NOT Brad this time ...
Mark McCandless, Tom McCorry and Marc
hatch their nefarious plots.
MarK Neal and Rebecca Hebner eye the
as they program their robots next move.
Ah, the joys of GMing. Once again I find that I am glad I
have chosen a game that is almost as much fun to watch as it
is to play. At least since I offer two heats, I actually get
to play twice each year. Of the 13 people who qualified for the
semi-finals, only nine appeared and by mutual agreement of the
players and myself, we instead held the Final, even though that
meant the game wouldn't be likely to complete before 1 AM (way
past my bedtime these days.)
As pieces were being handed out, I was giving out life markers
(heads). As I handed them to Alex Henning, the only lady to make
the Final this year, I stated off handedly something to the effect
of "for this year's winner". Little did I know how
true those words would ring, nor how much excitement would go
The game started out as my setups typically do, bloodily. Two
robots were killed before the end of the first turn - one by
Crusher, and the other in a pit. And there was the usual level
of damage being administered. Alex got off to the quickest start
touching Flag 1 on Turn 5 with reigning and six-time Champion
Brad Johnson close behind her. Jason Levine was the third to
touch on Turn 6 with the next closest player touching five turns
later. Much of this delay was due to the pushing and shooting
going on in the pack behind the leaders.
Unfortunately for Brad, he managed to get caught up in the
fighting, in particular with his teammate Bill Dyer of the reigning
Team Tournament champs. On Turn 15 Brad's final robot was lost
to a crusher. Thinking his chances of catching the leaders slim,
Bill chose to drop out of the race in favor of an early bedtime
with the long Sunday drive home looming.
Meanwhile Jason and Alex had raced ahead, with Jason overtaking
Alex to touch Flag 2 on Turn 10, with Alex only a turn behind,
but badly damaged. By Flag 3, Jason was three turns ahead of
Alex, and it looked like nothing could stop him. The player in
third place, now Jeff Finkeldey, didn't make Flag 2 until a turn
after Alex got Flag 3.
On Turn 22, Jason, certain that nothing could stop him from
touching Flag 4 and winning the game, put down only two cards
until I advised him to fill in his program. He probably shouldn't
have given his intention away. Ewan McNey, on his way to Flag
3 still took a short detour to mess with the leader. As cards
were flipped, Jason started to pick his cards up, thinking he
had clearly won when he was challenged from across the table
"Put Those Down". By an ingenious use of conveyors,
not only did he manage to push Jason's robot off the final flag,
but he pushed him onto a conveyor which swept Jason into a pit.
Leaving the door open for Alex, our first female champion, to
touch the first flag on Turn 23.
Claiming she was going off to get something to drink, the
champion left the room to, apparently, dance through the halls
of the Host proclaiming her victory to everyone she saw. Meanwhile,
Jason was able to make it from his archive point to the flag
on the following turn despite further attempted interference
from the now closing in field. Despite the efforts of the rest
of the field, the next nearest player, Dan Matthias was still
three turns behind the leaders.
All in all it was a very exciting and highly emotional game.
Jason, ever the gentleman, took his loss very well. Congratulating
Ewan on the spectacular move that cost him what would have been
his first Robo Rally title.
Alexandria Henning, about-to-be-surprised
Jason Levine, and Roderick Lee.
GM Marc Houde and all his finalist
Note Ewan is standing to keep a closer eye on Jason.