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Brian Bankler
United States
San Antonio
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"Keep Summer Safe!"
This review originally written in August 2006

I finally tried Vegas Showdown. I enjoyed it. Mix Amun-Re style auctions, where you bid until each player wins something, but with a fallback — you can always take a VP instead of buying. 'Bigger' items that don't sell have their minimum bid fall. Each player has a Princes of Florence type mat where they arrange their purchases. This further differentiates what players will want as the game progresses. Add a deck of random events (that mainly give each player the same options, although some swing the game).

Auction - Placement - Event - Income - Repeat. It works.

The economic engine purrs instead of roaring. Compare with St. Petersburg: If you buy an income producer (a worker), it pays off in a turn or two. In Vegas Showdown it takes 5+ turns to recoup costs. This makes hoarding money much more important. You can win with less income, which isn't true of many 'economic growth' games. Any VP purchases score once, and then perhaps have some end-of-game scoring effects (for filling up your placemat, or connecting sides, or forming patterns). So no runaway "Mistress of Ceremonies" issues.

Vegas Showdown's economics are carefully assembled.

Update December 2007 2006

I played Vegas Showdown five times this year, a reasonable number. I still think that the items are nicely balanced (not perfectly, but that's what auctions are for) and the events make replays different. I sold my copy of St. Petersburg over a year ago, but I think I'll be playing this for a while. If you like economic games, this is a good buy.
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