through the ages  

Updated 12/2/2008

2008 WBC Report  

   2009 Status: pending 2009 GM commitment

Jason Ley, WA

2008 Champion

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Event History
2008    Jason Ley     39
 Laurels

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Jason Ley          WA    08     40
  2.  David Metzger      NY    08     24
  3.  Eric Brosius       MA    08     16
  4.  Raphael Lehrer     MD    08     12
  5.  David des Jardins  CA    08      8
  6.  Aran Warszawski Israel   08      4
2008 Laurelists

David Metzger, NY
2nd

Eric Brosius, MA
3rd

Raphael Lehrer, MD
4th

David des Jardins, CA
5th

Aran Warszawski, Israel
6th


Charlie Hickok, Alfred Smith and Winton Lemoine take Through the Ages out for a spin.

Amelia Engelmann and Greg Thatcher seem engrossed in our newest event.

Barely off the Boat

The WBC debut of Czech boardgame Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization was surprisingly successful. A hybrid Euro/Civilization building game, it can appeal to a broad audience, but there were insufficient members voting for it to have as a trial, and only appeared at WBC thanks to the generous sponsorship of David desJardins. Due to its length, it was run as a precon, and Sunday is earlier than most Euro players arrive at WBC, so there were concerns that few people would change their travel plans to play it.  In fact, as I went to demo the game, I brought along some work in case nobody came -- so it was quite a shock when at 6 PM 25 people crowded around the board to learn the game. The release of the reprint by Funagain (which allowed more people to play it) and its subsequent rise to Top 10 status on BGG subsequent to the membership vote no doubt played a role.

A total of 16 3-player games and one 2-player game were played in the Mulligan and first round. While the typical non-tournament playing time is approximately 4.5 hours, it quickly became apparent that the 5 hour slot allotted was insufficient. Four games had to be adjudicated, and in an additional three the players unanimously agreed to continue (with the longest game clocking in at seven hours). There were 15 unique winners (with Alex Gesing and GM Raphael Lehrer double winners). Winning scores in 3-player games ranged from a low of 101 through a high of 265 (achieved by David Metzger), and margins of victory ranging from 2 points to 65 points (achieved by Jason Ley).

However, only nine of the 15 winners were game for the semi-final, with Paths of Glory conflicts being the primary attrition factor. Disappointing as this was, it allowed the semi-finals and Final to be waged as 3-player games; 4-player games would have been quite difficult due to their additional length. The semi-finals sped up, with all games finishing within five hours with no adjudications, and were generally higher scoring than the heats.  Eric Brosius achieved a massive victory with 299 points to Aran Warsawski's 181 and Alex Gesing's 99. Eric managed to max out the Michaelangelo strategy by building both the Hanging Gardens and St. Peter's Cathedral while simultaneously obtaining a dominant military position. Surprisingly, he never changed governments. Jason Ley won his semi-final with 223 points, overcoming both GM Raphael Lehrer with 197 and Jack Stalica with 193. Jack had the early lead with the Michaelangelo/St. Peter's combination, but Jason used a Fertile territory and the Ocean Liner to get military superiority and pummeled him -- with Raphael avoiding the same fate by not letting Jason's military lead over him get so large. All three players were within nine points at the end of Age III, with the final events being decisive (driven by Jason's lead in Population and Strength.) David Metzger won the third semi with 230 points, overcoming sponsor David desJardins at 214 and Dan Hoffman. This game featured a rarely used rule --"Honorable withdrawl" -- as Dan quit midway. Because the game can lead to "ganging up" on the weakest member, this rule is included as a check so that strong civilizations have to think twice about launching wars against the weakest. After desJardins launched a war against Hoffman which he felt to be unjustified, Hoffman launched a kamikaze attack against desJardins before withdrawing. This proved decisive in Metzger's victory.

In the Final, the pace of play slowed down again as Eric, Jason, and David all deliberated in a highly defensive (and instructive) game. David played a game focused on building strong science, ore, and victory points, while Jason and Eric both focused predominantly on military and government. At the end of Age II, David was the clear point leader with 42 vps (generating 6/turn) and science leader (8/turn, thanks to the Scientific Method and Newton), and had built to a strength of 7. Jason and Eric had 29/24 vps respectively (generating 3/turn and 1/turn respectively). Jason's strength was at 11, and Eric's strength was at 8, only modestly ahead of David; Eric had begun playing aggressions against David but was rebuffed by defense cards at each turn.

In the first two turns of Age III, both Jason's and Eric's military machines turned into full gear, as Jason increased his strength to 19 and Eric to 21. David's attention turned to military (as his vp and scientific engines continued to feed themselves) but could not keep pace, and Eric and Jason played aggressions and wars against David as often as they could. Turn order was decisive here: Eric, who went immediately after David, would launch an attack, which David would rebuff via defense cards and/or sacrifices, which left him too weak to defend against Jason's attacks. Overall, Eric launched two agressions and a war against David, all of which he lost -- he surprised Eric by building his military into the 30s in the final turn to take an 8 vp swing from Eric, -- while Jason launched one agression and one war, both of which he won (grabbing 19 vps from David in the war). By game end, before the event scoring, Jason had managed to take over the lead from David with 95 vps, with David at 88 and Eric at 62. Since Jason and Eric were focusing on aggressions and wars, there were relatively few events (three) mostly put in by David and while he gained points on Jason with the Impact of Science and Impact of Competition, he lost ground on the Impact of Colonies and ended up falling to Jason by two points. The final scores were Jason 123, David 121, and Eric 69, in a very low scoring game. Jason described the game as having an implicit pact between him and Eric: "You attack David first, I'll attack him second; I'll take first place, you'll take third." Eric, for his part, was in a no-win situation: if he did not attack David (and let Jason be the only one to attack him), David would have won in a landslide, while if he did, the real beneficiary was Jason.

I would like to thank Assistant GMs Tom Browne and Tom McCorry, whose help was invaluable in pulling this off. McCorry did a second demo for those who only arrived on Monday morning, and Browne provided much good help and counsel around the (ultimately successful) scheduling of the event and how to adjudicate matches that were going long.  Both of them adjudicated a few complex issues involving the GM, which was invaluable.

Thomas Browne, Jason Ley and Alex Gesing opt for a long game in their Pre-Con.

Ten hours later our finalists are finally vetted and ready to play for wood.
 GM      Raphael Lehrer (1st Year)  NA  
    Lehrer@cmt.harvard.edu   NA

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