no longer enlightened ...
Tedd Mullaly, Ron Clement and Kevin
Sudy enjoy the Age of Renaissance.
The return to three heats increased attendance by nearly half
- including the return of three former champs - giving me hope
for reinstatement of a semifinal next year. Genoa enjoyed the
best overall win rate again, but dropped 15% to a 30% victory
rate. Veteran players were able to convert Hamburg, Paris, and
even beleaguered Venice into wins. London came back strong and
rivaled Barcelona, both enjoying 20% of the wins. My theory on
Olympic stress last year seems to have panned out.
There were fewer noteworthy events in the heats. Last year's
focus on Ocean Navigation subsided. Those who did invest in Ocean
Nav, seemed to jump immediately to New World on the power of
Columbus. Perhaps it was just the new blood at the table, but
Cathedral seemed a more powerful play this year. With more 6-player
games, the alternate Hamburg opening seems to be gaining popularity.
Play seemed to have regressed with many lamenting forgotten boat
purchases, mistimed leader plays, or mishandled misery. Perhaps
it's time for an AOR strategy blog!
Sadly, the worst trend was the decline of sportsmanship -
treating others with the same respect you would like to receive
in return. Reports to the GM were prolific. Dealing with subpar
play in multi-player games is part of the landscape. Live with
it - don't ruin someone's day. No game is worth winning, if you
cannot walk away with the respect of those you've just played.
This is not just about that blustery fellow whose main diplomatic
tool is the loud threat and curses. It's also about those who
create meta-game intrigue by weighing in on events that do not
affect them. Or those who let past issues influence their decision
I am happy to report, however, that the aforesaid sportsmanship
shortage did not make an appearance in the Final - nor did any
of the 2012 laurelists. Our finalists were almost apologetic
when the inevitable War card surfaced and deals were flowing.
Despite that, Paris could not buy a dice roll. It doesn't matter
how good you are, if you can't win combat rolls and maintain
a presence on the board. Barcelona's attempt at the commerce
strategy did not go well. This was largely due to weak defendability
of his holdings. When you're counting on Industry to boost your
products, you want something more defensible than a dozen 2-spots.
Hamburg saw a strong late game surge from Fur and Timber, but
ultimately Venice's ability to diversify his holdings when cloth
payouts got bottled up won the day. This diversification is a
critical element of any successful Venice strategy. In juxtaposition,
London was reeling in the Wool payouts, often at the $98, or
$128 level but that was their only income source so they languished
in the middle of the pack.
Those who have been playing at my table for years know that
I am a strong advocate of collaborative deals, especially when
they benefit the player currently out of the running. When a
nation is struggling in midgame, it often disproportionately
favors one or two nations. And if you believe in karma, as I
do, it's always the player that you failed to help that winds
up with the card you need the most. This was the case with the
Genoese in the Final. While everyone else saw that Paris, without
Cathedral, and only 4 doms, was waning, and elected not to attack/use
cathedral, the Genoese merrily pillaged away to very bad effect.
Paris, armed with Civil War and two Cloth cards, blasted the
Genoese by playing Civil War, volunteering Area III for Black
Death, and holding the Cloth cards until game end. The net result
left Genoa in fourth place.
So that's the news and lessons from 2013.
Kurt Miller, John Panagotopulos and
GM Tedd Mullally and his finalists.