Editor’s Note: Cash ‘n Guns is the second Rundown Review, a new subset of reviews that allows us to provide an Archetype breakdown on games when a normal comprehensive review isn’t possible or necessary. You can read more here for details.
Note: This pertains to the Second Edition of Cash ‘n Guns.
Not long after a daring and successful heist, players are a band of criminals who have reconvened to divvy up the loot. However, disagreements have quickly arisen over how to split up the ill-gotten gains. Talks have failed, guns have been drawn, and it’s now everyone for themselves to walk away with as much as they can – assuming they walk away at all.
Cash ‘n Guns is a short interactive social game which is played out over eight rounds. Each player starts with a character standee, a foam pistol, and eight Bullet cards (5 Clicks & 3 Bangs). The oldest player begins as the Godfather – the person who leads the group each round.
Every round is identical. First, eight Loot cards of varying value are laid out on the table. Each player selects one of their remaining Bullet cards to use, and on the Godfather’s count, aims their gun at another player. The Godfather may force one player to change targets.
Then, again on the Godfather’s count, each player decides whether to lay down arms or risk being shot at. Anyone who doesn’t bow out reveals their Bullet. If a player successfully hits their target by revealing a Bang, that player takes a wound and is also out of the round. Click cards have no effect. A player with three wounds is eliminated from the game.
Finally, everyone still standing shares the spoils. Starting with the Godfather and going clockwise, players take one piece of Loot until everything is claimed. A player may also take the Godfather token, making them the new leader.
After eight rounds, the game ends with all surviving players adding up their Loot piles. The person with the most money is the winner of the crazy standoff. They’re also lucky enough to be still alive to enjoy it.
Architects: Cash ‘N Guns may seem like it would appeal to this group at first, especially since the central goal is to accumulate the biggest Loot pile possible, but they’ll generally pass on this one. Architects care not only about building up resources but also the manner in which they attain them, and the idea of routinely picking on one another to do so in a lightweight game isn’t ideal to them. They’ll appreciate that Cash ‘N Guns isn’t overly punishing in that any Loot you gain each around is banked and safe from pilfering, but they’re likely to get frustrated in situations where kept from getting Loot either because they’re regularly targeted or, worse, out of sheer randomness.
Tacticians: Ever the consummate schemers and planners, Tacticians traditionally struggle finding short social games that’ll hold their interest. That remains true here. Aside from striving to be the Godfather for first dibs on Loot and to guarantee one less gun pointed and your direction, this game is more about chaotic tactical skirmishes than calculated planning. Playing the game’s advanced mode does afford each player with one of 16 different unique powers, which adds extra variability and more replayability to the game, but beyond those or which Bullet to use on which person that round, the game doesn’t offer much in the way of engaging strategy. Cash ‘n Guns is more about the standoff than the heist, and while it does an excellent job to that end, it neither provides nor rewards deep thinking.
Socializers: This is the epitome of the type of game this group gravitates towards. The rules are simple to learn, it’s highly interactive, and playthroughs generally don’t last more than a half hour. What’s more, the game smoothly scales from 4-8 players without adding time or complexity to the equation. If anything, the game is better with more people at the table. What’s more, with Cash ‘n Guns, it’s more about the journey than the destination. While most people still strive to get as much Loot as they can while trying to avoid a body bag, you don’t need to win to have a memorable experience.
Daredevils: A particularly interesting aspect about this game is that aside from which Loot is revealed every round, Cash ‘n Guns isn’t that luck-based. Everything you do in the game is fueled by some purpose, whether it’s which Bullet you use, who you point your gun at, and whether or not you drop out when staring down the barrel of a gun or three. You can play the game entirely on a pragmatic level, attempting to avoid notice while targeting the perceived front runner. However, you can also go the entire opposite route, playing the game with a Joker-esque whimsy just to see what happens. Sometimes it even works. Definitely count these folks in.
Immersionists: For such a lightweight game, Cash ‘n Guns’ best attribute is that it conveys its theme with precision accuracy. The game successfully recreates the scene in heist or gangster movies where someone inevitably betrays the rest of group for a bigger share of the prize (if not the whole thing), and an armed standoff ensues. Through the tactile sensation of holding foam guns and using them on one another, the game perfectly evokes its premise – especially when someone is pointing in your direction. The Second Edition also does a decent job alleviating the seriousness of the game somewhat over its predecessor by replacing the artwork, which was grittier and contained more than a few tinges of racial stereotypes, with that of veteran artist John Kovalic, thereby giving the game a lighter and slightly more disarming vibe. That said, whether Immersionists will enjoy this game will depend on if they’ll mind the literal in your face sensation of pointing weapons at friends or strangers, fake though they may be. For some, that may be a step too far.
Strikers: While Cash ‘n Guns has an unpredictable streak, especially at higher player sizes, that randomness is driven entirely by player decisions – something Strikers love to hear. When combined with a goal as straightforward as they come – walk away with the most money – expect them to be ready to lock and load. These facets alone would be enough to entice them, but given that you accomplish these feats by attacking specific players as a means of elevating your chances at winning or undermining an opponent will only cement their interest further. As social games go, this is a game is right within their wheelhouse.
In Cash ‘n Guns, crime does pay. Using a simple concept and fed almost exclusively by the capricious impulses of the players, Cash ‘n Guns is an energetic fight for cash and everyone is looking out solely for themselves. Yet while the physicality of the theme may be off-putting for some, the game’s more farcical nature typically prevents it from it becoming intentionally mean-spirited. With durable components, including its signature foam guns, the game holds up easily to extensive playthroughs. It isn’t deep on weighty decision-making, but because thanks to its short play time, interactive nature, and capacity for up to eight people, Cash ‘n Guns makes for an ideal Filler Game all the same.
Cash ‘n Guns is a product of Asmodee Editions.
Cardboard Republic Snapshot Scoring (Based on scale of 5):
Rules Clarity: 5
Replay Value: 4.5
Physical Quality: 4.5
Overall Score: 4.5