104 still in convoy ...
Is Coussis gonna win his third Atlantic
Storm shield? Naah ... he's not the GM this year.
With a club name like the Mafia can
you blame Greg Courter for watching the dealer like a hawk?
Year 17 of the event once again drew over 100 players, and
2014's field included 10 of 14 former champs. Participants favored
the original game, Storm, with only eight of 42 tables
opting for Pacific Typhoon. The average number of players
per table was 5.6 for Storm and 5.1 for Typhoon.
1 drew the usual Tuesday night crowd and had several highlights.
In one game, Dacey Collinson rolled boxcars to smash Ewan McNay's
Hood +2 and snatch victory from his grasp. She won the
convoy and outscored Ewan 41 to 40 (the next highest scorer in
their 6-player game only had 18 VPs).
The always-affable Scott Nerney placed 2nd at his table in
a tight 6-player game where final scores ranged from 14 to 26.
What makes Scott's achievement worthy of mention is that there
were three former champions at the table--Pat Mirk, Rob Winslow
and John Coussis (2-time champ and winner of their game). And
this was not the only table where the odds were long! Chad Manna
similarly placed 2nd at a 6-player table that included three
other former champions--Justin Thompson, Roy Gibson (2-time champ)
and Stephen Squibb (defending champion and ultimate winner of
their game). Chad and Scott deserve praise for their solid showings
against such top-rated convoy hunters.
During Heat 2, Ben Gardner not only won his game of Storm
but, at 44 VPs, laid claim to this year's high score for the
event. He achieved his high score by alone winning a battle that
had been pushed along with a good crop of spoils, which he didn't
have to share. His 44 VPs even bested the scores made in the
tournament's Typhoon games, which typically score higher
In Heat 3 2000 champion Robert Eastman won at his 5-player
table of Storm against two other champs: John Coussis
and John Elliott. Robert secured the lead on the last convoy
by victimizing Audacity to earn 2 VPs, which gave him
28 VPs total--enough to defeat Coussis and Thomas Milton, who
both finished with 27 VPs.
During Heat 4, the outcome of one 5-player game of Storm
was determined on the first tie-breaker (most convoy VPs) when
Carmen Petruzzelli and Travis Nesmith each finished at 34 VPs
but Carmen had 27 convoy VPs to Travis' 24.
Six qualifiers did not show for the semifinals, which left
29 present to fill five tables. To qualify for the semifinals,
a player has to win just one of the four heats, so Katie Elliott
drew applause for winning both heats she played. Douglas Landon
was randomly selected from the qualifiers to receive a free copy
of Pacific Typhoon.
The tightest scoring table of the event occurred during the
semifinals in a game of Storm where only a 7-VP spread
separated 1st from 6th place--this is damn good in a game where
a single convoy can be worth 7 VPs. Scott Driessen won that table,
which earned him a seat in the next round.
other finalists were, in seating order, Bill Place, Jeff Heidman,
Jesse Boomer and Marty Sample, with Scott Driessen pulling the
5th seat at random. Scott had been in last year's final, fiishing
in 5th place--would he make progress this year? His 5th-seat
omen was not good. For Marty, Bill and Jeff, 2014 was actually
their third trip each to the Final. Only Jesse was breathing
the rarified air of the Final table for the first time.
Bill won the first convoy battle -- a full one, which gave
him a 7-card hand for the duration. Jeff chose the next convoy,
an Arctic one, and then tried to play an Atlantic-only card.
His error was pointed out by the others, so he asked to see both
convoys again, but still he almost repeated the same mistake.
This harmless fumbling by Jeff prompted Scott to remark, "How
did you get here?" which made everyone laugh and set the
tone for a friendly game.
