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The Highland Handicap Last updated July 3, 2019.

By Stuart “The Happy Handicapper” Tucker


2019 Part 5 — July 2, 2019

It is post time!! Can you feel the excitement in the air? Even this year’s tight deadline did not hold back the top prospects from the field (well, maybe a couple). This year’s field of 76 teams is full of strong contenders. So, let’s get right to it. My Pick Ten begins with the battle-tested favorites of the field. All five of them are threats to win four events each, so book all them into your card. Then, I need to be a little more selective as we go down the odds list. That second tier has a lot of talent, but I’m sticking to my usual advice: leave a few slots for longer shots to differentiate yourself from the field of entries in the Pick Ten contest. So, my next three picks are Uncivil Servants, Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, and Iron Meeples. I can’t quite find any real longshots, though. I could be surprised by an unknown team like The Pros from Dover (12000-1), or Blacksburg Bombers (4000-1), but they are extreme choices, indeed. Having seen last year how unlikely the longshots were, I’m going with two teams that are better than average, the top Canadians of Dice Loving Canucks – Heroes (52-1) and, finally, TerraFarmers (61-1). I’m not picking any longer than average teams, but if you want to take a stab in that direction, go with Princess & the Frogs (97-1) or Non-Sentient Beings (140-1).

Tucker’s Pick Ten:

  1. The Harry B’s (21-1)
  2. Nest of Spies (23-1)
  3. The Western PA Social Club (24-1)
  4. The Siegelmen (28-1)
  5. Band of Fools (30-1)
  6. Uncivil Servants (33-1)
  7. Robbing Peter to Pay Paul (38-1)
  8. Iron Meeples (43-1)
  9. Dice Loving Canucks – Heroes (52-1)
  10. TerraFarmers (61-1)

Team Power RatingsTeams Reporting45
RankEntryTeam Power Rating*Odds
11The Harry B's54321-1
241Nest of Spies48923-1
333The Western PA Social Club46224-1
49The Siegelmen40628-1
573Band of Fools38430-1
611Me & Three Stiffs36431-1
762Greenville Mafia: Corleone35632-1
88Uncivil Servants34233-1
939We Ain't Dead Yet32535-1
1030Robbing Peter to Pay Paul29938-1
115MIT SGS27542-1
1227Iron Meeples26543-1
1355Deimos Downers26044-1
1428ACTS Whisperers24347-1
1568Gang Greene23150-1
1618Dice Monkeys22751-1
1734Canucks - Heroes22352-1
1835Canucks - Number Ones21753-1
1942Mantis Shrimp20955-1
2058School of Sharks20656-1
2123Lions of Winter - Ice20656-1
2214St. Paul's Rejects19759-1
2354A Noble Experiment19260-1
2548Beach Bums19061-1
262Team Medici18961-1
2726Ghost Division18762-1
2869Four Random Dudes18264-1
2963Greenville Mafia: Barzini17865-1
3053Team Delaware17068-1
3150One Buck Short16172-1
3215Gaming Speed Bumps16073-1
3360Pardon My French13884-1
3413Naps Are Underrated13785-1
354THB + Nora13487-1
3661Too Many Hugs12097-1
3740No Airbags Required12097-1
387Princess & the Frogs12097-1
3943Train Conductors11998-1
406Team CPAP115101-1
4157EPGS Mountin' Laurels106110-1
4232The Board Maesters105110-1
4364Greenville Mafia: Tattaglia103110-1
4465Greenville Mafia: Cuneo101120-1
4545The Other Shea Family100120-1
4619Mighty Dice100120-1
4716The Carlisle Conspiracy99120-1
4921Possum Gamers88130-1
5020Non-Sentient Beings82140-1
5144Hostel Intent80150-1
5251Next Gen Tactics79150-1
5359Local Yokels78150-1
5475JaKKaL and Hide77150-1
55523000m Meeplechase77150-1
5676Team Undecided76150-1
5722Lions of Winter - Fire73160-1
5846Aces & Eights71160-1
603No Dice65180-1
6156Los Lobos Locos63190-1
6249Moose Eating Bat60200-1
6317Meeple Syrup60200-1
6472Sweep the Leg58200-1
6547I Like Waffles54220-1
6631Robo Dobby47250-1
6712Two Off the Top37300-1
6837Canucks - Fighters31400-1
6967Greenville Mafia: The Outfit30400-1
7066Greenville Mafia: Stracchi27400-1
7236Canucks - SODS15800-1
7338Canucks - Younguns111100-1
7474Blacksburg Bombers34000-1
7510Klayder's Crew26000-1
7671The Pros From Dover112000-1
*A team's Power Rating is the sum of its players' Baton Ratings.


