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Cash Out! Card Game Review and Instructions

How to Play | Review | Final Verdict | Comments

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank SimplyFun for the review copy of Cash Out! that was used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.

How to Play

Objective

To have the most investment points in the different portfolios after all four portfolios have been closed/liquidated.

Setup

Each player takes one portfolio card of each color and places them face up in front of them. Shuffle all of the non-portfolio cards together and deal seven cards to each player. The rest of the cards will form the draw pile. Whoever has most recently put money into savings gets to go first.

The setup for a hand in Cash Out
Here is a picture of the setup for each player. The cards that are at the bottom of the picture would be held in the player’s hand but are displayed here for demonstration purposes.

Player’s Turn

A player’s turn consists of a couple actions. A player’s turn proceeds as follows:

  1. Make a Private Purchase (optional and cannot be performed on each player’s first turn)
  2. Perform three strategic actions. A player can perform any three of the actions listed below in any combination and they can perform the same action multiple times.
    1. Play a Cash In card.
    2. Place a card in your personal savings.
    3. Discard you entire hand and take the cards from your personal savings.
    4. Discard a card and draw a new card from the draw deck.
    5. Play a Cash Out card.
  3. Replenish your hand to seven cards by drawing cards from the draw pile.

Private Purchase

This action may not be performed on each player’s first turn of the game.

This action is optional and does not count as one of a player’s strategic actions. To begin a player’s turn they may ask one of the other players for a card from their hand (cards already played or in personal savings do not apply). The player may ask for a Cash In or a Cash Out card that meets at least one other criteria. A player can ask for a card based on the following criteria:

  • By Color: A player can ask for a Cash In or Cash Out card based on the background color. For example: Do you have a blue Cash Out card?
  • By Number: A player can ask for a Cash In or Cash Out card based on a number. For example: Do you have a three Cash In card?
  • By Color and Number: A player can ask for a Cash In or Cash Out card based on a color and a number. For example: Do you have an orange six Cash In card?

If the player that was asked has a card that matches the card that was asked for, they must give the card to the asking player. If more than one card matches what was asked for, the player can choose which card to give to the player. The player who had to give up a card draws another card from the draw pile so they have seven cards in their hand. If the player does not have a card that matches what was being asked for, they don’t have to give up any cards. The current player can only ask one player for one type of card on each turn. If they don’t get a card, the private purchase phase still ends.

Private Purchase in Cash Out
If a player asked this player for a two Cash In card, this player would have to give up one of the two 2 cards in the middle. If the player would ask for a green Cash In card the player would either have to give up the second or third card from the left. If the player asked of a one teal Cash In, the player would have to give up the card on the far left.

Play A Cash In Card

The main mechanic in Cash Out! is to build your investment in the four different portfolios. You build your investment by playing cards under the four portfolio cards in front of you. Each card played counts as a strategic action. Players can play under any of their portfolio cards in any order. The first Cash In card played under every portfolio card can be any card but it is recommended that you play a low value card. Players can play additional cards under each portfolio card if they follow both of these rules:

  1. The point value of the card played has to be equal to or higher than the last Cash In card played under the portfolio card. For example a two card can have another two or higher card played on it.
  2. The background color of the card played must match one of the colors/symbols on the previous card played. For example a card showing a green, orange, and blue/black symbol on it can have a green, orange, or blue/black background Cash In card played on it.
Playing Cash In cards in Cash Out
In this example the player played three cash in cards under the orange portfolio card. All three cards played are one cards. Each consecutively played card has a background color that matches one of the colors on the previous cards.
Investing in Cash Out
Here is an example of a larger investment. All of these cards follow both the color and the number rules. Some numbers are repeated while some numbers are skipped entirely.

Place A Card In Your Personal Savings

When a player has a card that they really like but don’t want to play right away, they can store the cards (Cash In or Cash Out) in their personal savings account. These cards are placed face down in front of the player. Each card stored counts as one strategic action. A player can only store seven cards in their personal savings at a time. Cards put in personal savings are safe from all other players but you can’t use them until you withdraw them (see below).

Personal savings in Cash Out
The current player decided to stash their X2 orange Cash Out card into their personal savings in order to save it for later in the game.

Withdraw From Personal Savings

If you want to get your cards out of your personal savings, you must use an action in order to withdraw the cards. To withdraw the cards you must discard all of the cards from your hand. You then take all of the cards from your personal savings which will form your hand.

