2017 was Princes of Florence’s 17th year at WBC and its first year as a trial event. Attendance was up slightly as 38 players battled for Renaissance artisanal supremacy. In the heats this year, close games were the norm. All but two games were decided by 3 or fewer points with three out-and-out ties. The closest and most interesting game in the heats was a 4-player game between Micah McCormick, Rod Spade, Lyman Moquin, and Dominic Blais that saw one player grab 4 jesters and one player perform 8 works. In the end, only 5 points separated first and fourth place. Another noteworthy game saw all players score 60 or more points, with Robert Cranshaw posting the tournament high score of 69. Greg Thatcher earned an honorable mention for high score for his 68 points, but he claimed top honors for margin of victory with a staggering 18 point win! The lowest winning score of the tournament was 54, which happened twice, in two separate tie games. Micah McCormick edged John Corrado by 100 florins, and Aran Warszawski also had 100 more florins than Peter Staab, earning himself a berth into the semifinals.
In the same manner as last year’s tournament, qualifying semifinalists were divided into three 5 player tables, with the winners and two closest second place finishers also advancing to the final table. Some people object to non-winners advancing to final tables, but Princes of Florence is a game in which very close games are common, and the difference between first and second is often the flip of a card, as we will see. Therefore, the GM believes that close seconds are nearly equivalent to wins and ought to allow for advancement in certain circumstances.
Semifinal table 1 saw former champions Eric Freeman and Alex Bove paired with past finalist Greg Thatcher. Greg’s bonus card draw in Round 7 won him the best work bonus and the game, 61-57, over Alex. Table 2 saw Derek Glenn punch his ticket to the finals for the second year in a row by beating Micah McCormick, 59-57. In the third semifinal game, not only did newcomer Rebecca Lasanen defeat four Princes of Florence laurelists and two former champions Aran Warszawski and Eric Brosius, but she posted the highest score of the semifinals at 62! The closest second place finishes belonged to Robert Cranshaw and Micah McCormick, so they both advanced to the final. Alex Bove had to settle for sixth place laurels.
The final table was a battle of two new faces, Micah, whose 2017 WBC resume already included a win in the Agricola tournament, and Rebecca, who was on a hot streak going into the finals. They were joined by three previous finalists, including repeating finalist Derek Glenn. Only one player bid for their seat, as Robert paid 300 florins to go second. Greg sat in the first seat, Micah third, Rebecca fourth, and Derek fifth. No works were performed in Round 1, suggesting that no one was pursuing a pure builder strategy. For the first few rounds, bids were fairly standard with Jesters going for over 1000 florins, builders and recruiting cards for around 700, and everything else generally selling cheaply. Players filled in their boards with freedoms and landscapes, preparing for the late-game push. By Round 4, three players had unidirectional strategies while the other two were playing balanced games. Micah won his third Jester in Round 4, continuing to pursue the strategy which had gotten him to the final. Derek had his second builder, and it seemed a third would be bought soon. Greg held four Prestige cards!
Micah performed several high value works in the endgame, earning two of the last three best work bonuses, but he also spent a lot of florins, so he wasn’t able to convert all of his WV to points. Derek managed to spend very little money while pursuing a hybrid builder strategy, and although he was ahead on the point track, it was unclear whether his lead would hold. Robert continued to play a balanced game and was in the running all the way. Greg was behind but held Prestige cards that promised a big push in the end. Rebecca was priced out of several auctions for the items she wanted and began to fall behind.
In the final auction, Greg was forced to give up 4 prestige points in order to buy a Park he desperately needed, and even then, he was unable to make all of his Prestige cards, leaving him in fourth place overall, with 44 points. Rebecca finished just behind Greg at 43. Robert ended with 55, but that wasn’t quite enough, as both Micah and Derek had 56. The tiebreaker goes to the player with the most florins left over which went to Derek. What a close finish!
Congratulations to Derek, who came close to winning last year and finally broke through this time.
A full session report of the final table can be found at https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1825900/princes-florence-2017-wbc-final-table-detailed-ses
This year’s semifinals and final did not support the conventional wisdom on seating order advantage in Princes of Florence, but we should note that this sample size is exceedingly small. The player in the second seat did not win a game, while the player in the first seat fared slightly better, winning once and finishing second once. The fifth seat performed best in these rounds, winning twice.
Here are the average finishing positions for each seat for 5 Players Games, 11 of them, in this year’s tournament:
- First Seat 3.7 average finish
- Second Seat 2.5 average finish
- Third Seat 2.5 average finish
- Fourth seat 3.5 average finish
- Fifth Seat 2.9 average finish
In 5 player games this year, the third seat performed best overall, but the second seat was still very strong. The first seat was the worst, delivering just one win in 11 games.
Here are the average finishing positions for 4 player games:
- First Seat 2 average finish
- Second Seat 3 average finish
- Third Seat 2.25 average finish
- Fourth seat 2.75 average finish
The third seat is usually slightly favored because of that player’s access to an extra profession card, but this year the first seat was best. In 4 player games, though, seat order is far less important than in 5 player games.
Thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s tournament. We probably won’t return to the Century next year, but hopefully we will be back again soon!