Las Vegas Boulevard – A 12-module expansion for Las Vegas
Las Vegas, a 2012 Spiel des Jahres Nominee, has been a hit with gamers of all types since its release. Casual gamers love it for its simple and easy play. Family gamers love that its flexible enough to play with kids. Hard-core gamers love its great mix of luck, strategy, friendly competitiveness, and how easy it is to entice non-gamers into playing it. Still, no matter how great the game, we always want more. Enter Las Vegas Boulevard.
Las Vegas Boulevard is a collection of small add-ons, extensions and upgrades – let’s just call them modules – for Las Vegas. There are oodles of modules in this expansion – 12 total – that let you play solitaire, increase the player count to 8 players, and add new dimensions to your play with new dice, Action Cards, Bonus Cards and more. The rulebook specifies the best number of players for each module – some work together, others not so much. The modules come in the form of dice, cards, and game play variants.
As dice are the key component of Las Vegas, let’s start with the dice. Las Vegas Boulevard includes a variety of new dice, including:
- Three New Colored Dice Sets – yellow, grey and violet – which allow a sixth, seventh and eighth player to play the basic game and most of the new modules.
- Two Additional White Dice make it possible to play the neutral dice variant with up to five players, instead of just four.
Seven Large Dice, the Biggies, count as two dice during scoring. To use this extension, each player replaces one of their regular dice with a Biggie.
- Kickers. The 10 violet dice can be used as Kickers – instead of a player color – to kick a die out of a casino. At the start of the game, each player replaces one of their dice with a violet Kicker. If less than six are playing, each player trades two of their dice for Kickers.
You roll and place Kickers just like regular dice. However, when you place a Kicker on a casino, immediately remove it and any one die from that casino (give it back to its owner). Place the Kicker on the back of the Summary and Display Card (shows a purple die): it’s out of the game for the rest of the round. You can even kick your own die out of a casino so it can return to fight again in a later roll that round.
Stretching the Money
With all these new dice and additional players, $50,000 minimum per casino doesn’t stretch very far. Luckily, two of the new modules in Las Vegas Boulevard address this problem:
- The Summary and Display Card shows a table on the front specifying the minimum amount of money to be placed at each casino depending on the number of players in the game. The back of the card serves a dual purpose: it identifies the Start Player and provides a place to put used Kickers.
- Five $100,000 Banknotes up the potential ante at each casino. Just shuffle them in with the other banknotes and you’re good to go.
Las Vegas Boulevard also includes a Slot Machine which acts as a seventh casino with a few rules of its own:
- Players can place dice showing any number on the Slot Machine, providing no other dice with that number are already there. As usual, you must place all dice of one number.
- At the end of the round, the player with the most dice on the Slot Machine gets first choice of the banknote(s) on the Slot Machine, second-most gets second choice and so on.
- If two or more players tie for most dice, the player with the highest sum wins. If they’re still tied, the player with the higher numbered die wins.
The Slot Machine has since been released as a stand-alone promo in the Brettspiel Adventskalender 2015 (2015 Brettspiel Advent Calendar).
New cards add a whole new dimension to Las Vegas: gambling money, Actions, end game Bonuses….
Rainbow Banknotes provide some surprise scoring at the end of each round. For purposes of seeding a casino with money at the beginning of a round, count them as $40,000 each.
At the end of the round, after players have placed all of their dice, but before scoring, draw a card from the top of the deck to replace each Rainbow Banknote. You never know what you’ll turn up: could be a $10,000 banknote or $100,000! That’s the gamble you take when vying for a casino with Rainbow Banknotes on it.
Action Cards provide a bonus for each player. At the beginning of each round, shuffle the Action Card deck and deal one to each player. If there are less than 6 players, give each player two; they can both be played in the same turn or in different turns.
Action Cards are kept secret until you use them. Some last the entire round, some are once and done. You can only play your Action Card during your turn; the card specifies exactly when you must play it: during your first turn, before rolling, after rolling, instead of rolling, when placing dice, after placing dice, before scoring, or while scoring.
There are ten Action Cards and they’re all pretty self-explanatory. The rulebook has some extra notes for clarification. Here’s a quick run-down of what they do:
- Wine one tie during scoring.
- Re-roll all of your dice once (those not already assigned to a casino, that is).
- Take any number of your dice from one casino and return them to your supply.
- Skip your turn and optionally take back one of your already placed dice.
- If you roll exactly two dice of the same number, you can place them at any one casino (change their number accordingly). This could include your Kicker and/or Biggie which counts as a single die for the Action Card’s purpose, but scores as two dice.
- Place additional dice on the casino where you just placed at least one die.
- Force all of your fellow players to place dice on two casinos, if possible, on their next turn.
- Distribute the money at a designated casino on your next turn – even if you don’t have any dice to play on your next turn.
- Before scoring starts, draw three banknotes and place the middle value card beside the casino of your choice.
