Table Talk To the Fore for Four
Greg Thatcher stands to make
a move as Keith Levy peers out from beneath his trademark magic
hat in a preliminary game.
GM Bruce Reiff (at left) oversees
a game in the preliminary heats as Medici draws 80+ entrants
for the eighth straight year.
It was with some trepidation that I approached this year's
event. It's been a long time since I've run an event with
multiple heats. But I managed to show up on time and over
80 people played a game of Medici (med ichy) so I couldn't
have done too badly. Those looking to play (me dee chi)
were sent to other rooms since we were playing the game the way
both the History and Discovery Channel pronounce it!
After three heats 14 winners appeared and it was determined that
three games of 5, 5 and 4 would be played with the best second
(as a % of the winners score ) advancing to contest a 4-player
Final. Jeff Cornett suggested that the highest runner-up
score should advance but with a 4-player game I stuck with %,
which I would soon come to regret. Tables were randomly
assigned and I ended up at the 4-player game with Ken Gutermuth,
Jason Arvey and Eric Eshlemann. I got to the 20 bonus space
in porcelain on the second turn but was unable to overcome Ken's
spending less than 10 in all three rounds to get the boat twice
and a second. I was second with a whopping 134 but my percentage
was awful as Ken had 159.
In the second semi, Kate Taillon won a more defensive game over
Ilan Woll, David Gagne, Jeff "loser boy" Mullet and
perennial Medici semi-finalist Fred Minard. Ilan
was second 12 points behind with an 84 so I was out of the Final
and he was on the bubble.
The third semi was where the heavyweights were. Peter Staab,
Rich Roberts, Scott Cornett, Jeff Cornett and Carmen Petruzzi
all battled for the last spot (or two). Carmen had five
spice on the first turn. This actually ended up hurting
him in the end and he ended tied for second with Jeff who won
the tie breaker due to the higher third round score. Rich
Roberts was two points ahead and Scott Cornett was only five
points off the lead. Pete Staab wasn't sure what hit him
with a 76. So Jeff ended up with second place and had a
better second than the other two and advanced to the Final.
That set up a Final of Rich Roberts, Jeff Cornett, Kate Tallion
and Ken Gutermuth. Could Ken get back in the winners circle
and save the entire Gutermuth clan from the shame of an oh fer? (Little
did Ken know but at the very same time 'Little Lisa' Gutermuth
was saving the family from certain humiliation in Royal Turf
- or maybe she was just rubbing salt in the wounds). At
this point Jeff Cornett was gracious enough to provide his recollections
of the Final.
"A four-player game is much different than a five-player
game. There are a lot of missing cards, and bidding on
high boat should be easier because there are fewer competitors.
Also, some player will lead in two colors. Everyone
else should easily dominate their single color.
The short answer on how to win this game is adopt a game strategy
(actually a round by round strategy) that is different than everyone
else at the table is using. In other words, if everyone
else is going for boat, then go for color. If everyone
else is going for color, the boat should be easy and cheap to
get. If everyone else is bidding aggressively for both
color and boat, then bid passively and adopt the middle of the
road, balanced, cheap strategy.
Round 1: The game started with players bidding aggressively
for boat while staking their claims for color. With aggressive
boat bidding, I deviated from the typical Cornett family strategy
of bid for boat like it was all that matters. I established
my color with three in yellow, but took last place in points
because I got zero for boat. Player 1 took the lead by
inexpensive passive boat bidding, but gaining the lead in two
Round 2: Players continued to bid aggressively for boat.
The benefits of getting high boat were offset by the price
to buy it, plus those bidding for boat are splitting their colors
making it hard to reach their pyramid tops. I was able
to develop my yellow color one short of the top of the pyramid.
I had the highest color in my pyramid of any other colors, and
was now only a few points out of first place.
Round 3: The stage is now set perfectly for me for the final
round. Players 1 and 2 appear to have the weakest positions
among my competitors, and have shown themselves to be generally
passive bidders. Player 3 is within reach of his pyramid
top and could get high boat. He also is an aggressive bidder,
but fortunately for me, he is sitting on my right. Medici
players own the person on their right!!! Players should
never get into a bidding war with the player on their left!!!!
My strategy for the last round is to complete my pyramid as a
side effect of bidding aggressively for boat. I must also
split the color (junk up the deals) for player 4, and make sure
I beat him for boat.
The game has been unusually quiet with little talking, joking
or trying to influence other bids. I interpret this as
due to the pressure of the Finals and the inexperience and general
passive bidding personalities of players 1 and 2. Things
would heat up in the last round. As I start to advise players
1 and 2 on their bid strategy, player 3 objects to my trying
to influence their bids when everyone was politely silent the
entire first two rounds. My response: Up until now, there
has not been anything worth discussing. Never having played
a game of Medici without lively discussion and attempts
to logically influence each others bids, I dismiss player 3's
protests that I should just keep quiet. Player 3 on my
right is at my mercy, and players 1 and 2 are passive, seem somewhat
inexperienced, and therefore can be influenced through expressions
of logic -- "you need that card, don't let him get it cheap.
It is worth at least 20 points to him." etc.
Such talk is common in all of the Medici games I have
ever played (until now). How boring to play at a table
of silent Medici players!
I top my pyramid, buy high boat (but not cheaply), and foil player
3's attempt to do the same. Game over, a nice come-from-behind
win. I had to deviate from my normal always bid for high
boat strategy, and went with a climb my color pyramid strategy
for two rounds, followed by 60 points for high boat and pyramid
top on the final round."
The degree of table talk tolerated in a game varies from group
to group but it is indeed commonplace in multi-player games and
is seen as a major skill factor in such games by many. In this
case, it helped Jeff bag his fourth plaque of the week - three
of them in multi-player games. From this we can assume that Jeff
is a gifted commentator as well as player.