Discard a Card

If you don’t like the cards in your hand, you may use an action to discard one card and draw a new card from the draw pile. You may choose to discard multiple cards but each card discarded counts as another action.

Discarding a card in Cash Out
The current player has decided to use one of their actions in order to discard one of their cards and draw a new card.

Play A Cash Out Card

Once you have played at least one card in a portfolio (likely many more than one) you can start working towards cashing out that portfolio. Before playing a Cash Out card you must prepare the portfolio for liquidation. To get the portfolio ready for liquidation, you must play three cash in cards on top of the portfolio card. While the numbers on the three cards do not matter, the three cards have to be the three colors other than the color of the portfolio that you are trying to cash out. Each card played on the portfolio card counts as one action. For example if you want to liquidate the green portfolio you will have to play one teal, one orange, and one black/blue card on top of it.

Liquidating a portfolio in Cash Out
This player has successfully prepared the orange portfolio to be closed/liquidated by playing three different cash in cards on top of the portfolio card.

After all three Cash In cards have been played on the portfolio card, a player can play a Cash Out card. A Cash Out card must match the color of the portfolio card that it is being played on. Once a Cash Out card has been played, that portfolio is closed for all players so no new cards can be added to it. All cards played on the portfolio card to liquidate it are discarded except for the Cash Out card played by the player who closed the portfolio. Each player gathers up their stack for that portfolio and sets it aside making sure they don’t mix it with their other portfolios.

Closing out a portfolio Cash Out
The player has successfully closed out the orange portfolio by playing the corresponding Cash Out card. No players may play any more cards to their orange portfolio.

Game End and Scoring

The game ends when the last portfolio has been closed/liquidated. Each player counts up the points in each portfolio and totals their points. Cash Out cards played only apply to the portfolio they were played on. For example a X2 played on the green portfolio would only apply to the cards played in the green portfolio. Whoever has the most points wins the game.

Scoring in Cash Out
At the end of the game players tally up their scores. The black portfolio on the left would score (1+2+2+3+3+8 bonus points for a total of nineteen points. The orange portfolio would be worth (1+1+1+2+2+2+3+5+7+8)*2=64 points.The green portfolio would be worth 1+1+2+5=9 points. Finally the teal portfolio would be worth four points. The player would score a total of 96 points.

Review

In the world of board games, one of the more popular themes is the stock market/investing. There have probably been at least a hundred different board games based on the topic. Maybe this genre is so popular since most people don’t have enough money to actually make a lot of investments in Wall Street.

While some of these games may accurately depict the stock market, a lot of them are pretty complicated and/or plain boring. When I found out about Cash Out I was interested since it was made by SimplyFun. SimplyFun is generally more known for family games than highly strategic games so I was interested in seeing their take on the investing theme since I thought they wouldn’t get so bogged down in the details of the stock market like so many other board games.

Thanks to SimplyFun we at Geeky Hobbies received a review copy of the game so I was able to give the game a try. While the game is a little more complicated than I was expecting and the theme is a little weak, Cash Out is still a fun little risk/reward card game.

It Takes A While To Get Used To

One thing that I have always liked about the SimplyFun games that we have played in the past is their simplicity. SimplyFun games are not strategic masterpieces but they make up for it by being easy to play and can be enjoyed by children as well as adults. Cash Out! appears to be targeting an older audience than the typical game in the SimplyFun lineup. This is not a bad thing but I wanted to bring it up for those familiar with the simplicity of SimplyFun’s other games.

While most SimplyFun games you can learn within a couple minutes, Cash Out! takes a while longer. The rules are pretty short (only a couple pages long) but they aren’t written as well as the instructions for most of the other SimplyFun games that I have played in the past. A couple sections you may have to read a couple times in order to fully understand. This doesn’t mean that the game is hard to play. It just means that the game is more complicated than the typical SimplyFun game.

The most challenging part of the game is trying to figure out what cards can be played where. For example cash in cards can be played in two different areas and both areas have different rules. If you are playing them as an investment they follow rules based on the number and color of the card. If the card is played to liquidate a portfolio the color can’t match any other cards played to liquidate the portfolio. Then there are Cash Out cards that you can only play on portfolios of the same color. At least early in your first game it may be hard to keep track of all of these things. You might need half of the first game to fully grasp what you want to do in the game. I know at the halfway point there would have been some things I would have done differently at the beginning of the game.

