It's not Over till its Over ...
Alex Bove and Greg Thatcher are frequent
Eric Freeman gets a kick out of Dan
Eppolito's Combat Goa.
33 players explored Goa this year, giving us 11 tables
in two heats and 15 games total. Although it wasn't a record,
attendance was low enough to drop it out of the Century for the
first time. Overall, margins of victory were a bit wider this
year, though one game resulted in a 48-48 tie between former
finalists Raphael Lehrer and Rod Spade (Rod had the edge in ducats,
25-24, to break the tie). Among winners, the highest score was
57 (by Alex Bove) and the lowest was 44 (Sceadeau D'Tela).
A lot of ink has been spilled in strategy forums over the
perceived dominance of the card/spice track combination, but
tournament players know that Goa offers many paths to
victory. Nine winners advanced both cards and spices to the bottom
level, but nine non-winners did the same. While cards and spices
together did not necessarily equal victory, cards were still
very important: 13 of 15 winners advanced that track all the
way (but so did 20 non-winners - cards are indeed a focal point
of many Goa strategies!). Three winners reached the bottom
of the colonist track, two maxed out the ship track, and one
made the rare trip to the end of the tax track.
The player who finished with the most money won five games
(as opposed to 11 last year), and the player who started with
the flag won only twice (compared to seven times last year).
Founding all four colonies was very important as only two players
won while founding fewer than four.
The two heats produced only nine winners, so three alternates
advanced to a 12-player semi-final. In order to ensure a 4-player
Final, we played three 4-player games and advanced three winners
and the best runner-up (by percentage of the winner's score).
The three semi-final winners were Daniel Eppolito, Chris Trimmer,
and Andy Gerb. Defending champ Alex Bove and Rich Meyer both
lost by two points, but Alex's second was one point higher than
Rich's, keeping his title defense alive. Rich took fifth place
laurels, and Rod Spade added some more laurels to his Goa collection
by finishing sixth.
The Final featured two former champions (Alex and Chris),
a former finalist (Daniel) and a Euroquest finalist (Andy). Daniel
raced down the expedition card track early, getting to the bottom
at the end of Round 3 and prompting everyone at the table, including
Daniel, to think that this might be a runaway. Andy failed twice
on early colony attempts and fell behind. Alex decided to push
the spice track first before switching to cards in mid-game.
Chris pursued his proven strategy of even development and solid
money-management in the auction.
Phase B saw Andy get to the bottom of the ship and colonist
tracks while Daniel pushed spices and colonists to the bottom.
Alex maxed out spices and cards, while Chris was unable to get
any track all the way down. Daniel's multiple card drawing actions
gained him free boats and spices, but he was short on money and
colonists: he was the only finalist who was unable to found all
four colonies. Andy developed his board beautifully - scoring
32 points - but ran low on money for the all-important final
auctions and failed to accumulate enough cards to score big in
that important category. Andy was also the only player not to
finish the game with a scoring tile. Chris scored 10 points from
cards and tiles to help balance his deficit in board development,
but his early money edge never turned into late-game points.
Alex managed to take seven actions in Round 7 and was able to
overtake Andy and close the gap between himself and Daniel. In
the end, Alex pulled out the win (51 points) with Daniel close
behind (47), followed by Andy (44) and Chris (41).
Stephen Scott takes a break from the Sun God heats to join the
Fnalists Eppolito, Bove, Gerb and
Trimmer celebrate their soon-to-be-won laurels.