A Fistful of BANG! Variants

BANG! variants include slight changes (called “house rules” here) and vast changes (called “alternate gameplays” here) to the game, which affect the fundamental way BANG! is played. Thus, a house rule might change the way one character or a few cards are played (or slightly alter gameplay mechanics), while an alternate gameplay might change players’ victory conditions, the mechanics of drawing/discarding cards, add/remove roles, or adjust player elimination.

I have created, collected, critiqued, and modified many BANG! variants, which I am making available here at the BANG! Blog. Many of these variants have come through playing BANG! with friends, hearing variants from fellow BANG! players, or through finding them online. For each of the “alternate gameplays” I try to give credit where it is due. Many of the house rules have origins and histories that are too difficult or tedious for me to track.

The alternate gameplays and house rules are grouped separately, and categorized to make it easier to find variants that may interest you. For each item, I provide (1) a short description of the variant and (2) a rating of the variant. Where needed, I provide a link to a page, which explains the variant in detail.

Finally I have allowed comments on this page. If you know a BANG! variant that you enjoy, please post it or send me the link so I can add it here.

Alternate Gameplays


  1. BANG! Tactics (Martin Pulido): Adds a shop to BANG! from which needed cards can be purchased with coins. Coins are gained during the drawing phase. Removes much of the randomness of BANG! while adding more strategic gameplay. Since I created this variant, I won’t rate it.
  1. The Longest Day (Sergut): Roles are removed from BANG! Each player is given a target to kill. Killing other players gains a player points, and more points are gained for eliminating the predetermined target. When a player can prove that he has more points than others can potentially gain for the rest of the game, the game ends. 3.5/5.
  2. Rival Gangs (Martin Pulido): 2 rival gangs seek to eliminate each other. Each gang has a hidden leader. Gang members are aware of who is their leader, but the rival gang does not. Victory condition is eliminating the hidden leader. Recommended with the Hidden Characters house rule. Since I created this variant, I won’t rate it.
  3. Survival of the Fittest (Tyler Ziegler): In this roleless BANG! variant, players can absorb the ability of other players by eliminating them, as they fight to be the last man standing. With some modifications, this variant can be fun. 3/5.
Number of Players.
  1. Official 2-Player Gameplay (Emiliano Sciarra): Each player gets 2 characters and alternates between which one he uses each round. Players have to eliminate one another's teams. 3/5.
Player Elimination.
  1. Infinite BANG! (Aitor Vilchez): Removes player elimination from BANG! Killing characters depending on roles earns a certain amount of points, and thus victory is individually based. Game ends when a fixed amount of characters or event cards have been played. 3/5.
  2. BANG! Dead Man's Hand (Kevin O'Hara): Eliminated players draw 7 cards when they die, and play a separate game with each other similar to Knock Poker. 2/5.
  3. BANG! Dead Reckonin' (Kevin O'Hara): The initial inspiration for Death Mesa. Dead players draw 2 cards on their turns. At the end of the Sheriff's turn, dead players compare to see which player has the best hand. The player with the best hand has the opportunity to influence the living. The action depends upon the suit with the highest value in the winning hand. 3/5.
Character Modifications.
  1. Super BANG! (Raman Ohri): Each player is dealt three characters. They keep two and reveal them. The powers of both characters are in effect, but the lower of the two character's life points is also in effect. This reveals some extremely powerful combinations (Suzy Lafayette + (Sid Ketchum OR Elena Fuente), Willy the Kid + Slab the Killer). This variant is too ridiculously unbalanced for my taste. 0.5/5.
Role Modifications.
  1. Headhunter Role (Martin Pulido): The object of the Headhunter is to eliminate a fixed amount of other players (2 or 3, depending on the amount of players in the game). There is a 2/4 bonus for killing the Headhunter once he has eliminated 1/2 players. Since I created this variant, I won’t rate it.

House Rules

Dealing out Characters.

