For review with pictures
30 Minute Playing Time
Ca$h 'N Guns (Second edition reviewed), with its horrible spelling will be simply referred to as CnG for the rest of this review.
CnG is a fun, laugh out loud game of bluffing mobsters and criminals that will see you involved in shoot outs, diamond heists, prized art collection theft, and general bank robbing. Each round you'll take on your fellow mafia hoping to be the last man standing, or at least one of the few not shot in the round so your able to gather your share of the loot and end up at as the gangster with the most valued collection of stolen goods.
CnG is played over eight rounds, each containing three phases. The first phase everyone will load their gun with either a bullet or a blank (you start with eight ammo cards, 5 blanks, 3 bullets). Once everyone is loaded the second phase begins and each player will aim their gun at his/her target to try and scare them away from the loot. Each player is then given three seconds to decide whether to back out of the fight or stay long enough to see the bullets fly. All players who remain in the fight will not only shoot their gun, but will have any guns pointed at them fired, and everyone who backed out will neither shoot or have bullets shot at them. Those who are shooting will reveal what they loaded their guns with, a bullet will wound its victim and cause them to drop out of the fight (3 wounds and your out of the game), and blanks will do nothing. Phase three begins with any surviving players taking it in turns to collect the loot available for the round.
Play continues in this manner over the eight rounds with the only real change being who sits behind the desk as the godfather for each round (the desk can be taken in the loot rounds). As the godfather your in charge of running each round, going through the phases, counting down for people, and you also get a few bonuses like being able to select first loot and also the ability to tell one player to point their gun off you before everyone shoots. There is also a variant that includes a different role card for each player which adds a few little changes and abilities for each player. After the eight rounds are over, each player totals their collection to find the ultimate godfather with the most value. Your value tallied with money being face value, art being worth a total value depending on how many pieces you have, and diamonds also being face value with the player who has the most diamonds also collecting a nice bonus.
CnG is a game about gangsters, thugs and criminals stealing goods while shooting each other, yet it is a perfect family game as it's all done in a fun, silly way with bright and colorful components. Everything you do in this game is evil, but the way it plays out doesn't allow room for anything serious - and you can't feel like a bad guy when your busy having fun. Why is CnG so much fun? Because your playing with guns! Fake gun props are given to every player that really make CnG what it is, and without them this game would fail. Who would have thought a foam gun with bright orange on it would feel so amusing, but everyone I've ever played this with always enjoys pointing a gun at another player. Some go for headshots, others sneaky under the arm shots, some have a 'gangster' sideways approach and others treat it like 'dirty harry'. Everyone has a style - or a few, and its simply fun to do. Throw in the basic bluffing elements that have players 2nd guessing whether the guns facing them have bullets or blanks, the penalty of a wrong choice costing them their share in of the goods, and the couple of simple decisions of which loot to take - and we have a game like nothing I've played, just because it has guns. Don't get me wrong here, I don't actually like real guns, but in CnG they really make this experience.
There is very little complexity in CnG which is a massive drawback for most games, yet somehow this feels different. You don't notice or care that you aren't making big decisions, thinking about choices or formulating an epic strategy. You can try and plan to get the most diamonds, add up whether its more beneficial to grab another piece of art or take $20k, stay in the fight to grab some more health or bullets, and there really isn't that much more to it in this. You're just playing a game and enjoying yourself while doing it. As a result, CnG ends up a worthy addition to anyone's gaming library purely on its merits of a great time with friends. While suitable for as little as four players, the more you have the merrier the fun, and after playing with a wide variety of friends of different ages, male and female - I've yet to find a single person who hasn't enjoyed a game or two of CnG.
It's not all guns blazing though. There are a few minor misfires with things like the artwork, characters and role cards, which I find all just OK. The art is done in a cartoon style which suits the light nature of the game and helps take a game about shooting and stealing into something fun, but isn't the most memorable and just gets a pass from me. Characters are about as cliche as they come, not that it matters, because aside from the initial selection where players may think they are going to be their character for the game, they mean absolutely nothing. Nobody cares or thinks twice about who they are during the game. As for the optional role cards, again they are just mediocre as they can unnecessarily complicate a simple fast paced game without really adding a whole lot other then a bit of a mild 'that's annoying' factor to the game. I tend to find most people enjoy the game more without them. Still, if optional roles, pointless characters and an average style are the biggest complaints in a game filled with amusement and good times - I think those minor gripes are well and truly overlooked without a bearing whatsoever on the game.
My Verdict: BUY
Play with literally anyone (10+ years old)
Guns - so much fun!