New South Wales
Originally posted here:
Synopsis: You are members of a mafia and you’ve just completed a heist. There is a big pile of loot and you want to divvy the spoils among you. However, you have a loaded gun so maybe you can just get people to back down from their share in a game of chicken and double bluffs.
Each round, eight loot cards come out. Some provide instant benefits, others provide straight up cash, and others provide value in other unique ways. Whoever is still at the table may start taking one loot in round-robin fashion, until none are left.
You and everyone else will either load their gun with one of a real bullet or a blank (3 bangs and 5 clicks in total). You point your foam gun at someone at the same time, and then people need to bow out or stand their ground.
One of you is the godfather, who may force someone to change their aim and take the first cut of any set of loot. This is an extremely powerful position, and there is an option to take the role of the godfather instead of a cut of loot.
Each time you’re shot, you lose one of three lives, potentially eliminating you from the game. Otherwise, whoever is still alive at the end of eight rounds counts their money and the most amount of money wins.
There are two expansions to this game: More Ca$h ‘n Guns and Team Spirit. The first of these includes a larger variety of loot, and a safe that can be opened by the current godfather as an action (take the top two loot cards, keep one and pass one to the person on your right). These extras provide a needed level of deep to an otherwise fairly straight forward game. The latter one allows players to be divided into teams. You cannot attack someone on your team and at the end you combine your individual scores to determine a team winner.
Commentary: This game creates its own atmosphere, particularly enhanced by the physical foam guns (with orange tips) you actively point at each other. There is an element of politics involved, and the role of the godfather will influence these dynamic. Obvious targets tend to get ganged up on, and so more often than not the sly characters tend to win.
The second edition brings a much needed update to the artwork. The first edition had a garish style, and some characters were presented as little more than racial caricatures. It was a touch embarrassing. The second edition artwork by Kovalic (of Dork Tower fame) does away with most of these. The ethnic diversity here reads more as character rather than caricature. Perhaps my only eye-roll is the bikini-clad woman in the Team Spirit expansion, which is a playable standee.
Verdict: The feel and flow of Ca$h ‘n Guns is fast and easy. The game is brought alive by the constant ambience of betrayal and distrust. The strategy seems to mostly not be an obvious target though, and so creates a meta game can skew the intention of its design.
Expansions: There are two expansions being More Ca$sh ‘n Guns and Team Spirit. More CnG adds additional mechanisms, such as a safe that can be pilfered from by the Godfather, as well as new types of loot. I think these add a necessary texture to the game, giving greater motivations and choices. For me, this is a required addition to the game.
The second expansion of Team Spirit adds several peripheral elements, including team play for larger play counts. I’m less enamoured of these elements, even though they are quite fun. I could take or leave them, even though I enjoy the expanded set of standee figures and the sense of family they create.
One major gripe: with More Ca$h ‘n Guns, I fit the expansion content into the main box. With both (not including the fast gun mini expansion), it’s impossible to do. I stick all the non-standard guns in one of the expansion boxes, with the other game content in the main box. It’s a pet peeve of mine when I can’t fit all the expansions in the same box. I usually consider it a sign of too much bloat.