Lost in Space
The 2000 Merchant of Venus tournament brought 68 star
traders to Baltimore from across the universe (ok, from across
the world!) to WBC. There were three heats played with a first
place finish in any heat guaranteeing a place in the semifinals.
Each of the heats and semifinal games were four-player games
(or three players in some cases) played to $2000.
Nearly a third of the players played in multiple heats, including
several who won multiple heats. We had a solid base of experienced
players and a number of players new to the game. Newcomer Joshua
Gifford learned the game at the convention and played twice.
He finished fourth in two of the closer games played this year.
Ewan McNay was a newcomer to the tournament, but apparently not
to MOV as he won two heats, one of which was a total blowout
over his opponents.
Judy Krauss (center) and Lee Presser
(right) mug for the camera while exploring the universe in the
As in years past, most of the 1st place finishers in the heats
raced to the finish with Clipper ships, although a small number
finished with Scouts. Unlike years past, we had no less than
four winners who had upgraded to Transports! Several of these
had either the relic Yellow Drive or Jump Start which may have
helped make their decision to buy a Transport a little easier.
When Saturday's semifinals rolled around, we had 17 of the
22 first place finishers and the three highest runnerups playing
in five four-player games. First place finishers Phil Rennert,
Ewan McNay, Roderick Lee, Brian Carr and past champion Duane
Wagner all had other commitments but there weren't enough no-shows
for James Wicht who just missed advancing with a good second
place finish. Defending champ Steve Crenshaw also just missed
the cut with another high second place finish.
In the five semifinal games:
James Hopkin earned the right to advance to the final by blowing
past Kim Foster, Luke Koleszar and Wendy DeMarco.
Ed Wrobel beat Lee Presser, past champion Kathy Stroh and
Multiple heat winner Deb Otto used the relic Jump Start, Auto
Pilot and Switch Switch to pilot her Scout ship past Eyal Mozes,
Mark McCandless and Ed Connery.
Chuck Foster slipped around a hard charging Eric Wrobel, John
Zahorsky and Laurel Stokes to win the closest of the semifinal
Lauren Hickok raced past Sean Cousins (Yellow Drive and all),
past champion Greg Mayer and Daniel Hoffman to claim the fifth
and last spot in the finals.
The final was again played to $3000 using the 'Fast Set-up'
variant. Two of last year's finalists, Deb Otto and Ed Wrobel
were determined to better their third and fourth place finishes.
Deb found the Jump Start early
but that caused the other players to avoid discovering new 'Question
marks' so she didn't get much of an advantage from it early on.
Lauren had the Auto Pilot and Chuck had the Switch Switch. James
had only the Gate Lock while Ed found no useful relics. Deb bought
spaceports whenever she could afford them and this paid off later
in the game. As the game progressed, only Telegates 1 and 6 came
into play (on opposite sides of the board). Everyone upgraded
to Clipper ships and continued to race to the $3000 point. Deb
used the Jump Start effectively and built up an insurmountable
lead. Her early Spaceport purchases served her well later and
the other players were reduced to fighting for second place.
Some good rolling and good planning (pure skill!) by Ed brought
him to a second place finish. A post game examination of the
many undiscovered 'Question marks' showed no less than two more
Telegates that may have sped Deb to an even faster finish had
they been uncovered.
Deb said, "I've been coming here for 10 years now, just
to win this plaque!"
It's going to be a long year for me at the Mayer & Otto
residence. ("Just wait 'til next year!")
Tom DeMarco (left) gets a pointer
from Debbie Otto (right).
[Ed. Note: It was indeed Deb's year. Earlier she had been
featured in an article in the Baltimore Sun covering the
WBC and the reporter took the tack of stressing the female point
of view in a male-dominated conference. Her point about gaining
the respect of her male adversaries was driven home in the best
possible way.... no doubt as the hood ornament on the long drive
home, right Greg?]
This will be the tenth year our intrepid space travellers
have been duking it out amongst the stars. For all the details