The game is played by four to seven players (three to eight players with variants and expansions). Each player takes one of the following roles:
Deputy Sheriff (x1 or x2)
Outlaw (x2 or x3)
Renegade (x1, x2 with expansions)
Each player also receives a unique character card with special abilities and a certain amount of ‘bullets’ (i.e. life-points).
The object of the game is different for every role:
the Outlaws must kill the Sheriff;
the Sheriff and his Deputies must kill the Outlaws and the Renegade(s);
each Renegade’s objective is to be the last character in play. The Renegade(s) must kill all the characters with the sheriff being the last one dead.
Each player is dealt randomly a Character card and a Role card: there is always a Sheriff, two Outlaws and a Renegade, while the other Roles depend on the number of players (for example, with 7 players there will be 1 Sheriff, 2 Deputies, 3 Outlaws and 1 Renegade). The Role cards are given face down to each player. The Sheriff shows his card. With the expansion, it is possible to play with only three players using a Deputy, an Outlaw and a Renegade.
The game is played in turns, in clockwise order. The Sheriff begins. Each player’s turn is divided into three phases.
- Draw two cards
The active player draws the top two cards from the draw pile. He or she must do this at the beginning of his or her turn. As soon as the draw pile is empty, shuffle the discard pile to create a new playing deck.
- Play any number of cards.
Now the player may play to help himself or hurt the other players, trying to eliminate them. He is not forced to play cards during this phase. Any number of cards may be played; there are only two limitations.
Only one BANG! card may be played per turn (unless there is an effect that allows them to play more than one)
No player can ever have two identical cards face up in front of him.
Each player can only have one weapon at a time. If you want to play a new weapon card when you already have one, you must discard the one you already have. This is explicitly noted in page 3 of the rules.
When a card is played just follow the symbols on it. Cards can be played only during your turn (with the exception of Beer and Missed!).
Normally a card has an effect which is immediately resolved, and then the card is discarded. However, blue bordered cards, like weapons and horses, etc., have long lasting effects, and are kept in the table face up in front of you.
The effects of these cards (in play) lasts until they are discarded or removed somehow (e.g. Cat Balou or Panic) or a special event occurs (e.g. in the case of Jail or Dynamite.)
- Discard excess cards.
Once the second phase is over (you do not want to or cannot play any more cards), then you must discard from your hand any cards exceeding your hand size limit. The hand size limit of a player (at the end of his turn) is equal to the number of bullets currently shown on the card that lies under his character card. Then it is the next player’s turn, in clockwise order
To shoot at another character, a player must play a card bearing a “Bang!” icon to a player within shooting range.
This means that if the shooter hasn’t got any weapons, he can only shoot players at distance 1; if he has a weapon that can fire to distance 3, he can target any player at distance 3 or less.
If the targeted player has a “Missed” card, he can play it to avoid getting shot; otherwise he loses one bullet (life point).
When a character loses his last bullet, he is "dead."
A Beer card can be used to restore a bullet. A player cannot use Beer cards to exceed his character’s number of bullets. A player can only restore his own bullets via a Beer card, and he can only play it during his turn. A Whiskey card performs the same function as Beer cards, except that it restores two bullets (may not exceed the character’s number of bullets) and requires the player to discard one card from his hand.
Exception: if a player loses his last bullet, he can immediately play one or more Beer cards until he remains at 1 bullet.
A player may usually play only one “Bang!” card during his turn, but other cards can be played without restriction during the turn.
For example, some cards allow to steal cards from an opponent’s hand, force an opponent to discard a card, jail a character, change the relative range to other players, or change the range at which the player can shoot. Most of the cards are self-explaining, bearing little symbols that describe the card’s effect when combined; the rest carry a symbol that suggests that the player consult the game manual (this is not true starting from the 3rd Edition, where these cards have a written text explaining their effect).
Some cards require a “draw!”: this means that you have to reveal the first card of the deck and check the card suit and value shown on the lower left corner. For example, you may escape from the Jail only if you successfully “draw!” a Heart card.
Penalties and Rewards
If the Sheriff eliminates a Deputy, the Sheriff must discard all the cards he has in hand and in play.
Any player eliminating an Outlaw (even if the eliminating player is himself an Outlaw!) must draw a reward of 3 cards from the deck.
Determining the winner
Once the Sheriff is killed, the game is over. If the only player left is a Renegade, the Renegade wins. However, if two or more players are still alive or the only remaining player is an Outlaw, all the Outlaws win, dead or alive.
On the other hand, if all Outlaws and Renegades are dead before the Sheriff dies, the Sheriff and all the Deputies win, dead or alive.
The game is an interesting application of Game theory. As only the Sheriff is known, it is hard to know who has what role. Generally, a person’s role is implied if he tries to shoot, or otherwise harm, the Sheriff. Others’ role can be implied if they try to harm those who harmed the Sheriff. The advantage of keeping one’s role hidden from enemies must be weighted against the need to accomplish one’s goal.
