Time for the Vs in our exploration of the ABCs of Gaming. V is for…
Vegas Showdown was published in 2005 by Avalon Hill. It was designed by Henry Stern, is for 3-5 players aged 12 and up, and takes about 75 minutes to play. You’re trying to build the most famous hotel/casino on the Las Vegas strip in this auction-based/tile placement/route building game. This is a game I’m almost entirely unfamiliar with – it’s famous to me as the subject of the very first Board Games with Scott, but I’ve never played. That may be due to my lack of excitement about auction games more than anything else. It won with 22.3% of the vote, beating out Vikings with 18.6%.
The game comes with a board, 5 hotel/casino sheets, 2 building prerequisite charts, 63 featre tiles, 33 event cards, 80 money chips, a turn order button, 5 fame markers, 5 population markers, 5 revenue markers, 5 bid markers, 4 minimum bid markers, and 6 no bid markers. Players each get a casino/hotel sheet, get $20 in chips, set their population at 8, set their revenue at 5, and set their fame at 0. Restaurant, lounge, and slots tiles are stacked in their spaces, while premier tiles are organized by size and A/B back, shuffled, and flipped up to their appropriate spaces on the board.
In each round of the game, there are six steps: drop prices, flip new tiles, collect income, choose actions, adjust fame-revenue-population, and pass the turn order button.
DROP PRICES: Move the minimum bid marker for each premium tile back a space. You’ll skip this in the first turn.
FLIP NEW TILES: Empty premier spaces are filled by drawing new cards from the event deck, then following the instructions on the card. It will tell you the type of tile you need to put on the space, as well as some action that needs to be resolved. If there are no tiles of the indicated type remaining, the game ends.
COLLECT INCOME: Each player gets money equal to the lesser of their population or revenue numbers.
CHOOSE ACTIONS: Players can either bid on tiles, renovate, or use publicity.
- Bid on tiles: Put your bid marker on the space indicating the amount of money you want to pay for a tile. You can’t bid more than you have cash on hand, and there is an upper limit to the amount you can bid. If you get outbid, you’ll have to wait for your turn to come around again, then choose an action again. You can bid again (either on the tile you were outbid on, or on another), or you can choose one of the other actions. Once bidding is complete (once no one is waiting to rebid), you pay and place your tile (either on your hotel/casino sheet or to the side for future placement). There are prerequisites for premier tiles, so you can’t place them unless those have been met. You also must be able to trace an uninterrupted path to your tiles from the entrance of the casino for yellow tiles, or from the entrance of the hotel for blue tiles, or from either entrance for green tiles.
- Renovate: If you choose to renovate, you can’t bid on anything. You may take 0-2 tiles off of your sheet, then place 0-2 tiles from off your sheet back on. The numbers don’t have to be the same, and you can place tiles you just took off if you want. This is the way to rearrange your board.
- Publicity: If you choose this action, you also can’t bid on anything. What happens is that you gain a fame point and place one tile from off your sheet.
ADJUST FAME-REVENUE-POPULATION: Add any fame, revenue, or population bonuses provided by your newly placed tiles to the appropriate tracks. Removing tiles in the renovate action takes away points – you only get points for what’s on your sheet.
PASS THE TURN ORDER BUTTON: To the left.
The game is over when a tile that is required during step two cannot be used because it isn’t there, or when a player completely fills their hotel-casino sheet. Players get 5 fame for filling each of the yellow and blue regions of your hotel/casino, and an additional three if your hotel and casino entrances are connected by an uninterrupted path. You get 1 point for each full $10 you have, 5 points for the highest revenue and for the highest population (3 for second, 1 for third), and points for having completed (or 3/4 completed) diamonds on the corners of your tiles.
As I mentioned, I’ve never played this game, so I can’t really give a critical review. I’ve never liked auction games, but this is a style of auction I like better than most. It’s a little like that in Cyclades, Homesteaders, and Amun-Re, where there are several things up for auction at once and you’re probably not going to be shut out of getting anything. The Vegas theme seems to work well with the mechanics, and I think I’d like the tile placement aspect as well.
I think I’d like to give this one a try. However, my choice was Vikings. It’s not terribly thematic, but it’s a very clever tile placement game where you’re trying to gain points in various categories. It’s one of my favorites with three players, and until I play Vegas Showdown, it’s my choice for the top V. Here’s a look at the also-rans in the category:
Vikings (2007, Michael Kiesling, 18.6%): As mentioned above.
Other (14.1%): Nominees included Vanished Planet. Victory in the Pacific, Vietnam 1965-1975, Villa Paletti, VisualEyes, Volcano, and Vom Kap bis Kairo. Of those, I’ve only played Villa Paletti, the 2002 SdJ winner. It’s a fun dexterity game, I’d recommend it.
Vinci (1999, Philippe Keyaerts, 10.5%): These days, this game is more known as the predecessor to Small World. It was basically the same thing, but with ancient civilizations clashing rather than fantasy races.
Vasco da Gama (2009, Paolo Mori, 9.4%): A game about the famous world explorer. I don’t know anything about it, other than Tom Vasel threw it off the roof.
Vinhos (2010, Vital Lacerda, 7.7%): A game about wine production in Portugal. It’s a popular and well-respected game, but the theme does absolutely nothing for me. Pass.
Vampire: The Eternal Struggle (1994, Richard Garfield-Robert Goudie-L. Scott Johnson, 5.2%): This was a CCG that was originally called Jyhad (wonder why they changed it).
A Victory Lost (2006, Tetsuya Nakamura, 4.3%): A World War II game about the Russian and German conflict.
De Vulgari Eloquentia (2010, Mario Papini, 3%): A game about language creation. I’ve never played, and know next to nothing about it, but the theme sounds very intriguing to me.
Verräter (1998, Marcel-André Casasola Merkle, 2.5%): This small card game from Adlung-Spiele is actually a deeper experience than its size suggests. Along with Merkle’s follow-up Meuterer, this is one of the originators of the role selection mechanism of games like Puerto Rico, Citadels, and Glory to Rome. I prefer Meuterer myself.
Valdora (2009, Michael Schacht, 2.3%): I’ve played this pick-up-and-deliver game once. It was pretty nice – I liked the book mechanism – but was too long for what it was.
The Vs are done. W next! Thanks for reading!