The Navegador tournament this year saw a considerable increase in enrollment, setting a new record with 82 participants! The first heat of the tournament had 56 players – as many as had participated in the entire tournament in 2017. This may be due to a general increase in WBC attendance, or good scheduling, or perhaps the fact that Navegador is now available to play online. However, relatively few players had copies of the game—we were able to accommodate all entrants, but it was close.
In the three heats, there were some very high scores – one player, Nicole Bosca, scored 138 points in the second heat, while Wade Fowble came close to that mark in the third heat with 136. In the heats, the tried-and-true factory/church strategy was the most popular among winners; about 11 of the 30 games were won using some variation of that strategy. However, many other strategies were also successful, including navigation/shipyard (5 winners) and several strategies involving colonies. The most notable winner’s strategy I noticed was Jared Scheuer’s – he had no colonies and only four factories, but he won using a navigation/shipyard strategy whose economy relied almost entirely on exploration bonuses and privileges! It’s good to know you can actually live on that.
The GM wishes to extend appreciation to Richie Massimilla and the RPI crew, who helped to set up for a heat which was otherwise logistically difficult.
Due to the increased participation in the tournament, one win was not enough to guarantee that a player would play in the semifinal this year! Overall, we had twenty-seven winners, but only sixteen advanced to the semis. Prior to this year, it had been very rare to turn away a winner from the semifinal. Once again, we were short on boards, but Nicole Bosca, who is justly known for her excellent sportsmanship, allowed us to use her set, even though she had just missed the semifinals.
The three double winners, Jonathan Towne, Erik Schlosser, and Dennis Mishler, were separated in the semifinals.
Jonathan faced Ted Zellers, Rob Davidson, and Tim O’Flynn. Ted and Jonathan both went after colonies, with Jonathan pursuing a navigation strategy and Ted picking up factories and churches. Rob went after factories and churches, while Tim went with the unusual combination of factories and shipyards but did the best job of picking up privileges and maxed out both categories. Ultimately, Ted’s strong economy and valuable churches carried the day.
Erik’s table included former finalist Wade Fowble and newcomers Matt Lahut and Eric Alexopoulos. This was a high scoring game; it ended through exploration, and three of the four players had triple-digit scores. Both Wade and Erik went after factories, while Matt sailed for some navigation tokens but relied primarily on factories, picking up thirteen of them over the course of the game and splitting the churches with Wade along the way. Matt ended up scoring 139 points for a strong win.
Dennis, last year’s champion, played at a table with fellow former champion Jacob Wagner, frequent semifinalist Patrick Shea, and Chris Senhouse, who was new to the semifinals. Patrick built up a very strong colony economy, as he often does, while Chris built shipyards and competed with him in navigation tokens and Dennis and Jacob both went after factories and churches. Patrick had little competition in colonies and was able to amass 18 of them, along with a healthy pile of navigation tokens, and won the game with another very high score. Chris came in second.
The final table didn’t include a double winner, but still came with some strong competition; the three former finalists Rob Kircher, Brandon Bernard, and Romain Jacques, and of course, Dave Bohnenberger. Rob adopted a navigation strategy, picking up colonies and shipyards as he went; he was able to max out the value of his ten colonies for 40 points. Each of the other players had a few colonies, but not enough to compete in that category. The other three players competed over factories, but Brandon was far more successful, ending with 12 of them. Brandon and Romain competed over the churches, while Dave picked up several shipyards, but not enough to stop Rob. Rob won with 118 points, while Brandon came in second with 108, the closest second in the semifinals.
On to the finals! Careful readers will have noticed that none of the double winners won their tables in the semifinals. Instead, our winners were Ted Zellers, Matt Lahut, Patrick Shea and Rob Kircher. However, Matt dropped out due to a conflict with the Power Grid final (a nice problem to have), so we advanced the best second, Brandon Bernard.
Player order in the final was: Patrick, Brandon, Rob and Tim. The opening of the game was very traditional: Patrick sailed to sugar and Brandon to gold, while Rob bought a sugar factory and Tim bought a gold factory.
The development of the colony economy was slow. As players began to develop their economies, Rob began buying up the sugar and spice factories (a pattern that would continue throughout the game), but also scooped up the factory privilege and the church privilege. He also had time to pick up a couple incidental gold colonies. Brandon settled on shipyards very early, got the privilege to go with it, and started turning out ships and buying gold colonies. Patrick and Tim, meanwhile, competed over the sugar colonies; each of them ended up with four, while both of them also built some workers and ships. Tim got the privilege, though, and of course he also had the advantage of getting Henry first.
By the time Brandon discovered Cabo de Boa Esperanca to begin Phase 2, all the sugar colonies were gone, and he and Rob each had two gold colonies. Not until then did the players begin buying churches!
From here, the final became a very sail-heavy game. Brandon continued to pick up shipyards and used them to produce a nice fleet and pick up more gold colonies, while Tim explored aggressively, introducing the spice colonies into the game. Through most of Phase Two, Tim was pushing the frontier; he discovered Mozambique, Zanzibar, Goa and Malaca. However, Brandon took over discoveries at the end of the game. Tim funded his exploration with gold factories until he was able to colonize spice; he was able to get several spice colonies. Brandon focused on his fleet, building lots of shipyards and picking up the gold colonies. Patrick was a little stuck; he couldn’t get into the colonies, and Tim had the gold factories while Rob had the sugar and spice, leaving him with small profits from the market. At this point in the game, he started focusing on building churches and getting privileges for them.