War of the Horticulturalists ...
The World Boardgame Championships every year has top Kingmaker
players and gamesmanship as good as or better than anywhere else
in the world. WBC 2002 not only was no exception, it was the
best tournament in recent memory! What a wonderful week of great
The furor began Wednesday morning at 10am immediately following
the BPA meeting. Fourteen players arrived for round one, which
was best split into two 4-player and one 5-player games. As usual,
the players were seeded using the Area ratings. Defending champion
George Sauer was on the 5-player board, 2001 champion Sandy Wible
and 2000 champion Justin Thompson on the other two. The games
resolved with two of the past champions proven victorious once
again; congratulations George and Sandy! In the third game, Bill
Powers came from behind to defeat Justin Thompson on the final
play of the last turn as he crowned Beaufort to have the sole
King - what a photo finish!
On Thursday there were exactly six players for one six-player
game. Long-time Kingmaker virtuoso Alan Witte killed Michael
Coomes' noble, Stanley of Douglas, to win on the last play of
the game. This allowed Alan to edge Justin on victory-point totals
with a score of 82 to 80. An extremely close and hard-fought
Friday was a breather away from Kingmaker for all the
players, with the final heat on Saturday at 2pm. As might be
expected, there were several fresh faces, bringing the event
up to 24 players for the tournament. In his first year at the
WBC tournament, Jack Schultz whipped his six-player game in three
hours flat. Quite a feat! However, although Jack won his game,
he couldn't advance because of an early flight departure. On
the other board, the six players had quite a few brutal battles.
In the end, Michael Sims was victorious as he crowned the sole
king on the last turn to score the win.
On to the final! This spectacular slugfest was one of the best
Kingmaker games ever!
Often, the final is designed to be for six players. Heat game
winners numbered only four people, since George Sauer and Jack
Schultz couldn't play. Second-place heat players were then ranked,
with Justin Thompson, Mike Hall and then Peter Martin. Both Mike
and Peter didn't show until much later (to spectate and say hello),
so the final ended up with Alan Witte, Sandy Wible, Justin Thompson,
Michael Sims and Bill Powers.
From the start, it was evident this was going to be one heck
of a fight! Alan's main noble was conveniently called north;
this allowed Alan to lay siege to Newcastle, a town owned by
Justin but having an heir. Alan won the siege and moved inside
to pick up his prize, only to be hit with a plague before Alan
had the opportunity to leave. Alan's forces were devastated,
but he hung in there and regained decisive control over the game
later in the evening.
The next turn, Justin had an army of five nobles moving through
the midlands south in the direction of a likely prospect for
heir: one powerful noble along with another four who had no title,
office or troops. Suddenly, the powerful noble was called, leaving
the remaining four hanging out to dry. Beginning his turn, Sandy's
faction gazed out from their base in Oxford and observed Justin's
band of assassins apparently touring the countryside. It was
plainly unacceptable to suffer such thugs to live, so Sandy moved
his forces out and rid the kingdom of their treacherous ways.
The game proceeded in this fashion. Players' fortunes swung
this way and that, with every player suffering losses through
battle or plague, and several heirs dying from the same. Several
counties saw battle after battle, turn after turn, as one force
would attack another, suffer losses or be stymied by bad weather,
and then be counterattacked when another player took their turn.
This was a very balanced game for the most part. Michael decided
fighting wasn't his bag as he moved north to take out a few castles.
Sandy, Justin, Alan and Bill stayed south slugging it out till
the bitter end. Sandy caught a break late as he was able to move
into Bristol and be safe with the crowned Queen. Alan decided
to move to London and hide for the last turn but was plagued
for his trouble. Sandy called Parliament to divvy out some titles
and offices, and then on the last turn, Justin convinced Michael
to crown Justin's heir King so that the game could be decided
by victory points:
Sandy Wible 117 Champion
Michael Sims 105 2nd
Justin Thompson 95 3rd
Bill Powers 80 4th
Alan Witte -22 5th
Justin is quoted as saying, "This was one of the most enjoyable
tournaments I have ever been a part of!" In each heat, there
was a very nice laser-engraved plaque given out for the top player.
The winners were:
Sandy Wible 180 First Round
Alan Witte 82 Second Round
Frank Schultz 90 Third Round
There also was a custom plaque for the single player having the
best three rounds, which went to Justin Thompson with a total
Thanks to all who played and best of luck at WBC 2003!
Sidebar: Comments from the Kingmaker
The two games I played in were definitely killer games. My style
of gameplay is to dish it out, but to be willing to take my lumps
also. I'm willing to risk a plague, and I'm willing to risk ambush
attempts. I don't like refuge or hiding; I think they make for
less interactive and less enjoyable games.
The heat in which I scored 180 was pretty straightforward.
I didn't take a lot of risks, but I was able to make a couple
of attacks which netted control of some towns and mercenaries.
I didn't really suffer any losses, which is why I had such a
The final definitely was intense. I took some risks I ordinarily
wouldn't: making attacks at 5:4 odds and things like that. At
the end, I called Parliament mostly to waste time. I didn't want
everybody to get two more turns - I was winning, so it was to
my advantage to make it only one more turn for everyone.
I didn't want to freeze anyone out of Parliament because I
know how demoralizing that is, so I gave goodies to everyone.
I carefully counted points and figured it wasn't as much of a
risk as it might have seemed; but even if it had backfired I
would have done it. That gets back to my philosophy of not liking
to do refuge and of being willing to risk a plague. That's part
of the game to me; I'll play the odds - but if they go south,
then que sera.
The best part of the game to me was when I was a part of a
three-way battle down at Southhampton. Literally there was a
battle three times a turn for four turns. I had no idea if I
was going to survive that, but each turn it was worth the risk
to keep attacking. The other players must have felt the same
because they stayed too. Probably a once-in-100-games fluke of
odds where risk-taking players were all willing to gamble and
where the odds kept working out so it kept happening. All in
all, a tremendously enjoyable game!
I'm not sure I'll play next year. I've won twice now so it's
a good time to rest on my laurels. Still, I wish the best to
all the other players and will probably drop by to cheer everyone
on. Good luck all!