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Games for the Weekend: Bang!

It is that time of the moment, my Games for the Weekend!  This week I have a real crowd pleaser and quickly become a party favorite in my house.  I only discovered this game at a friend’s behest for me to check out the game.  This weekend’s game is the spaghetti western know as Bang!

Bang… bang bang!

 

Bang! is a card game that recreates the feel of being in wild west shootout.  It is you versus the other players in a shootout.  However, there is one problem; no one knows who each other is.  Well you know who the Sheriff is but that is little consolidation for the Sheriff when he does not know who his deputy is.  Bang is as much a card game as it is a deduction game, one where you have to figure out who is who, with each person’s role dictating what they will do in the game.

Overview
Bang! is card game where players take the one of five possible roles, each with their own goals.  The Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaws and the Renegade.  The Sheriff must kill the Outlaws and Renegade.  The Deputy needs to protect the Sheriff and help him kill the Outlaws and Renegade.  The Outlaws want the Sheriff dead and does not care who gets in their way.  The Renegade wants everyone dead so he can become the new Sheriff.  Players utilize their card hand to bring their individual goal to fruition.

 

The goal of the game is to achieve your role’s motive.

Gameplay
To begin players are given a role in the game, the number of Outlaws and Deputies change depending on the number of players.  However, rest assured there will be at least one Sheriff, Outlaws and one Renegade in every game.  Players are then dealt a Character card, the Character cards tell the player who they are and what special abilities they have for the game.  These special abilities allow the player to either bend the rules or modify them with new rules that only they can use.

After the roles and characters are handed out, the Sheriff introduces his role as the Sheriff and tells everyone what Character he is and what special ability he has.  Going clockwise everyone else introduces what Character he or she is and the special ability they have for the game.  The Character cards also tell the player how many Bullets they receive for the game; Bullets are life in the game.  The Sheriff gets one extra Bullet just for the pleasure of being the Sheriff.

Players then receive cards in relation to their life, if they have 4 Bullets they receive 4 cards.  The number of Bullets a player has is the number of cards they may have left over in their hand at the end of their turn.  On a players turn they will draw two cards and then play as many cards as they can in their hand.  The only caveat to this is that they may only play one of each type of card, unless they have a special ability on their Character that allows them to modify that ability.  For example, Will the Kid Character card allows that player to play as many Bang cards as he/she has.

The main way to attack the players is with the Bang card.  It should be noted at this point that the game has a distance mechanic.  That is players can only shoot other players who are within their shooting distance.  Shooting distance is how many seats away from you the player you want to shoot is from you.  This distance is shown by your gun you have in play.  It should be noted at this time also that cards come in two different color borders.  Blue border cards are equipable cards that stay with your character, for example weapons.  Green bordered cards have an immediate effect like a Bang card.  When a player plays a Bang card they play the card on the person they are shooting.  At this point, the player being shot at may played a Missed card to avoid taking a hit or they must lost a life and remove a Bullet.

Some examples of other cards with instant effects are Beer, the card allows a player to regain one Bullet (Life.)  There is a Duel card that allows you to stare down another player in a duel, first person who cannot produce a Bang card will lose one Bullet.  Players can also place other players in Jail!  Then there is the dreaded Dynamite card which will be passed from player to player to see who it blows up on, resulting in a loss of 3 Bullets to the player.

When a player loses their last Bullet they are dead and now must reveal their role and discard their remaining cards.  The game continues until either the Sheriff is killed or all the Outlaws and Renegade are killed.

 

I Shot the Sheriff
Bang! is a great party game that really gets people into the theme of the game.  One of the best parts of the game is introducing your Character to everyone; this one little simple aspect of the game manages to put people in the feeling of a western.  In addition, it never gets old in a game of Bang! to scream BANG, every time a Bang card is played.  Little touches like that really make you feel like you are in a western staring down the bad guys.  Not to mention it’s fun to yell Bang! from time to time.

Bang! is a great party game, also a great opening game to get a great night of gaming going.  And it really works as a fun family game, although I will warn you that the younger ones will have a tough time keeping their roles a secret, still the game is fun nonetheless.

The other aspect I really love about the game is the deduction aspect of the game.  It is very satisfying to make assumptions, play on those assumptions and find you were right.  It also is devastating to find out you as the Sheriff have killed your Deputy leaving yourself along to fight the Outlaws and Renegade.

The only drawback I could point to is the amount of players you need to play.  Getting 4 players together can be a drawback to some people.

If you are looking to pick up the game, I recommend Thought Hammer (and no I’m not getting commission.)  Alternatively, you can peruse Google Shopping.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Board Games, Gaming

 

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Games for the Weekend: Small World

Now for my other gaming article of the week in my 2 for 1 gaming special of the week.  For this Games for the Weekend I wanted to look at what I consider a masterpiece of modern board gaming.  This is one of those special games that does almost everything right.  There are a few flaws to the game, but the package as a whole is a bundle of fun contained in a colorful box that screams to “play me.”

obligatory: It’s a SMALL WORLD after all!

