Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nerds in Vegas

Las Vegas. The mere mention of the city will summon half-grins and bro-tacular high-fives from most of your muggle coworkers. Its a name that is synonymous with drinking too many oversized daiquiris and losing all your gold pieces. But there is a more interesting and rewarding Vegas behind the fist-bumps, penny slots, and poorly told lies about meeting up with strippers. A Vegas for the comic book collector, the Renaissance Faire enthusiast, and the D&D player. What I'm talking about is...

Nerd Vegas!

I just did a quick weekend visit to Las Vegas. I hung out with some ex-locals who knew the terrain, and so was able to nerd it up hard in the City of Lights without getting lost. Today I'm going to tell you about three nerdy things you can do when you find yourself in Vegas that are totally awesome.

1) Go to a Show - The Tournament of Kings!

You know how you went to Medieval Times that one time, and you had an okay time cheering for "Sir Charles of New Hamptonshire" in the jousting tournament, ate some chicken with your hands, and because the experience was so lackluster you then went home and immediately forgot all about it?


The Excalibur in Vegas puts on the Ultimate Show of Shows for even the most remote of King Arthur or Dungeons and Dragons fans: The Tournament of Kings!

Seriously, this is some Epic-Level shit. It beats any Renaissance Faire or Medieval Times trip you've ever it with a +1 Mace! This show has everything: Super cheese-ball beardy Wizards who tell bad jokes. Extremely attractive dancing girls. Midget jesters. Jousting tournaments that actually knock guys off horses and make shields and lances splinter everywhere. Knights who do backflip-dismounts off the saddle of a running horse with swords-in-hand. Melee combats that seem like they couldn't possibly be safely rehearsed, they're so brutal. And you can't even catch it all in one sitting, there's so much going on because they have huge melees break out multiple times during the show. Some guys even fight with morningstars. And its clear they aren't swinging around puffballs out there. You can hear the spiked head of the morningstar *crack* against the shield. It makes me wonder how often they have injuries in the cast, the combats are so fast and furious. Not to mention with all the horses running around. On that note they have some extremely well-trained horses, that's for certain.

But then on top of all that, there's the pyrotechnics. The show is based around the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur, and of course before too long Mordred shows up. But this isn't any Mordred you remember, this guy is a straight up 15th level Pyromancer, and shoots huge streams of fire from his staff and summons Dragon Knights out of nowhere. Its like a magic show combined with bad-ass jousting and melee combat. At one point he stood on top of a tower and, as some knights rushed him, he blasted a full-on 30' cone of fire down at all of them from his Dragon Staff. And I know that those front knights had to have gotten singed by it. That's how real they keep it. This show is well worth your time in Vegas, and I plan on going again first thing next time I'm there. I recommend if you go to sit in the Ireland or France sections, as you'll get a close-up view of all the pyrotechnics and cannon fire.

Oh, and the meal with cornish hen and tomato bisque they serve is pretty good too.

So I recommend my fellow nerds to check out the Tournament of Kings. I guarantee you'll find yourself wearing plastic viking helmets, swinging light-up swords, and trying to organize a 2nd edition AD&D game with your fellow patrons before the show is through.

2) Go to a Bar - Insert Coin(s)

Insert Coin(s) is a video-game themed arcade bar in downtown Fremont Street. Inside they have a bunch of monitors set up and lining the walls are some of the oldest arcade games you've ever seen, all playable. Obviously they have the standard arcade favorites like Galaga, Frogger, and Donkey Kong. But they also have the  rare ones you havent seen since elementary school, like Tapper, Elevator Action, and the X-men beat 'em up (the Japanese version where the bad guys actually drop power-ups and whatnot). This place was pretty sweet, and we only played the arcade games. You can also rent booths and play console games on big TVs with your friends there, which looked okay, but we were there for the nostalgia of the 80's arcade so we kept it standin' and kept the quarters flyin'.

3) Go Gambling

There's really only two officially nerdy ways to gamble in Vegas:

1) Place a bet on the Cubs winning the World Series in 2015, because you already know they will.

2) Second, only play one pull of a slot machine per day, and only on the Megabucks slot machines.

-- "Why only one pull per day?" Well, as we all know, the mathematics of gambling in these places is heavily waited toward the house. Let's say on each pull the chance of taking home the jackpot is 1:1,000,000,000. That's pretty bad chances. However, it still stands true that if you do not play at all you have zero (0) chance of winning. Playing a slot machine once increases your chances from zero (0) to greater than zero (>0), which is an infinite amount! So on that first pull you'll be increasing your chances of winning infinitely! Unfortunately, a second pull of the arm only very negligibly increases your chance of winning that day (chance increase rounds to zero), and even pulling that arm all day long doesn't increase your chances in any significant capacity. But it will very surely lose you a ton of money over time on a consistent linear curve relationship (1 pull = 3 dollars, or, x=3y).

-- "Why Megabucks?" Well, because the Megabucks slot machine buildups are combined throughout all the Casinos, so the maximum payoff from them can be like $10,000,000+ dollars. The other slot machines have maximum payoffs only based on the previous pulls of those machines in that particular Casino, so usually ~$10k max. Don't waste your daily infinite odds boost arm-pull on a lower-level slot machine. Go for the Megabucks!*

*Note: I did not win the Megabucks. :(
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