Despite Uncontrolled Vampage, Hamel Becomes Godfather...
GM John Pack is the king of WBC promoters
... providing his players with a wide variety of themed extras
such as shirts, framed awards, and souvenir gangster hats, handcuffs,
The extras don't stop there.
Players all get personalized gangster namebadges with their monikers
forevermore. If you've played in John's event, you're in his
directory of mobsters.
Bob "Strings" Hamel avoided being strung up by his fellow mobsters just long enough to capture undisputed domination of the criminal underworld and the right to be called our Godfather at this year's Gangsters World Championships. The competition was intense with 71 criminal overlords attempting to dominate the streets of Chicago. Many of them returned time and again -- refusing to be beaten until the last drop of cement in their new overshoes had hardened.
Gunfire continued late at night around much of downtown. Even when the staccato of Chicago typewriters couldn't be heard, the sweet cajoling of the ladies persuading gang members to switch allegiance filled the night breeze. When morning dawned a mere twenty factions remained.
Affectionately known as "semi-finalists," these gangs didn't ease up on the competition. Even the Cops were running for cover -- finding a donut shop where they could take cover until it was all over. Twenty became five. Hardened street warriors all. No mere drive-by shooting would discourage such from the quest.
But in the end, Strings owned the real estate and the other gangs were looking at bankruptcy, if they were lucky, or a heater wedged in their ribs if they weren't. Congratulations, Strings! OK, coppers, it's safe to come back out (as long as you take bribes from the right guy).
Such are the tales of the 2008 World Gangsters Championship.
But what about the alleged Vampage (pronounced like " rampage")? In 2008, there were more losses to Vamps than ever before (with 8.41 per game). Was it the shirts and badges? The table flags? Or have players finally discovered the power of their lady mobsters? The "Vampage!" was "Gangsters' Ladies Night." It got underway even before the convention as Rolinda "Ma" Collinson, Kaarin "The Enforcer" Engelmann, April "The Ox" Gardner, Ruth "Miss Kitty" Evinger, Aurora "Tasslehoff" Pack, Marie "Da Djinn" Pack, Sharee "Jezebel" Pack, and Mary Ellen "Da Kitten" Powers volunteered to wear custom polo shirts to the each heat they played. Players who came out ahead in the quest for their very own Vampage shirts included Chuck Halberstadt, Andy Gardner, Nick Smith, and Bob Hamel in the first heat; Tony Musella, Thomas Richardson, and Christ Entwistle in the second heat; Michael Wojke, Craig Reece, David Pack, and John Elliott in the third heat; and all heat winners thereafter.
We set about twice as many records this year as last, including carnage from shootouts. Winners took more damage than ever, but they're still taking less damage than everyone else. The stats also show that it's getting harder to win with cash. Although cash prevailed in 60% of the games, it's a far cry from the 84% of 2006. This is the second year in a row that we've set the record for lowest percentage of games won by cash. New records included:
- Most years-in-a-row where the Godfather won using Ten Joints: 2
- Lowest Percentage of Cash Strategy Winners: 60% *
- Highest Percentage of Ten Joints Strategy Winners: 31%
- Highest Average Losses per Player to Enemy Vamps: 2.09
- Highest Average Losses per Game to Enemy Vamps: 8.41
- Highest Median Losses per Game to Enemy Vamps: 8
- Highest Average Losses to Enemy Hits by Game Winners: 2.03 #
- Highest Median Losses to Enemy Hits by Game Winners: 2
- Highest Median Losses per Game to Enemy Hits: 9
- Highest Average Total Losses by Game Winners: 4.1
- Highest Average Total Losses per Player: 4.43
- Highest Percentage of Entrants Playing Just One Game: 52%
- Lowest Percentage of Novice Entrants (0-1 Previous Games): 26%
- Lowest Percentage of Beginner Entrants (2-5 Previous Games): 18%
- Highest Percentage of Skilled Entrants (11-19 Previous Games): 19% #
- Highest Percentage of Players starting with a 4/1/2 gang: 9%
