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(Avalon Hill; designer: Henry Stern)Read review.
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Avalon Hill, 3-5P, $45
Designer: Henry Stern
Kudos to successful collectible card game designer Henry Stern for making it to the top with his first board game design. He invites you to create the hotel-casino complex that will garner the most customers, money, and Fame points.
Everyone has a personal 7x5 grid on which room tiles are placed. You start with money and initial levels of Revenue and Population. Restaurant, Lounge, and Slot tiles, with unchanging minimum bids, begin faceup on the bidding board. Shuffle facedown three stacks of Premier tiles of different sizes, reveal one from each stack to the bidding board, and mark its initial price on its bid track.
Each round, earn income equal to either your Revenue or Population levels—whichever is lower. Unclaimed Premier tiles decrease in price and disappear when they reach their lowest price. A random Event card determines a benefit or handicap applicable only to the current round, such as paying taxes or gaining Fame points for having specific rooms. The Event also illustrates the stack from which to replenish vanished Premier tiles.
Players in turn choose one of three actions: (a) Bid at least the starting value of a Tile, or outbid a competitor to force him to bid again or choose another action. Bidding ends when each bidder has bid on a different tile. Highest bidders pay to either place the tile immediately, or save it for later. Tiles placed increase your Fame, Revenue, and/or Population. Some tiles require others to have been placed during earlier turns. (b) Remove up to two tiles from your grid and replace them with up to two saved. (c) Gain a Fame point and optionally place one saved tile.
Play ends when one of the Premier stacks has been depleted, or when a player has filled his entire grid. Add Fame Points for Population and Revenue levels, remaining money, and various tile configurations. The player with the most Fame points wins.
The accessible mechanics and random Events will appeal to casual players seeking simplicity and an element of chance, but will not discourage serious strategists who relish money management challenges, complex auctions, and different placement tactics on the tense road to victory.