Small World is a fantasy war game unlike other war games.  You are going to conquer lands of your opponents but also the ones your already own.  Think Risk with no dice, and a tiny playing field to work with.  Moreover, unlike most war games you are not going to play this game as one faction.  One of the beauties of the Small World is the fact that it has an immense replay value just from the base set alone.  To get to know all the races and powers is going to require a number of game plays, not to mention getting all the combinations to the table.

Yes Small World has a number of expansions (not covered here) and a sequel: Small World Underground (again not covered here.)

Overview
Small World is a war game set on a very small board consisting of a number of territories.  One of the ingenious things about Small World is how there are two boards that are double sided.  These boards accommodate a different number of players (2 through 5.)  This is done to keep conflicts on the board high.  By the second round of game, you will be forced to conquer already conquered lands and by that point, you will be in constant war.

The game consists of a 14 Races and 20 Powers that modify the races.  Then there is the Reinforcement Die and Victory Coins (kept hidden during gameplay.)  There are also Race specific playing pieces (Lairs, Fortresses, etc.) but they only come out when needed.  There is also a summary sheet for each player that explains the Races and Power modifiers.

The goal of the game is to accumulate the most points in Victory Coins by game’s end.

NOTE: If Carl does happen to read this, I made a mistake when we played but in retrospect, since I found out now it is not a mistake 😉  Capiche?

Gameplay
To begin players are given 8 points in Victory Coins, and the Races and Powers are shuffled.  5 Races and Powers are laid out in a vertical row for players to choose from.

Lost Tribes (remnants of older civilizations) are placed on the board, along with the Mountains.  And the game is ready to be played.  The game is also round limited, depending on the number of players playing the game.

On the player’s first turn, they will have to pick a race to conduct combat.  If the race they pick is down the row from the Race pile the players will have to pay one Victory Coin for the privilege of using them, to each race above them.  Then Race and Power combos are slid up, and the player gets the tokens for his chosen Race to go forth and conquer.  If you choose a Race with Victory Coins on them you get those Victory Coins.

To conquer a land is very simple the cost is 2 plus whatever token is in the land.  For example to conquer a land with a Mountain on it would require 3 Race tokens.  That is 2 Race Tokens for the land and 1 for the Mountain..  Another rule to keep in mind is that a new race entering the game can only start conquering from the outskirts of the board, unless their Race or Power allows them to attack from anywhere.  Players may keep conquering lands as long as they have Race tokens left.

Races and Powers may have modifiers or bonuses that change the rules of the game for you while in charge of that particular Race.  For example, the race Humans gives you a bonus Victory Coin for each Farmland you occupy at the end of your turn.  Or the Merchant Power will give you an extra Victory Coin for any region you occupy at the end of your turn.

There is one final thing to combat: The Reinforcement Die.  Player’s will eventually run out of Race tokens to use to conquer lands, but that doesn’t mean you are not out of options.  Player’s may try to conquer a land with less Race tokens required using the Reinforcement Die.  The only rule is you must you use at least 1 Race token and the land you are conquering does not exceed a Race token requirement of 3 or more.  That is a player cannot use 1 Race token to conquer a land that requires 4 Race tokens to conquer.  Player’s simple choose the land you want to conquer and roll the Reinforcement Die.  Add the Reinforcement Die to your Race tokens and see if the player succeeded.

To end your conquering ways player’s will redeploy their Race tokens.  This is moving Race tokens from any land a player occupies to another.  Then the player will collect an equal number of Victory Coins value to the number of lands they occupy.

Now in subsequent turns the players’s will find themselves with no ability for further conquer the board.  This is when the player can choose to place their Race in decline.  When going into decline the player will turn all Race tokens from active to decline leaving 1 on each land unless their Race tells them otherwise.  They also turn over the Race banner and power they own.  This is the only thing a player can do on their turn that goes into decline.  They still collect Victory Coins as normal.  On the next turn, the player may choose a new Race to conquer the world.  In addition, subsequent rounds the player still collects for their lands conquered by this now declined Race.  There is one caveat, the player may only have 1 Race in decline.  Once they have sent a second Race into decline they remove all of their previously declined Race tokens.

The game plays until the last round, which upon completion players will add up the values of their Victory Coins and the person with the most wins the game.

 

Final Say
I call this game a modern masterpiece, not lightly mind you, because of how the game as a whole works mechanically and plays.  The game has a very small learning curve.  The mechanics and the way they work are very simple and not random.  That is unlike Risk, which is dependent on dice rolling; you can develop strategies during your down time in between turns.  The game also has tremendous replay value.  The sheer fact that there is a greater number of Powers then Races ensures you will have to play a number of games before you see all the Powers reach the table, but also the combinations is immense.

The only drawback I could say is the number of rounds.  I have found the number of rounds to be satisfactory, but others could want a longer game.  However, as far as game negatives go, this is pretty low on my list.

I cannot recommend this enough to anyone who loves games.

