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Subject: Auctions, meeples and steakhouses rss

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D Clevenger
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Vegas Showdown is the latest offering by Avalon Hill. With this being the third review, I will skip the generics and proceed directly to the meat.

VS is a game of balance. Balance of money (as always), people, and victory points. New players will forget about victory points because they have no in-game value. They don't get you more money or allow you to buy more rooms for your Casino. But the winner is the one with the most victory points. Too many times I looked up to see the game nearly over and I was trailing horrifically in VPs. Oh, my casino was grand, I had a great mix of money and people but the end game points I would get would never allow me to catch those people who had spent a little time gathering VPs during the game.

However, VS is not all about VPs. During the game money is the main thing you have to watch. As in most economic games the temptation is to spend early and often. But, then when the Space-Age Sports Book comes available with all of its money, people and VPs, you won't have the cash.

However (again), the opposite can be true too. In one of my early games to play, I hoarded money like a prisoner hoards cigarettes, only to find that the game came to an end before I could buy all the rooms I needed to win. So I was sitting on a bushel of cash but you only get 1 VP in the end game for every $10 of cash you retain. You'll never have more than $50-$70 and 5-7 points in the end game won't get you very far.

VS requires you to think a little ahead - not too far - this isn't chess by a long shot - because the cards drawn almost every turn will change the opportunities, but you must plan ahead to which rooms you want. Although viable strategies exist to go heavy in one type of rooms (hotel, casinos or lounges), the diversied strategy is also very strong.

This is a medium-light game that plays suprisingly quickly. This would be a great game to try out on the parents and aunts and uncles this Thanksgiving because it has a theme everyone can relate to (no elves that will scare off beer-swigging Uncle Joe and no chits that will make Granny Alice squint her eyes in a vain attempt to read 17 symbols on a 1cm square piece of cardboard). Kids under 12 may have trouble with this game because of the heavy money management and planning it requires.

The cards add just enough luck to keep everyone honest.

This may not have tremendous replayability but should keep you interested for several dozen or more plays.
 
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