31 players competed in the Through the Ages online tournament this year. We used the same tournament format as last year, with 4 games per round, a 10-6-3-1 scoring system, and cuts to 13 for the semis and 5 for the finals.
Heats: Aran Warszawski and Galen Loram led the way in the heats, each winning all four of their games. Galen also set the tournament high score of 400, while Ryan Feathers had the biggest margin of victory (297-186). The cut line ended up being at 20/22 points, so everyone who had better than a 1-1-1-1 record advanced to the semifinals.
Semifinals: Ben Scholl led the way with three wins and a second. This round's high score was a 324 by Steve LeWinter, while Randy Buehler had the biggest margin of victory (243-148). We also had the two closest games of the tournament in this round: Alex Bove won by 1 point over Michael Thiessen in a game where all players were within 16 points, and Andrew Norgren won by 1 point over Jon McSenn in a game where all players were within 19 points. The cut for the finals was 22/24 points, with Ryan taking 6th place.
Finals: Ben Scholl made his second straight finals, after finishing 3rd at WBC this summer. Joining him in the finals were Michael Thiessen (his 4th final appearance in the last 5 PBeM tournaments), plus a trio of players with multiple WBC shields in this event: Allan Jiang, Randy Buehler, and Steve LeWinter. Replay codes are included for anyone who wants to watch the full games in the TTA app.
Game 1 (BASOZILE) - AJ gets a super-early Saladin and Iron, while Ben discovers an early Vast Territory with Columbus. Michael and Randy keep up militarily but are hit hard by a rebellion at the start of age II. Ben builds the Great Wall and is offered additional strength by Randy's Promise of Military Protection pact, putting him at an astonishing 26 by the end of round 9. Unfortunately for him, he is only able to attack AJ once, with an age I plunder for 3 resources. Michael builds some early Cannons with the Fortifications tactics, and his leader Catherine the Great conquers territory from AJ and Randy. AJ manages to discover Cannons as his first military technology, and as soon as he copies Fortifications he is in a dominant position and locks down the victory with Pierre de Coubertin. Scores: AJ 207, Ben 130, Michael 107, and Randy 68.
Game 2 (DASOZILE) - Randy gets early Iron mines, and Michael builds an early Machu Picchu to take early economic leads. Steve uses Alexander the Great to attack Michael twice but is repelled both times. Instead, the first successful attack goes to Ben, whose leader Michelangelo helped him construct an early Great Wall and enslave Randy. Ben then enslaves Steve a couple rounds later, and he uses the windfall from his attacks to develop his resource and science production. Steve gets an early Ocean Liner but loses 7 science to Dark Ages. Ben reveals Defensive Army in late age II, and he makes a few more successful attacks and finishes off the game with a 30-point First Space Flight. Scores: Ben 287, Steve 196, Randy 176, and Michael 141.
Game 3 (GASOZILE) - Michael gets the first Iron, AJ finds an early Vast Territory with Columbus, and Steve takes an early military lead with Jan Zizka. Randy sets up Frederick Barbarossa and Irrigation to take an early age II military lead. AJ takes an early action advantage with Constitutional Monarchy, while Steve gets an early Navigation winning a few territories, and Michael gets Maria Theresa and Selective Breeding. Culture scores are relatively close until the endgame when Michael wars Steve and AJ wars Randy. AJ's economy lets him also finish Fast Food Chains for 28 points. Scores: AJ 215, Michael 173, Randy 125, and Steve 106.
Game 4 (VASOZILE) - AJ gets an early Iron and Code of Laws up this game, but Steve and Ben both open with military. Steve attacks AJ unsuccessfully, but this opens the door for Ben to enslave AJ. Ben goes on to finish three military-oriented wonders by round 9: Colosseum, Himeji Castle, and Great Wall; he also gets additional strength and culture from Jan Zizka. Michael builds the best economy by early age II, and after playing Napoleonic Army with Napoleon, the game is clearly a two-horse race. Both Michael and Ben successfully attack the players after them in turn order, and Ben gets a boost with an early Winston Churchill. Eventually AJ and Steve resign. Michael tries to make up for his culture deficit by building the United Nations and starting the International Red Cross, but Ben responds with a Hybrid War augmented by a Himeji sacrifice of a Modern Infantry for a 41-point swing. Scores: Ben 212, Michael 182, Steve and AJ resign.
