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Vegas Showdown
Basic Tiles
By Alan Kwan

Last week, we looked at the strategies for gaining control of Fame. This week, we examine the three basic tiles -- Slots, Lounge, and Restaurant. All have subtle values and weaknesses that go beyond their printed values.

A tile serves three purposes. One is to earn Fame points. Another is to serve as a prerequisite for other tiles as specified on the Building Prerequisites Chart. The third is to facilitate your layout and prevent it from becoming so cramped that you can't place additional tiles in optimum positions.

Each tile has eight attributes:

  1. Name
  2. Color: yellow (Casino), blue (Hotel), or green (either)
  3. Type: basic or premier
  4. Price: minimum-bid price (basic) or starting bid price (premier)
  5. Printed Values: Population, Revenue, and Fame
  6. Shape: size and doors (officially "entrances")
  7. Red Corners (yes or no)
  8. Building Prerequisites
  9. Event potential: some event cards name specific tiles

Basic tiles

Unlike premier tiles, which are drawn randomly, basic tiles are always available (until the stack is depleted), and their minimum-bid prices do not drop. Each type has two beneficial event cards associated with it (one gives bonus Fame, the other bonus money) and a pair of events that prevent bidding on that tile.

SlotsSlots
price: 5
1 Revenue
small tile with 3 doors

A Slots tile is usually worth more than $5 in the early game. It allows you to increase your Revenue cheaply and is often a heavily contested target in the opening turns. Its printed values exceed its price, so it should be bid up.

Its layout value, however, is minimal. It is a small tile, so it doesn't contribute much to filling your Casino. Worse, it is the only small tile that does not have red corners. At least, having three doors makes it easy to place.

Slots also serves as an important prerequisite for Fancy Slots, of which there are five, and the Dragon Room.

LoungeLounge
price: 9
2 Fame
medium tile with 6 doors

Every player should realize immediately that a Lounge is not worth buying for its printed values alone. Paying $9 for 2 Fame gives you a net gain of 1.1 Fame. If you chose Publicity instead of bidding on a Lounge tile, you would gain 1 Fame without spending any cash. Tying down your cash for a mere 0.1 point gain is not worth it.

If you want to gain 2 Fame, don't buy a Lounge; choose Publicity instead.

On the other hand, the Lounge has the best layout value in the game, even without red corners. Being a medium tile, it can fit in narrow places or span a useful distance. Because it's green, it can connect to either your Hotel or your Casino entrance, whichever works best with your layout (and it can even be switched from one entrance to the other during Renovation, if necessary). Its six doors greatly relieve any layout problems you may have.

In particular, as the Hotel entrance tile, a Lounge makes a nice partition. A Restaurant fits perfectly between the Lounge and the corner of your Hotel-Casino sheet. Unfortunately, these two tiles together cost $24, and they do not increase your income at all! If you place a starting Lounge at the Casino entrance instead, it helps you fill your Casino more easily and is also helpful toward building an efficient layout.

The Lounge is an important prerequisite for tiles that provide mostly Fame, so it does not hurt (when considering the printed values) to get the premier tiles first, then get the Lounge later. It also has some event value. Until you acquire a green premier tile, however, the main value of the Lounge is its terrific layout flexibility. That's a subtle bonus in the early game, but it's usually enough to justify buying this tile early.

RestaurantRestaurant
price: 15
2 Population
large tile with 6 doors

The Restaurant gives you 2 Population -- which means it is pretty useless for quite a few turns because players start the game with more Population than Revenue.

Being a large tile, a Restaurant is very helpful toward filling your Hotel. Six doors are great, but be sure to place its blank wall against an outside edge of the layout sheet. Otherwise, that two-space-long wall can become quite inconvenient. There is no reason to ever place it at the Hotel entrance.

While its printed values are weak, the Restaurant is an important prerequisite for blue premier tiles. The Fancy Restaurant is an especially good tile (when its price eventually drops). Blue premier tiles bring income. Buying those tiles can be a problem, unfortunately, because the Restaurant is expensive. If you buy a Restaurant, you may not have enough money remaining to outbid your opponents for the blue premier tiles -- but if you don't buy a Restaurant, you can't play the nice blue premier tiles you get. Even in the best circumstance, you wind up waiting two turns before collecting any income from blue tiles.

The Restaurant also has higher event value than the others. In addition to higher bonuses for the tile-specific events, the Convention event effectively gives a cash bonus for blue tiles.

Conclusions

By comparing the three types of basic tiles, we see that they serve very different functions. In the early game, Slots are great for their printed value. It is worthwhile to buy multiple Slots until your Revenue catches up with your Population. The Lounge has no more printed value than its cost and should be bought mainly for its layout value. One is usually enough, but sometimes a second can be helpful. Until your Revenue catches up with your Population, the Restaurant's printed value isn't useful. Buy one early only if you need it as a prerequisite. One is enough for that purpose, so don't waste your money on a second Restaurant in the early game (this is a typical novice's mistake). Later on, there may be good reasons for adding another Restaurant -- you may need the Population and can't get anything better, or you might need it to fill your Hotel or aid your layout with its six doors.

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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