North of the Border
Nathalie Malenfont was the lone lady
in the field, but as a Canadian she was far from alone - giving
Jon Anderson and his friends from the lower 48 all they could
Age of Steam
has remained the property of Canada - or more specifically, Quebec
- since its debut. No other region has so dominated a game at
My pappy told me never to start a snowball fight with eskimos,
and by the same logic I'm beginning to suspect I shouldn't challenge
anybody from Quebec to a game of Age of Steam! It has been many
years since I was in school, but I think I'm going to have to
brush up on my high school French classes if I want to follow
my finalists' conversation. Once again, three of the four
finalists were from Quebec, making this the fifth year
that the majority of the finalists were French Canadians.
The first heat had 32 participants in eight 4-player games using
four different maps. Five were played on the Rust Belt
map that comes with the game. The closest game of the event
occurred in this heat with Mario Veillette tying Ben Stephenson
and winning on the fewer loan tiebreaker. In another nail
biter on this map, Richard Irving, the lone American champion,
defeated Kevin Wojtaszcyk by one point. Other Rust Belt
winners were Marc-Andre Imbeault, Ilan Woll and Bruce Hodgins.
On the Western U.S. map, defending champion Pierre Paquet defeated
Chris Palermo by five points. Two-time champion Martin
Sasseville won easily on the India map. In the
final game of this heat, Jesse Dean also had a relatively easy
victory on the Germany map.
We saw a big increase in players staying for the second heat
this year with 22 players (up from 14) in five different games.
Ben Stephenson won a 5-player game on the Germany map
by three points over Cody Sandifer. Michael Holmquist won
a 5-player Rust Belt game and John Karr took a very close 4-player
Rust Belt contest with Ryan Sturm and Jack Stalica just one and
two points off the pace. Dave Metheny won a South
Africa game handily while the other game on that map saw Jon
Anderson top Brad Keen and Dan Tekely by one and two points respectively
for their tickets to the semi-final.
13 players qualified to advance, but schedule conflicts claimed
one so we had three 4-player games in the semi-final with the
top runner-up joining the three victors at the Final. The
Rust Belt map was chosen and the games instantly became more
ruthless with the first two bankruptcies of the tournament
occuring in this round in the same game. In that bloodbath,
Pierre Paquet defeated Bruce Hodges by the largest margin of
the week (38 points) to reach the Final for the fifth year in
a row. The second game had Marc-Andre Imbeault defeat Mario
Veillette by four points for his first Final appearance.
The third game turned out to be the closest of the tournament
with scores of 81, 80, 79 and 77. John Karr managed the
victory by taking only seven loans compared to 14 and 15 for
the other players to overcome a huge income deficit. Martin
Sasseville finished second in this game to also qualify for the
Final for his fifth year in a row. Michael Holmquist and
Jesse Dean were the other close competitors in this game.
Again the players chose the Rust Belt map for the next round.
The players were conservative at the start with Martin issuing
two shares followed by Marc-Andre issuing the same number.
Then John did not issue any shares and Pierre issued one.
The bidding for Turn Order was also subdued with the first turn
going for only $2. Surprisingly, no one took the Locomotive
action with Marc-Andre starting by taking Urbanization, Martin
choosing Engineer next, Pierre opting for First Build and John
grabbing the Pass (Turn Order) action. Pierre made
the first build from Evansville to Cincinnati going
through Indianapolis and having a spur headed toward Chicago from Indianapolis.
Marc-Andre followed by placing a black city tile in Cleveland and
then building from Wheeling to Pittsburgh
to Cleveland. Martin built from St. Louis to Chicago through Springfield and
having a spur started from Springfield to Evansville.
Finally, John built from Chicago to the town in Michigan
City and continued on toward Detroit. Marc-Andre,
Martin and Pierre all used their first goods delivery
turns to upgrade to a 2-locomotive and then did a 2-good run
on their own tracks with the second delivery turn while John
passed on both delivery turns.