Game 5 (ZASOZILE) - AJ gets the first Iron, while Steve gets an early Vast from Columbus - the third one in the finals!! Randy takes an early culture lead with St. Peter's Basilica, and Printing Press - a technology that is extraordinarily rare in 4p games! Ben keeps his culture close with Jan Zizka. A big turning point in mid age II: Steve gets a strength boost from Randy's Promise of Military Pact, and then scores two big attacks on AJ, raiding two Alchemy buildings and spying 5 science. Steve uses his winnings to fund a huge culture engine with Antoni Gaudi and all five types of urban buildings! Ben plays Defensive Army and manages to Kidnap an urban growth from Randy. Randy still has a culture advantage and stops the bleeding with a huge find at the start of age III: Mahatma Gandhi, in a game where no one has more than 4 military actions. Suddenly the game becomes peaceful, and Randy manages to hang on despite a 27-point Empire State Building by Steve and a 29-point International Red Cross by Ben. Scores: Randy 209, Steve 182, Ben 177, and AJ 136.
Final Results: The finalists were very close in the standings, with everyone scoring at least 16 points. Ben and AJ both had two wins, but Ben did a lot better in his other two games, winning him his first Through the Ages tournament with the BPA! Congratulations Ben!
- Ben Scholl
- Allan Jiang
- Randy Buehler
- Michael Thiessen
- Steve LeWinter
- Ryan Feathers
28 players played a total of 46 games (all 4-player) in this year's tournament. We used the CGE tournament interface again with the same format as last year, although we cut to different numbers for the semifinals and finals.
Heats: Nathan Heiss set this year's high score with 339. Four games were decided by 1 culture or less: a tie between Nathan and Aran Warszawski, a win by Andrew Norgren over Luke Heinz, and two wins by Kevin Wojtaszczyk over Mike Assante and Aran. Andrew Norgren topped the field with three wins and a second, while Galen Loram and Allan Jiang also managed 3 wins each. There was a 3-way tie at 22 points for the final qualifying spot, which Nathan Heiss took in a tiebreak over Joel Lytle and Antero Kuusi.
Semifinal: 13 players played one game in each seat and faced everyone else exactly once. Mike Assante had the most lopsided win of the tournament (291-158). That was one of four blowouts in this round, with Galen, Aran, and AJ also winning a game by 80+ culture. All four of those big winners made it to the finals, with Randy Buehler joining them. There was once again a tie for the final spot, this time at 20 points; Galen advanced due to his better record in the heats, over Kevin Wojtaszczyk who took 6th place.
>b>Final: The stage is now set for the finals. Galen has won both of his first two BPA TTA events and is looking to make it a threepeat in the online tournament. Randy and AJ are looking to add to their hardware as the two top laurelists in BPA TTA history. Aran is a frequent finalist looking to break through, while Mike recently made it to the top division of the TTA Meeple League and is in his first TTA finals. All finalists play once in each seat, and face everyone else three times.
Game 1 - Galen has a tough start in first seat, losing a worker to Barbarians and territory to Uncertain Borders. But in the middle of age II, he wins the Vast Territory I with a single unit and switches his military to Cannons with Fortifications, quickly turning a bad position into an utterly dominating one. Galen does on to win with the highest score and margin of the finals, 239-168. Meanwhile, AJ went for a military all-in, and successfully attacked Randy and Aran to take 2nd place.
Game 2 - A close one until early age III, when AJ in first seat plays Napoleonic Army backed by his Great Wall, Annexes Mike's Vast Territory II, and hits 60 strength in an early War over Culture against Galen. Aran makes a later military push for 2nd.
