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Lords of Vegas (2010)
Designer: James Ernest and Mike Selinker
Publisher: Mayfair Games
Time: 60-75 minutes
Upon reading the instructions, the game appeared to have a large luck aspect, but also appeared to be well themed since as in Vegas, luck is a huge factor. The addition of open trading on almost everything was also intriguing, but when that is the case, the players involved are key to determining whether the game is fun.
The game is played on a turn by turn basis; however on a player’s turn, in addition to all the actions they can perform, they may openly trade with any other player.
There are a few concepts that will be explained first before the actual game play is explained:
-Casino Tiles: There are five different colors of casino tiles. There can be more then one casino on the board of each color. A casino, it a group of linked tiles of the same color. Note that there are only nine tiles of each color, which will likely limit some actions as the game progresses.
-Dice: The dice represent the players and the face up values on the dice currently on the board are used to determine many actions and events in the game.
-Boss: The Boss of the casino is the player with the single highest die in that casino. Note that you are the Boss of one casino, not of all of the casinos of that color as there may be more then one casino of each color on the board.
-Scoring Track: The scoring track starts off normal, with players scoring points as they earn them, however as of 8 points, it starts to jump. The indicated interval is the number of points a player must get to advance their point marker. For example, at 8, the next box is a 10; therefore a player needs a casino to score 2 points to move up. If they have six casinos, all scoring one point each, they do not move up, since each casino is scored one at a time.
There are two main phases to the game, drawing a lot card and performing actions. At the start of the player's turn, you flip over a card and the following things occur.
-The current player places one of their markers on the lot indicated by the current card. This gives them control over the lot and they may build on it during their turn or trade it at any time.
-Each lot that is currently claimed on the board gives that player $1 (the currency is in millions, but for simplicity I will refer to it in dollars). Thus the current player will always get at least one dollar for the lot they just claimed
-All casinos of the indicated color pay out money. This is done for all players that have a building of that color, regardless of whether they are the Boss of that casino or not. Each player receives the amount of money based on the number of pips (dots) on their dice in that color of casino.
-Casino Bosses get points based on the number of tiles in their casinos. Thus if you are the Boss (have the single highest die in a casino), then you receive points based on the number of tiles in that casino. As there can be more then one casino of each color, many players can get points each turn.
If a Strip Card is turned over, it is played similarly to any other card (a lot is claimed and all lots pay out), however, instead of one color o casino being paid out, all casinos with at least one edge on Las Vegas Blvd pay out. Thus multiple colors can pay out.
After the payouts and points are done, the card is placed face up at the edge of the board, thus you can always see how many of each card has come out, thus knowing the chances of a card of your color of casino being pulled. There are nine of each color and three Strip cards (plus the end game card which is a Strip card also)
After this is complete, the active player may perform the following actions. Note that they may perform each action as many times as they wish, with the exception of the Gamble action which can only be performed once. They may also freely trade money, lots, casino tiles and actions (get paid to perform actions for example) throughout their turn. The actions are:
-Build: You may build on any lot you own by paying the amount indicated on the board. Simply pay the amount, chose a color of tile (that remains) and place your die with the number indicated on the board face up. This tile is now controlled by you and will pay you money when a card of that color pays out (points only go to the Boss).
-Sprawl: Only the casino Boss may take this action. You pay double the amount indicated on the board and can add a casino tile, of the same color as the casino you are sprawling from and add your die as indicated on the board. Note that the space you are sprawling to must not have a player marker on it. Should that card come up later, the player that draws it will replace your die with theirs.
-Remodel: Only the casino Boss may take this action. For $5 per tile, you may change the color of your whole casino to another color (with enough remaining tiles available).
-Reorganize: Pay $1 per pip and re-roll all the dice in the casino. You do not need to be the Boss. Each die can only be rerolled once per turn.
-Gamble: Place a bet of up to $5 per casino tile with any other play (like in Vegas you try and get some quick cash to perform an action you really need to do, your odds are about 50/50)
Note that when performing these actions, if at any time there is a tie for Boss, you must re-roll the dice that are tied. After the roll, the current largest die is the Boss, which can be any die in the casino, not necessarily one of the ones just rolled.
