This has been a great three-year run as the GM of Small World. I am excited to be passing the torch to Sarah Stewart, who graciously offered to serve as GM for next year. I hope you will all give her the same respect and support that you have shown me. As a first-time GM three years ago I have to admit to a bit of trepidation. Now I can honestly say that I look forward to GM'ing as a substantial part of my WBC experience. Next year I will be doing so with Power Grid, following the fantastic service of Kevin Broh-Kahn. Maybe I'll come back to finally play a heat or two of Small World.
Now to this year's tournament. As was pointed out by a number of players, we went for speed this year. The demo and heats were all finished by early afternoon on the first Saturday. I apologize to those who missed it. Perhaps Sarah will have a later heat next year. I didn't realize how many fans of the game there were until I prevented some from playing due to the schedule.
Even with the semifinal on the same night as the heats, a few semifinalists did not show, giving three alternates a chance to play in the semifinal. The change in format did allow all 25 winners to qualify. Most of those with two seconds in the heats ended up in the semifinal as well due to the no-shows.
The closest semifinal table saw only five points between first and fifth place, including a three-way tie for second place (only one point behind first). Rodney Bacigalupo squeaked out the win over two 2016 finalists (Joe Collinson and Woolly Farrow) as well as Kyle Greenwood and Randy Buehler - tough competition indeed!
The largest margin of victory (perhaps a precursor to the final result) was by Eugene Yee, with 97 points. The other four (Matt Lahut, Chris Kalmbacher, Robert St. Pierre, and William Poland) were clustered between 65 and 76 points.
Richard Beyma defeated Curt Collins II, Kevin Burns, 2017 finalist Pierre-Luc Ramier, and William Jung to claim the third finalist position.
In a first (for me), one semifinal table saw a player stay with the starting race the entire game. It almost paid off, as Lexi Shea placed second with her pillaging skeletons to Samantha Berk. The other semifinalists at that table were Steve Scott, Kirk Harris, and Chris Gnech.
The last table was won by Chris Trimmer, one point ahead of both Katherine Hitchings and Marc Nelson, Jr. Tom Gregorio and Gregory Hultgren rounded out that table.
Before the recap, a comment about turn order. Some discussion was made early on about how disadvantageous it is to go last, and that some sort of bidding for turn order should be considered. I'm not sure I agree. With a new race and power revealed each time a player selects a combination, later players potentially have access to stronger ones than earlier players. That said, each of the last two years have seen the starting player win the final. This year, Eugene Yee went second and won handily. Chris Trimmer came in second from the last starting position. I don't intend to overanalyze it - I will leave it to others to determine whether bidding for starting position is necessary for balance. My input is that it is unnecessary.
Now for the recap. During the first turn, the only one to pay a coin for his starting combination was Rodney Bacigalupo, in fourth position. It seemed to pay off initially, as he was in the lead for the entire first half of the game. Here is the starting lineup, in turn order:
- Samantha Berk - Alchemist Trolls - 11
- Eugene Yee - Forest Ratmen - 12
- Richard Beyma - Underworld Halflings - 10
- Rodney Bacigalupo - Pillaging Orcs - 14
- Chris Trimmer - Bivouacking Sorcerers - 10
The Sorcerers hit hard in round two, converting three tokens to their cause. It ended:<>
- Samantha Berk -Alchemist Trolls - 19
- Eugene Yee - Forest Ratmen - 22
- Richard Beyma - Underworld Halflings - 18
- Rodney Bacigalupo - Pillaging Orcs - 26
- Chris Trimmer - Bivouacking Sorcerers - 15
Seeing the devastation possible by the continued conversions, everyone declined during turn three, including the sorcerers, since there were no other active races on the board by that point.
- Samantha Berk - Alchemist Trolls (d) - 23
- Eugene Yee - Forest Ratmen (d) - 28
- Richard Beyma - Underworld Halflings (d) - 25
- Rodney Bacigalupo - Pillaging Orcs (d) - 32
- Chris Trimmer - Bivouacking Sorcerers (d) - 20
It was almost like starting the game over at the start of turn four, with everyone choosing a new combination. This time, Richard paid two coins and Chris paid one (both skipping over the Stout Ghouls), and Rodney was able to collect one of Richard's coins with his choice.
- Samantha Berk - Heroic Giants - 33
- Eugene Yee - Fortified Skeletons - 37
- Richard Beyma - Merchant Amazons - 41
- Rodney Bacigalupo - Flying Humans - 44
- Chris Trimmer - Commando Elves - 29
The jockeying for position continues with a great deal of trash talking and speculation about who is the greatest threat. Richard sees (and speaks loudly about) the vast future potential of Eugene's fortified skeletons, but he somehow flies under everyone's radar and holds on to second until the very last turn of the game. Eugene inexplicably sees Samantha as his greatest threat and works hard to hold her off. Since no one else seems to heed Richard's warning (yet), the others continue to vie for territory with no clear target.
- Samantha Berk - Heroic Giants - 44
- Eugene Yee - Fortified Skeletons - 48
- Richard Beyma - Merchant Amazons - 57
- Rodney Bacigalupo - Flying Humans - 55
- Chris Trimmer - Commando Elves - 40
During turn 6, Richard and Rodney decide they need to try something new and go into decline. The others soldier on.
- Samantha Berk - Heroic Giants - 55
- Eugene Yee - Fortified Skeletons - 61
- Richard Beyma - Merchant Amazons (d) - 62
- Rodney Bacigalupo - Flying Humans (d) - 59
- Chris Trimmer - Commando Elves - 54
Having ridden the Giants for as far as she could, Samantha finally throws in the towel and declines in the penultimate turn. Richard follows suit (again), having nabbed the Stout Ghouls. It is now clear to all that Richard prophecy is coming true with Eugene's fortified skeletons. One after another they tried to break down the fortifications, but the combination proved to be too powerful to overcome.
- Samantha Berk - Heroic Giants (d) - 62
- Eugene Yee - Fortified Skeletons - 77
- Richard Beyma - Stout Ghouls (d) - 69
- Rodney Bacigalupo - Seafaring Tritons - 68
- Chris Trimmer - Commando Elves - 68
Someone rightly pointed out that the rest of them were essentially playing for second at this point. The last turn was a nailbiter, with second place a very close race.
- Samantha Berk - Dragonmaster Dwarves - 70
- Eugene Yee - Fortified Skeletons - 89
- Richard Beyma - Diplomat Wizards - 79
- Rodney Bacigalupo - Seafaring Tritons - 78
- Chris Trimmer - Commando Elves - 80
In the end, the indestructible elves held on for the second place prize.
Once again, this year's winner only declined once. Second place also declined once, but third place declined twice. If you can find the right two combinations, the sweet spot seems to be a single decline.
Thanks again to a great Small World crowd. I hope everyone had a fantastic year. See you all again at Seven Springs next July.
|Which way should I go?
||GM Jay Spencer watching over the action.
|Looking confident about his move.
||Finalists with GM Jay Spencer