Full disclosure: A review copy of Las Vegas Royale was provided by Ravensburger.
I rarely get to review the same game more than once, though I always appreciate it when I can (provided I liked it and it’s not some poor reimplementation of the base tenets of the game made into an extremely raunchy sailor-version For Some Unknowable Reason). Just my luck, Ravensburger (Alea, technically, but I don’t really understand publishers well enough to fully get the difference) is pushing out two anniversary editions of their classics. One is Castles of Burgundy, a game that you can almost certainly already guess is not my wheelhouse, but the other is Las Vegas Royale, a new update to Las Vegas (which I covered a while back for the Target-specific release). Let’s dive into this one and see what’s changed.
In Las Vegas Royale, you’re returning to the strip which has seen some improvements. For one, everything is a lot more chic than you remember, which is nice, but also the casinos themselves have changed. Now, when you visit some of them, they’ll offer rewards beyond the traditional money you’d reap from your area control efforts. Will you be able to turn these new games to your favor? Or will your new fortunes simply find you wanting?
Not a ton to do here. Set up the dice tray and casinos:
There are several sets of dice. Give each player one in the color of their choice:
Some are bigger. Everyone should have one big die in their color. I’ll explain why later. There are several other types of dice; set those aside for now:
The basic game doesn’t use casinos tiles, but the full game does. There are additional casino tiles; you should shuffle them and attach three to Casinos 1 – 3:
Some special tokens go with those, also:
Now, time to fill the casinos with money.
Flip six pairs of cards off the top of the deck. Organize the pairs from highest total to lowest total (breaking ties by which pair has the higher value card). Place the highest total pair on the 6 casino and move downwards until you’ve placed the lowest total pair on the 1 casino. Players start with no money, but they do get 2 chips!
Once you’ve done all that, you should be ready to start!
So, a game of Las Vegas Royale takes place over three rounds; in each round, you work to take control of a casino and win the money that it contains. Unfortunately, your opponents are trying to do the same thing, and there can only be one winner! Add in the casino games if you’re looking to mix things up!
On your turn, roll all of your remaining dice into the dice tray in the center. Then, choose a casino, and assign all dice with that value to that casino. You must assign at least one. The big die counts as two dice, for all gameplay reasons. If you don’t like your options, you may instead spend one of your chips to end your turn without assigning any dice. Also useful.
Additional options are unlocked by the various casino games. When you place a die on a casino with a casino tile, you can take that casino’s effect! They vary wildly and are outside the scope of this review to fully describe, but they can be anything from rolling dice to try and hit a number to penalizing the player who put the fewest dice on that casino. So that’s fun.
Continue until all dice have been played. Due to how the dice are placed, some players may get more turns than others. Once the round ends, check the casinos. Before giving out money, if there are any casinos with ties, remove all dice belonging to the tied players. Ties are super unfriendly. Now, for the remaining dice. The player with the most dice gets the higher-value card, and the player with the second-most dice gets the lower-value card. As you resolve a casino, return all placed dice to the players that own those dice.
Once all casinos have been resolved, the round ends. Reset for the next round by revealing six more pairs of cards and assigning them to casinos from highest to lowest value, as you did during setup. If you’re playing with casino tiles, you should also reveal another three casino tiles and replace the ones on casinos 1 – 3. After three rounds, the game ends. Count your money (each chip is worth $10,000 as well). The player who has the most money wins!
Player Count Differences
This is definitely a game that changes at higher player counts. At two players, you play with a variant where you start the round by throwing all the dice of an out-of-play color and assigning those dice to the casinos. Now, those dice are considered to be belonging to a third player, and they not only can cancel your dice, but they can also win. So that’s fun. At higher player counts, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of conflict, as well. Don’t expect to win casinos unless you come in swinging or you can ensure optimal dice placement. Either way, though, it’s still a hoot at any player count, so I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have a preference. I’ve tried Las Vegas at two and at five, and I’d say it’s fun both ways.
- Generally, I abide by one rule: try to place as few dice as possible. I generally go for this because it gives you the most turns, which allows you to react to previous placements from your opponents. Trying to save the biggest die for last could help a lot, but, it can be a bit of a problem if you don’t end up rolling what you need to roll. Additionally, at higher player counts, this might be a bad deal, since you may end up spreading yourself thin where other players may be focusing on winning one particular casino. Be careful!
- That said, there are casinos which benefit from placing more dice. There are some particular strategies that benefit from placing a lot of dice. For instance, if you want to lock down a casino or an ability, it might be worth placing a bunch of dice there to throw off any opponents. For instance, if one casino has a $100,000 but none others do, you might want to dump your dice onto that casino to try and stake out your territory.
- Get Power Play, if you can. Power Play is an ability that allows you to ignore rolling and place one die on any casino you want, which is incredibly useful. If you see someone grab that one, try to claim it from them. It lets you just … skip your turn.
- Fifty-Fifty isn’t … always worth it, but it’s fun. It allows you to roll two dice and then declare “higher” or “lower”, and then roll again. As you do, you advance through the prize line. You can stop at any time, but, your prizes get even better the longer you stay in. It’s a lot of fun.
