The turnout this year bounced back a bit, to 67 after 57 in 2022, but still substantially down from pre-covid days. At this point, I'm guessing it's simply a function of overall con attendance.
Turn order statistics from the heats show a pretty substantial bias towards earlier seats, but as I recall, this is the first time they've really done so. First seat won 9 games, second won 8, third and fourth won 5 games each.
Somewhat accordingly, the bids for turn order in the Semifinal trended higher than usual. Three of the tables settled on 6 (including a table that bid after showing the card row), while at one table, first seat went for 9 points. All of the players bidding 6 for first seat advanced (Dominic Blais, Keith Dent, and Antony Saccenti), while Allen Jiang (AJ) advanced from the fourth seat at his table.
At the Final table this year, everybody agreed to bid after flipping the card row, so that is what we did.
The first card row that was bid for was:
- 7 brown field
- 6 brown field
- Field improver permanent
- 3 quarry
- 2 grain track
- crew improver permanent
- 5 yellow field
- feed with stones permanent
- 3 joker anytime
- 4 food anytime
After some back and forth, Keith went first for 8 points, taking the 3 quarry. Antony went second for 4, getting the crew improver. AJ went third for 2 points, opting slow boat, starting with the 7 brown fields, and Dominic went last, opening with the field improver.
AJ and Dominic pick up their second sphinx cards, while Antony starves for 3 and doesn't build anywhere, securing first seat in the coming round. Dominic starves for 6 but does some light building to end up at -1 and second seat, Keith ends up at 4 points, while AJ seems comfortable front-running, building a bit in all three sites at sitting at 10 points.
In the second round, all the quarries we didn't see in round 1 appear. Antony gets the only one above the sphinx, a 2 quarry. Dominic jumps for one of the 3 quarries, while Keith picks up more green food and a sphinx card. AJ manages to finagle picking up a sphinx card first and then getting to pick up a 2 quarry, while Antony skips the sphinx again to get another 3 quarry, as well as the +2 sphinx card, which appeared at the bottom of the row.
AJ starves for 2, but he's already at the bottom of the grain track, while Antony eats 2 of his many stones to feed his people.
Antony then remembered that the goal of the game is to win and you win by having the most points, so he built the entire bottom row of the pyramid with the help of the 3 joker anytime card, scoring 10 for the stones plus all 5 possible bonus points. He then turned to me and asked me to put that play into the writeup, so here we are.
Even with that big point drop, Antony isn't going first though, with that honor going to AJ, still frontrunning at 16 points and 5 quarries. Keith slid in behind him, also at 16 points, with 6 quarries. Antony got to 13 points (8 quarries), and Dominic trails behind at 3 (9 quarries).
In the third round, Dominic manages to snag another 3 quarries and a spot on the sphinx, Keith and Antony both get a spot on the sphinx plus some yellow food, while AJ manages to unload the double circle anytime card at Edfu, for a double bump on both tech tracks.
There's no starving this time around, as the water ring is moved to activate the yellow fields that people picked up. The round ends with AJ still frontrunning, this time with an actual lead, at 33 points, Keith is next at 26, then Antony at 24, and Dominic closer but still last at 20.
Dominic finds his move upriver card, and uses it to get into the sphinx, AJ picks up 7 green food above the sphinx and then builds in the sphinx with the help of the card that lets him speculate, as it had filled up quickly. Antony picks up more quarries, while Keith finally clears the 7 grave tile that had been sitting in front since the start.
At the sphinx, Keith hits some bad luck as he looks at two cards and rejects both. Meanwhile, down at the pyramid and columns building site, Antony builds both 3 spots at the columns, causing both Keith and AJ to fail to build at the site.
Going into the last round, AJ is still out in front, but not by much - 45 points. Antony is in second with 40, followed by Keith and Dominic at 38.
In the final round, everybody but AJ gets into the sphinx, AJ and Keith pick up 5 and 4 bonus points from cards, Dominic gets the card to let him sell stones, which he very much needs, and Antony gets the 9 red field card, giving him another big winner in the sphinx deck.
Sadly, when it came time to draw from the sphinx deck, both Keith and Dominic missed on 3 and 2 cards, leaving only Antony picking one up. AJ picks up from the graves and obelisk to make sure he can do a big build later, and everybody build in the pyramids and columns.
The final points on the board were Dominic at 69, Antony at 63, AJ at 60, and Keith with 58.
- 69 board points
- 2 grave bonus
- 4 finishing the stone tech track
- 5 two people finishing the grain track
- 0 pyramid was not complete
- 0 8th level of the obelisk was not built
- 0 bid
- 80 total
- 63 board points
- 2 grave bonus
- 6 yellow crew strength
- 6 for building 4 blocks of the columns
- 8 joker crew strength
- 7 most yellow fields
- -4 bid
- 88 total
- 60 board points
- 2 for leftover stones
- 2 grave bonus
- 10 for building two blocks on each building site
- 6 for finishing one column
- 7 for 3 people finishing the stone track
- 7 for reaching the end of both tech tracks
- -2 bid
- total 92
- 58 board points
- 5 grave bonus
- 3 for leftover stones
- 10 for finishing both columns
- 6 black crew strength
- 3 blue crew strength
- -8 bid
- 77 total
With a total of 92, congratulations on another win for AJ.
Despite how the heats were slanted towards first seat this year, bidding made no difference in Semifinal or Final. Hope to see you all again next year.