- Highest Winning Percentage starting with a 4/1/2 gang: 42%
- Lowest Percentage of Players starting with a 4/1/3 gang: 4%
- Highest Percentage of Winners initially bought Jaeger's Clothier: 22.86%
- Highest Percentage of Winners initially bought Myrtle's Massage Parlor: 8.57% #
- Lowest Percentage of Winners initially bought Palace Chophouse: 5.71%
- Lowest Percentage of Winners initially bought Serva's Market: 0.0%
# Previous high was set last year
* Previous low was set last year
- Every game had at least four players
- Use of a 2/1/3 Gang (unsuccessfully)
- Back-to-back championships won with Ten Joints
- Only one person was nominated for the sportsmanship award
Notes: 1) No one has ever won a tournament game starting with fewer than four Racketeers or without a Vamp or a Thug (i.e., 4/1/1 is the smallest starting gang that has any chance). 2) The only starting gangs that recorded a victory this year were 4/1/2, 5/1/1, 5/1/2, 5/1/3 (once), and 6/1/1. Those gangs won 42%, 35%, 25%, 9%, and 60% of the games where they were used respectively. That suggests that our better players are using 4/1/2, 5/1/1, or 6/1/1 gangs most often.
Get complete statistics at http://www.gameaholics.com/gsr_wbc/gsr_statistics.htm.
Bob Hamel pulled the right "Strings" to pull off his win with ten joints. He needed to recruit both his Thug and Vamp on the last turn, but he rolled low enough to finish with $200 to spare. This is the second year in a row that the final has been won with ten joints -- a first in tournament history. Last year's winner, Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker, finished in eighth place this year. In fact, none of last year's finalists returned to the big game this year. However, of the finalists only John "Bugs" Elliott was new to the final. Bugs had finished as high as seventh place before. Two former champions returned to the finals -- Nick "Dusk" Henning and Tom "The Mumbler" Richardson. Nick "Slumlord" Smith has appeared in many finals but has yet to claim the top prize.
Here are all of the top twenty-five finishers:
||Name & Moniker
||Bob "Strings" Hamel
||Nick "Dusk" Henning
||Nick "Slumlord" Smith
||John "Bugs" Elliott
||Tom "The Mumbler" Richardson
||John "The Viper" Pack
||Rolinda "Ma" Collinson
||Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker
||Craig "No Cigar" Reece
||Michael "The Infidel" Wojke
||Andy "Scarface" Gardner
||Chuck "Da Joker" Halberstadt
||David "Da Kid" Pack
||Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc
||Tony "Big Tuna" Musella
||David "Wheels" Fritsch
||Chris "Little Red" Entwistle
||Angela "Red Rose" Collinson
||Phillip "Iron" Entwistle
||April "The Ox" Gardner
||Mike "Mickey the Wire" Buccheri
||Jim "The Instigator" Castonguay
||Ernie "Da Provoker" Chambers
||Louis "Coins" Gehring
||Mary Ellen "Da Kitten" Powers
21-25 are the heat winners, alphabetically, who didn't come to the semi-finals. If they'd come, all of them would have been able to play in the semi-final since Gangsters counts each heat entry as an independent single-elimination opportunity. The tie-breakers are listed to give everyone an idea how they work. This is the second year in a row that no alternates have advanced to the semi-final. Before that, at least one alternate had always advanced! Both years exactly 20 heat winners have shown up at the semi-final. How likely is that?
Current AREA ratings include all 2008 results and are available at: https://area.kww.us/area/T_Gangsters.html. The ratings are a pretty good, over-all indication of how one has done over the years with the exception of the GM (because I play in every heat and, therefore, have a lot more early rated games than anyone else). As with all rating systems, recent results tend to have a greater impact on the rating.
2008 Special Awards
Cement Overshoes Sportsmanship Award – This year there was only one nominee for the Cement Overshoes. Thankfully, it was a good one! Nonetheless, I encourage each of you to make note of any good sportsmanship, funny comments, or other notable occurrences during your games on the back of your player chit. That's the only way I can honor the right players and make this newsletter fun to read.
