Friday, June 10, 2011

Character Guide: Claus the Saint

Claus the Saint BANG! card game character

Character Name: Claus the Saint.

Inspired by: Santa Claus.

Life Points: 3.

Ability Type: Neutral.

Ability: "He draws one more card than the number of players, keeps 2 for himself, then gives 1 to each player."

Activation: During his drawing phase, by necessity.

Cards more powerful when played against Claus the Saint: Jail, Duel.

Good roles for Claus the Saint: Deputy, Outlaw.

Worst role for Claus the Saint: Renegade.

Characters that counter Claus the Saint well: Doc Holyday, Slab the Killer and Willy the Kid (They either have extra powerful attacks or can shoot multiple times, making it very difficult for the 3 life point Claus the Saint to defend himself).

2-player value: Absolutely terrible. Claus the Saint has 3 life points, and on his drawing phase he can only help his opponent by passing him an extra card.

General Strategy as Claus the Saint: Claus the Saint is a very difficult character to have in play. First, he is not very good. As a 3 life point character he is weak, and if he does not keep his allies alive, then he is absolutely ruined. His ability always benefits other players somewhat, and so by himself he gives his opponent's a significant disadvantage. Claus the Saint is thus a terrible Renegade, and a poor Sheriff (especially in 4 player games). For reasons like these, you can see why Emiliano Sciarra (BANG!'s designer) considers Claus the Saint to be quite unbalanced and unsuited for serious play. Claus the Saint was originally included in an online daVinci newsletter, and eventually got included in the Bullet. Another reason why Claus the Saint is not the best BANG! character to have in play is because he significantly slows it down. Since he draws cards for all players and chooses to whom they go, Claus the Saint has to weigh the pros and cons of passing a card to a particular player. BANG! is slow enough in my opinion, and Claus the Saint only compounds the problem. Despite these downsides to Claus the Saint, let me point out how to use him as best you can.

At the beginning of the game, and especially larger games, Claus the Saint does not know who his allies are. He should be careful then not to give great cards that he draws consistently to the same players. Spread them around until Claus the Saint is given pointers as to who is an Outlaw and who is not (a player shooting the Sheriff, shooting a non-Sheriff, etc.). Besides, if Claus the Saint gives too many poor cards to another player (a BANG! or Missed! every time, if their abilities are not enhanced by these), they will naturally assume he is their enemy too. At this moment, Claus the Saint wants everyone to think that he is worthwhile keeping in the game. Nonetheless, at the beginning of the game, Claus the Saint should try to keep the best cards from himself, especially when it comes to the defensive cards. If he can grab green defensive cards, distance modifiers (Mustang, Hideout), a Barrel, and so forth, it will help him later on in the game when he wants to focus on passing the best cards to his team mates. Of course, there are other important cards for Claus the Saint to pick up: Wells Fargo, Stagecoach, Cat Balou, and even Panic! He would likely rather have these cards himself than pass them on to another. If Claus the Saint passes on a Panic!, he should pass it to a player that cannot reach him with it. This way he can protect the powerful defensive cards he is playing in front of him.

Once Claus the Saint figures out who his team mates are, he should change the way he passes out cards. Instead of keeping the best offensive/defensive cards when he draws, Claus the Saint should try to give himself the standard cards to protect himself (a BANG! and a Missed!) whenever they are lacking from his hand. Then Claus the Saint should try to pass on the most powerful cards on to his team mates. The cards that he passes to them should coordinate well with their abilities. Thus, a BANG! could be great for Willy the Kid, Slab the Killer, or Calamity Janet. A Barrel would be excellent to pass on to Lucky Duke or Jourdonnais. A common blue card in play would be good for Johnny Kisch. There are many other useful card passes that Claus the Saint should consider. If Claus the Saint's allies are intelligent, they will not immediately shriek for joy whenever they get a great card from him. Unless Claus the Saint has attacked someone yet, it should not be clear whose team he is on. Giving verbal/facial clues that Claus the Saint is on a specific team could tip off the rivals that Claus the Saint is an enemy. The allies should try to avoid this as long as possible.

