Down to the stalwarts.
A Touch of EvilJon+, Nadine, Gili
Gili just got this game and brought it over, eager to try it out. I had rather low expectations. Nadine was concerned about the theme, since she doesn't like horror.
These type of games, like some FFG games, are high on beautifully illustrated components and themes but revolve around simple random mechanics, like dice rolling or card flipping. I don't find the games to be interesting; actually, that's an understatement. This game is just like those; it's a fine game for people who like to roll, roll, roll, dice and pick cards with random effects that can help or hurt you, without any influence as to the results of the rolls or card picks. I found the experience of playing the game to be (nearly) physically painful.
Each player is a piece on the board with a random special ability and some stats. Each round you roll to see how many spaces you can move and then you pick a card from the deck of the location to which you traveled. The card can be good, bad, or in between. Many make you roll dice. Some dice rolls make you roll more dice. If you encounter a monster, you get to roll and roll until one of you is dead. Certain cards you may have saved, or that others may have saved, can be played on your combat to make you re-roll dice or otherwise hurt or help you.
Eventually, you have collected enough items and feel comfortable enough to fight the Boss. Then you do. Each Boss has its own special ability, of course. Roll and roll until one of you is dead. If you beat the Boss, you win the game. All of this is done with beautiful pieces and tons of counters. But only a few of the counters (Boss' minions) are used each game, so the enemies become repetitive.
There is a cooperative way to play with a bigger Boss and more bad events happening, but I hear tell that the tension isn't really high compared to other cooperative games. There is also an advanced way to play with more special powers and effects, which would add more thematic color to the game without changing the basic idea: pick an action and then randomly resolve it. Ugh.
I grimaced the entire time without trying to be a complete sourpuss. I don't think I wrecked the experience for Nadine or Gili, both of whom appeared to like the game. Nadine liked it because most of the effects were positive effects. Gili liked it because it would probably be a big hit with her teenager.
Naturally, I had several of my "luck moments". During one fight, I had to score a single hit to kill the monster, and I needed to roll a 5 or a 6 on any of five dice to do so. I rolled all five dice and didn't get above a 3 on any of them, so the fight continued to the next round. On the next round I did it again with the same result. And then again. Finally I rolled a single 6 on the fourth round. I finally killed the 1 HP monster, just as he simultaneously killed me. Then I rolled a d6 to see how much of my treasure I lost for dying, and naturally I rolled a 6.
Still, I went on to win. How? Nadine tried to fight the Boss first, but she rolled really terribly and the monster rolled really well, so she died. Then I tried. I rolled really well, and the monster rolled really terribly, so I won.
Vegas ShowdownJon+, Nadine, Gili
I don't remember the final scores, but I was about 8-10 points ahead of Gili and Nadine who were within a point of each other. All of us filled in both colored sections and also connected our two entryways. The game ended when Nadine filled in her entire board, the first time I ever saw that happen.
I won because of a solid early income, being able to pay for points in one round when they couldn't, being able to outbid Gili one time when I needed to, and Gili and Nadine both spending all their money on middleweight buildings on the penultimate rounds, leaving the last heavyweight building for me.