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Guns or Treasure

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Are you ready for some more pirate-themed fun? Time to take a look then at Guns or Treasure - Bryce Brown's upcoming new card game published by Castillo Games. As you might guess from the title, the game is played with cards that show either guns (value 1-5) or treasure (value 1-5), tho' there are also a few cards that show a bomb...

Guns or Treasure is a filler-length bluff and push-you-luck game for 2-6 players. Players draw a hand of six cards from which they play three on their turn, refreshing their hand back up to six. They repeat this over four 'shipbuilding' rounds so that they end up with 12 cards played to construct their ships. The card representing the prow of a ship is always played face up but the player can complete ships by playing any number of cards aft to form the stern. These cards are placed face down. It's up to each player to decide how many ships to construct.

Having completed the Shipbuilding phase, players begin Marauding. Players pick one of their ships and then select another player's ship to attack. The face-down cards on both ships are revealed and the player whose ship has the most guns (ie: the highest total from all their gun cards) wins and scores the treasure from both ships. In the event of a tie, the attacker wins. However, if either ship had a bomb card on board, then both ships are destroyed and all the treasure on board is lost.

Players are required to attack on their first turn of the Marauding phase but on subsequent turns they can choose to retreat a ship instead of attacking. For ships that retreat, all gun and bomb cards are discarded and the player scores their treasure cards.

Tho' the game is simple and plays very quickly, it offers players ample scope for bluff and skullduggery. If I play a high treasure value to the prow of my ship, am I setting up a valuable prize or do the face-down aft cards conceal a powerful array of cannons? If a player decides to play all their cards on just one or two ships, they may be setting up a seemingly unbeatable vessel but they will be vulnerable to a suicide attack from a small ship with a bomb on board. And if you've just focused on one or two ships, opponents who have built several small ships could have a free pass to retreat and score whatever they have on board.

Tho' the game is entertaining with two, it was most fun at higher player counts. There are Captain cards which introduce asymmetric powers, tho' we found some of these more game-changing than others. The rules also suggest a number of variants that players can try, including a card drafting variant. When the game goes to Kickstarter, there will also be a Parrots & Monkeys expansion... We can't wait to see what they do! Click here to clamber aboard the Kickstarter.

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