a "victory condition" still available, you could have him turn into a typical renegade when his initial condition can no longer be fulfilled. That was how the role was originally conceived.

  8. Does it mean that in this situation he must reveal his role and he's dead?

    My problem with this scenario is not that he can't win, but that we have an ALIVE player with no goal. If I am a headhunter who can no longer win, how am I supposed to play? I don't care who I hurt and who I help or even if I die. This situation is not alike the ones of your examples: the renegade and the outlaw knows that both the other players are their enemies. Their chances of winning are low, but they know what they're supposed to do and who they're supposed to hit. The headhunter... no longer cares.

    I don't really like turning the headhunter into a typical renegade, because I liked the idea of having him in a 8-players game, instead of two renegades. But for the headhunter to have two possible winning conditions seems unfair to the normal renegade, and it also changes the headhunter's general strategy.

  9. I see the problem as being connected: having no goal means you cannot win (technically). As I have pointed out in the past, this role is really a derivation of allowing the Renegade to have alternate victory conditions. See this post:


    I just fleshed out the Headhunter variant for him. I think the Renegade has a huge disadvantage in the game, so I was working through ways to make him more fun and playable.

    If he can no longer kill the amount of players required him, the only option is to do one of these things:
    (1) Have his victory condition change by becoming a Renegade or joining another team. Since he was already on his own before, being a Renegade seems like the most likely fit. If he is to join another team, you would have him join the weakest time, but it seems like this could be OP, so I do not see that working out well.
    (2) Inventing a new victory condition. But what would that be?
    (3) Immediately die. This seems stupid to me.

  10. Lowering the amount of people he has to kill seems stupid too. Why should he be rewarded for playing poorly? No easy solution for this except giving Renegades the random option as described in the post.

  11. The problem is that when any other role can't win, that means either: 1) that the player is already dead (Sheriff, Outlaw, Renegade); or 2) that the game ends (Deputy).
    No official role keeps playing when it already lost.

    Your solution is fine if the Headhunter is simply a replacement for the Renegade. And it's a good idea for very crowded games, where the Renegade's mission is a hard one.

    But you suggested to add the Headhunter in a game where there is *already* a Renegade. In this situation, for the Headhunter to have two victory conditions seems really unfair to the Renegade.

    Here's some random idea. If there are not enough players for him to kill, he can still win if he is the last man standing, BUT he has some sort of penalization. For example, from now on some cards have no effect when played by him (just like Beer doesn't work when there are only 2-players): maybe he can't use cards of a certain suit, or he can't use cards with the "discard" and "pick" symbols.
    Or maybe the Judge card is permanently in effect for him.
    Of course, for this solution to work the Headhunter must be forced to reveal his role at this point. But that's not unfair in my opinion: the Headhunter should be penalized for having failed in his primary goal.

  12. And yet the chances of winning at this point are pretty slim when you have no team. With a penalty also, things are really stacked against you. Seems like not only a complicated solution, but one that won't really lend itself towards him winning. But I can see why you would add the penalty; I appreciate the thought.

  13. Maybe the other way round is better?
    Instead of penalizing the Headhunter, I should rewarding the Renegade.

    Since I plan to use the Headhunter in large games only, maybe I could reward the Renegade if he makes it until the final battle with the Sheriff.
    The Renegade could gain one life point (both increasing his limit and healing one wound) and immunity to Jail, so that the match is even.
    While the Headhunter is encouraged to win before this happens, since he doesn't get these bonuses.

  14. I think that in tournament play, the Headhunter should get $500 a kill, regardless of which team wins, with a $250 bonus for completing his kill-count objective. That way, even if he cannot complete his objective, he still has motivation to try and increase his bounty.

  15. I got intrested about this role. I read the guidebook, but can he win by killing the Sheriff as his last target? In final duel, the answer is yes for sure, but I mean that if there's a 8 player game going on, and he kills two other players, with six players still around and then he also slays the Sheriff?

