This year we tried a new edition, a new format, a new adjudication method, and got a new champion! Read on, it’s the Innovation 2018 AAR!
With the 3rd/Deluxe edition being out for around a year and an a half, and the 1st edition no longer being sold, it was time to switch over. Somewhere between half and two-thirds of the copies brought were 3rd edition, so we will continue using it.
We also changed how the tournament was run this year. Instead of having a mulligan round into a single-elimination format, which would often yield mulligan winners who couldn’t make the main tournament, and an unwieldy bracket resulting in large amounts of downtime, we tried something different this year. Pods of 4 people, everyone playing everyone else once, everyone with the best record advancing, and 2-1s who didn’t advance potentially filling out the bracket. We had 12 pod winners, meaning we needed to randomly select four of the five 2-1 players who didn’t win their brackets… and one of those five had another event and so decided to drop, making that selection fairly easy. Many thanks to AGM Chris Kizer for handling those logistics while the GM was finishing up his games!
The new format required that in order to finish three games in three hours, we needed to ensure that all games finished in an hour. This meant adjudications were more likely to be required. Adjudicating Innovation is tricky - games often end on achievements, but a player can be down 0-5 achievements and still be in a commanding position, due to the number of alternate win conditions, or have many ways to come back, due to the volatility of late-game boards. Previously, our adjudication method has been “try to determine if one player has a win on board/in a turn or two, if not, flip a coin”. This isn’t a very satisfying end, and may also encourage players who are behind to play slower. I decided to try something different this year - after a game had gone 55 minutes, players would have 15 seconds for each decision they would have to make. Five games went into this sudden-death/stupidly-harsh time limit mode. In one game, a player who had just learned the game chose to concede, in three of the others, the player who was ahead won in a couple of turns, and I don’t have notes on the results in the fifth. Please, if anyone has thoughts about this adjudication method, or the tournament format, let me know!
We played 75 games of Innovation this year. Of those, 60 were won by achievements. 4 games ended on Score, 3 on BioEngineering and another 3 on Self Service, and 2 each for Empiricism and Globalization. (And one game unknown). The 80% achievement rate holds strong, as does the 0% win rate for Collaboration over the last two years.
Before I summarize the finals, a quick aside - the Friday before WBC I got an email from a participant letting me know that he might be a couple minutes late to the 10am start, and to try to hold a spot for him if he was. The participant? Ewan McNay, my opponent for the finals! Talk about eye on the prize. Warning: The finals summary will be written from my (biased) viewpoint!
Ewan started the finals with Domestication, Robb with Writing. Ewan began by using his cattle to threaten starting a Clothing industry, Robb responded by drawing two cards from Writing. Ewan did start putting on Clothing, scoring 4 points - Robb’s writing yielded Calendar and Philosophy, so he too could get in on the Clothing business. Ewan shared clothing for the points to achieve the 1, and did so. Robb used Philosophy to splay his Blues (?) and drew a 2. Ewan put on another article of clothing - Mysticism - which led him to learn about Mapmaking. Robb’s Calendar thought it was time for Compass. Ewan effortlessly achieved the 2, and then melded Math.
Things were looking grim for our hero (Robb) around now - down two achievements and his opponent having the teching tools. Robb consulted the Calendar looking for a better season, and found only Medicine. Ewan was back consulting the Mystics, finding Paper and Feudalism. Still a man of learning, Robb shared Philosophy with Ewan (who did join), and consulted the Calendar again. Ewan used his Domestication to build himself some Roads, and those roads let him trade Optics to Robb for Compass. Robb immediately covered the Optics with Gunpowder, and blew up Ewan’s roads. Ewan ran metalworking here? And splayed Yellow? My notes are unclear! Sorry. Robb responded by running Gunpowder twice. Ewan drew, then melded Invention, and Robb now had the points to achieve the 3 and 4, so he did so. Tie game!
Ewan shared his inventions, and then offered to share the Math they were based on - Robb declined the Math, trying to slow Ewan down. But alas, Math was covered by Atomic Theory. Robb shared the secrets of his Calendar with Ewan, and then melded Measurement. Ewan missed having a numerical approach to things, so he developed Societies and stole Measurement. Robb thought long, but not hard, making a questionable play of melding Statistics despite the fact that it could be stolen by Ewan, and achieving the 5. Robb slightly ahead, 3-2.
Atomic Theory turned into something worth Publishing, and Ewan finished by drawing a 7. Robb offered to share Statistics to splay his yellows (??), but was rebuffed, and melded Coal. Why share when you can have them for yourself!? Ewan’s Societies took Statistics (unplaying Robb’s yellow) - and Ewan Measured his yellow stack. Robb started Coal-mining his board, getting rid of his yellow and purple stacks. And Ewan responded by using Robb’s old Stats against him. Robb melded Experimentation, and forced Ewan to experiment with him. Giving Ewan Classification while getting Democracy for himself. But Ewan’s Societies wanted Democracy, so Democracy they got. And they immediately went to vote. Robb forced more experimentation, giving away Steam and Combustion, while getting Metric and Railroads. Democracy again gave Ewan the 6 achievement. More forced Experiments gave Ewan the Pirate Code and Robb Explosives. Running the Pirate Code gave Ewan the points for the 7 achievement, which he took. Robb responded by running Perspective twice (choosing to return a 5 while doing so, instead of a lower-valued card from his hand), giving him Monument. Tie game, 4-4.
Ewan decided to publish an old classic - Math back to the front, and use it to discover… Empiricism. Ouch. Ewan was already close to the 20-lightbulb win condition - if he plays his Purples up, he wins. Robb forces more experiments on Ewan trying to cover it up, giving away Chemistry (the 5 returned, as Robb was planning on covering Publications) and Refrigeration, getting Bicycle and Rocketry, covering Experimentation! Oh no, no more forced experiments! Ewan considers. Does he run Empiricism twice, trying to just win this turn, or does he achieve the 8 first, which Robb also has access to? He goes for the safer play, and achieves the 8, and Empiricism only gives him Computers into his hand. Robb runs Explosives to steal those computers, and melds them. Ewan runs Empicicms twice. And fails to find a Green or Purple! Robb hopes to find an answer with Computers, getting AI and then Internet. And Ewan melds the Genetics from his hand, which gives him exactly 20 light bulbs, and so just wins with Empiricism. Well done and Congratulations!