Game 3 - Aran's in first seat but falls behind in military in age II. Randy gets a strong Barbarossa supported by Irrigation and St. Peter's Basilica. Mike gets plenty of territory with Uncertain Borders, Vast Territory I, and adds Ocean Liner. Randy plays Mobile Artillery as his tactic, and then switches to culture production with Chaplin and theatres. Mike builds two age III wonders, but can't quite catch Randy, who wins from fourth seat!
Game 4 - Randy and Mike get a huge boost in early age III by "winning" Cold War and making an International Tourism pact. Randy in first seat plays a strong economy game eventually leading to 2 operas, computers with Sid Meier, and a massive 36-point Empire State Building. But all hell breaks loose as AJ launches a dicey last-chance War over Culture on Mike in a desperate attempt to close the gap with them. This prompts Mike to also go all-in on his turn, seeding Impact of Strength (!!!) as the weakest player and knowing Politics of Strength (!) was in the deck. He catches the break he needed, hitting Arms Race to win the war and the game, with Randy taking 2nd place. If Politics had flipped instead, then the top 3 end in reverse order.
Game 5 - It all comes down to this game, with all four contestants otherwise having 16-19 points. Mike has the first seat advantage and takes a big lead finding Vast Territory I with Columbus and then winning Uncertain Borders. Randy also gains territory (3 tokens) by the end of age II, but his lack of civil actions cost him dearly in the endgame. On the flipside, Galen is down 3 territories by the end of age II yet manages to hang on with a good economy. AJ gets into a population crunch, even disbanding a Scientific Method in age II, but fights back into contention by pushing military in age III and successfully attacking all other players.
In the end, it all came down to the impacts with Mike, AJ, and Galen in that order but all in contention. A total of 9 impacts were scored, including one by Galen's United Nations, with all three of them scoring a total of 131 or 132 culture. Mike wins 238-236!! Congratulations Mike!!!
Final Laurelists, in order, were Mike Assante, Allan Jiang, Randy Buehler, Galen Loram, Aran Warszawski, and Kevin Wojtaszczyk.
Thirty-eight participants played 61 games in this year’s TTA PBEM tournament, which was run using CzechGames’s tournament interface for the first time. The CGE interface allowed for balanced seating in the latter rounds, automatic game creation, easy checks on tournament progress, and automated results into standings. Also new this year were a consistent format throughout all rounds (4 games each, weighted 10-6-3-1), a strict 16 players in the seeded semifinals, and new rules when players are replaced by bots.
In the heats, Mike Turian lead the way with three wins and a second, while Ryan Feathers, Jason Leggett, and Steve LeWinter each had two wins and two seconds and rounded out the top 4. Kevin Warrender set the high score with 375 culture, and finished the round with 23 tournament points, taking the 16th and final spot in the semifinals on tiebreaker over the GM, who managed to sabotage himself with all the new rules introduced in this year’s tournament.
In the semifinals, everyone faced all the other semifinalists except for those in their quartile in the heats standings. Steve LeWinter was the star of this semis, with three outright wins and a tie for 1st/2nd, and the high score of the round with 273 culture. Jason Leggett was just behind with three wins and a second. Joining them in the finals were Galen Loram, Randy Buehler, Eric Freeman, Michael Thiessen, and Mike Turian, who made it in with 20 tournament points plus tiebreaker over Sceadeau d’Tela.