If you are looking to pick up the game, I recommend Thought Hammer (and no I’m not getting commission.)  Alternatively, you can peruse Google Shopping.

And here’s to hoping another month won’t go by before I get to the next Gaming for the Weekend.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Board Games, Gaming

 

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Games for the Weekend: Dominion

I’m a gamer and an aspiring game designer, it’s one of my passions.  I love observing people playing games and figuring out the psychology behind mechanics and how they affect people.  And when I need a break from the seriousness of life, I enjoy playing a board game.  So from time to time I’m going highlight some of my favorite games on this blog.  I thought I would start with one of the best deck building board games Dominion.

A quick and tidy history of the current state of board gaming
For those who haven’t been following what’s going on in board games, here’s as quick as a primer as I can give.

In the world of analog (board games) there are two types of games.  Ameritrash and Eurogames.  Ameritrash would be the games you grew up with such as Monopoly and Risk.  These are mainly the type of games the player rolls dice, moves and resolves the text of the space they ended up on.  Starting about twenty years ago the Eurogame started to come into dominance in the United States.  Eurogames mainly center around strategy, and are less about luck.  They are known for the use of victory points to determine winners.  The other big difference is game length, Ameritrash tend to have an unlimited game time frame, where Eurogames tend to have more manageable game lengths.

And now it’s time for DOMINION!

Dominion, since it’s release in 2008 was an instant hit with gamers.  It was one of the first games to employ the mechanic (read: base ruleset) of Deck Building.  Deck Building came from the ashes of the Collectible Card Game (CCG) craze.  In a CCG the players would build a deck of cards by buying starter sets and then booster packs.  Deck Building games instead give you all the cards and you build a deck of cards during game play.  One of the best things about a game like Dominion is the fact that the base game offers a tremendous amount of variety between games, before any mention of the expansions needs mentioning.

Dominion does have a number of expansions, none of which I will be talking about here.  For the purpose of this article I am going to stick strictly to the base game set.

Overview
Dominion is strictly a card game.  The game consists of three types of cards.  These are Treasure, Victory and Kingdom (Action) cards.  The Treasure cards, three different types, are used in the game to buy other cards.  The Victory cards, three different types, are used to determine the winner of the game.  And finally Kingdom cards, 24 different types, are used to perform actions during the player’s turn.  In setting up the game you will only play with 10 of the Kingdom cards.  These cards are picked by random or by using the suggestions in the game manual.

The goal of the game is to accumulate the most victory points by game’s end.

Gameplay
To begin players are given 7 Copper Treasure cards and 3 Estate Victory cards.  Players take their starting cards and shuffle them, they then deal five cards to themselves and place the remaining cards into a draw deck to their left.  Players will have three areas in their play field in front of themselves.  The first is the draw deck to the left, the center is their played cards and finally to the right is their discarded face up cards.

An example of a Kingdom card.

Players are allowed three phases on their turn.  First they can play an action card, second they can buy cards and finally they will have a cleanup phase where they discard their hand and all played cards into their discard pile.

During the action phase players can play a Kingdom card.  These cards will allow you to do more then you can do on your turn.  Normally you can play one action and buy one card, an action card might let your have one more buy or one more action for your turn.  The key, and most fun aspect, to the game is the chaining together of these cards.

The buy phase allows you to add cards to your deck.  This is where the Deck Building mechanic comes into play.  That ten card draw deck you start with will grow over the course of the game.  Finally the cleanup phase is simply a discarding and drawing of a new hand of five cards for the next round.

The game ends when either: A) You run out of Province Estate cards or B) Three different Kingdom card supply piles run out.  Not only do you have to strategize which Kingdom cards to buy, watching the piles of cards is another key strategy to winning the game.

Final Say
In the two years since obtaining Dominion the base game alone is still a fresh and fun game to pull out.  I believe what makes the game so much fun is the fact that it is quick to learn and hard to master.  There is a certain amount of randomness in the building of the draw deck, but you still have control over what you buy and how you build that deck.

There are drawbacks to the game.  Some have complained the game does not have enough player interaction.  The base set tries to deal with this with the Witch Kingdom card.  This card will give curses to your opponents which causes them a -1 victory point.  They also included another attack card, that causes other players to lose cards in their hand.  But it still doesn’t pull the game away from being a solitaire game.

Even with the few negatives the game has, I have found Dominion to be a great family game to put on the table for game night.  I am finding myself more a fan of the games that put strategy over war as a center piece to games, and this is one of the best games of the modern board game era.  And that doesn’t even count in the expansions that only add more variations and cards to the mix.

I must add that Dominion is a two to four player game, and works great as a couples game.  There is an expansion that allows for six players, but I can’t see why combining two base sets couldn’t add additional players in of itself.

All in all a great game I recommend to anyone who loves games.

If you are looking to pick up the game I recommend Thought Hammer (and no I’m not getting commission.)  Or you can peruse Google Shopping.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Board Games, Gaming

 

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