4th Final the charm for another
new champ ...
Tom Demarco poits the way for
The Meyer father & son duo
headline the finalists.
Is Caylus showing its age? The 2011 schedule avoided
the Puerto Rico conflicts from a year ago, but put it
on a collision course with upcomer Egizia. Nonetheless,
the usual familiar faces came out in force, with 12 preliminary
games contested (seven in Heat 1, five in Heat 2). Ten players
participated in both heats.
The 'Point' Track ruled the heats. In the ten games where
the winner's favors were dutifully recorded, seven showed the
winner getting to the fifth level, and two more with the winner
hitting the fourth level. (Only Rich Meyer avoided that track,
likely hitting it once for an end-of-game favor.) By comparison,
the 'Building' track was maxed out in only three games,with the
winner reaching level 2 in a fourth game.
Chris Senhouse netted the high preliminary score of 113 (reaching
Level 4 of the 'Point' track and maxing out the 'Building' track)
while John Rolzin edged his table in a close, low-scoring affair
(68-66-61-61). The two-point margin of victory was the smallest
of the heats, while Ken Horan enjoyed the largest winning margin,
clearing his table by 21. (Lest anyone think he had an easy table,
one of his opponents was 2007 champ Andy Gerb, who would win
his other game to advance.)
No one won both heats, so all 12 victors qualified to advance.
Schedule conflicts claimed four, advancing four alternates in
their place. The last to get in? Jefferson Meyer, who had qualified
for the Final in each of the last three years. This year, he
and Mike Kaltman faced off in Heat 1, each knowing that he could
not play in Heat 2 due to conflicts. Mike won that tussle with
a score of 105 to 93, but Jefferson's percentage as runner-up,
88.6%, edged Heather Spangenburg's 86.1% (earned in a loss to
Keith Layton, 108 to 93). Jefferson would take maximum advantage
of his second chance.
As luck would have it, Jefferson faced Mike again in Round
2. Jefferson fell behind early as Mike raced out to a lead on
the Points track ... but thanks to a number of trips to the Goldmine
and the Building track, he steadily crept back into contention
with a number of stone buildings, finally eclipsing Mike at the
end, 75 to 72. Mike's runner-up percentage, 96%, was enough to
also qualify as the wild card, setting up their third meeting
in the Final. Kevin Walsh's 66, though third in the same game,
was enough as a percentage of first (88%) to earn sixth place
laurels. Jefferson's dad, Rich, fared as well in his game, using
the building track to earn an 81-73-64-51 victory over Andy Gerb,
whose 90.1% as runner-up copped fifth place. This meant that
three-quarters of this year's Final would be a rematch of the
2008 contest (won by Sam Atabaki, who was not in attendance this
year). Instead, the fourth spot would go to Ken Horan, who used
the Point Track and a storage of five gold at endgame to win
by 20, 107 to 87 while serving as an Assistant GM. Hence, the
Final pitted a father-son duo versus the GM and his assistant
(members of the same gaming club).
In the Final, Jefferson and Rich went for the Building Track,
while Mike opted for a building-intensive start. Mike got out
the double-stone and double-wood buildings early (Rich built
the Marketplace in between the two), and after Ken built the
Mason (and Jefferson used a castle favor for the Peddler), Mike
went for the stone Park (an unorthodox choice for the first stone
production building). Jefferson used his end-of-phase favor on
another wood building, the double-cloth (last building before
the Goldmine), and Rich used his for the double-wood one.
Scores after the Dungeon phase: Rich 18, Jefferson
17, Ken 15, Mike 9. Mike had no castle builds, while everyone
else had two.
Costly mistakes doomed Mike early on in the Wall phase; on
back-to-back rounds, he went to the Marketplace without an extra
cube (spending what he had to build the Lawyer that turn) and
went to the Mason without a stone. Ken would get out the stone
Workshop later on and contribute two batches to the castle, but
would start to fall behind the two Meyers. Jefferson and Rich
would each get two batches into the castle during this phase
(Mike was shut out for the second straight phase), but Jefferson
would also be accumulating gold around this time. He also got
the church out, and started using the Point Track in addition
to the Building Track. This would factor into how the game played
out, as the Wall phase came to a close.
Scores after the Wall phase: Rich 47, Jefferson 46,
Ken 29, Mike 23.
Every stone building got built by game end; incredibly, it
was the stone Farm (food-food-cloth) that got built last (by
Ken). In between came the following: Architect (Mike), Architect
(Rich), Tailor (Jefferson), Bank (Rich), Alchemist (Mike), Jeweler
(Mike). Jefferson got in only two castle batches during the Tower
phase (along with Mike, while Ken and Rich put in five each by
the end) but sealed his win with the 25-point Cathedral on the
last turn of the game. (The only other residence and Prestige
building built the whole game was the Library; on the last turn,
Mike hit the Goldmine, Lawyer and Architect to get that 10-point
Final scores: Jefferson 96, Rich 79, Ken 65, Mike 60.
Jefferson's fourth straight trip to the Final would prove his
most successful. The question is what will he do for an encore?
No one has yet to win the event twice.
Once again, the second heat conflicted with a semi that I
made (but only for the second half of the heat). I am grateful
to Tom DeMarco for stepping up, collecting the scoresheets and
getting them to me after the heat was over. I am also grateful
to have Keith Layton as a trusted assistant for the second straight
year, and to have Ken Horan (my assistant from two years ago)
as an unofficial assistant. After the first heat, when I knew
how badly both Jeff and I wanted that win, I was glad that he
squeaked in as the last alternate. And while I'm disappointed
that I lost ... again ... I know that no one wanted that win
more than Jeff, and no one deserves it more than him.
I was able to avoid Puerto Rico, but in retrospect
I should have started the second Heat at 11am instead of noon.
I wanted to avoid the 3-hour Power Grid slot, but ended
up conflicting with Egizia instead. This likely cost us
some new players.
I don't know if the gradually declining numbers will work
in Caylus's favor for another year, but I would hate to
see this game go. And I am not alone in this desire. Once again,
I was happy to participate in this endeavor, and again look forward
to running Caylus in 2012.