On his way to the bottom of Lake Michigan with his new pair of Cement Overshoes is Jordan "Preacher" Halberstadt. The Preacher went out of his way throughout an entire heat to ensure a first-time Gangster had a good experience -- even though his help was often detrimental to his own position. This was Jordan's first nomination for this award. I appreciate both the person who nominated Jordan as well as Preacher's welcoming play. His sportsmanship is the kind of thing that will ensure that the new players comes back for another try on the streets of Chicago next year. Thanks, Preacher!
Junior Godfather Award - Speaking of novices, this year there were 18 Gangsters with zero or one prior games of experience. Four of them won games in the heats -- Craig "No Cigar" Reece, Chris "Little Red" Entwistle, Phillip "Iron" Entwistle, and Ernie "Da Provoker" Chambers. The first three competed in the semi-final. However, in the semis "old age and treachery" beat "youth and exuberance." The winner of the Junior Godfather Award, therefore, was determined by tie-breakers. We should say it was "close but no cigar." Craig "No Cigar" Reece was our winner -- having completed 90% of his objective by the time his semi-final finished. The winner of that game is lucky it didn't take him another turn or two! Congratulations, No Cigar! Congratulations to Little Red and Iron Entwistle for doing so well as a family in their first showing -- we hope to see you all back in 2009.
"I Think She Likes Me!" Award – After winning this award last year (by losing eight gangsters to Vamps in a single game), I decided to make myself ineligible for the special awards. Apparently, youse guys didn't get the message, since I still lost seven gangsters to Vamps in a single game. Thanks for thinking of me! (And, yes, that game was the semi-final where I finished with $9,900. The same game where Phillip "Iron" Entwistle complained about the Vampage when he finished with a total of six seductions. We'd have done more for you, Iron; you just needed to recruit some more guys for us to seduce!)
This year's winner also lost seven gangsters in a Vampage that she probably had a hand in starting -- because that's her playing style and source of her nickname. Sharee "Jezebel" Pack, my wife, was this year's "ladies' favorite." Congratulations, Jezebel! There were lots of players who lost six mobsters to Vamps this year -- coming up just short. The vamps working for the family business will do their best to help someone else win next year!
Roadkill Award – Game winners suffered more violence from their opponents this year than any previous year for the second year in a row! Interestingly, despite the record carnage levels, the Roadkill winner actually took fewer hits than in many past years. We've had winners take 12 or 15 hits in the past. However, someone in the tournament always takes it in the chin a bit more than everyone else -- usually a good player that everyone else is trying to stop (or else the player who insists on extorting in the Pussycat Club)! This year's winner, Ashley "Angel" Collinson, was no exception. She took nine casualties in a single game. It's tough to have much of a gang left after those kind of losses!
Writing of her game, Angel said, "There was a lot of shooting. I was in the last Purple, owned by Slumlord. Shot it with my last Racketeer, hit, and was promptly shot dead on the spot." Of that game The Head reported, "Angel stopped me from winning by buying the last Blue joint. Slumlord won by defending The Head's Rack Attack on his joint." Angel's game saw the highest total losses to gunfire with 23 total losses. Angel finished with 4 of the 5 Purple joints. There was another game with 22 total casualties, but no player in that game had more than six losses.
This year saw the original winner of the Roadkill award, Dee Ann "Roadkill" Gehring, and her husband, Louis "Coins" Gehring, return to the action. As you might guess, Dee Ann's moniker is not a coincidence. We hope to see them back next year along with their daughter, former Godfather "The Stephmeister."
Barney Fife Memorial Award – This year we inaugurated a new award in keeping with last year's "Year of the Cop" theme. To win, all one has to do is be the first to use Barney Fife (Cop #2) to inflict two losses on a rival gang in a single shootout. This award is unique in that it can be awarded immediately but also in that it may not be awarded at all some years. To kick things off, the retroactive 2007 award was presented to the winner of last year's Robocop shirt who also managed to roll boxcars with Barney -- Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc. Da Spider is one of my multi-year assistants who can always be counted on to peer from under his rumpled green fedora to answer your questions. This year Da Spider used a bribe of Barney to save his Brizelli's Riverside from being raided.
