Jul 30, 2014

[Games] Bang! The Bullet!

Bang! is just one of those games that shows how wonderfully diverse the world really is. In this case, the popularity of spaghetti westerns in the world of cinema seemed to support the creation of a Western-themed game by a bunch of Italians. And thus we have this rather clever card game with a strong Western theme and a lot of card text still in Italian.

I had seen Bang! a lot at various tabletop events but had never actually gotten around to playing a game right off the bat. But it was just one of those games that people often talked about and thus it seemed appropriate to eventually get one for our own game collection. And this special set is probably one of the best ways to get into the game in a great way.

Bang! The Bullet! is a special collection of the original Bang! card game that also includes the Dodge City, High Noon, and A Fistful of Cards expansions together with other bonus stuff like a cute little plastic sherif's star. And of course it comes in the rather iconic bullet case that actually does a decent job of holding everything in place despite it's unusual vertical orientation.

Bang! is a rather clever card game for 3-8 players where individuals play different Western roles - the total variety depends on the number of players involved. And the fact that the game can accommodate so many players is definitely one of the best features of the game. Now going back to roles, players will secretly select role characters that will tell them if they're the sheriff, a deputy, an outlaw or the renegade. Only the role of the sheriff is revealed to everyone at the start of the game - everyone else must operate in secret until the game ends or they die.

The rules get tricky in that regard in terms of how to win. Naturally the Sheriff wants to kill all the outlaws and the Renegade in order to win. The Deputy will of course support the Sheriff and share the same victory conditions. The Outlaws just want to kill everyone else. But the Renegade is the worst of them all - he wants to be the very last man standing. And so you can already see that given each of you is hiding your role from the Sheriff, a lot of shenanigans are likely to take place.

There are different cards that have different effects when you play them of course. There's the titular Bang! card, which means you shoot whoever is in range once per turn. A player can deal with the threat by playing a Missed! card in response. And there are other guns that given you greater range or Beer to give you back life. I won't go into the full rules just yet, but you get the idea. And you can play as many cards as you want in a turn and see if you can make it to the end of the game, which is triggered when the sheriff is killed.

One of the most clever aspects of the game is the fact that distance is determined by one's physical location at the game table. The players immediately to your left and your right are considered to be distance 1. And this increases as you go on around the table. So in an 8 player game, the player farthest from you will be distance 4 from your location whether you go clockwise or counter-clockwise around the table. And as the number of players diminish, so too does the distance between all of you, making it easier to kill your competitors.

What makes the game even more distinct is that players will also take a character card in addition to their secret role. These characters will give the player unique abilities such as the power to use more than 1 Bang! card in a turn or perhaps the ability to take the cards of any other player who dies. These little talents go a long way towards defining your combat strategy in the game. And games can last a fair amount of time or can go pretty quickly if you're not careful.

The game features some lovely card art and has a rather distinct feel to things given how most sets I've seen have Italian as the primary language. Thus the Missed! card has a big Mercato! on the top, thus making players learn a little snippets of Italian while playing. To help address this concern though, the developer made sure to come up with his own symbols to describe what the different cards do. So each card tends to rely on symbols to describe the action instead of blocks and blocks of card text. Brilliant design decision right there.

Bang! The Bullet! gives you a lot of play options with the base set and additional expansions that introduce more characters with more special powers and of course more cards to redefine your game experience. Believe me, this is a great purchase and a awesome family game or party game. Thus I'm happy to rate this game as a great 4 odd bits of Italian forever in the game out of a possible 5.

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