Wits & Wagers Vegas
Wits & Wagers Vegas is an expansion for Wits & Wagers Party, primarily consisting of a huge playmat that has original Wits & Wagers rules on one side, and a new Vegas variation on the other.
Hitting Kickstarter August 19, 2017
Designer: Dominic Crapuchettes
Artists: Ali Douglass, Ben Goldman
Publisher: North Star Games
Category: Trivia, Party Game
Player Count: 5-7
Price: This expansion is hitting Kickstarter August 19th. It is $25 + shipping for the expansion, or $40 + shipping for the expansion and Wits & Wagers Party together.
While board game companies take the approach of putting out as many different games as possible, hoping something will stick, North Star Games takes the opposite approach. The company has spent over a decade primarily focusing on two games: Wits & Wagers, and more recently, Evolution. Wits & Wagers first launched in 2005. Since then, the game has won many different awards, released a deluxe edition, and has introduced two spinoffs: Wits & Wagers Family and Wits & Wagers Party—both attempts to streamline and simplify the original system. Wits & Wagers Vegas goes back in the opposite direction, providing a variety of betting options as a way to augment Wits & Wagers Party. It also has a certain type of table presence…
The game is mostly about answering trivia questions and guessing who had the right answer. However, the game has a serious amount of betting, and this version in particular promotes that aspect more than any other. Other than the promotion of gambling, there’s nothing offensive and the questions are always zany and interesting.
This is being billed as an expansion for Wits & Wagers Party, largely because of the layout on the map. The characters on the mat are those from Party, and Elvis is now a playable character. This expansion comes with seven new player mats, betting chips for Elvis, and two “We’re Closed” mats to cover certain spaces with 5 or 6 (as opposed to 7) players. It also comes with a bunch of higher denominations of money, because bets run much higher in this game.
There are several changes in Vegas from classic Wits & Wagers, but the biggest is that you can now bet on a person. Although you cannot stack chips under your bet, the payout is 10-to-1, so if you use both your $100 and $200 chip, you could be raking in $3000 on the first question! The trick is that you have to place bets there before seeing answers, so it’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy. Players could also suspect that you’ll bet on them, and put bad answers on purpose! For a much safer bet, you can also now bid on one side of the median or the other (i.e. bidding on “red” or “black” on the mat). Payouts for the correct answer also increase each round, and sorting answers is much simpler thanks to those aforementioned “We’re Closed” mats. And if you really just want to play classic Wits & Wagers, those rules are on the back of the mat.
With most of these rules, you could just incorporate into Wits & Wagers yourself. What it really comes down to is whether you want this playmat. I don’t know how to describe it other than gigantic. It takes up our entire large table. For perspective, see the photo on the right comparing the size of the Wits & Wagers Party box with the mat. It looks really cool, and one of my friends (who’s not much of a party gamer) commented that it gave the game a very Vegas feel, like you were really at a craps table. Mission accomplished!
However, I have two issues with this expansion. The first is that the mat is actually too big. I have nowhere to put it! I have tried and tried, but there is no way I can fit it in the Wits & Wagers Party box, even with nothing else in the box. I rolled it up and put it on my game shelf, but now it’s no longer laying completely flat, as you can see in the photo. I suppose if you have a gaming table with one of those sunken areas that can be covered, you could just leave the mat out on the table. It’s certainly incites conversation when people see it. However, people like me with messy toddlers can’t easily leave it out all the time either. Where do I put this thing!?
The other concern is the complexity, which I know sounds ridiculous for some gamers. But most of my witting and wagering has been with the family edition, with more of a focus on the funny trivia and guessing who’s right than working the actual odds and payouts. After trying for a couple of years to making my parents (particularly my dad) play hobby games they never seemed to really enjoy, Wits & Wagers Family elicited a phrase from my dad I’ll never forget. “This sucks less than your usual crap,” is some of the highest praise possible from that man! I also vividly remember getting into a discussion about the veracity of a question about the Lincoln memorial, the deciding question for the game, and my dad making us Google it to verify that he had lost. So, after playing Wits & Wagers Vegas with some gamer friends, I put it up to the ultimate test: I played it with dad (and my niece and nephew).
As I expected, it didn’t go over well. I couldn’t get my dad to keep straight the normal Wits & Wagers rules (only two bets, you can’t lose your wager chips, etc.) but I also had to remind him repeatedly that you could only bet on players before seeing the answers. As the person who is usually “running” the game, I also struggle with this and had a bad habit of wanting to hurry flipping over the cards. However, everyone did get really excited about the idea of blind-betting on themselves or others, which is by far the most interesting part of Vegas—you could probably implement this rule in Party or Family by placing meeples/wager chips in front of the player you are betting on, and having it pay double. This experiment was probably doomed for the start, but for players who already found regular Wits & Wagers too complicated, the simplifications in Vegas don’t overcome the complications.
That being said, I did also play this with gamer friends and it was a very big hit there. We didn’t have any trouble with the rules, and they all appreciated the mat’s table presence, as well as the new betting options. I doubt I’ll ever play Wits & Wagers with the traditional rules again. For players used to that more advanced play, Vegas is a strict improvement. For players who prefer the Family edition, this is probably the wrong way to go. Now, I just need to find somewhere to put it!
Thank you to North Star Games for providing a review copy of Wits & Wagers Vegas.
+ Huge table presence
+ More strategy, with new ways to bet
+ Has a strong, thematic "Vegas" feel
+ Seriously, huge table presence
- Huge storage presence
- Simpler, but also more advanced... Not for Wits & Wagers Family players