through the ages 
Updated 2/5/2012
2011 WBC Report  

   2012 Status: pending 2012 GM commitment
Jason Ley, WA
2011 Champion

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Event History
2008    Jason Ley     39
2009    Raphael Lehrer     32
2010    Randy Buehler     38
2011    Jason Ley     53
 Laurels

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Jason Ley          WA    11    108
  2.  Randy Buehler      WA    11     86
  3.  Joel Lytle         NY    10     54
  4.  Raphael Lehrer     CA    09     52
  5.  Rob Flowers        MD    10     26
  6.  Zvi Mowshowitz     NY    11     24
  7.  David Metzger      NY    08     24
  8.  Alan Sudy          VA    10     20
  9.  Andrew Emerick     CT    11     18
 10.  Eric Brosius       MA    08     16
 11.  Bll Herbst         NY    10     15
 12.  Dominic Duchesne   qc    11     12
 13.  Joe Lux            NJ    09     12
 14.  David des Jardins  CA    08      8
 15.  Charles Hickok     PA    11      6
 16.  Mike Rogozinski    NY    10      5
 17.  Rich Atwater       WA    09      4
 18.  Aran Warszawski    is    08      4

2011 Laurelists                                                Repeating Laurelists 

Randy Buehler, WA
2nd

Zvi Mowshowitz, NY
3rd

Andrew Emerick, CT
4th

Dominic Duchesne, qc
5th

Charles Hickok, PA
6th

Past Champions

Jason Ley, WA
2008, 2011

Raphael Lehrer, CA
2009

Randy Buehler, WA
2010

Civilizations evolve in the Wheatland room during the Pre-Con.

Even our photographer gets to play for a change.

The Memory of Michaelangelo

Through The Ages attendance was up for the third consecutive year and at 53 it actually shattered the previous high-water mark. With quite a few more heat winners than semi-final slots, the competition was fierce on Sunday afternoon and evening as everyone tried to pick up a second win to assure advancement. The five players who managed the feat included all three former champs (Jason Ley, Raphael Lehrer, and Randy Buehler) plus two WBC newcomers who came to the Con specifically to play this game (Mark Globus and Zvi Mowshowitz).

16 players advanced to four 4-player semi-final games and three of the five double winners picked up the third win they needed to make the Final, including defending champion Buehler and 2008 champion Ley. Zvi (who, like Randy, is a member of the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame) dispatched 2009 champ Raphael in his semi and the fourth finalist was yet another newcomer who came specifically to play in this event: Andrew Emerick, whose only heat loss came to Jason but who then beat double-winner Mark Globus in the semi's with a brutal combination of Turn 3 and 4 Enslaves. Andrew is also partially responsible for the recent surge in interest in the game as he runs a very well-attended series of online leagues via the forums on www.boardgaming-online.com.

The opening turns of the Final seemed to favor Randy as he was able to grab both Caesar and Pyramids (arguably the two best Age A cards). Zvi was Aristotle while Andrew went with Alexander and was able to convert his temporary military advantage into a successful early Raid, destroying Zvi's philosopher. Jason didn't have an Age A wonder or leader, but he made up for that by grabbing both Michaelangelo and St. Peter's Basilica relatively early in Age 1. (Here's some foreshadowing: They are just as good of a combo as your knowledge of history might lead you to believe.)

There was a lot of competition for military supremacy throughout the game, beginning with an early Knights from Jason that helped him come out on the good side of an early Foray, giving him the rocks he needed to finish building St Peters. Jason then paired his Knights with the Heavy Cavalry tactic and despite everyone scrambling to try to get ahead of him, Jason continued to have the strongest army throughout the first half of the game.

By the end of Age 1 Jason's strategy was clear: he skimped heavily on infrastructure (upgrading neither his rocks nor his science), but instead invested heavily in Michaelangelo. On his first turn of Age 2 Jason drafted Organized religion, played it, and upgraded a Religioner work to give him six happy faces (thanks to St Pete's) that were generating 12 culture per turn - dramatically more than anyone else at the table.

