Monday, June 11, 2012

Robbers' Roost News: POD Finally Arriving

I was recently contacted by Superior POD, who due to the success of Death Mesa, are willing to custom cut the Robbers' Roost deck cards for free! This means that much of the hang up on these cards will no longer be a problem. They will also be setting up a Web2Print store online to help with simplifying the POD process. Let me quote from the e-mail I received:

"We have several DM orders that have had to be canceled and refunded because the cards are not set up to our templates and customers are either unable to format the cards properly or unwilling to pay us the design/setup fee to do so. So if you'd like, I would be happy to put all of the decks together so that they are print-ready on our end, and then set up a W2P store for the entire Death Mesa/Robber's Roost/etc lineup for you to direct people to. Again, they will have to upload the matching sets of 'print and play' cards, but this way the players who aren't design savvy enough to set up the cards to our sheets can still get professionally printed high-quality decks. We can even work out your custom sized card deck that isn't part of our standard dimension options. The best part is that we would be happy to set this up for you free of charge. We get so many DM orders ... that everyone here agrees that making the decks more obtainable to the community is the best course of action."

So this will help with both Robbers' Roost and Death Mesa in the end. There are some issues still with color-matching, and Superior POD is going to work with me to get the best that POD printing can get. They problem still won't match perfectly, but I am hoping this won't be too problematic. For one, the Dodge City expansion cards are somewhat "off" in their color in comparison to the original game cards, so this is a bit of a problem across the board. Two, several Robbers' Roost cards come from the original game to help with balancing, so you wouldn't be able to tell which card was in a player's hand by noting the color difference. Third, with the orange module, since the orange cards have to be placed in front of you anyway, there isn't much of a card color tip off. We'll have to see how problematic it is once the card prototypes arrive.

So as for getting the POD in place, I will probably need to design the cards in a custom template for the cutting, and then I will try to get a prototype to review and correct. Anyway, I am pretty excited that this will finally be happening.

For a bit more of a news tidbit, I am sorry that I have been away from this blog for so long. I have been busily working away on my own board game, and this has taken a lot of time away from my BANG! projects. I plan on getting back to BANG!, but my own project has in the past few months had priority. Perhaps when I have the instructions book up and some prototypes available, I can get some of you to playtest my game. Finally, I want to keep this blog alive. I think it has some excellent content, and I want to continue building on top of that. Anyone interested in becoming a co-author on this blog? I would like to see some of the content you have written on other sites before I sign you up, but having others to post might be a good transition for this site given how new projects have taken up so much of my time. Thoughts?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Character Guide: Gary Looter

Gary Looter BANG! card game character

Character Name
: Gary Looter. 

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

Life Points: 5. 

Ability Type: Neutral. 

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

Activation: During other players' discard phases. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Strategy as Gary Looter: To other players Gary Looter is an annoying character, and depending on his role, also an intimidating character. Players always have to think about whether or not they will go over their card limits. New players will not immediately recognize this, and even seasoned players will forget from time to time. Since Gary Looter is a nuisance, he is more likely to be a target. It is very important that Gary Looter's team mates recognize their ability to almost freely give him cards whenever they are over their limits. This can be used to aid Gary Looter when he is in trouble or to help him achieve strategic objectives, such as eliminating a player that Gary Looter can see but his team mate cannot. One could pass him a Volcanic to use to annihilate one of his adjacent players. 

At the beginning of the game, it is also a useful means of securing a decent card base for Gary Looter if he is having trouble. Gary Looter should try to keep valuable card-feeding allies alive. Of course, if Gary Looter is a Renegade, the chances of him getting high power cards from other players is slim. Gary Looter can play in such a way as to try to maximize his ability to gather other players' cards. For instance, playing General Store has the added benefit of increasing the amount of cards in all players' hands, on top of the better card selection for him. This can help allies pass cards and make it hard for rivals not to discard cards at the ends of their turns. 

Gary Looter should also be mindful of playing/using cards that require discards from all other players, such as is the case with Indians!, Gatling, and Howitzer. Since these cards can create many players to drop in their life points, and therefore card limits, Gary Looter can gain many cards within a round as a result. Of course, there is the possibility that the other players will have the right discards, making it therefore less likely for Gary Looter to draw cards from them during their discard phases. Gary Looter should pay attention to the number of cards in his rival's hands, as well as their playing styles, to judge whether or not playing such cards is momentarily worth it.

