Posted by: gschloesser | July 28, 2011

Cash ‘N Guns

Designed by:  Ludovic Maublanc
Released by:  Repos Productions
4 – 6 Players, 30 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser 

Note:  This review first appeared in Counter magazine.  

I almost passed on this one during the Spiel in Essen.  In fact, I didn’t even look at it until very late, and that was only by invitation from the folks at Repos Productions.  The talk was that the game was fun, but quite silly.  I figured I would pass and concentrate on more serious games.  

After playing, though, I was happy I had taken the time.  Yes, the game is certainly silly, with only a smidgen of tactics involved.  The central mechanism is one of bluff, and deciding whether to remain in a round and risk being shot, or dropping out and incurring shame penalties.  Quite simply, it is a game I shouldn’t like – but I do.  Why?  Well, plain and simple, it is fun.  There is ample opportunity to ham-it-up and role-play your character, and there is something wickedly fun about aiming those foam rubber guns at your opponents! 

The theme is not unlike that found in Parker Brothers’ Don Pepe:  gangsters are brought together to split the loot.  Being gangsters, however, greed takes over, and soon there is a series of threats and shootings as every gangster aims to grab the most money.  The trick is to not only survive the chaos, but to make it out with the largest share of the loot.

 

Each player receives a life-size foam rubber revolver, eight bullet cards, and a stand-up cardboard caricature of their character.  As mentioned, these characters give the players ample opportunity to role-play.  You can put on your thickest Mexican accent with El Toro, your gangster attitude with Huggy, or even your sultry voice with Lotus.  Sadly, though, the characters don’t really have any unique powers or abilities, even when playing with the variants.  

Each round, five cash tokens, ranging in values from $5,000 – $20,000, will be revealed.  Each player then secretly places one of his cards face-down onto the table.  The cards are central to the game, as they determine if a player is bluffing, or actually shooting at an opponent.  Each player possesses an identical set of cards:  five “click” cards, two “bangs”, and one “triple bang”.  

Once all cards are played, at the count of “three”, every player instantly points his revolver at an opponent.  This always results in some chuckles and laughter as players assess who is aiming at whom.  Fear not, though, as all players will have the opportunity to take cover and opt out of the current round.  After the guns are pointed and everyone has a chance to assess the situation, another count of three is conducted.  Anyone feeling the odds are stacked against them in the current round can then take cover, indicating this by knocking over their character token.  While this will save a player from possibly being shot, it doesn’t allow him to save face.  Flinching when staring down the barrel of a gun is shameful, and the cowardly players receive a shame marker, which ultimately deducts $5,000 from the player’s ultimate end-game total. 

After the cowardly players have withdrawn and their cards are discarded unrevealed, the remaining players must face the music.  If anyone played a “triple bang” card, their target opponent is gunned-down, suffers a wound, and is knocked out of the round.  If a player suffers three wounds, he is out of the game.  The remaining players then reveal their cards.  Players who were the target of a bang suffer a wound and are likewise knocked out of the round.  “Click” cards have no effect.  Any surviving players discard their cards and divide the loot amongst themselves. 

Here is the rub, though:  the money must be divided evenly.  Since the denominations are $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000, occasionally the money will not be able to be divided evenly.  If this occurs, the money remains in the pile until the next round, when five new cards are added to the pot.  Otherwise, surviving players take their equal share and add it to their stash. 

Players then repeat this procedure seven more times until all players have depleted their stash of cards.  Surviving players tally their total cash, and subtract $5,000 for each shame marker they have collected.  The gangster who successfully grabbed the most loot is victorious and the envy of the underworld. 

Several variants are included with the game, including advanced rules, which give each player a super power.  Each player receives a special card which can be played at any time.  There are ten potential powers which grant a variety of abilities, including increased stamina, bonuses for exterminating gangsters, or the ability to choose your target after everyone else.  There is also the “insane gangster”, who carries a grenade and wounds all gangsters still standing that round.  Ouch.  These powers are fun, but some are considerably more powerful than others.  This can be a bit unsatisfying if folks take the game too seriously. 

The game is one of bluff and guesswork; did that gangster aiming his gun at you play a “click” card, or is he really going to shoot you?  It is also one of playing the odds and risk assessment.  You might be willing to take a chance if only one gangster is aiming at you, but if two or three gangsters have you in their sights, is it prudent to remain in the round and chance receiving multiple wounds?  It may well be if the potential “take” is rich.  

Since bullet cards are discarded face-down if a player withdraws from a round or is shot by a triple bang, card counting is not completely accurate.  Usually, you cannot be 100% sure of the identity of the cards remaining in a player’s hand, so you must be content with taking calculated risks.  

But lest you think the game has a hidden layer of strategy or depth to it, don’t be fooled:  it doesn’t.  It is truly a light game that allows players to get into their character, point toy guns at each other, and act silly.  Sometimes silly can be, well, just too silly.  Other times, however, it can be fun.  Cash ‘N Guns provides the latter:  good, silly fun.

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Responses

  1. Ca$h ‘n Gun$ defines the genre of “spectacle filler.” The game itself is razor thin–anorexic even. The components are brilliant, and all anybody really wants is an excuse to point foamy guns at each other. Its snappy setup and 10 minute playing time are huge perks. (6/10)

  2. Silly fun. (6/10)


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