  1. Deal 2-Characters: Most popular house rule. All players are dealt two characters at the beginning of the game to choose from. Helps players pick characters that work well with their roles, but also keeps players from experimenting with new and strange characters. 3.5/5.
  2. Hidden Mulligan: You can discard your dealt out character face down, then draw another, which you must keep. Since no one sees who you discarded, they cannot infer your role easily. 3.5/5.
  3. Improved Character Choices for Roles: Based on Deal 2 Characters house rule. Now, each player is dealt one offensive/neutral character and one defensive/neutral character. Separate the characters into 2 separate decks. Suzy Lafayette, Calamity Janet, Slab the Killer, Willy the Kid, Jesse Jones, Black Jack, Rose Doolan, Vulture Sam, Bill Noface, Doc Holyday, Belle Star, Greg Digger, Chuck Wengam, Herb Hunter, Vera Custer, Uncle Will, Claus the Saint, Big Spencer, Flint Westwood, Youl Grinner, and Lee Van Kliff go in the Offensive deck. Paul Regret, Pedro Ramirez, El Gringo, Kit Carlson, Jourdonnais, Lucky Duke, Bart Cassidy, Sid Ketchum, Tequila Joe, Apache Kid, Elena Fuente, Jose Delgado, Sean Mallory, Molly Stark, Pat Brennan, Pixie Pete, Johnny Kisch, Gregory Deck, John Pain, Teren Kill, and Gary Looter go in the Defensive deck. Shuffle each deck and deal players one from each. Players are now bound to have characters more in line with their roles than before. 3/5.
  4. I Hate These Characters!: When players do not like the 2 characters dealt from the Deal 2-Characters variant, they draw a third, but are forced to use that one. 2/5.
Character Gameplay.
  1. Hidden Characters: A player’s character is not revealed until his ability is used. 5/5.
  2. Paul Regret Card Limit: Several BANG! players have noticed how Paul Regret is far weaker in Dodge City. Even Emiliano Sciarra admits that Paul Regret should have about 3.5 life points. Of course, 3.5 is not possible, so another solution is give Paul Regret a card limit +1. He has 3 life points, but can carry 4 cards in his hand when at full health (3 when he has 2 life points, and so on). 4/5.
  3. Uncle Will Mod: Like Santa the Claus, Uncle Will has a neat ability, which allows him to disseminate cards to his allies. However, he has little control over where the cards end up. A slight mod to his ability gives him greater control: whenever Uncle Will plays a card as a General Store, he chooses the direction by which the General Store is resolved (to his left or to his right). 4/5.
  4. Optional Ability for Santa the Claus: Santa the Claus' ability occurs every time on his turn during his drawing phase by necessity. This makes him nigh worthless when his team mates have perished. A simple mod to Santa the Claus is to make his ability optional: He can either draw 2 cards like normal or use his ability. 4/5.
  1. Quicker Exploding Dynamite: Discarding a spade on your turn can extend the range in which dynamite explodes. 3.5/5.
  2. Less Devastating Dynamite: When dynamite explodes, a player may discard 2/4/6 cards from his hand (or in play in front of him, excluding Prison) to avoid 1/2/3 lost life points. 3/5.
  3. Dynamite AOE: When dynamite explodes, players to the left and right of the dynamite both lose 1 life point. However, if the player to the left or right of the explosion has a Mustang (or other distance modifier, such as Hideout or his character is Paul Regret) then he avoids any damage from the blast. 3/5.
  4. Instant Dynamite: When dynamite comes into play, all players in clockwise order from the player who played it "draw!" until the Dynamite is explosed. The drawing occurs out of turn (except for the player who played it). Thus, dynamite is resolved in the turn it is played. 1/5.
  5. Dynamite Avoidance: Players only have to "draw!" on Dynamite if they play cards on their turn. Otherwise, the dynamite passes to the left at the end of their turn. 3/5.
  6. Dynamite Destroys Property: Dynamite is played like a brown card, and can be played on any player regardless of range. The targeted player "draws!" On any spade, the Dynamite explodes and destroys all cards in play in front of him. If he has no cards in play in front of him, he loses 2 life points. If the "drawn!" card is a heart, the targeted player may throw the dynamite at a player of his choice and the process begins again. 3/5.
  7. Hot Potato Dynamite: Once a player "draws!" for dynamite, and it does not blow up, he may throw the dynamite at any other player of his choice (besides the player he passed the dynamite to him). That player must "draw!" for dynamite on his next turn. 3/5.
  8. Barrel Protects Some from Dynamite: If Dynamite explodes on player with a Barrel, he can "draw!" If "draw!" is successful, player loses 1 or 2 life points instead, but Barrel is destroyed. 4/5.