Gary Looter can also make it difficult for other players not to discard cards. This can be done by increase his distance from other players, so that unusable BANG! build up in their hands. It can also be done through who Gary Looter chooses to attack. If he has 2 rivals, and 1 is more defensive, ignore that rival and focus on the other. The build up Missed! and other defensive cards in that player's hand will make it hard for him not to exceed his card limit. The same goes with players who only have 3 life points. Finally, if there is clear evidence of a player having far more cards than his card limit, Gary Looter may not want to put that player in Jail, as he will then have no discard phase to pass the excess cards on to him. Besides this, Gary Looter can use his higher number of life points to his advantage to play Dynamite (it exploding on him is far less devastating) and also build strong offensive combos to take out a rival in one turn if possible. If he has a more defensive objective, he should try to make sure he has decent defensive cards in play before he does so. 

Playing against Gary Looter: Always remember how Gary Looter impinges on you. Whenever your discard phase arises, if you have to discard a card because you are over your alotted limit, Gary Looter picks it up. Try, therefore, to use as many cards as are necessary to get you below your card limit before your discard phase. Of course, you will always want to try to have a Missed! and a BANG! in your hand for defensive reasons, but try to make sure your hand is not getting bogged up with cards you can't play.

Make sure you can play many cards before playing a Wells Fargo or Stagecoach. Otherwise, Gary Looter might inherit many of your cards. If you are too defensive, you will start having defensive cards in your hand that you cannot play since (perhaps) no one is attacking you; you will soon have no option but to hand cards over to Gary Looter. Be more offensive, so that your rivals cannot ignore you. Also, make sure that your BANG! are playable. If you cannot see a rival, you will only be able to play BANG! on your allies or likely have to pass a card(s) to Gary Looter on your discard phase. Try to secure a gun or offensive sight modifier, so that does not become an issue. Replace guns, so that gun cards do not get stuck in your hand, unless it very adversely affects your gameplay. Be wary of duplicate cards that can also get stuck in your hand.

If you are playing with Dodge City, you may be able to play a card that requires discarding another to get rid of the duplicate. If you have any abilities that allow you to freely discard cards, use these to circumvent the card limit problem as well. Besides being cautious of your hand, also be careful when playing General Store, and cards that either reduce the card limit or increase the amount of cards in all other players' hands. These could potentially greatly benefit Gary Looter. Gary Looter is rarely a solo opponent. Be aware of his team mates and how they are feeding cards to him. If one ally is feeding him a lot of cards, focus fire on him, and try to play cards that could greatly reduce the amount of cards in his hand. Duel is the best example of that, but many other cards are useful for this (Panic! and Cat Balou when they target his hand). It may be to your advantage to eliminate Gary Looter's team mates before moving on to him, so consider it. All you have left to worry about is Gary Looter's greater number of life points. This is a problem, but not unsurmountable if you play carefully as outlined above. Just put the pressure on Gary Looter and use offensive combos where possible. Dynamite can work to your disadvantage depending on the number of life points Gary Looter has.

Return to the BANG! Character Guides Portal

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Adjustments to Accomplice Abilities

Accomplice Ability Adjustments:

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

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

Debating over Adjustments:

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

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

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

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

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

2 New Ideas:

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

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Character Guide: Teren Kill

Teren Kill BANG! card game character

Character Name
: Teren Kill.

Inspired by: Terrence Hill, an Italian action who starred in many spaghetti westerns.

Life Points: 3.

Ability Type: Defensive.

Ability: "Each time he would be eliminated 'draw!': if it is not Spades, Teren stays at 1 life point, and draws 1 card." It should be clarified that this moment is upon his "would be elimination," so a player can choose to play a last chance Beer and not undergo the "draw!" (see WWS FAQ Q18). However, the instruction cards explain that if a person voluntary foregoes playing the last chance Beer and "draws!" for Teren Kill's ability instead, he cannot afterwards play the last chance Beer if it is unsuccessful.

Activation: When he would otherwise be eliminated.

Cards less effective when played against by Teren Kill: Dynamite, and all damaging cards to some extent.

Cards more effective when played by Teren Kill Dynamite (he is less likely to be eliminated by its random mechanism than his peers).

Good role for Teren Kill: Renegade.

Characters that counter Teren Kill well: John Pain (for everyone of Teren's "draws!," he has a good chance of picking up a card too), Lee Van Kliff/Willy the Kid/Doc Holyday (they can easily make 2+ attacks during their turns, and so have a good chance of eliminating Teren Kill when he is down to his last life point), and most importantly Kit Carlson (he has a fair chance of stacking a spade against Teren Kill when he is at his last life point, and then attack him; if Teren has to "draw!" he is guaranteed to die).

