Updated Nov. 16, 2015

2015 WBC Report

2016 Status: pending 2016 GM commitment

Sceadeau D'Tela, NC

2015 Champion

Event History

2008 Rob Kircher 48
2009 Tedd Mullally 98
2010 Cary Morris 97
2011 Jon Senn 89
2012 Eric Ho 94
2013 Ben Scholl 75
2014 Eric Ho 87
2015 Sceadeau D'Tela 72

Euro Quest BPA Event History
2009 Sceadeau D'Tela 37
2010 Mike Turian 26
2011 Ben Scholl 41
2012 Eric Wrobel 26


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Sceadeau D'Tela    NC    15    153
  2.  Eric Ho            NY    14    108
  3.  Mike Kaltman       PA    12     88
  4.  Ben Scholl         PA    13     75
  5.  Jon Senn           PA    15     74
  6.  Tedd Mullally      NJ    10     70
  7.  Cary Morris        NC    13     66
  8.  Haim Hochboim      il    15     58
  9.  Rob Kircher        RI    10     53
 10.  Eric Wrobel        MD    14     50
 11.  Bill Crenshaw      VA    11     49
 12.  Dan Eppolito       PA    12     41
 13.  Randy Buehler      WA    12     39
 14.  Geoffrey Pounder   on    10     30
 15.  Mike Turian        WA    10     30
 16.  Richard J. Shay    MA    09     30
 17.  Winton Lemoine     CA    13     22
 18.  Joshua Cooper      MD    11     21
 19.  David Platnick     VA    08     18
 20.  Micah McCormick    NH    15     16
 21.  Steve LeWinter     NC    14     15
 22.  Chris Senhouse     MA    12     15
 23.  Rod Bacigalupo     MD    08     12
 24.  Rob Murray         NJ    14     10
 25.  Matthew Craig      NC    12     10
 26.  Dave Gerson        CA    10     10
 27.  Aran Warszawski    il    11      9
 28.  Jeff Mullet        OH    10      9
 29.  Richard M. Shay    MA    10      9
 30.  Alex Bove          PA    09      9
 31.  Jeff Bowers        UT    08      9
 32.  Daron Schreier     PA    15      8
 33.  Benjamin Rosset    DC    11      6
 34.  John Downing       VA    10      6
 35.  Ken Rothstein      NY    14      5
 36.  Steve Koleszar     VA    09      5
 37.  Chris McCurry      KY    15      4
 38.  John Corrado       VA    12      3
 39.  Mike Richey        VA    09      3
2015 Laurelists Returning Laurelists: 1

Haim Hochboim, il

Micah McCormick, NC

Jon Senn, PA

Daren Schreier, PA

Christopher McCurry, KY

Past Winners

Rob Kircher, RI

Tedd Mullally, NJ

Cary Morris, NC

Jon Senn, PA

Eric Ho, NY
2012, 2014

Doug Mercer, Bill Crenshaw, Ricky Boles and Steve LeWinter work the soil.

Nicole Yuhase, Alex Bove and
Haim Hochboim on the back forty.

Farming is booming still.

Agony at the Finish

It is widely known (at least among Agricola players) that the Agricola tournament is always among the toughest fields at WBC. The semifinals are filled with familiar faces, and the heats are challenging for casual players, as you are likely to draw a table populated by at least one strong player. However, 2015 saw a lot of changes. Four 2014 semifinalists were not in attendance this year, which meant better chances for advancing. However, the level of play was much stronger than it has been in previous years. The reason for this is likely the inception of the Agricola app on iOS, and the ability for more players to become familiar with the cards and log plays much quicker than they have been able to do in the past. Much like the computer revolutionized the world of chess and the overall skill level of the game’s elite, it appears that the same may hold true for many eurogames. Personally, I’m very excited by the idea of a richer field of farmers in subsequent tournaments. It is also possible that the greater talent pool is due to a smaller sampling as attendance was down from 87 to 72 participants with the change from an A to B experience rating.

