This year, the Catan: Cities & Knights tournament at WBC drew 30 unique players, a 25% drop from the last time the tournament was run (2018). Both heats were fairly well attended, each having at least 5 tables.
Carrying on from prior years, we allowed tables to ignore the barbarian ship movement for each player’s first turn, if all players at the table agreed. This appeared to be a popular option, and minimizes the chances of all players losing their city on the first hit (which makes for a very long tedious game), so the rule will definitely be sticking around.
The common belief about Cities and Knights is that the later turn orders are the best opening positions. I compiled the game data from the previous few years, and this is definitely true, with players in the 1st or 2nd starting position finishing a full victory point behind players with a 3rd or 4th starting position (sample size = 32 games).
I suggested some changes to combat this, giving the tables options to give the first two players an extra road at the start of the game if all players agreed. This went over poorly, but it was suggested to downgrade the free road to a free resource. I might try this next year.
As in previous years, a single win was more than enough to advance into the semifinals. Given the lower attendance this year, we had a few people in the semis that only had a single second place. We had 11 unique winners (8 of which came to the semis), with 2 alternates, so the semifinal was able to be 2 3-player games and a 4-player game. We randomly determined which table was 4-player, with the second place from that table joining the winners from each table for the final.
The final table consisted of Jim McFarlane, Sondajo (Sonny) Walker, Virginia Colin, and Rob Kircher, in that initial turn order. Virginia and Rob were back for the second year in a row, with Jim and Sonny being the newcomers.
Jim got the best ore/sheep spot on the board for his settlement but was not left with a lot of choices for his city. However, he was able to produce all 5 resources, with paper production on the 4.
Sonny looked to be heading toward the brick port with his start (with his settlement and city both on the 6 brick). With wheat only on 3 and ore only on 11, he would need to find other ways to generate these critical resources.
Virginia has great wheat production (4 and 8), producing all 5 resources, with paper on 3, and coins on 8.
Rob appears to be going for a very heavy knight-based strategy, with great numbers on wheat/sheep/ore, but not much else. Unfortunately for him, his wheat hex (4) would only roll twice during the game, and the robber was covering it for two of those rolls.
The first few turns are uneventful, with each player building an active knight. The first few turns had a speedy barbarian, taking 16 turns (ignoring the barbarian the first full round, so only 3 rounds of barbarian movement). The speedy barbarians were still no match for the players, who combined built 7 strength of active knights.
Since I’ve started detail tracking of games of Cities & Knights, I’ve found that games will take somewhere around 20 turns. Around turn 10, the halfway point of the game, not a lot has happened. Jim has upgraded his starting placement, expanded his empire with another settlement, and gotten the Constitution VP (total 6 points).
Sonny looked to be heading toward the brick port with his start, but he instead built roads across the board, and was able to claim the longest road, and build a settlement (total 6 points).
Virginia had the slowest start on the board, choosing to concentrate on the commodities rather than expansion. She was able to build a settlement and a city, as well as obtain the printer VP card (total 6 points).
Rob had a very slow start, his numbers were not rolling at all, and still had 3 points.
Only 3 turns later, Virginia would capitalize on her commodity-based strategy and obtain the coin metropolis, as well as the aqueduct (7/7/9/4).
In later turns, with some favorable trades with Rob, was also able to claim the paper metropolis. The two metropolises, one more settlement, and a merchant card played as the 13th VP gives Virginia the victory.
An interesting note about the game, nobody ever got a defender of catan victory point card. On the first barbarian attack, players were tied 2-2-2-1, with the 3 players each taking a green progress card for their efforts. Later barbarian attacks were tied 4-4.
I’ll see everybody around the island next year!