Vegas is the one of the only Cheapass games I've played, but I've noticed that it's usually a case of 'you get what you pay for' when it comes to a game in an envelope. And although I've certainly played much better, this little game isn't too bad. It feels a little bit like Monopoly meets Poker, but there's a time and a place for a game like that.
Theme and Object of the Game
The theme to Vegas, as you may have guessed, is gambling. The game simulates the overall feel of wandering around the streets of a casino town, playing games of pure luck, and then handing over your money for your trouble. That's not to say it's a pure luck-fest, although it's close. The object of course is to end the game with the most money. It's a simple theme and a simple objective, but it's suppose to be that way.
Basically, there aren't any. What you get in the envelope are twelve pieces of cardstock that can be placed side by side to make a gameboard, and three more pieces with the rules printed on them. Supply your own pawns, counters, dice, cards, and poker chips (or play money). Personally, I like the dice, cards, poker chips, etc that I use to play but since I bought them totally separate from the game they don't count. Then again, I got what I paid for.
The board is similar to a Monopoly style board with a movement track along the outside with spaces along the way representing eight casinos, each featuring a simplified game such as Craps, Blackjack, Slots, Poker, etc. These aren't the real casino games though, but simply dice rolling or card drawing with a win or lose outcome. Each casino also has a card suit associated with it for replay options, and a lottery ticket cost for an 'end of the game raffle'. At each corner is a Draw/Showdown spaces similar to the Free Parking square of Monopoly, and four penalty spaces similar to Luxury Tax. And of course in the middle is The Pot, where money from raffle tickets go to be later be won in Showdowns.
I'd recommend laminating the board or using contact paper to keep the cardstock sections together. Otherwise they just move around too much.
Surprisingly, this isn't too bad once you realize that it's a 'roll and move' game. Before the game players are each dealt a hand of five cards that will serve as a poker hand and replay cards as the game goes along. Each casino is stocked with starting chips or money, and each player places four of their counters at the Start. These counters serve as countdown counters that are removed after a player passes Start and determines when the game will end.
On a players turn, he rolls three dice and moves his pawn that many spaces. Then he follows the instructions of the space he lands on. Most often this will be playing a 'game' at a casino, wagering the amount listed on the space he's on. If he loses the 'game', he gives the casino that money. He may 'cheat' by discarding one of the cards from his cand that match the suit of the casino listed on the board. This allows him to replay the 'game'. If he wins, he takes the money from the casino. After playing the 'game' he may purchase a ticket for the raffle at the end of the game. Any money used to buy these raffle tickets goes into The Pot. A player may buy as many tickets as he'd like. The only downfall to this is if the casino where he bought the tickets goes backrupt in which case he loses those tickets.
If a player passes the Draw/Showdown spaces, he may draw a card and lay it face down in front of him. This serves two purposes. It increase his chances of having a better poker hand (used later) and it gives him more replay options. The fact that these cards are face up clues the other players in on what poker hand he may have. Instead of drawing a card, a player may choose to stop on the Draw/Showdown space and declare a Showdown. If this is done, each player reveals his best poker hand of five cards and the winner collects the money in The Pot. Also, whenever the deck empties, a Showdown is automatically conducted. After each Showdown, each player receives a new hand of five cards.
The game continues in this manner until all the counters at the Start are removed and the next Showdown occurs. Then the game ends and each casino raffles off it's remaining money to ticket holders. Whoever has the most money at game end wins.
Vegas is a light game but last a little longer than most light games. It more entertaining than Monopoly, not as 'poker-ish' as Poker, and the raffles are more satisfying than Bingo. That might not sound very impressive, but it's a nice little game. It's the kind of game you can easily get non-gamers to play although there are certainly better games to get them hooked. But after the first copy I bought got a tear on the board I went out and bought another copy, so it can't be that bad. For a couple bucks, it's worth giving it a try.
This was a hit with our game club, though no one was sure why. We are a veteran crew, and have played everything light and heavy, and this seemed to just scratch the right itches and handle a lot of players.
Most of the Cheapass hits are this way. Light mechanics, a somewhat silly topic, and more depth than you would expect.