John-Michael Gariepy

Bang!: Shoot first, Ask questions, Then shoot again!

[Bang! was my first review for Guilt Free Games, so it seems appropriate for it to be my second post, after the introduction, for my blog.  Don’t worry, I’ve got some new stuff on the dock, you’ll just have to wait a couple days while I finalize it. 

This article also had an embarassing coincidence associated with it.  It was the first article I submitted to Dave and Josh at GFG, and after I had submitted it, I found out that Dave had also written his own review of Bang! and was submitting it that week.  What a lesson to learn about communication, huh?  While I hate the line “Great minds think alike”, I must admit, some concepts just seem to be in the air.  I don’t think I ever played a game of Bang! with Dave, but we were playing it at the time for the Myriad Games podcast.  Did someone happen to mention the game at Myriad and that got him thinking about it?  I don’t know.  I do know that this would not be the first time that Josh, Dave and I would have overlapping ideas for what to submit.  You would think I’d know better by now, but halfway through writing my article on Dungeon Mastering a horror game, Josh submits an article on exactly that. 

All of this turned out fine, though.  I’ve slowly been rewriting my article to be about horror campaigns, instead of a single adventure for Halloween.  It also seems that Dave has a different focus than I do. The two Bang! articles have no overlap, so we just posted them one on top of the other.]

This review was originally posted at

“I insist, Sheriff Buzzard, I’m your new deputy!”

Four men came into town last night and took up lodging at the Hotel Royal. The new deputy was supposed to report for duty today, which should’ve been a big help. The wire this morning reported that a couple of bank robbers took off from Canyon City and were headed in this direction.

“Don’t listen to that varmint, Sheriff. He’s probably one of the Canyon City Outlaws! I’m your deputy, reporting for duty…”

So, there are four men claiming to be my new deputy. One’s telling the truth. Two are outlaws. But, who’s this fourth renegade? What’s his angle?

“Don’t listen to either of them sheriff. You three are under arrest for impersonating an officer…”

Five guns leap out of their holsters and aim. Looks like in order to clean up, it’s gonna get a lot messier.

Bang! is a card game for 4-7 players (or 3-8 with the expansions). At the start of each game players draw a face down card to determine which role they are. The Sheriff reveals himself, but all other player’s roles remain hidden. The Sheriff and the Deputies win if they shoot down the Outlaws and the Renegade. The Outlaws win if the Sheriff is dead, and the Renegade wins if he’s the last man standing. Players take turns drawing cards, playing gear like rifles and barrels to hide behind, and dodging gunfire from misguided players.

The cards are of good stock, with fun, not cartoony, artwork. Since this is a Spaghetti Western, all the cards are written in Italian. Don’t despair, though, the icons on each card explain what they do. And if there’s any real confusion, each card has an English explanation in the rule book (I do feel a little sorry for the Italians, since yelling things like “Panico!” and “Duello!” is probably lost on them).

Bang! is light and fun, and plays as fast as the patience of the play group. Some groups will have long arguments as they determine who the deputy is. Others will start gunning at their opposition, intensifying the speed of play. The game can devolve when two players are left standing (often the Sheriff and the Renegade) since both players are playing whatever is on top of the draw deck each turn. However, this should only take a few minutes before everyone can jump back in and play a new game.

Bang!’s real strength is it’s ability to get people to interact with each other. Its simple plot, yet complex interactions not only get players talking, but often as gunslingers in a poorly dubbed western. It’s got a goofy sort of edge to it that should help turn any standoff into a hoedown.

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