2019 Part 4 — June 27, 2019

With the deadline drawing near, the field is growing. As expected, two top favorites have returned. The defending champions, The Western PA Social Club (29-1), are back intact. Nest of Spies (27-1) brings the return of the Dockter. Other top contenders have returned as well, including the beloved We Ain’t Dead Yet (42-1), Robbing Peter to Pay Paul (45-1), and Iron Meeples (51-1)—all quite capable of winning it all. The Dice Loving Canucks add another team this year and continue to lengthen their names. Certainly their Heroes (61-1) and Number Ones (63-1) are viable picks. Meanwhile, three of their teams are begging for respect, and maybe a little talent, languishing as very long shots. Team membership and name changes have altered the odds for the Lions of Winter. No Airbags Required (115-1) are going without their chief airbag, Welage. TerraFarmers (72-1) poached talent from Wabbit’s Wevenge, how will they respond?

Remember, these odds are based on an assumed field size similar to last year. If the early deadline catches many significant teams out, the final odds will sink accordingly. We still await at least a dozen teams that are more favorites than long shots. Hurry up and get stabled!!!

Team Power RatingsTeams Reporting76
RankEntryTeam Power Rating*Odds
11The Harry B's54325-1
241Nest of Spies48927-1
333The Western PA Social Club46229-1
49The Siegelmen40633-1
511Me & 3 Stiffs36437-1
68Uncivil Servants34240-1
739We Ain't Dead Yet32542-1
830Robbing Peter to Pay Paul29945-1
95MIT SGS27549-1
1027Iron Meeples26551-1
1128ACTS Whisperers24356-1
1218Dice Monkeys22760-1
1334Canucks - Heroes22361-1
1435Canucks - Number Ones21763-1
1542Mantis Shrimp20965-1
1623Lions of Winter - Ice20666-1
1714St. Paul's Rejects19769-1
192Team Medici18972-1
2026Ghost Division18773-1
2115Gaming Speed Bumps16086-1
2213Naps Are Underrated137100-1
234THB + Nora134103-1
247Princess & the Frogs120115-1
2540No Airbags Required120115-1
2643Train Conductors119116-1
2721Possum Gamers118117-1
286Team CPAP115120-1
2932The Board Maesters105130-1
3019Mighty Dice100140-1
3145The Other Shea Family100140-1
3216The Carlisle Conspiracy99140-1
3420Non-Sentient Beings82170-1
3544Hostel Intent80170-1
3622Lions of Winter - Fire73190-1
383No Dice65210-1
3917Meeple Syrup60230-1
4031Robo Dobby47290-1
4112Two Off the Top37400-1
4237Canucks - Fighters31400-1
4336Canucks - SODS15900-1
4438Canucks - Younguns111300-1
4510Klayder's Crew26600-1
*A team's Power Rating is the sum of its players' Baton Ratings.


2019 Part 3 — June 25, 2019

Many stables are a bit slow to come out of the paddock, but here we see some fine challengers lining up as the parade of competitors begins. Me & Three Stiffs (35-1) returns this year with Gaberson returning for the wilderness. Dice Monkeys (57-1) are also tough competition, though hindered by the small size of their events. St. Paul’s Rejects (66-1) are back after missing a year, but they remain a two-horse team. Gaming Speed Bumps (82-1) has lost a wheel at the last bump. Naps are Underrated (96-1) snagged the Swedish Ace. The Lions of Winter splintered and remixed, expanding into three teams. Only TerraFarmers (99-1) appear to have the talent to win; they certainly are returning from an excellent 2018. Kromp-on-Krewe (200-1) sticks together through a long drought. The remainder are, ahem, unremarkable.

Less than a week to go. Get into gear, teams!!!

Team Power RatingsTeams Reporting25
RankEntryTeam Power Rating*Odds
11The Harry B's54323-1
29The Siegelmen40632-1
311Me & 3 Stiffs36435-1
48Uncivil Servants34238-1
55MIT SGS27547-1
618Dice Monkeys22757-1
714St. Paul's Rejects19766-1
82Team Medici18969-1
915Gaming Speed Bumps16082-1
1013Naps Are Underrated13796-1
114THB + Nora13498-1
137Princess & the Frogs120110-1
1421Possum Gamers118110-1
156Team CPAP115110-1
1619Mighty Dice100130-1
1716The Carlisle Conspiracy99130-1
1820Non-Sentient Beings82160-1
1922Lions of Winter - Fire73180-1
2017Meeple Syrup71190-1
223No Dice65200-1
2323Lions of Winter - Ice53250-1
2412Two Off the Top37400-1
2510Klayder's Crew26600-1
*A team's Power Rating is the sum of its players' Baton Ratings.


