Monday, 29 September 2014

Las Vegas

Plays: 3Px1.

The Game

Las Vegas is a light dice game by Rudiger Dorn (Goa, Istanbul, Dragonheart, Jambo). It is played over four rounds only. In each round, each of the six casinos on the table offers at least one money card for players to fight over. Whoever wins the most money by the end of the fourth round wins the game.

During a round, you win money by placing your dice on the casinos. You start every round with 8 dice of your colour, and 2 dice of a neutral white colour. On your turn you roll all dice still in hand, and pick one of the numbers rolled. All dice of that number (whether in your colour or in the neutral colour) must then be placed on the correspending casino. Then the next player takes his turn. This goes round and round till everyone has placed all his dice. You then compare the number of dice at each casino. Whoever has the most takes the highest valued money card. Whoever has the second most takes the next highest valued card, and so on. One important twist is when there is a tie at a casino, all tied players are disqualified from that casino. This means two strong players may both get kicked out, leaving the spoils to a humble third party. It also means sometimes you can make use of the neutral dice to screw an opponent by forcing a tie between him and the neutral colour. Of course your opponents will try to do the same to you.

At Casino #5 red and blue are tied at three dice each, so both will be disqualified, and white (the non-player colour) will become the winner. At Casino #6, blue will win the highest valued money card, but since red and white are tied for second place, no one will win the second money card.

The Play

The game is quick and smooth. Being a dice game, there is definitely luck, and you don't always get to do what you want. Instead you are often presented with multiple opportunities and/or dilemmas. You need to evaluate the potential risks and rewards, and decide how much you want to gamble. You need to pick your fights, since you can't fight everywhere. Early in a round you will have more options, since you still have many dice. As more and more dice are committed, you will become more reliant on luck giving you what you want. It is important that in the early stage of a round you pick wisely, so that you won't get thwarted by bad luck too easily towards the later part of the round. But it can still happen.

The risk management and the dwindling options feel a little like Pickomino, however unlike Pickomino, you only roll once on your turn, like in Airships. One thing I like about Airships is the single roll aspect. You don't need to watch your opponents roll dice over and over. Turns are quicker.

My strategy during our game was to delay commitment as much as possible. I tended to pick the numbers with fewer dice, so that on my turn I committed fewer dice. My dice pool lasted longer, and I could watch where Chong Sean and Michelle committed their dice before I committed too many of my own. I could delay my decisions until later - where to fight and where to concede. The delay strategy has its merits, but it is not always up to you to execute it. You are still at the mercy of the dice. One thing good about it is once your opponents have played their white dice, you know they won't be able to sabotage you anymore. But then it is still possible for your own white dice to mess up your plans if your die rolls suck.

My delay tactics worked very well for me and I won the game with a large margin. This was a great boost to confidence, after having lost two games of The Palaces of Carrara so spectacularly just before this. Then Michelle said, you do win at games of luck. Hey, it's skill! I haz dah Skillz!

Money cards on the left, start player card on the right.

The Thoughts

Kareem has recommended Las Vegas to me before, saying it's simple but fun, and now that I have played it, I fully agree. The casino theme doesn't seem appropriate for children, but I think Las Vegas makes an excellent family game. It will work well with casual gamers and as a party game too (but it supports at most 5 players). It's easy-to-teach, quick-to-play, has some strategy, presents meaningful decisions, and has decent player interaction. There is always an excitement in rolling dice, especially a mighty handful of them. Sometimes bad die rolls can be discouraging, but even with a poor roll you usually have options, just that you are in damage control mode as opposed to an opportunistic investment mode.

1 comment:

Damien (BGG ID: dtroy_de_rapcore) said...

There was a time where me, Nurul and Kareem were gaming with a married couple. They were casual gamers so I pulled out Las Vegas to introduced to them.

Nurul and the couple loved the game so much that we played it for 3 more times in a single seating (instead of plenty other games that we brought that night). Me and Kareem just looked at each other and we just went with the flow, haha.

My point is, LV is a great game to introduce to and is a tonne of fun when you play with light-hearted gamers. Rolling chunk of dice never fails!