Surviving the Sophomore Slump
Joe Lux, Rich Atwater and Charley
Hickok roll through the ages. The event is unique in being primarily
composed of 3-player games as well as being long.
Tom Cannon and Philip Yaure study
the evolution of civilization. And they say wargames are too
complicated! There are nuclear reactors with less controls.
Everyone warned of the "sophomore slump" - attendance
can drop quite radically after a game's debut, and due to format
changes we had to start yet earlier in the weekend. So
imagine my surprise when 32 players appeared, 20 playing in both
heats. The expanded time slot (6-hour heats/SF, 8-hour
Final) worked well as no games had to be adjudicated. The
highest scorer in the heats was Tom Cannon with 267 points, and
the closest game was where newbie Doug Gallulo slipped by defending
champion Jason Ley by two points (who evidently taught the game
to his opponent too well.) 18 tables in the heats
produced 13 winners - five double winners (Tom Cannon, Rob Flowers,
Michael Rogozinski, Joel Lytle, and GM Raphael Lehrer) and eight
single winners (Tedd Mullaley, Joe Lux, Doug Galullo, Brian Hanechak,
John Haba, Jason Ley, Rich Atwater, and Charles Hickock). In
a reversal from last year, where the semi-final was poorly attended
due to a conflict with Paths of Glory, all of the winners
arrived for a semi-final round in which there were only 12 slots. While
Jason Ley was #13, Brian generously volunteered to give up his
spot, allowing Jason to advance. Interestingly, while
all three of last year's finalists played in this year's tournament,
only Jason advanced to the semi-final.
The semi-final consisted of four three-player games leading to
a four-player Final. By luck of the draw, three of
the five double winners were matched together. That
game saw Raphael defeat John and Tom 236-169-127. The
other two double winners each won their respective tables - Joel
over Mike and Doug 204-159-134, and Rob over Jason and Tedd in
a tiebreak 157-157-81. The fourth semi-final was won
by Joe over Rich and Charles 157-144-130.
The Final was a fascinating game, well played by all. Age
I was a fairly balanced affair. Joe led the pack in
culture (VPs) with 22 - everyone else had 12 or less - due to
Homer, the Hanging Gardens, and the Great Wall, and was leading
in strength (12 vs 7-10), but only produced one science/turn
and had only developed the Code of Laws. Rob had the
scientific and technical lead, producing four science/turn and
being the only one who had developed Iron, with Caesar and Pyramids. Joel
was well set up for gaining culture in Age II, having built St.
Peter's and taken Michaelangelo to replace Moses. Raphael
was the only non-despot, having done a revolution to Monarchy,
and had gotten the only colony in the game so far (Inhabited
I) due to the Colossus and Aristotle. By the end of
Age II, some differences had emerged. Rob continued
to be the scientific leader, producing a powerful 7 science per
turn and having an extraordinary number of civil actions due
to his revolution to a Republic and Isaac Newton, but was beind
in culture (18 vs. Joel's 43, Joe's 39, and Raphael's 30). Raphael
had used Columbus to grab a Developed II colony and then promptly
killed him off in favor of Napoleon, making him the strength
leader (19 vs 12-13), but the "arms race" was well-attended
to by all players so he was unable to take advantage with any
successful aggressions or wars. (Napoleon was still
quite useful, allowing him to spend far less to stay ahead in
the arms race.) He was also the stone leader, having
developed coal and producing eight stone/turn (vs. 3-4). Joel's
infrastructure had progressed substantially, having developed
iron and selective breeding, and he was the first to develop
a library (Journalism) setting him up well for Age III, though
he was still a despot. Joe went through Age II leaderless,
and his low-science strategy was beginning to show signs of strain. He
had only developed three technologies (code of laws, swordsmen,
and irrigation) to Rob's nine, Raphael's seven, and Joel's six,
and despite the Great Wall, had to devote most of his resources
to keeping up in the arms race.