Since the Renegade loses if the Sheriff dies when there are still others in the game he must defend the Sheriff to some extent. On the other hand his ultimate goal is killing the Sheriff. This leads to a “two faced” nature of the Renegade, trying to weaken each side (Outlaws and Deputies) while keeping the Sheriff alive until the end. This also makes it harder to ascertain who is an Outlaw, who is a Deputy, and who is a Renegade, as their actions may be similar.
Official tournament score
An official scoring system can be found on daVinci web site, the official web site of the Italian editors of Bang!. The scoring rules are as follows:
If the Sheriff wins:
the Sheriff wins $1500 for every Outlaw;
the Deputies win $1000 for every Outlaw if they survived, and $700 if they died;
the Renegade wins $400 for every player if he died last, leaving the Sheriff alive alone.
If the Outlaws win:
the Renegade, if he is still alive at the end of the game, wins $300 for each player in the game;
the Outlaws, if they are alive, win $1000 for each Outlaw in the game, dead or alive; otherwise they win $800 for each Outlaw in the game.
If the Renegade wins:
the Sheriff wins $100 for each player in the game
the Renegade wins $1500 for each player in the game
if a deputy kills a Sheriff, he loses $5000
In official tournaments, such as the one held yearly in Las Vegas, Nevada, players who have died can be revived if another player uses a Winchester in conjunction with a scope and a Wells Fargo. The last card drawn during the Wells Fargo must be a spade in order to complete the procedure. This rule was first introduced in 2007 by Barrett Watson, and has remained in play to this date.
As the game constantly maintains an ironic point of view on the western clichés, some of the characters of Bang! are named after famous people. There are 16 different characters in the basic set:
Bart Cassidy = Butch Cassidy - Each time he loses a life point, he immediately draws a card from the deck. (4 life points)
Black Jack = During phase 1 of his turn, he must show the second card he draws: if it’s a Heart or Diamond, he draws one additional card that turn (without revealing it). (4 life points)
Calamity Janet = Calamity Jane - She can use “Bang!” cards as “Missed!” cards and vice versa. If she plays a Missed! card as a “Bang!”, she cannot play another “Bang!” card that turn (unless she has a Volcanic in play). (4 life points)
El Gringo = Gringo - Each time he loses a life point due to a card played by another player, he draws a random card from the hands of that player (one card for each life). If the player has no more cards, he does not draw. (3 life points)
Jesse Jones = Jesse James - During phase 1 of his turn, he may choose to draw the first card from the deck, or randomly from the hand of any other player. Then he draws the second card from the deck. (4 life points)
Jourdonnais = “Frenchy” Jourdonnais, the riverboat captain in The Big Sky novel and movie (Fictional person) - He is considered to have Barrel in play at all times; he can "draw! when he is the target of a BANG!, and on a Heart he is missed. If he has another real Barrel card in play he can count both of them, giving him two chances to cancel the BANG! before playing a Missed! (4 life points)
Kit Carlson = Kit Carson - During the phase 1 of his turn, he looks at the top three cards of the deck: he chooses 2 to draw, and puts the other one back on the top of the deck, face down.( 4 life points)
Lucky Duke = Lucky Luke (Fictional person) - Each time he is required to “Draw!”, he flips the top two cards from the deck, and chooses the result he prefers. Discard both cards afterward. (4 life points)
Paul Regret = Paul Revere - He is considered to have a Mustang in play at all times; all other players must add 1 to the distance to him. If he has another real Mustang in play, he can count both of them, increasing all distance to him by a total of 2. (3 life points)
Pedro Ramirez = During phase 1 of his turn, he may choose to draw the first card from the top of the discard pile or from the deck. Then he draws the second card from the deck. (4 life points)
Rose Doolan = She is considered to have an Appaloosa in play at all times; she sees the other players at a distance decreased by 1. If she has another real Appaloosa in play, she can count both of them, reducing her distance to all other players by a total of 2. (4 life points)
Sid Ketchum = Tom Ketchum - At any time, he may discard 2 cards from his hand to regain one life point. If he is willing and able, he can use this ability more than once at a time. (4 life points)
Slab the Killer = Angel Eyes, one of the main characters of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Fictional person) - Players trying to cancel his BANG! cards need to play 2 Missed!. The Barrel effect, if successfully used, only counts as one Missed! (4 life points)
Suzy Lafayette = As soon as she has no cards in her hand, she draws a card from the draw pile. (4 life points)
Vulture Sam = Whenever a character is eliminated from the game, Sam takes all the cards that player had in his hand and in play, and adds them to his hand. (4 life points)
Willy the Kid = Billy the Kid - He can play any number of “Bang!” cards. (4 life points)