Ca$h ‘n Guns, second edition
- Designer: Ludovic Maublanc
- Publisher: REPOS (distributed by Asmodee)
- Players: 4-8
- Ages: 8+
- Time: about 20 minutes
- Times played: 4 with review copy provided by Asmodee
Ca$h ‘n Guns has been re-released this year – who would have thought that the game would be 10 years old already! I can still remember this as one of my first games I played at my first trip to Essen, oh-so-many years ago… The sombrero-wearing gentlemen from Belgium have always been a joy to see and be with, and this game with its laughter and free-for-all silliness epitomizes these fun loving gamers.
The new version of Ca$h ‘n Guns remains a hoot though there are a few changes from the original version. Let me first describe how this new version of the game works. There are a bunch of loot cards. Some simply have money, some have diamonds on them, some are paintings, and some give you more bullets. At the beginning of the game, they are shuffled and split into groups of 8 tiles.
The game is played over 8 rounds. In each round, one stack of loot tiles is placed face up on the board. This is the stuff that the table will distribute at the end of the round. But, before we get to the distribution, we’re going to have a little gunfight first. Each player has a deck of cards – 5 that say “click” and 3 that say “Bang”. Each player secretly and simultaneously chooses one of the cards left in his hand and places it face down on the table. Then, at the direction of the Godfather (start player), all the players pick up their foam guns and then on the count of 3, they all point their gun directly at another player.
Once all the guns are pointed at someone, the Godfather may exercise his privilege – which is to compel any player to change their target (i.e. they must point their gun at someone else). Once this has (possibly) happened, then it’s time to see who wants to stay in. All players have a little cardboard figure on a stand that matches their identity. Everyone puts their finger on top of their cardboard figure, and then on the count of 3, anyone who wants to duck out of the round simply flips their cardboard figure down onto the table.
Why do you want to stay in? Well, only people that stay in the round (and remain unharmed) get to collect loot… Why would you leave? If you get hit with a bullet, you’ll take a wound – and if you take 3 wounds, you’re out of the game.
Anyways, the decision is made to stay in or jump out of the round. If you are out, you put your gun down – because you can’t shoot at someone when you’re not active in the round. Furthermore, your bullet card is discarded to the discard pile in the center of the table. Additionally, anyone who was pointing at you can put their gun down and discard their bullet card as they no longer have a target.
For all the people left standing, now it’s time to see what happened. All remaining bullet cards are flipped over to show whether that player was shooting a real bullet (bang!) or had an empty chamber (click). If a Bang card is showing, the person who took that bullet lies his card down and takes a wound marker. If you are hit with multiple Bang cards in a round, you take one wound per bullet that hits you. If you have 3 or more wounds, you’re out of the game.
The people that are left – which would be only the unharmed non-cowards – then get a chance to share in the loot. Starting with the Godfather and moving clockwise around the board, each player chooses one of the 8 cards on offer from the loot. It is possible to pick up multiple cards as the loot collection continues clockwise until all the cards are taken. When you’re choosing cards, it is also possible to pick up the marker which will make you the Godfather in the next round. There are also cards which let you add cards from the discard pile (which usually means you pick up more Bang! cards) and a few that let you heal up your wounds.
Once all the cards are chosen, it’s time for the next round! It’s played exactly the same as the round I just described. A total of 8 rounds are played, and at the end of the 8th round, you score your loot to see who the winner is.
At the end of the game, all of the money loot tiles are worth the value on them (5000, 10000 or 20000). The diamond cards are worth their value (1000, 5000, 10000) – but also the player who has the most number of diamond cards earns a 60000 bonus. If these is a tie for most diamond cards, no one gets the bonus. Paintings are scored on a sliding scale where 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 are worth 4/12/30/60/100/150/200/300/400/500k. The player (who has not been eliminated) that has the most money wins.
That’s pretty much the whole game – it’s dead simple to learn and play. There is a slightly more complex version of the game where players each get a randomly distributed special ability that they can use throughout the whole game. Examples of these powers are:
- The Kid – this player chooses their target after all other players have aimed simultaneously
- The Stealthy – when this player lays down, he can take a 10000 cash tile from the loot (if available)
- Unbreakable – this player is eliminated on their 5th wound, not their 3rd wound.
What I think about the game
I liked the original version of this game, and I like the new version a little bit better. There’s a little bit more strategy with the rule changes and it seems a little less arbitrary in the distribution of treasure. That being said, I’d be happy to play either version as a fun little 15 to 20 minute filler/closer.
The changes to the second edition are mostly positive for me. I like the change in the loot distribution. The new drafting system makes it a bit more equitable in that you’re generally assured of picking up something if you survive the shootout. The old system sometimes maddeningly rolled over when the loot couldn’t be divided equally. Knowing where you stand in loot picking order really can change your mind about your willingness to stay in the round when aimed at.
There is also a fair amount of strategy based on being the Godfather. As you can make one person aim somewhere else, that usually gives the current Godfather a better-than-average chance of surviving as you need to have at least two people even aiming at you to give you a chance of being hit. The Godfather also gets the best pick of the loot which makes it even more valuable. Once the loot sums get down under 5000, taking the Godfather token becomes very tempting.
Everyone else online seems to be talking about the art, so I’ll add my two cents in here on that. To me, the art is fine. I’m not a Kovalic fan boy, so I’m not going out of my way to get it because of the art, but there’s also nothing wrong with it. It’s cartoon-y (which is not surprising as it was drawn by a cartoonist) and completely functional. To those people that have said online that they are not buying it because of the art, I don’t see a reason for that as the art doesn’t detract from gameplay. But – to each their own, and if that’s the reason you aren’t going to get this one, you’re missing out on a lot of fun.
The components are otherwise well done. The foam guns are nicely sized, and they come complete with orange tips per US legal regulations. The loot tiles are thick and sturdy, and I find the smaller bullet cards to be a nice change – as you don’t really need to handle them much – they could have even been cardboard chits.
This is clearly not a serious game, and there is as much fun in the playing as the winning- which is exactly what I want from this short 20 minute game. The new scoring rules make it a bit harder to figure out who is actually winning the game though, and that’s an improvement. With the bonuses for the diamonds as well as the escalating scale for the artwork, it’s a lot harder to remember how much loot everyone has stashed away. This, in turn, makes it harder to figure out who to target in the shooting round.
Thoughts from the other Opinionated Gamers
Karen M – I have the original version of this game and it can be a lot of fun with the right crowd. I just play the base game; the cards with the special powers just add unnecessary complication in my opinion. The whole point of the this game is to point foam guns at each other and shoot! The updated version contains different kinds of loot which do slightly more meaningful decisions, but just barely. I consider this to be a party game and enjoy it within that context.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y, Karen M,
- Neutral. John P
- Not for me…