Less Fliers in the Friendly Skies
Virginia Melton and the Koleszars
look to stop Max Jamelli's Fare Wars push.
Ken Rothstein on his way to victory
over Patrick Shea, Jessica Crandell and Virginia Melton.
Air Baron was published about 15 years ago, shortly
before Avalon Hill's demise. It has never been republished by
Hasbro, nor has any other publisher ventured to do so. As a result,
affordable copies are hard to find, making it difficult to expand
the player base. Every year, the tournament's numbers drop, as
we lose more people to the lure of the latest games than we attract
in new players. In 2010, we reached our nadir with 57 entrants
playing in four heats to populate a 25-player semi-final and
a 5-player Final.
This year, we added a novice table at each heat, where new
players could learn in an unpressured environment. Most players
at the regular tables were more than happy to answer questions,
give advice or strategy tips to anyone who asked for help, novice
or not. The vast majority of our players love the game, and are
more than willing to share that enthusiasm with others.
Our five finalists are a case in point: experienced (including
two previous champions), knowledgeable, serious competitors who
nonetheless are willing to offer sound advice to advance the
play of the game. The Final was a wonderful example of just how
good the game can be when it's played right, and Lady Luck doesn't
get too involved.
The five finalists were 2006 champ Brandon Bernard, Matt Fagan,
Scott Fenn, Bob Jamelli, and 1999 champ Ken Rothstein. With a
banker's roll of "4," money was not a problem for the
first round. Our intrepid finalists started their empires in
Nashville, San Diego, Memphis, Orlando, and Pittsburgh. Only
San Diego and Pittsburgh would remain with their original buyers
Matt controlled Miami and Atlanta for most of the game, and
dominated New York for awhile. His tenacious defense of his New
York spokes finally gave way when his dice turned cold, and he
finished in fifth place with $137 cash and market share.
Bob was able to secure the left coast early and held off all
challengers, but wasn't able to push eastward far enough to help
his position. He finished fourth with a $193 total.
Brandon took the only loan of the game but the maximum loan
available was just $10. He parlayed that into $160 market share
before the only Fuel Hike draw of the night cost him half of
his spokes. Nevertheless, he recovered to control DFW and Houston,
while dominating Phoenix and Atlanta, with three undeployed Jumbos
in waiting for the next opportunity which never came. He finsihed
third with $215.
Scott, a perennial Prez Con Air Baron champ who has
never tasted victory at WBC, took an early cash lead which he
never relinquished. He eventually owned all of Chicago plus Tokyo,
with Jumbos on all spokes except Indianapolis. He also dominated
Denver, and finished in second place with $140 market share and
$121 in cash.
Ken never lost control of Detroit and Washington once he got
them. He held the $3 contract for the last 16 rounds of the game,
and benefitted greatly from Jumbos on Pittsburgh and Boston.
Lady Luck kept her thumb on his dice for most of the game, as
he struggled for round after round to take over all the spokes
in New York. When she finally relented, he quickly gained control
and declared victory with $102 cash and $220 market share.
In retrospect, this was a cash-heavy game. There were 15 Jumbo
Jets (twelve deployed). Everyone had their runs of luck, both
good and bad. All in all, it was a fine example of all the elements
that make Air Baron the great game that it is. It took
him 11 years for the "repeat," but Ken Rothstein drew
even with three others at the top of the Air Baron ratings
with two championships apiece.
We interrupt this game to bring you
news of a trajedy in the skies over Boston. Was it a crash or
just the last hub in a Fare War defense?
GM Henry Richardson oversees his finalists
shortly before Ken Rothstein won his second title to become the
fourth two-time champion.