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Subject: Geeks Under Grace Reviews: Vegas Dice Game (Target version) rss

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Derek Thompson
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INTRODUCTION

In 2012, the dice game Las Vegas was nominated for the Spiel des Jahres, eventually losing to the also-excellent Kingdom Builder. Las Vegas was always a bit of an odd duck. It was published by Alea, an imprint of Ravensburger known for its advanced strategy games. Yet, Las Vegas is an incredibly simple dice game that anyone can play, and its packaging looked too similar to other Alea boxes. It also had a showgirl on the side of the box, undermining its family-game appeal. It never got the distribution I thought it deserved in America, and its expansion, Las Vegas Boulevard, was never released in the U.S.

Five years later, and thanks to retailer Target’s aggressive pursuit of exclusives for its board game shelves, Las Vegas has been repackaged as Vegas Dice Game in an attractive black cube, devoid of showgirls or any real-life casino references. Now that the game is finally on the shelves of the correct audience, does the game hold up? Let’s find out!

REVIEW


I actually want to spend a fair time talking about this game’s facelift, so we’ll just start with the known quantity (for me, anyway): the gameplay. Vegas is a dead-simple dice game. Each player has eight dice and rolls what they have left, while placing all dice of one number on the corresponding casino. At the end of the round, whoever has the most dice on each casino gets the largest bill, and so on. However, there’s one more rule which absolutely makes the game: if players tie, both player’s dice are removed! So you might have one die on a casino where two other players each have three, and you end up winning that casino’s cash! This rule means that anyone has a chance at any casino at any given time, giving the game a strong push-your-luck feel and some hilarious schadenfreude moments.

Although the game is incredibly simple, and lacking in long-term strategy or planning, it’s still a ton of fun. It’s the perfect step up for people who want something more interactive than Yahtzee or Farkle, and it’s one of the few pure dice games that also feels like a party game. I honestly wonder if, looking back, today’s Spiel des Jahres jury would have awarded the 2012 prize to Vegas, as they’ve leaned towards lighter and lighter games each year. And anyone can easily play Vegas. One of the big gambles for Target’s exclusives is that they have to trust that families can buy these games blind from their shelves, open them up, read the rulebooks, and get going. Vegas is absolutely a game I would be comfortable telling a non-gamer to pick up and take home.

Most importantly, Vegas is finally rid of its identity crisis. I never understood why this game was in the Alea line, which is known for its middleweight Eurogames. I think its packaging and placement (and its lack of availability outside of hobby channels) hurt the game drastically in the U.S. The first time I played it, I felt like it was a game that belonged in Wal-Mart, Meijer, and of course, Target. And I’m so glad that the packaging is redone.

The game no longer comes in a rectangular box familiar to most hobby gamers, but instead, a cube that is somehow both smaller and larger, but it definitely feels and looks small. The dice pips on each face of the box clearly broadcast that this is primarily a dice game, and the stylization and name evoke the Vegas theme without using any of the more offensive things the city is known for. The components inside are mostly the same as they were before—even the rulebook wording is the same, as far as I can tell. There is now a very nice cloth bag for the dice, and the casino tiles no longer have actual casinos on them (which is fine by me, as I think one or two of the casinos in the previous edition are closed now, anyway). There is some faint iconography on the casino tiles showing cards, money, martinis, and so on, further upping the Vegas theme. The money cards are identical to the previous edition. It sounds silly, but it would have been good for them to change the periods to commas in the money amounts—simple for American sensibilities since everything else was redone for this edition, anyway.

Overall, though, I am so happy this game is back in the foreground, and the new components are a huge improvement. They much more accurately depict the game, and the box is considerably more attractive. And now when I play it with family and they ask where to get it, I can finally just tell them to go check at Target, instead of explaining how to special order from a hobby retailer or how to get free shipping from an online deep discounter. The tagline on the box says “Be Crafty. Take Chances. Win It All.,” and hopefully Ravensburger and Alea have done just that with this new edition of an excellent game.

POSITIVES


+ Incredibly simple gameplay
+ Graphic design is clear and functional
+ Tiebreaker rule creates lots of tension with minimal effort
+ Exciting to the last roll

NEGATIVES


- Too simplistic or lucky for some gamers
- Minimal, generic theme

BOTTOM LINE


Vegas is one of the best pure dice games out there, and an immediate recommendation for those looking to expand beyond Yahtzee, Farkle, Qwixx, and the like.
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David B
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Good to see this game hitting the Target shelves. But I'm not crazy that it's a Target exclusive and hobby stores therefore have a hard time getting it. FLGS have been screwed over several times by Target, Walmart, etc, exclusives. Star Trek Catan was a very bitter pill for them to swallow.
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Paul W.
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Great review Derek. I've been wanting to pick up Las Vegas for a while to add to my family game library.
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Pete Hornburg
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Does the Target version contain the expansion, as well?

If not, is it compatible with the Alea expansion?
 
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Derek Thompson
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petegrey wrote:
Does the Target version contain the expansion, as well?

If not, is it compatible with the Alea expansion?


It does not. I had both in my house at the same time but did not check. However the money cards seem identical to the previous edition so they should combine fine, and there really aren't other issues. (The new dice from Boulevard didn't match the old original dice THAT well anyway.)
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Matthew Soto
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aldaryn wrote:
petegrey wrote:
Does the Target version contain the expansion, as well?

If not, is it compatible with the Alea expansion?


It does not. I had both in my house at the same time but did not check. However the money cards seem identical to the previous edition so they should combine fine, and there really aren't other issues. (The new dice from Boulevard didn't match the old original dice THAT well anyway.)


No real changes of thickness and all between the 2 editions? Asking as somehow in the first play the back got creased, so I had to get Mayday's Black Euro Sleeves for this. At least it matches the box a bit. I enjoyed it for what it was, 2 player basic does feel more of a pick and choose what you want though. Almost tempted to 'force' all 2p games to use the Neutral Dice variant (and/or make my own setup guide card from Boulevard whistle )

Also, noticed that there's no label indicating that it is a target exclusive, so it might be a timed exclusive like Machi Koro Bright Lights, Big City (had the exclusive label on the shrink).
 
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Derek Thompson
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I never put them side by side to compare thickness, but at a glance they looked identical. Both fit in Euro sleeves.
 
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