The 2016 tournament was again well-attended with 23 matches in the first round and a total of 51 entrants by tourney’s end (including six rookies). However, total game matches were down from previous years, due to more events competing for the attention of those players with losses. The 65 matches were split, with Rome winning 33 to Carthage’s 32, although the highly-competitive last round went 5-1 to Carthage. The average bid for sides was 0.8 for Carthage (sinking significantly from previous years). In six games, the bid winner chose Rome. On only 12 occasions did the bid for Carthage exceed one. The bid for side seemed to have no relation to game outcomes, as the distribution curve of Carthaginian wins was the same as for Roman wins. Clearly, though, bidding for side remains a useful mechanism for players to stick with the side with which they have the most comfort.
Hannibal died 16 times, all but once leading to Roman victory. Scipio Africanus died eight times, with Carthage victorious in six of those games. Syracuse joined the war 35 times, with Carthage winning 20 of those contests, while Rome retook Syracuse 11 times, though Carthage still won in three of those cases. The arrival of Syracuse on Turn 9 did occur once, determining the game in Carthage’s favor. The “Messenger Intercepted” event occurred fairly evenly for both sides, in aggregate, although for three of the games, its Turn 9 appearance was game-winning. Other crucial final turn, game-winning events for Carthage were “Capua”, “Cato”, and in one game a double “Diplomacy”. For Rome, key final turn events were “Celtiberian Revolt”, “Sicilian Revolt”, “Diplomacy”, “Truce”, “Bad Weather”, and “Major Campaign”. About half the games ended in early resignations. Carthage won once by conquering all non-Latium provinces. Rome won twice by sacking Carthage. Although Rome was besieged in a couple of games, it never fell. Six of Carthage’s wins were actually 9-9 ties. Three wins were due to “Suit for Peace” due to lack of Roman PCs. The “Philip” card aided Carthage 34 times, with “Peace” revoking the alliance in seven of those cases. Philip’s arrival had no correlation with Carthaginian wins. Tournament rookies went 4-9 this year, led by Brian Conlon, who went 2-2 (as Rome).
Using AREA Rankings plus last year’s top three finishers, the top 12 players present were placed in seeded brackets to disperse them, and to avoid having them play any rookies in the first round. We witnessed the return of an early champion, Aaron Fuegi (’01), from the early days of the tournament before results were reported to AREA. Giving Aaron a provisional 5000 rating was the only thing to be done, but my sympathies to those who played a stronger schedule than born out by that rating! Yet, losing to Aaron in Round 1 didn’t stop #3 Seed Larry Luongo from snagging the highest strength-of-schedule rating and nabbing second place. I guess our tournament has quite a few tough players inhabiting the one-loss brackets! Aaron went 2-1 before retiring after losing to Chris Byrd in Round 3.
Round 1’s big upset was the fall of #2 Seed Keith Wixson to Bob Woodson’s Carthaginians, who destroyed Rome’s army at Mutina on Turn 2 and sent Hasdrubal across the Alps with a second army on Turn 4 leading to resignation on Turn 5. Former Champ Steve Worrel returned to the tourney, where fate would deal him a first round opponent who finished fourth to him in 2012. Randy Pippus’ Romans killed Hannibal on Turn 2 and sacked Syracuse on Turn 4, but Worrel kept the game tight, with Mago invading Sardinia on Turn 9 to try to tip the balance, but the Celtiberian Revolt secured Pippus a 9-8 win in one of the tournament’s better contests. Seeking to threepeat, defending Champ George Young disposed of Ray Freeman’s Romans in a Truce-filled game by an 11-7 count. No. 10 Seed Randall MacInnis needed a Turn 9 Messenger Intercept to steal the Sicily Revolts card from Michael Mitchell’s Carthaginian hand which secured a 10-7 victory. No. 12 Seed Peter Reese send Hannibal into Cisalpinia to fight repeated battles with Patrick Neary’s Fabius, each losing substantial battles until finally Hannibal was captured and Reese resigned.
