More medals & Variants ...
2004 tournament was one of my greatest gaming experiences of
recent memory. A collection of 64 participants gathered to try
their hand at various Empire Builder variants. The choices
of variants again seemed popular, and eight different maps were
used. 25 opening round games were played during the three heats
producing 22 different winners. Three runner-ups completed the
semi-final field on Friday.
The final field exhibited some of the finest play your GM
has witnessed at tournament level. The camaraderie was strong
and skill level was high and intense. In the end, Tom Dunning
($254m) won a narrow victory over John Haas ($239m) who led the
game from the outset. Mark Kennel ($226m) had a strong finish
and garnered third. Defending champ Donna Balkan ($178m) took
fourth, and Rich Meyer ($172m) completed the top five.
Tom's victory was well deserved. An unnamed source told me
that Tom had made his game group back home play Empire Builder
games all year in preparation for the tournament. Going into
the final round when victory was imminent, the source said to
Tom, "Now, can we play some other games next year?"
In the beginning, John drew high card and built from Seattle
to Portland and on towards Billings. Rich then built from Kansas
City towards SW Mexico and Durango. Tom began his line from Chicago
to Sudbury, followed by Mark who traveled from New York to Chicago
and on to Duluth. Donna, playing last, built from New York to
Philadelphia and on to Chicago.
his first delivery in Seattle, Mark drew wood loads back to Dallas
and Okalahoma City for a combined $59m giving him an early lead.
Rich's first deliveries in Mexico were followed by drawing a
coffee load back to Santa Fe. The real crusher came in Rd. 8.
After John's wood deliveries he drew cotton loads back to Seattle
and Portland for $75m. There were a few moans and murmurs, but
the strong of heart pressed onward. A key turning point was in
Rd. 17 when John rode Rich's rails into Vera Cruz to get two
coffees but only one was available. He had coffee payouts in
Denver and Billings. Tom had an extra coffee on board and a delivery
in Kansas City but had waited an extra move before dumping the
coffee load. John decided to turn around and go back for the
coffee at the expense of a couple of turns.
Round 18, the standings were John ($83m) with $69m on board
and five major cities; Rich ($51m) with $30m on board and five
major cities; Tom ($102m) with $51m on board and six major cities;
Mark ($37m) with $78m on board and three major cities; and Donna
($21m) with $33m on board and five major cities. In Rd. 19, the
major rivers flooded affecting Rich the most by wiping out six
of his bridges, for a rebuilding cost of $19m. In Rd. 25, Mark
delivered oil to Philadelphia for $22m and cashed in on the $10m
fuel bonus. The same turn, an event card derailed John in Raleigh,
in which he lost a valuable turn and a load. In Rd. 26, Rich
delivered $47m to Juarez (tobacco and wheat). On an interesting
note, in Rd. 29, the first tourist load was picked up.
Beginning Rd. 37, John delivered oats and corn to Vancouver
for $53m and reached $246m but lacking a good delivery for the
win. Rich had $136m, Mark had $109m, Tom had $185m, and Donna
$129m. After rebuilding his flooded rivers and building into
his next delivery in Regina, John was at $247m. When John reached
$247m, Donna began dumping cards, hoping to pick up a sugar load
anywhere east as she was sitting in New York. John was on his
way south to complete a delivery to Monterey. In Rd. 44, Tom
rode Rich's rails and delivered oil in Tampa for $18m for the
win and his fifth WBC wood. Mark had a $26m payoff of oil and
wheat in Atlanta and an $18m delivery in Buffalo in the last
two turns to vault him into third place.
The game clock was again used in the final which kept the
game moving. The game lasted three hours and fifteen minutes
with a five-minute break. The game clock was stopped on all event
cards until resolution was made.
Medals were again given to the top winners in each variant.
Two other special awards were given, and both of these results
can be seen at the Empire Builder website. I would like to thank
you all again for your recognition of me last year. I've always
enjoyed getting people together to play games. It was a delight
to watch the superior play of the semi-finalists and finalists
this year. My hat is off to you, and a hearty thanks to everyone