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Subject: Las Vegas: The Card Game - A Detailed Review rss

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Image Courtesy of W Eric Martin

This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game. For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

If you liked the review please thumb the top of the article so others have a better chance of seeing it and I know you stopped by. Thanks for reading.

Summary

Game Type - Card Game
Play Time: 20-40 minutes
Number of Players: 2-5
Mechanics - Area Majority, Simultaneous Action Selection
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in 20 minutes)
Components - Very Good to Excellent
Release - 2016

Designer - Rudiger Dorn (Arkadia, Asante, Diamonds Club, Emerald, Gargon, Istanbul, Karuba, Las Vegas, Traders of Genoa, Goa, Jambo, Loius XIV, Robber Knights, Waka Waka)

Overview and Theme

I've made something of an unconscious decision to not go out of my way to review card game versions of already existing titles, mostly because I have far too many original titles to cover. That said I find myself sitting here in a hotel room hours before a gaming convention opens and I played this last night, so I have some time to kill and I think this title is worth shedding a little light on.

So not surprisingly, this card game looks to adapt the dice-based game, Las Vegas (2012), into a card playing format. Well that is only half right as really it is trying to replicate much the same style of play by removing the use of dice as the random determiner.

The theme is pretty bang on for the location...win as much money as you can at the various casinos on the strip and take home the biggest cash haul to take the win.

Grab that lucky rabbit's foot and join me...no no no...put some clothes on...it isn't that kind of strip you idiot! whistle

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The Components

The components are relatively few and dominated by cards as one might expect. Apologies if any of these shots are below par for quality. They were quickly taken by me (first mistake) but Annie tried to fix them up in the editing suite.

d10-1 Casino Cards - The game comes with 6 cards to represent 6 casinos on the strip. Each one features a number in the range of 1 to 6 and that is all that really matters from a game play point of view.

Like all the cards featured in the game, they are in the smaller format that allows for a nice small box size.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


d10-2 Cash Cards - The Cash Cards look like lovely colourful versions of the real thing, complete with Mr Washington front and center. Different colours are used to differentiate the denominations, which range from $100,000 down to 40,000 I think from memory.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


d10-3 Player Cards - Each player receives a deck of cards in a given colour. Each card in the deck will feature a single value and will have either 1 or 2 icons featuring that number on it. A dice icon is central to these cards to help remind the players that they are at a casino and likely playing a game like craps.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


d10-4 Safe and Cocktail Cards - These two cards are used to track the locations of discarded and collected cards. The artwork is evocative of their purpose.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


d10-5 Rules - The rules do a great job of explaining the game in as little time as possible.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


All in all I think the components offer decent value for money. The winner here though is the small box that the game comes in. There is no bloat here.

I should also mention that the game comes with some components that can be added to the original design. I'm not really a fan of combining extras to other games, simply because it feels like we (the gamer) are being played if we don't own the other game in question.

Set-Up

The game is set out much like its big brother, with one key exception. Six cards are placed centrally on the play area, representing the six casinos at which the players hope to make their fortune. Then two Cash Cards are flipped face-up and placed alongside each casino to represent what can be won at each this round.

The key difference here is that the players all receive a unique deck of cards instead of dice and these need to be shuffled and 5 cards drawn to hand by each player.

Because the game uses simultaneous card selection, there is no start player. The game is ready to begin.


Image Courtesy of Alice87


The Play

Las Vegas: The Card Game is very much a gateway title and almost falls into the filler category. As such it is very streamlined and the play moves at a really good pace.

d10-1 Select Cards – The players must all select which cards they will play at the same time. This decision constitutes the entire game and as such there are several options :-

mb Play as many cards of the one value as you like

mb Play any single card

mb Play any two cards as long as both cards are of differing values

Once a player selects their cards of choice, they play them face down to the table.

d10-2 Reveal and Allocate – Once all players are ready, all played cards are revealed and they are placed alongside the casino of the matching value.

I find it easiest to place a given player's cards in a single line (at each location) so the dice values can be easily seen. This allows for easy viewing and comparison. Thanks to the colour each player has, those dice icons really stand out and help to assess who is in the lead at any given location.

d10-3 Ditch Remaining Cards, Draw Up – Any cards that were not selected for that turn are discarded and placed under the Cocktail Card. Each player draws 5 new cards from their deck and gets ready to select their cards again.

d10-4 Exhausting Your Options - This process of card selection and allocation has a finite timeframe however. All players can only put into play (allocate to casinos) a maximum of 8 cards.

This is pretty significant for the strategy of the game, because a player that goes hard early (usually by playing multiple cards of the one value) is more likely to reach their 8 card maximum before the competition. This may afford the competition the chance to play some cards with relative freedom as they can see what lays before them and that may allow them to 'pick off' juicy targets.

d10-5 Winning the Cash! –

Image Courtesy of Alice87
Ok so the above steps constitute the how, but what are the players trying to achieve?

Well of course they want the money and once all players have 8 cards in play it is time to divide up the loot.

The player with the most dice icons at a given location will take the top Cash Card on offer there. The player with the second highest dice icon total takes the second best or remaining Cash Card at each casino.

I state dice icons on purpose, as opposed to having the most cards, because each player has a single card for each value that features 2 dice icons (all the rest feature only 1 icon per card).

So of course the aim is to be a player in the top two for as many casinos as possible. But how hard do you need to go to win the big bucks and how thin can you spread your resources without getting beaten to all of it?

