Looking down the barrel of your opponent’s gun you notice the sweat dripping from his forehead. The other four gangsters in the room seem to have forgotten about you, as their guns are pointing squarely at each other’s foreheads. It is just you and the guy you thought you could trust. Is the gun loaded? Will you hear a click and no bang when he pulls the trigger? Do you feel lucky punk?
Theses are the thoughts racing through your mind as you quickly duck, only to feel the bullet rushing past your head. You were lucky, two of the other gangsters not so much. You may miss out on sharing the loot, but at least you survived another round.
What is it about?
In Cash & Guns you take on the role of a gangster who has just pulled off the heist of a lifetime, with the help from his fellow gangsters. The loot consists of valuable paintings, sparkly diamonds and large amounts of unmarked bills, and neither you nor any of your fellow gangsters are willing to share any of it. The aim of the game is to eliminate the other players, by bluffing or wounding them, making sure that they don’t share in the loot at the end of a round.
What is in the box?
Lots of cardboard bits and foam guns is what greet you when you first open the box.
The most eye-catching part of the board game is the eight foam guns, these look and feel really great. It is nice that the designers made the guns black and orange as it makes them feel more like toy guns, rather than the real thing.
The cardboard tokens and character cut outs are made of a good thick quality cardboard. I have never been a huge fan of the art from John Kovalic, but in this instance it actually worked great. This is in part due to that fact that the cartoony art took away some of the seriousness associated with pointing guns at each other.
The loot, bullet and power cards are a nice size and easy to shuffle and handle. I really liked the fact that the loot cards were shaped like currency. I should also mention that the wound tokens resemble band-aids which also adds to the theme and just plain looks good.
How does it play?
Cash & Guns takes place after the gangsters (players) completed a heist. The first thing is to give each gangster a character cut out and character power. These powers give each player an advantage in the game. This might be, choosing who to hold at gun point last to, taking five wounds instead of three before being eliminated. Next eight loot cards are placed in front of the players, and the oldest player is designated the Godfather (which usually means me). Each player is dealt 5 Click cards and 3 Bang cards. These cards represent the amount of ammunition you have. Click cards mean your gun was empty, and Bang cards mean that you have been shot.
Each round plays out as follows:
Choose a bullet card – Each player chooses a Bang or Click card and places it faces down on the table. These cards are kept secret from the other players. Each card can only be used once, so knowing when to use a Bang and when to use a Click is critical.
Hold-Up – The Godfather for that specific round counts to three. On three, each player points their foam gun to a player of their choosing. As a side note, I prefer holding my gun sideways (full on gangster mode). A player who is too slow will not be able to hold up players for that round.
Godfather’s privilege – Being the powerful Godfather enables a player to force one of the other players to point their gun to a different player (the chosen player chooses the target, not the Godfather). This does sometimes backfire.
Courage – The Godfather counts to three again, this time the players either has to knock down their cut out character or shout “Banzai”. The players who knocked over their characters are guaranteed of not being wounded (as they ducked just in time), but they will not be able to share in the loot. If you shoot a player that ducked you discard your bullet card face down (gangster don’t bother shooting cowards). Players who shouted “Banzai” now learns if their bluffing paid off. Each player (still in the game) reveals their bullet cards. If it is a Click they are safe, if it is a Bang they receive a wound and cannot partake in the loot sharing. Receive three wounds (unless specified by a power) and you are eliminated from the game.
Loot sharing (Yah!) – Players not wounded or that have not ducked partake in the loot sharing (the best part!). Each player starting from the Godfather (if the Godfather is eliminated start clockwise from them) gets a chance to take one loot item from the loot share. This continues until there is no more loot to share. Players are also able to instead of taking a loot card, flip over the Godfather token, ensuring that they will be the Godfather for the next round. Loot consists of cash (the value which is indicated on the money bill), diamonds (which value is indicated by the price tag) and paintings (which value increases depending on the size of a players collection). It is also worth noting that the player with the most diamonds receive a bonus $60 000 at the end. There are also health kits which heal two wounds as well as ammo clips which restore a Bang card to the player’s hand.
This continues for a total of eight rounds, after which the remaining players add up the values of their items. The player with the highest value items, win the game.
What did I think of it?
Let me start of by saying that Cash & Guns might offend some players, as it is not everyone’s cup of tea to point a gun at someone’s head. I do think however that the game makes a great effort in making it feel less real and more like a game.
Now that that is out of the way, I have to say that I really enjoyed playing Cash & Guns. Although it is a bluffing game it feels a lot more chaotic (in a good way) and different than its counterparts. As with any other bluffing game the success of playing Cash & Guns relies on who you play with. I did find that the game became tedious and boring when players weren’t fully invested in the game, nevertheless when played with people who throw themselves into the theme, the game becomes something special.
There where many occasions where we burst out laughing at what transpired during a round. Rivalries formed and greed took over as players started to target certain players. This is an aspect I enjoyed very much, even though the game consists of only eight short rounds, the story that develops between players makes the game feel like more than a quick bluffing game. This of course is also due to the fact the game is just stuffed with theme, from the band aid shape wound markers to the foam guns this theme draws you in from the get go.
The game is also insanely easy to teach. I have seen kids as young as 6 years old playing. The game plays quick enough to keep the younger players entertained and keep there attention. I also have to mention the special character powers. These are game changers and really mix things up. I did find one or two to be a bit over powered, but this didn’t bother us to much.
Even though the game is light and the novelty of the foam guns can wear off, I still found enough depth to keep me and my group entertained.
If you are up for some light hearted fun, playing with guns, and feeling like you are 6 again then give Cash & Guns a try.
Gameplay: 8.5/10 The game was insanely easy to teach. The rule book is easy to read and understand. The game plays quickly although this doesn’t mean it is a filler game.
Components: 5/5 The components are really great quality, from the foam guns to the thick card board. I really couldn’t find anything wrong with them.
Complexity vs. Depth: 4.5/5 Although the game is a light weight game, and plays quickly, it still has enough depth to keep players coming back for more.
Theme: 5/5 The artwork helps to keep the game light hearted. The Foam guns are really cool and all the components oozes theme. In the end though, it is the foam guns that really shine.
Overall: 4.5/5 Cash & Guns is not your classic bluffing game. It oozes theme, is filled with hours of fun and envelops a room in laughter. I really enjoyed the game for what it offers, a light weight, fast and chaotic bluffing game (with a great gangster theme).
Board game supplied by Timeless Board Games (www.timelessboardgames.co.za)