Josey Wales:Reckon I’m right popular. You a bounty hunter?
Bounty hunter:A man’s got to do something for a living these days.
Josey Wales: Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.
– The Outlaw Josey Wales
Bang! The Dice Game, published by dV Giochi, is the faster paced, dice-rolling, bandit brother of Bang! The Card Game. The Dice Game quickens and simplifies play while keeping the heart of the game intact. Gaming website, BoardGameGeek, does a great job of summing up the gameplay:
“At the start of the game, players each take a role card that secretly places them on a team: the Sheriff and deputies, outlaws, and renegades. The Sheriff and deputies need to kill the outlaws, the outlaws win by killing the Sheriff, and the renegades want to be the last players alive in the game.
Each player also receives a character card which grants him a special power in the game. The Sheriff reveals his role card and takes the first turn of the game. On a turn, a player can roll the five dice up to three times, using the results of the dice to shoot neighboring players, increase the range of his shots, heal his (or anyone else’s) life points, or put him in range of the Indians, which are represented by nine tokens in the center of the table. Each time a player rolls an arrow, he takes one of these tokens; when the final token is taken, each player loses one life point for each token he holds, then the tokens are returned to the center of the table.
If a player collects a trio of Gatling symbols on the dice, he fires one shot at everyone else and rids himself of Indian tokens. Who’ll get his shot off first? Play continues until one team meets its winning condition – and death won’t necessarily keep you from winning as long as your teammates pull through”
As mentioned in the description, the game uses a Yahtzee mechanic and this is a fine example where adding luck to the game really adds to the game play. There is also a push your luck element in that you get to reroll any number of dice (up to three times), unless the dynamite shows up. Too many dynamite and your turn is over and you take damage. The results of the dice allow you to shoot players within the range of your weapon; increase the range of your weapon to target people farther away; heal yourself or someone else, if you are feeling neighborly; and push your luck with a potential Native American attack (if you roll enough arrows to diminish the supply at the center of the table. The Gatling gun lets you shoot everyone; if you can’t decide who is on your side, better safe than sorry, they say.
Where the card game can bog down when everyone hunkers down behind their wagons, playing cards and counter-cards, the dice really force the game forward, allowing for a very fun, streamlined experience. This game is really meant to be unholstered with five or more cowpokes, though I have played with three people and it is enjoyable enough. With lightning fast setup and quick to learn rules, Bang! The Dice Game is great to pull out between longer games or if you don’t have enough time at the end of the evening but want to play something else. That said, we’ve spent whole nights throwing lead and accusations across the table, enjoying every deadly minute of it.
The Approach: When the Gwarkonians first put this out in the middle of town a few months ago, we immediately realized a soundtrack was in order. The game drips with theme and a few outlaw songs can’t hurt the overall feel. I have taken 10 songs from our extended list and present them for you to enjoy or shoot full of holes.
Feel free to post in the comments if you agree, disagree, or think you have a song that should be on the playlist. If there is a game you think should have a soundtrack, or you have a soundtrack for a game, drop me a line using the “Contact Roll & Groove” page.
1. Marty Robbins – El Paso: Yes, it’s the obvious choice, but there is a reason for that. The quintessential cowboy song, sung by a quintessential cowboy singer. It’s got love, gun fights, remorse, vengeance, and Spanish guitars. It would also be obvious just to put on the entire 1959 album the song came from, Gunfighter Songs and Trail Ballads, and listen to that while you play. While a perfectly fine choice, it would turn this post into an album review, so we are going to spin a few different tunes. I’ve attached a Steve Martin video tribute to the song. It’s got Steve Martin and monkeys, what more do you need?
2. Johnny Cash – The Streets of Laredo: After the country music industry abandoned him, Johnny flew his middle finger flag by recording some of the most impactful and influential recordings of his storied career under Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label. The American recordings are the reason you see kids wearing Cash t-shirts, and good for them for doing so. Streets of Laredo is a traditional and has been recorded by dozens of artists; several times by Johnny himself. Recorded late in his life, Johnny’s voice adds a haunting and remorseful tone that really makes this version stand out from the rest. Johnny Cash was truly an American treasure.
3. The Eagles – Desperado: A gunfighter’s life is not always about whiskey, fast guns, and coffins. Sometimes it’s about being lonely, misunderstood, and difficult to be around. At least that’s what The Eagles think. Take a break from the game and get out your lighter app (because nobody carries lighters anymore) for this one. (Apologies for the creepy hand-eagle thing on the video)
4. Cary Ann Hearst & Michael Trent (Shovels & Rope) – Boxcar: Recorded before they formally took the name Shovels and Rope, this song takes a decidedly romantic, Bonnie and Clyde look at a couple caught in a bad situation. While not traditionally a gunslinger song, it certainly speaks to folks who have had to take a turn on the other side of the law, and is set in a standoff situation. On top of all that, the song flat kicks ass.
5. Townes Van Zandt – Pancho & Lefty: Not a lot of songs have been written about a gunslinger’s twilight years, but when Townes Van Zandt penned one, almost everyone on earth recorded it. You could make a box set of just this song recorded by some of the most important artists in American music. I chose the original. Long live Townes Van Zandt.
6. Steve Earle – Tom Ames Prayer: “Everyone in Nacadoches knew Tom Ames would come to some bad end…” That line sets the stage for a song set in the seconds before a gunfighter’s last stand. It also tells the entire story in 3:03, but has enough meat to make a movie. As much as I’ve said about Johnny Cash being an american treasure, Steve Earle is a coin in the same chest.
7. Johnny Cash – Big Iron: I knew that Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins would see repeats in this playlist, but I was divided between which of their versions of this song to include. Johnny won out by a hair. Another from the American Recordings series, there is a somberness to this version that removes the glamorous mythology we have associated with gunfighters.
8. Frankie Laine – Wanted Man: Originally a big band and jazz vocalist, Frankie revamped himself in the 50’s by singing theme songs to a lot of western movies (including Blazing Saddles in the early 70′). For better or worse, he maintains that cool, swinging style when interpreting some of the gunfighter ballads. This song is a finger snapping example of a crooner donning a leather vest and a six-gun. Don’t be surprised if your game group breaks out into some sort of choreographed dance number by song end.
9. Marty Robbins – They’re Hanging Me Tonight: Love has turned many a person into a gun slinging outlaw. The protagonist in this story is no exception. This song defines traditional country and western music. It’s also beautifully written and sung. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself after the game , belly to the bar, with this song in the background. Don’t blame me. Blame Flo.
10. Willie Nelson & Ray Charles – Seven Spanish Angels: Last on the list only because very few songs can follow this one. In my younger years, I spent a lot of time at a hole-in-the-wall beer joint, drinking $1 drafts, playing pool, and listening to this song on the jukebox. Saddled by two wonderful artists, Seven Spanish Angels is about as close to perfect as a song can get. Please take the time to watch the live version on the YouTube link below. It will help explain the difference between musicians and people who “make” music.