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[Review] Dodge City expansion for Bang!

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Joined: 03/23/2011

(I’m assuming that those who are reading this review already know how to play Bang!)

Bang! is one of the most successful games that I introduce to large groups. Even with it’s gun-toting, western feel, it attracts all ages equally and doesn’t discriminate according to gender - almost all who play the game enjoy it. The first expansion for the game, High Noon, breathed some life into the game, and that was only with a few cards. So I was pretty excited when I heard that the Dodge City (daVinci Games, 2004 - Emiliano Sciarra) expansion was going to add 63 new cards to the game. Once we got the expansion, we inserted it into our well-used Bang! deck immediately, and it was even more fun!

Some thoughts on the expansion...

1.) Role cards: Probably the biggest and best change in Dodge City was the addition of another Renegade card. One can play with up to eight players now, something that happens frequently in my circles, and having two renegades in the mix really shakes things up. The renegades are not on the same team; they still follow the rule were each wins only if they are the last person alive. I appreciated the fact that all the role cards were included with this expansion for two reasons. One, my old role cards were starting to get worn, and these made nice replacements (which I’m putting in card sleeves), and two - the new Renegade card doesn’t stick out because of its newness.

2.) Green-bordered Cards: These are cards with a green border, obviously. They are similar to other cards except a player cannot use them on the turn they are played. Rather, they remain face-up in front of the player to be used on a future turn. This gives them some unique characteristics, since they can be discarded or stolen and basically increase the size of a player’s hand; although they give extra information to other players. The green cards included are:
- Derringer: Acts as a Bang! with a range of one and allows a player to draw a card.
- Pepperbox: Acts as a Bang! (basically allows a player an extra shot)
- Knife: Acts as a Bang! with a range of one.
- Ten-Gallon Hat, Iron Plate (2), Sombrero: Act as Missed! cards.
- Buffalo Rifle: An excellent card that acts as a Bang! with unlimited range.
- Pony Express: The player can draw three cards.
- Can Can: Same as Cat Balou
- Canteen: Same as Beer (really?)
- Bible: Acts as a Missed! card and allows the player to draw a card. (Superb card!)
- Howitzer: Same as Gatling
- Conestoga: Allows another player to draw a card.
As you can see, most of these cards are repeats of tan-bordered cards, but because they are played in front of the player, have different advantages and disadvantages.

3.) Blue-bordered Cards: Another stick of dynamite is added, which really adds more excitement to the game, and makes the likelihood of dynamite appearing in a game that much more viable. A couple more guns and a barrel are included, as well as two new cards: Silver and Hideout. These cards are identical to the Mustang and Appaloosa, but allow the player to have more than one in front of them, increasing and/or decreasing distance modifiers. This can drastically change the importance of guns and really increases the value of the Winchester.

4.) Tan-bordered Cards: A few of the cards from the original set are included, to keep card distribution fairly even, but several new cards are included:
- Brawl: The player must discard one additional card to cause all other players to discard one card.
- Dodge (2): Acts as a Missed!, but allows the player to draw a card. (This is probably my favorite card to have in hand.)
- Rag Time: The player must discard one additional card to steal a card from any other player.
- Whisky: The player must discard one additional card, to heal two health.
- Punch: Acts as a Bang! with a range of one.
- Tequila: The player must discard one additional card, to heal any player one health. (useful for a deputy to have.)
- Springfield: The player must discard one additional card, and then the card acts as a Bang! with unlimited range.

5.) Characters: Fifteen new characters are included, with a variety of special abilities - some of them quite powerful. I really enjoyed them thrown into the mix, because the large character mix means that games will frequently be different. Some of the new character abilities are:
- Bill Noface, who draws one card, plus one card for each wound he has.
- Apache Kid, who cannot be affected by cards with diamonds on them.
- Sean Mallory, who can hold any number of cards in hand, and
- Elena Fuente, who can use any card as a Missed!
- And there are eleven more, none of whom I thought were underpowered.

6.) Mixing with the Original: All of these new cards add a lot to the game. They add so much, that when I tried to teach a new group of people Bang! with both this expansion and High Noon!, they were overwhelmed. There were just too many different new cards. I wouldn’t recommend using Dodge City until people were comfortable with the original game. But for those who already enjoy Bang!, the new rules are quite simple and easy, and not enough is changed to disturb the basic flavor of the game.

7.) Three Player: Rules are included to allow players to play with only three players. The sheriff is excluded, and players are randomly assigned the roles of Deputy, Renegade, and Outlaw. All roles are revealed, and each player must complete their goal of killing another player. The Deputy must kill the Renegade, who must kill the Outlaw, who must kill the Deputy. The first to kill their target wins. I found this variant passable, but I’d much rather play with eight players.

8.) Fun Factor: If you didn’t like Bang!, this expansion isn’t going to change your mind, as it’s basically just more of the same. However, if you loved the original game, but felt that it was getting a little stale, this game really spices it up with a lot of new cards. That, and the fact that there are two renegades in the mix really changes the whole aspect of the game. Some folk complained that there are too many cards that act as a “Missed!” card now, but I contend that the new Bang!-type cards even out the mix. If you thought Bang! was fun, Bang! with Dodge City is twice as fun!

I really enjoy the new expansion, as it really adds a lot of fun and diversity to the game, without really adding too much complexity. With a whole cast of characters to draw from, and even more Wild West clichés on the cards, the theme is that much more pronounced. The sheriff feels more pressure (another renegade in town!), and everyone is a little more tense (you can see the green cards in front of all the players, and there’s another stick of dynamite in the game!). This increases the “fun factor” quite a bit, which is the whole reason people like to play Bang! in the first place. If you own the original and enjoy it, then this expansion is a must-buy!

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

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