As is usually the case, the first two ages were basically setup
for Age III, where most of the action took place. Raphael
went stone-crazy, sacrificing much of his army to gain the Wealthy
II colony and promptly replacing Napoleon with Ghandi to allow
him to fall behind on the arms race. He put the stone
advantage towards finishing the Eiffel Tower and building three
multimedia libraries - which led him to produce a powerful 20
culture/turn and 13 science/turn before rebuilding his army. Rob
began to focus on culture as well, combining Sid Meier ("Game
Designer" in the 2nd edition) with three computers
to generate 15 culture/turn and 12 science/turn, and ended up
being the only player to build a valuable Age III wonder (space
flight). Joel focused on strength, using Robespierre
to minimize the disruption of a Communist revolution and following
him up with Chruchill to develop armies more quickly. Thanks
to an effective airforce that provided cover to his modern infantry
and knights, and a healthy dose of pro sports, Joel had strength
of 42 by the endgame (vs. Raphael's 31, Rob's 24, and Joe's 20). Joe
was able to build his science by developing journalism, which
then let him become a Constitutional Monarch and develop Mechanized
Agriculture, but by the end of the game was still producing Bronze,
a serious handicap. Before the final event scoring,
the scores were Raphael 122, Rob 100, Joe 91, and Joel 77. The
events (strength, agriculture, competition, architecture, population,
and technology) largely favored Joel as he took home 74 points
compared to Raphael's 47, Joe's 40, and Rob's 36, enough to catapult
him into 2nd place. Final scores were Raphael
179, Joel 151, Rob 144, and Joe 131.
For those who like statistics we present the following awards:
Most popular leaders: Einstein 17 (out of 23
games), Aristotle 14, Caesar 14. Honorable mentions
to Columbus 10 and Newton 11 as the most popular Age I and II
Least popular leaders: Ghengis 0, Friedrich 1, Joan of
Arc 2. Dishonorable mentions to Alexander 4, Shakespeare
3, and Elvis 4 as the least popular leaders of Age A, II, and
Winning leaders (by percentage): Napoleon 8/10, Bill Gates
4/5, Columbus 6/10.
Winning leaders (by number of wins): Einstein 9/17, Napoleon
8/10, Caesar 7/14.
Losing leaders: Newton 0/11, Churchill 0/5, Alexander
0/4, Elvis 0/4, Shakespeare 0/3, Joan of Arc 0/2, Friedrich 0/1.
Most popular wonders: Pyramids 18, Transcontinental
Railroad 17, Hanging Gardens 15. Honorable mention
to St. Peter's 9 and First Space Flight 10 as the most popular
Age I/III wonders.
Least popular wonders: Hollywood 1, Kremlin
2, Internet 3. Dishonorable mentions to Library of
Alexandria 8 and Taj Mahal 5 as the least popular Age A/I wonders.
Winning wonders (by percentage): First Space
Flight (7/10), Internet (2/3), Great Wall (3/5). Honorable
mentions to Colossus (5/10) and Eiffel Tower (7/12) as the best
Age I/II wonders.
Winning wonders (by number of wins): Transcontinentla
Railroad (9/17), First Space Flight (7/10), Eiffel Tower (7/12).
Losing wonders: Taj Mahal (0/5), Kremlin (0/2),
Hollywood (0/1). Dishonorable mentions to Library
of Alexandria (1/8) as the worst Age A wonder and Univ. Carolinas
(1/6) and Ocean Liner (1/6) as surprisingly poor performers.
Most popular governments: Constitutional Monarchy
25, Republic 16, Monarchy 8.
Least popular governments: Communism 1, Theocracy
5, Fundamentalism 5.
Most effective governments (by percentage): Democracy
(3/6), Constitutional Monarchy (11/25), Fundamentalism (2/5).
Least effective governments: Communism (0/1),
Theocracy (1/5), Republic (2/9).
I would like to thank Assistant GM Jason Ley, as well as Tom
Browne and Tom McCorry who offered to provide rulings during
Kaarin Engelmann, Joe Yaure and Michael
Amelia Engelmann, Tedd Mullally and