While the level of play was remarkably improved across the heats, there was a major issue in table assignments this year. The system that worked so well in 2014 simply didn’t have the same impact with the lower turnout. The start of the third heat turned into a bit of a nightmare, partially due to three players dropping out at the last moment. There was an extended scramble to try to fit the players that had already been seated into different games. While it was chaotic for the GMs to deal with, the players all handled the situation with remarkable patience—a gesture that deserves the sincere thanks and gratitude of this GM. In 2016, there is a plan in the works to adopt Nick Ferris’ excellent seating mechanism that earned him the well-deserved GM of the Year title for 2014.

Of the 16 players that made the initial cut for the semifinals, EIGHT were new to the rarified air of a WBC Agricola semifinal! Three who made the cut declined to advance. This allowed two-time and defending champion, Eric Ho, to reach the semifinal again, as well as the only man to reach four straight Agricola Finals, Mike Kaltman, and Facts in Five overlord, John Corrado. Using the seeding format from 2014, players were divided into four tables, with the top four seeds (Eric Wrobel, Bill Crenshaw, Keith Dent and Sceadeau D’Tela) seated separately. The semifinals proved to be a bit of very close and not so close games:

  • Table 1: Haim Hochboim (44), Daren Schrier (43), Rob Murray (41), Bill Crenshaw (40)
  • Table 2: Micah McCormick (52), Eric Wrobel (41), Eric Ho (40), David Burton (35)
  • Table 3: Sceadeau D’Tela (47), Cary Morris (40), John Corrado (37), Andrew Davidson (32)
  • Table 4: Jon Senn (39), Chris McCurry (38), Keith Dent (35), Mike Kaltman (34)

So the Final was set with three Agricola powerhouses, all of whom have a plethora of appearances at previous Finals and are no stranger to one another: Sceadeau, Haim and Jon. The fourth finalist was a kind gentleman from Long Island named Micah McCormick, who was a virtual unknown at his first WBC, and he certainly made his mark. In the heats, the mild-mannered Micah made a whole lot of noise…one of his wins was a 63-point performance in a game that included 2013 champ Ben Scholl, as well as another semifinalist and WBC newcomer, Andrew Davidson who came to Lancaster all the way from the United Kingdom via GenCon in Indianapolis.

Most of the experts say that half the fun of playing Agricola is in the opening draft. For those of us who are farming enthusiasts, it is similar to how we felt on Christmas morning when we were six years old and we dashed downstairs in our pajamas to tear apart Santa’s elves’ wrapping paper. As players quickly thumb through their opening pack of seven Occupations, and subsequently the seven Minor Improvements, they just hope the Agricola gods smiled down on them and dealt them a Field Watchman and a Straw-Thatched Roof. There was no Field Watchman in this year’s Final, but that didn’t make the draft any less interesting. Micah had a particularly strong opening hand of occupations, but the decision to take Educator over all of the other choices was an easy one. He also chose Dovecote as his opening improvement rather than sure up a Turnwrest Plow. Sceadeau was faced with a few interesting decisions as well, one of which being whether to keep Plow Driver or Plow Maker (he chose the latter). Haim ended up drafting a good, strong hand of EIK cards (keep in mind the semifinals and Final are played with EIK and the Wm deck), including Head of the Family, Seasonal Worker, Plow Driver, Sawhorse and Turnwrest Plow. Jon also had some great synergy by snagging both Greengrocer and Apple Picker, and drafting a late Punner after seeing several plows in the draft. Sceadeau looked to have the most devious plan in store for the other players, though. He drafted Clay Hut Builder fourth and then windmill slammed a Builder’s Trowel second in the Improvement draft. As the GM and scribe, the best moment for me was seeing Sceadeau’s jaw drop as he received Jon’s opening pack from Haim and saw Almshouse waiting for him fourth. Almshouse is a card that you only need to see played once to understand its power. Haim selecting Brazier over Almshouse was certainly the surprise move of the draft.

Sceadeau was randomly chosen as the Start Player by the Chwazi app, which meant Haim would be second, Micah third and Jon fourth.

