The turnout this year was slightly up, with a total of 90 players showing up for this venerable game.
For those who like statistics with low sample sizes, the turn order statistics this year favored the early seats, unlike last year. In the heats where there was no bidding for turn order, 1st seat won 11 times, 2nd seat won 14, 3rd won 7 times and 4th won 6 times.
The bids for first seat in the semifinals were 5, 5, 4, and 3.5. Dominic Blais won his semi with his first seat bid of 3.5 (by 20 more). Nick Henning advanced from the second seat, Brandon Buchanan advanced from the third seat, and Mike Swinson completed the set by advancing from the fourth seat. None of the semis had their winner altered by the bid.
The players then bid for seating at the final, and each ended up in the seat that got them there. Dominic went first for 4.5 points, Nick Henning took second for 2 points, Brandon got third for 1 point, and Michael took 4th seat for free.
When the flop was revealed, it was clear that Dominic was going to get his 4.5 points worth out of it. He skipped halfway down the river to the +2 sphinx card, with a 3 and 2 quarry just beyond. There were a couple good cards above that, ensuring that nobody would want to jump down for the 3 quarry and receive hardly anything else in the first round, so Dominic got to pick up all 3 in an excellent first round.
Nick came out of the round in decent shape as a result of going second - he got a 3 quarry and he got the bottom two obelisk spaces - important for his "build 2 everywhere" card.
At the end of the first round, Dominic retained his first seat with 4 points, Michael was second also with 4 points, Nick was third with 7 points, and Brandon was in the unenviable position of being last, with 9 points, but having made some progress on his "4 in the columns" card.
Most of the really good cards came out in the first round, so the second round was much less contested. Dominic, Michael, and Nick all went into the sphinx, while Brandon opted for quantity over quality, and set about scooping up all the stuff left behind.
Dominic, being first, did get the best of what was left, coming away with the free crew each round plus the yellow card allowing him to eat rocks in a pinch, an excellent backup plan to his yellow field he picked up earlier. Nick picked up a 3 green field and Michael got the only quarry on the board, a 2 quarry in the final slot.
At the conclusion of the second round, Michael got first seat after having skipped all the building sites but the sphinx, with only 8 points. Dominic was in second seat with 14 points, Nick in third with 16, and Brandon in last seat with 19 points.
The flop on the third round was decent for Michael, but not great. He got a 4 quarry, but had to jump more than halfway down the river for it, and then got the best card in the game, the move upriver card, but he had to pick it up in the final slot. He then went upriver for a 6 yellow field instead of a building site, so he didn't build this round. He got excellent infrastructure cards, but would fall far behind on points.
The board is pretty dry this round for the other players. The all hit the sphinx and the obelisk as well. There's a 7 grave tile in front, which is both a blessing and a curse for Nick. He needs to get 4 blocks in the obelisk, and that's much harder when other people are building a cheaper spots. But he also has the 8th level in the obelisk card, which is hard to achieve and impossible without help. He ends up dropping his 3rd block on the 6th level, but he may end up needing to build both the 7th and 8th levels himself to make his card. In the meantime, Michael is holding the 7th level of the obelisk card, and is likely going to complete it with hardly lifting a finger.
At the end of the third round, Michael is still in first seat, having not built, still with only 8 points. Brandon has maneuvered himself into second seat with 30 points. Nick is in third seat with 31, while Dominic surged ahead, courtesy of his stockpiled stones, best crew in the game, and pyramid bonus all the way to 41 points.
In the fourth round, Brandon wants to continue to take advantage of being at the bottom of both tech tracks, and so slowboats for edfu and 2 grain tech. Everyone else goes to the Sphinx. Nick picks up the field improver to get out of needing yellow fields, so Dominic is forced to stop at passalon to push the water ring to brown, defending his yellow field. While he was doing that, Michael picked up a 3 quarry and Nick picked up a 2 quarry.
Also notably, Dominic picks up the 8 brown field alongside the 6 brown field he already had, which nearly locks in his most brown fields’ sphinx card.
Going into the final round, Michael is still in last place with 28 points, but now massive infrastructure - 12 quarries, 17 crew and the upriver card. Brandon is in third with 43 points, still only 3 quarries, having been supplementing his stone income with the stone tech track. Nick is in second with 44 points.
Dominic is pleased when the 9 brown field card doesn't appear - he previously needed to worry about Brandon picking it up.
Michael moves first and picks up the build first everywhere card, allowing everybody to get into the Sphinx. Dominic decides to skip the graves/obelisk building site to grab 8 points for the pyramids and columns card. Brandon also skips that site to get more stones before going to the pyramids.
Finally, Brandon pushes the water ring to green. This causes Michael to starve for 12, Brandon himself starves for 3, and Dominic has to spend 6 stones using his card that allows him to feed with stones.
Nick manages to complete the 8th level of the obelisk.
When it comes time to build in the pyramids and columns, Brandon knows he's behind, and builds 2 fives on the pyramids for a few extra points, hoping somebody else would complete his single column card. But as luck would have it, Dominic had picked up the pyramids complete sphinx card this round, and finishes the pyramids for a ton of points. Nick on the other hand picked up both columns complete, which he isn't able to do on his own.
Dominic went first on final scoring, as he had 80 points on the board.
- 80 on the board
- 0 for two everywhere
- 6 for 6 bricks in the pyramid
- 8 for most brown fields
- 9 for black crew strength
- 9 for pyramids complete
- 7 for most yellow fields
- -4.5 for the bid
- 107.5 total
Nick was next with 66
- 66 on the board
- 9 for 8th level of the obelisk
- 7 for 4 bricks in the obelisk
- 5 for yellow crew strength
- 5 for number of people finishing the grain track
- 0 for both columns complete
- 2 for leftover stones
- 2 for grave tiles
- -2 bid
- 92 total
Then Brandon with 63
- 63 on the board
- 0 for 7 bricks in the pyramids
- 6 for 4 in the columns
- 3 for blue crew strength
- 0 for one column complete
- -1 bid
- 71 total
Finally, Michael went with 40
- 40 on the board
- 5 for graves
- 1 for leftover stones
- 7 for the 7th level of the obelisk
- 7 for number of people finishing the stone track
- 6 for number of permanent cards
- 5 for boss crew strength
- 7 for having the most quarries
- 7 for having the most yellow fields
- 0 bid
- 85 total
Thus, the final standings were Dominic Blais winning with 107.5, Nick Henning in second with 92. Michael Swinson in third with 85, and Brandon Buchanan in fourth with 71.