Board Game of the Week- Bang!

Bang! Full Set

  • Game Title: Bang!
  • Release Date: 2002
  • Number of Players: 4-7
  • Average Game Time: 20-40 mins
  • Game Publisher: dv Giochi
  • Website: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3955/bang/
  • Game Designer: Emiliano Sciarra
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Bang! is a game that was recommended by one of my coworkers, who got it for me in an office Secret Santa. It’s taken me some time to play it, but I finally was able to bust out the western-style card game this Cinco de Mayo. After playing two rounds of the game, it was easy to see why it is a regular for my coworker: the game is easy enough to learn, involves enough strategy to keep you engaged but not too much to over-complicate things, and overall was a great way to spend an hour with my friends.

Bang! splits up each player into a number of different roles based on the main players of a classic Wild West showdown. Each role has a different objective as they play the game, and roles are distributed randomly so that nobody knows who is who (minus the Sheriff). The roles and their objectives are listed below:

Role

Objective

Sheriff

Must eliminate all the Outlaws and the Renegade, to protect law and order
Outlaw They would like to kill the Sheriff, but they have no scruples about eliminating each other to gain rewards!
Deputy They help and protect the Sheriff, and share his same goal, at all costs!
Renegade

He wants to be the new Sheriff; his goal is to be the last character in play.

Because nothing says Wild Wild West like a good chart…

The number of roles differs based on the number of players, so the game scales in intensity based on how many people are playing. There are also character cards that give each player specific traits and skills that help them reach their objective.

Once both roles and characters are dealt out, the game starts with the Sheriff and goes clockwise. Each turn consists of three actions: drawing 2 cards, playing cards from your hand, and discarding cards until your number of cards match your current hit points. Bang! LogoPlaying cards is the majority of the turn, and there are a number of different cards with varying immediate and long term effects. The most crucial cards are Bang! cards, which allow you to shoot anybody within range. Once you declare who you shoot, that player has the opportunity to play a Missed card, which lets them avoid taking damage. If a Missed card isn’t played, that player loses one hit point. Lose all of your hit points, and you are out of the game. The game ends when either the Sheriff is killed, or all Outlaws and Renegades are killed.

Bang! CardsThe strategy involved with this game took some getting used to, but once you get the hang of things it becomes fun and engaging. Knowing who the Sheriff is gives him/her a disadvantage, but the Sheriff also gets an additional hit point, gets to go first, and in certain instances has deputies to help. In addition, the Renegade only wins if the outlaws are killed before the Sheriff, so the player who is the Renegade has to work to harm the Sheriff without them dying and take out the rest of the characters first. The outlaws seem to have the easiest job, but with a number of other characters having different  motivations sometimes tipping your hat too early and going straight for the Sheriff can make things difficult for you. Overall it feels like you are able to win as any of the characters (in our first round the Sheriff won and then in round two the Outlaws won), so there’s a good sense of balance that some competitive games lack. Another fun aspect of the game is the shooting distance- shooting distance is based on who you are sitting next to, meaning it is easier to shoot someone next to you than someone with multiple people in between. There are weapons and abilities to enhance your ability to shoot, but there are certainly times when you are restricted in your ability to use Bang! cards on people.

The only real negative I saw in this game is that it seems to be tailored more towards larger groups. The first time I played with 4 people, the minimum number for a game, and because of that we had fewer roles to choose from in the game. We only had one Sheriff, two Outlaws, and one Renegade, meaning no Deputies were included. This made the game less strategic and I found myself wanting to see how the Deputies affected the outcome. In addition, the distance restriction is very low for 4 players because you can always hit two players and then you only need a slight boost to get to the fourth player. I found myself enjoying the game a lot more the next time I played it, when we had 6 people. The game included a Deputy which added strategy to who the Sheriff shot, and the ability to shoot everybody in the game was much more limited.

Bang-Box

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this game: it’s engaging, the style is cool, the cards are all useful to the game and the character abilities add a nice bit of extra flair as well. I recommend the game for anybody who likes mid-level strategy games and the ability to shoot your friends in the face… metaphorically, of course.

