A Late Thaw ...
Thomas Vickery, Craig Melton, Kevin
Emery and Tom Eskey check their dominance in the second heat.
Dennis Mishler, Thomas Melton and
AJ Sudy evolve as Dennis begins his evolution to the event's
Balance was the watchword of the tournament. The 13 preliminary
games in the three heats generated 13 different winners, and
each order of animals won at least one game, with the Reptiles
scoring three wins, and the Birds and Amphibians a pair each.
Regretably, two games failed to report who played what.
The first heat was played Tuesday evening, with 30 players
competing in six different games. Each was given an opportunity
to bid for their animal, rather than accept the vagaries of Random
Selection. Bids were for a victory point deduction at the end
of the game, after final scoring. Bids generally ranged from
zero to two, with a high bid of five. Heat 2, on Wednesday morning,
drew 18 players, equally divided between new faces and returnees
from the night before. The third heat started an hour after Heat
2 finished, and drew 14 players, again equally divided between
new and repeat players to reach our final total of 46, with 16
Eventual champion Dennis Mishler claimed the highest score
in the heats, nailing down a 212 while John Emery claimed the
silver medal score with a 207 for the Insects, and his son Kevin
taking the bronze with a 199 as the Arachnids. John and Kevin
joined Assistant GM Tim Rogers in not only being Made Men in
the Greenville Mafia, but winning the unofficial Iron Men Award,
participating in all three heats. Tim, while he did not advance
out of the preliminaries, was nominated for the Sportsmanship
Award, as his Heat 1 table found him grouped with four players
who had never played before and had just come from the Demo.
Rather than exploit his superior experience for a likely chance
to advance, Tim 'coached' his opponents so well that he finished
The semi-finals were supposed to advance 16, but only eight
of the 13 qualifiers appeared, and but two alternates, so play
proceeded with only ten players. In the first semi, Alternate
Tom McCorry laid back in the early going with his Arachnids,
before staging a furious rally to win his table. In the other
game, John Emery again rode the Insects to victory. The four
other seats went to the highest scorers so Kevin Emery, Dennis
Mishler, Tracey Casselberry, and Lane Hess also advanced.
McCorry, Emery, and Mishler each bid 3 to have first choice
in the Final. Tom won the random selection and took the Insects
out from under John, who, picking second, selected the Amphibians.
Dennis chose the Arachnids. Tracey Casselberry bid two and got
the Reptiles, who she had steered to victory in Heat 1, while
Kevin Emery got the Birds for one leaving Lane Hess with the
Mammals for free which doesn't speak well for our evolutionary
Tom's choice of Insects was fortuitous, as Parasitism was
the very first Dominance card revealed, and he jumped on it to
give him a quick action pawn advantage, while also placing a
target on his back. Immigrant Species also made a devastating
appearance, killing off 20 different species. On Turn 2, the
main event in the Domination phase was Kevin's play of Evolution
to swap out two species on the Tundra to garner the Survival
card for his birds.
Turn 3 saw Tom Blight a wetlands, which gave him dominance
on that terrain tile, which in turn let him score the tile and
choose Catastrophe, hurting the Amphibians. John turned right
around, and using Mass Exodus, migrated three insects right off
the Wetland onto a barren tundra, which led to their extinction.
Turn 4 was the pivotal point of the game. Dennis had grabbed
the first player away from Tom, and when Omnivore came up, he
was well positioned to rectify the action imbalance by grabbing
that card. Tracey, who had been lagging behind, started her comeback
by scoring seven points off a fertile card. Her comeback continued
in a major way on Turn 5, when she grabbed the Intelligence card,
giving her and Lane an extra action. However Dennis made the
best use of his scoring, adding 12 points from Ecodiversity as
well as grabbing the Survival Card to vault into a 72-63 lead
over Tom's insects.
Turn 6 saw only three cards left to be played. Lane grabbed
Predator. Kevin then chose Habitat after debating whether to
trigger the Ice Age card. At that point, Kevin had seven dominance
cones, which would have netted him a very nice score, but Habitat,
let him get two more dominances. The last two scoring actions
belonged to Tom, who scored a neutral sea zone where no Animal
Order dominated, and then he chose to PASS his last scoring opportunity
by choosing a vacant tundra, stunning all his opponents. Tom
explained later that he felt he was not secure in his current
second place scoring, and that he wanted a chance to chase down
So we went on to a last, unexpected turn. Dennis' possession
of the Survival Card was too much for Tom to overcome, and Tom's
choice did hurt the Amphibians, who he viewed as his main threat
for second. However, adroit play by the two higher orders - Reptiles
and Mammals - almost cost Tom. Lane's Mammals scored an impressive
60 points in the final round + Ice Age + Final Scoring, but he
was outdone by Tracey's outstanding 88 points in the last round.
Kevin, who, if he had chosen Ice Age, might have made the huge
leap, was hurt by the gutsy call by Tom to extend the game.
So, after the ice had thawed, Dennis was the inaugural Dominant
Species champ, with a score of 160. Tom held onto second
by three points with 124. Lane and Tracey both netted 121 points
with big final rounds, with Lane taking third due to the Food
Chain tiebreaker. The father-son duo of John and Kevin finished
with 97 and 96 points respectively, and I believe I heard muttering
about Dennis' bed being stuffed with a horse head from the Mafia
nation. Or maybe it was 'Congratulations, Well played.'
In closing, I, want to thank all the participants, as each
and every player displayed outstanding sportsmanship. It was
a pleasure to helm this tournament, and I hope next year will
see more of the same.
Craig Moffitt, Rob McFadden, John
Emery, Joel Tamburo and Tom Bissa play in the second of three
heats. The Emerys were two of only three players to play in all
three heats - all Mafia members - which suggests a lot of evolving
in Greenville lately.
GM Dave Long rides herd on his six
dominant finalists. The Emery father & son duo played in
more heats (six) than the other four finalists combined (five).
There were a total of 16 games played in the tournament - 13
during he heats.