Fortunes at Low Ebb
Pete Pollard, Eric Eshleman, and Chris
Trimmer formed the nucleus of the small returning crop of veteraas
for this event. The field of 24 was surpassed by both the Enlightenment
and PBeM tournaments.
Defending champ Kevin Sudy (right)
had to settle for third in 2008 while Steve Simmons took fourth
place laurels. All the laurelists and most of the players were
veterans of many BPA AOR tournaments.
Attendance at Age of Renaissance dropped sharply to
an alltime low 24 competitiors - down 100 players from the height
of its populaity in 1998. Still it clung to a Century seat -
barely. The dedicated Enlightenment mini-con staved off a farewell
performance in 2008 with a showup or else campaign. It appears
such an effort will be required for WBC as well.
Attendance was such that the initial heats were all six-player
games this year, providing the opportunity to relearn how to play
the challenging Hamburg position. Statistically, Genoa seemed
to be the most successful nation averaging 2nd place over all
five preliminary games. Barcelona averaged 3rd place and the
remaining nations hovered around a 4th place average with
Hamburg pulling up the rear as players had less experience with
that difficult nation
While attendance was low, entertainment was high as the laughter
was frequently shared at and between tables. There were frequent
calls for the 'Rat Inspector' as Black Death appeared and the
seeds of Religion sprouted Holy Indulgences and Cathedrals throughout
the land. A few more colorful statements shall not be posted
to protect the innocent and not insult the Greeks.
Games were running longer than the expected 5 hours and one
particularly slow game barely got into deck III before running
into the time limit. There were few truly exceptional moments
but I have nominated Ted Simmons for the Good Sportsmanship award
for taking it in the teeth on Turn 2 with a 6-1 War loss which
wiped out his entire presence. Ted stoically remained engaged
in the game and spent turn after turn of bad dice rolls reclaiming
his territory with nary a whine. I hope his great example inspires
other players in future events.
The Final was a real knockdown dragout fight among the qualifiers:
Jeff Mullet, Steve Simmons, Ted Simmons, Mark Smith, and Kevin
Sudy. How Jeff qualified without a last name beginning with S
is a mystery. Tough negotiations started almost immediately.
A Turn 2 Crusades play by the elder Simmons as London and the
leader factory coming from the junior Simmons' Genoese soon had
everyone taking bets which Simmons would win.
As the morning progressed, the group proceeded in an unusually
card hoarding, product targeting fashion. An exciting end game
was made possible by a timely shortage card and a whopping 26
cards remaining for final card play. The last turn saw each
nation picking its target commodities with London in Spice and
Gold, Paris in Silk, Genoa in Cloth and Grain, and a very subtle
Barcelona in Metal.
Mark Smith's Venice made a valiant attempt to make everyone
miserable with the classic Enlightened Ruler end game, but it
was not enough to elevate him out of fifth place. Crusader Steve
Simmons' London was one of the last nations to buy Seaworthy,
and despite his portfolio of high value commodities was only
able to squeak by into fourth place. The titans of the turn seemed
to be Kevin Sudy's Paris vs. Ted Simmons' Genoa, each with a
major lead in advances, having totals somewhere in the 1200 bracket
while all three of the other contenders had 960! But it
was the deft negotiations (or that is what he'd prefer it be
called) of Barcelona and a stealthy payout of metal resulting
in a $500+ ending cash which ultimately brought Jeff Mullet a
1st place win. A very shocked and surprised Ted Simmons came
in second, followed closely by arch rival Kevin Sudy.