Stage 1
Start Player is exactly what Sceadeau wanted to see (starting second would have worked just as well). He immediately set his plan in motion, which in Sceadeau’s case often means putting as much stuff on future rounds as possible. His opening four actions were to play Reed Collector, SP + Private Forest, RSF and then Start Player (AGAIN!) + Almshouse. The fact that he was left with no food was fine since he already had an Almshouse down (paid for by his first two plays of the game). He then took RSF in Round 3 to pay for a Fence Deliveryman, for even more future stuff!

The first four rounds weren’t all Sceadeau Time, however. Haim laid down a nice setup by playing Seasonal Worker, Head of the Family, Sawhorse and building the first Fireplace. He grabbed three sheep before the first harvest in order to feed his hungry family. For the most part, Micah and Jon made standard early moves until Jon finally got around to playing an Occupation. The Occupation spot was a bit competitive with the previously mentioned Occupations, as well as Micah’s Educator, and Jon started last for the first three rounds of the game. Jon played his Apple Picker for free, immediately triggering the Educator which Micah used to drop Sycophant (OUCH!). In order to ease the pain of Micah’s move, Jon made sure to get out his Greengrocer in Round 4, making the Grain spot rather strong for him (+food, wood, vegetable). Jon also built the game’s first room, although the growth cue was eased greatly by Haim’s Head of the Family.

The players all fed with four food, with the exception of Sceadeau, who took four begging cards and immediately discarded one with his Almshouse.

Stage 2
The order of cards in Stage 2 was Renovate – Family Growth – Stone, so the early room for Jon was good, just not great. The fifth round saw Haim as the Start Player and the first three players rushed out actions to grab room parts. Sceadeau typically likes to run in the other direction from what other players are doing and play some chaotic, unconventional lines to great effect. This game was no different. His opening move was to play Clay Hut Builder, which would give him ten clay over the next five rounds once he renovated, which is strong when renovation shows up early and nobody else has the materials to renovate. After Haim took four clay, he could potentially renovate, but Haim had Head of the Family and was looking to build a wooden room and grow at his convenience as quickly as it came out. Micah and Jon took food related actions before Sceadeau took back Start Player with a Builder’s Trowel, allowing him to immediately renovate and start collecting the clay! Without a doubt, Sceadeau looked to be in the driver’s seat early, although all four players appeared comfortable.

After Family Growth flipped in Round 6, Sceadeau built a room, as did Haim. For the fourth time in six rounds, Micah took RSF and simply continued to accumulate a massive pile of resources, which is a line that perennial finalist Eric Wrobel often plays to effect. Jon played a Mountain Cave with the first growth of the game so he could obtain some sneaky stone throughout the remaining harvests. Sceadeau locked down the Pottery next because he had Glassblower’s Workshop in his hand – and he had plans! Haim played a Corn Sheaf with his growth, Micah took another food action to get ahead of the curve for his Educator and Jon claimed Starting Player with a Punner – a solid move even though he didn’t even see all of the plows in the draft! Things quieted down a bit in Round 7, with the players making pretty standard resource and required food actions, and Sceadeau playing his Glassblowers Workshop with his family growth. Players fed in the harvest, with Sceadeau eating a clay and taking two more begging cards, immediately discarded another one. He now had four begging cards, all of which would be discarded in the final four harvests of the game.

