Our 21st tournament of Atlantic Storm attracted over a hundred players again, and eight of our 16 former champions were able to join us. The average number of players at each table was 5.33, and Pacific Typhoon was the preferred game 23% of the time.
Exactly half of the 42 games played (21) had close finishes, with the winner having a margin of 2 victory points or less over the next player. In fact, one out of eight games played was determined by tiebreaker. For instance, in Heat 1 Chad Gormly and Ewan McNay tied at 22 points at the end of their 5-player game, but Chad’s convoys bested Ewan’s convoys by a single point to give Chad the win. Likewise, at a 6-player table in Heat 3, Kevin Burns and Shane McBee tied with 33 points each, but Kevin had 1 convoy point more than Shane to win the game.
The outcomes at a few tables were lopsided by contrast. John Keating was half-embarrassed to hand in the results of his 5-player Heat 1 game where he had a 17-point lead over his nearest competitor. His margin of victory was repeated by Anna Kiefte in Heat 3 and outshone by Shane McBee in Heat 4. Those two individuals scored 49 points (this year’s high score) in their 6-player games, but Shane’s score was more than double that of his closest rival at the table.
To qualify for the semifinals, a player had to win a game in any one of the four heats. Three players won twice during those heats: Robert Eastman, John Coussis, and Eric Buetikofer. Seven of the tournament’s returning champions made it into this year’s semifinals, and two of them, Robert Eastman and Patrick Mirk, advanced to the finals along with three other players.
The random seating order for the 2018 final was Chad Gormly, Robert Eastman, Patrick Mirk, Dacey Collinson, and Tom Bissa. Rob suggested to Pat that they switch seats so Rob could play after Pat, but Pat knew better than to accept Rob’s offer.
This year was something of a milestone for Atlantic Storm because our first tournament occurred 20 years ago in 1998. Many of the players who attend the event have returned year after year to participate, and all of the finalists were familiar friends to me because of that. I reminded them that the tournament started in 1998, and I was curious to know when they had first started attending. Their answers did not surprise me, but Dacey made us all laugh when she added, “I was born in 1998.”
Chad started the game by picking a 1943 battle, calling Surface and playing B-Dienst. It was a smart play that allowed him to bring out Bismarck without risk of losing it. He grabbed the first convoy, but unfortunately for Chad, that was the extent of his fortune until the last few rounds. Rob relied on his “lucky roll” strategy in Round 2 to win an Air battle with only KG 26 against Tom and Chad’s opposition. Dacey was correct to assume Air was still in short supply by round 4, so she called it and won that convoy while everyone else discarded or, in Tom’s case, tossed his hand since he would be next round leader. Tom had noted the earlier play of Bismarck by Chad, so Tom called Surface on round 5 for a 1941 convoy and safely played Hood from his fresh hand to win that round.
By round 8, Pat thought it was a good time to call Surface again, and he played Duke of York with Minefield to dominate that round, but Tom refueled the Duke into his own hand with Gray Ranger. Dacey saw her 1941 Sub battle in round 9 end with a push, which became an Air battle in round 10 led by Tom’s CAM Ship. Rob sent a Condor against the CAM, but Pat showed up with the Renown to secure the win for Tom and share the spoils. Dacey won round 11’s Sub battle, bringing the table to the halfway point in the game.
The victory points on display were Chad 6, Rob 8, Pat 13, Dacey 7, and Tom 9. However, Rob had gathered a few more hidden spoils than the other players during the first half, so Pat’s apparent lead was not secure. Pat decided to grace the table with a handful of his good-luck charms. These consisted of coins, gemstones, and a leprechaun figurine in a hands-on-hips pose that made Rob ask if the leprechaun was actually mooning everyone as an insult. Pat assured us the leprechaun was not.
The second half was Rob’s to start, and he called Sub for a 1940 convoy and played Achates. Pat replied with U48, creating a tie. Dacey elected to toss her hand in hopes of drawing a 1940 card, and Tom and Chad discarded so the convoy was pushed. However, Pat had no follow-up 1940 card, so he called Combined and discarded. Dacey pulled Hipper from her new hand while everyone else bemoaned that 1940 is a challenging year and discarded.
Tom won the next three rounds, which made him the visible leader at the table. On round 17, Rob looked destined to win HG 76 in a 1941 Sub battle, but Dacey had the fate card (Blankney) to take it away from him. Pat won his Sub battle for round 18. This outcome put everyone except Chad within 1 or 2 victory points of Tom. Dacey surged ahead in round 19 with another fated play: Prien’s U47 against HX 79 in 1940. Pat played last that round. He had nothing with a Sub value in 1940, but he tried to Storm Dacey away so that no one would have a play on the table and the convoy would be discarded. However, his Storm roll failed and Dacey now had the most victory points. Pat’s lucky charms had run out.
Round 20 was Tom’s to lead. He called Sub for HX 229 and played 5 strength points for the Allies. Chad answered with B-Dienst. It was Rob’s turn to play, and Pat said, “If you want a beer, play German.” Tom responded, “If you want two beers, play Allied.” Dacey, who is under the legal drinking age, said to Rob, “If I win I’ll give you a hug,” to which Rob replied, “I don’t know what my wife would say about that.” Dacey quickly answered, “I’ll hug her too!” Rob and Pat did play German, but Dacey went Allied with a die roll plus 2, which gave her half a chance to surpass Tom’s play. Chad brought out a U-boat but the Allies still won. If Dacey had rolled high enough, she could have secured her victory at the table. Instead, Tom now had a distinct edge. Chad won a 7-point convoy on round 21 as he attempted to catch up to the others. For the last convoy Rob called Air and played KG 26 again. Rob needed that “lucky roll” strategy when Pat and Dacey both responded with Allied Air. Tom discarded but Chad supported Rob with Hipper and Atlantic Storm. He stormed away Dacey’s play and Rob got the convoy while Chad took Renown.
Final scores: Tom 27, Dacey 24, Rob 23, and Pat and Chad 17 each. Everyone made smart plays, and no one called Surface for suit in the last half of the game, including Tom who we knew was sitting with Duke of York in his 9-card hand.
I thank everyone who played in this year’s tournament. Your good-natured talk and laughter is always a pleasure to hear. I also thank you, the reader, for staying with this report. Stay healthy and safe, and I look forward to seeing you next year.