Where the game is clever (and this is borrowed from the original design) is that a tie for first or second is a disaster. This is because a tie earns nothing and the next player in line grabs the loot instead. wow

This mechanism allows for all manner of screwing over other players if you are not in a position to win some cash outright but have nothing better to do. It also has strong implications for the strategy of card selection too, because sometimes a player will feel compelled to strengthen their claim at a given location to ward off competition, but that can be overkill and deny them opportunities elsewhere if the competition think it best to battle it out somewhere else.

This is the beauty of simultaneous card selection as opposed to individual turns, which was utilised by the original design.

d10-6 Ending a Round – All cash won is placed under a player's Safe Card. This is important because it keeps that hidden until the end of the game, which means the players need to try and keep a close eye on how each player is fairing in order to size up their competition.

It is possible that some cash was left behind due to ties. These cards are discarded and 12 new Cash Cards are allocated to the casinos (2 each).

The players take back all of their cards, shuffle their deck and again draw 5 new cards. The next round is ready to begin.

d10-7 Game End and Winning – The game consists of 4 rounds in total and at the end of the fourth, the players count up all the money in their Safe and the most cash takes the win. Simples...

The Final Word

In part I have made the decision to not cover derivatives of original designs due to the fact that they can often be pale imitations of what has come before. That's not to say there isn't a market for them, as our hobby is reaching new segments of the population that may want less rather than more.

But here, the reverse is true. For me this is definitely an improvement over the original and I say that as a card-holding member of the Dice Game Fanclub.

Why?

There are several reasons. Up front (no not the game), this iteration plays more smoothly. The simultaneous card selection mechanism means that all of the players are in on the action all of the time. This wasn't a big deal in the original as it was still fun to watch those bones get rolled and the turns were fairly quick, but there was still wait time.

But being involved all of the time (well except for those few seconds where you may have burned through your 8 cards before the others) is always better.

That same mechanism is also better because you are not sure if the players are going to make the same play as you at the same time. In the original, you had the information in front of you already (what dice had been allocated and how many dice each player had left) and you made your best call based on that info.

In this version there is just that little bit of extra added suspense with each card reveal and I like that.

Then there is the 3 ways in which the players can select their cards. This is added decision making that wasn't present in the original. This choice, combined with the combination of cards you draw with each 5-card pull makes for some very interesting choices as the play unfolds.

Interestingly, the nature of each draw still feels like a good dose of luck (simulating the nature of dice nicely).

And that is probably the last point worth making (and perhaps the most important). As much as I like dice games (and I like them for their luck/chaos factor) there is no doubt that those dice can really screw you in Las Vegas and can sometimes take away rather than give you options. In this version, there is more control and for me that means more strategy.

So there we have it. Mr Dorn has managed to make a card game that is better (in my opinion) than an original design (I look at you Burgundy card thingy). angry

This is faster, keeps players in the action longer and affords more control over proceedings than the original. In short, this version is, I believe, better in every way than the original and it has a smaller footprint for your gaming shelves.

I liked Las Vegas, but I ended up giving it away to family as I had better dice games in my collection. I will be picking up a copy of this though. I think it distils the core concepts of the original beautifully and then improves the overall design brief with a few well-chosen mechanisms.

Till next we meet, keep it clean on the strip.

Review Links

For a full list of my 400+ reviews in a search-able Geeklist -

My Review Geeklist for Easy Reference

My review of the original game, upon which this is based can be found here -

Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
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Bill Kunes
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Re: Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
Nice review, Neil. I may have to consider putting this back on my Wishlist.

meeple Keep playing...
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Stephanie Prince
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Re: Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
Neil Thomson wrote:
I should also mention that the game comes with some components that can be added to the original design. I'm not really a fan of combining extras to other games, simply because it feels like we (the gamer) are being played if we don't own the other game in question.


I am disappointed that you omitted this detail in your otherwise Detailed Review. The one thing I was looking forward to was finally finding out how this expanded the original Las Vegas.

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Re: Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
Sorry Stephanie - but I didn't have the original on hand to try it with and this is one review I've written in which I don't own the game.
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David Knepper
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Re: Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
Neil Thomson wrote:
Sorry Stephanie - but I didn't have the original on hand to try it with and this is one review I've written in which I don't own the game.


Do you want to sell the Las Vegas expansion?

Thanks.

knepper
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BorderCon
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Re: Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
Aging One wrote:
Neil Thomson wrote:
Sorry Stephanie - but I didn't have the original on hand to try it with and this is one review I've written in which I don't own the game.


Do you want to sell the Las Vegas expansion?

Thanks.

knepper


Sorry I may not have been clear - I don't own this expansion. I played a mate's copy at the Con I attended.
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Tim Royal
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Re: Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
What are you thoughts on this card game as a 2 player experience? I don't play the original game with less then 4, but wondered if this was better for two players?
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Re: Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
Auzette wrote:
What are you thoughts on this card game as a 2 player experience? I don't play the original game with less then 4, but wondered if this was better for two players?


I haven't played it with 2 but I don't think the tension would be there all that well.
 
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Will Plante
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Re: Las Vegas - A Detailed Review
bkunes wrote:
Nice review, Neil. I may have to consider putting this back on my Wishlist.

meeple Keep playing...

Me too. Like Neil, I found the original game to be okay, but not a standout dice game. I think this will provide a more tense play experience. My son loves gambling games, so this would make a nice stocking stuffer.

Cheers!
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