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Ludovic Maublanc





One of the booths which I needed to visit at the SPIEL 07 was the booth of REPOS PRODUCTION where Cedrick Caumont and Thomas Provoost were presenting the new expansion for their 2005 smash-hit Ca$h'n Gun$. The new Yakuzas set does not only introduce three members from the Japanese Mafia to the game (thus enlarging the scope of the game to up to 9 players), but it also includes new rules for team play which are required if players want to use the Yakuza-characters.

Ca$h'n Gun$is a game in which up to 6 Gangsters have a dispute about dividing the booty of their last crime. During 8 rounds of play, each player first chooses one of his handcards (consisting of 5 bluff cards, 2 shooting cards ("Bang") and one rapid-fire card ("Bang! Bang! Bang!"). After chosing a card, the players simultaneously point their guns at players of their choice. These players not have to decide instantly whether to back out from the round or keep standing. All players who have remained standing now reveal their cards. Any character who has been hit by a shooting card gets a wound and drops out of the round as well, whereas all players still standing after dealing with the cards divide the stash of booty of the current round. After 8 rounds, the player with most money has won, but a player who has taken three wounds during the course of the game has been killed. A rather funny, interactive party-style game.

Now turning to the Yakuza-Expansion, the Yakuza-characters differ from the standard Gangsters by the fact that the are not equipped with Guns but with Tantos (Swords). Each Yakuza has two "Tanto"-cards which he can use just like the Gangsters use thei "Bang!"-cards, but - having no ranged weapons - the Yakuzas can use their Tantos only on neighbouring characters to their left and right, thus requiring the players to sit in a specific order around the table. Also, the limited range of these hand weapons illustrates the reason why the Yakuzas need rules for team play, since otherwise a single Yakuza character would be in a distinct disadvantage in comparison with the other players. However, a bit of a surprise element comes with the use of the Tanto, since it swishes over the head(s) of any player who might have backed out of the round and it hits the next player which is still standing - even if it should be another Yakuza!

Still, the Tanto is not the only weapon a Yakuza possesses. Thus, each Yakuza also is in possession of one Shuriken (throwing star), and during the course of the game the Shuriken may be used to make one ranged attack just after the fast-firing "Bang! Bang! Bang!"-cards but before and normal "Bang!" might be dealt with. An additional advantage is the fact that the Shuriken may be thrown at a character of the Yakuza's choice - it does not need to be the player at which the Yakuza pointed during the phase when the victims were chosen. However, the rules demand from a Yakuza player a certain degree of skill, since the rubber foam shuriken actually needs to be thrown (!) at another player's character figure from a certain distance. Sounding a bit silly on first thought, the impact of the Shuriken and its possibility to chose a victim during the phase when the cards of the players are revealed would be too unbalanced if the Shuriken would count for a direct hit.

As indicated, the rules also include necessary provisions for team play. Thus, the players now play in teams of two or three Gangsters or Yakuzas, and at the beginning of the game and after the first half of the game the members of each gang are allowed a short phase in which they can work out their strategy. This strengthens interaction, especially due to the fact that players usually will try to agree on secret signs by which they can give hints to their other gang members.

Also, the expansion also includes new Super-Powers (or Super-Kiai) cards for the Yakuzas, so that they may have surprising talents just like the Gangsters have in the basic game. And finally, a deck of item cards is included, each of which makes the game more unpredictable and even deadlier.

As you might see, the Yakuza-Expansion fully takes up the hilarious spirit created by the basic game, and to my mind it drives the interactive aspect even further due to small twists like the throwing of the Shuriken or special powers which force the players to change seats. The fact that the Yakuza players have to follow slightly different rules than the other Gangsters integrates well into the game, and small specialities like the loss of Honour when backing out of a round quickly encourage the players to spice up the game with a little bit of role-play. The only element which goes perhaps a bit too far are the item cards since they have a quite destructive impact on the strategic element which is left in the game, but to be honest I did not mind this at all but laughed even more when a player didn't expect an item to spoil his plans. To my mind, this expansion really is a worthy, must-have for all owners of Ca$h'n Gun$. And I shouldn't forget to mention that anybody who bought a copy of this expansion here at Essen got a new silver Uzi-Machinegun as a free add-on. That's something which will shock your opponents!!!

Actually, it was also some good news to hear that the 500 copies REPOS PRODUCTION brought with them to Essen sold out today, so Ca$h'n Gun$ certainly still has its fans. There also exists a Live-variant of the game which can be played with larger groups of people (no guns included, people use their fingers), and this also met quite a few interested people at the demonstration rounds during the convention. Finally, Thomas also told me that they were already thinking about another expansion, being focused on B-movies and having to do something with Vampires. Just like in the movie "From Dust till Dawn"!

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany