In Vegas Showdown players bid for and place basic and specialty rooms in an effort to build the best Hotel/Casino on the Las Vegas strip. Four-player games were used in the preliminary rounds except when the number of total players required some 5-player games.
Highlights of the Heats
This year six players won two heats. Several were the usual suspects. John Corrado, for a 2nd year in a row, Jeff Wu, the defending champion, and Mike Kaltman, the 2014 Champion all accomplished the feat. The other double winners were Sceadeau D'Tela, Jim Fry, and Susan Waterbury.
Eric Schlosser got pipped at the post in both of the tightest overall finishes in the tournament this year. Jim Fry surpassed him 45 to 44, with Adam Hurd and Anthony Lainesse close behind with 42. In a five player game, William Herbst edged him 29 to 28, with Chad Walker, Ben Scholl, and Greg Crowe all close behind with 26. There were not crazy incredible wins with double digit diamond points this year, but Derek Glenn pulled off the most this year with 9 diamond points in his win.
In 2015, Steve LeWinter pioneered the strategy of winning (in both the heats and the Final) without any blue/restaurant tiles. In 2016, two others pulled it off. In 2017, no one won using that strategy. Although an interesting tactic, it was only successful a few times before this year, when that number doubled with John Corrado, Andrew Martin, Kyle Smith, and Alex Freeman (the GM’s son) successfully executing it in preliminary round wins. The “no-restaurant” strategy is a de-facto, low income strategy, and none scored any points for end game population or revenue. Only one other player, Ryan Feathers (with only a single Restaurant) accomplished a win without points in those categories.
Considering the “success” of the “no-blue” strategy, one might think that the restaurant tiles as weak relative to the rest. Possibly, but, two players executed wins without any lounge/green tiles, something that has never been seen in tournament history before. Brian Schott did it in 4 player game win, and William Herbst did it in the 5 player game mentioned previously as one of the tightest on the week.
As crazy as the “no-green” strategy seems, it cannot match a win by John Corrado (who also executed a “no blue” win, see above) where he had no slots…easily the most commonly bought tile in the game. OK, you say, that’s pretty strange, but he made up with it with Table Games and High Rollers Rooms, right? Ah…ah, not so fast…no tiles from that yellow branch either. Of course he did need some yellow tiles, winning with just one Sports Book and the Space Age Sports Book. I consider this as the most unusual and interesting win I have seen to date.
I think it is also interesting to note that John Corrado holds the record for MOST slots in a winning board with 8 slots in a 2009 game. This year, the second most slots on a winning board, 7, was accomplished by the GM’s father, James Freeman.
There were a couple other fairly rare occurrences in preliminary round wins. Rod Spade accomplished his with two Nightclubs and Susan Waterbury accomplished hers with two High Rollers Rooms.
The “dominating income” (the full 10 points for having the lead in both population and revenue) game continued to be fairly strong for a second straight year, with 5 players accomplishing it on winning boards. Defending champion Jeff Wu did it in both his preliminary round wins. Keith Dent, James Denam, and Richard Irving also pulled it off in their wins.
The non-deterministic ending of a game of Vegas Showdown can have a big effect on the length of the game and how long players have to rack up points. Cary Morris won a preliminary round game with only 30 points. In another preliminary game, Cary scored more than double that (70), yet fell to Sceadeau D’Tela, who put up the highest score, 87, in the tournament this year.
Highlights of the Semifinals
After the three heats, we had 31 players who had won at least one game, however enough qualifiers skipped the semifinal, such no winners had to be turned away. Indeed a couple non-winners, including Erik Schlosser who had finished second in the two overall closest games in the tournament, got a ticket to the semifinals.
Erik would not let that karma turn go to waste and proceeded to win his semifinal game (40) over Nathan Heiss (35), Mike Kaltman (35), Susan Waterbury (26), and Bill Herbst (24).
Sceadeau D’Tela won his semifinal game in style with the biggest victory in the tournament this year. Sceadeau cruised to a 25 point win (75), over James Denam (50), Derek Glenn (48), James Freeman (43), and Rod Spade (42).
GM Eric Freeman squeaked out the closet win in the semifinal round, edging defending champion, Jeff Wu, by a single point 47 to 46. The finish, however, did earn Jeff repeat laurels in the event with 6th overall. Michael Swinson (43), DJ Borton (37), and Chris McCurry (35) rounded out that game.
Robin Trew punched her ticket to the final in another tight game edging 2013 Champion, Doug Faust, 53 to 51. Matthew Craig (50), Alex Freeman (44), and Jim Fry (41) followed behind.
Cary Morris (60) prevailed over Duncan McGregor (54), John Corrado (52), Anothony Bosca (43), and Kyle Smith (43). 2018 would be the third final table for Cary, Sceadeau, and Eric in Vegas Showdown.
Highlights of the Final
Turn 3: PR Scandal event “encourages” everyone to buy something. This keeps the prices of slots high at $9. Erik and Cary lead off the bids with $9 bids on slots. Robin splurges for $18 on a Fancy Lounge. Sceadeau and Eric pay the minimum for a lounge and restaurant respectively.
Turn 4: Lounge lizard event comes out which gives 4 pts to Robin and 2 to Sceadeau and Erik. Robin snags a slot for $5
Turn 5: Some heavy bidding on this turn. Robin leads off with $12 on Night Club. Sceadeau bids $7 on a Buffet. Eric outbids Robin for the Night Club for $15. Erik then outbids Eric for $18. Cary and Robin then bid $5 for slots. Eric outbids Sceadeau for the Buffet at $9. Sceadeau then takes publicity.
Turn 6: The games only Ad Campaign comes out this turn and no one buys any VPs.
Turn 8: The last slots are bought for $5 each.
Turn 9: The first of multiple non-minimum price lounges happens this turn. With the Visionary event (1 pt for outbidding) in play, Erik bids $15 to outbid Sceadeau’s $9 on a lounge and get the victory point.
Turn 11: Slot King event appears giving a VP boon to Eric and Robin for 5 pts each. Cary scores 4, and Erik and Sceadeau each score 3.
Turn 12: Another non-minimum lounge. Sceadeau outbids Eric on a lounge at $12 and Eric reluctantly bids $15 to secure his first lounge of the game and fill his Hotel section.
Turn 13: Eric purchases the Dragon Room for $25. Sceadeau gets a High Rollers Room for $12.
Turn 14: For a third time, a lounge goes for $15, this time to Erik in an overbid of Cary’s minimum bid of $9. Sceadeau and Eric buy Fancy Lounges for $33.
Turn 15: Sensing the end, Cary pays full price ($42) for the just flipped Five Star Steakhouse.
Turn 16: The game ends with no small tiles remaining and the Visionary event pulled.
At the end of the game, Erik Schlosser’s board had no Restaurant/Blue tiles, while Cary’s had no Lounge/Green tiles. Final Fame on the board at the end of the game: Erik 32, Eric 27, Sceadeau 26, Robin 23, Cary 19. Cary finished with the highest Population (20), as one would expect with a board full of Restaurants, for 5 points and Eric was 2nd (16) for 3 points. Robin finished third at 14 for 1 point. Sceadeau had 13 and Erik trailed far behind with only 8 as one would expect with a no blue strategy. Eric finished with the highest revenue (17) for 5 points. Cary finished 2nd (15) for 3 points. Robin and Sceadeau finished tied for third with 13, so neither scored. Erik trailed behind with 8. Cary and Robin completed both sides for 10 points, while Eric and Erik completed one side and connected for 8 points. Sceadeau completed just one side for 5 points. Sceadeau was the only player to score diamond points with 1. Sceadeau, Erik, and Robin got stuck with a lot of cash at the end and scored 3 points for it. Eric scored 1 point for leftover cash. Final scores were Eric 44, Erik 43, Cary 37, Robin 37, and Sceadeau with 35.
Eric joined Steve LeWinter as the only two time champion of the event narrowly edging past the two “unbalanced” boards of Erik and Cary which were a signature of the event this year
Eric’s tableau at the end contained 1 Lounge, 1 Fancy Lounge, 4 Slots, 2 Fancy Slots, the Dragon Room, 1 Restaurant, 1 Fancy Restaurant, and 1 Buffet.