On the first Saturday, we had the demo at 4pm in the Annex. Fourteen people showed up for the demo, so we split into two tables and had two simultaneous demos, with Nicole, from North Star Games, taking half of the interested players.
Our first heat was at 6pm in Seasons. We had 32 players show up, and I was happy to see that a lot of the players from the demos liked it enough to give it a try. Each of the players were given a promo card set of Defensive Herding with a stained glass alternate art. The players were randomly split into eight tables of four. The two players with the biggest win differential employed the strategy of creating a lot of species early for additional cards. This worked out well for them, as Jennifer Visocnik grabbed the first position with a big win, and Jay Buckwalter was right behind her.
Our second heat was on Thursday, at 1pm in Foggy Goggles Front. Last year’s winner, Kaitlyn Ballard, volunteered to be an Assistant GM for the remaining heats. Her assistance was very much appreciated. Only 28 players were able to make it to this heat, so they were able to be evenly split into seven tables of four. Before assigning tables, Lawrence Solomon expressed an interest in playing Evolution: Climate. Since the positioning is based on the percentage of overall points scored in the game, it would still apply similarly with Climate. I reiterated that the final table would be a game of Climate. Only one other player was interested, so all of the games were the standard Evolution. The games in this round seemed friendlier with more joking than the first round. A player who did not attend the first heat, Amy Whitesell, was probably a big reason for the new fun energy. Her positive energy through her heats was infectious. The second heat ended with Jennifer Visocnik, again, taking the highest win differential, and Curt Collins II joined Jennifer as the only other player to win both of the first two heats. We also had a game where Kerry Walzl and Samantha Berk ended in a tie, with Kerry winning the tie-breaker of having the most traits.
The final heat was on Friday, back in Seasons, at 3pm. We had 34 players show up, so Kaitlyn joined the players so there would only be one table with three players. I announced again that the final game would be Evolution: Climate, and asked if anyone was interested. This time we had enough interest to add a four player game of Climate. All of the games were well played, and this heat saw two young players, Sam Wolff and Andrew Freeman, get their first wins. Andrew Freeman edged Nick Henning, 76 to 75 for his win, and Sam Wolff beat out last year’s third place winner, Erin Griffin, for his win. Kaitlyn Ballard had the highest win differential in this heat, to put her in the semi-finals where she could defend her title. All of the winners in this heat were first time winners in this year’s event.
The Semifinal round was held on Saturday morning, at 9am. Only 12 of the top 16 players showed up, so 4 alternates were able to join the field. Once all of the players were given their table assignments, each of the semifinalists received another promo card set, the Fat Tissue stained glass alternate art promo set. Of the players in the semifinals, four of them were in the top 6 finalists from the previous year. Jay Buckwalter, who secured a spot in the semifinals with a strong win in the first heat, tried to use his many species for many cards strategy in the semifinals. In the third round of his game, he discarded 9 cards to start 9 new species, for a total of 16 species. Only one of his species had a trait, and that trait was fertile. Although there was no food in the watering hole at the time, and a carnivore sitting to his left who was placing cards after him, he felt confident. He added a card that would add 7 food to the watering hole. His fellow players made sure that he didn’t get the cards that he was hoping for, as the round began with a total of 2 food in the watering hole. Jay was not able to recover as Marc Nelson Jr rode his carnivore to a close win over Lauren Vessey, and into the Final table. Kaitlyn Ballard did not get a good night’s rest, and fell to last place at her table, which was won by the young newcomer, Andrew Freeman. Andrew squeaked out a win over Anthony Lainesse to earn his spot in the final game. Jennifer Visocnik ended the heats with the top position, but the players at her table did not let her continue. Rachel LaDue took the win in the closest semifinal table, while third through fourth were separated by 2 points. In the last semifinal table, Curt Collins II gathered a lot of food to grab the last spot with a convincing win, more than 20 points ahead of the second place finisher, Gordon Stewart.
The Final table began as soon as the players were ready. The most interesting thing about the Final table, was the absence of carnivores. All of the players were well protected herbivores with defenses from the climate, as well as the possibility of carnivores. Curt Collins II appeared to have an early lead, with led to Rachel LaDue begging to have the heat turned up to hit the volcanic eruption, which would have taken out a good portion of his population. The other players played their own game, which they should do, and the temperature stayed on warm for the last three rounds, providing additional food to the watering hole. In the end, Curt Collins II won easily with a score of 91. Andrew Freeman was a very quick learner and went from the demo a week earlier, to second place overall with 61. Marc Nelson Jr followed with 58, and Rachel LaDue finished with a respectable 51.
There were 63 unique players in this year’s tournament, and the competition was great across the board. I’m looking forward to next year’s tournament, and I hope a lot of these players are looking forward to returning.