Jack’s rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Board Game of the Week- Joking Hazard (for players 18+)

joking-hazard-box

  • Game Title: Joking Hazard
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Number of Players: 3-10
  • Average Game Time: 30-90 mins
  • Game Publisher: Breaking Games
  • Website: jokinghazardgame.com
  • Game Designer: N/A
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Disclaimer: This game has adult themes and is meant for players 18 and up. Do not buy this game for children and then get mad at me that it is inappropriate. Please and thank you.

Another Kickstarter funded game that takes a popular comic series and warps it into a fun, ridiculous, and inappropriate game came into my life last week. Joking Hazard is a card game based on the comic Cyanide and Happiness, which you’ve probably heard of if you’ve spent more than five minutes browsing the Internet. In case you haven’t, Cyanide and Happiness focuses on awkward and inappropriate reactions to situations and condenses them into a three-strip comic panel. Joking Hazard takes these elements and turns them into an extremely clever, wild, and raunchy game with Cards Against Humanity-esque decisions and a feeling of depravity that just can’t be beat.

The game is very similar in gameplay to Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples. You have a set of 7 cards, there is a judge that rotates clockwise every round, you play a card facedown and the judge chooses which card is the winner. The differences are fairly straightforward, but are important to the flow and style of the game. For starters, the cards are all single panels of a comic that you use to form a complete strip with two other
panels. The first panel is drawn from the draw pile, the judge places the second panel either before or after the first one, and then each player other than the judge chooses a panel to place at the end, completing the strip. This means that there is only one deck of cards, rather than two like in CAH and Apples to Apples, and each one is meant to be paired with other cards to form the final joke. The person who played the card that the judge picks keep their card to tally the score, and then play continues until you decide it’s time to stop.

The positives in the game come from the amount of creative ways you can play the cards and the game’s ability to keep you on your toes. Because each card is suited for a different situation, there joking hazard wife left meare a huge number of possibilities and directions you can take when playing a card. At first when I read my cards I assumed there was no way I would be able to use some of them, but sure enough a round came along where they were the perfect fit. In addition, the fact that the judge gets to play one of the cards is a huge positive in comparison to CAH and Apples to Apples. The judge actually gets to shape the story the way they see fit, which can very quickly add to the hilarity.

One downside to the game that I saw was that there are definitely times that your cards aren’t a good fit to the panels that have currently been played. This is an issue that comes up with any of these games, but the times when everything is a dud seems more noticeable when shown in comic style. This was rare when I played, but after a few more run-throughs I wouldn’t be surprised if it became more noticeable. In addition, the game seems to be a lot better in small groups. I’ve played once with 4 players and once with 10, and ultimately the game with 10 was still fun but it took longer and felt like some good cards got lost in the shuffle.

Joking Hazard 1

Ultimately this is the type of game you want to have for get-togethers, parties, and alcohol related shenanigans (if you are the type for that). I once again want to stress that this game is not one you want to be playing with or around your kids, but when you have a group of fun loving adults it is a great game to have in your collection.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

New Games for 2017

As always, my friends and family were extremely generous over the holidays this year. I was lucky enough to receive a number of new games for Christmas that I am looking forward to playing, some of which are particularly interesting to me. Here is a list of the games I received and how I got them:

Game I Got: BANG!

Where I Got It: Secret Santa (work)

Have I Played it Yet?: No

Any time you get a Wild West style game with English and Italian directions, you know that you have an interesting gem of a game. BANG! is a competitive game with 4-7 players that involves a number of characters (7 unique ones) and roles for each players such as Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw, Renegade. Each player plays cards to shoot at other players, boost your stats and skills, and heal yourself after wounds. My coworker Maddy got me the game as a gift for our Secret Santa. She gave it very good reviews, and even though I haven’t gotten to play it yet I’m looking forward to trying it out on the next game night!

Game I Got: Clue, Firefly Edition

Where I Got It: Roommate Gift Exchange

Have I Played it Yet?: No

Similar to the multiple different versions of Monopoly I’ve collected, I am never against getting different versions of a classic game. My roommate Ian found a game that is a perfect fit for me- Clue with Firefly characters. The premise is the same as traditional Clue: you travel from room to room of the Serenity and accuse characters of the show by using items to aid the Alliance in kidnapping River. The items are all rather odd (Wash’s dinosaurs are an item, for example) but as someone who loved Firefly I think it’s a great addition to my collection.

