Design by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach
Published by dv Giochi
3 – 8 Players, 15 – 20 minutes
Review by Greg J. Schloesser
I remember first encountering the card game Bang! while attending my very first Spiel in Essen, Germany. The designer was walking the halls telling folks about his game. The Great Dane Mik Svellov was an enthusiastic fan of the game and encouraged me to give it a try. I did, and it was an instant hit. In the ensuing years I’ve played the game dozens and dozens of times. While not without some problems, the game is loads of fun and filled with great Old West atmosphere.
I am actually surprised it took over ten years for a dice game version to be published. The wait is over, but I’m not sure if it was worth it. Bang: The Dice Game uses the same theme and many of the same objectives and rules as the original card game, combining these into a very fast—15 minutes or so—dice rolling affair. It certainly has its place as a fast filler, but gone are many aspects of the original version that made it a hit and so much more appealing than this version.
As with Bang!, each player receives a role and a character. Roles are the same: sheriff, deputy, outlaw and renegade. The outlaws must eliminate the sheriff, while the renegade must kill everyone, saving the sheriff for last. The sheriff and his deputies must eliminate all of the outlaws and the renegade. As with Bang!, it is a ruthless and bloody affair. Only the sheriff reveals his identity; all others must be determined during the course of the game.
Most of the characters are also the same as those in found in Bang! Each one has a special ability that the player can use throughout the game. For example, Willy the Kid can use the Gatling Gun when rolling only two Gatling Gun symbols (as opposed to three), while Vulture Sam gains two life points every time another player is eliminated. There are 16 different characters, which helps provide some variety.
A player’s turn involves rolling the five dice up to three times and then resolving the symbols rolled. Dice may be saved between rolls, but a player may also re-roll them at any time during their turn. Each dice has six symbols:
Arrow. When this is rolled, the player must immediately take an arrow counter from the supply. When the arrow supply is depleted, the Indians attack, inflicting damage on each player equal to the number of arrow counters they possess. The only way to get rid of arrow counters before the Indian assault is to roll three Gatling Gun symbols.
Dynamite. If a player rolls one or more dynamite symbols he cannot re-roll them. If a player rolls three dynamite symbols over the course of his turn, a terrible accident occurs and the player suffers one damage.
Beer. Each beer symbol rolled allows the player to recover from one wound. Ahh, the magical properties of beer!
Gatling Gun. Rolling three of these symbols allows the player to inflict one point of damage on every opponent, plus return any arrow counters in his possession.
Bulls Eye (1 or 2 distance). The player may inflict a point of damage on an opponent seated the appropriate number of seats from him. For example, if Paul rolls a “1”, he may shoot an opponent seated to his immediate right or left. If he rolled a “2”, he may shoot an opponent seated two places to his left or right.
Each player has a set number of hit points, which are tracked by bullet counters. Each time a wound is suffered, the player returns a bullet token. When all of his tokens are depleted, the character succumbs to the onslaught and is out of the game.
The game concludes when the sheriff is eliminated, in which case the renegade wins if he is the sole survivor. Otherwise, the outlaws are victorious and take control of the town. Alternatively, the game can end when all of the outlaws and renegade are dispatched, in which case the sheriff and his deputies rule the day.
As with most dice games of this nature, the decisions mainly involve which dice to keep and which to re-roll. In some dice games (Roll Through the Ages, for example) these are important and sometimes very tense decisions. Here, the choice seems far less important and far less tense. The game proceeds at a breathtaking pace, so there is little time to be coy or try to discern the identity of one’s opponents. It is a much wilder affair, with folks hitting the dusty streets with guns blazing. So, absent is much of the detective work that is present in the original game.
Also absent is the ability to defend oneself against opponents’ gun shots or rampaging Indians. In Bang!, several cards could be played to fend-off these assaults; there is no such protection here. Every shot hits home and causes damage. It is, indeed, a blood bath. While I wish there were ways in which players could defend themselves, the game is so quick that it isn’t too disturbing.
The game’s sole advantage over its father is that it is quick, playing to completion in 15 minutes or so. The biggest disadvantage is that it simply is not as fun or engaging as the original. The original had so much more flavor, so many more decisions, and so many more nuances. All of that is absent in the dice version. When given the choice, I cannot see any reason why not to play the original versus the dice version.
Thoughts of Other Opinionated Gamers:
Ted Alspach: I despise Bang! the card game with a passion, so I wasn’t particularly excited about trying out the dice game. The original goes on forever (the term “tedious” has tried to distance itself from the game, because it makes “tedious” look bad), and the more players the worse it is. But it so happened that someone had the dice game at a recent gathering, and we played three games, each of which lasted less than 10 minutes. It was fun and engaging (poor Greg has it backwards in his review above); everything the card game isn’t. While I don’t think I’ll get a copy for myself, I can see myself occasionally playing it as a filler and having fun doing so.
4 (Love it!):
3 (Like it): Erik Arneson, Ted Alspach
1 (Not for me): Greg J. Schloesser