Finals report by Galen:
The finals of the Through The Ages tournament featured a whole range of exciting games that somehow all turned out okay for me. In one of them, only knight tactics were played and despite desperate attempts to stay within strength range, aggression after aggression landed. I finally was lucky enough to give up my sovereignty to Randy and be a bit sheltered from attacks and safe from wars; Watt flipped an early oil which let me build up which, when combined with a Mech ag, let me stabilize and grab wonders while not being part of the wars flying left and right, and sneak out a win. Another one featured a random early printing press and Jan Zizka to get a nice culture lead early and endure some abuse later on; Mike and I had symbiotic civilizations and a big enough culture gap between us that our impacts together took him from fourth to third and me from second to first. One other game featured a nice military and Jason realizing that I was in the driver’s seat, and that playing for second was his best play - sending a military alliance my way to direct my hostilities other ways. The other game was just a “first seat doing first seat” things - the built in advantage of going first was enough to make the game go reasonably smoothly.
The CGE tournament system was a huge boon. We could see where we were relative to other games in terms of progress and everyone in the last game was sweet enough to speed up play in order to ensure that we could finish the tournament on time. Beyond that, having seat order balanced and a bit of seeding in the semis based on the heats was really great - definitely things that I hope to see in the future! Thanks to all the participants and organizer for a great tournament, and I hope to give defending my crown for a three-peat next year a try!
Congratulations to Galen Loram for winning both of his first two BPA TTA tournaments! Will anyone be able to challenge him? Next tournament will start in spring 2022.
The final standings were:
- Galen Loram
- Michael Thiessen
- Michael Turian
- Steven LeWinter
- Jason Leggett
- Eric Freeman
Forty-five participants played in 65 games to crown Galen Loram PBeM champion for 2020.
Controversy erupted in the very last of the 65 games of Through The Ages that it took to crown this year's PBEM winner. Ricky Boyes found himself in the unenviable position of having two different wars pointed at him as the game wound down in Age IV, and he didn't have enough strength to defend himself. He knew he would be finishing last in the game (and thus 3rd in the overall event), but that did not mean he was out of moves. Ricky had an opinion about who he wanted to see win the game, and he decided that it was Allan Jiang's fault he got knocked down to last and so he would deny all the victory points he could to AJ. Ricky fired all his military workers, weakening himself so that when the first war resolved DJ Borton would clean him out of culture and there would be none left to give to AJ when the second war resolved. As a result, DJ won the game instead of Allan. And as a result of that, Allan came up just short of defending his PBEM title from last year, with Galen Randall Loram taking the crown instead.
Should there be a rule against deliberately losing a war by as much as possible? Maybe, but there isn't right now. It's rare that true "kingmaking" scenarios like this come up in Through The Ages (and there's some well-established etiquette around Honorable Withdrawals before Age IV which covers some of the ones that do), but that's just what happened here, and in Ricky's words "2 players attacked me, I chose to give the points to the player that did not set up my vulnerability. As kingmaking situations go it's pretty justified." The GM would be interested in hearing opinions about whether a rule should be added saying that this behavior should be considered unsportsmanlike and/or illegal.
Meanwhile, congratulations go out to a relative newcomer to the Through The Ages scene. Galen started playing AGE barely a year ago and I'm pretty sure this is his very first BPA event. First event, first laurels, and they are first place laurels. Looks like there is a new shark in town!
- Galen Loram 1st
- Allan Jiang 2nd
- Ricky Boyes 3rd
- Jason Leggett 4th
- Michael Thiessen 5th
- Andrew Norgren 6th
Allan Jiang has unified the title belts and demonstrated impressive mastery in Through The Ages. The reigning (2-time) WBC champion led the field at every stage of the annual PBEM tournament: He was the only one of the 35 runners to win all 3 of his heats. Then he was the only semifinalist to win 3 of his 4 semifinal games. Things were a little closer in the finals, where Allan's two wins (in 4 games) was equaled by Michael Thiessen and Aran Warszawski, but Aran managed only a 3rd and a 4th in his other two games and while Michael put up the same "1 2nd and 1 3rd" performance as Allan, the tiebreaker was points from the semifinal round and so Allan claimed the overall title.