Characters that Teren Kill counters well: Greg Digger/Herb Hunter/Vulture Sam (these characters' abilities activate upon player elimination; since Teren Kill will tend to not be eliminated easily, it makes it more difficult upon them), to some extent Pat Brennan/Belle Star (They can ignore (on Star's turn)/remove cards in play in front of Teren Kill, but it won't affect his native defensive ability, not to mention the card he draws into his hand if his "draw!" succeeds), and Slab the Killer (Slab's attack still only adds up to 1 life point lost, and so while it might blunt Teren Kill's defensive cards, it doesn't affect his ability).

2-player value: Excellent. His life retention ability will be very helpful when his opponent can no longer utilize Beer to regain life points.

General Strategy as Teren Kill: Teren Kill's ability gives him a 75% chance of remaining alive and drawing a card when he would be eliminated. The "drawing!" for this outcome does interact with event cards (Curse causing his immediate demise) and characters abilities (John Pain's, for instance). Of course, when Teren Kill is attacked in succession during another player's turn, his chances of survival are above 75% on the whole. The "draws!" probabilities remain relatively the same (the "drawing!" mechanism never gives a perfect a priori probability due to it only applying to the values of the cards remaining in the deck, so it is different from rolling a 4-sided die; cards in play are not reshuffled back into the deck until discarded, also changing probabilities), but the card drawn by Teren Kill upon a successful "draw!" increases his chances of survival. Thus, he could gain a card that can ward off BANG! or Indians!, or gain a Beer to play in a last chance sense. If a card takes off 2+ life points, Teren Kill does not have to "draw!" for each life point, just once. See Q12 of the Wild West Show FAQ:
Q12. If Teren Kill is eliminated by Dynamite, how many times does he have to "draw!" to stay alive? A. Just one time; if it is a card of Spades he is out, otherwise he stays at 1 life point (and draws a card from the deck).
While this defensive ability is quite powerful, it does have an irritating side to it: it only activates as a "last resort" before elimination. Any moment before then, his ability has almost no application. And he doesn't want to intentionally lose life points to use the ability since this move affects his card limit. He, of course, will try to build a hand and get cards in front of him that don't require him to use his ability. This, in essence, makes his ability pretty boring until he gets to his last breath, and it could still be boring if on his first "draw!" he gets a spade. If he survives, he has a fair chance of recovering another life point with likely having 3-4 cards in his hand at the beginning of his next turn. This make the card limit issue slightly less problematic. There is one exception to the Teren Kill's rather bland gameplay: Dynamite. Teren Kill should try to play it whenever possible. Since the chance of it exploding on him and eliminating him is quite low in proportion to the other players, and the damage it inflicts on others is so great, Dynamite is Teren Kill's best friend. Of course, this works far less effectively if Teren has to worry about blowing up his team mates, so he should consider the mix of player roles.

Playing against Teren Kill: Teren Kill is not a powerful character in an offensive sense. With a defensive ability that only activates upon his nigh elimination, and a 3 card limit, it is relatively easy to knock down his life points/card limit. But that shouldn't make you suppose that Teren Kill is weak. His stubborn persistence to live makes the battle with him one of attrition. His weaker offensive edge can still take you in the end if you do not put him down. However, since he is weaker offensively, you might consider ignoring him until you can eliminate one of his easier-to-off allies. If Teren Kill is Sheriff and you are an Outlaw, this does lead to a bit of a conundrum: do I still try to make a strong offensive burst at Teren Kill with my fellow outlaws, or do we try to knock out the Deputies/Renegades first? This is a toss up, but the tide of the battle is seriously against you in 7-8 player games (with 3-4 other non-Outlaws). The burst may be the only viable option, even though it would be extremely lucky for it to succeed. In a 6 player game, things are different. However, if Teren Kill is not the Sheriff (say, an Outlaw), eliminating his allies first makes far more sense. Whether or not you ignore Teren Kill momentarily, watch out for when Dynamite is in play. This card has a lot higher chance of doing damage to you/your allies than it does to Teren Kill. In most cases, you will want to steal, discard, or otherwise remove it from play, so that your team's position isn't compromised. Once you focus on Teren Kill, apply the same general offensive strategy until he gets to his last life point. Teren Kill will try to compensate during early-mid game by building up some defensive cards in his hand and in play (Mustang, Barrel, etc.). Use steal/discard abilities and cards to remove the defensive stronghold and pummel him down to his last life point to decrease his card limit. To finally eliminate him, chances are that a strategically orchestrated attack is necessary. This means either that you and your teammates attack him in succession before he has a turn, or that you can hit Teren Kill with an offensive combo, so that he has to "draw!" to keep his life multiple times. Of course, desperate times call for desperate measures, so this ideal orchestration may not be a feasible reality. Just keep shooting, then! Odds should require you to only make him "draw!" 4 times, but you can never tell. The battle with Teren Kill could be epic, or laughable (he "draws!" a spade the first time).