Age of Steam gained more steam this year with a better turnout
and more games played with only two heats than it had the year
before with three thanks to a strong influx of new players from
north of the border. The GM again allowed alternate maps to
be used in both heats and semifinal games. Last year, no one
took advantage of that and all games were played on the Eastern
United States map that came with the game. In 2005, however,
alternate maps did see some use.
The first heat occurred on Tuesday evening with 22 players
spread amongst five boards. The four games played on the Eastern
U.S. maps were won by defending champion Richard Irving, Andy
Joy, Charles Hickok and Philip White. The fifth game was played
by four brave souls on the Ireland map and was won by Brian Schott
with a tiebreaker over Barb Flaxington.
The second heat on Friday evening had 25 players split amonst
six boards. Once again, four players tried one of the alternate
maps, this time Korea, with Franklin Haskell winning that game.
The other five once again conested the Eastern United States
map with Michael Holmquist, Chris Byrd, Mario Villette, Pierre
Paquet and Chris Terrell emerging victorious.
Only six of the 11 heat winners appeared for the semifinal
on Saturday, so the top two alternates were admitted to make
two 4-plater games for the semifinal round with the top two from
each board advancing to the Final. The semifinalists opted by
majority vote to use an alternate map Germany was chosen. Alternate
Martin Sasseville won one game with Franklin Haskell finishing
in second while Pierre Paquet won with Andy Joy second in the
other semifinal to advance.
The Final took place on Sunday morning but both runner-ups
in the semifinal opted out due to schedule conflicts and were
replaced by the semifinal 3rd place finishers Mario Villette
and Michael Holmquist. The Final was played using the Eastern
United States map The random starting setup did not have any
starting spot that was much better than anywhere else so the
first three players started on the Eastern side of the board,
which is much easier to build and connect. This left Pierre
Paquet to make a network on the western side of the board, although
his initial start was in Chicago and then he proceeded west.
Even though the western side of the map yields a slower start,
Pierre, free of competition for deliveries and track building,
steadily pulled away, with Michael Holmquist finishing second,
Mario Villette third and Martin Sasseville fourth.
I had received a message from Pierre last April asking me
about the tournament because he and his Canadian friends really
enjoyed the game. So I told him about the World Boardgaming
Championships and the tournament format. Four members of his
group crossed the border mainly for the Age of Steam tournament
on Friday with three of them (Pierre, Mario and Martin) eventually
making the Final. They all told me that they had a good time,
enjoyed the tournament and played a couple of other events as
well as a bit of open gaming. They hope that the game makes
the Century next year and if not at least will be a Trial event
again. If Age of Steam makes the cut next year, we may see these
four again, possibly with even more of their group as well.
Who knows, maybe next year's Final will be all Canadian.
Despite qualifying as a Century event in 2006 by virtue
of attendance, this event has been penalized one level to Continuing
Trial status for failure to submit its event report on time.
It will be eligible to be run in 2006 only as a Trial event and
only if it receives sufficient votes in the Annual membership
survey to return as one of the 25