Laughing at the Cold War ...
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME
Things had changed when we last saw our hero. Instead of taking
I-95 from New York to Hunt Valley, he now took I-70 from Columbus
to Lancaster. New job, new friends, new place to live. Under
the personal tutelage of the plaque King as an official CABS
minion. Would that be enough to break the curse of the Kremlin
GM, now in his 11th year of trying to win his own tournament?
Hey, the Red Sox won last year!
At first it didn't look promising. While the GM bided his
time in heat #1, Tom Bissa made a strong bid for the prestigious
"Learn the Game at 5PM, Beat the GM at 6PM" Award.
In one legendary situation the table decides they don't need
to purge a very sick, old Party Chief. The GM, having been on
this road before, tells them not to rely on the health roll to
kill him off. They don't listen and they roll a 20 to keep him
alive, giving the GM the chance to spout the immortal line for
any game "What did I tell you! Don't count on the die roll!"
But eventually the politicians do die off and somehow by Turn
9 the GM has gotten his man as Party Chief. He is able to keep
him alive until Turn 10 when the Politburo empties out and our
hero has a win in the first heat!
Now playing with house money, the GM moves on to the second
heat. Poor John "Team X" Coussis lands at the wrong
table and the GM repeatedly gets legitimate chances to make his
life absolutely miserable. Easily the most fun you can have without
winning. To John's credit he is able to get his man on top on
Turn 9- just in time for the GM to play the blackmail card! However
John's politician dies on turn 11 and James Tyne was able to
sneak off with a win.
The GM was pretty much a non-factor in Heat #3, saving his
strength up for the playoffs. He didn't even play in heat #4,
instead using the Secret GM Hand Signals to get Ron Wuerth to
sign him up for Formula Motor Racing (where he tied a
record for most crashes in a heat, but that's Ron's story).
There were 40 players in this year's tournament, down a bit
from the last few years. Other first round winners include Brian
Carr, Joel Tamburo, Nick Smith, John Pack, John Zahorsky, Sean
McCulloch, Lee "It's My Team Game but Nobody Colluded Against
Me" Rodriguez, Ray Stakenas II, and defending champ Steve
Only ten showed up for the semis, so Steve Cuccaro (defending
champ) and Ray Stakenas (random) were given byes into the Fnal,
setting up two tables of four for the semis. In one game, Brian
Carr got an early wave, only to see the Party Chief, KGB Head
and Defense Minister all die in the second health phase. Nick
Smith was able to sweep in and get three waves for the win, with
Carr getting second.
In the second semi, Lee Rodriguez and John Pack went on a
purging spree early with Lee getting two waves (which would get
him 2nd place) and John missing his one try. However, the GM
had correctly guessed on a housecleaning and put his points on
politicians that weren't on the board yet. By Turn 4 Siberia
was packed (no pun intended) with everybody else's politicians,
and the GM had his in the Politburo, giving him the win in Turn
5. Could this be the year? Was Bruce Reiff's most outlandish
prediction about to come true? Could I possibly pull a Coussis
and win my own tournament?
The Final featured six veteran players and turned out to be
the classic game most thought it would be. Knowing Ray Stakenas
and Lee Rodriguez usually played an early game, the GM again
buried his points in the people. Lee won the bidding war on Nestor
and three times rolled a 20 for his Health roll, keeping him
relatively well. Unfortunately that only got him two waves before
he was convicted of treason and sent to Siberia. Ray got the
next wave and failed on Turn 5. So far, so good. On Turn 6 he
was gone, replaced by a new healthy politician. . .
AND IT'S THE GM'S TEN POINTER!!!!! It's over! He's going to
But wait- it's also Nick Smith's 10 pointer. And Brian Carr's
10 pointer. The GM does get control but it's only for one wave
as Brian goes to 10+ during the add influence phase. Brian gets
the wave on Turn 7 but the GM's 9 pointer replaces him on Turn
8. But that politician is too old and sick to do much. On Turn
9 defending champ Steve Cuccaro finally gets to play and misses
a wave on Turn 9. The GM sees it slipping away and in desperation
puts a point on Nestor. Hey, he's won with Nestor on turn 11
before, who knows?
Turn 10 Steve's leader is removed and replaced by another
politician for Brian who gets a second wave that is now academic
as the game is going the distance. On turn 11 Nick Smith (in
his own world of desperation) plays a first purge card, followed
by a blackmail card that prevented the KGB Head from attempting
it. So now the purges fall to the Ideology Chief- and it's Nestor!!!
He's back and he's going to give the GM another miracle win!
Unfortunately the reality is that Nestor is way too old to
do the housecleaning that is needed. So he fails the roll and
is sent to the retirement home, ending all hope for our hero.
Meanwhile Brian's Party Chief is removed and after the dust is
settled, Steve Cuccaro defends his title in a hard fought game
that all played well.
Meanwhile it has been a fun 11 years but it is time to move
on. I will not be the GM of Kremlin in 2006, though I suspect
I will wind up doing something. I'll let somebody else will pick
up the reins next year and I will keep trying to win that elusive
title - without pulling a Coussis.