Here’s is Allan’s own impression of the finals round: “The finals were an absolute slugfest, with probably the most amount of military action I've seen in any Meeple League-style group I've played in. There were about 8 successful attacks in each of my games, and in my games alone all the finalists both won and lost military battles. I heard that military was also key in two games I wasn't in: Ryan won G2 with a War over Culture and good endgame scoring, and Aran won G4 after making many attacks during the game (mostly directed at Matthew, who was the unfortunate victim of a disproportionate number of attacks in the finals). I have no idea about the other game (G7). Looping back to my games, I won G1 with good endgame scoring, Aran won G3 with military dominance throughout the game, and Michael won G5 with two late wars.
Perhaps the craziest game I was involved in was G6. I went back through the log and recorded all of the attacks afterwards because of how dramatic it was:
- Mike Plundered me for 3 resources
- Matthew launched a War over Territory on Ryan for 4 tokens
- Matthew continued his assault on Ryan, stealing Warfare and 4 science in a War over Technology
- I got revenge on Mike with a War over Technology that netted his Navigation and 5 science
- In the midst of my war on him, Mike declared a War over Culture on Ryan
- During both of those wars, Matthew Raided Ryan's 2 Bread and Circuses and looted them for 3 resources
- *On my next turn, Civil Unrest happened, which wiped out all the culture that Ryan had since the loss of those Bread and Circuses made his population very unhappy. He then resigned during Mike's War over Culture, which led to Mike actually getting MORE culture than not resigning! I've never seen that before!
- I Infiltrated Mike, forcibly removing his leader Bill Gates
- I Warred Matthew for 12 culture
- I hit Mike with a War over Culture for 33 culture
Congratulations once again to Allan, and look for next year’s installment of this event to get cranked up sometime around January.
32 runners signed up for the first ever Through The Ages PBEM event. Everyone played 3 4-player games during the heat stage, and 16 picked up the one win that was required to advance to the playoffs. 3 games each in the semifinal stage sorted the remaining field and the cut to the top 7 was incredibly tight, with tiebreakers required to separate 7th from 8th while a pair or perennial WBC final table players (Sceadeau d’Tela and Randy Buehler) also found themselves on the outside looking in because one semifinal win was not good enough to secure a spot in the finals.
The 7 finalists were placed into 4 games each, with each other finalist appearing in exactly 2 of them, and everyone getting each starting position once. Winning a game was worth 10 points, 2nd was worth 6, 3rd 3, and last place earned just 1 point. (This is the same schedule and format that was worked out by the Meeple League and is used for each group in their leagues.) Reigning WBC champion Allan Jiang had to be the favorite going into the final round, but he was only able to win 1 of his four games outright (he also tied for first in another). Throw in a 2nd and a 4th and Allan had to settle for 2nd place laurels overall. Andreas Kroll was also able to win two, but he finished last in his other two so was only able to claim 3rd place laurels overall. Aran Warszawksi and semifinal stage winner Robb Effinger won one game each and took 4th and 5th overall. (Somehow there were two 1st place ties amongst the 7 games played in the finals, so there were 9 “wins” spread around the 7 finalists. There were no ties for any position in any other game played during the tournament!)
The first game to finish in the final round was also the most lopsided, with John Corrado claiming a 133-93-76-40 win over Haim Hoihbaum. After that John had quite a long sweat as the other results took 6 weeks to trickle in, but John also won the second game that was reported (by 17 over Allan) so he had a decent-sized lead throughout the finals. A 3rd place in his 3rd game (just 1 point out of 2nd) didn’t do John any favors, but when he won his 4th game (by 9 over Jon Senn) he took a nice lead into the clubhouse with him. 33 points is a lot of points in this format. It’s not completely unbeatable, but once all the dust finally on this event, no one was even close. John was the only one to win 3 of his 4 games, and he took the title and the 1st place laurels by fully 8 points (33-25 over Allan).
Congratulations to our 2018 champion: John Corrado!
Meanwhile, the 2019 tournament is already being planned, and it will use the new (and quite good) app that Czech games has put out on iOS, Android, and Steam. We hope to see you there!