Still learning the ropes ...
By almost any standard, you"d have to call Mexica's
second year at the WBC, a success. It didn't garner anywhere
near the level of players that games like Puerto Rico, Carcassone,
Settlers of Cataan or Slapshot enjoyed, but as a second year
trial, it held its own, so to speak. By drawing 29 entrants,
an increase from last year, it qualifies itself as a Continuing
Trial, meaning that it'll be an event in 2004, as long as someone
steps forward and agrees to be GM.
That would be me, even though in this, my first year as a
GM, I learned more than anything else, that I have a lot to learn.
back, it seems impossible that the three heats, semi-final and
finals amounted to a total of only 16 games; five in the 1st
heat, five more in the 2nd, two in the 3rd, three in the semi-final
and of, course, the one final. This made for a total of 41 players,
11 of whom participated in multiple heats.
I made an attempt to create a Mexica score sheet, which
was designed to provide me with the opportunity to recreate critical
games for this report. Unfortunately, it tended to require a
sort of concentration that detracted from game play and was met
with something well shy of enthusiasm. As its designer, I took
responsibility for utilizing it in the games in which I participated
and I didn't even like it. Back, as they say, to the drawing
All but three of the 16 games played were four-player matchups.
The highest and lowest score was recorded by the same person
- Arthur Field, who won the four-player final with the event's
lowest score (77). He had entered all three heats and won his
first game in the third, scoring a tournament-high 148 points
in a three-player game. The highest four-player score was 107,
recorded by three participants (Jim Vroom, Mario Lanza and Jonathan
The average score in a victory was 101.56. The overall average
playing score (all player scores in all 16 games) was 87.03.
With 12 winners emerging from the preliminary rounds, we added
four alternates for the semi-final, based on total score in the
preliminary heats. The intent was to create four 4-player games,
out of which would emerge our four finalists. We posted the 16
names for the Thursday afternoon semi-final but only10 of the
names showed up. Rather than field a semi-final with two, three-player
games and a single four-player game, I added myself to the mix
(forgetting to clarify that I would declare myself ineligible
for further advancement) and set up two, four-player games and
a single three-player game.
Arthur Field won his three-player match-up, posting 129 points.
His daughter, Allyson Field, won something of a squeaker in her
four-player matchup, with a score of 96. Dan Farrow, Michael
Fox and Jack Jaeger were 7, 14, & 15 points behind her respectively.
And if you're familiar with the game, that sort of point spread
at game's end is indicative of a very close contest. Dan Farrow's
second-place finish in the game earned him the lone alternate
spot in the final.
By comparison, Mario Lanza won his semi-final match by a score
of 97 points, with David Wenstrup, Jonathon Fox and myself behind
by 13, 19 and 27 points, respectively. Obviously, the issue of
my advancement was a moot point.
As a participant in all three heats and the semi-final, I
wasn't able to monitor many of the 16 games, but as GM, I was
table-side for the final, which was won on the last move of the
game and attributable to a minor error on the part of the runner-up.
It was a nail-biter from start to finish.
And a quick nail-biter at that. Round 1 was concluded in 45
minutes with the four players separated by only five points;
Mario and Arthur deadlocked at 29 in something of a "mano
a mano" struggle that continued until the game's final seconds.
Allyson finished the first round with 26 points. Dan was at 24.
Still to come in the second and final round were districts of
13, 12, and 10 spaces, as well as a 6, two 5s and a 4-space district.
The three big ones were founded in the opening moments of
round two. Mario picked up the 7 founding points for the 13.
Allyson got the 6 points for the 12, while her Dad added five
for the 10-space district. Almost as soon as the second round
began, there remained only four districts to be found. The race
for building placement was on.
When Mario claimed three points for his founding of the final
district, Dan had only one building left to place, which would
signal the game's final go-around of turns. As each of the finalists
pondered this, they were looking at a lot of buildings left to
be placed from their own supply. Mario and Arthur were looking
at a combined 32 building points left in front of them. Allyson
had only six building points left to place.
Mario's founding of the final district proved to be his downfall.
While it initially placed him ahead with his 76 points, he failed
to place the Calpulli tile in a position that would have effectively
blocked Arthur's final move. On that move, Arthur was able to
jump onto one of the starting points, which earned him the five
points he needed to score 77 and win the game.
"My last move lost it for me," admitted Mario.
Four excellent players,," was Arthur,'s summation.
Dan finished in third place with 73 points and Allyson was
last with 69. David Wenstrup and Gary Noe picked up the somewhat
honorary 5th and 6th place for their second-place finishes in
the semi-final match; both 13 points from the winner of their
Mexica has nuances that this GM is still just beginning
to learn and this year's final match was a perfect example. Quick
"founding," and building placement in both rounds set
a furious pace, which left the two top contenders with 31 building
points left to place when the game ended. This, more than anything
else, was what led the victorious score of 77 to be the lowest
in the 16 games of the tournament.
See you next year and feel free to stay in touch at the e-mail
Special thanks to Amanda Vessey for her support as my assistant
GM this year. Hopefully she'll be back to assist me with the
work and kick my butt in the game next year.