We are getting closer! Thanks to everyone who voted this classic back in through the trial process. It looks like we will need your votes for one more year. After that, I hope for a return to the century. In 2024, I plan to add a third heat later in the week, in the hopes that we will be able to attract a few more players, which should be all we need.
On to this year’s report!
In the first heat, the number of players nearly exceeded the number of boards available. With 16 players, I would have hoped for four even games, but that was not to be. In addition to my board, the only other two available were provided by Phil Watkins and former GM Tedd Mullally. You will see that name again. We had to settle for three games: two five-player and one six-player. Fortunately, Mitch Ledford (one of the few players I know who prefers playing Hamburg) was seated at the six-player table, so everyone was happy.
The six-player game saw the widest margin of victory as Barcelona (Mason Murray) finished first in every category: advances (2100), cash (538), and misery (-175). Paris (Jay Spencer) managed to sneak into second place over third place Genoa (Dennis Nicolson) by a little over 200 points. In comparison, more than 800 points separated 1st from 2nd.
The closest game was won by Genoa (Matt Spencer) over Venice (Brian Chenowski) by a mere 150 points. In the third game, Paris (Bill Dickerson) defeated Venice (Mark Smith) by more than 250 points.
Three games, three different nations victorious.
The second heat was held the same day. I don’t plan to do that again. It was exhausting for the four of us who played in both heats, and I expect that some of the first heat players decided that it was just too much for them in one day. Next year, the plan is to hold heats a bit more evenly spaced to allow for greater participation as mentioned above.
We only managed to hold two games with four players each in the second heat. In the first game, Barcelona (Dennis Mishler) prevailed over Paris (Shiv Chopra). GM Jay Spencer managed a third place finish in the game, which (coupled with his second place finish in the first heat) was enough to clinch a spot in the Final. In a reversal of the morning’s diversity of nation wins, Matt Spencer became the only double heat winner by also taking Barcelona to victory over Venice (Tedd Mullally). Tedd’s second place finish along with his fourth from the first heat earned him a spot in the Final as the sixth qualifier.
Before I recap the Final, a word about game length. A couple of the games had to end early due to time constraints. There was no clear reason for this delay that I could determine, but I have decided to extend the heats to seven hours next year. I still expect that many games will finish in six hours, but I would rather have games be played to the end if at all possible. The strategy at the end changes if you know that the turn you are playing is the last turn, even though the cards will not run out and no one will buy out all of the advances.
- 5 – Dennis Mishler – Venice
- 4 – Mason Murray – Barcelona
- 3 – Tedd Mullally (die roll winner) – Genoa
- 3 – Bill Dickerson – Paris
- 2 – Matt Spencer (die roll winner) – London
- 2 – Jay Spencer – Hamburg (yes, I paid 2 dollars to play Hamburg!)
In addition to paying for it, this is the third time in a row that I have played Hamburg in the Final. At least I am improving each time, but let’s start at the beginning.
Before we began, former GM Tedd Mullally shared what I call the Tedd proposition: Paris agrees to let Hamburg claim Bordeaux in exchange for Hamburg agreeing not to cross the border into Paris from the north. This seemed like a reasonable exchange to me, so I offered to abide by it and Bill agreed. I did check with Barcelona on the off chance that he would have something to say about it, but he was quite happy to head east instead of north.
For the first few turns, Barcelona was able to get the right cards and scream into the lead. It almost appeared to be a runaway, but with the concerted effort of most of the other players, he was able to be reigned back in. It rarely pays to be the early leader.
Since I was playing in the Final, I was not good at keeping accurate notes, but I do seem to recall a few details of importance.
Venice and Paris got into a heated debate about using cards as threats rather than as payout assistance. My take: to some extent, it seems like it depends on what cards you hold. For example, I had no payout cards for the first half of the game, so I was not able to offer deals to anyone. The best I could do was offer not to use my event cards on them. Fortunately, Venice and Paris were able to talk through their differences and see things from each other’s point of view.
Barcelona might well have had a better shot of running away with the game except that Religious Strife was played at exactly the right time. Barcelona was the only one with Cathedral and was holding Papal Decree. That would have set us all back another turn.
Proselytism turned out to be a handy purchase for Hamburg on the next-to-last round. It is not one I normally purchase, but it won me at least a couple of die rolls if I recall correctly.
The game finished in under 6 hours, with no one purchasing industry, cosmopolitan, or middle class. Only Hamburg purchased proselytism, and four advances were purchased by only two players: Interest & Profits (Paris and Genoa), Master Art and Renaissance (Hamburg and Genoa, who had both the leaders and the cash at the right time), and New World (London and Genoa). Notice the common theme in each of those – Genoa.
The final score turned out to be closer than it would have had the dice been a little better for Genoa or a little worse for Hamburg. On the last turn, Hamburg went fifth and snapped up most of the available silk. Genoa went sixth and was only able to capture one of them back.
Leader cards did not seem to be evenly distributed. Tedd acknowledged that he had favorable luck with leader cards, and said that in his experience, the player who gets the most leader cards usually ends up winning. There is more to it than that – it was only very late in the game that Tedd made himself a target. First it was Barcelona, then it was London. When Genoa finally took the lead, it was too late to stop him.
The final was perhaps the most enjoyable table that I have had the pleasure to play with. There were the usual disagreements about who was in first and who should be the target of which cards, but overall, the tone and tempo were very good. I would gladly play with this group again if I am so lucky next year.
Final scores: Genoa (Tedd) – 1575, Hamburg (Jay) – 1525, London (Matt) – 1477, Venice (Dennis) – 1293, Barcelona (Mason) – 1191, and Paris (Bill) – 1127.
Quite a close game compared to my first Final, when I believe I might have ended up with negative points overall.
Thanks to everyone who played. Also, thanks to Phil Watkins, who generously donated his game to the tournament in the hopes that we will have enough boards for players next year. It is missing half a map, but Tedd Mullally brings extra maps when he comes. As long as he returns next year to defend his title, we should be in good shape. See everyone next year!