Fare Wars ... a wargame for capitalists
Mike Backstrom (right) contemplates
his options in an expanding market.
John Coussis on the prowl in
perpetual fare wars as Scott Fenn doffs his hat.
Anna Palermo leads the ladies
in an assault on the glass ceiling of business and gaming.
This year's tournament was a lot of fun, with a family kind
of atmosphere. There were parents and kids, aunts/uncles/nephews,
couples and singles, adults and seniors. We had 90 unique
players who collectively sat down 168 times over 32
boards to determine a winner. I've heard the game described as
"part risk and part monopoly," and the wild swings
on some of the boards displayed just that.
The goal was to play four heats in a MESE format to qualify 25
to advance to the semi-final round on five boards which would
supply five finalists. To complete the game within the three-hour
time slot, we prevented the fuel-oil marker from being the first
random marker to enter the draw cup and ignored its effects if
drawn during the last hour of play. With this safeguard, we had
two games which were completed in under an hour and only two
went to GM adjudication. Most were completed in 1:45 to 2:15.
During the heats, the scores ranged from a high of 352 in
a six-player game to a low of -30. Three winners had exactly
290, the minimum score to win.
A game in the first heat had Carmen Petruzzelli in fare wars
on the attack, needing to win just one more roll on two
occasions, and that failed. Then, Bob Sohn was two
rolls away from victory in fare wars twice and was beaten
both times. Naturally, they got a lot of attention
from the other players and soon faded. Then, Derek Landel (the
eventual winner) missed a payout for victory while in fare wars.
The game was well-played and very balanced, and was dubbed "the
best-played game of Air Baron ever" by one player,
and "the longest ever" by another. This game had to
be adjudicated (with all of the misses on wins is it any wonder?).
At least all the players agreed on the leader in all phases of
position and possibilities, as well as ahead in raw-market share
and cash. For future tournaments, avoiding adjudications and
having a more objective guideline are goals to seek.
Some other tidbits from the heats were:
* Best recorded payout of $67 to Luke Kolezar and many
players getting nothing turn after turn.
* John "fare wars" Coussis being drawn for last player
turn on four of the first five rounds in one game.
* Carmen Petruzzelli on one fare wars rampage getting modified
dice rolls of 13 or more on seven straight attacks in
Heat 2 after missing the Heat-1 win twice.
* One game in which only two players got beyond a second fare
wars attack: one to three and one four. All other attempts by
allplayers failed on the first or second try.
* Ken Rothstein drawing the strike chit on three consecutive
* Scott Fenn having the cash on hand for victory at the beginning
of his turn, but drawing the fuel can to prevent his win.
During the heats, no winner started in SF0 and DIA. Multiple
wins by hubs were MIA and DTW with three each, DFW and ORD with
four each, and LAX with six.
After all flights had landed from the heats, 24 unique
board winners qualified for the semi-finals, including four in
the last heat. However, only 19 showed for the semi-finals,
which left room for six alternates, which as fate would have
it, included the 24th alternate.
The semi-final games had little of the zaniness of the
former heats and were mostly straight forward games. In one,
there were three bankruptcies-two by the same player. Only one
game had grouped scores, with the last-place player scoring 124.
Three had negative scores, one of them being -40. The five winners
each started things off by controlling different hubs-one win
each at SF0, LAX, PHX, HOU, and MIA.
On Sunday morning, one of the finalists, Chuck Foster (who
had to catch an early flight to Idaho), was missing, so an alternate,
Richard Fox, was added after the roll was called twice. Players
were seated and the game began as a higher-ranking alternate
appeared too late.
The Final quickly became a game of survival, with Brandon
Bernard as the winner. The fuel can was the first random marker
into the draw cup and refused to stay there. It was drawn on
each of the first three turns it inhabited the cup, and also
appeared twice more. All of the players except Brandon (who started
with control of HOU) had to liquidate holdings on the first draw
to pay the bill, and he rode that advantage to the end. Incidentally,
Brandon qualified by winning a last-round heat game, and the
third-place finisher, Richard Fox, was the alternate added to
the final. "Never give up! Never surrender!" could
be a slogan to go with the MESE tie-breakers. Keep showing
up and playing, even if you don't win at first.
Meanwhile, Thomas Richardson and Brian Stone went toe-to-toe
at the LAX hub. It changed hands five times between their battles
and liquidations. The hub missed payouts three times when drawn-twice
immediately after liquidation and once when Brian was
in fare wars. This left Kyle Snyders to work his way up between
Richard and Brandon for second place.
Thanks to the assistant GMs, Patrick, Thomas, and Henry Richardson,
and Andy Gardner for their help and support; to those who brought
copies of the game; and to the participants. It was a great group
and a fun journey!