Round 2 witnessed several games determined by Naval Combat rolls. No. 7 Seed Henry Rice’s Mago rolled “6” five times, leading to his defeat to Bjorn von Knorring 10-8. Michael Ussery’s Hannibal was returned to port on Turn 9, leading to MacInnis’ 10-8 victory. GM Stuart Tucker’s Hanno managed to crush Longus’ 14 CU army besieging Carthage on Turn 5, leading to Grant LaDue’s resignation.
11 undefeated players entered Round 3. No. 8 Seed Michael Sosa’s Hannibal managed to slip out of Tarentum by sea and survive to carry the game against Young to the end and win a 9-9 tie. MacInnis’ Roman invasion of Numidia against No. 5 James Pei ran into trouble when he received no naval cards, then witnessed “Diplomacy” and “Numidia Revolts” turn both provinces against Rome, leading to resignation in Turn 5. Von Knorring’s Carthage traded Spain for Italy with Woodson early in the game, then retook Spain and won 11-7. Rice’s Romans stopped Pippus with Bad Weather, ensuring that Carthage fell on Turn 7. Derek Landel managed to sack Tarentum and kill Tucker’s Hannibal on Turn 7 (but not before the “Capua" card was played). In a series of wild battles in Sicily, Scipio Africanus was finally defeated and killed by Hasdrubal on Turn 8, setting up a final turn showdown at Syracuse in which Hasdrubal took down Marcellus in their third battle, preserving a 9-8 win for Tucker.
With five undefeated players entering Round 4, the 2-1 player with the best strength-of-schedule tournament points, Larry Luongo, was matched against 3-0 Tucker. The game pivoted on Sardinia during Turns 6-8, as Mago, Hasdrubal, and Hannibal all managed to tour the island until it was finally secured for Tucker. Then, Scipio’s post-Cato Turn 9 invasion of W. Numidia led to Hannibal’s recall and three determinative battles that left Luongo in possession of a 9-8 victory. Byrd’s Carthaginians sent Hannibal to Sicily to support Syracuse, while von Knorring amassed forces against Spain, but the Turn 9 death of Scipio Africanus left Byrd with a 9-9 win. Sosa’s Roman 16 CU army narrowly escaped double envelopment by Pei’s Hannibal on Turn 5 due to pursuit failure, but in the end the Turn 9 arrival of the Syracusan alliance secured the 9-9 win for Pei.
In Round 5, Tucker’s early Syracusan alliance held up and Messenger Intercepts stymied Pippus’ African campaign, leaving Tucker with a 9-8 victory, and a 4-1 record to secure the Sand Plaque (his second)—maybe next year he’ll pack his fez. Landel’s Carthaginians survived the sacking of Syracuse on Turn 9 and held on to a 10-7 victory over von Knorring for fifth place. Sosa’s Romans needed a Turn 9 “Messenger Intercept” and “Diplomacy” to invade and secure W. Numidia for a 10-8 win over MacInnis to earn third. Luongo’s Hasdrubal sailed to Syracuse on Turn 8 to defeat Nero and remove two siege points, securing a 10-8 victory over Henry Rice to claim second.
The last two undefeated players were reigning Caesar James Pei and 2004 Champ Chris Byrd, once again pushing the side bid up to 3 before Byrd accepted Rome. Pei did his familiar Hannibal occupation of Cisalpinia play, then survived many battles there. Byrd sacked Syracuse early in Turn 9, running Marcellus’ victorious army up to Cisalpinia to take another run at Hannibal. Late in the turn, down a province, Pei had no choice but to try a 50-50 naval move sending Hasdrubal to Sicily. When it succeeded, Byrd resigned, lacking any naval cards to counter. Byrd fell to fourth place due to strength-of-schedule points and Caesar Pei became the first four-time champion of this 21-year-old event.