Sudden Death House Rule
An early heat is hotly contested.
The finalists gather on Sunday.
This year's gathering attracted old and new friends, including
the usual spate of Evingers, to play fast, and, occasionally,
furious hands to see how many, and how quickly, they could sink
one another's ships.The Demo was fun, and introduced the game
to several newbies, including some who owned the game but had
not played it, or had not played it for several years.Once we
got underway in earnest, each table had a mix of 'old salts'
and 'landlubbers'. The latter got much advice on each card play,
always with the caution, "not on Me!"
The 'Two Hand Rule', changing the winning scoring to be that
of the highest after two hands, rather than playing complete
hands to 100 points, was effective in drawing many players to
the Wednesday and Thursday heats. Alas, some of those Winners
did not make it back to the Sunday Final. There were ten tables
(and ten Winners) in the heats, but only seven sat down for the
Final. The three-hour time limit was not endangered at any table.
The other rule modifications, using duplicate Boarding Party
or Refuse Battle cards to enhance chances of boarding and exiting
ships still in port, were readily accepted, and only occasionally,
Sunday's last-chance heat attracted 22 players at four Tables.
Each table had fast action with the winners sweating scant leads.
Tim Hitchings had zero points after the first hand, but won with
58 points in prizes alone (!) in addition to sunk ships in the
second. That table saw Ben Gardner leap out ahead into the cross
hairs with 75 points in the first hand, only to be completely
skunked in the second. So Ben lost to Tim 75 to 77.
All finalists were well aware of the new rule, which had the
lowest score at the end of each hand walk the plank. Three hands
were played, Blair Morgen got zip in the first one and was excused,
while Nick Paciorek had the lowest score, just barely, in the
second, and went home. (Note: This 'Elimination Rule' was designed
to speed play in the Final to aid those needing a swift departure
to make their way home, especially if there are a lot of players,
and it helped. However, I feel that a six-player table is a fairly
fast play, so next year, assuming I'm GM, I'll add a change,
"until there are six players remaining" to the 'Elminiation
Hand limits were jettisoned for the Final so 100 points were
needed to win. All the finalists were experienced, so, while
there was lots of advice, it was more in the nature of 'competitive
banter' (AKA Trash Talk) than anything useful. Scoring was slow
in the first hand, the highest being 26 points! The second hand
had saw three players emerge from the pack, separated by four
points (78, 80, 82). So, the third hand, now down to five players,
had too many targets, to rein in all the leaders. The scoring
ballooned in that hand, and the winner determined by card play
in the very last round. Tim Hitchings won to take his first EIS
title and his first WBC double win in 20 years, with a staggering
151 points, leaving David Brooks to ponder how he could score
132 in a game to 100 without winning.
Stephen Squibb, Tim Hitchings and
Nick Paciorek form their lines in the week's last Final.
David Brooks and Bill Peeck do their
"who, me?" impressions while trying to avoid broadsides.