Game I Got: The Oregon Trail Card Game

Where I Got It: Gift from Parents

Have I Played it Yet?: Yes

Continuing on the nostalgia train, The Oregon Trail was a staple of my childhood. Almost everyone has either played the original game or a newer version, and the Card Game equivalent definitely plays on the experiences of the computer game beloved by many. The object of the game is to travel as a group from Independence, MO to Willamette Valley, OR as a group. You move along the path by playing road cards with varying effects, and do your best to avoid the disasters that crop up on the Trail. The game is cooperative and only one player needs to reach the finish line, so I would expect to see at least a few people dying of dysentery or any other number of diseases and calamities along the way. I gave the game a shot and it is a simple concept that walked me down memory lane for a while… until I died from cholera.

Board Game of the Week- Bards Dispense Profanity

Before I get into the game review portion of this post, I wanted to share some good news with everybody. A month ago, I had one of the best moments of my life when I asked my Girlfriend to marry me- for some crazy reason she said yes, so I am officially engaged! It is definitely a moment I will cherish forever, and not just because I asked her in the middle of a Laser Tag session (yes, we are nerds) but also because of the pure joy we both had in the idea that we will get to spend the rest of our lives together. OK, now back to what you’re all here for, reading reviews about new games that you can judge vicariously through me!

bards-game

I got Bards Dispense Profanity as a gift for my fiancée- she is an English major and I had read good things about it, so I figured it was worth a try. We tried it out with my roommates a few nights ago, and it didn’t disappoint. As you probably guessed, this game is a parody of Cards Against Humanity, the popular card game where you play inappropriate cards to try and get hilarious reactions out of the group. The game mechanics are exactly the same as CAH- you take turns playing as judge, the judge picks out a “prompt card” and the other players play a card to fill in the blank of the prompt card. The judge then reviews the cards and chooses the one he/she thinks is best, whether that is funniest, most accurate, or basically whatever they feel like choosing. The way that Bards Dispense Profanity varies is that the game’s play cards are all direct quotes from Shakespeare plays. For those of you who don’t know much about Shakespeare’s writing style, it may look fancy but in reality it is quite dirty. This can lead to some very entertaining answers, especially to people well versed in the Hamlets and Much Ado about Nothings of the world.

bards-cards

The best part of the game that I found was that it is a fresh take on a game I already know and understand. I didn’t have to learn how to play the game, I simply opened up the box and dealt out the cards, and we were off to the races. It’s nice playing a game bards-rulesor the first time and feeling like everybody knows what to do, and even better it doesn’t feel like the same game you’ve always played because of the new cards and style. I also appreciate that the game is a bit more highbrow in its profanity- in no way does the game avoid dirty jokes, but it does find a way to make them more intellectual. Finally, the game is a great for social events and can be played with any number of players.

The downsides to the game parallel the issues with CAH- the gameplay can get stale on multiple play-throughs and there is no defined stopping point for the game. Also, even though I appreciate the fact that the game mechanics were identical to CAH, I do wish that they had added another component somehow. Similar game styles can feel like rip-offs very easily, and while the different cards are fun new content I feel like that’s the only draw of the game. Finding a different style or some new element would make the game more interesting. The closest they got is that some of the prompt cards direct you to judge based on other player’s preferences, which was a cool idea, but was not used enough to be a big part of the game.

bards-why-not

If you’re looking for some adult but classy fun, I think Bards Dispense Profanity is a pretty good choice. While it mirrors other games already in existence, it does bring its own flair and can be a great time for people who are fans of literature. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find the nearest performance of Macbeth…

Jack’s Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Board Game of the Week- Codenames

codenames-all-cards

  • Game Title: Codenames
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Number of Players: 2-8
  • Average Game Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Czech Games Edition
  • Website: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/178900/codenames
  • Game Designer: Vlaada Chvatil
  • Expansions/Alternates: No
  • Available in Stores: Yes

 

I have seen plenty of reviews of the game Codenames online, and it looked like everybody enjoyed the game as a whole. I put the game on my list to try a long time ago and never got a chance until this past weekend, when I went to a Birthday party with a group of board game enthusiasts. We divided up into two teams and ended up playing two rounds before moving on to other activities, and I thoroughly enjoyed both rounds and the game strategy as a whole. At first I thought that you needed an even number of people to play, but after playing I do believe you could have an odd number of players if you really wanted to.

