The Canadians are Coming! ...
TA group of three buddies from the far north showed that Canadians can dominate games other than Age of Steam and Innovation, making a big impact on both Age of Renaissance and Advanced Civilization this year.
In Game 1 of the first heat Jeff Mullet as London scored 3693, the highest we can remember. At an early point he chose Industry over Cathedral. It didn't matter much as he bought Cathedral on the next turn. The game would have mercifully ended a turn earlier but there was one card left in the draw pile and Jeff had not bought out the advances. The winning strategy seemed to be well summed up by 'win every die roll'. To cap his day, Jeff started the last turn as the obvious target with no Gold territories but ended with four of them.
The second game of the heat was full of oddities. Who would expect less with Mark Smith involved? Epoch 3 ended with no one higher than a 3 boat. Venice at one point chose to buy off a Stone shortage (“I'm sure that is what started my slide to my last place” he would later say). Wade Campbell's Paris had no ships, but won anyway in the closest game of the day with Paris scoring 140% of runner-up London.
Game 3 had only two players with significant experience and both found themselves trailing the pack from the start. Their fortunes went in opposite directions with Steve Spisak's Venice finishing first and Winton Lemoine last. A 156% winning score meant no alternates would likely be qualifying to advance from Heat 1.
The second heat yielded no interesting stories, just closer games. Mark Smith with Barcelona won the closest game of the event, beating Roger Whitney's Genoa by 26 points, a 102% score. In the second game John Coussis managed the rare Hamburg win with a 111% score.
Though the Final is usually a 6-player game the decision was made that since there were only 5 preliminary games the Final would be 5-player, advancing only winners. As it turned out we would need an alternate; Mark Smith wrestled with playing but didn't want to force others to play faster to make sure he made his other Final. It's hard to argue with his choice since he won History of the World instead. First alternate Roger was not present so second alternate Ron Clement—who did have two seconds—would advance, ensuring the three Canadian friends, Ron, Steve and Wade would all reach the Final. John and Jeff would have their work cut out for them.
But first they would have to get a game. The finalists met at the agreed time but without a copy of the game. That delay behind them, they set about determining a winner. If the Canucks are to be believed they started breakfast Saturday stating 'no mercy’ would be asked or given, that they would play hard and to win. Wade bid 3 to take Barcelona, Ron 2 for Paris, Steve 1 for Venice, and Jeff and John got Genoa and London respectively for free. Turn 4, the first turn of note saw a Silk payout of 72 for Paris, Paris winning War with Genoa, a 2 x 100 Wool payout, and Barcelona purchasing first Cathedral.
But by Turn 6 it was Paris who had emerged as the clear leader, so much so that Ron was hit by Black Death, Alchemist Gold, and Pirates/Vikings and was reduced to three cities. If there is any evidence the Canadians were not playing favorites this would be it.
Circumstances led Jeff to opt to Chaos out. With three religion advances and a hand full of leaders that would never get played he stayed at the table till Turn 7. Turn 9 found Wade's Barcelona and Ron's Paris buying out advances. John's London lacked only Middle Class and Steve's Venice was four advances off. Venice would finish fourth with 1575. Paris made a Silk run but with 500 misery would finish third with 1991. London made a big Wool run for 160. It would be 50 points in misery making the difference as his 2076 was second to Barcelona's 2105.
As you can see from the preliminary round results only Genoa failed to notch a win. Average order of finish by country: Hamburg (three games) 2.67, Barcelona and London 2.8, Genoa and Paris 3.6, and Venice 4.2.
Assuming Age of Renaissance returns we would do well to coordinate with the GM's of Advanced Civilization and History of the World to minimize conflicts. No fewer than four players say they would have played at least one more game if not for these conflicts.
It took 20 years, but the event has
now fallen out of the Century for the first time.