Holding Steady ...
Kevin Lewis and GM Rob Flowers breathlessly
await the next card play.
GM Rob Flowers and his fellow finalists.
18 years after the game's release and 15 years after its WBC
debut, the El Grande tournament continues to command a
steady field. Some of the mechanics have been improved upon since
then, but the basic game has aged well.
year's preliminaries generated 20 games with no double winners.
Some have noted that since the field has been relatively steady,
it's likely that a single win will suffice to advance. Thus,
most of the players that win don't play in the later heats, which,
in theory, could make it easier in those heats. The two risks
with that, of course, are that there are a lot of good players
in this game, and the inherent chaos of multiplayer games makes
it iffy to count on getting a win in a single heat.
Brad Sherwood had the highest score in Heat 1 with a particularly
close game where he scored 133 to Robb Effinger's 132. Robb then
went on to get his own winning score of 133 in Heat 2. The distinction
of the lowest winning score in the heats went to Doug Faust,
who bested newcomer Kolbe DiGiulio 84 - 83.
The semifinals had three no-shows (including one inadvertent
deserter who overslept), but enough alternates were on hand to
fill all 25 slots. One of the five semifinal games ended in a
tie, with Kolbe losing on the second tiebreaker to Robb Effinger
(but securing 6th place laurels in the process).
Unfortunately, notes on the Final are again scarce, as the
GM and both assistants (Robb and Geoff) advanced. In addition,
the GM was a little sleep deprived, having recently become a
father. Nonetheless, the Final featured three previous champions,
and the 2008 runner-up. Brad Sherwood was the lone newcomer to
Rob concentrated on early board position, but somehow couldn't
avoid being in the way of other people's plans. Decays and Intrigue
cards combined with bad timing on scoring left him pretty much
out of the running by mid-game. Robb and Geoff managed to separate
themselves from the pack with a score the firsts card, and had
decent board position by then. At one point Marc set up an 8/4/0
scoreboard in Catalonia. Rob moved the board to Aragon where
other players had been piling up his pieces. The board was then
moved BACK to Catalonia when the third mobile scoreboard card
Brad had been staying out of trouble and slowly gaining on
Robb and Geoff. In the end, both Rob and Brad made a play for
Catalonia, each thinking they had a lock on those eight points,
only to tie for first in the province. Brad fell just one point
short and Robb became the third player to capture his second