2019 Part 2 — June 12, 2019

The Morning Line of our Racing Form shows the return of the Reiff-less Harry B’s (23-1) for another run for the laurels. The perennial class of the field fell a little short last year, so they return this year seeking vengeance not only for being slighted last year by this humble handicapper, but also for being bested by Reiff’s The Western PA Social Club. Motivation is a wonderful thing. Not only do they deserve their favored status by the oddsmaker, but also they gain the nod this year by being pre-announced as one of my Pick Ten choices.

Another top early entry is The Siegelmen (31-1), who are coming in this year having had an “off-year” of only placing sixth. Yes, we expect better this year. Also, overdue for success is Uncivil Servants (37-1) who are a good bet to bounce back from a bad year. Always a contender, MIT SGS (46-1) is missing Sohn this year, but remains a heavyweight contender.

Let’s give a shout out to the successes of Princess & the Frogs (110-1), who move up significantly in the odds rankings this year. The Cornetts field a respectable Team Medici (67-1). And Titan: The Arena champ Nora leads a youthful team from the mid-ranks: THB + Nora (96-1). What can we say about Team CPAP (110-1)? At least they’ll be well-rested.

I believe that No Dice (200-1) will live down to their name. Bringing up what may stand up to be this year’s rear of the field, we have Klayder’s Crew (6500-1), distinctly without Klayder. Where’s Klayder? Will this be the hallway game of the week? Where’s Klayder?

Team Power RatingsTeams Reporting10
RankEntryTeam Power Rating*Odds
11The Harry B's54323-1
29The Siegelmen40631-1
38Uncivil Servants34237-1
45MIT SGS27546-1
52Team Medici18967-1
64THB + Nora13496-1
77Princess & the Frogs120110-1
86Team CPAP115110-1
93No Dice65200-1
1010Klayder's Crew26500-1
*A team's Power Rating is the sum of its players' Baton Ratings.

While the registration deadline will have passed before you read this, there is plenty of registered talent to be fielded on your dream team. You just a few weeks more for the Team deadline, so don’t delay. We all ( well, most of us) are rooting for the unseating of the reigning Team Champion. Search out those event ringers to anchor your stable.


2019 Part 1 — June 10, 2019

The deadlines for the Team Tournament at the World Boardgame Championships are a little earlier this year, so it is time to get a move on forming teams and assessing the field for the Bracket Busting competition. You have three weeks to enter your teams. As usual, I expect a highly competitive field to emerge. Before launching into this year’s predictions, let us take a look at last year’s effort.

I may have fallen short in bracket busting the competition with my Pick Ten last year, but it was gratifying to see so many contestants using many of my favorites in their lists. While my Pick Ten choices only yielded four correct choices in the actual top ten, all ten of my choices landed in the top 24. The team champions, The Western PA Social Club, were among my choices. The winner of the Bracket Busting utilized a heavy dose of favorites, plus he banked on his own team to pull him above the rest. Bravo!!!

Tucker’s 2018 Pick Ten & Result:

  1. Nest of Spies (21-1) - 9th
  2. The Western PA Social Club (26-1) 1st
  3. The Siegelmen (28-1) - 6th
  4. Band of Fools (30-1) - 19th
  5. Wabbit’s Wevenge (33-1) - 20th
  6. Robbing Peter to Pay Paul (40-1) - 13th
  7. MIT SGS (41-1) - 24th
  8. Gang Greene (43-1) - 18th
  9. The Flying Circus (58-1) - 11th
  10. Canucks: Alphas (60-1) - 3rd

Only three teams with odds longer than average finished in the top ten last year. The favorites this year again will be those teams with no significant weak links among their four members. Unless there is a significant scattering of personnel, this handicapper will be making these five teams the favorites (all of which finished in the top ten last year):

  • Nest of Spies
  • The Harry B’s
  • The Western PA Social Club
  • The Siegelmen
  • Hold on to yer butts (in whatever new name they choose)

This year I’m modifying my Baton Ratings formula and the resulting odds for teams will reflect this change, I hope for the better. Recognizing that some players are beginning to dabble in new events to pick up the bonus point, I’ve introduced a fifth ranking to the formula—Range. This adds points to a Baton Rating for the breadth of events that player has mastered to the point of scoring laurels. This may have the effect of slightly boosting Eurogamers in the rankings, and dampening the relative value of one-horse wagons, if you will. The actual impact on team odds may be minimal, but I though I should mention this as the Power Rating numbers for teams are visibly higher.

Let the scramble for teammates begin!!!