codenames-agent-cards

Codenames is a two-team competitive card based game focused on one team member providing clues to the other team members that relate to specific code names. The game is set up by placing 25 “agent” cards down in a 5×5 row- these cards have a word on them, which is the code name of the agent. Then the team members chosen as Spymasters choose a Map card that shows which agent is on which team. Only the spymasters are allowed to see the map card. The map is set up to show which of the cards on the 5×5 grid are red agents, blue agents, civilians and the assassin. The object of the game is for the spymaster to provide a one-word clue to their team that relates to as many of the codenames as possible that are assigned to their team color. The other team members then guess which code name (or code names) the spymaster is trying to get you to choose. If the team is able to find all of their teams’ agents, they win. However, if they choose the opposing team’s agent, that agent is revealed and the other team has one less word to guess correctly. Guessing a civilian doesn’t hurt, but it does end your turn and leaves you unable to guess again if you wanted to. Guessing the assassin means that your team automatically loses, so the assassin should be avoided at all costs.

The biggest part about this game is the strategy of choosing words both as the spymaster and a team member. For the spymaster, the goal is to choose a word clue that can be linked to multiple agents on your team without misleading your team and causing them to choose the other team’s card or the assassin. There is also strategy in choosing a word that only could apply to one card, making sure that there isn’t any misunderstanding and effectively “playing it safe”. On the other side, the team members choosing the agents must strategically choose how many cards, and which cards, they want to choose. They can choose one card they are sure of, or they can choose multiple cards and take more of a risk. This is usually dependent on which team is winning and how confident you are that your spymaster is indicating a certain card.

codenames-cards-close-up

The most impressive thing about this game is the sheer number of variations: the game consists of numerous code name cards and map cards, so the possibilities of the cards on the grid and the options for agent card layouts are effectively limitless. The game encourages teamwork and strategy and is great for groups of close friends and strangers alike. Finally, the game is easy to set up and quick to play, so it is a perfect party game. The one downside I could think of with the game is the fact that while you can play with an odd number of players, ultimately it is easier/better to play with an even number so that no team gets an advantage. There are also a number of “player’s choice” rules revolving the hints that can be made, such as using Pronouns, that need to be addressed before the game starts. If your group forgets to go over these rules, it can cause confusion.

Overall I recommend Codenames as a great party game with a lot of fun strategy in a simple package. While the game says up to 8 players, you could certainly find a way to include more people if you choose, making it ideal for larger groups. In addition, the game can be played in small groups with the same effect, so don’t skip on it with 3-4 players either.

codenames-box

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Board Games on a Budget

There have been a lot of positive changes in the board game industry over the past few years. Unfortunately, one of the negative side effects of games becoming more intricate and advanced has been a higher price tag for a number of games. Game pieces have become more intricate, artwork more painstaking, and boards more elaborate as a whole, causing the cost of making the games to rise and consequently the price for the consumer to rise as well. A number of the games that I have mentioned on this blog are sold in the $50+ range, and while I enjoy investing my money in good games I also realize that people on a budget are looking for better options. In response to this, I have put together a list of my favorite games that you can buy for less!

Under $10- Games in this price range are almost always compact and straightforward card games. Card games have a significantly lower production cost than board games, and the straightforward play style means less space needed for rules or additional pieces.

1) Set

  • Price on Amazon: $8.27
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Number of Players: 1-20

2) Hanabi

  • Price on Amazon: $9.77
  • Average Game Time: 25 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-5

3) Pit

  • Price on Amazon: $7.73
  • Average Game Time: 45 minutes
  • Number of Players: 3-8

4) Rook

  • Price on Amazon: $5.50
  • Average Game Time: 45 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-6

5) Loot

  • Price on Amazon: $8.75
  • Average Game Time: 20 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-8

Under $20- These games are slightly more complex than those in the $10 range, but still are primarily card-based and do not have a large amount of additional pieces. The artwork on these games is of good quality and the gameplay is in the easy to mid-range.

