Cash’n Guns Review
In Cash’N Guns, sharing apparently isn’t caring. Sparked by a heated dispute over the distribution of loot, guns are drawn and shots are fired and laughter ensues until one person ends up with the fattest pockets. While the conflict is rather violent, it’s actually meant to be a party game for a wide audience. Does it succeed at marrying these two opposites into one cohesive package?
Before any shots are fired, a few minutes of setup is involved. Spread along the middle of the table are eight stacks of cards and a godfather desk token. Wound tokens are also placed in the middle of the board, as they’ll be used to track the number of times each player has been shot.
Players are then equipped with a character standee, bullet cards and a foam gun. The standee is used to signify your in-game status, as a knocked-over standee means that you’re out for the round or for the game. Bullet cards come in the click and bang variety. Click cards signify you firing blanks, which means that the person on the opposite end isn’t hit. Bang cards are used to actually fire a shot at someone.
The final component is the signature Cash’n Guns foam gun, which players will use to point at their targets. I love that the game has these in the box, as it goes a long way towards bringing the experience to life. One lucky player also gets to be the godfather, which is signified by a standee desk that is placed in front of their character standee.
At the start of each round, players play a click or bang bullet card face-down. Then, on the count of three, all players point their gun at someone else. During this stand-off, the godfather can use his privilege to for a player to change their target. A second three-count is executed to see who will back down or who will continue the fight. If you knock over your standee, you’re out of the round and are no longer eligible to split the loot. However, doing this will save you from any shots that were headed your way.
For everyone still in the fight, bullet cards are revealed to see who fired what. People on the receiving end of blanks are safe, though players who got hit by bullets are wounded and do not take part in splitting the loot this round. Characters may be able to soak up a few shots, and there are a few health kits strewn about the loot, you will die if you get shot three times, thus eliminating you from contention.
Whoever is left standing at the end of this exchange get to share the loot. One-by-one, starting with the godfather and going clockwise from there, players take turns drawing cards from the stack, which may include money, diamonds, paintings, med kits and extra clips. Money may give you the most value upfront, but collecting the most diamonds will net you a $60,000 bonus at the end of the game, while having a large sum of paintings can actually net you hundreds of thousands of dollars if you’re able to scoop up enough of them. Furthermore, you may have no choice but to collect a med kit in order to stay alive for future rounds. Choosing the right loot when it’s time to collect is key and a lot tougher than it sounds.
After eight rounds, the winner is determined based on who has the most money after all of the painting and diamond bonuses have been applied. In the games we played, these rounds zipped by quickly with laughs being shared throughout, though there’s actually a very solid gameplay engine driving the whole thing. Yes, there’s the silly factor that comes with pointing foam guns at each other, but you’re also constantly pressed to make some interesting decisions about when to fire, when to back down, when to take a stand and what loot you should collect if you make it to the end of a round. It sounds like a lot to learn, but it really is easy to pick up for almost anyone after only one round.
Unique character powers are the icing on the cake. Once you grasp the main game, you can add the wrinkle of character cards to further spice things up. The game comes with 16 power cards that grant individual players with benefits like the ability to swap out their current bullet card for another one at the end of a hold up or the ability to remove a wound if they fall back. In one memorable game, I got the Lucky Man power, which meant that I took no damage if I managed to get shot multiple times in a round. Early on, this power saved me from eating two shots in one round, while also making everyone else at the table reluctant to shoot at me for the rest of the game. I ended up going through that entire game without getting shot, but still lost because the person that did win was more savvy at collect loot. Without the powers, you’re still going to have a blast, but these add an extra layer of depth if that’s what you’re looking for.
Cash’n Guns is simply stellar. From the moment we first played it, the game immediately won us over by being a lighting rod for hilarity while being mechanically air-tight. Even after the novelty factor of waving a foam gun wears off, the situations that the game will put you in will always lead to compelling choices and uncontrollable laughter. For all of the great things it does, this is easily one of the best party games I’ve played yet.