In the fifth year of the Five Tribes tournament at WBC, 71 players played a total of 34 games to compete for the championship. This tied the record for participants and set a new record for games played. We had three demos this year, which were all well attended and allowed several attendees to learn the game and immediately play in the tournament.
Heat 1 on First Saturday drew 44 players. It featured the highest score of the tournament, Chris Trimmer’s 190 points, of which exactly half came from his gold coins. Chris won this game by 40 points, which was also the largest margin of victory in the tournament. The closest game in this heat was a 1-point win by Drew Doughan over Philip Preston (138-137).
Heat 2 on Monday drew 36 players. The highest score in this heat was Laura Miller’s 166 points, which included 64 merchandise points. The largest margin of victory in this heat was a 19-point win by Natalia Ivanova. And there were two 1-point wins: Chris Wildes won 149-148 against Lars Mattson, and Tricia Wolff scored 152 in her game while Brandon Buchanan scored 151 and Faith Wobbeking scored 150.
Heat 3 on Wednesday drew 35 players. The highest score in this heat was Faith Wobbeking’s 187 points, which included 60 merchandise points and came in the only 3-player game of the tournament. The largest margin of victory in this heat was 24, achieved by both Adam Hurd and Connie Vogelmann. Dylan Quintana won his game by 1 point versus Ryan Friedman (144-143). The closest game of the tournament also occurred in this heat: a tie between Steven Alfieri and Ryan Feathers at 150 points, with Paul Klayder and Dylan Kistler quite close and also tied at 141 points.
The semifinals were held on Thursday evening. After the heats, we had 5 double heat winners and 8 single heat winners with a 2nd place finish. Therefore, our top 16 included only 3 of the 12 single heat winners without a 2nd place finish, but 2 more advanced as alternates. The four double heat winners present were seeded to different tables, and remaining players were randomly assigned to tables.
In the first semifinal to finish, Loc Nyugen focused on tile control, but the game went two rounds longer than he planned, so he finished 4th with 132 points. Double heat winner Sam Wolff played a more balanced game, with points in every scoring category but finished 3rd with 137 points. Lars Mattson concentrated more on yellow viziers and coins, and finished 2nd with 138 points. Brandon Buchanan, like Sam, also scored in every category. However, Brandon was dominant in viziers, scoring 45 points with the assistance of Djinn Jafaar (+2VP/vizier), and also scored 41 merchandise points. He won with a score of 160.
In the second semifinal to finish, Natalia Ivanova used an aggressive tile control strategy and finished 4th with 111 points. Drew Doughan and Dominic Blais both focused on merchandise and each managed to score 40 points in this category. They also tied in tile control points but otherwise had very different games. Drew had more coins, palm trees, and palaces and finished 3rd with 136 points. Dominic had more viziers, white elders, and Djinns, and finished 2nd with 140 points. Double heat winner Chris Wildes took a more balanced approach, scoring in all categories except for elders. He was the only player at this table who ended with more coins than he started with (58), had the second most tile control points, and tied with Dominic for most viziers, adding up to a win with a score of 162.
In the third semifinal to finish, double heat winner Chris Trimmer played a tile control strategy supplemented by some surplus coins, two Djinns, and a few merchandise, and finished 4th with 128 points. Defending champion Connie Vogelmann also focused heavily on tile control, and scored big points by winning the vizier contest, but finished 3rd with 134 points. Ryan Feathers played a creative game in which he bought multiple Djinns, including Bouraq the palace buyer, and even set up the endgame such that other players had to build a palace in his village. He ended with six palaces (30 points) on a single village, but this was not quite enough as he finished 2nd with 144 points. Angela Bender played an effective merchandise strategy, utilizing green meeples and timely double buys to score 53 merchandise points. She also scored 24 points in both the vizier and elder categories, the latter courtesy of Djinn Shamhaj (+2VP/elder), and despite having the fewest points in coins and tile control, she won with a score of 145. Our tiebreaker for the elimination rounds is player order in the final round, and since Ryan moved before Angela in that round, he would have won with a single extra point! But he ended 1 point behind, and therefore our first alternate was through to the finals!
