Attendance at the eighth Virgin Queen tournament jumped to 37 players, our highest since the inaugural event in 2013. There were ten games in the first two heats and eight of those were lucky enough to have a full complement of six players. We had two winners of both their first heat games: Gareth Williams and newcomer Michael O’Toole. The six other winners were Manuel Bravo, Michael Kiefte, Steve Scarangella, James Griffith, Justin Rice, and Quirmo Rodriguez.
Now that our total entrants broke 36 players, we could return to three games in the semifinals. Our eight winners were joined by 10 other qualifiers (in order by seed): Francis Czawlytko, Ed Beach, Jeff Heidman, Roger Charnesky, Michael Dauer, Paul McCarthy, Kip Bailey, Phil Rodrigues, Nick O’Toole, and Lisa Brown. Our first semifinal to conclude was a two-turn VP win by Protestant Nick O’Toole. Then Ed Beach continued his strong run over the past two years as the Spanish with a military victory. Michael Dauer won the third game – again a Protestant win – with another military victory.
Power selection for the final was: Nick O’Toole (Ottoman), Michael Dauer (England), Ed Beach (Spain), Michael Kiefte (HRE, by random die roll), Roger Charnesky (Protestant) and Michael O’Toole (France). Holy Roman Emperor Michael Kiefte, previous two-time winner and defending champion, had finished the second turn just a few VP shy of victory. A grand alliance needed to be organized to stop this threat of a Virgin Queen dynasty being formed. Not one to be shy of some internal Hapsburg family squabbling, Philip II of Spain (played by Ed Beach) decided to finance wars to disrupt the HRE. Treasures went out to France (Michael O'Toole) and the Ottomans (Nick O'Toole) to pay for their declarations of war on the empire. Promises were also made about nasty card plays to fuel the advances of these forces into Germany.
Beach was draining his resources to hold off another win by Kiefte. But Beach had one more gambit to see if he could win on his own. With Mary Queen of Scots on his side -- and an Informant and Jesuit already embedded in England -- now was the time for a desperate English Catholic Rebellion play. He would roll 11 dice while the English would defend with 5 dice. If Beach could score 4 more hits than the English, it would be a most improbable win. Michael Dauer was properly prepared and responded with the Walsingham home card, meaning the Spanish rolls would only hit on a "6", not the usual "5 or 6". But there is one way to counter Walsingham – and Beach had the Edward Stafford card that neutralizes it. So suddenly "5"s would be hits. Which turned out to be extremely fortunate when Spain rolled not a single "6" on 11 dice but instead rolled six "5"s. England would need three hits back to block a win, and Michael managed only two. The Gunpowder Plot had succeeded, Guy Fawkes was sitting triumphant outside Parliament, and Beach had a very unlikely Spanish win.
In the ten years that Virgin Queen has appeared at WBC (once in a combined event with Here I Stand), we have now played 126 games. Victories by the four powers that appear in every game are as follows:
- Spain: 26 (10 by VP, 9 by Gunpowder Plot, 4 by military victory, 3 by religious)
- England: 27 (including 1 by military victory)
- France: 16 (all by VP)
- Protestant: 32 (including 12 religious and 12 military victories)
At least 15 of the games were only 4 or 5-player games, but even after not appearing as player-powers in all games the other two sides have scored a competitive number of victories:
- Ottoman: 14 (including 3 by military victory)
- HRE: 11 (1 by military victory, including 3 wins in tournament finals)