Wild Card Thursday – Bang! The Dice Game

Bang DiceWe looked at Bang! last Thursday and as a Wild Card Thursday follow up we will now be looking at Bang! The Dice Game… A Year later. What’s that? You ask; a year later? About a year ago I did a review of Bang! The Dice Game. The review was done quickly and looked almost entirely as the rubric; after talking with some of you fine folks on social media I have decided it is time to revisit the dice adaption of a card classic.

Released 2013
Designer: Michael Palm and Lukas Zach
Plays: 3-8
EPT: 15 minutes

In this follow up to the 2002 hit players once again adapt the personas of lead slinging, bullet dodging, wild westerners. Players begin the game by establishing a role deck as outlined in the rules; the deck is shuffled and the roles dealt to the players. Each role has a varied end condition that mirrors that player’s end condition in Bang! with the sheriff eliminating the outlaws and renegades), the deputies aiding the sheriff, the outlaws attempting to kill the sheriff, and the renegade(s) desiring to be the last character in play.

While Bang! uses cards and hand management as the prime mechanics the dice rendition uses dice rolling. The game comes with 5 dice; each of the 6 faces with a different symbol; an arrow, a dynamite, a range 1, a range 2, a mug of beer, and a gatling. The symbols are very reminiscent of the themes of Bang! and act very similarly. Before players can take up the dice, however, they are dealt a character from the 16 available, my group deals 2 from which you can pick one, then announces their character’s name, ability, and starting health. Each player is given bullets equal to their starting health, except for the sheriff who receives an extra 2 bullets.

The additional character cards are set aside and the arrow tokens placed in the center of the play area and play is ready to begin. As with Bang! the sheriff acts first; in the dice game the active player takes the five dice and rolls them all at once; the player may then set aside any dice they would like to keep while re-rolling the rest of the dice, or they can re-roll all of the dice keeping none; with the exception to this rule being dynamite which can never be re-rolled. After each roll if any of the die came up with an arrow before the re-roll the player must take one arrow token from the center pile for each arrow revealed; these dice can then be re-rolled after the arrows have been taken. If taking an arrow from the center pile empties the pile the Indians attack and all players lose life equal to the number of arrow tokens they have in front of them; then return all arrow tokens to the center of the play area. A player has 2 re-rolls per round; and after the first re-roll they can include previously set aside dice in their second re-roll.

When a player is content with their dice, they have used 2 re-rolls on their turn, or they have rolled 3 dynamite they end their rolling phase and move onto the dice resolution phase. On the resolution phase the remaining dice; other than arrows must be resolved. If they have 3 dynamite the player loses 1 life point before resolving their other dice. Range 1 dice are used to shoot an adjacent player, range 2 dice shoot a player exactly 2 spaces away. All shooting dice are resolved simultaneously and thus you cannot use a range 1 die to eliminate a player so as to shoot a player who would be 3 spaces away. Beer die return 1 life point to any player at the choice of the player who rolled the die; the player can choose any player including themselves, but if choosing a player already at the hit point maximum no life is gained. Finally the gatling die only resolves if you have rolled 3 gatlings; activating this die deals 1 damage to all other players as well as discards all arrows in front of the active player.

If at any point a player runs out of hit points they are eliminated from the game and the distance between players is recalculated to accommodate the missing player. The game ends when the sheriff is eliminated or when all outlaws and the renegade(s) are eliminated.

I first played Bang! The Dice Game with two players who had never played Bang! before as well as another player who had played Bang! but hates player elimination. Some of the experience was thus one I enjoyed but the other players seemed a tad less thrilled. Having played the game a few more times since with other players has slightly altered my view of the game as I grew more experienced with it.

The game’s use of the dice is not novel; dice rolling games such as this have followed the Yahtzee; roll, reserve, repeat mechanic for ages. What I love about Bang! The Dice Game, however, is that it permits the re-roll of previously set aside dice where most games lock all dice set aside. The dice faces having different actions is equally intriguing as the dynamite auto locks, while arrows activate; but can then be re-rolled, while the remaining dice don’t activate until the end of the turn. The use of the dice like this adds skill to an otherwise luck heavy game.

The game is still more luck dependent than most games I prefer; a player can have a highly unfortunate roll and be forced to shoot an adjacent player while both sides they are bordered by allies. There have been times a sheriff was forced to shoot a deputy. I am personally not a fan either of the range 2 not being able to act as a range 1. I had played once with a house rule in which range 2s could be used as a 1 or 2 and dice could be compounded; a range 2 and a range 1 could be combined into a range 3. I personally liked this as it reduced the luck slightly and thus bettered the luck/skill balance; not all players were as fond of this change, however, so use at your own discretion.

The game’s components, however, are gorgeous. The dice are a very high quality and each face’s colors and shapes work well to illustrate the ability without any difficulties of interpretation. The game paces equally well with eliminated players not having to wait nearly as long as they would in Bang! standard or other games that use the player elimination mechanic.

With a year of additional experience the game now lands as a 6.75 out of 10; slightly lower than it debuted yet still holding its own and a decent quick game for a larger crowd.
Visuals – 1.75 // 2
Skill/Luck – .5 // 1
Pacing – 1.5 // 2
Theme/Immersion – 1 // 2
Mechanics – .5 // 1
Fun Factor 1.5 // 2

Join again tomorrow when we look at a game I enjoy greatly and wish I got to play more; Empire Builder. Until then you can catch us on social media
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