Bang!: A Question of Strategy

So the standard game night at my place just ended tonight, and we had a very intriguing scenario for the endgame of the last BANG! game. Game is left down to 3 identities: Sheriff, Renegade and Outlaw, with the following characters:

Sheriff: Flint Westwood – During his turn, he may trade 1 card from hand with 2 cards at random from the hand of another player.
Renegade: Jose Delgado – Twice in his turn, he may discard a blue card from the hand to draw 2 cards.
Outlaw: Greg Digger – Each time another player is eliminated, he regains 2 life points. (Useless at this point)

The scenario on the table is that both the Sheriff and Renegade are relatively bare, with both players having only -1 horses. The outlaw has a volcanic and a mustang (+1 horse), however, has not drawn a bang! card in a few turns. Many Cat Balous and Panics have been used up and thus are rare in the remainder of the deck. All players are at full life.

While the Outlaw’s play is fairly straight-forward – to simply try to gun down the Sheriff, the other two’s strategy could be worth a look:

What is the Sheriff’s play?

My strategy: Kill the Renegade while gimping the Outlaw. So due to the Sheriff’s OP character ability, the Sheriff can basically counter the Volcanic in front of the Outlaw by feeding him useless cards (blues for example), while making sure that the Outlaw does not stash away Bang! cards and gets additional safety from any Missed!/Dodge! cards that the Outlaw may draw. Of course, this will cause the Outlaw to have very few cards in his hand after a few turns – so the Sheriff should switch accordingly to counter the potential card drawing beast that is Jose Delgado. Regardless, this effectively keeps the Outlaw’s impact at a minimum (can’t counter a 2 bang! draw – but the stolen misses/beers should mitigate that).  Next, the Sheriff should take all his remaining offensive cards and unload on the Renegade – this will ensure that the Renegade will soon not have enough protection to counter a potential outburst by the Outlaw or just the slow poking by the Sheriff. This way, with the Renegade out of the way, the Sheriff can easily take the Outlaw due to sheer character OP.

Then, what would be the Renegade’s play?

My strategy: Try to focus fire on the Outlaw. Make use of all Gatlings and Indians, but be wary of anything that could potentially drop the sheriff below 3 health (a 2 Bang! card draw by the Outlaw when coupled with a potential stashed bang! or pepperbox/buffalo rifle could end the game right there). The Sheriff should also be trying to limit the Outlaw just in terms of threat – a good draw by the Outlaw (which is not unlikely due to the fact that the Outlaw has not drawn many Bang!s – which leaves them plentiful in the remainder of the deck) would decide the game. While the Sheriff would rather face the Outlaw 1-on-1 due to the huge disparity of character ability, the Volcanic is what poses immediate danger. The Renegade should take care to only dwindle down the Outlaw to around 2 health and let the Sheriff put in the last poke before the Renegade comes in and ends the Outlaw for a 3 card draw. This would position the Renegade to be in the best possible situation (+3 cards, with innate card drawing capabilities – since blue cards are relatively useless at this point in the game) when the Outlaw is dead.

Of course, this is a heavily simplified version of what could potentially happen (a Cat Balou/Panic on the Volcanic could significantly change the strategies across players), however, I feel that this should be some what of an optimal strategy. What do you guys think?

(I plan on writing out more of these interesting scenarios as game nights come and go. I feel that it is extremely helpful to articulate some of these strategic thought processes to see what I’m missing when I’m playing these games. Too bad I have yet to find someone to play Twilight Struggle with me – that alone would be the subject of many interesting strategic musings.)

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