King of the Strip
James Freeman lends a hand to record
the plays of the finalists so his son Eric, who also happens
to be the GM, can play.
Vegas Showdown has gotten good word of mouth but is no longer new.
Attendance has grown while many new Euros quickly vanish.
Vegas Showdown, named Games Magazine's Game of the
Year for 2007, had a highly successful second year at the WBC,
improving on the numbers of a strong debut. Players are challenged
to bid for and place basic and specialty rooms, all in an effort
to build the best Hotel/Casino on the Vegas strip. 4-player games
were the preference, with 5-player games being used only if necessary.
In the two preliminary heats there were a total of 20 games contested
by 67 different players. Alfred Smith was the only person to
score wins in both heats, while defending champion, Andrew Gerb
took a 1st and 2nd in his two heats. The closest game happened
to be the only 5-player game of the tournament, where Tom Bissa
snuck by Andrea Wicks, Lexi Shea, and David Gagne, by one, two,
and six points respectively. The biggest win was by Nick Page,
whose 88 points outdistanced his nearest competitor by 33.
The winning players were encouraged to record the rooms built
in their casino, and the information was recorded on 23 games.
The raw numbers can be a little deceptive as there is no information
about what the winner paid to get the tile, and some tiles in
the B stacks will not be available to be purchased in any given
game. A key theme is getting good value for what you purchase.
However, the numbers may indicate what tiles more frequently
become good values. The number in parenthesis is the total of
that premier tile available in the game, while the other number
indicates how many total rooms of that type the winners purchased
across the 23 games.
Lounge - 45. Every winner bought at least one lounge
Fancy Lounge (4) - 26
Nightclub (2) - 9
Theater (1) - 11. Thought by many to be a key to winning. Nearly
half the winners had a Theater on their board, a high proportion
when compared to other premier tiles, such as the Nightclub,
which has double the availability. Interestingly, the winner
purchased the Theater in only one of the five semi-final games.
Sports Book (3) - 16
Space Age Sports (1) - 3. Definitely not a favorite among the
winners. Scott Chupack managed to win a preliminary game despite
purchasing one and never getting it on the board. Least favorite
of the "unique" premier tiles.
Slots - 91. Every winner had at least two Slots. Alfred Smith,
Rob Kircher and Nick Page won games with only two Slots in preliminary
games. John Corrado rode eight Slots to victory in his Round
Fancy Slots (5) - 26. Not as popular as Fancy Lounges considering
the extra availability and lower starting price.
Dragon Room (1) - 5
Table Games (3) - 10. Surprisingly unpopular for a premier tile
that is fairly common
High Rollers Room (2) - 7. Winners that did buy Table Games generally
made sure they got the HRR as well. In the Final, Eric Freeman
bought both High Rollers Rooms.
Restaurant - 27. All winners bought at least one, but only four
bought more than one, and none bought three.
Fancy Restaurant (4) - 26. All the "Fancy" tiles bought
the exact same amount of times.
Buffet (3) - 13. Slightly less availability than the Fancy Restaurant,
but a lot less popular considering the same starting price and
Five-Star Steakhouse (1) - 4
A detailed breakdown of the scoring was available for 24 games.
In 14 of those games, the winners completed both the Casino and
Hotel sections and connected between them. Rob Kircher managed
a win with neither the Casino or Hotel filled, while Max Jamelli
won with only one side filled and no connection. In both cases,
completed diamonds were a big part of their victories with both
scoring eight points in diamond scoring. Max was also helped
by having the highest population and being tied for highest Revenue
for nine total points. Don Tatum was the only preliminary winner
to get ten points for the having sole possession of highest revenue
and highest population.
Of the 19 different heat winners, only one did not show for
the semi-final and that was due to an unfortunate mistake. Tom
McCorry waited for the semi-final to begin in the wrong room
(along with alternate and 2008 GM John Weber) and by the time
he figured out the correct room, the semi-final tables were starting.
Other heat winners included Kevin Wojtaszczyk, Tim Hing, Marilyn
Flowers, Mike Kaltman, Eric Freeman, Tom Dunning, Bill Herbst,
Tom Bissa, Cary Morris, and Luke Kolesar. Tom's absence allowed
Bob Wicks, Jr. to qualify for the semi-final as an alternate,
however with his daughter, Andrea Wicks, the highest ranked alternate
behind him, he withdrew to allow her to play.
The 20 semi-finalists were split into five 4-player games.
In one semi-final game, Eric Freeman used an income strategy
(10 pts for highest revenue and highest population) to nip defending
champion Andrew Gerb at the end by one point. Closely behind
in third was Don Tatum by four points. (As mentioned previously,
the only other player to max out points in the income categories.)
This semi was easily the closest of the five SF games. Scott
Chupack rode slots (4), fancy slots (3), plus eight points in
diamond scoring to win by seven. Nick Page used a "Fame"
strategy behind Lounges (3), Fancy Lounges (2), and a Theatre
in addition to eight diamond points to win by nine. Mike Kaltman
used a balanced strategy (some scoring in every category) to
win by six. William Herbst won the tightest semi when measured
from first to last, with only nine points separating top from
The Final consisted of only four players, as William had a
previous commitment that required him to leave. A full play-by-play
of the Final is posted on boardgamegeek at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/4146698.
A big thank you goes out to the GM's father, James Freeman, for
recording the Final game, as the GM was a participant.
Some of the highlights include:
Turn 5: Nick bought a bargain Nightclub for $15 to stake an early
lead in the game
Turn 6: Eric and Mike follow with bargain buys of $12 High Rollers
Room and $12 Buffet respectively.
Turn 7 gives a big Fame boost to Nick and Scott from the Slot
King event, netting them 3 and 2 Fame over Eric and Mike.
Turn 10 proved decisive. Here, the Good Relations card (must
outbid by 2) came up along with the PR Scandal (No Publicity).
By virtue of being early in the turn order, Eric and Scott are
able to get bargains on premier tiles ($15 Fancy Restaurant and
$15 Fancy Lounge), while Mike and Nick settle for base price
slots and restaurant.
Turn 15 cemented Eric's eventual victory. The Theater is revealed
as one of the premier tiles for bid. Eric buys a Fancy Lounge
at its base price to get the prerequisite for the Theater. Despite
the large outlay of cash, with his higher income and cash reserves
left over, he already has locked in the ability to purchase the
Theater sooner than any of the others. In Turn 17, Eric purchases
the Theater for $37.
Final Fame on the board at the end of the game: Nick 51, Eric
51; Scott 49, Mike 36
Eric finishes with the highest Population (19) for five points,
while Scott and Mike split 2nd (16) for two points each. Nick
finished with 12 population.
Mike has the highest revenue (22) for five points, Eric second
(20) for three points, Scott third (15) for one point. Nick finished
with 10 revenue.
Eric, Mike, and Nick all fill both sides and connect for 13
points. Scott is unable to complete one section for eight points
Scott scores big for diamonds with seven points. Eric, Nick,
and Mike score three, two, one points respectively for full and
Nick, Eric and Mike get three, two and two points for cash
Final scores: Eric 77, Nick 69, Scott 67, Mike 59
On Eric's tableau at the end; Lounge, Fancy Lounge, Theater,
Sports Book, three Slots, two Fancy Slots, Table Games, two High
Rollers Rooms, Restaurant, two Fancy Restaurants, and Buffet.
Eric used an income based strategy to chase down Nick in the
final stages and then used the remaining turns to pull away.