Instant Game Night Reviews: Bang! The Dice Game
“Is Bang! The Dice Game a good game to bring to game night?”
Bang! The Dice Game
Year Published 2013
Designer Michael Palm, Lukas Zach
Artists Riccardo Pieruccini
Publisher dV Giochi
Age Range 8+
Playing Time 15 Minutes
Bang! The Dice Game is a hidden role, Yahtzee-style dice game where players take on the role of characters in a wild west frontier town. From renegades and outlaws to deputies and even the sheriff himself, everyone has their own agenda and will do anything to achieve it, even if that means a little backstabbing and betrayal. So saddle up and get ready for a showdown at high noon!
Below you will find a brief summary of the game play along with our thoughts on whether or not Bang! The Dice Game is a good game to bring to your next game night get-together.
Please note: We do not intend this review to be a thorough explanation of the rules of a game or how to play. Rather, our reviews are aimed to provide you a basic overview of the game play along with our thoughts on how suitable a particular game is to bring to a game night with family or friends. If this is your first time reading an Instant Game Night review, please click here to read about our review format and rating system.
To begin the game, the dealer will shuffle the appropriate role cards based on the number of players. Each player is then dealt a role, and the sheriff must reveal their identity to the group. All the other players will keep their role secret. The different roles will have different objectives and win conditions:
Sheriff: Must eliminate all players who are renegades or outlaws
Deputy: Must protect the sheriff at all costs
Renegade: Must be the last person in play
Outlaw: Must eliminate the player who is the sheriff
After players have been given their roles, the character cards are then shuffled and each player is given a character, which is face up and visible to all players. Each character will have a specified number of life points and a special ability printed on the card.
Once players have received their role and character cards, the game can begin.
Play begins with the dealer and moves clockwise around the table. On a player's turn, they will roll all 5 dice and will choose which dice to keep and which dice to re-roll (if any). Dice can be re-rolled up to two additional times with the exception of dynamite, which can never be re-rolled. Additionally, each time a player rolls an arrow symbol, they immediately take an arrow from the center of the table. This die can still be re-rolled, however, if another arrow is rolled the player will again immediately take an arrow from the center of the table.
Once a player is content with their dice, they will then resolve each symbol before passing play to the next person.
Below is a brief explanation of how to resolve each symbol:
Dynamite: As mentioned before, dynamite cannot be re-rolled. Dynamite have no action to resolve unless you roll three on the same turn. When this occurs, your turn ends immediately and you lose on life point. You may still resolve any other dice at that time as normal.
Bull's Eye 1: Choose the player on either your left or right. That player loses one life point. If you have multiple bull's eyes, they are each resolved individually and can be allocated all to the same player or to different players.
Bull's Eye 2: Choose a player up to two seats away from you on either the left or the right. That player loses one life point. If you have multiple bull's eyes, they are each resolved individually and can be allocated all to the same player or to different players.
Beer: Each beer grants a life point to the player of your choosing. You may choose yourself or any other player. Keep in mind you may never have more life points than you began the game with!
Arrow: As mentioned previously, the arrow symbol is resolved immediately by taking one arrow token from the center of the table. When all arrows have been removed from the center pool, the natives attack and each player loses life points equal to the arrow tokens they have in front of them. All arrows are then returned to the center pool and play continues.
Gatling: The gatling symbol only resolves if you manage to roll three or more of them. Once activated, the gatling deals one damage to each player. In addition, you may discard all of your arrows to the center of the table.
If a player loses all of their life points during the game, they are eliminated and no longer participate in the game.
The game end is triggered in one of two ways:
The sheriff is eliminated: If a renegade is the only player still alive, they win the game. Otherwise, all the surviving outlaws win as a team.
All outlaws and renegades are eliminated: The sheriff and any deputies win as a team.
Bang! The Dice Game is a quick and simple hidden role combat game. Because players aren't quite sure who is who, it is possible to trick your fellow players into believing that they are on your side only to turn around and eliminate them at an opportune time. This game can certainly create an uproar and tends to encourage a high energy, interactive experience with the right audience. This is a key point, because while this game works great with certain groups it can also fall very flat for others. While this is true for most all social deduction style games, Bang! The Dice Game in our experience is particularly susceptible. If players aren't interacting and challenging each other, the game can start to feel quite bland and arbitrary, as players aren't sure what to do or who to target.