It took until the fourth heat to award this year's Barney Fife Memorial. Who won? None other than last year's Godfather -- Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker. The Head's skill with Barney helped propel him into this year's semi-final as he was able to delay his opponents' plans long enough to collect ten joints. The Head knows that Barney is the thin blue line standing between Chicago and total anarchy (which we define here as "other gangsters winning").
Honorable Mention – The number of unusual occurrences on the streets of Chicago was lower than normal (or at least fewer were written down). But there were still several good candidates for honorable mention:
Jim "The Instigator" Castonguay took seven losses in shootouts and another four losses to lovely ladies during the third heat. The other three players took two losses in shootouts and seven to Vamps between them! The Instigator took more than half of the games' total losses. He hung on and managed to prevail anyway -- winning with a blue monopoly on tie-breakers when time expired (83% complete). There were only three victories by way of a monopoly this year.
The first heat game between Alan "Tick Tock" Arvold, Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc, Gordon "Itchy" Rodgers, and Scott "The Bag Man" Sirianna did everything in three's. The only shootout of the game saw three of the Bag Man's Thugs attack one of Itchy's joints. Result: After three turns, three dead Yellow Thugs. The only recruiting of the game? Three Yellow Thugs to replace the dead. Da Spider lured the x3 Public into the upgraded Downtown Bus Station thrice. The Bag Man bought the Ambassadors' Club three different times after the Cops busted it twice. The end of the game saw Da Spider "forget" to buy a $600 joint and shortly thereafter declare victory with 10 G's. (At least he didn't get away with declaring victory with just $3 G's!) Ripley's Believe It or Not is interested if all of the players were born on March 3rd.
My third heat game with Blair "The Plug" Morgan, Gordon "Itchy" Rodgers, and Rob "Moneybags" Kilroy saw all four Public markers paying out at once. Not only that, but all four continued to pay out turn after turn for some half-dozen turns. They weren't always paying the same gangs -- each turn every gang's top priority was stopping those Public payoffs. But the result was always the same -- the Public moved out of one gang's joint and across the street into the moving gang's establishment. The x1 Public markers paid a lot of dough to their establishments -- since they were always the low priority. As you can probably guess, the winner didn't have ten joints or a monopoly. Everyone had some serious G's.
But the Honorable Mention winners for this year are David "Da Kid" Pack, Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker, and Peter "Numbers" Staab. Their unusual game ended in a three-way tie at the buzzer. Each had seven joints (70% completion). The second tie-breaker determined that Da Kid would qualify for the semi-final with the most assets ($12,400 vs. $7,550 and $6,300 respectively). Keith "Sparkey" Galbraith, the fourth member of the match, playing his first game ever, wasn't far behind the 70% tie -- he had $6,700 in cash (67% completion). More than that, this game set some serious total carnage and vampage records -- with 22 gangsters dying in shoot-outs and another 21 changing hands due to seduction. Numbers wrote, "This was a very bloody and 'loving' game." What a warm welcome for Sparkey! Lest anyone think blood shed will scare Sparkey off, he wrote, "First Time; good game. :-) See ya next round!" That's the spirit!
There were a lot of Gangsters who made the tournament a family business this year -- including Chris "Little Red" and Phillip "Iron" Entwistle. Other mob families that participated were Angela "Red Rose", Ashley "Angel", and Rolinda "Ma" Collinson; Ruth "Miss Kitty" and Tim "Bite the Bullet" Evinger; Andy "Scarface", April "The Ox", and Ben "The Roach" Gardner; Dee Ann "Roadkill" and Louis "Coins" Gehring; Jeff "The Head" and Kevin "The Bag" Hacker; Chuck "Da Joker" and Jordan "Preacher" Halberstadt; Aurora "Tasslehoff", David "Da Kid", Howard "The Dentist", John "The Viper", Marie "Da Djinn", Mirth "Da Pillow", Sharee "Jezebel", and Whitney "The Shy" Pack; and Henry "Teech" and Tom "The Mumbler" Richardson (minus Pat "The Honeymooner" this year). We'd like to see many more enter the family business next year.