Stage 3
The players’ plans began to unfold more clearly in Rounds 8 and 9. The third stage saw a lot of really strong moves and was educational for some of those who were watching the game. All four players recognized their position and what they were required to do to improve it. Jon is a grandmaster at the three-worker game. He loves to build his first room, grow his first offspring and then destroy you with his efficiency. When you’re a victim at his table, his play can feel like the untenable grip of a python. He opened Round 8 by fencing a 2x1 pasture, which is what you will see a lot of experts do on turns where a single animal of a particular variety is on the board. The chances of grabbing a breeding pair in the following round are rather high, and since Wild Boar came out before Take A Vegetable, he was nearly guaranteed either two boar or two sheep. He followed up by securing his food position, building a Clay Oven and baking a grain. He then played Village Fool to turn his unused cards into four bonus points. Sceadeau made moves that weren’t powerful when looked at in a vacuum—opening with two stone, RSF and SP + Reed Pond. However, this allowed him to MIMI the Basketmaker’s Workshop at the start of Round 9, plow a field (his only real weakness—he didn’t have a fancy plow like the other three players did in hand and didn’t play his Plow Maker) and then take Day Laborer to pay for the incoming four fences. Sceadeau’s food situation was … interesting. He had yet to use actual food to feed his family at harvest, and the BMW would further develop that plan, but he still needed a food action to pay for the fences, as he wasn’t really producing food otherwise. Haim built a room and two stables, which he then turned into two fields when he played Changing Plans with his growth action. Haim was also playing a line he plays often, which is completely counter to Jon’s—build a bunch of rooms as fast as possible to make a big family and catch up on points later using all those extra actions. To help his food engine along, Haim also renovated to four clay rooms and upgraded to a Cooking Hearth. Micah now put his pile of resources to work by building two rooms and growing in both Round 8 and 9 with a Corn Sheaf and his first-pick Dovecote. To help feed his family, he played Cook as his Educator action when Jon played Village Fool. After the players fed (Sceadeau with reed and clay), Jon bred the first animal of the game—a Sheep.

Stage 4
The fourth stage was a slow build, with no Family Growth actions at all, which often happens with Head of the Family in the game. Sceadeau took two more stone to be able to rebuild the Pottery and he also built the last seven fences in his supply, as the last four were in the mail for Round 14. After he fenced, he had a very fruitful 11th round when he took two boar, two sheep and plowed another field. Haim spent most of the stage grabbing a lot of wood and some clay, which came with a stone after a Round 10 Gem Hunter was played. Micah renovated and grabbed a much needed Fireplace, got some free food with a Sycophant reward, and then used it to pay for his Silo Girl from his free Educator action. He also played an Iron Plow and acquired a grain and vegetable to make it worthwhile. Jon built the Stone Oven, wisely seeing he would need to gain on the other players by building the remaining Major Improvements that were worth big points.

Stage 5
Family Growth without Room flipped in Round 12, which was good for both Micah (who took it) and Haim (who used it with Head of the Family). This meant Micah and Haim both had ten actions over the last two rounds to help them catch up to Sceadeau’s small family, but point-rich farm and shiny food engine. Jon immediately grabbed Start Player after Micah grew to play Steel Plow, which meant Jon was tipping his hand that he would open Round 13 with Plow/Sow and Sceadeau would likely get to grow to four workers. Sceadeau took two cattle, giving him three breeding pairs. Haim’s first action was to take two stone to ensure he would be able to renovate to stone before the end of the game. Micah began to put his game into overdrive by activating his Iron Plow, plowing two fields and sowing two grain and a vegetable. This activated Jon’s Punner for the first time. Jon then continued to score big card points by building a late Well for four points and two food. Sceadeau took five reed to try to score end game bonus points and get some food. Haim built 13 of his fences, curiously holding back two. It’s not often that the player with an early Sawhorse doesn’t fence until Stage 5, but he played his mainline strategy of explosive growth, which doesn’t leave time for early/midgame farming. Remaining interesting actions in Round 12 were Sceadeau playing a Hobby Farmer, immediately jumping from zero to two vegetables, which allowed Micah to Educate a Stone Curator. Micah closed out his round by renovating to stone and upgrading to a Cooking Hearth, activating the Silo Girl.

As expected, Jon opened Round 13 with a plow/sow action, plowing four fields and sowing a grain with four vegetables. Sceadeau’s opening move was expected to be the Family Growth without Room, but instead he took six wood in order to build a bunch of stables since he was out of room to hold all of the animals he was breeding. In postgame discussion and analysis, it was determined that this was a blunder, as he could’ve taken four wood with his second action after taking Family Growth. Things went from bad to worse as Haim took Start Player and played a Turnwrest Plow, which would fill up Haim’s board in Round 14 and allow him to sow a LOT of goods for a lot of points. At three workers, Sceadeau certainly didn’t want to go fourth in the final round. While Micah spent a few actions accumulating wood for his upcoming fence action, Jon was able to get the Family Growth with his second action. Sceadeau’s misstep gave Jon a boost, as he would score the points for the worker, as well as have the extra action in Round 14… which is exactly what Jon needed to complete his recovery! Sceadeau plowed another field and built all four of his stables, Haim took a lot of point scoring actions by taking two boar, two sheep, Day Laborer (which comes with a grain for him!) and a vegetable. Micah took his fencing action to prevent the slight possibility of a block in Round 14 and Jon fished for four food to help feed his expanding family.