    If Headhunter can win at this point, the game goes to intresting situation: It's not always easy for Outlaws to say who belongs to your team and the game becomes a race who can finish the Sheriff first.

    If the answer is no, and Headhunter cannot win at this point, he is pretty much like a Renegade for the Sheriff - Headhunter must make sure that the Sheriff survives and if he really have to, face him in the final duel.

    It's funny how somehow similiar Headhunter is comparing to Renagade - and how diffrent he is if you look closer: Renegade must survive and Headhunter must kill. Renegade aims for the final duel, but Headhunter rather avoids it at all cost - if the game goes longer, and players can tell who is who, Headhunter has even less friends than the Renegade and heck, there's even a prize for the player who kills him.

  16. Problem solved, I skipped the description in the post and read the manual first, sorry :/

    Anyway, to add something to this conversation: I think the Headhunter should not turn into a Renagade if he happens to fail in his main objective, and it's a bit weard if he dies by not being able to complete his goal.

    What if he would need to gather some spesific cards and also be the last man standing if he fails in his main objective?

    I think the cards should not be placed in his hand or in front of him, because cards like cat balou and panic would ruin his plans (too) easily. I mean, the goal should be hard, but not nearly impossible.

    What if there were a spesific pile for Headhunter in that point of game?

    For example, if the collectable cards were:

    2 beers
    2 diffrent guns
    2 diffrent blue cards (not weapons, Jail and Dynamite are ok)
    (No unique cards or this objective is nearly impossible)

    The Headhunter could put those spesific cards in to the pile from his hand (not from in front of him, but there's always Panic! to help things out) and there would be no way to destroy, steal or way to pick them up again, they wouldn't affect in any players hand size and the Headhunter could check them at anytime he wants to.

    The pile would be "activated" by first pointing out that there's no way for the Headhunter to finish his main goal. Then, Headhunter could reveal his role by putting the first card face down in to his own pile.

    So the Headhunter could still win by first killing the other remaining player and at the same time collecting the spesific stuff and finally killing the Sheriff. If the Sheriff is killed too early by dynamite or by something else, Headhunter loses. (if there was a final duel with those two, Outlaws win)

  17. I have no answer for your current problem. But I think that his last kill have to be Sheriff. Because in all cases game ends with Sheriff's death, so it should be same with this new role. If there is that rule, I don't understand the text correctly, sorry for that. And I apologize for my english, I'm not such a good speaker.

  18. I think that it would be too hard for Headhunter to win the game, if he needs to kill the Sheriff also. It would be like harder Outlaw victory. I think it's a good thing that he can kill the Sheriff as his final kill, but making it necessary sounds like too difficult. :/

    However, remember that there's always a freedom to play the game as you wish. I think that Bang! is really known for it's house rules, and I guess that most of the gaming groups have atleast some kind of house rules.

    About the secondary goal: If you have Gold Rush, I would try the following: He should get a certain amount of gold nuggets, maybe 8 or like that, and the amount would be lower if he has killed one player. (If he has two kills, his main goal is still possible, and thus the secondary objecive is unneseccary.)I'm unsure if the amount would be 7 or 6 after that.

    When the right amount of gold would be collected, his goal would be exactly the same as Renegades: survive and kill the Sheriff as last person. He needs to have the gold with him when he deals the final blow; if the Sheriff dies too early because of dynamite or by mistake, Outlaws win.
    Someone may think that this would be easy, and maybe the Headhunter would aim for his secondary mission, but I think this would be easy only in paper.
    1)In gold rush, you need gold, and you put yourself on disadvatange, if you're just saving it.
    2)If there's a faceoff situation, Sheriff has had time to build something up, and he has a couple of black card in front of him, and because you need the gold for the win, you just have to face the Sheriff with all his advatanges.
    3)It would be suspicios to have plenty of gold early on, and there's even a reward from your head if you're managed to kill someone. And I would say, that in the table, nobody likes Headhunter.