You might need to take a gamble or two to win here…
1 to 7.674 billion players
When Jess and I were lucky enough to visit Vegas a few years ago, we were surprised how much we enjoyed it (neither of us drink or gamble), and the same thing happened when we played Welcome to New Las Vegas. We enjoyed the original Welcome To without loving it (possibly a little too simple for us), so when the Las Vegas version came along we weren’t sure what we’d think. I’m glad to say we loved it from the first play, and every one since.
Ok so although you technically could play Welcome To New Las Vegas with the entire population of the world all at once, the logistics of that would be frankly unmanageable, so you might have to stick to just the Hemisphere that happens to be awake at the time, or failing that 4 or 5 friends will do.
How the game works
If you’re familiar with the original Welcome To, the concept is similar but so much has changed that it is still a bit of a learning curve. If you’re entirely new to the series, welcome to you (see what I did there), the Vegas version is significantly more complicated than the original so you might want to check that out first. It’s a flip and write game where you’re building casinos in your very own Las Vegas.
Every round three number cards are revealed, paired with one of 5 effect cards and each player must pick one pair to use. You must put numbers from smallest on the left to largest on the right, but each of your four streets are treated independently and the numbers don’t need to be in order. Once you have filled in the number, you then carry out the effect. Play continues until either someone completes all three objectives or is unable to put any of the three numbers in enough times to fill in their inauguration track.
The effect cards
Some casinos have shows on. Choosing the Show effect allows you to build a show in the casino you just built, but as with pools in the original game, they have to go on specific casinos they can’t just go anywhere. You get an increasing number of points the more shows you put on, but be careful, if you don’t build enough you can end up with debts…
The Limo effect allows you to carry on your limousine journey around your city. As your limo path drives past VIP locations you rack up points and money (to pay off any future debts!), but if you don’t make it back to the airport by the end of the game then big point penalties await!
In Las Vegas there are a number of unbuilt casinos, as denoted by the cranes dotted around. If you choose the Construction effect you can finish one of these casinos, allowing you to fill it with a number on a future turn.
There are three objectives to work towards, such as finishing off two streets, building four hotels, getting 6 odd numbered casinos in a row etc. There are plenty to play with so it gives the game a nice amount of replayability (more than the original game which focussed solely on number of houses in each estate).
Once you complete an entire column of casinos from top to bottom you can build the hotel for that avenue. If you’re the first to do so, you build a big hotel, otherwise its a small hotel. There are big points for hotels so try and get as many as possible!
You also get rewarded for having consecutive odd or consecutive even numbered casinos on each street. Whilst it might be good points to go 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 on a street, the numbers only go up to 15 so you might end up running out of numbers to fill in the street! Whoever has the longest run on each street also gets a bonus.
The other big addition to Welcome To Las Vegas is the golf course on the top street. Once you’ve built your first casino on that street, work outwards from there in both directions to continue building your golf course- you score points depending on how many par 3s, 4s and 5s you’ve completed but if you create a gap anywhere on the street that’ll ruin the rest of the course!
The Improvement effect is the same as in the original game, you can cross off bits of your scoring sheet to improve your points on each section. This is the most important effect in the game, because if you get 5 big hotels and you’ve improved their scores to the maximum (9 each) you get 45 points, compared to the 15 if you leave it at the minimum (3). Pick a handful of improvements to focus on (perhaps your limo ride is lengthy, or you’ve filled in the whole golf course), rather than scattering them around, as you’ll maximise your points this way.
I love Welcome to New Las Vegas. It adds so much to the original that it’s definitely worth owning both, almost nothing is the same. There are more strategies to go down because of the hotels, limos, shows, golf course, odd/even numbers and the more widely varied objectives. This makes it more replayable than the original as I find myself opting for the same tactic virtually every game (get as many 6-sized and 1-sized estates as possible). I like the decisions you have to take about going for long runs of odd or even numbers, because as I mentioned they can get mega points, but also make you run out of room.
There’s added intrigue right from the get-go as players secretly decide whether to borrow from the bank before play begins. Depending on how many players decide this, money is added to players account at the end or not. Any debts not paid off at the end will suffer a 20 VP penalty, so deciding not to borrow from the bank at the start can cost your opponents (or you) at the end!
Any game that has minimal downtime is a big plus for me. The simultaneous play means everyone is doing something all of the time, and once you’ve played a few games each turn takes very little time. Even though there’s only three number/effect options each turn, there’s so many ways to use them that it is a really nice puzzle, with added risk involved (e.g. can I afford not to take this 15 even though I could really use this 7?).
It’s a good looking game too, although you’re writing stuff on paper, it’s well designed and fits with the theme really well. Each sheet is double sided too, so the fact you need one page for casino building and another for scoring is fine, because next game you just flip each sheet and use them again and I really like that about the game. The only downside of this is that it means the score sheet is pretty intimidating the first time you play, and it might take a few plays to fully understand what you’re doing. The rulebook is very clear though with some very useful examples throughout.
One criticism is that I think the golf course points are underpowered. It takes a hell of a lot of improvements to get them to give you even half decent points and I don’t think it’s worth going for. Even if you manage to complete it and with maximum points per hole you’ll only score 45 points. You’d get 48 points just for finishing 8 small hotels (with the max 6 points each)!
My other slight criticism is that there seems to be an optimal route for you to take your limousine around your city which gets you past lots of VIP landmarks and doesn’t take you too long, but I don’t see how they could have got around this really unless they had different score sheets, but Jess and I seem to go on the same route each time we play.
Get this game:
Check this game out on Board Game Geek: