A New Conqueror ...
This year we had 34 entrants - the highest total in the last
six years. Heat 1, on Wednesday, consisted of 24 participants
resulting in three full games of eight players each. Heat 2,
on Thursday, consisted of two games, one with seven players and
the other with six.
The preliminary heats provided a ranking of all participants
to determine who would be in the Final. The leading scorer at
the end of the preliminary rounds was Kevin Youells with 105.10
points. The second place player at the end of the preliminary
rounds was John Morris with 104.06 points. The third and fourth
place scorer was Shantanu Saha with 103.70 points and 103.60
points. Three dedicated players with no desire to see the light
of day played in both heats: Shantanu Saha, Jennifer Drozd and
This year, there were no special rules placed on the play
of the game. At the start of each heat, each group of players
was given the option to use some alternative rules to add some
variability to their game. In most cases players elected not
to play with any alternative rules.
This year the kicker and tie breaker was intended to measure
how well a nation could deal with calamities. Each player was
to record the calamities received during play and at the end
of the game add that value to their final total. In setting
up this tie breaker, I expected the kicker scores to range from
0.0 to 10.0. The results of the tournament indicate that the
kicker score actually ranged from 0.0 to 5.78 points. In retrospect
the kicker had very little impact on the final scoring affecting
16 players with an average position change of one place.
This year the Final tad several new players which made for
an exciting game - starting with the selection of players. The
fifth ranked player from the preliminary rounds gave way to the
1st alternate so Michael Isgur got to play in the Final. Second
alternate, Peter Pollard did not fare as well. The Final started
with the random draw of nations by selecting an unknown token
from a box. As play started, many of the nations established
boundaries that remained in effect throughout the game. Crete
gave up Sparta to the Illyrians along with Chalcis and Eretria
to Thrace, to help those nations with city sites. Africa agreed
to stay out of Western Europe and Iberia agreed to remain out
of Western Africa.
As the game progressed, the first major event was the populating
of Greece and then Western Turkey by the Cretans. Next up was
the critical decision by Egypt and Babylon to build two cities
or take the hit on the AST. Egypt decided to take the hit on
the AST but Babylon decided to build two cities and move forward.
All other nations continued to double population. The decision
by Babylon to build two cities had a major impact on his collection
of civilization cards and buying advances. That decision plus
continually being hit with secondary effects of calamities relegated
Babylon to a 7th place finish. After receiving a secondary effect
from Crete for the umpteenth time, the Babylon King was heard
crying out in anguish "You are merciless and cruel."
The first major problem that diplomacy did not solve was the
ownership of the desert (Cyrenaica, Jalo, Siwa & Western
Desert) between Africa and Egypt. This disputed territory became
the basis for an extended war that lasted for several thousand
years. Eventually, they did come to an agreement but by then
their fate was assured and they finished 8th and 6th respectively.
The second diplomatic failure was the dispute between Crete
and Assyria over the territory of Galatia. This area changed
hands a number of times and the issue of ownership was never
truly resolved. For Crete this dispute, giving away too much
building space to Illyria and Thrace, some poor token placement
early in the game, coupled with the target that goes on the head
of the previous winner spelled trouble that limited Crete to
a 4th place finish. For Assyria this dispute proved to be of
minor consequence and for most of the game Assyria was well placed
for the final push in the end game. Unfortunately, for Assyria,
the drawing of five calamites on the penultimate turn spelled
disaster and relegated Assyria to a 2nd place finish in the dust
bin of history.
While all these events were transpiring there were three nations
that were enjoying the ride, Iberia, Illyria, and Thrace. In
the mid-game ,Thrace had some difficulty getting trades and ended
up hitting the wall at the early Iron Age which relegated him
to trailing the leaders thereafter. In the end game, the effects
of calamities (piracy and civil disorder) started to pile up
on Iberia, limiting him to fewer cities than Illyria and thus
fewer trade cards which resulted in fewer purchases. In the
end game, Illyria was an unbeatable powerhouse. At the end,
Illyria was attacked but it was too little too late as the ancient
sages often quote, and Illyira was not to be denied.
I may discontinue the demos and change this to an open tournament
where rules are explained and beginners may play. This year
no one attended the demo sessions so they seem unnecessary.
I may add an evening game session in lieu of the demo games and
to accommodate players that have other priorities during the
day. I will probably continue with a tie breaker (kicker) even
though some players think points are points and each score should
stand on its own. Next year the tie breaker will most likely
be a peer ranking for each player on categories similar to the
following: master of disaster, gracious host, admiral of the
seven seas, benevolent dictator, etc. So, until next year, I
wish everyone well and good gaming.