With Don Bell having 4 bullets and the ability to get an extra turn after the first (on a draw of a heart or diamond), he can become an overpowered character very quickly. He is likely to get 1 more card and shoot one more bang then Lucky Duke, who can draw a third card on a heart or diamond, and always has a shot at a second turn, unlike Vendetta which is one round only and only for hearts.

Because of this my normal group doesn't play with him because he is deemed unbalanced and overpowered. Some house rules that have been suggested have been lowering him to a 3 bullet character and making the extra turn only work on hearts, or leaving him at 4 bullets but needing to sacrifice a life in order to draw for an extra turn.

I was wondering anyone had any ideas on house rules that can make him a more balanced character.

2 Answers 2


We independently came up with @thesunneversets' idea, and found it a bit unsatisfying - it ends up being "Don Bell sometimes gets to use an extra Bang! card during his turn or can use a green bordered card immediately".

It's a fairly weak ability: since it's random, Don Bell can't plan for it and neither can any other player; even if he does get the chance, there's only a few "active" green cards for which this is useful in the first place (most of them are Missed! or Dodge equivalents); and players end up forgetting to use the power half the time anyway since he's the only character who regularly draws after the end of his turn.

The chance at an extra Bang is pretty good, but Doc Holiday already does that more reliably (and he pays any two cards instead of one Bang).

We decided that the interesting and unique part of his power was the interaction with green bordered cards, so we flat out changed his power to:

Don Bell may play green bordered cards from his hand as if they were brown bordered cards.

This lets him use the various green misses when he's being shot at, along with doing things like using a Buffalo Rifle as a lower-cost Springfield or a Pony Express as a Wells Fargo. He still can't use the Canteen as a holdout beer, though.

It gives Don Bell interesting decisions to make (do I discard some cards and keep this green in my hand where people don't know I have it, or do I play it so I can keep more cards in hand?), and it gives other players interesting decisions to make related to him (do I play this Pony Express, or do I keep it in my hand since he would want to Panic it from me and use it immediately? Do I take the Conestoga from the general store even though I don't really want it to deny him?)

Finally, from a design standpoint (because this matters to us for some reason) it also provides a certain symmetry with Delgado's ability to interact with blue cards.

  • That sounds interesting but to me it seems more like a completely new character then a rebalanced Don Bell. Sounds like a good use for the blank character card.
    – Joe W
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 4:11
  • @JoeW Yeah, I know - that's just what we ended up doing with him, because his normal power was just too good. I mean, the closest comparison is to Black Jack, who only gets one extra card on red, and he has to show the table somewhere between 1/2 and 1/3 of the cards he draws...
    – Tacroy
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 14:34
  • You should also consider Vendetta from the a fistful of cards expansion because it also can give players another turn (and seems to be part of what Don Bell was designed from) but that only works on hearts and only lasts for 1 round.
    – Joe W
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 20:27

One suggestion I've seen is to not let him draw 2 cards at the beginning of his extra turn.

So this power might for instance let you use a green card immediately after playing it, instead of having to wait for everyone else on the table to take a turn; but it's much less likely to allow the Don Bell player to just run away with the game.

  • This looks like it will work to keep him in better balance
    – Joe W
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 4:30

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