Once the end of game card is pulled, which is a Strip Card, the casinos on the Strip pay money and points and the game ends. The one with the most points wins (money is the tie breaker).
The first thing you notice is the scoring track. Due to the steps, where you start to need more and more points in order to move up the track, you cannot simply sit on your casinos and claim small amounts of points each turn. Since there are only nine tiles of each casino color, scoring four points on one casino can be pretty tough, especially when others can see where you are on the track. The fact that you score each casino separately also adds to this, since four single tile casinos do not let you jump the four point gap, but keep you earning one point four times.
Managing your money is key. But you tend to always have at least some money, it is possible to not earn for a little while, but to go a full round with no cash is rare, especially since your lots pay out on each turn. Note that the lots that would start with the six side of the die face up are fairly expensive ($20), while the ones that would start with the two side of the die face up are fairly cheap ($6), but there is an obvious reason for that, the person who builds on the $20 lot, will be the Boss. So you can try and start by building several cheaper ones and hope that the six die never shows up, but since 3/4 of the cards are flipped, thus 3/4 of the lots will be taken. This leaves you open to lose you casino and then to get it back you would need to pay to re-roll the dice (although if you have more tiles then the others, you would have a good chance of taking it back since you would have more dice). Also, the larger the die value, the more money you get each time a card of your casino's color is flipped. This pays regardless of whether you are the Boss or not, so a tile with a five or six, not only gives you a good chance of being the Boss, but will also have good cash payouts.
One key thing to this game is the open trading. Remember, everything can be traded except that you cannot perform an action on another players turn, yet you can pay someone else to perform an action to help you (such as paying them to build on a lot and then trading them for it). You can even pay people not to do trades with others, but you cannot make promises for future turns. This mechanic leads to a lot of possibilities each turn and by my second game, I was already manipulating the board much more then on my first game. Taking over others casinos with the Build, Remodel and Reorganize actions is a must if you want to be in the lead and trust me, others would steal your casinos if they could!
Building on the Strip is also important since it pays out on the three Strip cards in the deck and at the end of the game. So you want to have all your casinos linked to the Strip. This may not always be possible, but when you have a casino that is not linked and see an opening to connect it, you should, especially since you can see which cards were already drawn.
As the previously drawn cards are visible, the Remodel action lets you play the odds. You can change the color of your casino in hopes of having more chance that you will get a payout and points. But as this is visible to everyone, do not wait too long, with only nine tiles of each color, once they are all used, you will have to hope that someone else gives one up. One trick is to keep a single tile built of a sought after color in order to be able to Remodel and free it up. This often happens by chance, but you can plan ahead a little also.
The Gamble is pretty self explanatory, you take a chance to get some added cash to perform an action that will help you get money and points. The odds are slightly in the house's favor (5.6% according to the rules, so this is really just a gamble, but may make all the difference.
All this being said, there is a fair amount of luck. With three quarters of the cards in the deck being draw, even though you can see which ones have been drawn, the luck of the draw may frustrate some. The timing in which you get money also matters, so getting paid right after you take over a large casino is great, but waiting for a payout only to see the card appear after you just lost a casino, sucks. Also, as your player tokens are dice and others can pay to reroll them, you always take a chance. The more dice you have in the casino, the better your odds, but if another player has one die and you have four, you may still lose. If you really hate luck, then this is definitely not for you.
Finally, remember that the last card will be a Strip card, again this adds to the point above about having all your casinos connected to the Strip. Also, you know roughly when it will come out and can determine the amount of points each player will get on that final card, so you can focus on trying to catch the players ahead of you.
The open trading and constant back and forth is quite fun. Although, those who hate luck in their games will find it hard to plan ahead, since there is a lot of reaction in this game, based on what cards have come out, what others have done and how much money you have on your turn. The theme of Vegas does fit very well and adds to the game play. I was surprised that all the people I played with enjoyed this game as we tend to tilt towards the more strategic Euro games. But if you can deal with the luck and enjoy open trading, this game is a lot of fun.
- Last edited Sun Oct 3, 2010 11:30 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun Oct 3, 2010 10:09 pm
its about vegas so its about luck, playing the odds and gambling. its a unique and fantastic game. so different from the cube pushers.
Just got my copy Joel. Hoping to play it this week.