Staying Power ...
T&T continued to draw triple digits
with only two heats and seems assurred a place at WBC for some
years to come.
Dave Metzger. Ivan Lawson, Rich Meyer,
and Norman Rule deliver the mail in the opening heat.
Sometimes a game that wins the Spiel Des Jahres (the German
"Game of the Year" award for Euro-style games) is popular
for a little while, then vanishes without a trace, but some have
staying power. Thurn and Taxis is proving itself to be
in the latter category. Two years after it won the award and
became a WBC trial event as a last-minute replacement, Thurn
and Taxis is still extremely popular, with an even 100 entrants
in 2008. This is especially impressive considering that the tournament
gathered those100 entrants in only two heats. Excluding the late-night
events, only one other game, Settlers of Catan, has reached
triple-digit attendance without having three or more heats.
With more than 16 players winning a game in the heats, a single
win was not enough to guarantee a slot in the semi-finals. Only
a few players won in both heats, so the deciding factor in determining
who went on to the semi-finals was the GM-specified tie-breaker
of margin of victory. So a few players who won their heat by
a point or two did not qualify for the semis. A quarter-final
is being considered for next year, which would guarantee that
anyone who wins a game in a heat would advance, but quarter-finals
are problematical in four-player games since 64 winners will
almost certainly not be generated, making the preliminary heats
a pointless exercise.
Three of last year's finalists, Andy Latto, Tom De Marco,
and Anne Norton, reached the semi-finals this year. Tom lost
to Andy in the semis, but Anne won her semi-final, so the Final
would include both Andy, the defending champion, and Anne, the
2006 champion and 2007 finalist.
They were joined in the Final by Nick Henning and Bill Murdock.
Nick went first, followed by Anne, Andy, and Bill. The men went
for the all-countries strategy. Andy scored the all-countries
bonus first, followed by Bill and then Anne, netting them 6,
5, and 4 points, respectively. Nick could not get the cards he
wanted, using the administrator to throw away six cards and deal
six new ones three times early in the game. He eventually placed
houses in every city in Bavaria, the only player to do so, earning
the 5-point bonus. Those who say that the administrator is rarely
a good move will be interested to learn that Nick still managed
to come in second after all that card-cycling. But Andy soon
ended the game by being the first player to build his 7 carriage,
ending four points ahead of Nick to defend his championship.
Some grumble that Thurn and Taxis is too luck-dependent,
but the consistent performance of the top players suggests that
skill must play a large part in the game. Not only is there a
repeat champion, but Anne Norton has now made it to the Final
all three years, without losing a tournament game to any player
except two-time champion Andy Latto. Records like that in a 100-player
event rarely happen purely by chance.
Euro Quest Laurelists
Raphael Lehrer, MD
Jim Castonguay, PA
Rob Kircher, RI
Thomas Stokes, NJ
Sean Vessey, VA