That being said, if your group enjoys interactive experiences and social deduction, Bang! The Dice Game is almost certain to be a hit. The quick game play combined with tense dice rolls and the potential for backstabbing creates some truly memorable moments!
Our rating system:
G rabs your attention
E asy to play & teach
N ewbie friendly
G ood rulebook
H olds attention
! our experience
Bang! The Dice Game Rating Breakdown
Grabs Your Attention
Bang! The Dice Game doesn't have a ton of components, however, it makes the most of what is does have. The arrow and bullet tokens along with the beautiful custom dice make an otherwise bland looking game stand out a bit.
Bang! The Dice Game is extremely simple to set up and play. The only trick with set up is ensuring the right roles are included depending upon the number of players. Once that is determined, each player is dealt two cards and play can begin immediately. There aren't many more agile games than this!
This is a tough one for us to rate, as I think this game's memorability will depend upon the group. IF you have a great experience with your group, it's very likely you'll remember the game for some time to come. However, in other situations, if the experience is subpar, Bang! might fade into the piles of other social deduction games on the market today.
Easy to Teach and Play
At its core, Bang! The Dice Game is a very simple game with extremely basic rules and concepts to teach. That being said, there is something about social deduction that is inherently difficult to explain to new players. What each role does and the special abilities of characters is simple to grasp, however, how to suss out what other players' roles might be can be a more difficult technique to teach newbies. You'll likely find new players being very confused about who to target with bull's eyes, for example. We can't fault the game's mechanics or rules for this, it is simply a function of social deduction games themselves.
For the reasons mentioned above, Bang! The Dice Game doesn't quite score full marks here as a newbie friendly game. Without an experienced player who has played the game before, we fear that a group of newbies trying to learn this game would not have a great first experience. We highly recommend if you've not played the game before to watch some playthrough videos online to get a feel for the type of interaction between players that makes this game truly a fun experience. Otherwise, the core concept of them game can easily be missed by new players.
Bang! The Dice Game is a highly interactive game where players are constantly keeping their eyes on the current player, hoping against hope that they don't activate the gatlin gun or roll an arrow symbol to cause the natives to attack. The playful ribbing when someone rolls three dynamite at once and the cheering of the outlaws when the sheriff loses his last life point are the high energy moments that make this game so much fun at game nights!
Good Rule Book
The rule book for Bang! The Dice Game is printed on one piece of paper that is standard letter-size. On one side, the rules of the game are explained from start to finish. On the other, all of the character cards and special abilities are explained in detail. We found the rulebook very well written and organized!
One of the benefits of being a 15 minute social deduction game with tons of player interaction is that it is almost impossible to lose players' attention. Sure, it is possible to be ganged up on early in the game and have to sit by for 10 minutes as the rest of the players finish the game, but this tends to happen quite rarely. Overall, we find the tension in watching each player's turns easily keeps almost anyone intrigued all the way through!
Bang! The Dice Game has a western theme and the card art and components do a good job of extending that theme to the game play itself. However, since players are trying to keep their roles hidden, generally the ability to really lean into the theme of the game while playing is not there. We felt it was a good attempt to insert some theme into a dice chucking game, but in the end the theme did not carry very far through for us.
Finally it's time to tell you about our personal experiences with Bang! The Dice Game. The biggest takeaways from our playing experiences is that the more players you have, the better the experience is. We found 5+ players tends to be this game's sweet spot.
We mentioned before that the success of this game can be highly dependent upon the game group. My family aren't huge into social deduction or hidden role games, and so it took quite a few painful playthroughs before everyone started understanding how to play their roles effectively. But luckily, since rounds are so short, we were able to really enjoy the last 2-3 plays of what was probably 8 or more rounds in one sitting. From then on, Bang! Has been an enjoyable experience for us, however, we do find it is one we have to be in a certain mood to be excited to play. Other similar games, such as Coop, tend to hit the table more often for some reason. In the end though, Bang! The Dice Game is a solid social deduction party game that I'd feel comfortable bringing and teaching at a game night with the right type of interactive, high energy audience.