Thurn & Taxis (T&T) PBeM Reports Updated September 21, 2023

2023 PBeM Tournament
 

During the three rounds of the 2023 Thurn and Taxis PBEM tournament, fifty players completed a total of sixty-eight games. Four simultaneous games were played in each of the first two rounds, followed by a single game final. Within each round, players were ranked according to a 1000-100-10-1 scoring system to determine advancement to the next stage.

Four players managed to win three out of four games in the first round: Bronwyn Woods, Chris Bert, AJ Jiang, and Steve LeWinter. Another thirteen players won two games, all of whom advanced to the semifinal round. Those seventeen players comprised the semifinal field, which required a point total over 2000 (two wins) to advance.

Both Andrew Emerick and Steve LeWinter achieved perfect 4-0 records in the semifinal to secure their spots in the final game. They were joined by three-game winner Alex Bove. Two wins again proved to be the dividing line, with only Bronwyn Woods meeting that benchmark and earning a place in the final.

In the final game, Andrew was the first to place houses in all colors and had a seven-point lead halfway through the game, with all players gaining their level five carriages within one turn of one another. Andrew closed his next route on three cards to ensure getting the first red/orange chip, maintaining his lead but losing ground on the carriage race. Bronwyn and Steve achieved the all-colors bonus second and third respectively, each picking up their six-carriage on the same turn. They both set about completing the gray cities with their final routes. Bronwyn had the first opportunity to end the game by cartwrighting to the seven-carriage and completing the gray cities. However, the route would only place two new houses and push her to third place after Andrew completed a seven-point route in front of her. Bronwyn opted to extend the game, which allowed Steve an extra turn to complete his gray cities as well and build the game’s first seven-card route, winning with 27 points to Andrew’s 21.

The top 6 finishers were, in order, Steve LeWinter, Andrew Emerick, Bronwyn Woods, Alex Bove, AJ Jiang, and Jon McSenn.

Three players posted the highest winning score of the tournament with 32: Rich Meyer, Randy Buehler, and Cary Morris. The lowest winning score was 16, achieved by Michael Swinson and Bill Masek. Andrew Martin scored 27 points in a losing effort for the highest non-winning score.

Regarding turn order, Seat 2 produced the most wins (23). Seats 3 and 1 earned 18 and 17 wins respectively, while Seat 4 managed only 10 wins. Seat 2 also posted the highest average score (18.03) but was edged out by Seat 3 for best average finish (2.32 vs 2.38).

Congratulations to Steve and to all the laurelists and thank you to everyone who participated in the event.


2022 PBeM Tournament
 

Forty-seven players completed a total of sixty-four games over three rounds in the 2022 Thurn and Taxis PBEM tournament. The tournament consisted of two rounds of four simultaneous games, followed by a single game final. Within each round, players were ranked according to a 1000-100-10-1 scoring system to determine advancement to the next stage.

In the first round, Chris Wildes finished an undefeated 4-0 to top the standings. Eight other players earned three wins apiece: Debra LeWinter, Randy Buehler, Haim Hochboim, Rob Murray, John Pack, Alex Bove, Paul Klayder, DJ Borton. Sixteen players advanced to the semifinal round and a point total of 1201 (one win, two second place, and one fourth place finish) was required to advance.

In the semifinal, another player managed a perfect record: 2021 PBEM champion AJ Jiang. Chris Wildes and Rob Murray each earned two wins to join him in the final. The last spot in the final was determined in thrilling fashion as any of three players (Randy Buehler, Robert St. Pierre, and Debra LeWinter) could advance with a win in the last game. In the end, Randy secured his second win of the round and a seat in the final. Andrew Emerick and Alex Bove earned 5th and 6th place laurels respectively for their placement in the semifinal round.

During the final game, AJ in Seat 4 was able to push the pace and earn his level 7 carriage in only 14 turns. Randy earned the 3-blue and 2-green chips, but only placed 12 houses and could not find a connecting city to complete a Lodz-Pilsen route on the last turn to claim the all-colors bonus. Chris only managed a level 5 carriage and failed to find a necessary Innsbruck but picked up the top chips for 5 and 6 card routes. Rob placed houses in all the white cities, but never visited Sigmaringen. In the end, AJ rushing the end of the game meant that only he was able to place into all provinces, and he was rewarded with a 4-point victory to repeat as Thurn and Taxis PBEM champion.

