Welcome to my new regular card & board games feature which I am proud to bring to you in association with Zatu Games. To start the ball (dice?) rolling I am kicking off with a Cash and Guns board game review…and we have had plenty of hours of fun as a family with this one!
Title: Cash & Guns (2nd Edition)
Author: Ludovic Maublanc
Publisher: REPOS Productions
No. of Players: 4 to 8
Time To Play: Around 30/40 minutes
Suggested Age: 10+ (but I play-tested with 7, 8, 9 & 11 year olds & all adults…everyone loved it!!)
Where To Buy: Buy Online from Zatu Games
The background to the game is that you are all part of a group of gangsters who have just pulled off a gigantic heist where you have stolen huge amounts of cash, diamonds and paintings. Now it is time to share the loot…but you can’t all agree on how it is split and so you solve your arguments with guns!!
What’s in the box?
The game contents include the game rules, 8 foam guns, wound tokens, characters and stands, bullet cards, loot cards, diamond bonus card and the all important Godfather’s Desk!
Setting Up & How To Play
To set up and play Cash & Guns you will need room for the players to sit down around the playing area, and the family dining table is always and ideal location. There is no actual ‘board’ in this game, but you do need space for 8 piles of loot cards to be placed and room for each player to stand their characters up and lay down cards during the game.
Each player chooses which character they would like to be, and if you are playing with the kiddies then you might need to establish a process of what order people get to choose in to avoid any arguments! They then stand their character up in front of them, take one of the foam guns and some bullet cards. The characters are really cool by the way and very child-friendly in names and artwork. I was pleased to see a nod and a wink to Reservoir Dogs though by the inclusion of a Mr Black character.
The 64 loot cards get shuffled up and divided into 8 piles of 8 cards face down on the table. The New Godfather card goes down next to the loot and the wound tokens are kept nearby for when you start playing.
To begin the game you give the Godfather’s Desk to the oldest player, and he or she will manage the game for the first turn…
Each game turn is divided into 7 steps:
- Loot – At the beginning of each game turn the Godfather will turn over the top card from each of the 8 loot piles
- Choose a Bullet Card – Each player decides whether to play a ‘Click’ or a ‘Bang’ card and lays it face down in front of them
- Hold-Up – The Godfather counts to three and each player (at the same time) points their gun at another player around the table
- Godfather’s Privilege – Once all the guns are pointed the Godfather can order another player to change target
- Courage – The Godfather counts to three and each player must decide whether to be brave and remain standing or chicken out and lay down
- Card Effects – Players who remain standing reveal the bullet card they played – nothing happens with a ‘Click’ but a ‘Bang’ means the target takes a wound and they lay their character down for the rest of the game turn
- Loot Sharing – Starting with the Godfather each player who still has a character standing takes a share of the visible loot cards
It sounds fairly simple…and it is, but the fun is immense. You find a lot of things out about your standing in the family or among your friends when everyone gets the opportunity to point a gun at you and shoot!
You play through 8 complete game turns in total and at the end of the 8th turn the surviving player with the most loot wins the game.
Characters can ‘die’ during the game and that means that the controlling player is out of the game. You ‘die’ by getting a total of 3 or more wounds. There is a chance to heal your wounds though if you survive through to the loot sharing stage of a game turn as sometimes a First Aid Kit is available in the loot pile. Choosing this card immediately heals any wounds you have taken.
There are various layers of strategy and tactics that reveal themselves the more times you play and this is one of the features that kept us coming back to the table many times this month.
For example, stealing a First Aid Kit when it is revealed even if you have no wounds stops that other player from healing their two wounds. You have to try and keep track of how many bullets each player has fired through the game as you only get three to start with and then you have to work out the possible risk when guns are pointing at you and decide whether to be brave or lie your character down. With this aspect there are elements of bluffing and boldness and with cash on the table it puts the risk up there with any decent game of poker!
There are large advantages to being the Godfather so technically the oldest person always starts the game with their nose in front. Securing the ‘Next Godfather’ card in the looting phase means that you stay the Godfather for the entire game so you will always be able to stop at least one person per turn from pointing their gun at you. You will always get to grab the loot first too if your character stays standing.
Initially we thought that it was going to be too easy to monopolise being the Godfather as if you managed to be part of the loot share in the first turn then you could grab the ‘Next Godfather’ card first and keep that honour for the next round. However, after a few games we realised that hogging the Godfather role meant you miss out on choosing proper loot. This means you can end up losing the game by not having enough loot at the end. Also it is not guaranteed that the Godfather will be able to get any loot in the first game turn. A Godfather who always hogs the role soon has 3 or 4 guns pointed at him or her so is forced to lie their character down and miss out on looting!
You can also tweak the rules yourself and ignore giving the Godfather role to the oldest person and find a fair mechanism for choosing a player at random. For example, draw loot cards and see who has the most valuable card or spin a bottle…whatever floats your boat.
As a group of players when you are used to how the game plays then you can introduce special power cards. There are 16 of these and you shuffle them and deal one card face to up to each of the players. Each player explains what the card does before the game starts. Here is a sample of some of the cards:
These add an extra layer of tactics to the game both as the owner of a card and as the opposing players. For example, The Unbreakable card above gives the owner five wounds instead of three. This can make that player more of a target through the game which can force them to have to lie their character down more often and miss out on the loot. It can also give the owner more confidence to stay standing up when juicy loot is revealed and when other players have already been eliminated. This is a powerful card to have when you are the Godfather too!
You can experiment with the Power cards also as you become more au fait with the game. A 4 player game has even more interest added when each player is dealt two Power cards at the start instead of one.
Cash & Guns is a genuine delight to play and was one of the best family games we have played through this year and it translates really well to all adult player games too, so it is not just for kids.
One aspect we really liked was that it scales really, really well. Going from 4 players to 8 players hardly adds any extra time to the length of a game and this is a really underrated feature of a game as its great to get 2 or 3 games in during a session. Some other ‘Party’ games can really drag on as you add more players to the point where the fun melts away.
4 player games are fantastic and it gets better and better the more people you add.
Kids can grasp the mechanics of the game really quickly and the gun-pointing round is always a blast. I guess the only drawback is that some people might not be so comfortable pointing guns at other people. If you think that is an issue for you then maybe give the game a swerve as it is the most fun aspect of the game and removing the guns from a game called ‘Cash & Guns’ probably doesn’t work…in fact it just wouldn’t!
If you are cool with the guns then this is probably the most fun you can have as a family and fun you can have quickly too. You can play this while dinner is cooking, or have a quick go before the kids go to bed. For adults it’s a great way to end an evening and a really fun after dinner game.
A hearty score of 9 out of 10 is the outcome of our Cash and Guns Board Game review.
Find out more about the Cash & Guns Board Game at Zatu Games.
Disclosure: Zatu Games allow me to buy games at a discount in return for a review (good or bad). I choose the games I am interested in and Zatu has no editorial control over the reviews so everything you read is my honest opinion.