Developer: Ravensburger Digital
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

lasvegas04One of the biggest constants in casinos is also a very simple concept: the house always wins. Sure somebody might hit the jackpot or win a few Blackjack hands against the dealer, but statistically (and by an overall average) the house always come out on top. Not so with Las Vegas, Ravensburger’s iOS port of the board/dice game. In this particular casino the player always wins, even when they lose.

The rules of Las Vegas are fairly simple; players (and possibly AIs) take turns rolling right dice. The numbers each one lands on represent one of six casinos on the board, each with a range of cash values up for grabs. They then have to “bet” their dice by placing them in their casino of choice with the highest bid earning the pot. Conversely if there’s a tie all matching bids cancel each other out. Naturally larger bids have a better chance of winning but the toss up is that it means fewer and fewer dice each following turn. There’s a certain amount of strategy to placing each bet and it’s possible for savvy players to sneak in and grab a 90,000 casino with a single die while other players vie for the top spot and negate each other. After four rounds all the cash is added up and a winner is declared.

I’ve never played the board game before, but if this iOS rendition of Las Vegas is any indication I should probably fix that. It’s so simple to learn and play, yet surprisingly deep. Whether playing against AI opponents of varying difficulty or other players asynchronously online it’s always a good time. And assuming the default mode ever gets boring (which it probably won’t) there’s always the variant mode that gives each player two extra white dice, for a total of ten. The white dice don’t earn any cash, but they can be used to screw over opponents by matching or surpassing their bids.

lasvegas07My biggest gripe about Las Vegas is that the variant mode isn’t explained very well. Starting a game for the first time brings up a brief description about the white dice but it doesn’t really go into detail about what they can be used for. It doesn’t even mention that they don’t earn cash until after the first round is over. I basically had to figure out their strategic value on my own.

I may not have much experience with the board game, but the iOS version of Las Vegas is a joy to play. It’s easy to learn the basics, every bit as easy to play, and lots of fun win or lose. Unless someone has an aversion to fun, I’d say this is a safe bet.

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