Posted by: gschloesser | December 31, 2012

Vegas

Design by:  Rüdiger Dorn
Published by:  Ravensburger / Alea
2 – 5 Players, 30 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

 Vegas - cover

NOTE:  This review was first published on the Opinionated Gamers website

Dice have been with us since before recorded history.  The oldest dice discovered thus far were excavated in Iran and date back a staggering five thousand years.  The dice apparently belonged to an ancient Backgammon set, a game that is still immensely popular throughout the world.  Dice continue to be used in games of chance to this very day.  It seems there is no end to creative uses for this simplest of items.

As a board game enthusiast, I am continually amazed at the creativity of designers.  Not only can they devise highly original mechanisms, but they can put unique and creative twists on old mechanisms and find new and exciting ways to utilize familiar components.  Designer Rüdiger Dorn has taken fistfuls of dice and created a unique and fun betting game themed around the dice capital of the United States:  Las Vegas.

Published by Alea / Ravensburger, Vegas is a light but extremely fun dice rolling game wherein players are attempting to win large payouts from six Las Vegas casinos.  It is part of the “small box” Alea line, and includes an abundance of dice in five different colors, six cardboard placards representing the casinos, and a stack of currency cards.  The six casino placards, numbered one-to-six, are placed in a row on the table.  Currency cards are revealed until each casino has at least $50,000 available. Banknotes range in value from $10,000 to $90,000, so there can be quite a disparity present at the casinos.  Players each receive eight dice in their chosen color and the gambling excitement begins!

Vegas2 A player’s turn is quite simple:  roll the dice and         assign dice to one of the casinos.  Once a player rolls the dice, he must choose one number and place ALL of the dice displaying that number on the matching casino.  For example, Gail rolls all eight of her dice, resulting in 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 4, 5 and 6.  She opts to take the two “2s” and places them on Caesar’s Palace, which is the #2 casino.  She now has six dice remaining for her next turn.  Once dice are placed on a casino, they are locked and cannot be re-rolled.

Each player performs the same action, rolling and placing dice, until players have placed all of their dice.  At that point, each casino is examined to determine the player or players who have the most dice (number of dice, not the value) present.  If any players have the SAME numbers of dice, their dice are removed and they will not receive any banknotes.  This “tied players lose” mechanism is deliciously evil!  The player with the most dice remaining takes the most valuable banknote present at that casino.  Any remaining banknotes are distributed to the remaining players in order of descending number of dice.  Currency is distributed from each of the six casinos in this fashion, after which any undistributed currency is discarded in preparation for the next round.

Each of the three rounds is conducted in the same fashion, after which players tally their collection of banknotes to determine the wealthiest player, “King of Vegas” and winner of the game.  The game generally takes about 30 – 40 minutes to play to completion.

While there is an abundance of dice rolling, Vegas is not devoid of decisions.  With each roll, players must decide which numbers to place onto casinos.  Numerous factors influence this decision, among them:

* The amount of money available at the respective casinos

* Opponents’ dice placements

* Number of dice players will have remaining

Sometimes a player will roll an abundance of a particular number, but placingVegas them all would leave the player with few or no dice for remaining rounds, which is usually an undesirable predicament.  Alternatively, the player may not want to compete at the casino where he would be forced to place these dice.  So, it is often a wiser move to select a number that appears on fewer dice in order to compete at a more desirable casino and/or preserve dice for future rounds.  Of course, this is a dice game, so luck is prevalent, if not dominant.  Often a player is forced to place dice at casinos where he does not wish to compete or does not even have a chance of capturing cash.  It can also be frustrating – albeit in a fun sort of way – to be forced to place dice on a casino that forces a tie, thereby denying the player any payout from that casino!  No one ever claimed that dice are fair!

As I mentioned near the opening of this review, Vegas is light, yet extremely fun.  There is excitement over competing for the most valuable banknotes, and devious fun in trying to best your opponents and leave them penniless.  As with many dice games, you often vocally hope to roll a certain number, cheering when you succeed and moaning when you fail.  There can also a considerable amount of posturing and blustering – all in good fun, of course – hoping to warn opponents away from certain casinos, or cajole them into placing dice at particular establishments.  While much of one’s fate is determined by lady luck, there are enough decisions to elevate the game beyond a mere casting of lots.  While the real Las Vegas holds little or no attraction for me, I find the seductions of this Vegas quite irresistible!

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Responses

  1. This is a good opener for game night. Luck is a factor but it can be your friend or foe. I am not much of a fan of these super quick fillers. This one teases you into believing you have some decisions to make but I think only the first couple of die rolls give you any options. After that it is obvious where to put your dice. In the second edition of the game the title is changed to Las Vegas. It is still the same game. 5/10


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