age of renaissance [Updated October 2002]

AOR  6 prizes Experienced Mult Ent Sing Elim Scheduled 
 Rnd1 Heat1  18  
 Rnd1 Heat2  9    Rnd1 Heat3  18  Round 2 18
 Round 3 Final 19

  Rnd1 Heat1  Worthington Rnd1 Heat2  Maryland 4    Rnd1 Heat3 Round 2 Round 3 Valley     

Ken Gutermuth, TX

2002 Champion

2nd: Ewan McNay, CT

3rd: Chris Byrd, CT

4th: Ted Mullally, NJ

5th: George Sauer, OH

6th: Ted Simmons, NJ

Event History
1996    Mike May       30
1997    George Sauer      106
1998    Mark Giddings     124
1999    Ewan McNay     115
2000    Ewan McNay      81
2001   Rich Curtin    80
2002   Ken Gutermuth     65

AREA Ratings

GM: Ewan McNay

Past Winners

Mike May - NY

George Sauer - OH

Mark Giddings - NY

Ewan McNay - CT

Rich Curtin - NY

Another new champion in the reign of Ewan

Numbers were slightly down, to 65 this year (from 80 last); strong competition from other games, especially Princes of Florence and Puerto Rico, I suspect, were the main reasons. Not really a bad thing - more games at WBC that I like to play can rarely be bad. Overall standard of play seemed definitely up, which may have been another side-effect. However, I did get several complaints of novice players, who were unclear even on fairly basic game elements. This has always been run as an 'A' event, and if that is the case next year I will be tougher about enforcement; I'm interested in feedback on whether that or moving to a 'B' event is a preferred solution.

A total of 17 games in the heats: seven in each of the first two, but only three in the third. I don't intend to abolish that third, however, as several folk only arrived in time for that one. Plus, the small numbers made it easy to be an only intermittently present GM. Heats were a mix of five-player (11 of 17) and six-player (the other six, to accommodate numbers) games; no Hamburg advanced from a six-player, I believe, which supported my choice of five-player as preference. Bids were relatively low in the five-player and high in the six-player - this was even more true in the semis and final, where I know of at least two players (including Bill Crenshaw) who were saddled with Hamburg for a bid of 3.

* I am thinking of including my own house rule next year: that the player choosing capital last pay zero for that capital regardless of the amount bid. Comments strongly welcomed.* The smaller field led to five six-player semifinals, advancing winners plus the closest second place. I like this format and intend to repeat it next year. This year's finalists were myself, Ted Mullally (who had the best second-place finish, in my game, tipping Jim Jordan for the qualifying spot by 99% to 98.5% (!) ), Ken Gutermuth (who had won his game over Jim on the final die roll), George Sauer, Chris Byrd (who had defeated perennial favourite Bill Crenshaw in the semis) and Ted Simmons.

Not many truly different events in the heats; my favourite happening was the play of War! by Ted Mullally's Paris on Brooks Beyma's Barcelona in Turn 1, after the Spanish had played Crusades. Paris won 5-2 and so was now in both Barcelona and the near East! Beautiful (for Paris at least)! The heats also saw the highest score I have ever seen, of 3036, in a game where second place was at around 1050!

In the final game I bid 4, rather than the 5 I had been bidding all tournament, not wanting to get Barcelona again and have the 'leader' mantle. Bids were 6 (Ted S.), 5, 5 (Ted M. and Chris), 4, 4 (Ken and I) and 3 (George oops). I win the die roll for choice with Ken and take London 4th (after B, Ted S.; V, Chris; G, Ted M.) leaving Ken with Paris and Bud in Hamburg surprise. The early game was miserable, oddly not helped by religion being banned in BOTH turn 2 and turn 3 (by Paris, who wanted to buy SV, and by Hamburg, respectively). That meant that only V/G, who had bought Patronage on turn 1, had even one tier and so could reduce misery. I managed to get a wool payout but stay out of the 'leader' role which was held by V/G, with B perhaps close behind (especially after purchasing Institutional Research; alas, for him, he then drew Prince Henry but did not own Printed Word). I also benefited in an odd way from the Turn 1 expansion deals. Genoa arranged what seemed the odd combination of ceding Milan to Venice but taking Montpelier rather than Marseilles - hence not getting four Stone but not getting the Wine either. The side-effect was that Barcelona did not take the usual five cities on turn 1, leaving me as the first to get four and hence win the expansion card; I managed this on turn 2 also, less surprisingly, taking Waterford/Iceland/ Bergen/Chester/Fez and Oran, and glad that V/G were off to a fast start. This card haul was key - I got good cards, including both OE leaders and Civil War, which was protection for the later game, and were generally playable which meant that my stabilization costs were not too high. Paris suffered from trying to take Metal while I held a Metal card and took them back; it transpired that he held a Wool card and would have been happy to trade, which would have made us both much better off! We should have talked more; in any case, he was well into the usual AoR propaganda of 'Oh, my game is over.' Hamburg had been making extremely militant threats (like, to me, "If you prevent me from getting the expansion card this turn I will buy all my tokens every turn and invade your home area"!) but generally getting away with it due to poor standing; this was to a fair degree self-inflicted, though, as he played Crusades but bid only 7 and did not take a single extra domination, preferring to place single tokens in many areas to force others to roll. This only hurt himself while not really affecting others. Midgame, Venice and Genoa were still leading, Barcelona was dropping back (I think largely due to bidding for too few tokens) and in particular Venice had a sizeable Misery advantage while Paris/Hamburg had a Misery deficit. No-one is making an overwhelming break, however; Chris was the leader but keeping very quiet. Paris had again taken a Metal majority and came back to parity with a $96 payout; on turn 7, I made the foolish error of thinking that his payout was down to $54 and gave him a further payout in exchange for my Wool card (eventually!) being played. I would probably have done this anyway, but extracted more for my side of the deal; that same turn I also played Cloth for Venice in exchange for more Wool - helping Paris also, of course - and he played more Cloth for himself; I think that that turn set the three of us into a separate tier as there were several leaders on whom to spend money - disappointing for Genoa, whose lack of payouts that turn despite strong Silk holdings probably eliminated him from winning chances. Unfortunately, the leaders available for patronage were Venetian and Parisian! I saved a lot of cash, buying Laws of Matter via Venice's Newton but not patronising Ken's leaders - at least that was a smart move after the previous misstep.Throughout the game, a lot of leaders had been placed into the box including all the Printed Word folk, but I finally had the cash to buy PW; key, as Iwas holding Galileo and Vesalius, and could play them turn 8 for both payouts and their own credits rather than having to pay Paris.