Favorite Joints of 2008
SMC Cartage Co. returns to the top ten after a one-year absence. The other long-term favorite that dropped out last year, Taylor's Machine Shop, remains out of favor, languishing in a five-way tie for eleventh place. The bigger news, however, is that the iron grip of the Downtown Bus Station seems to have been broken. The Bus Station is still number one in the cumulative standings (which change very slowly) but drops all the way to a tie for fourth place this year. The share of winners owning the Bus Station at the start of the game dropped 27%.
However, Brzkowski's Imports, which was tied for first place with the Downtown Bus Station last year, drops even more -- plunging to 8th place. The share of winners holding Brzkowski's drops 54%. Lest you start thinking that this is sounding like the stock market, there are also big winners. This year's top dog is the Ambassadors' Club -- moving up from 6th place last year. It's interesting that the other half of the blue one-jump strategy takes first place this year. Brzkowski's fate suggests that other players are still refusing to allow an opponent to own both of these joints (and wisely so)!
Brizelli's Riverside and Greenwood Park were tied for third place last year. This year they're tied for second place. Brizelli's is usually the weaker sister in the green one-jump strategy -- but not this year. Greenwood Park is a favorite add-on to almost any strategy and a cornerstone in the Mean Yellow Middle and Sneak-up-the-Cash strategies.
Here are the joints ranked in this year's top ten:
| 1998-2008 |
| 2007 |
| Overall |
| Trend |
| 31.43% || 25.50% || 6 || 3 || Way UP |
| 28.33% || 3 || 2 || Slightly DOWN |
| 23.51% || 3 || 4 || Slightly UP |
Downtown Bus Station
| 29.75% || 1 || 1 || Way DOWN |
| 22.86% || 9.92% || 10 || 10 || Way Way Way UP |
| 17.28% || 5 || 6 || UP |
| Pussycat Club || 20.00% || 12.46% || 8 || 8 || Way UP |
| 22.10% || 1 || 5 || Way Way DOWN |
| SMC Cartage Co. || 11.43% || 10.48% || 17 || 9 || UP |
| || Cavalry Club || 11.43% || 5.38% || 27 || 18 || Way Way UP |
Cavalry Club makes its first appearance in the Top Ten since 2003. The biggest winner of the year is probably Jaeger's Clothier -- moving up from 10th place to a tie with the Downtown Bus Station for fourth. In 1999, Jaeger's wasn't owned by a single winner. Now our favorite clothier has cracked the all-time Top Ten (a very tough feat as most years see no movement in the over-all rankings at all).
Franklin Hostel remains a rock solid add-on to any joint, yellow, or sneak-up-the-cash strategy -- dropping one notch from last year (but back into it's all-time 6th place slot). Green's loss with the Downtown Bus Station also sees Green add-ons Westgate Hotel and Taylor's Machine Shop lose favor with game winners.
The year's biggest drop may be the Palace Chophouse -- which is out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2000. The all-time 7th place joint drops to a three-way tie for 16th. Perhaps players have figured out that the Palace Chophouse is located in Vamp Central (same as the Pussycat Club, but without the massive one-jump potential). It's a great place to leave (e.g., Vamp jump-off point), but not a great place to be! Fewer winners owned the Palace Chophouse this year than any other year when this data's been collected.
One interesting joint that's not in the Top Ten is Myrtle's Massage Parlor. This year Myrtle's ended in a five-way tie for eleventh. But more importantly, Myrtle's was owned by more winners than ever before. That was true last year too. If that keeps up, we'll be seeing Myrtle's in the Top Ten soon.
For complete coverage of the tournament, see http://www.gameaholics.com/gsr_wbc/gsr_08_yearbook.htm