Vegas Showdown Board Game Review

Think you can build a better hotel casino than Caesar’s Palace or the Luxor? Prove it in Vegas Showdown, a game where millionaire investors compete to build the most famous resort in Vegas! Fill your casino with slots, table rooms, lounges, night clubs, restaurants and buffets in order to corner the market. Publicize it to the world and turn it into the most famous resort on the Strip. And like most things in Vegas: Winner takes all!

The story behind Vegas Showdown is that you and a few of your millionaire friends decided to buy a plot of land on the Vegas Strip in order to build hotel casinos on it. Being the rich gambling sort that you are, the bunch of you decided to add a bit of a wager into this deal: the owner of the most famous resort at the end of a year gains ownership of the entire plot! So the competition begins to build the best rooms and facilities to create the glitziest resort on the plot.

Vegas Showdown is primarily a bidding game. Each player starts with an empty 7×5 building lot, and will need to fill this up with various types of rooms. Each player earns income based on the current state of their hotel casino, and uses the cash to bid on different types of rooms and facilities to add to their resort. These bids are crucial as there are limited numbers of each type of room available in the game. At the end of the game, everyone scores fame depending on what their final hotel configuration is like and how much fame they acquired during the game, and the resort with the highest fame is the winner.

There are 3 categories of rooms you can build. The blue tiles represent hotel-type eateries such as the restaurant and buffet, and generally provide a population increase. The yellow tiles represent casino rooms such as the slots room and the table games room, and generally provide financial income. The green tiles are general entertainment rooms like the lounge, night club and theater, and generally provide fame (and here’s hoping they’ll release an expansion that will let you put entertainers like Cher and Bette Midler in your theater). The tiles are also split into 2 levels: basic and premium. The basic rooms such as the restaurant, slots and lounge are always available for bidding (while supplies last), while the premium rooms will appear on the board randomly. The tiles also vary in size and appear as either 1×1, 2×1 or 2×2 tiles.

Players take turns being the starting bidder, and each turn begins with players receiving income (in the form of poker chips!) depending on how much cash and population your resort can generate. The starting bidder then reveals a random event. These events have a variety of effects such as reducing the minimum bid of rooms or giving everyone extra cash. Once that is resolved, players take turns to perform an action: either bidding on tiles, renovating or doing publicity.

Each tile comes with a specific minimum bid (which decreases each turn that it remains on the bidding board). Players bid by placing their markers on the board, either meeting or exceeding the minimum bid. If you get outbid, you can bid again on the same tile, or move your bid to another tile, or choose to perform the renovate or publicity actions instead. Once you win a tile, you must place the tile onto your resort board or in a reserve area. Renovating allows you to rearrange your board, letting you take tiles out of the board into the reserve, and then letting you place tiles from the reserve onto your board. Doing publicity gives you instant fame and lets you place one tile from your reserve onto your board.

There is also strategy involved in deciding what tiles to bid on. Most premium tiles have a prerequisite, for example you need to have built a lounge first before being able to build a night club. Tile placement is also crucial. The edges of each tile are either entrances or walls, and the tiles must be placed and oriented so that visitors can access them from either the casino entrance or the hotel entrance of your resort. Another requirement is that casino tiles must be accessible from the casino entrance, and hotel tiles must be accessible from the hotel entrance. However, just meeting these technical requirements won’t win you the game. At game end, players will also score bonus fame depending on the layout of their resort.

The game ends when one of three stacks of premium tiles runs out. When that happens, players earn extra fame depending on how many of the objectives they meet. If you manage to completely fill your casino section with yellow and green tiles, you gain bonus fame. The same goes for the hotel section. Bonus fame is also awarded for connecting your hotel and casino entrances, and for strategically arranging your premium tiles. You will also score if you have high income and population. There are many ways to win in this game (sadly, none of them involves Bette Midler).

Vegas Showdown is a great board game that is suitable for all skill and experience levels. It also doesn’t take very long to learn or play. If you like bidding/auction games like Power Grid, tile placement games like Alhambra, or just the entire premise of owning a casino, then Vegas Showdown is perfect for you!