The last semifinal to finish took the longest since it ended with just two meeples on the board; this may have set a tournament record. Laura Miller took control of a central tile early, and chose to purchase Marid, the meeple-on-your-tile profiteer. She went on to collect some merchandise and spent three late actions to win the vizier contest, but finished 4th with a score of 135. Adam Hurd focused on merchandise, ending with a set of eight and a set of five for 71 points. He also took control of a village tile and purchased Bouraq, the palace buyer, to convert his surplus fakirs and elders into more palaces. However, he finished 3rd with a score of 153. Tricia Wolff had an early play for three viziers, and ended up mostly going with a tile control strategy. She was hurt by Laura’s late game quest for viziers, but ended with points in most scoring categories and finished 2nd with a score of 163. Double heat winner Allan Jiang managed to collect 98 coins by the end of the game. This was aided by his purchase of Djinn Monkir, the palace profiteer, immediately after Bouraq was taken. He scored in double digits in five other categories to win with a score of 180.
The final game was played later on Thursday evening. Allan was in the finals for the third time in a row, while the others were all here for their first time. AGM Ryan Feathers posted an exceptionally detailed report of this game, including pictures of every move, at: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2265098
The initial board provided many options to the players. There was one tile with three meeples of the same color and fourteen tiles with two of the same color. The blue tiles were very clustered, providing many positions where each builder would be worth 5 or even 7 points. The available Djinns were unexciting, while the resource market had but a single fakir, meaning merchandise strategies could get a fast start.
The opening bidding is therefore tricky for our would-be sultans. Brandon opens with 3, Angela follows with 5, Allan bows out and bids 0, and Chris decides to pay 8 and secure the first move. Chris immediately scoops up four merchants, while claiming a 6 point small market and purchasing one more resource. He already has four unique merchandise and a fakir. Angela acquires three viziers and starts her own merchandise set. Brandon utilizes two builders to gain 14 coins. Allan performs a looping maneuver to obtain two elders, and claim an oasis on which he immediately places a palm tree.
Round 2 begins with Chris bidding 1, Angela 0, Brandon 3, and Allan 0. Brandon uses three merchants and a large market to collect four unique merchandise, including two rare ones. Chris uses assassins to claim a village with a previously built palace. Ending there adds a second palace, now both under his control. Allan decides to take advantage of the strong board for the builders, grabbing three of them for 15 coins. Angela pulls off a move very similar to Chris, in using assassins to claim a tile and then immediately building a palace there.
Round 3 sees bids of 1 from Brandon, then 3 from Chris, 5 from Allan, and Angela deciding to pay 0. Allan drops a lone builder on the 15 point tile and assassinates it to claim the tile. He also spends his two elders to buy Djinn Hagis, the palace redirector. Chris bolsters his two builders with his fakir, earning a total of 21 coins. Brandon decides to enter the vizier game by acquiring three of them and he also purchases a fakir through a small market. Angela makes a looping move with the assassins, claiming two tiles while adding to her merchandise.
Round 4 kicks off with a bid of 1 from Allan while the rest pay 0. Allan loops around again, this time claiming a 6 point sacred place. He acquires three elders, two of which he uses to obtain Djinn Nekir, the assassination profiteer. He quickly earns 2 coins from Nekir when Angela immediately uses the assassin’s tribe to again claim two tiles while adding some more merchandise to her slowly burgeoning set. Brandon scoops up three more viziers, the only such spot still available on the board. Chris uses the assassin’s tribe to claim two tiles, one of which is the oasis Brandon just built a palm tree on, and he adds an additional palm tree to it.
Round 5 opens with Allan bidding 0, Angela 1, Brandon 3, and Chris 0. Brandon gets back to acquiring resources, this time with two merchants and a large market. Angela uses a looping move claim yet another tile, while also obtaining and spending two elders for Lamia, the palm tree redirector. Chris grabs two elders and also purchases merchandise at a large market. Allan finishes the round by obtaining two more elders along with a 6 point tile.