Jeff proved why he deserved that seat several battles later
when Jesse called Surface for PQ 18, a 1942 Arctic 4-VP
convoy, and played Tirpitz. Marty responded with the Duke
of York which Bill supported with Bomber Command +1
after Scott flushed his hand. Jeff negotiated an assurance from
Jesse that he would give Jeff the Duke if Jeff supported
him. Jeff then played a U-boat and successfully rolled an Arctic
Storm against Bill, giving the Germans an edge of two dice
+1 against Marty's 6. Jesse took the convoy and Jeff got his
At the halfway point of the game (after 12 battles for 10
convoys), Jesse was leading with 12 face up VPs plus hidden spoils,
Bill had 9 face up VPs plus spoils, Scott had 7 face up VPs plus
spoils, Jeff had only hidden spoils including the 5-VP Duke,
and Marty had only a 5-VP full convoy plus one spoil. However,
the next series of battles favored Marty and Bill who both gained
significant VPs while others at the table earned zero. Bill was
now in the lead, and the 17th battle pulled Marty into a close
second when Jesse, Marty and Scott joined against Jeff's wolfpack,
but Jesse and Scott each rolled 1's, allowing Marty to grab the
7-VP full convoy.
Jeff as last player in the 18th battle used Tovey to
play two cards and a bonus, winning a 7-VP empty convoy and starting
his run for the top. For the 21st (and penultimate) battle, Bill
gambled on a 6-VP full 1943 convoy, calling surface and playing
Renown with Raid, but Jeff supported with a bigger
British battleship and everyone else discarded, so Jeff claimed
If any of the players had been tracking hidden VPs in this
game, they would have known that Jeff now had the lead at 25
VPs, Bill 24, Marty 21, Jesse 18 and Scott 16. Because of the
two pushes early in the game, Jeff in seat 2 was the round leader
for the last battle. To guarantee his victory, Jeff would need
to gain more VPs than Bill in this last battle or try to send
VPs in Jesse or Scott's direction. Unfortunately for Jeff, Bill
was in the potential kingmaker's seat for the round, so if the
battle were to develop evenly between German and Allied strength,
Bill as the last player in the round might be able to play on
either side to influence which side would win the battle--in
which case, he might be inclined to play against Jeff's side
or whoever he perceived as being the biggest threat at the table.
Of course, not every battle develops evenly.
Statistically, the round leader has a better chance to win
the battle than any other player at the table has. Some of the
reason for this is because he plays first and wins ties, but
mostly it is because he has a choice of convoy and suit. However,
this statistical margin is only slight, and when it is the last
convoy of a game, players who are behind will take greater risks
in a last hurrah, which can mean more chaos and more spoils on
the table. Therefore, this was a challenging decision for Jeff.
Jeff tossed away ON 166 and chose PQ 17, a 1942 Arctic 4-VP
battle. He called surface and played German, which may have been
sensible since the previous battle had seen two British battleships
go home. In my opinion, however, calling surface without some
way to guarantee your victory in the last battle is risky because
it invites too many spoil VPs into play. Of course, I was not
a finalist here nor do I know what was in Jeff's hand. But I
have seen several games end in an upset on the last battle because
the round leader called surface.
Jeff played Zerstorer +1, a decent German play. Jesse
went for broke and played Hood. Without hesitation Marty
played Bismarck to victimize Hood and have a better
than average chance over Jeff. The 4-VP Hood brought Marty's
score up to 25, enough to tie Jeff and momentarily give Marty
the lead with more convoy VPs. Scott flushed his hand (so he
would once again finish in 5th place), and Bill brought out the
Tirpitz. Historically, PQ 17 was a disaster for the Allies,
and this battle was no different as the German warships lined
up to fire. Jeff's single die with the bonus became strength
6, which gave him a 17% chance to win. However, Marty rolled
7-- the expected average for two dice - surpassing Jeff and giving
Marty a 58% chance to win unless Bill rolled 8 or higher, which
Bill did. Welcome, Bill, to the long line of Atlantic Storm
GM & designer Ben Knight (and
an all around good guy for a Viking) with his finalists.