Northern Invasion Continues
French Canadians again command three
of four seats in the Final.
Martin Sasseville repeats as champion
while his Quebec contingent finishes 1-2-3.
The first heat saw a record number of participants in
the 4-year WBC history of this event with 32 players participating
in eight games. Five used the standard Rust Belt map, two
used John Bohrer's Germany map and one the Steam Brothers' China
map. Marc-André Imbeault won the China game, Cody
Sandifer defeated the defending champion, Martin Sasseville,
and another of the French Canadian contingent, Pierre-Luc Thiffault
in one of the Germany games. The other Germany game was
won by Nathalie Malenfant. In one of the Rust Belt games,
Anna Maria Palermo had a rough turn 2 in which another player
connected to one of the cities in which she was already connected
and delivered the good that she was planning to deliver which
left her too low in income and unable to pay her expenses.
This forced Anna Maria into bankruptcy on this turn and eliminated
her from the game, which was eventually won by Debbie Gutermuth.
The other Rust Belt winners were Mario Veillette, Bruce Hodgins,
Ilan Woll and Pierre Paquet.
The second heat had five 4-player games, four on the Rust
Belt maps and one on John Bohrer's Western United States map.
Doug Smith won the Western United States game in his first heat
attempt. Meanwhile, the four Rust Belt winners - Chris Palermo,
Akihisa Tabei, 2004 champion Richard Irving and defending champion
Martin Sasseville - were playing in their second heat.
The GM gave the semi-finalists a choice of four maps.
For the third straight year, the players chose the Germany map.
The two heats produced 13 winners but as so often happens, some
chose not to advance. So the semis consisted of three four-player
games with the top runner-up qualifying for a 4-player Final. Defending
champion Martin Sasseville totally dominated his game to advance
In the second semi-final, Richard Irving lost $3 of income on
the second turn to reduce him to $1 income at that time, but
he came back strong to qualify. In the third game Pierre
Paquet won tby a small margin over Mario Veillette, but Mario
also managed to advance with his second place finish.
The Final was a defacto invitational game since all three
of the former champions had qualified along with Mario Veillette,
who was also a former laurelist. The game was played using
the basic Rust Belt map. After the setup, it was apparent
that it was going to be a rough game as there were very few good
deliveries available on the first turn. In addition, the
Eastern and Western portion of the map did not have the right
type of goods available for runs in either the initial setup
or for potential future runs so the central portion of the board
had the potential to be crowded. The random turn order
for the first turn was Pierre, Mario, Martin and Richard.
The first turn was a preview of thingsto come with high cash
and bidding for turn order being the norm. The first turn
started with each of the players taking two additional shares
in order to raise $10 more in cash. The bids for turn order
on the first turn were Pierre bidding 4 right away and then everyone
else passing in order resulting in a turn order of Pierre, Richard,
Martin and Mario for the remainder of the turn. Pierre
then chose the Urbanization ability, Richard chose the Engineer,
Martin chose First Build and Mario was left with the increase
to his Locomotive with the last choice. The fear that the
center of the board was going to get crowded came to fruition
as Martin built from Evansville to Cincinnati via the town in
Indianapolis with a spur heading toward Chicago. Pierre
then enlarged Green Bay with the yellow new city tile (tile E)
and built from Chicago to Green Bay via the town in Milwaukee.
Richard built track from Detroit to Cincinnati via the town in
Toledo. Finally, Mario built from Chicago to the town in
Rock Island and then continued toward Springfield with a spur
from Rock Island heading southwest with a choice to build toward
either Des Moines or Kansas City. For runs, everyone increased
their locomotive size the first round of moving goods.
In the second round of moving goods, everyone but Mario
had a 2-length run they had available to them and they each took
that run while Mario did not make a second run. This meant
that Pierre, Richard and Martin had $2 income at the end of the
first turn while Mario had $0 income. The second turn saw
Pierre and Mario each issue three more shares to raise cash while
Richard and Martin each issued two more shares. Pierre
then bid $6 to try to go first, Richard bid $7 and everyone then
passed in order making Richard first, Pierre second, Mario third
and Martin last this turn. The major occurrences on this
turn saw Pierre upgrade Terra Haute to a city with Tile H (one
of the four black new city tiles) and then three players built
track to Terra Haute. The builds included Mario abandoning
his southwest spur from the first turn to build to Terra Haute.
Richard and Mario both increased their locomotives to a size
4 which Mario used on the second run to run four lengths of track
only on his track. After the income phase, Richard did
not have enough cash to pay his interest and expenses and so
he took a $2 reduction in income, leaving him with $3 income
at the end of the turn while the others all had income of $4.
On turn 3, Richard and Pierre both issued another three shares,
Mario issued four more shares and Martin started to try to keep
his loan amounts down by issuing only one additional share.
After Richard built track from Evansville to St. Louis in his
build phase, he had two potential 4-runs from Detroit to St.
