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)!".
Each player receives a random Role card among Sheriff (1x), Deputy (2x), Outlaw (3x) and Renegade (1x), which is kept secret, with the notable exception of the Sheriff-card which is immediately placed face up. The role distribution depends on the number of players. The Sheriff and up to two Deputies must kill the Renegade and all Outlaws in order to win the game. The (max 3) Outlaws must kill the Sheriff, but may earn rewards by killing each other. The lonely Renegade is simply trying to be the last one alive!
Each player receives also a random Character which is kept face up on table. The number of Bullets in the top right corner determines the number of shots it takes to kill him. Each character has a special ability, e.g. Lucky Duke may draw two cards instead of one and decide which to use every time he is required to "draw", any shot from Slab the Killer needs two Missed!-cards to be avoided, El Gringo may take a random card from any player who hits him, etc.
A player's turn is divided into 3 phases:
1. Draw 2 cards
2. Play any number of cards
3. Discard cards exceeding the hand limit
There are 22 different cards of which 17 has a blue border, indicating that the card stay in play until removed. The rest are discarded immediately after play.
BANG! is the most common type with 25 cards, and this is obviously used to take a shot at another player. Assuming the target is within range can a hit only be avoided by playing one of the 12 Missed!-cards.
Each player is automatically equipped with a Colt 45 with a range of 1, but better weapons are available: the Remington has a range of 3 and the Winchester can hit a target at range 5. Most weapons are kept on the table, but the Gatling is a deadly exception. It can only be used once, but targets all other players!
The "range" is simply the actual distance between players measured in "seats". So the players to your immediate left and right are at range 1, the next seats would be at range 2 and so forth. A couple of cards may change the range.
This information is kept on the cards in the form of easy to understand symbols, and 7 handy Summary cards provide easy guidance during the first game or two.