The good news is that once you get used to how the game plays it moves considerably faster and it is much easier to figure out what you want to do on a particular turn. While the game starts off kind of slow, when you start to figure out what you are supposed to do on a particular turn the game gets considerably more interesting/entertaining. At the recommended age of 10+ I don’t think kids should have that much trouble with the game but I probably wouldn’t recommend the game for children under the age of ten.

Investing In Portfolio’s

While it takes a while to fully understand which cards can be played on other cards, once you get a handle of the investing mechanic it is actually quite interesting.

Generally speaking you are going to want to start all of your portfolios with a low number since you can’t play a lower numbered card than the last card played. Therefore if you start your portfolios with high valued cards, you are shutting that portfolio off to the low valued cards. If you do this too early you may run into problems finding cards that you can actually play to your portfolios. In the game I played we generally stuck to playing a lot of low valued cards on a lot of our portfolios which allowed us to grow them while also giving us flexibility in future turns.

While I think it is best to start slow and build up over time, I am wondering whether the opposite would work. If you would pursue this strategy you could try playing a lot of your high valued cards right away and then try to close the portfolios as quick as possible in order to quickly get some points while denying the other players the opportunity to add other cards to their own portfolio.

The reason I like this mechanic is that it is interesting trying to build a chain of cards that you can play on one portfolio. With the low numbers this is quite easy since you can play cards from three different colors. As the numbers increase though, the number of colors you can play dwindles eventually to only one color. This leads to people having to plan out chains of cards that allow them to play one card that allows them to play another card, which leads to another card, and so on. At one point in the game I was one card away from being able to chain together about five or six different cards.

Private Investment

While the private investment mechanic immediately gave me flashes of the game Go Fish, there is quite a bit more strategy to it than I was expecting.

While the private investment is optional on every turn, I don’t see why you wouldn’t do it since you don’t lose anything if the player doesn’t have the card you are looking for. If they do though you end up getting an extra card that you actually need.

What is interesting about this mechanic is that it can be used in so many ways. Early in the game most of the players in my game used it to get low value cards in order to try and keep their portfolio numbers low so they could continue stacking cards on them. Players were also trying to get valuable Cash Out cards from the other players. As the game progressed though players started looking for higher valued cards as well as more specific cards that they needed in order to complete a chain of cards. When players were starting to close portfolios they also started asking for specific colors since they needed that color card in order to close a portfolio.

This is where this mechanic gets interesting since you can be very generic with the card you ask for or you can be very specific. If you are vague you will increase your chances of getting a card but the player can choose which card they want to give you which might not be exactly what you are looking for. You could also ask for a specific card but you have a good chance at not getting a card. If you really need that specific card though it may be worth taking the risk.

Personal Investment

While other cards games have a similar mechanic, I think one of the mechanics I enjoyed most in Cash Out! was the choice of being to add cards to your personal investment stack. What I like about this mechanic is that it allows you to keep cards that you want to use later in the game safe while also not clogging up you hand with cards you won’t be using for a while.

While you can choose to avoid using the personal investment side of the game, I would recommend against it. It you get a high valued card or a good Cash Out! card I would highly recommend trying to stash it early. The X2 card that I got early in the game (more on this later), immediately went into my personal investment. You need to stash these cards early since if you don’t another player could easily steal them using a private purchase. If I didn’t stash that X2 right away, I guarantee that another player would have stolen it.

What I like most about this mechanic is that while it can be very beneficial, the mechanic comes with a cost. In order to stash cards you end up wasting precious actions which you could use to add points to your total. You also need to waste another action when you want to take your cards out of the personal investment. Putting cards in your personal investment is also risky since once you take them back into your hand, you need to play them right away or another player could easily steal them from you since they now know you have a lot of valuable cards in your hand. Typically you need to plan out the turn where you take back your personal investment very carefully in order to guarantee that you can play the cards that you want most in that same turn so no one can steal them from you.

To Diversify Or Not

The biggest decision you will have to make while playing Cash Out! is deciding whether you want to diversify your investments or if you want to go all in on one portfolio. The game puts a big emphasis on this decision with one of the main things the game is supposed to teach children is risk vs reward.

In most situations I believe both are valid strategies in the game. By spreading out your cards over all of the portfolios you guarantee that you will receive a decent amount of points from each of the portfolios. This strategy is less risky but you will not receive a lot of points from any individual portfolio. On the other end of the spectrum you can play most of your cards to one portfolio. In this strategy you will receive a lot of points from one portfolio but you will get next to nothing from the other portfolios. This strategy is also riskier since you are more reliant on being the player to close/liquidate the portfolio.