Round 6 sees the bids of 1 from Brandon, 3 from Angela, and 0 for Chris and Allan. Angela uses the assassins to claim her seventh tile and purchases resources. Brandon gets two merchants and purchases merchandise, bringing his primary set to eight for 50 points. Allan takes advantage of a vizier he dropped on his own oasis long ago, claiming two viziers and adding another palm tree to his tile. Chris finishes the round with two builders providing a meager 2 coins, but he claims an oasis and adds a palm tree there.
Round 7 was potentially the final round, with Angela having only one camel remaining. Angela bids 1, Brandon 3, Allan 0, and Chris bids 5 to ensure he can get what he needs--he again trades in two builders for a scant 2 dollars, and claims a 4 point tile. But this move gives him the large market action, upping his merchandise set from 30 points to 50 points. Brandon takes advantage of the four fakirs he has by utilizing them along with two builders to get 18 coins, plus control of the 6 point tile he ended on. Angela uses the assassin’s tribe to claim her eighth tile, ensuring this would be the final round. Angela also converts her elder and fakir into the Djinn Ba’al, the Djinn profiteer. Allan takes the final turn of the game, obtaining two elders and adding one more palm tree to his oasis.
In the end, each finalist took a fairly different route to trying to obtain the sultanate of Naqala.
Angela heavily utilized the assassins tribe (five of seven turns!) to put out all eight of her camels, getting 50 points for tile control. She was rewarded with 23 points for her one turn of collecting viziers. She had 22 points from coins, 16 from Djinns, 13 from merchandise, and 10 from palaces. Her overall total of 134 points gave her a fairly close 4th place.
Brandon scored in just four of the eight categories on the score sheet. His eight unique merchandise with one duplicate scored him 51 points. While Brandon spent the most coins during the game, he also earned the most from builders and ended with exactly the 50 coins he started with. He was rewarded with 36 points for his vizier’s majority. All of his 6 points in tile control came from a lone tile he obtained on the final turn! This put him at a total of 143 points and a close 3rd place.
Allan eschewed merchandise, never obtaining a single resource all game. He spent the fewest coins on bidding and ended with 67 coins. He also had 35 points from tile control, 16 from Djinns, 12 from viziers, 10 from elders, and 9 from palm trees. This put him at 149 points and 2nd place, for the third year in a row.
Chris’s winning strategy was based around an eight-card merchandise set for 50 points. He also scored 43 points for coins, 37 for tile control, 10 for palaces, 9 for palm trees, and 4 for elders. Chris’s total of 153 points was enough to claim the sultanate and therefore the 2019 Five Tribes Championship!
Some stats from the 34 tournament games: 11 were won by the player with the most coins, 11 were won by the player with the most viziers (including 2 ties for most viziers), 8 were won by the player with the most Djinn points (including 1 tie for most Djinn points), 15 were won by the player with the highest tile control score, and 7 were won by the player with the highest merchandise score. Not unsurprisingly, this shows a reasonable balance between the Five Tribes of Naqala!
I’d like to thank AGMs Ryan Feathers and Sarah Stewart, and regular Five Tribes GM Michael McKibbin for their contributions to this event and for making my job as a first-time GM very easy. The four of us were essentially co-GMs this year, and worked together from early in the planning process to try to make this tournament a success. Ryan ran a demo, played a lead role in running the heats and the semifinals, and officiated and documented the finals. Sarah ran two demos and assisted with the setup of all the heats. Michael provided insights into running this event, provided us with the table meeples and customized score sheets, and helped us launch the first heat. Also, thank you to Adam Hurd for helping with setting up the heats. We are expecting Michael to return as GM next year, when he will hopefully be free of any conflict with his work schedule.
The GM team is considering implementing a house rule for next year’s tournament, to prevent any tiles from having three meeples of the same color during setup. This occurred in at least four games during this year’s tournament, and can lead to situations where the first or the last player to bid in the first round can have a significant advantage. Please contact any of us if you have any thoughts or input.