Conquer the world -- and beyond!
The first year for this event at the World Boardgaming Championships
was projected to use a format where there were three heats with
the winners advancing to a semi-final round, using the top second-place
finishers to fill in remaining positions in the semi-final games.
Then the winners in the semi-finals would advance to the final.
However, because of the number of players that actually participated
in the event and appeared on Sunday for the semi-final round,
it ended up that any first or second place finisher in a heat
participated in the semi-final round along with the top third-place
finisher. Then the top two finishers in each semi-final game
were scheduled to advance to the final.
The GM arrived in Baltimore at 5:50 p.m. on Tuesday evening
with Heat 1 scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. Thankfully, a friend
started the registration process prior to the GM's arrival so
that the round started on time. Three games of four players
each were played in the first heat with Lyman Moquin, Rodney
Bacigalupo and Richard Irving being triumphant. Richard's game
was the closest of the tournament with the final result being
a tie between he and Eric Brosius with Richard winning on the
tie-breaker of having the higher income.
Heat 2 was on Friday at 9:00 a.m. The GM thanks the players
in this heat for their understanding as he was supposed to have
a co-GM run this heat while he played Die Macher. However,
his co-GM couldn't make it to the convention so the GM set up
the four games that were played two 4-player and two 5-player)
and left for his game while checking in on the tournament intermittently
to make sure things were progressing smoothly and at a decent
pace. This round had the game with the highest margin of victory
with Rob Flowers winning his game by 27 points (90 points to
63 for second place) by using a strategy where Rob kept taking
the locomotive increase option even after he had already maximized
his locomotive. Also, the goods in this game did not come out
the way that some of the players planned because of unfortunate
die rolls, hurting their chances even more. The other winners
in this heat were Mike Holmquist, Mike Backstrom and Charles
Heat 3 was at noon on Saturday, with ten players dividing
into two 5-player games. Gary Noe won his game by 22 points
over the GM while Barbara Flaxington won the other game.
The semi-final began Sunday morning. Ten players appeared,
so the GM set up two 5-player games with the top two finishers
scheduled to advance to the final game immediately thereafter.
In the first semi-final, Mike Holmquist defeated Peter Staab
by a 19-point margin, finishing with both the highest income
and the lowest amount of loans in the game. In the other game,
Richard Irving had nine more income than the next highest player,
easily overcoming the fact that he had the second highest amount
of loans to beat Ilan Woll by 23 points.
The final was scheduled to have Mike Holmquist, Richard Irving,
Peter Staab and Ilan Woll. Unfortunately for Mike, he didn't
think that he could participate and still make his flight home
so he dropped out, allowing Keith Altizer to participate as an
alternate by being the higher third-place finisher in the semi-final.
On the first turn, Ilan bid to go first and started his initial
track from Wheeling to Pittsburgh. Keith played second and built
a connection from Detroit to Toronto. Richard then built a connection
from Cincinnati to Evansville. Finally, Peter started the furthest
west connecting St. Louis to Des Moines. Even though a player's
track does not have to be contiguous, it works better if you
can set your track that way as you can usually earn more income
in this manner. Given the starting positions of the players,
Ilan soon got squeezed in his starting position and fell behind
in the competition early. Meanwhile, Peter build up the western
side of the map, Richard connected to Chicago soon after the
first turn and made inroads on both the eastern and western portions
of the board and Keith connected to Pittsburgh and stayed primarily
in the Northeast. Going into the final turn, the competition
was tight between Richard, Keith and Peter. Richard bid to go
first and took the locomotive increase ability which raised his
train to a level 6, allowing him to complete bigger runs and
earn 3 income that he wouldn't have received otherwise. In the
meantime, Keith ended up paying too much to go second and not
get the locomotive increase he needed and Peter played last in
the turn. When the the final turn ended, Richard had 32 income
- compared to 25 for Keith while Peter had the lowest income
of 23, but also the lowest amount of loans with four less than
either Richard or Keith and also the highest amount of track
segments. However, Richard's great income gave him an eight-point
victory over Peter for his second WBC wood and first since 2000.
Keith finished another eight points behind Peter.
Eugene Lin gets the "iron-man" award by being the
only player to participate in all three preliminary heats, with
only four other players playing in two different heats during
the preliminary round. Even though the GM allowed either of
the Ireland or England expansion maps to be used, the only map
used was the Eastern US map, which was actually a bit disappointing.
The England map was considered for the semi-final, but five of
the nine semi-finalists other than the GM voted to use the US
map so that map was usedthen as well. Finally, whether it is
because the player is in the lead and has more money to bid to
go first in the final turn or if there is some other advantage
to it, nine of the 12 winners went first in the final turn, including
all of the winners of the semi-final and final games. There seems
to be less of a correlation of the position in the first turn,
however, as in only five of the 11 games that reported this information
did the winner go first in the initial turn, while four of the
game winners actually played third in their games which included
one of the semi-finals and the final.
I plan to GM the event again in 2005. With the change in
venue and the likely increase in the number of people needing
to catch flights on Sunday, I am going to be making changes to
the schedule, shifting the semi-final round to Saturday and keep
the final on Sunday morning. However, I haven't decided whether
to reduce the number of heats to two or keep three heats, but
have them at different times. If you have a suggestion about
the scheduling or anything else about the tournament format,
please contact me, either via email at the address below. I do
plan to allow expansion maps to be used again and there should
be six other maps available barring unforeseen circumstances.
These maps would include Ireland, England, Western USA, Germany,
Korea and Scandinavia. I might also require a different map
to be used in either one of the heats (especially if I opt for
three heats) or the
semi-final round, so let me know your thoughts about this as
well. I hope that all of the players enjoyed themselves this
year and I hope to see more of you participate in Lancaster.