The Michaelangelo strategy can be very powerful, but it can also be a bit tricky to pull off. Since so many early resources are going into culture generation instead of infrastructure, the Michaelangelo player often falls behind on military and gets brutalized in the late game by the other players. However, with Heavy Cavalry in play, Jason avoided this fate by cranking out a steady stream of Knights. The one aspect of his infrastructure that he did improve in Age 1 was his food, with Irrigation providing him enough workers that he could build not one, not two, but three different Heavy Cavs (yes, nine total Knights) by the early stages of Age 3. In addition, Jason did manage to acquire both Coal and Scientific Method at opportune times during Age 2.

By the end of Age 2 (which is when Michaelangelo finally becomes obsolete and dies) Jason had a lead of well over 50 culture and the other players began conspiring to try to find a chink in his armor. Zvi took Napoleon and made a valiant attempt to build a big enough army to threaten Jason with a culture war, but he was stuck on Fighting Band as his tactic for quite a while. The one piece of Jason's infrastructure that he did not manage to improve during Age 2 was his government. Randy and Zvi grabbed the two available copies of Constitutional Monarchy (generally considered by far the best government) and each of them also "counter-drafted" a copy of Republic so that Jason was still a Despot going into Age 3. Randy was actually prepared to take away a Democracy early in Age 3 as well, but Zvi seeded an event that flipped up the International Agreement, which gives the strongest player (still Jason and his nine Knights at that point) the ability to draft five points worth of cards. With Robespierre already in hand and exactly eight bulbs available to spend, Jason was able to grab the Democracy and then immediately revolt to it on his next turn, giving himself a ton of actions. At that point the game began to resemble a battle for second place and when Jason grabbed Gandhi as his Age 3 leader that pretty much clinched things for him.

The Age 3 and 4 battle for the rest of the wood was fairly intense. Zvi continued with his efforts to build a huge army while Randy devoted more of his infrastructure to culture and spent just enough on military to make sure he didn't get whacked. Andrew had been steadily falling farther behind due to his failure to upgrade his government (splash damage from Zvi and Randy's counter-drafting), but near the end of Age 3 he thought he saw an opportunity where he could grab an Air Force and win a Holy War against Zvi. He was correct in that Age 4 would begin (and Napoleon would die) before the war resolved, however he mis-read Zvi's board and it turned out that Zvi actually had enough rock to build a second Entrenchments and win the war.

That's when things got really weird. The players (and GM) had all agreed that take backs were allowed as long as no new information had been revealed. So, for example, it was ok to step through all the actions of your turn, change your mind, back up, and instead spend those actions in another way. After Zvi built that Entrenchments everyone realized that Andrew's War had just been a mistake as he was clearly going to lose his own war. Randy was faced with the decision of what to do on his own turn, and he had a Culture War in hand that could potentially resolve after all the carnage from Andrew's Holy War devastated both Zvi and Andrew. (It would not yet be the final orbit when the Holy War resolved so both players could (and very likely would) sacrifice their armies in an attempt to win the war.) Randy first pointed his culture war at Zvi, hoping that maybe he could steal enough culture from a deleted army to make a run at catching Jason. However, after talking through all the math out loud (helped by some friendly table talk), Randy realized that Andrew's war was so badly aimed that Zvi did not in fact even need to sacrifice everything to win it and could instead save enough troops to rebuild and probably even win the war versus Randy as well. Thus Randy took back the war declaration and instead pointed his Culture War at Andrew, knowing that this would give Andrew the ability to use TTA's 'honorable withdraw' rule and bow out of the game before his war with Zvi gave Zvi a bunch of free victory points. Andrew did exactly that and when all the dust settled none of the places were particularly close:

WINNER: Jason Ley - 208 points

2nd: Randy Buehler - 149 (failing to win for the first time in eight WBC games of AGE)

3rd: Zvi Mowshowitz ­ 96

4th: Andrew Emerick ­ (resigned)

It's likely that the places would have been unchanged even without that late take-back, but the place and show positions would have been much closer. Mostly, though, the story of the game was Jason piloting a high variance strategy flawlessly, building up a huge culture lead early via Michaelangelo, and doing everything he needed to do to hold onto all that culture despite having a bull's eye on his forehead for most of the game.

Congratulations to Jason Ley, the first two-time Through The Ages world champion!

2008 champion Jason Ley battles Jason Levine and Rob Flowers.

GM Raphael Lehrer records the Final with his trusty Mac.
 GM      Randy Buehler (1st Year)  NA 
    NA   NA

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