The top 6 finishers were, in order, AJ Jiang, Rob Murray, Chris Wildes, Randy Buehler, Andrew Emerick, and Alex Bove.

Over the course of the tournament, DJ Borton posted the highest winning score with 35, while AJ achieved victory with the lowest winning score at 13. Chris Gnech earned 27 points and the highest non-winning score.

Statistics were gathered related to the turn order at the start of the game. Seat 3 produced the most wins (22), while the other three seats all earned between 13-15 wins. Unsurprisingly, Seat 3 had the highest average finish (2.12) and highest average score (18.64), followed by Seat 4 (2.5 average finish and 16.39 average score) placing a bit ahead of Seats 1 and 2.

The winner of the game triggered the end only 56.25% of the time. Only seven games (10.94%) ended by a player placing all their houses. Debra LeWinter placed all 20 houses and earned a level 7 carriage on the same turn in a round 1 victory.

Once again congratulations to AJ and to all the laurelists and thank you to everyone who participated in the event.


2021 PBeM Tournament
 

A total of 42 players entered the 2021 Thurn & Taxis play by email tournament. With 22 unique first-round winners, it took a win and a second to qualify for the 21-player semifinal round. Three of the first-round winners had a perfect four wins: AJ Jiang, Andrew Emerick, and Debra Seltzer LeWinter. Three others had three first-round wins: Steven LeWinter, assistant GM Chris Wildes, and Alex Bove. Of those six, AJ, Andrew, and Chris would go on to the four-player final, joined by first-round double-winner DJ Borton.

In the final, DJ started the first round by picking up Innsbruck and Augsburg, playing Innsbruck. Andrew followed by taking one of two available Ulm cards and a card off the top of the deck and starting his route in Ulm. AJ took two off of the deck, laying down a Nurnberg while Chris took the second Ulm and a connecting Ingolstadt. Over the next several turns DJ and AJ completed three-card routes on turn three, while Andrew and Chris attempted to build longer first routes. Andrew succeeded in completing an Ulm-Stuttgart-Wurzburg-Mannheim-Carlsruhe route on turn four to pick up the 2-point chip for a five-length route, but Chris failed to extend an Ulm-Ingolstadt-Munchen-Innsbruck route and settled for a four-length route and three house placements.

AJ spent the next four turns completing short three-card routes and utilizing the Cartwright to take an early lead in the carriage race, while DJ completed a Budweis-Linz-Passau second route to remain on a three-carriage. Chris completed a Basel-Zurich-Kempten route, placing two houses in the light-blue region and taking the three-point blue chip. Andrew’s second route placed four houses in Baiern (Kempten-Augsburg-Ingolstadt-Munchen) setting up a potential future play to complete the white region.

As the deck emptied for the first time, it became clear that the second trip through the deck would be missing several key cards. DJ had a Lodz-Pilsen route in play with Nurnberg and Stuttgart in hand, but only one copy of Sigmaringen was included in the reshuffle. Andrew and AJ each had a Pilsen in hand, but the remaining two Lodz cards were in Chris’s hand, both having been drawn from the top of the deck. This all meant it was unlikely that someone would score an early all-province bonus and set up a defensive game of card denial. It also resulted in higher than expected use of the Administrator, beginning in round 10 when each player used the card flush ability in successive turns.

Over the next several turns, DJ completed two five-length routes picking up the 1-point chip for a five-route and completing the red and orange regions for 4 more points. Andrew found Lodz to pair with his Pilsen and completed a six-length route, but still needed Sigmaringen and Innsbruck. AJ started a route with Budweis-Linz, but picked up several connecting white cards and ultimately closed an eight-length route placing houses in Passau, Munchen, Augsburg, Ingolstadt, and Regensburg. This left him one house shy of completing the white region, with the needed Nurnberg card already in hand. Chris had closed two short routes (Budweis-Linz-Passau and Mannheim-Wurzburg-Stuttgart) and picked up the 3-point green chip.

