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My group has played a good amount of bang of the year. 6 player bang however always seems to be unbalanced no matter what we try.

We've taken the advice of a message board to shuffle randomly a outlaw or a renegade instead of the third outlaw. But that conflicts with robbers roost who can do actions given an unbalance in players.

We've tried two renegades, or two deputies, but either way it becomes really unbalanced in favor of the law.

We've tried better informed players where the renegade is strongly encouraged to play as the law until the outlaws are eliminated. This has proven to be the most effective. But our data tracking sheet is still showing a clear biast for outlaws to win.

Also we've tried giving the sheriff a built in mustang. This helps, but is much like the random renegade/outlaw where it's still unbalanced it's just random which way its going to lean. Because it's just a matter of luck if the outlaws are able to get a gun or not.

The only thing that seems to come close is a general rule that no one can shoot bangs against the sheriff on turn 1. This prevents the sheriff from getting jumped early and rallying the outlaws before the other two players have time (or cards) to respond.

Any one else have any suggestions for 6 player bang~?

  • Can you provide more information about why you think it is unbalanced? I have played a lot of games and have found no issues at all with 6 players and it seems to be balanced to me. As for your comment about the renegade why would they ever play anything but law until later in the game? The renegade can't win until all 3 outlaws and the deputy is dead and is best served if they convince the sheriff early in the game that they are the deputy. – Joe W Jan 25 '18 at 22:49
  • Actually I would go as far as saying that no matter how many players there are in a game the renegade should always start out playing law (even in 4 players where no deputy) since they always have to kill all the outlaws before they can win and any deputies that may also be in the game. – Joe W Jan 25 '18 at 22:59
  • For the Dice version of Bang, 6 also feels unbalanced. Even with different gameplay, the hidden role balance just isn't right. We've had to resort to giving the sheriff preferential character selection in setup (better health/abilities). – ryanyuyu Jan 26 '18 at 23:25
  • Our data shows that in 6 player with out any modifications there's a steep biast for outlaws to win. There's always a good chance that an outlaw is on the sherif's left or right if not both. Which really puts the sherif at a disadvantage in most games. Also with an outlaw on the left or right they usually come out shooting against the sherif and rally the other two early on. There's alot going against the sherif in a 6 player game. – mattroid Jan 26 '18 at 23:41
  • I think it's a good rule of thumb to act as a deputy early, but working with the other deputies to buff the sherif is not always a good idea. It can oftern put you in a position where its you and the sherif and but the sherif's sitting pretty with barrel/mustang/hideout or something. – mattroid Jan 26 '18 at 23:45
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From reading your question and responses in the comments I would say that 100% you are playing the game in the spirit that it was designed.

Rules

4 players: 1 Sheriff, 1 Renegade, 2 Outlaws
5 players: 1 Sheriff, 1 Renegade, 2 Outlaws, 1 Deputy
6 players: 1 Sheriff, 1 Renegade, 3 Outlaws, 1 Deputy
7 players: 1 Sheriff, 1 Renegade, 3 Outlaws, 2 Deputy

Killing a player

Eliminating a character When you lose your last life point, you are eliminated and your game is over, unless you immediately play a Beer (see below). When you are eliminated from the game, show your role card and discard all the cards you have in hand and in play.
Penalties and Rewards
• If the Sheriff eliminates a Deputy, the Sheriff must discard all the cards he has in hand and in play.
• Any player eliminating an Outlaw (even if the eliminating player is himself an Outlaw!) must draw a reward of 3 cards from the deck.

End Game

The game ends when one of the following conditions is met:
a) the Sheriff is killed. If the Renegade is the only one alive, then he wins. Otherwise, the Outlaws win;
b) all the Outlaws and the Renegade are killed. The Sheriff and his Deputies win.

I will break down the conditions that need to happen in order for the renegade to win.

4 Player Game:

  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) both outlaws
  • Once both outlaws are dead the renegade needs to kill the sheriff

5 Player Game:

  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) both outlaws
  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) the deputy
  • Once both of those are done the renegade needs to kill the sheriff

6 Player Game:

  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) all three outlaws
  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) the deputy
  • Once both of those are done the renegade needs to kill the sheriff

7 Player Game:

  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) all three outlaws
  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) both deputies
  • Once both of those are done the renegade needs to kill the sheriff

Note with expansions there is also an 8 player game that adds in a 2nd renegade

8 Player Game:

  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) all three outlaws
  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) the deputy
  • The renegade needs to kill (or assist) the other rendage
  • Once all of those are done the renegade needs to kill the sheriff

I think it's a good rule of thumb to act as a deputy early, but working with the other deputies to buff the sherif is not always a good idea. It can oftern put you in a position where its you and the sherif and but the sherif's sitting pretty with barrel/mustang/hideout or something.

