There’s gold in these hills, and you intend to find it. Sure, pickaxes are more accurate, but they also take forever, and more than finding gold, you’re interested in spending gold. So grab your dynamite, fling it into the rocks, and get ready to make it rain. You need quick hands and a stout heart to make off with the treasure here, but with skill and cunning, you just might be able to retire.
How It Works
Boom, Bang, Gold is a children’s dexterity game for two to four players. Players are prospectors hunting for gold. The player with the most gold nuggets at the end of the game wins.
To begin, each player receives a character with accompanying gold cart and a stick of dynamite. All the pieces in the box bottom are turned rubble side up and mixed around. One player keeps track of the round number with the included watch tracker, and the game begins.
Boom, Bang, Gold is played in twelve rounds. At the start of a round, players say, “Boom, bang, gold!” and then throw their sticks of dynamite into the box. Players then simultaneously scramble inside the box to recover as many gold nuggets as they can. Players can’t turn over rubble pieces looking for gold (they have to have been turned face-up from the dynamite), and they may only use one hand to collect pieces and must remove pieces from the box one at a time. There are special action pieces that will be resolved at the end of the round, and each player has one critter that they’re immune to. If a player spots their critter face-up in the box, they can say, “Watch out, a snake!” (or ghost, or rat, or bat), and the other players must put both hands on their head and say “Help!” before they can begin rummaging again.
Once all the face-up pieces are removed, players activate their special action. The sheriff star makes players return any orange (illegal) gold to the box, the pickax lets a player turn over five rubble pieces and keep any gold, the dynamite lets a player throw their dynamite into the box and collect any gold, and the pistol lets a player duel another player for their gold.
After special actions have been resolved, players get ready for another round. At the end of twelve rounds, whoever has the most gold wins.
Gold in These Hills
Boom, Bang, Gold is unapologetically a gimmicks game. And in this case, it’s a fun and unique gimmick that works.
As with most gimmicks games, the proper place to begin a discussion is with the components, because the components make or break the experience. The components in this instance are flawless. Each player receives a hefty wooden stick of dynamite, which immediately excites players young and old. Each player also receives a large box to store their booty, well illustrated and functional (and easily constructed out of cardboard). The interior box, which serves as a component in the game, is thematically illustrated. The prospecting tokens are on thick cardboard. But most of all, the gimmick of dynamite turning some tokens face up but not all works. The bottom of the box has an insert that is raised slightly from the box bottom, giving extra spring when the dynamite hits it, allowing tokens to flip. The game is able to capture players’ attention (and imagination) because of the stunning presentation.
And the game underneath the gimmick is a pretty fun one. No, this isn’t Caylus or another perfect-information Euro brain drain. Boom, Bang, Gold is fun, pure and simple. There’s the excitement of throwing a stick of dynamite, of frantically searching for valuable treasure, and of frightening other players away with scary desert dwellers. It reminds me of my youth when (for the week that POGs were popular) we’d throw a slammer at a tower of cardboard discs and try to turn things face up. While that was a money hole, Boom, Bang, Gold takes that simple concept and weaves a fun game around it.
The premise is simple, but there are a few wrinkles above the gimmick that make the game more interesting. First are the aforementioned scary desert dwellers. Each player has one that they’re immune to and can sic on the other players, giving that player a small advantage when that animal is turned up. Then there are the special action tiles, like the pistol, which forces a duel with another player, or the pickax, which lets you look at five tokens and keep any gold you find, or my personal favorite, the sheriff, which forces all other players to return the fool’s gold they found this round to the box. While these make the game more complicated for younger players (I had especial trouble getting my nieces to play the animals correctly), they do imbue the game with more interest for older players, and they all fit within the thematic framework of the game.
HABA is known for making great children’s games that adults don’t mind playing, and I think Boom, Bang, Gold continues this tradition. Although the game is packaged in HABA’s new family game packaging with accompanying “Game Night Approved” logo, this one seems aimed squarely at kids. While I would play (and have played) Karuba or Adventure Land (or even Animal upon Animal or Rhino Hero) at game night or with a group of all adults, I don’t think Boom, Bang. Gold has quite that same appeal. For one thing, the logistics of having all larger hands rummaging in the box at once would be a little difficult to manage; for another, there’s not quite enough here to retain the interest of adults, especially spaced over twelve rounds. But if you add even one child to the mix? You begin to see Boom, Bang, Gold’s niche. Kids love throwing the dynamite into the box, love searching for face-up tokens (and make up for having smaller hands with the nimbleness of their fingers), and mostly love a shared activity with adults in which they have an equal chance of winning.
Gimmick games tend to have a short life span: once the initial joy at seeing something new wears off, the game has to stand on its merits. I’m uncertain whether Boom, Bang, Gold has legs to be a children’s game mainstay. I will say that I was able to play it with my nieces–aged 8, 6, and 5–and my children–aged 6 and 4–and we all had a great time. We were all fairly equally matched, which is a rarity in the games we usually play, and even if I had to adjust some rules to make the game understandable, they didn’t seem to like it any less for that. My nieces were sad I had to take the game home with me, and my kids have been requesting it since we played. So Boom, Bang, Gold at least performs well on the “sip” test; it’s hard to know how well it will be received over the long haul. (That being said, I’m still enjoying playing it with the children in my life.)
In sum, despite the “Game Night Approved” logo on the box, I wouldn’t get Boom, Bang, Gold to play with your hobbyist friends, or even your adults-only groups. But if the prospect of a crossover game for kids and adults sounds good to you, and you like the idea of flinging dynamite into a box and think yelling silly phrases sounds fun, Boom, Bang, Gold won’t disappoint. It delivers exactly what you’d expect from this description–which is to say, loads (or lodes?) of fun.