Bang! is an Italian card game that pits 4+ players against each other in a good ol' spaghetti-Western shootout. Each player has an agenda (varying versions of "stay alive" for the most part), and takes turns in shooting people around the table, drinking beer, calling the Indians in for some scalping and generally being western as fuck.
Each player has a character with a special passive ability and a secret role, apart from the Sheriff, who has a bright silver badge that he must proudly present for all the other players to shoot after. The rest are either Deputies (protect the Sheriff and kill all other players), Outlaws (Kill the Sheriff) or Renegades (be the last player standing). The result is something halfway between Mafia and an actual card game.
The game isn't particularly balanced and sort of low on practicality, but is still a fairly fun party game that gets better as more players join in. In addition, the game has a thick feel of Wild West, which makes it all the better; the game comes in a fukken aluminum bullet for christ sake!
The players sit around a table (obviously, but actually necessary so worth pointing out) and are given a character at random, plus a character card bottom up, which counts their health (usually four, sometimes three, 1+ for the Sheriff), and then their Role. All players, except the Sheriff, keeps this hidden until they die.
Each turn, the player draws two cards and takes them into their hand, and from there on, the game is on. There's a wealth of cards in the game and many of them do a wealth of different things, such as letting you draw cards for yourself, for others, steal from others, confiscate equipment, do random damage or even blow yourself up! You can play any number of cards during your turn, with some exceptions: Blue cards are placed in front of you as equipment, and you can only have one of each. (Make sure the dipshit who wants to have three Mustangs and two Barrels reads this. I swear I'm going to kill you if you bring it up again, Greg.)
The exception you need to remember the most is also about the most important card: The Bang! Playing a Bang! card allows you to remove health from a player within your reach. Here's where the table becomes important, as range is counted as how many people there are between you and your target. People besides you are always within Range 1, but the players beside them are Range 2 and so forth. Starting out, you only have a shitty little Cal. 30 Revolver with a Range of 1, so this becomes important later. In return, players can throw down Missed! cards to dodge the shot and take no damage, among many other things. There's also the Gatling card, which is functionally a Bang! card that hits everyone else at the table, regardless of the player's reach.
Equipment ranges from weapons with better ranges and defensive items such as Barrels or Mustangs, which increases your own viewing range for others, to "Go to Jail" cards, dynamites and the almighty Volcanic Revolver - Why shoot once when you can shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot?
The game ends when the Sheriff is killed or all the Outlaws and the Renegade are, the surviving players either win or lose dependent on their role in the game. If the Renegade is not the only survivor, the Outlaws win. If the Renegade and one or more Deputies remain when the Sheriff dies - the Outlaws win by default, even if they are all dead! This dovetails with an interesting design problem: the creators tried to replicate that backstabbing-pricks feel for the outlaws by letting any player who kills one draw free cards, hoping this would be enough to encourage them to get rid of each other. But in practice, doing so also makes them less likely to actually win the game, so it doesn't happen often.
You can find a complete copy of the rules here.
The same editor made a version of Bang! set in feudal Japan. Basically, Bang! for weebs. Of course, they had to name it "Katana". Not to confuse with another card game about samurais called "Katana" and self-published by Tracy Alan.
The rules are roughly the same, with names changed to fit the settings:
- The Sheriff is called "Shogun", and he is defended by "Samurais" instead of Deputies ;
- Instead of Outlaws, now its "Ninjas" who are after the Shogun
nevermind that in reality, the ninjas were far more devoted to their lord than the samurais, who were not above betrayal to follow their own agenda*SWISH* The samurais had honor!
- And instead of the Renegade, you have a Ronin, the
Murderhobolone-wolf type who's basically a team on his own. Distribution rules try to have him in as many situations as possible, which can throw off game balance (see below);
- Instead of Outlaws, now its "Ninjas" who are after the Shogun
- The weapons are no longer in blue cards, but replace the "Bang!" cards, so each one has its own damages and values. It also implies that the characters break their weapons every time they fight with them (very representative of the durability of real-life katanas)
- You're also no longer limited to the amount of each blue cards you have. Yes, you can wear several suits of armours, which would make you look basically like a japanese Centurion (or you could think it as each card representing a different part, but that's far less funny).
- The character cards have also been changed, to (almost) historical figures of feudal Japan, each with his/her own abilites. Can reach funny levels, when you have famous ninjas playing loyal samurais, and vice-versa.
- Also, the Dynamite has been replaced by the Bushido Code, for little sense it makes, with a much more complicated "if/otherwise/then" text.
Yet, there are several rule changes, which make games last longer than Bang!, while being dumber and more violent. Because, see, people thought it would be cool to add a respawn system. While Bang! was a game about tension and reflexion, in which you have to watch for yourself and others, Katana is just a gigantic fuckfest with everyone stabbing each other with katanas, knives and shurikens (almost like what happens when you leave several weebs in the same room for too long).
In Katana, next to health points, you have Honor points, which count as lives. When you get down, you give one of your honor points to the player who downed you. On your next turn, you get up again, with full health. And instead of additional HP, the Shogun receives more Honor points at the beginning.
Then, the game ends when one player loses his last honor point. The winning team is the one with the most honor points, with some score multipliers applied to some roles, to balance out the number of members in each team.
It brings some interesting mechanics, like a Samurai may have interest in downing his own Shogun: the honor point stays in the Shogun/Samurai team, and once the Shogun is down, nobody else can attack him. In some configurations, the Samurai even has a higher score multiplier than the Shogun, so his team actually gets points for infighting.
- You may even get the favors of the Ninja team, which would think of you as one of them.
- Of course, you'd have to mind your own team then, as they may lack your insightfullness.
Now, remember that Ronin asshole? He'll win at least half the games. Yes, he's alone on his team, which means that a) he'll always have the strongest score multiplier (for balance purpose), and b) he is sure to never hit an ally. The Ronin is basically a Murderhobo. While the other players will bicker to see who's on their team, the Ronin will carve himself a bloody path across the table, Yojimbo-style, and prey on the lowest HP characters for easy honor points, which will score big because of his huge mutliplier.
Anyway, the Katana variant is still fun to play. If you already played Bang!, you won't feel too much estranged. And surprisingly, it's not so much of a weeb game, since it's focused on Kurosawa movies and japanese history (you know, real japanese culture).
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