1) One Night Ultimate Werewolf

  • Price on Amazon: $17.99
  • Average Game Time: 10 minutes
  • Number of Players: 3-10

2) The Resistance

  • Price on Amazon: $13.00
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Number of Players: 5-10

3) Sushi Go! Board Game

  • Price on Amazon: $14.39
  • Average Game Time: 15 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-5 players

4) Munchkin

  • Price on Amazon: $18.89
  • Average Game Time: 60 minutes
  • Number of Players: 3-6

5) Codenames

  • Price on Amazon: $14.39
  • Average Game Time: 15 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-8

Under $30- If you’re willing to pay up to $30 on a game, you can really find some impressive gems. These games can be quite complex and have a number of different moving parts and pieces, but also keep the boards they use relatively compact in comparison to other games.

1) King of Tokyo

  • Price on Amazon: $28.81
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-6

2) Citadels

  • Price on Amazon: $24.95
  • Average Game Time: 40 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-8

3) Pandemic

  • Price on Amazon: $24.99
  • Average Game Time: 50 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-4

4) Qwirkle

  • Price on Amazon: $24.70
  • Average Game Time: 45 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-4

5) Carcassonne

  • Price on Amazon: $22.39
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Number of Players: 2-5

Overall, while playing some of the best games on the market will cost you more, you can find some great value on the cheaper side of the gaming industry too. If you keep an eye out for good deals and understand the level of investment you want to make on board games, you will soon find yourself with an impressive collection without breaking the bank.

Different Ways to Buy Board Games

I’ve written about the evolution of board games numerous times on this blog, but I can’t stress enough how different things are than a while ago, especially when it comes to board game purchasing. Local game stores were the main place to buy board games when I was younger, and while they aren’t as common as in the past, you can still find local shops selling board games in most places across the country. Chain stores and Supermarkets also have taken on a wide range of different games and have begun to stock their shelves with newer and more popular games. The biggest change has probably been the Internet, which has taken over a lot of the board game space in the last few years, providing easy access to a large collection of games. So of these three major options for board game purchasing, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks, so knowing which one makes the most sense for you helps with the game purchasing experience. Here is a list of some of the pros and cons of each way to buy board games:

 

Local Stores:board game shop

Pros

  • Supporting Small Business
  • Greater Knowledge and Expertise of games
  • Meeting other gaming enthusiasts

Cons

  • More expensive than chains and online sales
  • Less accessible, fewer store locations
  • Limited store space and product availability

There isn’t anything like the feeling of walking into a board game shop and browsing through their wares. Local stores can have a great vibe and give the option of learning and playing with other like-minded gamers. Unfortunately because of the local flavor and inability to get products in bulk, prices are usually higher and there are times when the product you are looking for isn’t available. It’s best to use local stores when you are looking for help finding the perfect game, and also want to be sociable and learn about the game industry.

Chain Stores:target board game aisle

Pros

  • Cheaper Prices than local stores
  • More Accessible store locations
  • Can buy other items while buying games (convenience)

Cons

  • Less variety of products offered
  • Limited expertise in games
  • Slow to expand to new game options

Stores like Walmart and Target have been very good at stocking popular board games recently, so being able to buy products in these locations is very convenient. You can buy games along with groceries or household wares, and usually prices are fairly cheap because the stores get good deals on rates. However, supermarkets don’t have the same expertise available and it takes a while for the game options to change, so the variety isn’t really there compared to the other options.

Internet:best sellers page

Pros

  • Largest pool of games available
  • Cheap prices and potential for additional discounts/sales
  • Easiest way to access games

Cons

  • Longer wait for delivery
  • Potential shipping costs
  • No human interaction or assistance with purchase

Ah, the Internet- finding ways to deliver things right to your door so you never have to leave the house. The Internet is the ultimate source for finding that obscure board game not available on the shelves of local stores, and it certainly allows for cheap prices and easy access. There is a longer waiting period once the game is bought though, and ultimately the lack of assistance in buying could cause trouble for newer gamers where they accidentally buy the wrong game for them.

 

It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses for the different board game buying options. Being able to decide on the best option for you to buy is a great way of ensuring that you get the games you want when you want them and have the best possible experience. Hopefully these different buying methods continue to grow and help expand the board game footprint nationwide.