Bang! The Dice Game Review

 Bang The Dice Game box

As a dedicated fan of the Bang! series of games (I think I have played every variant and expansion), when I heard about Bang! The Dice Game, I was very excited to try it out.

Bang! The Dice Game take the basic formula from Bang!, and provides a simplified and faster play experience.  To start the game, players will be dealt a character and a role.  Depending on your role, you will have a different victory condition - kill the Sheriff, kill the Outlaws and Renegade, or be the last man standing; and depending on your character, you will have a different special ability to help you accomplish your goal.  On each turn, you get five dice, and three rolls.  In between each role, you have the option to re-roll (almost) any of your dice, but whatever you have rolled at the end of the third roll must be kept.  The different faces on the dice represent a Gatling gun, which hits all other players if you have rolled three of them, a one and two distance attack which attack other players, beer which heals a player, dynamite which cannot be rerolled and will end your turn while inflicting one point of damage if you roll three of them, and arrows which immediately upon rolling them forces you to take an arrow from the middle (you take wounds equal to your number of arrow once the arrow pile is exhausted).  Players take turns rolling dice and shooting at each other until one of the victory conditions is achieved!

The first pro that I have for Bang! The Dice Game is that there are die faces that matter while rolling the dice.  The basic Yahtzee formula for die rolling has been left essentially unchanged for a few decades now.  You can see examples of it in many, many games, and it is always the same.  Roll three times, and keep the final result.  However, Bang! changes this - arrows do things immediately.  And, dynamite locks your die.  These die faces actually make for some interesting decisions about when to keep re-rolling, and when to accept what you have.  For example, one time that I played, I was trying to finish off one of my opponents.  However, the arrow pile was very low, and I knew that if I re-rolled and got too many arrows, I could inadvertently kill myself instead of my opponent.  I risked it.... and it did not work out in my favor.

Bang the dice game picture of dice
Arrows and Dynamite have immediate effects
The next pro that I have for Bang! TDG (I'm sick of typing "The Dice Game") is that it is much faster than the original game of Bang!  Now, let's go ahead and throw this out there - I enjoy Bang!  I think that it is a fun game, and I am generally up for playing it.  However, since I often am teaching it to new players, the game can really drag along sometimes.  That is not the case with the dice game.  Between the decisions being streamlined and the extra death that arrows can inflict (along with not being limited to playing only one "Bang!" card per turn), the game generally lasts around 20 minutes.  Which I think is the optimal length of time for Bang!  This change has caused several people that I've played with to actually prefer Bang! TDG over the original.

The third pro that I will mention for Bang! TDG is that it does a slightly better job of allowing your secret identity to actually be secret.  Because of the dice being random, and because you are forced to use the dice, you can sometimes get away with shooting the sheriff and calling it an accident.  This is easiest in a four player game where the sheriff is sitting across the table from you ("whoops, I didn't mean to roll a "2" hit - sorry..."), but can also happen with Gatling guns and by causing arrows to damage him.  Plus, Gatling guns clear out the arrows in front of you in addition to hitting all of your opponents, so they help add some confusion into the mix of "why did he just shoot me?"

However, there are still a couple of cons that I have for Bang! TDG.  First, the Renegade role is still terrible.  Yes, the Renegade can occasionally win - I realize this.  However, generally the Renegade will not win.  It is very, very hard to be the last man standing.  Actually, it might have become even more difficult in this version, because the sheriff no longer gets penalized for finishing off his deputy, so if he sees a weak opponent, he is more likely to pounce.  (Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that the Renegade is included in the game series, as trying to figure out who is the Renegade and who is the Deputy is the best part of the hidden identity element of the game.  Plus, it helps balance things out so that the Sheriff doesn't get obliterated by the Outlaws from the beginning.  However, that doesn't mean that I even want to be the Renegade.)

Bang TDG during game picture
Dueling it out with friends
The other con that I have for Bang! TDG is that some of the characters just feel better than others.  Specifically, one character never takes more than one wound from Indians/arrows, one character can take all of his damage as arrows (which is amazing when there are not many players left), and one player can re-roll dynamite.  Most likely, each person will have their favorite characters that they think are the best, but these are the ones that I think may be a bit too strong.  With that said, I haven't really seen anyone be able to runaway with a game simply because they had one of these characters.  The team aspect of the game does a nice job of keeping a slightly overpowered character in check.

Overall, I give Bang! The Dice Game an 8.5/10.  I haven't completely decided if I like it more than the original game of Bang!, but I definitely like the tempo of the game more than the original - especially when teaching new players.

If Bang! TDG sounds interesting, you might also check out Catan: The Dice Game, King of Tokyo, and The Resistance.

I would like to thank dV Giochi for providing me with a review copy of Bang! The Dice Game.

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