Since Claus the Saint also has to pass on cards to his rivals, he should try to pass on cards the do not coordinate well with their positions and abilities. For instance, try to pass on a card to them that they cannot reach Claus the Saint or his allies with (due to distance constraints). If they can reach one of Claus the Saint's allies no matter what, pass it to the rival where the ally he can impact is in the best position to defend himself against it. If one of Claus the Saint's rivals is not important to eliminate now (or in the future), he should consider passing on extra defensive cards (like Missed!) to him, as he will not be able to utilize them. No one will be firing at him, so it will do him little good.

In general, pay attention to the actions of Claus the Saints' rivals (if they are targeting him or targeting his allies) to determine who he should pass the defensive cards too. It is crucial for Claus the Saint to keep his allies alive. Without them, there is almost no chance that Claus the Saint can win. On the flip side, it is not absolutely crucial that Claus the Saint lives. If he can pass on the right cards to his team mates, get them in the right position, and get momentum rolling for his team, then it is not a big deal if Claus the Saint dies. He will have helped his team achieve victory. Nonetheless, this does not mean Claus the Saint should try to get himself killed. As mentioned before, he should try to always get a BANG! or Missed! in his hand. He should also try to gather supportive cards to help his team mates. Thus, he should pick and use cards that steal or discard cards from his rivals. This way he can best control the distance constraints between different players, and hence keep himself and his allies alive.

Playing against Claus the Saint: When playing against Claus the Saint, you need to observe how he passes out the cards, and which cards he keeps to himself. At the beginning of the game, your goal should be to get Claus the Saint to think you are on his side. This way, he might pass you a good card for you to utilize. Even if you are not Claus the Saint's team mate, fooling him can get you in a better position. Once it becomes clear who the Outlaws are, monitor what cards they tend to play. If you see yourself getting weak cards like BANG! or Missed! from Claus the Saint, or cards that in general do not coordinate well with your position and/or ability, be suspicious of him. See if the other team is playing powerful cards consistently from turn to turn. If these two situations coordinate together (you getting weak cards and the other team playing strong cards), you have a great reason to suppose that Claus the Saint is on the other side. If so, assess the life points of your rivals and Claus the Saint. If one of your rivals has been weakened (or has far less defenses than Claus the Saint), it could be a good idea to pool together with your allies and knock him out. This will significantly weaken the impact of Claus the Saint's drawing ability and tip it in your favor. If you can keep Claus the Saint alive, and knock out the other rivals, you are in the best position. Claus the Saint, while still drawing from a larger selection of cards on his turn, must give all of his rivals cards too. You are bound to benefit from keeping him in play.

Of course, there are times when Claus the Saint bolsters his team mates too much. If so, you might need to just eliminate Claus the Saint. In this case, use cards and abilities that can steal or discard defensive cards he has in play and cards from his hand. Then, back these actions up with offensive cards (combos where possible). Pay attention to the cards discarded/stolen: if the removed card was a Missed! play a BANG!; if a BANG!, play an Indians! or Duel. Duels are especially potent against Claus the Saint. With 3 life points, he is not bound to have many cards in his hand, and so should not have many BANG! to discard during a Duel. Jails are also effective, as he will not be able to gather and disseminate powerful cards during his next turn.

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  1. I have not played Bang a lot but I am a little confused. The first time I played, I was Clause The Saint and I was playing as the renegade. Essentially, I would take the two best cards, give the third best to the sheriff, and the worst to the outlaws. His character ability functioned as a way to keep the sheriff alive, as I killed the Outlaws.

  2. I guess what I am confused about is why you say he is bad for Renegade.

  3. I think it should be pretty clear why Claus is bad as a Renegade. He has to get to the point where it just him and the Sheriff left (without any potential team mates), but then on each of his turns he is benefiting the Sheriff by giving him a card! There is no downside to that. Claus is far better when he can achieve a team victory, as is the case when he is an Outlaw or a Deputy.

  4. Not to mention that he'll have max 3 life points in the face off with the Sheriff too, in conjunction with having to give the Sheriff a card.

  5. try to play as a claus renegade against an elena fuente sheriff. but even as a claus sheriff against elena fuente renegade is hard

  6. We played a game of Bang tonight in which I was Claus the Saint, and actually won as the renegade. But I have to admit there was some luck involved there - we were down to Fistful of Cards so my passing cards to the sheriff was actually bad for him, for instance.

    One advantage I did notice to playing as Claus is that initially, when they don't know who you are, other players usually won't target you first because you're helping them. He's not an intimidating character so he sometimes gets ignored.