From the back of the box "The Outlaws hunt the Sheriff. The Sheriff hunts the Outlaws. The Renegade plots secretly, ready to take one side or the other. Bullets fly. Who among the gunmen is a Deputy, ready to sacrifice himself for the Sheriff? And who is a merciless Outlaw, willing to kill him? If you want to find out, just draw (your cards)!"
The card game BANG! plays out as an old-fashioned spaghetti western shoot-out, with each player randomly getting a Character card to determine special abilities, and a secret Role card to determine their goal. Four unique Roles are available, each with a different victory condition:
Sheriff - Eliminate all Outlaws and the Renegade Deputy - Protect the Sheriff and kill any Outlaws. Outlaw - Eliminate the Sheriff. Renegade - Be the last one standing. A player's Role is kept hidden, except for the Sheriff. Character cards are put face up on table, and also track strength (hand limit) in addition to special ability. There are 22 different types of cards in the deck. Most common are the BANG! cards, which allow you to shoot at another player, assuming the target is within "range" of your current gun. The target player can lay a "MISSED!" card to dodge the shot. Other cards can give temporary boosts while in play (for example, different guns to improve your firing range) and special one-time effects to assist you or hinder your opponents (such as Beer to restore health, or Barrels to hide behind during a shootout). A horse is useful for keeping your distance from rowdy neighbors, while the Winchester can hit a target at range 5. The Gatling is an exception where range doesn't matter: it can only be used once, but targets all other players at the table! Information on the cards are shown using language-independent symbols, and 7 summary/reference cards are included.