Stage 6
As expected, Haim plowed three fields and sowed two grain and three vegetable. His farm was… impressive. He was clearly headed for at least 40 farm points, which is usually enough to win, but he only showed a single card point on the table. Micah plowed a field and Jon took Family Growth without room again. Sceadeau’s game was now running out of steam, so the best he could do with his final three actions was grab some stone, renovate with a one-point Boundary Stones and grab four clay for bonus points. Haim’s final actions were to take a two-point cow, build a Fireplace, take a Vegetable and Renovate / Fence. An interesting note here is that Haim decided that he wanted to use the Take a Vegetable action space instead of going to Day Laborer, where he could get a Vegetable and two food. There are no ties in WBC elimination rounds, and the first tiebreaker is most food. Micah’s last moves were to take a boar, play Clay Path, grab some food and then play a four-point Cloister Dweller. Jon sowed a vegetable to be able to bake a grain for five food, grabbed more wood and then fenced to end the game.

The players all fed at harvest with varying methods and bred their animals. Sceadeau unlocked an achievement—feed the entire game without actually using food. In all six harvests, he either took Begging Cards or fed entirely with food that was converted from resources. At a quick glance, it was tough to try to pick a winner. Haim had the most impressive farm with no negative points, but only two card points. Everyone was at five workers, except Sceadeau with but three. Sceadeau had a pretty good farm with tons of animals and 13 points off board, but no longer appeared to have the command of the game that he showed in the first four stages. Jon had some negatives, but had the most points off board with 15. Micah also came on strong with a lot of late off board points (13 total) and had a good farm with only two negative points.

The players all excitedly began adding up their own scores as the GM methodically calculated them all one at a time. By the time the GM was finished counting, he confirmed what the players already suspected, but couldn’t possibly be true. All four players scored 44 points, for a four-way tie in the last Agricola game ever to be played at the Lancaster Host.

If you read the rules of the game, the designer states that all tied players win, and then recommends playing another game to determine a winner. Since the tournament setting does not allow an additional two-hour block to break ties, a system must be created for such instances. The tiebreaker format has been tweaked slightly over the course of the last few years, and after input from all of the strong players in the tournaments, the most agreed upon tiebreaker is most remaining food, as this is a game about farming and thematically feels like a better tiebreaker than arbitrarily choosing card points or unused resources.

At this point, there was some confusion and disagreement over exactly how leftover food is used. Since this was a tournament, the GM was left with no choice but to strictly enforce the printed tournament rules, which state that after final breeding, player boards may not be modified. This means if players want to use alternate means to feed their family, such as eating animals or raw grain, this must be done before breeding. At the end, Sceadeau had two food remaining and the other players had none … however, Haim had a fourth boar and Micah had a raw grain. Had Haim realized the tournament rules, he could have eaten a boar, saved himself three food and won the game. Likewise Micah could have eaten a raw grain for one food, although his final position would remain unchanged. The next tiebreaker is fewest Begging Cards (all players had zero) and then fewest negative categories. Haim had no negatives, Micah had two and Jon had three. Something else to note is that if Haim had taken Day Laborer rather than Take A Vegetable in the final round, he would have also had two food at the end (regardless of the boar) AND his zero negatives over Sceadeau’s two negatives would have given Haim the win.

This was one of those moments when you wish you had four shields to award to all four players, because they truly deserved it. In the end, Sceadeau finally got his first Agricola shield after finishing second the previous two years.

What a way to bid farewell to Lancaster!

Haim's farm

Sceadeau's Farm

Jon's farm

The sad tally at the end ... a 4-way tie ...
or the way a Final should be!
GM Rob Murray (2nd Year) NA NA

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