"Step up to the table, ladies and gents, and place your bets. We have a new shooter. All in, all done! Shooter, roll us a point!"
The game board in Vegas Showdown serves a different function from the boards in most games. You don't move or fight on it. You will, however, interact with it every turn. Here's how.
First, it keeps track of everyone's score. That's what the roulette-wheel track around the outside edge is for.
Second, it marks which players are renovating or drumming up publicity that turn. Ultimately, publicity is what wins the game, and sometimes renovation can't be avoided. Usually, though, those are options that you take when you're too broke to bid on new tiles.
The board's biggest function is displaying the tiles that are available for purchase this turn.
The three basic tiles -- Basic Slots, Basic Lounge, and Basic Restaurant -- are always available. Only one of each type can be purchased per turn, however (two Slots are available in a five-player game). Premier tiles are more limited. Only four are up for bidding at a time (three in a three-player game), and there's no telling what they will be.
If there's an open spot for a premier tile at the start of the turn, someone flips an Event card. The card triggers an event that can help or hinder players impartially. It's an ill wind that blows no good, however, and what hinders your rivals may well speed you ahead -- or vice versa -- depending on circumstances.
Once the event is resolved, the same card indicates what size of premier tile should be flipped to fill the vacant slot. Size has no correlation to value. Instead, each tile indicates the minimum price that must be bid before anyone can even think about buying it. A large Buffet, for example, carries a minimum bid of 33, while the small Dragon Room carries a minimum bid of 42. The two least expensive premier tiles are the Fancy Slots and Table Games at 18 each, while the two most expensive premier tiles are the Space Age Sports Book and the Theater at 52 each.
Bidding for tiles is carried out directly on the game board. Each player has one (and only one!) bid marker with which to indicate his or her bid. The bid marker is placed on the bid track alongside the tile you want. When it's your turn, to increase the bid, just place your marker on any higher number than the current bid on the track. The other player removes his marker and can re-place it on a higher bid on the same track, switch to bidding on something else that's more affordable, or drop out entirely -- opting to renovate or publicize this turn instead.
The point is, because each player has only one bid marker, there can't be any confusion about what the player's bidding on or how much is being offered.
The bid tracks are interesting, too. They aren't linear. The bid track for Basic Slots, for example, runs 5-7-9-12-15, while the bid track for a Basic Restaurant runs 15-18-21-25-29. Bid tracks for premier tiles begin at 3 and climb to 52 in 14 steps varying from 2 to 5 points each.
Notice on the premier tile bid track, however, that every other number is outlined in a red circle. These are the minimum bid numbers. If no one bids on a premier tile, its price drops at the start of the next turn. The price drops from the red-circled space it's in to the next lowest red-circled space on the track -- a decrease of two spaces on the track. Price still too high? Wait until next turn and it will drop again, assuming someone doesn't buy it before then.
Next week -- assembling all those tiles into something like a casino!
Vegas Showdown: Premier!
Vegas Showdown: Welcome To the Strip!
Vegas Showdown: Get On the Board!
Vegas Showdown: Architecture 101!