With cash very tight after the first turn, the game opened up
somewhat on the second turn. Marc-Andre and Pierre each
issued two shares while Martin and John issued three. The
bidding for Turn Order also opened up as John won the bid for
$5 and Pierre took second for $4. John improved
his Locomotive this turn, Pierre chose Urbanization, Martin took
the Engineer again and then Marc-Andre took the Production action.
John built only two tracks to finish the connection from Michigan
City to Detroit setting himself up for a couple
of goods deliveries. Pierre quashed this hope,
however, by upgradingMichigan City with the red city tile
stopping John's planned runs earlier than planned. Pierre then
built track from Indianapolis to Michigan City,
making a very impressive tile lay by using a tile with two disconnected
gentle curves to complete the build into Michigan City while
also setting up a second link out of Michigan City with
another tile lay. Martin built from St. Louis to Kansas
City abandoning his spur out of Springfield and
Marc-Andre built from Wheeling to Cincinnati.
John only managed two $1 income runs this turn putting him into
a cash bind that lasted the remainder of the game. Pierre made
a run for 2 income then improved his locomotive while both Martin
and Marc-Andre improved theirs and made deliveries for 3 income.
In the Income Phase, Pierre took a $1 income reduction
because he could not pay his expenses.
In Turn 3, players still took huge loans with John and Martin
issuing two shares apiece while Pierre and Marc-Andre
went for three. Marc-Andre bid $5 to go first this turn
and Pierre paid $4 to go second. Marc-Andre chose
Urbanization, Pierre improved his Locomotive, John
went for the Turn Order option and Martin took Engineering for
the third turn in a row. Marc-Andre placed the purple city
tile in Buffalo, then built from Cleveland to Buffalo and
started track from Detroit to Toronto. Pierre built
from Michigan City to Evansville through Terra
Haute and leaving a spur from Terra Haute southwest. John
then built from Toronto to Buffalo, leaving him and
Marc-Andre with track intermingled for making runs in the future.
Finally Martin built from Chicago and Des Moines toward Rock
Island and also started track out of Kansas City.
Marc-Andre made two deliveries for a total of 5 more income. Pierre completed
a 4-income delivery and with his second delivery, he ran over
three links giving Marc-Andre an additional 1 income to push
Marc-Andre to 11 income causing income reduction that turn.
John could only manage two more 1-income deliveries and Martin
made a 3-income delivery and increased his locomotive.
When expenses had to be paid, John took a 2 income hit leaving
his income at $2 with everyone else at 8 or 9.
On Turn 4, Marc-Andre issued only one share while the others
issued three each. The bidding for Turn Order was furious
as Marc-Andre started the bidding at 4 and Martin taking the
bid at 9 with Marc-Andre dropping out at 6 for second choice.
Martin increased his Locomotive this turn and Pierre took
the Engineer. Martin connected Chicago and Des
Moines by building a connector in Rock Island and
he also built Kansas City to Des Moines.
Marc-Andre upgraded Lexington with a black city tile
and built to Lexington from Cincinnati and
completed the connection from Detroit to Toronto.
John built a crossing to connect Detroit and Cleveland while Pierre also
made a connection between Lexington and Cincinnati,
finished the link from Terra Haute to Springfield and
started track from Lexington to Evansville.
Martin ran two deliveries for 5 income each, while everyone else
used their first run to increase their locomotives. Then
Marc-Andre and John made deliveries for 3 income while Pierre ran
a delivery for 5 income. Marc-Andre had income of 12 and
took a 2 income reduction for expenses, which allowed him to
avoid the income reduction in the next phase. John took
a 1 income reduction for this turn and Martin, with income of
18, showed a net profit of $1 dollar after expenses.
However, Martin was not satisfied with his small profit and still
issued two shares the next turn as did Marc-Andre. Pierre
and John both issued one share for the turn. Martin opened
the bidding for first player at 4 and won easily as no one else
bid. In selecting actions, Pierre increased his
locomotive to have the first 6-link train. Marc-Andre took
first build and started building track for future considerations.
