Cash ‘n Guns, designed by Ludovic Maublanc, was originally published in 2005 by Repos Production. Despite being well received, initial print runs were small. The worst thing about Cash ‘n Guns was that it was nearly impossible to acquire. Prices on the secondary market were mostly over $100. For people newer to the hobby that never picked up Cash ‘n Guns during its original print run, they would have to fork over an arm and a leg to get a copy.
Fear not, your wait is over. Repos Productions, along with Asmodee Games, has published a second edition of Cash ‘n Guns which is now widely available. Largely the same as the original, In Cash ‘n Guns you take on the role of a gangster attempting to split loot after a successful heist.
Cash ‘n Guns is bluffing game that plays 4-8 players in about 30 minutes, it plays best with 6 or more players.
In Cash ‘n Guns, you play the role of a gangster. Along with the other players, you have successfully pulled off a heist. The loot: paintings of untold value, sparkling diamonds, and large denomination cash bills. The game is played over 8 turns and whichever gangster has the most money at the end of the game is the winner. One player will be the Godfather – they get to make a few extra decisions each round. Players also have to manage their resources – their guns are low on ammo. But the real fun of the game is playing a bit of politics. If everyone suspects you are getting more than your fair share – you make end up staring down the barrel of quite a few foam guns.
Speaking of foam guns – this game has foam guns! Black colored guns at that – some earlier versions had all-orange guns that just don’t look as cool. There are plenty of other components – wound tokens shaped like band-aids, character standees, loot cards, bullet cards, and the Godfather’s desk. These are all really well made. Tokens and standees are heavy cardboard, not flimsy or cheap. The cards are fine – I really like that the loot share cards are shaped roughly like currency.
But let’s talk about the foam guns. It’s a board game where you get to point a foam gun at people. There really isn’t anything else like it in board gaming. Without a doubt there will be at least one conversation per game about how someone is pointing their gun. Someone will pull it from their waist like they are John Wayne in a western. Others will hold it sideways – full on gangster mode. Other will probably just point it very non-nonchalantly not even with their finger on the trigger – definitely feel free to call those people out.
My only complaint is the plastic clips the hold up the standees. They are extremely tight. It’s hard to get them onto the standee without nicking the edges of the cardboard. It’s not the end of the world, but be careful trying to get those things on.
How to Play
The object of Cash ‘n Guns could not be more simple – get the biggest share of the loot. However, it’s not as easy as just splitting the money evenly. Each turn, the loot is revealed and then players choose one of their 8 bullet cards to play. Each gangster only has three bullets and five empty chambers. You must choose to use one of your BANG! cards to shoot down another gangster or a CLICK! which does no damage.
Once the bullets are secretly chosen, each player simultaneously points his or her foam gun. Players who are potentially under heavy fire can back out – they don’t shoot their gun and they don’t get to share the loot, but the escape unharmed. Everyone who remains in will determine whether or not anyone shot them – if so, they take a wound for each shot and are also out of the loot. If you get three wounds, you are dead and out of the game. Finally, whoever is left gets to take their share of the loot, going around in a round-robin fashion under nothing is left.
The player who is the Godfather gets first pick of the loot. They can also make one player change who they are pointing their gun at during the hold-up step. It’s a very powerful position to be in, but puts a target squarely on your forehead.
There are also special role cards that can be used in the game. They give each player a special power that only they possess. They aren’t necessary and most of the games I’ve played I have played without them. They do provide a little extra replay value – there are 16 different powers so playing with a new one gives you a chance to develop a little different strategy. Some are extremely strong, while others are not. With my group – the variance isn’t worth the added twist.
Cash ‘n Guns is easy to pick up and learn. The rulebook is on about three pages – including one page that only describes setup, one for the actual mechanics, and one page that outlines all the special powers. The theme is familiar enough to anyone who has watched a couple crime flicks that it really helps get new players going right away.
Like most bluffing and social deduction games – the player interaction is really where this game shines. Every round you have to point your gun at someone. It’s impossible to not make enemies, even somewhat unintentionally. That is where Cash ‘n Guns really shines, the interaction is forced, and even the most timid player can’t just sit back and hope to go unnoticed.
The downside of many party games and bluffing games for me has always been that the experience is entirely dependent on the group you play with. If someone isn’t into it they can bring the game down for everyone. Cash ‘n Guns doesn’t feel like it has the same issue. You can’t sit back; you have to point your gun at someone. And you have to fire it three times. The action of this game is built into the mechanics.
And it’s hard for that action to be boring. After all, you are pointing guns at each other. The trash talk flows back and forth. Your politically inclined gamers will try to convince their fellow gangsters to start paying more attention to the other players. The interaction between players is the entire game – and there is enough strategy to back it up.
The different loot cards give you a lot of avenues to pursue. For those of you familiar with the first edition – this edition of Cash ‘n Guns adds new types of loot: diamonds and paintings. The more paintings you have at the end of the game, the more they are worth. If you end the game with one painting it is worth $4,000, four paintings – $60,000, and 8 paintings – $300,000. You have to keep a bit of an eye on the art collectors.
The diamonds are generally not worth very much – mostly $1,000 or $5,000. There is one diamond worth $10k. However, whichever player has the most diamonds at the end of the game gets a $60,000 bonus. In most games there is only a couple players spending time on the diamonds – it can be a very profitable strategy.
The rest of the loot is cash – valued at $5k, $10k, or $20k each. Sometimes just taking cash can be a good way to lay low. There are a couple special cards that are in the loot deck – a first aid kit that removes two wounds and an extra magazine that will give you back a BANG! card. You can also choose to take the Godfather’s desk rather than a loot card. This lets you be the Godfather for the next round.
Having all of these decisions to make which splitting up the loot is a really strong mechanic. The game is very light – possibly too light for some gamers. But this adds just enough strategy for me to not tire of it. It’s not just about survival. You can position yourself to be the Godfather as often as possible and get his extra powers. Or just focus on cash, diamonds, or paintings. Each has its own set of risks and rewards.
Cash ‘n Guns is a great bluffing game. It feels completely different from other games that fit into a similar category. There aren’t complicated rules to explain. It is a very streamlined game to introduce new players into the hobby.
Every game night since I brought Cash ‘n Guns home from GenCon, it’s found its way to the table. Its longer than just a filler game – but everyone really enjoys it. For those that want lighter games, this fits the bill. Even with a few different loot strategies it’s not a game you have to worry about analysis paralysis. Every decision is made quickly.
I’ve played it with my 8 year old daughter and my 55-year old dad. It’s universally loved. Cash ‘n Guns will continue to see play at my table. It’s available now and I can’t recommend it enough.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, you can get it for about $30.
Final Score: 4.5 Stars – A classic game finally makes its way back onto store shelves. Even if you own the original Cash ‘N Guns, this one is worth the upgrade.
• Potentially too light for some gamers
• Role cards aren’t well balanced