In one game that I played there were three players playing. In this game one player chose to spread out their cards while two players mostly focused on one portfolio. I put most of my cards into one portfolio and ended up winning the game by a pretty large margin. This was due to one of the main issues I had with the game which I will address shortly. The other two players were pretty close so I think both strategies are valid.

Now let’s get to why I ended up winning by such a large margin. It all came down to the X2 card. Early in the game I ended up getting a X2 Cash Out card for one of the portfolios. After I got that card I knew that I had to focus on that portfolio so I put a large majority of my cards into that portfolio. I think I actually only put one or two cards in two of the portfolios and five or so cards into the other portfolio. I was able to get ten to fifteen cards into the portfolio with the X2 though and I eventually was able to add cards valued at seven points to the pile.

While I would have played the game differently if I hadn’t gotten the X2 card, I have to say that the card helped a lot in leading me to victory. If I wouldn’t have been able to play the X2 card I would have scored 72 points. Due to the X2 card I ended up scoring 124 points. That is a huge swing. I ended up taking a significant risk though because if I was unable to play the X2 card I would have placed last. I actually ended up leaving points on the table in order to guarantee that I could play the X2 card.

All this said I have to admit that I think the X2 card is kind of rigged. Unless you play it on a portfolio that you only have few cards in, it will get you a lot more points than the +6, +8 or +10 cards. Since the game lasts considerably longer than I was expecting, you can really stuff a lot of cards into a portfolio which means that if you get a X2 card early in the game you can build a strategy where you are almost guaranteed to win as long as you can eventually play the X2 card.

May Be A Little Long

Regular readers of this blog probably know that I rarely say that games are too long. While Cash Out is not grossly long, I think the game would have benefited from being a little shorter. The game has a suggested length of 20-30 minutes. I think the game takes closer to 40 minutes especially if you have players who like to think out all of their options. Forty minutes is not terrible but I think the game would have been a little better if it finished a little quicker.

Part of the issues with the length might have been due to playing the game with three players instead of four. With three players each player tended to be able to play a lot of cards. While the instructions have players only scoring about 35 points, I ended up scoring 124 points while the other players were close to 100 points. Maybe it was because none of the players were particularly aggressive allowing everyone to play quite a few cards before closing a portfolio, but I think the rules should be slightly modified if you have less than four players. For two and three player games I think some of the cards maybe should be removed from the deck before beginning the game.

I am guessing most of these problems will work themselves out with having four players since there will be more competition between the players. Each player will get less cards and with more competition someone would be more likely to close a portfolio earlier than they would in a three player game. While the game plays fine with three players, this is the main reason why I think the game would work better as a four player game.

The Non-Existent Theme

The thing that disappointed me most about Cash Out! was the theme. While the theme doesn’t hurt the game, for the most part it never really comes into play. Cash Out! bills itself as a game that helps teach children about investing and the financial world. Unfortunately none of that really comes into play in the actual game. The only real lesson the game teaches about finances/investing is about diversification/lack of diversification and the strengths and weaknesses of both options.

Overall the theme in Cash Out! is pretty weak. You could have added many other themes to the game and it wouldn’t have changed the game play. While the theme isn’t really present in the components I give the game credit for the quality of the cards. Like all SimplyFun games the card stock is really nice. The artwork on the cards is pretty simplistic but it makes it easier to figure out what cards can be played.

If you were looking for a game to teach your children about investing, other than diversifying risk, Cash Out! is probably not the type of game you are looking for.

Final Verdict

Overall I had fun with Cash Out. While it is not the best game I have ever played, it is a very solid little press your luck risk vs reward style card game. The game takes a little longer to get a hang of than SimplyFun’s other games but once you get a handle on the game it becomes pretty easy to play. While I wish the game’s theme played a larger role in the game, the game does include some interesting mechanics which add quite a bit more strategy to the game than I was expecting.

If you are interested in Cash Out! for the theme I think you will be disappointed. The theme only comes into play with regards to diversification and risk/reward. Even though the theme is kind of weak I still found Cash Out to be a pretty good game. If you are familiar with SimplyFun’s other games, Cash Out is probably one of their more difficult games so take that into consideration if you have younger children. Overall if you read through the “how to play” section and thought to yourself that this sounds interesting, I think you should enjoy Cash Out!

If you would like to purchase Cash Out! you can purchase it directly from SimplyFun’s website.

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