Martin placed the yellow city tile in Milwaukee, built from
Chicago to Milwaukee and built track for the future.
John started building from Milwaukee to LaCrosse (only two
segments) and Pierre completed his link from Lexington to Evansville and
started track for the future. Martin ran two more runs
that gave him 5 income each, Pierre completed two runs for 4
income each, while John only managed two runs that gave him 2
income each and 1 income to other players (once Martin and once
Marc-Andre). Everyone but John turned a net profit while
John ended up with 4 income reduction due to expenses.
Martin's income was great enough at this point that he could
stop taking loans while Pierre issued one more share
and the others issued two. Martin tried his 4 bid for first
player again, but Marc-Andre bid 5 to take first player.
Marc-Andre chose the Urbanization action, John increased his
Locomotive and Martin chose First Build, which he used to complete
links from Milwaukee to Rock Island and Milwaukee to Minneapolis.
Marc-Andre placed a black city tile in Toledo to complete
a link from Cincinnati to Toledo and build
more incomplete links for the future. John completed a
link from Milwaukee to Minneapolis via LaCrosse
for his build and Pierre upgraded the town tile in Springfield to
complete a link between St. Louis and Springfield and
started building from Evansville toward St. Louis.
Both Marc-Andre and John used one of their deliveries to increase
their locomotives while Martin and Pierre both completed delivery
runs that increased their incomes by 5 each with Martin getting
1 from one of Pierre's deliveries as well. John took
a $7 income reduction this turn putting his income at 1.
Marc-Andre issued one share this turn and John issued two, maxing
out the loans available to both of them. Martin bid 4 to
go first and chose to maximize his locomotive with his action.
John took First Move for the first time that action had been
chosen in the game. Pierre used Urbanization
to upgrade Springfield with a black city tile and
built track to complete the link between Evansville and St.
Louis and then built a link from Springfield to
Rock Island. John didn't build any track this turn and
Marc-Andre added track to Fort Wayne to complete a
link from Cleveland to Fort Wayne. Martin
managed to make two delivery runs that increased his income by
6 per run. Martin made a $24 net profit on this turn while
John still was experiencing income reduction, this time of $4.
Martin started the final bidding at 2, Pierre upped it to 3,
and Martin and Pierre kept increasing the bid until Martin won
the bid at 6. Pierre took the Locomotive again even
though he already had a 6-link locomotive, just to keep it from
the others. Marc-Andre made his last build from Minneapolis to Duluth using
three tracks, Martin urbanized Indianapolis with the last
city tile (the blue tile) and completed his link from Minneapolis to Des
Moines and Pierre built from Toledo to Grand
Rapids while John skipped building. John then upgraded
his locomotive to a 6-link train on his first delivery and ran
his second delivery for $5 to himself and $1 to Martin.
However, this wasn't enough and John went bankrupt at the end
of the turn. Martin's two deliveries generated $6 each
for him, Marc-Andre's runs generated $5 each for him and Pierre's
runs generated $4 each for him plus $1 for Martin on one of the
At the end, Martin had income of 41, 14 loans issued and 27 track
segments for a final score of 108 points for his third championship
in the past four years. Pierre finished second again
with income of 30, 13 loans and 26 tracks for a score of 77.
Marc-Andre had a score of 67 from 29 income, 15 loans and 25
tracks. John had 15 track segments on the board when he
Pierre mentioned that he was impressed by the improvement
in competition and that he and Martin had to step up their games
n order to advance this year. John Karr's performance was especially
impressive in that he had only played twice before the tournament,
although his lack of experience did show in the Final as he left
himself vulnerable a couple of times and got hit hard as a consequence.
I will again be limiting the number of tracks available in each
heat as I have done for the past two years. If you have
a track that you really would like to see included, please let
me know by email by June 30, 2010. I will be making my
final selections by that time, although I will have started considering
which tracks to include much earlier than that.
Ryan Sturm and Jack Stalica stand
for a better
view of the action during the qualifying rounds.
Hey! - who let the Yank in? John Karr
is the only non-resident of Quebec at the Final.