What you are forgetting or ignoring is that with no matter how many players (4-8) a game is setup with a renegade will have to ensure that every player but the sheriff is killed in order for them to have a shot at winning. So it will always come down to a situation where the sheriff and renegade are in a dual so there is no reason not to help the sheriff kill the outlaws. In fact if you do a convincing enough job you might get the sheriff to kill the deputy which would make them lose all their items and become easier to kill.

Another thing you should remember is that not all games are designed to be perfectly balanced for one side or the other and in truth the real role that has reason to complain is the renegade since they can only win when everyone else is dead.

I would also like to point out that in a 6 player (or larger) it is very possible for the players later in play order to be killed before they even get a turn so I would not say this game considers balance at all.

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Given that everyone has an equal chance at being a member of the advantaged group, a small imbalance isn't a big deal. For instance, if the outlaws win 60% of the time, that means that The Law has a more challenging game. If it's 90%, though, then it can get dispiriting to play as The Law.

For balancing, the simplest balancing is to just give The Law advantages: more bullets, let them draw more cards, etc. Or let them draw two character cards, and each turn they choose whose special ability they have for that turn.

More complicated advantages would be to change how the knowledge works. For instance, the Sheriff gets to see one role card.

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After playing BANG! for a few years, my group realized similar issues to yours. The game is always going to be biased against the Renegade, and the game continues to be more "bursty" the more players you add (because all of the Outlaws all know who their target is, and more players means more Outlaws).

A few solutions we've implemented:

  • Fog of War: For the first few rounds, players get a bonus to their defense that decreases by 1 each turn. Fog of War is equal to [# of Outlaws - 2].
    • Improves Sheriff survivability in early rounds.
  • Grave Robbing: Once all Outlaws have been eliminated, all players that are not the Sheriff draw a card.
    • Improves Renegade chances, especially when playing with more than 1 Renegade (which I recommend past 6 players)
  • Man of the Law: When the Sheriff dies, the Deputies reveal themselves. The Deputy next in turn loses 1 HP and becomes the new Sheriff. This life loss cannot kill the new Sheriff.
    • Improves chances of The Law dramatically.

For 6 players, the Fog of War variant should work fine to mitigate the burst-damage of 3 outlaws. If you feel otherwise, replace it with the Man of the Law and the Grave Robbing variants.

When playing 7 players, I'd recommend using a second Renegade instead of a Deputy, along with the Grave Robbing variant, as this allows Renegades to invest heavily into dealing with Outlaws while still having enough resources to deal with the 2nd phase of the game.

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  • I am not sure how any of those rules make the game more balanced. Fog of war doesn't seem like it will protect players from AE attacks or ones with unlimited range. Grave robbing seems to give the law a bigger boost as the renegades still have to kill each other. Man of the Law will make it next to impossible for the renegade to win as they may have to kill the sheriff up to 3 times to win. – Joe W Dec 2 '19 at 20:46
  • @JoeW FoW won't protect players from AE attacks, but generally, those are much more limited than standard Bang cards, and most cards with unlimited range also come with additional costs (like discarding a card or telegraphing your move as a green card). The question is, does this rule reduce the risk of burst-damage in early rounds, or does it not? There'll always be exceptions, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work. – Daniel Zastoupil Dec 2 '19 at 20:53
  • @JoeW Grave Robbing is one I would only recommend if you don't have more Deputies than Renegades (which I suggested to be done later, when having games with more players). With 2 Renegades and 1 Deputy, The Law is only getting 30% of the benefit. – Daniel Zastoupil Dec 2 '19 at 20:57
  • @JoeW Lastly, MotL is something I'd really only recommend to deal with the bursting factor of 3+ outlaws. It becomes more balanced with more Renegades, as it allows Renegades to quickly take down the Sheriff if he's weak without losing the game, while also revealing and weakening their common enemy (the Deputy). Instead of a bunch of in-fighting, the Renegades can pull off what's effectively an Outlaw strategy of going all-in. – Daniel Zastoupil Dec 2 '19 at 21:00
  • You say that but I have lost count of how many times the 7th/8th players have been killed due to multiple AE/unlimited range attacks before they can get a single turn. As for grave robbing as long as you have more than a single renegade it will always been in the laws favor as the renegade has to kill everyone else while the law just has to slowly wear down everyone but the sheriff to win. In a game with 2 renegades and 1 deputy as an example the renegades have to kill 2 other players before they can kill the sheriff and hope during that time the sheriff doesn't get over powerful. – Joe W Dec 2 '19 at 21:02

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