Fine porcelain! Bolts and bolts
of fabric! Spices for sale!
The Medici tournament grew again this year, with a
new high of 27 separate games played amongst its three heats.
of 134 "players" competed, including six who played
in every heat. Of the 27 heat winners, 18 won in their first
heat , seven in their second and two needed all three heats to
win a game.
Highlights from the preliminaries included Roy Gibson flipping
four cards, including three spice, in the final turn to get both
the top boat and a 20-point bonus in the spice category to come
from 3rd place to win. In the second heat, Tom Dunning purchased
a set of three cards including the "10" gold card unopposed
for a single florin to jump out to a lead. However, Tom Agostino
took control of three commodities in the second turn and Tom
Dunning paid a healthy 21 florins for the "10" gold
that turn to reclaim a small lead, which he then turned into
a 44-florin victory -- the largest margin in the tournament.
The second heat also featured the largest comeback as Arthur
Field came from last place, 28 florins behind, after turn 2 in
a four-player game to win by four florins. The third heat saw
two participants reach the top of two different commodity groups
with different results in their games. Joe Jaskiewicz used the
40 bonus points to win his game in handy fashion by 25 points,
while Laurel Stokes ended up tied for second in her third heat
game even with the 40 bonus points. Finally, one of the six-player
games in the third heat had the unusual occurrence that three
of the players purchased four different commodities
for their ships in the first round.
25 of the 27 victors appeared for the semi-final round, thus
yielding five 5-player games with no alternates advancing. In
the semis, it seemed that getting bonus points in the second
turn was not the pathway to victory as only one of the four players
score bonus points in the second turn eventually won their game.
The margins of victory ranged from four florins to 17.
The finals saw Jennifer Thomas, Ken Gutermuth, Bret Mingo,
Doug Galullo and Roy Gibson vying for the championship. In the
first turn, Jennifer managed a good start on cornering the cloth
commodity with three cards as Roy managed three spice. Meanwhile,
Doug had a good ship total but got one of each of the five different
commodities in doing so. Bret got the "10" gold card,
two metal and one each of two other commodities while Ken only
got four cards in the turn including two spice. After the first
turn, Doug led with 51 florins, to Roy and Jennifer's 50, Brett's
46 and Ken's 35. During the second turn, Jennifer and Roy improved
their control of cloth and spice respectively with cheap purchases
gaining the 10-bonus level of the respective commodities. Doug
began to focus on the porcelain and dye being ignored by the
others. Ken concentrated on spice and porcelain as Brett fell
behind. After the second round, Doug still led with 74 florins,
but Roy looked good with 73, already having bonus points in the
spice commodity. Jennifer with 63, Ken 58 and Brett 52 rounded
out the field.
In the third round, Bret and Ken decided that their only chance
was to try to discard as many cards as possible to reduce
everyone else's chances of scoring. Roy ended the turn with only
two commodity cards and Brett with only four. Meanwhile,
Jennifer overpaid for a full ship of five cards. Ken and Doug
got most of their commodity cards before they became too scarce
and thus paid reasonable prices for their goods. Doug purchased
two dye and three porcelain to gain the10-point porcelain bonus.
Ken meanwhile picked up enough spice to tie Roy for spice and
also tied Doug for the dye lead. Roy and Jennifer did make it
to the 20-bonus level in cloth and spice respectively and Brett
got the 20-point bonus in metal. When the
dust settled, Doug had held on to win with the third best ship
in the last turn and his two commodity leads to finish with 100
florins. Roy and Ken tied for second at 99. Bret ended with 87
florins thanks to the second best boat in the last turn and Jennifer
added 84. This was the closest game of Medici that I have
seen in my three years as GM.
The German rules state that the youngest player should start
the game, which usually indicates that they believe that the
first player gets a slight advantage. However, we picked the
starting player at random and the seating order did not seem
to make much difference. The first player won eight games, the
second seven, the third eight, the fourth three games (including
the championship) and the fifth player seven for a faily even
distribution of wins by turn order. The other thing that amazed
me was that only two players came from farther back than second
place after the second turn to win their game. In 18 of the 31
games where intermediate scores were recorded, the winner of
the game was leading after the second turn. I've always thought
comebacks could be easily mounted in this game, but these stats
refute that theory. One other note is that of 36 players who
scored bonuses in the second turn, only seven managed to win.
There were a couple things that need correcting for next year's
tournament. First, I have set the time for this game at an hour.
However, it usually takes me 10 to 15 minutes to set up the random
pairings. The games should still be able to be finished in
the hour time limit, but I could see how a game could go for
an hour playing time beyond my setup time. However, there were
three games this year that lasted over 90 minutes. That is unacceptable
for this game. Next year, I am going to schedule games for 90
minutes inclusive of my prep time. I will give a 15-minute warning
before the end of the time limit and any game not decided at
this will be adjudicated. I will probably adjudicate by dealing
cards to players who still need them in the last turn for three
florins each. I'm not fond of this solution, so if people have
other ideas, let me know NOW. I don't want to adjudicate games,
but I can't have them lasting as long as they did this year.
I thank all of my semi-finalists for their patience while the
one long game in the third heat was completed and I thank the
four finalists who waited for the fifth semi-final game to be
completed. Your patience is appreciated but should not be required.
The other correction needed
is a tie breaker, as we almost had a calamity in the final. I
have two possibilities in mind. One would be to make the winner
the player who has accumulated the most bonus points. The second
tiebreaker would be to give the win to the player who was behind
in the prior turn (i.e. give the victory to the player who scored
the most points in the final turn). If anyone has any suggestions
for other possible tiebreakers or prefers one method to the other
that I have suggested, please contact me.
Finally, we used four-player games for the first time. I would
like to know if players would prefer that I set up four-player
games or six-player games for uneven numbers of participants
in future years. Also, if you would like to use the 5-point bonus
space or the 15-florin boat score for third place in six-player
games (these are the two rule differences between the German
and American games), please let me know this as well. I will
try to base future tournaments on the wishes of the players (other
than having six-player games instead of five-player games).
Thank you for your opinions and I hope to see even more players