An 11th champ joins the club ...
Two-time champ Kevin Keller and Jeff
Ganthner are not suffering from a chair shortage. Some dice rolls
just require a better vantage point and more wristage.
Sam Packwood gave Jeff Mantis his
sternest test in the preliminaries. Jeff's first title enabled
him to break into the Top Ten in the A&A laurels rankings.
The 2014 tournament had 27 players vying for glory. The field
included both former champions and newcomers aplenty. Three former
laurelists made it to the semifinals: Jeff Mathis, Joe Gioia,
and defending champ Ty Hansen.
Jeff Mathis defeated 2001 champ Patrick Mirk in Round 1, two-time
former champ Joe Powell. in Round 2, and had his toughest test
in the third round against Sam Packwood - ending with a close
win of 13 victory territories. In the semifinal he faced defending
champ Ty Hansen with intense competition on the Eastern Front
in the Ukraine and also many large naval battles in the Pacific
as the US sought to advance. The Allies often controlled the
Asian mainland. Jeff used a Northern Pacific strategy for the
US fleet that threatened Japan and drew the Japanese fleet into
combat with losses that could not be replaced.
In the other bracket, Joe Gioia's Allies defeated his son,
Chris by a narrow margin. Joe Gioia was the top seed coming out
of the preliminaries unbeaten with 57 victory territories. All
three of Joe's preliminary victories were concessions awarding
19 victory territories plus 30 IPCs. Tne Amercans went across
the Meditteranean and across North Africa. America helped the
Russians on the Eastern front in the south and also defeated
the Axis fleet in the Black Sea. Joe Gioia had the British fleet
and Army help the Russians in the north. The Russians were freed
to face the advancing Japanese. From the spectator's perspective,
the Americans and British made a double envelopment of Europe.
Chris Gioia's strategy was for the Japanese to build factories
in Indochina, Kwangtung, and India. Those factories produced
many tanks that led to pitched battles in Sinkiang and Novosibirsk
with the Russians and almost an Axis victory.
In the Final, Jeff's Axis defeated Joe Gioia as Joe finished
one game short of paydirt for the second year in a row.. Jeff
conquered Africa with the Germans and India and Australia with
the Japanese. It appeared there was an Axis rim around the Indian
Ocean. Joe came ashore in France early in the game and this is
not usually part of Joe's strategy. Jeff defeated those invasions
with German reserves. About Turn 6 Joe returned to his usual
strategy of the British and Americans enveloping Europe and helping
the Russians, but it was too late. Jeff captured the victory
territories of Hawaii and Australia late in the game. This allowed
his Japanese navy to transport land units to the pitched battle
in Asia, and to assist in extending the Japanese Co-Prosperity
Sphere to India and beyond. Both players tired in the end but
Joe appeared to be more worn than Jeff.
Play balance was maintained in 2014. The Allies won 14 games
to the Axis's 16. The average bid for an opponent to play as
the Allies was 4.3, lower than 2013 when it was 5.0.
The GM extends his thanks to assistant GMs Kevin Keller and