- During scoring, discard a banknote you just received and replace it with the top card of the deck.
The Action Cards add a lot of fun and excitement to the game. They can lay waste to or help execute your carefully wrought plans or blow away your opponents’ plans. You never know what’s gonna happen.
Bonus Cards add a goal to shoot for while playing Las Vegas – a particular denomination of Banknote to acquire, that is. In the base game, the player with the most dice at a casino, without tying, always receives the highest-valued banknote there. In Las Vegas Boulevard, the player with the most dice gets first-choice of the banknotes at that casino. While normally that will probably be the highest-valued banknote, when playing with the Bonus Cards module, it might behoove you to take a lower-value banknote.
To play with the Bonus Cards, give each player a Notify Die (a die of an unused color), which they should set beside them showing 1, and a Bonus Card, which they should keep secret. (With less than 6 players, give each player 2 cards.) During scoring at the end of the round, if a player receives one or more banknotes matching the value on her bonus card, she can increase her Notify Die by 1.
At the end of the round, collect the Bonus Cards, shuffle them and redistribute them, so players are shooting for a different banknote denomination each round. At game end, each player earns $50,000 for each pip showing on their Notify Die (maximum of 6). That’s a lot of potential moola!
New Play Variants
The last two modules in Las Vegas Boulevard are a Solitaire Play variant and a New Game Version of the game for two to four players that’s based on the solitaire version. I haven’t played either of these new variants yet so can’t really comment much on them just now. However, I have played all of the other modules.
According to the rules, the New Game Version has you seeding the casinos with 16 dice: roll 2 of each color and distribute them according to their number. Each player receives 2 Bonus Cards which indicate their secret playing color(s).
On your turn, you roll 1 die of each color, then place all of the dice of one number on the corresponding casino. After placing dice, if one color has a majority, excluding ties, at that casino, award it the lowest banknote by placing the banknote and all of the dice of the winning color aside, with the dice on top. If after placing dice, there are more than one untied colors, those colors also win banknotes. Give the color with the greatest number of dice the highest of the lowest banknotes. This immediate payout is a real game changer. Note that the highest valued banknotes will be awarded last.
Wow! The twelve modules included in Las Vegas Boulevard are certain to keep the game fresh and interesting for a long time to come. You can mostly mix and match them as desired. A few of the modules max out at 7 players, like the Kickers and the Bonus cards, because you need one set of dice to facilitate the module. I have no idea why they didn’t include a purple Biggie so eight players could play with that module. We added a purple Biggie to our games and it doesn’t seem to have unbalanced anything.
I personally like the addition of the white neutral dice and use them in almost all of our games. The only exception is when I’m playing with really young players. Why the publisher didn’t include enough white dice for everyone to have neutral dice is again a mystery. Maybe it didn’t work well in play testing? In our games, we’ve distributed the white dice as evenly as possible among the players, regardless of number, without ill affect. Your mileage may vary.
I once played a game of Las Vegas with a full compliment of seven players, utilizing all of the modules of Las Vegas Boulevard (except the two new rule variants). It was a crazy long game! It probably didn’t help that we started about midnight and none of us were familiar with all of the modules. It was crazy fun, though – the bonding kind of fun. What an experience! I’d do it again, but start a little earlier in the evening.
That said, I recommend that you don’t try all of the modules at once until you’re familiar with most of them – particularly if you’re playing with new or casual gamers. You don’t want to overwhelm them. It’s also easy to forget things – like using your Action Cards at the right time – or remembering which banknotes to shoot for (Bonus Cards). The Kickers make for a lot of groans.
The components, dice and cards, are of a nice quality, same as the base game. You can easily fit all of the components of the base game and the expansion into one box, even with the insert. I like the artwork on the expansion so that’s the box I’m using right now. The guy pictured on the cover looks like a cross between Gambit and Johnny Depp. Yum. My husband appreciates the showgirl on the spine of the box.
Do You Really Need Las Vegas Boulevard?
Yes. Yes you do if you like Las Vegas. For all that it adds to the game, I consider Las Vegas Boulevard a must-have expansion. I like the Biggies and the Kickers particularly. The Bonus Cards don’t do much for me in the regular play of the game. But I think their use in the variant game is intriguing and I look forward to playing a secret color soon.
It’s too bad that Las Vegas Boulevard has never been published in the U.S. – another mystery. Luckily, we import it from Germany, so you can pick it up at Here Be Books & Games.
Las Vegas Boulevard is an expansion for Las Vegas. It supports 1 to 8 players ages 8 and up and plays in 15 to 75 minutes. Our all-module game with 7 players took at least 2 hours to play. Appropriate for gamers of all types. Younger players can certainly play, too.
Copyright © 2016 by Tina G. McDuffie. All rights reserved.
Photo rights retained by their respective copyright holders.
Pingback: Las Vegas (Dice Game) - Why didn't I think of that? - The Glass Meeple