  9. Dynamite Blows up Hideout: Dynamite can be played as a brown card to remove a Hideout in play. 3/5.
  10. Stacking Dynamite: 2 Dynamite can be in play at the same time. Having 2 in front of a player does not force 1 to be discarded. 1/5.
Event Cards.
  1. Predictable Event Cards: All event cards are flipped face up at the beginning of the game in order, so that players can plan ahead for the upcoming round scenarios. 4/5.
Player Elimination.
  1. Early Game Player Elimination Penalty: A player who kills another player that has not yet had a turn in BANG! loses all his cards. 4/5.
  2. Early Game Grace Period #1: Until the third round, players may drop to 1 life point, but cannot be eliminated. 2/5.
  3. Early Game Grace Period #2: Until a player has a turn, he may play any card as a Missed! once. 4/5.
  4. Jail Grace Period: To help players survive the first round, no player is allowed to be placed in Jail until he has had at least one turn. 3/5.
Distance Modifiers.
  1. Vulnerable Mustangs: Mustangs can be shot at and killed. However, once dead, their carcass can be used as a Barrel. Makes distance modifiers less effective. 2/5.
Gun Mechanics.
  1. Loaded Guns: On their turns, players can reveal a BANG! from their hands and play it in front of them, on top of their guns. This BANG! cannot be played during that turn, but the following round. The "loaded" BANG! does not contribute to the following turn's BANG! limit. 4/5.
  2. Counter Fire: Players can play a second gun card, which allows players to potentially counter the attacks of other players if they are in range. 3/5.
  3. Dual-Wielding Revolvers: Players can have 2 revolvers in front of them (Schofields, Remingtons, and the default Colt .45). They can shoot within their respective ranges once per turn. 3/5.
  4. Shotgun: Players can stack Rev. Carabines and Winchesters to make a Shotgun. This gun has distance 1. A BANG! discharges both guns, so that 2 Missed! must be played to avoid the 2 potential hits. Discarding or stealing 1 of the weapon cards does not steal/destroy both the weapon cards, but only dismantles the shotgun. 3/5.
  5. Weapon Melee Attack: You may discard a weapon card from in hand or in play in front of you to do a distance 1 melee attack (the equivalent of a punch). 4/5.
Role Gameplay.
  1. Secondary Victory Conditions for Renegade: Each game the Renegade gains a random victory condition, which allows him to win BANG! if accomplished.
  2. Renegade(s) Can Become Sheriff: If a Renegade kills the Sheriff before finishing off all other players, he becomes the new Sheriff. Deputies in play become new Renegades. Since I created this variant, I won’t rate it.
  3. Deputy Can Become Sheriff: If a Deputy kills the Sheriff, then he becomes the next Sheriff and gains a life point and ups his max life point limit by 1. This is meant as a last ditch effort for the law when the Sheriff's life points are low and the Deputy has more life points. The Sheriff will not "lose" if the Deputy-turned-Sheriff fends off the rest. It also gives the Deputy some variety to his character. 3.5/5.
  4. Deputy/Renegade Gets Card Bonus for Eliminating One Another: For 5-6 player games. As the Deputy and Renegade are one another's nemeses, if one kills the other they may reveal their role (the proof) and draw 3 cards. 2/5.
  5. Renegade Boost once Revealed: Once all outlaws and deputies are dead the known renegade gains 1 life point and his maximum health goes up by as 1 as well. This puts him on even ground with the Sheriff for the 2-player showdown. 4/5.
  6. New Victory Conditions: The Renegade only needs to kill the Sheriff and Outlaws without being killed. The Outlaws have to kill the Sheriff and the Renegade. If the Sheriff is killed, all Deputies and exposed and removed from the game. 2.5/5.
Speeding up Gameplay.
  1. Quicker BANG! 1: Play only with 3 life point characters. If you use Dodge City, this gives you 7 characters; The Bullet, 8 characters; with Wild West Show, 9. Or make all 4 life point characters have 3 life points and only play with them. 3.5/5.
  2. Quicker BANG! 2: Beer and/or Missed! are not reshuffled into the deck. They are placed in a separate discard pile and cannot be reused. 1.5/5.
  3. Quicker BANG! 3: Players can shoot as many players as they want per turn (given distance constraints), but they can only fire 1 BANG! at each player per turn. 3.5/5.
  4. Quicker BANG! 4: After the deck is reshuffled the first time, all Beer becomes BANG!. Tequila Joe can still play a Beer to regain 1 life point. 2.5/5.
  5. Add in High Noon, A Fistful of Cards, or Wild West Show: These event card decks not only add fun to BANG! (although more randomness), but speed up the game. 3/5.


  1. About BANG! Dead Reckonin':
    A very simple variant is "Ghost Town" (High Noon) always active or simply you can continue play without life points so you normally draw 2 cards (3 with Gost Town).

  2. This is an interesting variant, but it seems to give dead players a lot more power than they deserve. The Outlaws appear to have an incredible advantage.

  3. Right!
    Well... maybe Cards of Diamonds (or something else) played by Ghosts do not affect the Sheriff!

    Anyway drawing 2 cards are of little use...

    I'll try!

  4. After several playtests this is the final version:
    the eliminated players return in play as ghosts in their turn but with some limitations: they have no skills, drow only two cards and the sheriff is immune to their diamonds cards (this to prevent the outlaws to be too strong, and benefit the deputies). These limitations are removed by the "Ghost Town".

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  8. Hi.

    Congratulations for this blog (lot's of new ideas for variet the game). I play BANG! over the year now, but didn't look for anything on the web just focus at basic rules with a little modifications which I didn't found here:

    1. we not reveal our character to the end of the game with one exception if Sceriffo kills a player and he was an Vice then of course - he reveals it and Sheriff discard all his cards

    2. because we don't know if we kill Outlaw or not, so we gain 3 cards for killing any player (of course except Sheriff kills Vice)


  9. I have a new variant that my college buddies and I created. Do you mind if I send it to you via email? It's quite long.

  10. I disagree with your saying that 2-character BANG! is unbalanced. Despite having to outlaw certain combinations (such as the infamous Chuck-Sid that lets you hold the whole deck)it makes the game even mor fun than it already is. The group I play with likes to take it to a much higher level than this, playing the surprisingly fun 5-character(simultaneously!) variant, with a person having 1 turn and 5 character-abilities. We use a The Bullet deck and The Bullet + Wild West Show characters with or without High Noon/Fistful/Wild West Show round modifiers. There are some pretty insane forbidden combos too (Lucky Teren, Willy Suzy Calamity, Molly Elena, etc.). Personally I would suggest this variant to anyone who can keep track of the insane fast-pacedness of it. Finally, it is not unbalanced if illegal combinations are upheld as everyone else has just as many good combos, as EVERYONE has 5 characters. It ends up in practice being pretty equal. But if you or a friend forgets they have a certain character for an instance where their ability would come into effect, you must either remind them or impose and enfoce the 2.6 second no-retractions rule: after 2.6 seconds, a card cannot be un-played and a character ability cannot be activated late. Enjoy. And feel free to add in your own expansion choices!

    1. I often play Super Bang! as a 3 player free-for-all. We play in what I like to call "Draft Mode." Each player selects (in turn order) a character from a pool of 12. Then, in reverse turn order, each player selects another character.

      Players must balance whether to block other players from setting up devastating combos or form their own.

      My fellow players and I have debated whether this mechanic should negate the need for bans on overpowered combos. Ultimately, we decidedly only to ban combos that broke the game, such as Chuck/Sid and Suzy/Elena.

  11. As to this modified rule -
    Less Devastating Dynamite: When dynamite explodes, a player may discard 2/4/6 cards from his hand (or in play in front of him, excluding Prison) to avoid 1/2/3 lost life points. 3/5.

    I would venture mitigation should not allowed for the full 3 points.
    I would also switch the card mitigation a little...2 cards for the 1st life...1 for the second. You could leave the barrel option to mitigate the last point.

    I like the idea that you could remove a Hide out...but since the first time i played i felt it should be able to be used to jail break as well.
    Possibly some thing like Removes jail card and causes 2 damage to prisoner...draw a spade OR drop a card to mitigate upto one point of damage.

    Of course i have not play tested anyof this...lol

    just my 2 cents

  12. I tried playing with the Bang Card Game and it was very entertaining.

  13. Hello, I devise new rules for BANG! for 2-4 players. I want to share it with other players. What I must do? :)

  14. My English is not good so please understand If I make mistake.
    well It was good blog. I very enjoyed to read.

    I have simple variant,
    I use Two Blank cards(from Bang! the Bullet) in Play.
    both of card has no effects. but it is funny sometimes.

  15. We've been playing a while with my friends now and we all agree Suzy Lafayette is a broken bitch in game. So we modified his ability so she just can use it once per turn (if she run out of cards outside her turn, she takes a card as well). I think that makes the game MUCH more balanced.

  16. Hi, I like a lot of the options on the site, but I wanted to share my own Renegade variant. I think it is a bit simpler than some of the options suggested, and adds some layers to the strategy without changing it too much.

    -The Renegade wins if the Sheriff is killed after all Outlaws have been killed, even if Deputies remain.
    -The Sheriff discards all of his cards any time a Deputy is killed, regardless of who killed him.

    This relieves the Renegade of the difficult job of killing all of the Deputies, which is hard to do because nobody else really targets the deputies except to get at the Sheriff. However, I wanted to add some incentive to take out a Deputy, if they were vulnerable, as a good way to take out a Sheriff who is "bunkered down" with a bunch of cards in play and in hand.

  17. Here's a fun variation for the dynamite! The dynamite is played in front of an opponent and can be shoot with a bang! The player who has the dynamite, draws, if it comes out 2-9 of spades dynamite explodes, otherwise it is given to the player on his left. If anyone shoot the dynamite, the player who has a dynamite front of him, in his turn, extract as usual.

  18. Recently i've thought about such house rule - sheriff does not reveal himself at the beginning of the game. Instead - each player look on his role and a role of any player (but only one). It that manner each player should know only 2 roles totally. Many players can look on role of the same player. What do you think about this?

  19. If El Gringo starts the duel and ends up losing it can he still take a card from the persons hand that he dueled?