- It’s pretty much never worth it to try and match an opponent. If you do, your dice get removed, which isn’t good. You can do it to try and force them to outpace you, but eventually you’ll need to outpace them or you’ll be stuck earning nothing from that casino. I sometimes do that if the two cards are the same value, so that they have to take on the additional risk. It’s fun, but if they call your bluff, you both lose. Prisoner’s dilemma.
- Be careful with your final die. If you only have one die left and no chips, whatever you roll is where the die ends up. This may cause you to knock yourself out of a casino by matching another player, which is … not ideal. Just be careful when you make your final roll.
- The big die is definitely a useful friend to have. It basically lets you power through a casino on one roll, which is nice. Just, again, make sure you’re keeping track of who has the majority in that particular casino and that placing your big die won’t lead to a tie.
- Don’t be afraid of using your chips. They’re not for holding on to indefinitely; they’re for helping prevent devastatingly bad turns. Plus, they’re not worth that much even if you can hold on to them; they’re worth $10,000 at the end of the game, when a single die is ideally worth much more than that if it’s going to be wasted. So spend them!
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- It’s very pretty. I mean, it’s an anniversary edition, and it really shines. The box is nice and elegant, the dice arena looks nice, and it’s got a very consistent, end-to-end aesthetic. I think this is the game to get for Las Vegas fans. The ring looks good, the money is subtle but very colorful; it’s just a really impressive end-to-end experience. I think they did an incredible job with it, and it’s definitely going to be a mainstay in my collection.
- Still pretty simple. I think I really appreciate that you can play the basic game without any of the other fancy casino games if you don’t want to. It’s a nice and simple luck-based area control game of just rolling dice and placing them on casinos to get money. I really like the base game, so, additional content is also great, but the base game on its own is good to teach to families (I’ve done it over a few holidays).
- I really enjoy the casino games. They’re just really fun ways to try and get more game out of the concept, while still feeling pretty luck-based. It’s got a good casino vibe to it because sometimes you just … lose all the money you thought you were going to earn. The house is cruel.
- Plays quickly, or, at least, as quickly as it can. This one takes a bit longer if you’re using the Fancy Casino Games because, as mentioned, everyone wants to play the Fancy Casino Games. If you’re just playing the base game, I bet you can probably get through this in 30 minutes.
- You can still play the original Las Vegas with this one. It’s basically a game and several expansions all in one, which is awesome. It comes in a bigger box, too, which is nice (and less cubey than the last one I reviewed, which is much appreciated).
- As I mentioned in my original Las Vegas review, I appreciate that the game is full of little victories, so every player gets to feel successful. Each round has up to six winners (one for each casino), so, everyone should hopefully get to win at least one casino at some point. Letting people have small victories in pursuit of a large victory is often a pretty simple way to help make a game feel like it provides players more agency.
- I appreciate how needlessly harsh the area control rules are. Ties? Get wrecked; both get removed. That’s aggressive. And, the game even allows you to add blank dice to some of the casinos just to try and knock other players out! It’s a lot of fun. Highly recommend.
- The casino names aren’t quite as silly as the original game. I guess that’s the benefit of having 20 years to really figure out some neutral-sounding casino names? I would have appreciated at least one really solidly silly one, though. Alas; that’s how it goes, sometimes.
- I very frequently find the casino games so much fun that I end up focusing on those to the detriment of, you know, actually winning the game. This is a practical con, but not a particularly serious one. If anything, it just means that the silly casino games might be a bit more fun than the full game, which is odd, but maybe I just overindex on trying to win them because it’s a bit more predictable, probability-wise?
- Having to explain all the casino games every time can be a huge pain. That’s the main problem I have with this game; every time you break out a casino game, most players aren’t going to remember it, so you’re going to have to explain it again. It can slow the game down a lot until players really start to understand the symbols and what the games actually do, which can be a bit annoying. Without the games, it plays pretty fast.
- As you might guess from a game primarily about rolling dice, it’s pretty luck-based. Sometimes you have particularly bad rolls. The one nice thing is that the casinos do a lot of work to make even the worst rolls still potentially profitable, which mitigates it, somewhat.
Overall: 8.5 / 10
Overall, I think Las Vegas Royale is a definitive version of the game. It’s absolutely beautiful, as I’ve mentioned before, but the component quality is pretty solid as well and the entire aesthetic of the game is top-notch. I mean, as you’d expect from a 20th anniversary edition, right? That said, the core game is not modified particularly, so it still shines through the fresh coat of paint. What they have changed is folding in one of the expansions in and making the whole thing move together seamlessly. That’s always nice, I think, when you release something like this. The core game is still there for purists, but there’s also a richer and fuller experience for players that are interested in that sort of thing. That said, if you’re not interested in that sort of thing, I mean, this is a more expensive version, so, live your best life. It’s a quite large box, though, so, also live your best life that way. I personally love the casino games, but I love them so much that I often forget that there’s an additional game that I kind of need to win. As I’ve mentioned, though, if you’re looking for High Strategy, you’re playing a game about rolling a handful of dice, so, that’s maybe something different than what you’re looking for. Either way, though, I quite liked the base game, and I think this is a significant improvement on that, so if you’re looking for a fun and fast-paced dice game with a variety of depth, I think Las Vegas Royale is a fantastic choice! I’d definitely recommend checking it out.