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Vegas Showdown
Know Your Objective
By Alan Kwan

Last week, we looked at the seven sources for Fame points. This week, we examine the strategies for gaining control of those sources -- in other words, how to win!

Bargains

The strategy in Vegas Showdown revolves around getting tiles at bargain prices, especially premier tiles when their prices drop, and bidding against fellow players for these bargains.

In order to take advantage of low prices, you need to have cash. Even when you cannot win the bidding, it is useful to have enough cash to bid up the price so that an opponent does not get a tile too cheaply. After making sure that your opponent has to pay a 'fair' price for the tile, you can buy something else at its own 'nice' price.

Income is important, but equally important is saving your money from turn to turn, spending it on good bargains, and resisting the temptation to overpay for a tile. Unlike some economic games such as St. Petersburg and Puerto Rico, income can be expensive to develop -- don't overpay to increase your income.

Early Income and Late Fame

Those familiar with recent economic games know the theory of going for money early and victory points (Fame in this game) later. This applies in Vegas Showdown, too, but grabbing opportunities is more important, because prices fluctuate throughout the game. In the early game, when everyone has less income, you can probably get Fame more cheaply than in the late game. (You can expect to pay less for a Night Club early in the game than late in the game, for example.) Also, the opportunities to buy Fame with your money are more limited in Vegas Showdown than in many other economic games. Thus, a pure early money, late Fame strategy won't always work -- it depends on what opportunities are available and what the competition is doing.

Auction TrackAuction Tactics

Each turn, determine your best play by examining what is available and at what prices. If everything seems expensive and you have some extra cash, buy a Lounge or Restaurant you expect to need. If your cash is tight, it's better to go for Publicity and save the money for later. If there is just one cheap item, you should bid on it at least once, just to drive up the price to a 'fair' level before one of your opponents buys it. If there are several cheap premier tiles, don't bid too high -- you're better off settling for any of the good bargains available. And save up enough money for the action -- even buying Slots for $5 (because you don't have enough money for other things) is not a good deal when everyone else is buying Fancy Lounges and Fancy Restaurants for $12.

Publicity

Taking Publicity is often a good move, not merely something to do when you get outbid for all the tiles. You gain 1 Fame without spending any money, and on following turns you have more cash to go after better bargains. You don't have to buy something every turn just because you can. Sometimes a tile isn't worth its Fame value when compared against gaining 1 Fame for Publicity plus 1/10th of the tile's cost (the Fame value of cash at game's end), let alone the extra potential of having cash on hand.

Renovation

When you place your tiles, it is best to either have a plan or maintain flexibility. As much as possible, avoid having to Renovate. Sometimes it is better to delay placing a tile (especially if it won't immediately generate income) so that you can place it more advantageously on a later turn with a Publicity action instead of placing it now and needing to Renovate later.

Sometimes, however, Renovation is necessary, especially for aligning red-cornered tiles (many of which have restrictive door placement) to gain the large Fame bonus. In some cases, you need to be thinking about future Renovation when you place a new tile. The 1 Fame earned for Publicity can add up and become significant if you do Publicity often enough -- but if you do Renovation only once or twice per game, that costs you only 1 or 2 Fame, and it can earn you much bigger end-of-game bonuses for filling your Hotel and Casino sections and connecting red corners. In other words, Renovate when you need to and only when you need to.

Of course, a good time to Renovate is when the PR Scandal event comes up, but don't wait too long for that event to do Renovation -- you risk missing out on a bonus if the Master Designer or Master Planner events appear before you renovate.

Evaluating the Tiles

Five-Star SteakhouseWhen evaluating a tile for purchase, the factors to consider are:

  1. its printed values;
  2. its layout value (shape, doors, red corners);
  3. its prerequisite value (the availability, price, and value of the tiles it serves as a prerequisite to);
  4. its event value (generally a minor factor).

Next week, we begin a detailed examination of all the tiles in the game.


About the Author

Alan Kwan is the owner of a board game specialty store in Hong Kong, a long-time gamer, and Yinsh World Champion 2004.


Read Alan Kwan's complete Vegas Showdown strategy guide --

Part 1: Fame
Part 2: Know Your Objective
Part 3: Basic Tiles
Part 4: Fancy Tiles
Part 5: Top Tiles
Part 6: Branch Tiles
Part 7: Large Gaming Tiles
Two-Player Variant










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