Anyone who has watched half of our reviews knows there is one mechanic that Sean and I both look down upon greatly; a mechanic that, though often despised, is shockingly prominent in many games. There are very few games I can say I genuinely enjoy that feature this mechanic and yet I find myself often playing these games thinking I can out play the mechanic.
Player Elimination. I have played a fair amount of games with player elimination and honestly if you ask a casual gamer (one not familiar with the extended hobby) what their favorite games are chances are they will name at least one game featuring the player elimination mechanic. Monopoly, Risk, Axis and Allies, Mafia/Werewolf; all games that my non-hobby gamer friends are familiar with and often enjoy.
Confession: I do enjoy some games with player elimination; the pre-mentioned Axis and Allies being on that short list. But off all the Player Elimination games I enjoy one is my favorite; BANG! I’m an old school BANG! player (remember the days before BANG! the bullet? I do) and I have played enough BANG! to see on more than one occasion a player get eliminated before they had a turn. I’m the guy who says; hey lets give them a new character and let them play, to which everyone else says no. Admittedly doing so would make all the previous actions that eliminated that player pointless outside of revealing the surviving player’s affiliations and I agree they shouldn’t be allowed to rejoin but I then spend the entire game feeling bad for the one friend sitting in the corner watching us have fun.
I was thus ecstatic when I learned BANG!: The Dice Game was in the works. All the fun of BANG! in a short time period?! Meaning the eliminated players don’t have to wait for ever for the next game; could this solve all my player elimination woes?!
The short answer… kind of? Having picked up the game and played it a few times now I can honestly say the game is good and quick. It manages to carry a fair amount of the card game feeling along with the dice.
The Game: The game comes with five dice; all mirror copies of each other featuring an arrow, a mug, a stick of dynamite, range 1, range 2 and a tri shot symbol (gatling). Each side carries the representation of an original game mechanic though modified to fit the new medium. BANG! purists may have some problems with the alterations but as a game player, reviewer and wanna-be game designer I understood and mostly agreed with the modifications. On each player’s turn they roll the five dice; enact any immediate results (arrows/dynamite) then choose any dice the would like to reroll and do so up to a total of two times (three total rolls); note: on the second (final) re-roll you can re-roll any dice you choose not to roll on your first reroll. (note if you want a more in depth explanation of how the game works; the rules in full are available on the designer’s website)
Rubric: As you likely know; we at Gamer’s Remorse use a rubric to review games (in a future post I will explain my personal rubric in more detail). The following is how my personal rubric applies to BANG!: The Dice Game
Visuals (0-2): 1.5 – The visuals in the game are decent; they are slightly modified from the original and honestly I liked some of the original artwork better. The die are clearly cut so you know what you are looking at without needed to guess. The cards for roles and characters are clear as well.; I just wish they would have kept all the same art from the original game.
Skill/Luck (0-1): .5 – The game is very luck based on the rolls but the slight addition of being able to reroll previously saved die/dice on the final reroll adds a fun aspect of late turn skill. There is also a slight skill element in choosing who you shoot when; if/when the option reveals itself.
Pacing (0-2): 1.5 – The game is fast; but I would almost say too fast; your turn comes and goes so fast sometimes (opening roll of 3 dynamite) that you often feel as the game may be playing you and you are not playing the game. as a whole; however, those turns are few and far between so they don’t ruin the game.
Theme/Immersion (0-2): 1.25 – I don’t feel like I am an outlaw or sheriff shooting renegades; but rather I feel I am rolling dice and crossing my fingers in hopes that I get a good roll. However, that mechanic works so I don’t mind the lack of immersion as I often would. I prefer theme over no theme and the original BANG! scratches that itch much better; this will still do a bit to satiate the desire to step into the Wild West for a while.
Mechanics (0-1): .75 – I enjoy rolling dice; I would argue most people do; and if you supported The Dice Tower’s recent kickstarter and got a nice shiney new dice tower this will give you a great reason to break it out. The way the dice resolved worked interestingly and enjoyably. The only mechanic/rule I didn’t enjoy was that upon rolling 3 dynamite your turn ended and as previously mentioned that could occur on one’s first roll and a few characters abilities didn’t seem to adapt as well to the dice as others.
Fun (0-2): 1.5 – The game was enjoyable but not the kind of game I would invite people over to play but rather a game I would pull out while awaiting other players to arrive or perchance with a handful of players while awaiting a game we were previously eliminated from to end. I feel the game could be more fun if the dynamite exploded; you took your damage but still had two dice to roll if you so desired.
Final Score 7/10
All-in-all 7 out of 10 is not a bad score, matter of fact its a pretty good one and it is about what I was expecting when I picked up the game so I was not disappointed by any means and I look forward to playing this with varying numbers of players. I have yet to try it with a full set of 8 gunman but I greatly look forward to that day!
All that being said, however, if you don’t like BANG! you probably won’t like BANG! The Dice Game. I know in the initial group I played in I probably liked the game more than any of the other players while in the second group I played it in (the second group all of whom had played the original) one guy loved it, another hated it and the rest were of a “meh” status. Like most player elimination games this game succombs to the first play experiance; if you’re first game you get eliminated early; chances are you won’t like it while if you when you will think it is a gem and forever want to play again in hopes of again feeling that victorious rush of looking down upon the cardboard corpses of your friends….