Watching any mafia movie, you'll notice a trending trope. A heist either goes well and everyone gets shot when splitting the loot, or a heist goes badly and everyone gets shot regardless. It's the heavy theme of most mafia style genres, and it's a normalised risk indeed Hollywood's stories. Going shopping? Then you’ll get shot. Going swimming? Then you’ll get shot. Going to shoot someone? Then you’ll get shot. The trope is there and will run itself every time!
Cash ‘n’ Guns (Ca$h ‘n’ Guns) by Repos Production runs this theme excellently. You play the game to try and gain loot, and you get shot. Guaranteed. You'll get shot, you'll shoot your shot, you'll shoot your life partner, friends, and family... all for the loot. It’s for four to eight players and runs in about 30 minutes.
Caah 'n' Guns has a simple gameplay format. Each game is set post heist. Everyone's worked together and got the loot out, and is now safely at the hideout ready to share the goods. Thing is, those in the mafia aren't always great at sharing, and so it becomes a free-for-all. Loot is lined up by the current Boss and everyone loads their guns with a bullet card. It might be a bang, or a click, with the latter being a dud! Trouble is, you only have so many of each... Then the boss counts down from three and everyone points their guns, Mexican standoff style!
The boss may then tell one person to choose a new target, and they count from three again. After this count down, anyone who doesn't want to risk a bullet wound can back down and is exempt from a wound token, and loot. If you get three wound tokens, you are out entirely! Then cards are revealed and anyone who used a bang card gives their target a wound, and the victim cannot take loot. Finally, loot is distributed with the Boss taking first. As an alternative choice, gangsters can take the Boss's token to be the Boss next round. Loot has different values and variations on them, and some cumulatively have more value. The game continues until after eight rounds, when all loot is taken and whoever has the most in value wins!
How It Handles
Cash 'n' Guns should be a top choice for anyone hosting a casual games night. It's a party game of bluffing, getting cash, pushing luck and pointing foam guns at people's heads. In my experience, that makes for a quality evening every time! The game is unbelievably accessible, and it quickly shows how cut-throat you can be.
Who To Double-Cross
Like in any heist movie, you're going to have a double cross at some point. The game is socially driven, and it's what is said between pointing guns that will make or break a player. You'll point your gun at someone whilst holding a click card - you don't want to shoot them! However, you have to choose a card and choose a player. You've got to somehow let that player know you might shoot them, knowing full well you don't want to.
Making an enemy is a bad call, and quickly results in a vendetta. You also don't want to make enemies so that you can make enemies later on. Sound weird? Well... You shoot someone early, they know you're a threat and become a target too. You don't shoot someone early, they'll inevitably forget about you and focus on those who are a threat... then BANG! Double crossed! Sort of. It's the intricacies of the social side of the game. On top of that, you need to ensure you're on good terms with most people when trying to be the Boss. Sure, the Boss can make one person change target, but if everyone's after you, you've probably made a judgement error somewhere along the line.
The Boss role of the game is important in multiple respects. Being able to pick loot first is just one of the benefits to calling the shots, but I'd argue it's not the most important! There are multiple reasons why you'd want the little desk in Cash 'n' Guns, and looking like you're straight out of the Godfather is one of them. Theming is never a strong suit of party games with the focus heavily on play and interaction, however the little touch of having an actual desk for your standee makes a big difference!
On top of the looking cool, there's the actual benefits to the desk. First off, being first pick. Easily the most obvious benefit to being the Boss. Because loot isn't as simple as 'have the most cards to get the win', you'll all have your eye on something different. You might be focusing on diamonds, or paintings, or you might have spied a first aid kit to heal a wound. Whatever your jam, picking first is going to help... which is why you'll definitely get targeted by someone. Which brings us to benefit number three! Being in charge. You effectively get a second chance when one person sticks a gun in your face as you can, once only, tell them to aim elsewhere. Sure, the collateral will undeniably hold a grudge, but you need that loot!
That's My Specialty
As you continue to play Cash 'n' Guns, you'll eventually see the same dynamics unfolding, which is normal. Everyone will adopt a play-style and it may or may not work for them. It's a guarantee in any socially driven game. However, things don't have to be so black and white. The little standees, the characters representing players, all can have variable powers applied to them. Some of these have impact at the end of the game and enhance loot values. Some of these take effect during loot distribution. And some are outright ridiculous, which doesn't make them overpowered, it makes you a target.
We only used powers with players who knew the game through and through. The base game alone vanilla style was engaging and fun enough to be enjoyed a good few games and always produced laughs and enjoyment. Adding powers enhanced that, but wasn't accessible to all players and risked them being alienated or at a disadvantage.
Cash and Guns is a party time favourite for us. Whether we're casually playing or going all in, it's always a good bit of fun! We're yet to meet anyone who didn't enjoy it, and knowing you're able to break the ice with someone by threatening their life if brilliant. What's more is how little you'll care about winning overall. Sure, it's a competitive game and you're forced to focus on the gaining of cash, but that's not what you'll discuss when it's over. What will be discussed is who you shot, who shot you, and the controversies of it all. There are no hard feelings and no animosity, but you'll be desperate to out do your score next time. So kid your clips, know who to shoot, and don't cross the Boss!
If you’re looking for something similar, check out Bang! The Card Game Deluxe Edition!