Louis. However, Martin shut down Richard's distance 4 runs
by urbanizing Toledo with the red new city tile (Tile A) which
stopped the goods that Richard was planning to deliver to a distance
of1 track. Then later in the turn Mario started building
track from Detroit to Toronto starting in Detroit cutting off
the last build Richard had that would have been contiguous to
his original track eliminating Richard's ability to generate
larger potential runs. These two events effectively eliminated
Richard from contending in the game and made his ability to avoid
bankruptcy very difficult. During the runs phase, Pierre,
Richard and Mario all increased their locomotives to size 5 with
one of the two runs. Richard lost 4 more income during
the maintenance phase, leaving him at $0 in income at the end
of the turn while Pierre, Martin and Mario all had $8 income
at the time. In turn 4, Richard decided that he was going
to have trouble avoiding bankruptcy and so he decided to not
actively influence the game and possibly be a kingmaker so he
took 0 shares and went bankrupt at the end of the turn.
Highlights of the turn were Martin starting the Pittsburgh to
Toronto connection via Buffalo. Mario urbanized Milwaukee
with the purple new city tile (Tile F). Mario also increased
his train to size 6 on the first half of the Move Goods phase
and then completed a run of length 6 on the second phase with
Pierre getting $1 of income and Mario getting the other $5 of
income from the run. The total income at the end of this
run was Martin and Pierre at $14 each and Mario having $11 of
income. On turn 5, Mario increased his loan situation to
the maximum 15 loans and Pierre issued more shares to have the
total amount of loans issued at 14 while Martin only had 11 loans
at that time. The bids for first turn started decreasing
with Martin winning the bid for $2. Mario cut off some
of Martin's abilities to make runs by improving Buffalo to a
city with the black G tile. Pierre updated his locomotive
to a size 6 train this turn and everyone had $18 of income by
the end of the turn. On turn 6, Martin won the bid to go
first for $1 and made sure his build would not get cut off by
taking the First Build action to assure that he could complete
his build from Kansas City to St. Louis that he had started on
previous turns. Mario improved La Crosse with the blue
new city tile (Tile B) trying to cut down Pierre's abilities
to make runs as Pierre had connected to La Crosse during this
turn. Martin and Pierre had the advantages in runs at this
time and started pulling away from Mario as Pierre had $25 in
income, Martin $24 and Mario $22 by the end of the turn.
In Turn 7, Mario improved Fort Wayne with a black new city tile
(Tile C). Martin gained $10 in income during his two runs,
Pierre gained $9 of income and Mario gained $9 of income including
$1 in income from the final run that Pierre did in the turn which
pushed Mario up to the next level of income reduction.
With Pierre's "help" to Mario, each of the players
ended up experiencing $6 in income reduction at the turn.
Finally, Turn 8 saw the bidding for first player increase again
as Martin started the bid at $1, Pierre bid $2, Mario bid $4,
Martin bid $5, Pierre bid $6, Mario passed and paid nothing to
go last, Martin bid $7, and Pierre passed. In the action
phase, Martin chose Urbanization, Pierre took the First Build
action and Mario chose the Engineer. Pierre completed his
track from La Crosse to Des Moines, Martin improved Cleveland
with the last remaining new city tile (Tile D, a black new city)
and then built from Pittsburgh to Cleveland to Toledo while Mario
completed track from Minneapolis to Duluth and from Chicago to
Michigan City. Martin started the runs and made a 6-run
to get himself $6 in income, Pierre completed a 6-run that got
him $5 in income and had $1 income payable to the bank while
Mario did a 5-run to get himself $4 in income and Martin $1 in
income. The second set of runs saw Martin gain $5 in income
and Pierre also gained $5 of income on their runs while Mario
gained $4 in income and gave $2 of income to the bank on his
final run. At the end of the game, Martin had $34 in income
and 12 loans and 24 track segments built during the game to end
up with 90 victory points and the championship for his second
consecutive year of winning the tournament. Pierre had
$32 in income, 14 loans and 20 track segments for 74 victory
points and second place for the second year in a row. Finally,
Mario had $27 in income, 15 loans and 27 track segments for 63
total victory points and third place.
Dominance in the card driven wargames may come at the kneee
of Master Pei and Nappy Wars/Up Front crowns may go through
Greenville, but the French Canadians command Age of Steam.
Can anyone give them a game in 2008?
In past years, I have allowed any of the expansion tracks
to be used in any of the heats and gave the players choices of
four possible tracks for the semi-final. Next year, I am
considering limiting the choices of tracks available for the
two heats to probably 8 to 10 of the available expansion tracks
for each heat and probably increasing the choices for the semi-final
to six different tracks while eliminating Germany from the choices
for the semi-final since this has been the choice for the past
three years to try to get some variety in the semi-final.
If you have an opinion about this concept, please contact me
to discuss the tournament format for next year.