The 2018 Battle Line field jumped to a new record high number of attendees and, for the first time, we had to separate the players into 17 pods. We also had some first-ever tied results in the group stage. In a three-player pod, David Schnieder, Lisa Gutermuth, and Alyssa Morgan all went 1-1 with each other, with each game being decided by a breakthrough. To break the tie, all three players played each other again, and David beat the other players to advance. We also had a three-way tie in a four-player pod between Rob Kilroy, 2017 champion Michael Sosa, and Jeff Mullet, with all three players being 2-1, and all of the games being breakthroughs. We think this might be the first ever time we went to the next tiebreaker, which is “record in first game of the heat”. Rob had that tiebreaker, and advanced.
In other first round action, Sean McCulloch barely won his first two games against Sam Berk and Jessica Brown. However, in his third game against Bert Schoose, Bert played a low straight flush against an empty flag. Sean, in an embarrassing fit of laziness, said “I bet that some straight flush is possible to beat that, so I won’t worry about that flag”. On the very next turn, Bert proved him wrong, claiming the flag, and using that burst of tempo to win the game. Luckily for Sean, his 2-1 record stood up, winning the head to head tiebreaker against Sam.
At another table, Bruce Reiff failed to advance out of his pod for the second straight year, this time being taken out by Jacob Shor. Jacob must have been a new face to Bruce, because after losing, Bruce declared him the “Best new player he’s ever seen” and predicted that Jacob would win the event. Bruce’s daughter Nicole avenged Bruce’s early exit of 2015 by beating Sara Ward. Sara would recover and win her pod.
We also had a game go most of the way to completion when it was realized that a troop card was missing from the deck. Please, check the decks you are bringing to make sure they are complete!
Also advancing in from the group stage were: Kerry Walzl, Dalton Versak, Wayne Laustsen, Brad Raszewski, Aidan Powers, David Chickman, Ewan McNay, Greg Staton, Mevlan Imeri, Richie Massimilla, Aaron Fuegi, and Bruno Wolff.
Moving on to the bracket stage, with 17 players advancing, someone would have to be the unlucky pair who played in the “first round” game to get the bracket down to 16 people. Rob Kilroy and Greg Staton drew the short straw and Rob drew the even shorter one as Greg advanced.
In the round of 16, Sean McCulloch played Ewan McNay in a rematch of laurelists from 2017. Sean escaped to move on to the round of 8. 2017 runner-up Dalton Versak beat Kerry Walzl to move on. Sara “Reiff-Killer” Ward beat Wayne Laustsen, and David Schneider beat David Chickman in the “Battle of the Davids”. Richie Massimilla beat Mevlan Imeri, Aaron Fuegi beat Bruno Wolff in a battle of Titan players, and Jacob Schor beat Aidan Powers, completing the field of 8 for the quarterfinals.
The Laurel room got pretty crowded at this point as a heat of Acquire and Lost Cities showed up. But despite the noise, Sean beat Greg, Dalton beat Sara, Richie beat David C, and Aaron beat Jacob to set the final four players.
The first semifinal was a rematch of 2017 where Dalton beat Sean to move on to the finals. This year, Sean got his revenge and won. In the other bracket, Aaron got the win putting an end to a very impressive run by Richie.
The finals matched up Sean and Aaron. They have a large history of games in Titan, Aaron winning the vast majority of them, but this was their first matchup in Battle Line. Aaron jumped out to a strong lead, playing over Sean’s straight flushes and three-of-a-kinds with higher straight flushes and 3-of-a-kinds. Knowing he’d need help, Sean turned to the Tactics deck for help. He got incredibly lucky, and drew two perfect cards. His first play was Traitor, which turned a straight flush of Aaron’s into a straight flush of his own. Then, the Companion Cavalry (wild 8) found a rare use, as it fit perfectly into another of Sean’s straight flushes. Aaron had no response for this wild turn of events, and Sean claimed the title with a breakthrough.