This year, the Catan: Cities & Knights tournament at WBC drew 36 unique players. The first heat had significantly higher attendance than the second, so even though a few people had conflicts with 18XX or other games, the first Sunday heat is definitely here to stay.
The second heat ran up against Can’t Stop which ended up forcing one game to be adjudicated early. I will ask to either be moved up an hour, or to be moved to a different room as the late-night events.
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. There were some issues with this in the advancement rounds, so I will be making this rule mandatory in future years.
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 = 55 games).
As in previous years, a single win was more than enough to advance into the Semifinal. We had 11 heat winners, including 2 double winners. 2 of those players did not show up, so we had 9 winners + 3 alternates playing 4 3-player games, with the winner of each of those games advancing to the Final.
The final table consisted of John Gitzen, Anne Norton, Chris Gnech, and Shiv Chopra, in that initial turn order. 3 of the 4 were regulars of the tournament, with Shiv being the newcomer.
John’s first settlement was on the arguably best spot on the board, with the best wheat, the best sheep, and the second-best ore. His city was on double wood/paper, on both 9 and 11, clearly hoping for some early game paper for those green progress cards and aqueduct.
Anne had the best ore and wheat on the board, clearly prioritizing a quick second city, plus the trade value of critical and rare resources. Her city was on 5 and 10 wheats, plus the 9 wood.
Chris had his settlement on 6 wood, 9 wood, and 10 ore, and his city on 4 wheat, 5 sheep, and 11 wood, prioritizing an early game knight. Unfortunately for both Chris and John, 5 would not roll a single time until 2/3 of the way through the game.
Shiv, not wanting to take any chances with the barbarians, placed his city on 4 sheep/8 ore, with plans of hitting the nearby sheep port.
The first few turns had a speedy barbarian, taking only 13 turns (3 times around the table). The speedy barbarians caught both Chris and John unprepared, so both lost their cities. John would be able to rebuild his city very quickly, while it would take Chris 3 additional rounds to get an active knight and rebuild. Anne built a second city immediately after the barbarians’ first attack, giving her the early lead.
Since I’ve started detail tracking games of Cities & Knights, I’ve found that games will take somewhere around 15-20 rounds. About Round 7 (what ended up being the halfway point, turn-wise), Anne had just gotten a Defender card from the second barbarian attack, Chris had just rebuilt his lost city, and Shiv expanded his empire by building another settlement.
Round 10 came and gave Shiv the first aqueduct. The third barbarian attack was not long after, and fortunately all of us were prepared this time, each of us taking a green progress card for our efforts.
A few rounds later, Anne was able to build a 3rd city with the help of the merchant and a medicine progress card, and claim the longest road, giving her a total of 12 points. Shiv was not far behind, also recently claiming the cloth and coin metros, giving him a total of 10 points. 2 rounds later, Shiv was able to build another settlement and chop Anne’s longest road (stealing it for himself), giving him the win (2 metropolises, 2 settlements, longest road, and the constitution (blue VP)).
John caught up nicely from losing his initial city, ending with 3 cities, 2 settlements, the printer (green VP), and the merchant, for a total of 10 points.
Anne ended with 10 points, from 3 cities, 3 settlements, and a defender of catan.
Chris never really recovered from losing his initial city, ending with 1 metropolis, 1 other city, and 2 settlements for a total of 8 points.
This was (mostly) a fun tournament to run, and a fun tournament to play in. I say mostly because I had to report one person this year for code of conduct violations related to egregiously bad sportsmanship, and I could reasonably argue to report another. The finals had to be babysat by an AGM since the 4 of us could not have reasonable agreements on anything. (I certainly take some of the blame here, but we’re all adults. Let’s treat each other with decency, at least.)