The First of Five ...
Charley Hickok goes up against Israeli
Yossi Dvora who won all three of his preliminary games before
running into a semifinal sharkpool.
Rob Flowers and Legend Dan Hoffman
were two of many taking advantage of the Pre-Con to get in a
game with hefty playing time.
The first round of heats saw some big surprises with all three
competing members of last year's final table losing their opening
games. All three rattled off wins in Heats 2 and 3 to advance
to the semifinals, but without the three wins required to be
seeded, they wound up with one very shark-filled semifinal populated
by two-time champion Randy Buehler, defending champ Joel Lytle,
and one of this year's two triple-heat-winners: Yossi Dvora.
Randy won that table to reach the Final for the fifth consecutive
year. The other two-time champion, Jason Ley, also won his semi
and they were joined at the Final table by Sceadeau d'Tela riding
a four-game winning streak and AGE newcomer (but rising
star gamer) Nick Henning.
Jason seemed to get the best of the opening deal with both
Hanging Gardens and Moses, but Age 1 ended a bit quicker than
he anticipated so Hanging Gardens never got built. Age 1 saw
the usual arms race that most expert-level tables experience,
with Sceadeau starting off a cascade of aggressive drafting by
taking Knights for three actions. With all three copies of Iron
buried deep in the deck, and only one of them ever getting deployed,
the players developed their civilizations quite slowly while
constantly hitting each other with what one can only assume must
have been rocks and assorted other blunt weapons. Halfway through
Age 2 all four players were still on Bronze and three were still
on just two bulbs per turn as well.
Jason got off the first successful aggression, Plundering
Nick for five rocks (and using them to build a pair of Alchemists).
Nick then got hit by a Rebellion and seemed all but dead, though
no one actually stepped on his neck and he recovered nicely over
the next few turns by building Great Wall, playing a fully modern
Defensive Army, and making Napoleon his leader. With Jason building
a Railroad and two Napoleonic Armies, and Sceadeau's Columbus
discovering a Strategic Territory II (which found him a Classic
Army), it was actually Randy who fell behind in the arms race
(failing to find a single tactic that he could turn on until
well into Age 3, thanks in large part to all of the other players
aggressively drafting Knights).
The aggressions kept flying in Age 3, with everyone's civilization
seeming particularly anti-science. Three Spies were played (which
is only possible if the Age 2 military deck gets reshuffled and
one if redrawn), along with a War over Technology, and Raids
that blew up two Scientific Method workers plus a Computers.
What did not happen was anyone building a meaningful culture
engine. Randy went Gandhi both to try to protect himself from
wars (no one had six military actions, but that aforementioned
War over Technology only required four red beads when pointed
at him) and also because it put him in the lead with five culture
It was a brutal, low-scoring game that was actually turned
upside down by Jason declaring a culture war against Sceadeau
on the last possible turn. Sceadeau was in the lead at the time
(followed by Nick, Randy and Jason in that order), but he probably
overextended when he built two Computers to go with his late
Game Designer. One bulb short of playing an Air Force technology
and 2 rocks short of building a 2nd Classic Army he wound up
losing 29 points of culture to Jason, leaving the score going
into the Impacts as Jason - 69, Nick - 65, Randy - 59, and Sceadeau
- 22. Sceadeau knew he had seeded some great Impacts so he declined
to withdraw, and he did indeed pick up fully 83 points on Impacts
to claw his way back into third, just three points behind Jason
for second. Meanwhile, it was Nick Henning who benefitted most
from Jason's war once the music stopped, he was the one holding
the first place trophy - the perfect start to what turned out
to be a spectacular week for him! He would grab four more titles
before the week ended - setting a record for number of events
won in one WBC.
Final Scores: Nick Henning - 131, Jason Ley - 108,
Sceadeau d'Tela - 105, Randy Buehler - 98
Jeff Cornett and Rich Atwater try
to learn some new tricks in a game other than their usual specialty.
The finalists, including two
past champs, gather for one more romp through the ages.