At the start of turn 14, four points separated all four players, and no player had yet achieved the all-province bonus. DJ still sought a copy of Sigmaringen, but had Freiburg and Basel in hand. Andrew also needed Sigmaringen as well as Innsbruck, but had a Zurich-Kempten route in play. AJ was looking for Pilsen and Lodz with Nurnberg and Stuttgart in hand. Chris had only a single Lodz in hand, having carried it since turn four, and needed to find a Pilsen. AJ had a six-carriage, with everyone else on a five-carriage and no one threatening to end the game via house placement.

As a result of both defensive play and players needing specific cards, the Administrator was used seven times over the final four turns. DJ found Sigmaringen and completed a Basel-Freiburg-Sigmaringen route to get the 6-point all-province bonus as well as the 2-point green and blue chips to finish with 17 points. Andrew flushed the card pool three times in a row but eventually found what he needed to complete an Augsberg-Ulm-Sigmaringen-Zurich-Kempten-Innsbruck-Salzburg route. He scored the 5-point all-province bonus, a six-carriage, and the 3-point seven-route chip, resulting in a final score of 14. Chris closed a Lodz-Pilsen-Regensburg-Nurnberg route with the cartwright to pick up a six-carriage and the 3-point all-province bonus, ending the game with 12 points.

As the only person to avoid using the Administrator in the endgame, AJ efficiently picked up the cards he needed and built a full seven-card route. He finished the white region (five points) he had set up earlier as well as picking up points for all-provinces (four), the purple region (three), a seven-route (two), the seven-carriage (three), and ending the game (one). His twenty-three point final route gave him a ten-point margin over DJ and a first-place finish in the final.

  1. AJ Jiang (27)
  2. DJ Borton (17)
  3. Andrew Emerick (14)
  4. Chris Wildes (12)

Thanks to Assistant GM Chris Wildes for the above recap of the final.

Some statistics for those interested in such data (although the sample size is small, and thus drawing conclusions is dangerous):

The most common way for games to end was through the 7-carriage. (33 of the 42 first-round games were ended this way). Of those who ended the game by taking the 7-carriage, 25 won their game, 6 came in second, and 2 came in third place. Of those games ended by placing the last house, 8 won and 1 came in second. The highest score in the first round was 32 (achieved by 3 winners). The lowest winning score was 16.

For the semifinal, the results were a bit more balanced. 19 of the games ended with the 7-carriage. Of those ending the game, 7 won, 5 came in second, and 7 came in third. Only 2 games ended by placing the last house, and both those players won their games. The high score was 27 (also achieved by three players) and the lowest winning score was 18.

I also took a look at seating position. Yucata randomizes starting position, so there is no opportunity to bid for position, even if we wanted to do so. In the first round, here were the results:

  • Seat 1 – 14 wins
  • Seat 2 – 13 wins
  • Seat 3 – 8 wins
  • Seat 4 – 7 wins

In the semifinal:

  • Seat 1 – 3 wins
  • Seat 2 – 10 wins
  • Seat 3 – 4 wins
  • Seat 4 – 4 wins

The final was won by the third seat.

Overall, then:

  • Seat 1 – 17 wins
  • Seat 2 – 23 wins
  • Seat 3 – 13 wins
  • Seat 4 – 11 wins

These results approximately follow those seen in the live 2019 tournament, but as stated above, the sample size is small, making it less logical to draw conclusions.

Laurelists:

  1. AJ Jiang
  2. DJ Borton
  3. Andrew Emerick
  4. Chris Wildes
  5. Dominic Blais
  6. Cary Morris

Next year, if I run this again, I will implement a different system for the final. The top six finishers in the semifinal will play in three games (1, 3, 4, 6 seeds, 1, 2, 5, 6 seeds, and 2, 3, 4, 5 seeds). That should help reduce some of the random chance from affecting the results, by making the winner the one who has the best record in two games. It also allows all six laurelists to compete. No system is perfect, but I figure I will give that one a try to see how it works out.