Bang! Board Game – A western-themed gunfight

“Bang” is a board game where the players will become part of the Old Wild West for a day.

I came across “Bang” in the 2009 summer when I was an educator at the Church’s Summer Camp. At the end of the day, it was very common for the educators to get together and play some board games, “Bang” being one of them. I kind of forgot about its existence since then, until 2017, when my friends gave me the Bullet Edition for my birthday.
That’s when we started to play Bang! very often in our game nights.

The game is very simple: there is the sheriff with his deputies who hunt the outlaws; there are the outlaws who want to kill the sheriff; last but not least, there is the renegade, who plots in secret to be the last person standing.
To reach their objective, each player has a bunch of cards in their hand that will allow them to shoot another person, defend himself from shooting, and a lot of other actions.

Let’s shoot right in and see how the main game works.


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Game Components

These are the components of the fourth edition of the main game:

  • 7 Role cards: 1 Sheriff, 2 Deputies, 3 Outlaws, 1 renegade
  • 7 Playing boards
  • 16 Character cards (with bullets printed on the back)
  • 80 Playing cards
  • 7 Summary cards (to help you with the card’s symbols)
  • 30 Bullets (which are the life points in this game)
Bang board game components

How To Play

This is a game of gunfights and deception.

First of all, each player picks a face-down role card which defines his/her role in the game: Sheriff, Deputies, Outlaws and Renegade.
The outlaws will try to play as deputies to deceive the sheriff, while the renegade will play, at first, against the outlaws, then, as the game progresses, he will start aiming for deputies and the sheriff.

Of course, besides the sheriff, every role has to be kept secret until your death.

All the players will now receive one character card, which has a unique ability, and a bunch of playing cards depending on how many life points (bullets) that character has.

Now the game can finally begin!

Each player’s turn is divided into three phases: 

  1. Draw two cards;
  2. Play any number of cards;
  3. Discard excess cards.

Each card has its own rules, which you can see written on the card itself. This makes it very easy to start the game since the basic rules are simple, and you can read what a card does during the game.

The game ends if:

  • The sheriff is killed -> the outlaws win, unless the renegade is the only one alive, in that case it’s a renegade’s win.
  • All the outlaws and the renegade are killed -> the sheriff and his deputies win.

As you can see, the basic rules of the game are very simple. What will take a little more time will be learning what each card does, but that will become easier and easier the more you play the game.

Cards Examples

Here I will list some of my favourite cards and characters to use in Bang! so that you can get a better idea of the mechanics of the game.

Bang! game - Dynamite card. It's a blue-bordered card.

Dynamite

This is definitely the most fun card to play in Bang! Every time somebody has it, we immediately put it into play because it adds so much tension to the game. Basically, you play it on yourself, and then you pray it won’t explode when you have it!

How does it work?

You have to play it in front of you. On your next turn, first thing you’ll have to draw a card: if it is of Spades and it has a number between 2 and 9, the Dynamite explodes and you lose 3 life points. Otherwise, you’ll have to pass it to the player on your left. The dynamite will pass from player to player until it explodes.

You can discard the dynamite through cards like Panic! and Cat Balou, but where’s the fun in that?

General Store

Who doesn’t like to have more cards in their hand? General Store allows each player to add one card to their hand, and it does it in an interesting way.

How does it work?

When you play it, you have to turn as many cards from the deck face up as the number of players still alive. Starting with you and proceeding clockwise, each player chooses one of those cards to add to their hand.

Here you can play with strategy: you can either choose a card that you want, or you can pick a card that you know another player needs.

Bang! game - General Store card. It's a brown bordered card.
Bang! game - Indians card. It's a brown bordered card.

Indians!

You are tired of other players having a lot of Bang! cards? This is a smart way to make other players discard them, because it’s either that or they lose a life point.

How does it work?

When you play Indians!, starting from your left and going clockwise, each player will have to discard a Bang! card, otherwise they’ll lose a point.
You’ll be wondering: what if a player doesn’t have a Bang! card? Too bad! They’ll lose a life point automatically! See how this is a fun card?

Beware though, if you are the Vice, you don’t want to accidentally kill the Sheriff!


Uncle Will character card

Uncle Will

This is a special character that comes with The Bullet! version of the game. Being General Store one of my favourite cards, I couldn’t not include Uncle Will in here. His special ability allows you, once every turn, to play any card from your hand as a General Store.
It’s definitely one of the most useful effects out there. Everyone likes more cards!

Calamity Janet character card

Calamity Janet

Whenever I can choose which character to be, I always choose her. Her special ability allows you to play Bang! cards as Missed! and vice versa. It is one of the most powerful abilities in the main game.

Willy the Kid character card

Willy the Kid

Being that each turn you are allowed to play only one Bang! card (except if you have the Volcanic gun), you can see why this is a great character. His special ability allows you to play as many Bang! cards as you want.

Conclusion

The first Bang! match you’ll play will make it look like kind of a long game to play, but that’s because you’ll have to learn the mechanism of the game, the best strategies to win, and how each card works. The more you’ll play, the faster and more fun each match will become.
Usually, the average length of a match varies between 20 to 40 minutes, depending on how many players there are (3 to 7 players, 8 if you have the Dodge City expansion).

The dynamic of the game is very intuitive and fast as well, and it will be easy to understand how to best use each card since the instructions are easy to understand.

Beware, it’s a “friendship breaker” type of game: be prepared to “shoot” your best friend, or to be betrayed by those you trust the most.
Personally, I love the Renegade because I love those roles where you have to deceive the others into thinking you have one kind of role, and then you turn out to be the bad guy. However, it’s also the most difficult role to win with, so you’ll have to play your cards right (see what I did there? Ahah now I’ll go hide).

Overall, “Bang” is a board game that requires some thinking, but not too much. Therefore, if you like games with a lot of thinking, this is probably not the best game for you.
Each turn has to be kind of fast, not because the rules say so, but because if you take a long turn, the other players will start to become bored and you’ll lose quickly the fun of this game. So the best matches you’ll play of Bang! will probably be the ones you play with people that already know this game.

Over the years, because of the game’s success, they published 7 expansions and a dice version of the game.
Bang! has a good replay value, even more so with the expansions added to the main game. Of course, there are some expansions that are better than others, so we made a list of them.
You can read about all the available expansions in our article Bang Expansions – More Cards for More Gunfights; you’ll find a quick overview of each one of them to help you choose the best expansion for you.

Enough with the chatter now, what are you waiting for? Find some friends, bring out the guns, and become part of the Old Wild West with “Bang”, the wildest board game in the wilderness!


BANG!
4 – 7 Players | 20 – 40 Minutes | Age 8+


The Bullet – Deluxe Edition is a great Bang! edition to buy because at a great price you’ll have the base game and three expansions, which add new cards and mechanics: Dodge City, For A Fistful of Cards, High Noon.

Plus: there is a Sheriff Badge included!