During turn 7, Chris bought a 9-card to leave three cards remaining; after an expansion card, if there were two shortages in majority-owned commodities then he would win (and I'd have been a distant fourth, as the cash hoard would not have been converted to advances). Most commodities had a majority owner, so it was maybe a 20% winning chance. If he'd made a deal with Ted M., however, for Ted to buy the 9-card and let him buy the 12-card (in exchange for a Silk payout) it would have been maybe a 70% chance and would indeed have transpired. Tough choice, though: I plagued Italy in turn 7, and both Chris and Ted M. had bid only 12 tokens each. Hamburg gained three $81 Spice payouts to come close but not really contending; I was hugely down on advances, being roughly behind by Enlightenment, Master Art, Renaissance to Paris (but ahead by Improved Agriculture), but I had managed to buy New World with the help of Hamburg's Columbus and had maybe $120 to almost zero cash for Ken. He had also discarded Revolutionary Uprisings with his MA purchase in turn 7, making it safe to buy Commerces!

So to the final turn. Ken bid 40; Barcelona 41, but Ken used Renaissance to be moving last in expansion. To counter this, I Civil Warred Venice, placing him last - and, critically, after Ken! - for expansion. This was a tough choice; the misery from CW would have hurt Ken more, and it may have been the wrong move - I'm still not sure. Certainly, though, by hitting him with both CW and Black Death in successive turns, I took Chris out of contention from a strong position. Sorry, Chris. I want to note that he took this extremely well (which only made me feel worse!); he got his revenge in an unusual manner, though, as you'll see shortly.

Cards remaining: 3 misery burdens, all held by Hamburg who has just drawn the final card of the game as Papal Decree to complete his set(!). Famine, Grain (both in Barcelona), Metal (Genoa), Timber (me), Silk (Venice). Ken's Metal holdings are still the strongest payout on the board, and after a couple are taken he takes S. America from me to solidify as well as Nuremberg, giving him four metal again. I hold four Timber - having taken them in Turn 7 also, only to have them all immediately removed by Genoa who was also holding a Timber card. One of many missteps that cost me the game, ultimately. Genoa has a Silk majority but is not in the running; Chris has the doubly-important Grain majority. And it's Chris' expansion as the final player (and the only one holding Cathedral). I have more cities than Ken, and also I&P which he does not, so that gives me roughly a $40 cash advantage. If nothing changes, he'll get $96 from Metal while I'll get $48 from Timber; I'll also get small Silk and Metal payouts while he'll get small money from Timber and Grain. However, Chris is going after Grain, and he also Cathedrals both a Parisian Metal and a British Timber. Net result is that if nothing changes during S/S rolls, I win by $7. Not that I know this. Ken and I have removed ourselves from the table to allow Chris to take his turn in relative peace, and we're still trying to talk through the math - we just know that it is close. As it turns out, I think Chris also took back one of the 2-value cities that I had just that turn taken from him; again, that was enough to cost me the game.

Final dice. Chris first rolls a surplus in Wine - no big effect, but I am the largest holder (!) and lose $3. Still OK. Then a surplus in Silk, which reduces my payout from $8 to $0 but does not affect Ken. He wins by $4.


But, it's been a great game, and much too good to spoil by trying to recheck the accountancy for an error that might help me out.. That $4 is 0.2% of score and Bud notes that earlier in the game, we had found money on the floor under my chair which I returned to the bank. Coulda been a contendah I can kick myself for probably doing more than anyone to bring Ken back into the game, but it's been a heck of a day - I've already played in both the semi-final and final of Britannia, so by this time I've been in intense multi-player games for about 16 hours solid. Excuses, excuses. Congratulations to Ken, who becomes yet another first-time WBC AoR champ but is also reigning PrezCon champ and in the PBeM final? And his rise up the AREA ratings takes yet another step

Many thanks to all the players, and especially to those in the final, all of whom deserve congratulations on getting there. At least five of us had chances to win, and I didn't hear a single whine, or prolonged barracking in negotiation, a single complaint above the normal 'But, but, but, I'm not winning!' level. Especial note of superb behaviour to Chris, as noted above, who must have had at least a little thought that he would be going for the win but did a superb job of balancing the game between two other players in the final turn. My best day of gaming ever, I think.

 GM     Ewan McNay [2nd year] 1303 Cypress Drive, Danbury, CT 06811 NA

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