Still Short of the Mark ...
Tikal celebrated its 11th anniversary as a WBC event,
and based on the turnout, it shows no signs of abating with an
attendance that has stabilized in the 40's ... Or does it? With
15 unique first round games, it seems as if we had 60 people,
but we have not seen 50 in a while and the numbers are a far
cry from its initial popularity. Maybe there are just too many
other choices these days. Still, this report will be broken down
into four distinct areas: Demonstration, Initial Heats and Scheduling,
semi-finals, and Final.
Demo: Let us start with the Demonstration activity, scheduled
just before the first heat on Thursday. Based on the GM's previous
experience, he had limited expectations, looking for a turnout
of perhaps two or three newbies. Imagine his pleasant surprise
when over a dozen people attended, all eager to learn the nuances
of this fascinating strategy game. Hopefully, some of them will
now buy this great game! Tikal, like many Euros, is easy to learn,
but of course, difficult to master.
It comes with four player cheat sheets, which shows everything
a player can do on a simple 3 by 4.5 inch card. No language skills
are required, as there are no words whatsoever on the player
card or the map. In a nutshell, a player places a tile, and then
allocates ten action points in his or her turn as he sees fit
on the map board. Scoring is also simple: In a scoring round,
and there are four of them in the game, each player receives
the usual 10 action points, without the tile placement, and then
they score. The last scoring round is done in reverse score order,
meaning whoever is in last place at the scoring round gets to
go first in the next scoring round, often an advantage.
The monkey wrench in Tikal 2010, like previous years, is that
the bidding rules of the game were used, in which players bid
on the tile they choose to place, some tiles having more perceived
value to one player than another. Bidding provides a bit more
strategy to the game, and also prevents the ubiquitous whining
about poor tile selection. Bidding also allows a player to go
last in one round, and then first in the next, allowing them,
in effect, 20 action points in a row.
Initial Heats and Scheduling There were three heats scheduled
for the game, set for different times and days. With this flexible
scheduling format, anyone who truly wanted to play a game could
get in a heat some point during the always busy WBC week. Social
Tikal should be a 90-minute game, and the GM scheduled two hours
for each of the heats and the semis. With very few exceptions,
all games were, or could have been, finished in under two hours.
The Thursday heat had seven games, Friday five, and the Saturday
heat had just three games, indicative of the dungeonesque location
of the heat. Thursday's heat potentially was a disaster, with
eight players appearing with no games. Let this be your call,
people, that even four-player tournaments need players to bring
their games! Fortunately Mark Smith, a perennial Tikal participant,
was able to secure an additional game and the GM used his second
game. Be forewarned, not all GMs are equipped with an endless
supply of games!
Heats were scored on cards, with each individual disclosing
his or her finish place, ratio to the winner, and reserve pieces
for a tiebreaker. This information would be needed to move on
to the semis.
The semi-finals: With 15 individual heat winners and the GM,
dare I hope for a scheduling miracle in the semi-finals on Saturday
morning? Alas, no - as has been the norm lately, only 12 qualifiers
posted for the semi-final at 11 am. Since Tikal works best as
a 4-player game, it was agreed that three winners would advance
with the best runner-up, providing a single, 4-player Final.
During the semis, the GM did an aggressive job moving the
four scoring rounds along, with two games finishing in under
two hours and the third game ten minutes later. Bill Zurn clobbered
everyone at his table, scoring a 108 to a pair of 96s, with an
80 in fourth place. Winning a semi-final by such a margin is
always quite an accomplishment. Even more convincing was the
win submitted by Kevin Broh-Kahn, who racked up a most impressive
124 to 105-104-93, and incredible 19-point margin of victory.
The third table was much closer, with Daniel Broh-Kahn scoring
only 98, followed closely by Harald Henning with 96, Greg Thatcher
at 92 and Finkeldey at 88. Since that table was the closet of
the three semi-finalists, it made sense to award Greg fifth place
laurels and Jeff sixth.
At the beginning of the Final, the GM was surprised to observe
very passive bidding, which led to a respectable initial scoring
round. As a result, scoring after the first round was extremely
close, with each player within two points of the leader. A narrative
of the Final will not do as much justice as a simple scoring
chart, as shown below.
Final Score Tally
The chart reveals some critical information about how the
game would end. Normally, one would expect a player's score to
increase in each of the four scoring rounds, as each player uncovers
more monuments (possibly capping them) or discovers more treasure.
Harald scored the most points in the first round, but only barely.
In the second round, Harold scored the least, and appeared in
trouble. But by the third volcano, Harold's scoring machine had
kicked into gear, scoring an astonishing 37 points, more than
twice his number after the second volcano. Some inter-family
rivalry had hurt Kevin and Daniel, as father and son battled
it out for a monument at the edge of the board.
By the time the Broh-Kahn clan had reached a détente,
it was too late. Although they were able to start a comeback,
with impressive scoring rounds after the third volcano, it wasn't
enough. Daniel scored eight more points more in the last round
than in the third, as did Bill... but it wasn't enough. Harald
easily scored the most points in the last two rounds, and the
impact of those rounds had already robbedthe Broh-Kahns of any
chance for victory. Harald Henning, no newcomer to this group,
had scored his second Tikal championship.
One might also note the judicious use of victory points as
defined by the over/under for bids, and the points spent on bids
were clearly justified as the final score proves. So the moral
of bidding is: Spend the VPs you need in bidding to get the tiles
you need! Daniel was cheap, with a +9 over-under, and so was
Kevin, at +7. Bill bid way too much, at -5, a surprise considering
how well he did in the semis. But Harald showed the way, bidding
almost exactly what he needed to get the tiles and Turn Order
he needed to win. All in all, Tikal 2010 can be judged
another success, based on both the number of players and the
quality of the competition. We'll see you again at Tikal in