A 12th champ joins the club ...
John Shoemaker runs up against Chris
Gioia as AGM Kevin Keller observes.
GM Joe Powell watches as the Gioia
family completes their 1-2-3 sweep of the event.
The 2015 tournament had only 21 entrants making it the third smallest field in 17 years. Three former laurelists made it to the semifinals, all of them members of the Gioia family. John Shoemaker was the lone newcomer, but made his mark with a 4th place finish. This is the first time a father (Joe Gioia) and his sons (Chris and Mike) swept the top three places.
Mike Gioia was the top seed with a 3-0 record and 46 victory territories. He defeated John Shoemaker in the first round with an income increase as the Allies of 5, breaking the tie of 12 victory territories each. In Round 2 Mike defeated Sam Packwood with a concession. Two-time champ Kevin Keller was his third victim by a score of 15-9.
Joe Gioia had finished second the last two years. He got the brass ring this year, but not before tasting defeat in the Preliminary rounds. After topping two-time champ Joe Powell 15-9 in Round 2, he lost to Sam Packwood, 13 to 11 in Round 3. Despite the loss, he qualified for the semifinals where he defeated his son Mike. Japan had rolled up to Russia at Novosibirsk, but the Russian riposte retook Novosibirsk and later liberated Sinkiang.
In the other semifinal game, Chris defeated John Shoemaker. John had committed three Japanese carriers against the Americans in the Atlantic to no avail.
The Gioia family has brought a new style to our event. From the spectator’s perspective, the Americans and British made a double envelopment of Europe. Their Axis strategy was for Japan to build factories and tanks, and join Germany in attacking Russia. The increased tank tank production led to pitched battles in Sinkiang and Novosibirsk with the Russians. Former champ Phil Shea commented that the Gioia’s strategy resembles that used in the original game. So what is old is new again.
In the Final, Joe Gioia ruined his son’s winning streak. He received a bid of three to play the Allies. He placed an extra infantry in Caucasus to attack the Ukraine. Chris took Karelia, Ukraine, and Egypt with the Germans but Joe retook Egypt with the British. On Turn 1 the British also landed in Archangel. With American and British help the Russians managed to maintain a safety perimeter despite Japanese strategic bombardment. On Turn 4 the British took Eastern and Western Europe. The US attacked Ukraine and sank the German battleship and transport that started in the Mediterranean. The Axis conceded when they failed to retake Eastern Europe on Turn 5.
All players—including the GM apparently—need reminders about sequence of play, collecting income, and buying units. The GM bought nine units for the British in his game with Al Hurda, and the rules explicitly state that excess units bought above production capacity are lost—this costing the GM an artillery that had made it to Norway. All players should use the mobilization box so their buys are clear. Many players do not use the battle board, doubling the map as a battle board. The GM prefers use of the battleboard to avoid potential problems with misplaced pieces.
Play balance was maintained in 2015. The Allies and Axis each won 13 games. The average bid for an opponent to play as the Allies was 3.86, down from 2014’s 4.3. In 2013 the bid to play as the allies was 5.0.