Aka: Blaze!, Nimrod, Oblivion, Stealth.
Website: http://www.midexmusic.alivewww.co.uk/midex/acts/bang/index.htm

Composed of two artists, Nick Arnold and Jo James, Bang! created a number of happy hardcore anthems back in their day. Their most notable tracks include Shooting Star, Break of Dawn, and perhaps to a lesser extent, Sailaway and Cloudy Daze.

With Jo doing the vocals for the duo, and Nick producing, they had a winning combination in the early 90s with their cheesy hardcore hits.

Bang! hasn't had much going for them as of late, but their legacy is still held strong today with the help of artists remixing their old tracks. They've also announced a new Bang! album, but who's to say where that'll go?

A card game (non-collectable) by Emilio Sciarra, published by daVinci Games, a small Italian game producer, but distributed all over Europe. The game is available in two editions, one Italian/English and one German/Dutch.In 2002, it won the title of "best Italian game of the year".

4-7 players take the roles of Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw and Renegade in a small western town, but only the Sheriff reveals his role in the beginning of the game. Additionally, every player takes the role of a character with special abilities. The Sheriff has to keep the order in the town, i.e. the Outlaws out, they want to kill the sheriff, the deputies want to protect the sheriff, and the renegade wants to be the next sheriff (i.e. survive to the end with only himself and the sheriff alive, and then shoot the sheriff).

A player's turn is divided into 3 phases:

  • Draw 2 cards

  • Play any number of cards

  • Discard cards exceeding the hand limit

The players can shoot each other, drink beer to gain back lost health, send each other to prison, throw a stick of dynamite into the game (i.e. the hot potato: "Round and round this stick must go, but where it goes boom, nobody knows"), hide behind barrels, get attacked by indians!, go shopping, receive deliveries from Wells Fargo and use equipment such as horses and special guns. Bullets are flying all the time, and the mystery of having to find out who is who just adds to the exitement. The characters can only shoot at other players if they are in range, with range being handled by the seating of the players, and special cards or abilities.

All of this might sound a bit complicated but is, in fact, quite easy and intuitive. One game can take about 20-40 minutes of game time, and is usually a lot of fun, so much so, that it has usurped the prime spot on my regular games night from other classics like Cosmic Encounter, Dalmuti and Taroque.

There are two expansions, High Noon and Dodge City, with High Noon adding special global effects every turn, and Dodge City adds new card types, characters and a second renegade.

Webpage: http://www.davincigames.com/

Growing up, frankly, cowboys were crap. Rhinestone-clad Republicans in family 50s movies in silly hats or urban gay men in tight jeans posing as men living off the land.

Then I later discovered Unforgiven, and then other spaghetti western films, and I was hooked. Done right, it was even grimmer and more violent and nihilistic than the urban punk world that spawned The Crow, with the added bonus of the fact that that kind of thing really did happen. I ended up when I was in Wyoming and South Dakota truly grooving on the Badlands, cheroot stuck between my lips.

So when a group of friends pulled out some cards and suggested I learn this addictive card game called Bang!, I initially declined. I'd seen people do these collectible card games. A game with a sufficient number of cards is indistinguishable from Magic, (or Pokemon, or Yu-Gi-Oh, so suchlike).

Turns out that no, you work from a defined deck, or from a specific deck plus one or more expansion sets (e.g. the entire accessory deck in one) or, the ne plus ultra, the whole collection in a tin bullet called Bang! The Bullet.

The mechanics of the game and its origin are described in the above writeup. A Bang! card represents a shot fired at another player (who must be either sitting next to you or reachable by a gun, a card with a number on it representing how many people away from you you can reach). Shots are modified by horses (which bring you closer or further away), a barrel (which, when you're shot at, you draw a card- if it's a "heart", he misses), or the cliches of a Sombrero (which takes the bullet instead of you), Bible next to the heart, or iron plate. Shots can also be negated by a Missed! card or a Dodge card. Bang! and Missed! make up the majority of cards.

Bang!s must also be played by all players when someone throws down an "Indians" card (which represents a Native American ambush), and if unavailable, the unlucky player takes a "hit". A player with a large number of Bang! cards may use "Duel" in which he picks any player, and they discard Bang! cards in turn until one runs out. The first one to run out of cards is "hit". Or, at least, the first one to not throw one down.... keeping a shot or two in reserve....

Beer and Tequila cards revive the player (returning a bullet). The Saloon card heals EVERYONE by one bullet. Occasionally someone will pull Wells Fargo, which grants him three cards. Or the General Store, in which a number of cards equal to the number of players is put on the table and each one in turn pick the card up adding it to his own collection.

Character cards at the beginning (you can pick one of three you're dealt and play that person) determine special powers you might have - one can hold ten cards (otherwise, you're limited at the end of a turn to the number of bullets, or "hit points" you have left - as a character is more and more wounded, he or she cannot hold on to potentially life saving cards...) You are also dealt a role card, identifying you as an Outlaw (who must kill the Sheriff), a Deputy (who must protect the Sheriff), the Sheriff (who must kill the Outlaws and Renegades) or the Renegade (who must kill everyone else BEFORE the Sheriff, then the Sheriff.) The person with the Sheriff card shows it, and everyone knows his or her role. The other players' roles are unknown until they are killed (at which point they turn over the role card).

This leads to some interesting and complex strategy. If the Sheriff dies, the Deputies lose. If there are other people alive, the Renegades lose. If the Sheriff kills the Deputy, he forfeits all his cards, usually at a time when wounds are a-plenty. If the Sheriff dies, the Outlaws win. So you're not sure if the guy shooting the guy trying to kill the Sheriff is a Deputy (to protect him) or a Renegade (to keep him alive until the end), until enough people are dead that it is impossible for the person to be one or the other.

A few ready made personalities, some simple game mechanics, and some interesting strategy choices make for a quick and entertaining game. You can't help but get into some kind of character, and the mystery of who has what role leads to some entertaining guesses, and some spectacular failures. Plus, if you buy the decks other than in the Bullet collection, the cards are in Italian and English. I mean, how cool is that?

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