Despite threats to change the timing of the Virgin Queen tournament, we retained the same schedule from previous years, two solid days of multiplayer gaming to test your endurance. Fortunately, attendees are still fresh at the start of the Convention and they turned up in healthy numbers for the first two heats. Jeff Heidman did an excellent job with the demo at 10am on the first Sunday morning to a large attentive crowd. Then we scrambled over to the Ski Lodge for the first heat at 12pm.
There were many new people at the event and 34 players reported for the first two heats on Sunday. Games in both heats were played for a maximum of three turns. Players picked their powers in random order. Once again, the most popular first pick is England but it’s a little unclear who the second favorite is. The Ottomans are clearly well liked but the Holy Roman Empire is also a popular choice despite previous poor performances. Whereas Spain was the least favorite last year, this year players avoided France like the plague. In the early years of the game, France was clearly favored to win, but its reputation has finally caught up with it and now many players have learned how to defeat a mildly competent French player. The Protestants are also generally unpopular for absolutely no clear reason whatsoever: Year after year, they have been the most successful power and this year was no exception.
Despite its lack of popularity, France won two games in the first heat where Ed Rothenheber and Michael Rogozinksi both picked up wins as France. Paul Grosser was the only player to win with England in the first heat while Manuel Bravo and Michael Kiefte won with Spain. Manuel won with a rare military victory on turn 4 and Michael won with 28 VPs on turn 5. Manuel’s game was particularly noteworthy given that a very large number of VPs were awarded through marriages alone only to have the game determined by wars. Rounding out the first heat, Richard Comfort won with the Protestants with a religious auto victory, something that is not infrequent.
In the second heat, France, despite being the least favored power, won three games. Chris Miller won as France in a four-player game where he declared war on an inactive Holy Roman Empire to win the game. Jonathan Tarquino also won with France ending turn 5 with 26 VPs while Paul Grosser won his second game, this time as France. The only other first heat winner who won his second heat was Richard Comfort, this time as the Ottomans.
Both Paul Grosser and Richard Comfort entered the semifinals with two wins. Paul edged out Richard in total VPs earned in the two heats with 46 to 43. Michael Kiefte entered the semifinals in third place and all three picked first at their respective tables. None of them picked France, perhaps knowing that players in the semifinals will be wary of any French players given the performance of that power in the Heats. Both Paul and Richard picked the Holy Roman Empire while Michael picked the Ottomans. It’s always risky to pick the highest performing powers first.
The results of the semifinals were highly unusual. On table 1, Eric Stranger won as the Protestants with a religious auto victory with Ed Rothenheber sitting at a comfortable 27 VPs as the Ottomans. On table 2, Justin Rice also won with the Protestants but with a Military Victory. Finally on table 3, Jeff Heidman won as the Holy Roman Empire, also with a Military Victory, despite the fact that Manuel Bravo reached 27 VPs as England by cleaning up the board with piracy and circumnavigation. None of these first place finishers had wins under their belts going into the semifinals. Eric’s best showing was a second place finish as England in the first heat, Justin came in third in both heats, while Jeff came in second with Spain in the second heat. Sometimes it’s better to use stealth to get into the semifinals.
Participating in the final were the semifinal winners, Jeff Heidman, Eric Stranger, and Justin Rice. They were joined by Ed Rothenheber, Manuel Bravo, and Michael Kiefte who squeaked in with 24 VPs on table 3.
Power selection was tense with all six players suffering severe exhaustion. Jeff Heidman boldly picked Spain, certainly not a favorite among the players. Erik Stranger played it safe and picked the Ottomans. At this point, Justin Rice picked the favored power, England and began to salivate. Ed Rothenheber picked the Holy Roman Empire, a power that had performed only modestly in heats and semifinals, which is a risky choice given its performance in the past. Manuel Bravo avoided France and took the Protestants, leaving Michael Kiefte with France.
In turn 5 of the final, Manuel came precariously close to winning a religious auto victory with the Protestants, but just could not make it before the end of the turn. When the next turn started it was clear that no one was going to negotiate with him, let alone repeat his success in the religious war. Last year’s champion, Jeff Heidman, could not make any headway as Spain. Although Michael Kiefte managed to get every single one of his marriages, he was unable to reach enough VPs to win. Justin Rice may have reached 26 VPs as England but it was finally Ed Rothenheber that won first place with a total of 31 VPs as the Holy Roman Empire, the least favored power to win.
The final scores were:
Ed Rothenheber, Holy Roman Empire, 31 VPs
Just Rice, England. 26 VPs
Michael Kiefte, France, 21 VPs
Jeff Heidman, Spain, 21 VPs
Eric Stranger, Ottomans. 20 VPs
Manuel Bravo, Protestants, 18 VPs
Congratulations to Ed for a fine win with a monstrous lead.
This is the fifth year that Virgin Queen has appeared at WBC. In that time we have logged 75 games. Victories by power thus far are as follows :
- Ottomans - 10 including two military victories
- Spain- 11 including three by Gunpowder Plot and three by military victory
- England - 16 all by VP
- France - 11 all by VP
- HRE - 7 including one military victory
- Protestant - 20 including seven religious victories and seven military victories
There were several military and religious victories this year. Both the Protestant and English powers remain strong. The Holy Roman Empire remains a challenging power to play despite the fact that the winning power in the final was the Holy Roman Empire. Meanwhile, the Protestants still lead in wins despite having two clear natural enemies on the board, Spain and France. However, the best paths to victory for the Protestants are either a military or religious victory, both of which appear, on the surface, to be difficult to achieve, especially as the keys in the Netherlands do not count towards a military victory. Although Spain is the only power that gains VPs by opposing the Protestant religious war, France should perhaps be more motivated to stem the spread of Protestant religious influence as well. However, France is also one of the few powers that can prevent a Protestant military victory!
Interestingly, every power won at least one game this year which is not always the case. Every power has a clear path to victory albeit some paths are more challenging than others. Thanks to all who participated!