Michael Kiefte, Gareth Williams
and Emily Wu - soon to become Emily Allbutt.
Absent a Queen ...
Mark Hodgkinson and John Potts in
Ed Beach watches Seth Gunar's move.
Never Trust a Frenchman ...
The Here I Stand tournament logged 16 games over two preliminary
heats and two elimination rounds. While the field was much reduced
from last year's record numbers that can be largely charged to
the defection of The Virgin Queen which was off becoming
a separate event. About a quarter of the players were new to
the game and by all accounts we have some new HIS groupies! The
qualifying and semifinal games were largely unchanged from prior
years - modified tournament scenario, Ottoman and Hapsburgs were
natural enemies, Copernicus came in Turn 4 - but the Final featured
a full 1532 scenario start and finish (potentially six turns,
no natural enemies).
first two rounds were dominated by the Big Four - the Ottomans
won three games, and the Hapsburgs, Papacy, and Protestants won
four each - with nary a win for the hapless English and French.
The natural enemies rule kept Turk and German at each other's
throats, with Vienna falling in quite a few games. It was also
a tough tournament for debaters who happened to be named Tyndale,
adding burnt flesh to Kinderhook's usual bouquet of mildew and
feet. There were three semifinal games, with one of the tables
ending in a FOUR way tie for second place at 23 points. Because
one of the winners couldn't play further, all four were awarded
seats at the Final - all you need is a chip and a chair to keep
hopes alive as it turned out....
Power selection was attended by the usual metagaming since
they knew the seeding going in. However, with a brand new 1532
scenario players had to consider the long game - maybe Luther
and Charles weren't necessarily going to walk away with it? Tradition
(and superstition) won out in the end, and England and France
were the last powers to be chosen. Andrew Kiefte chose the Ottomans,
Mathieu Pare the Hapsburgs, David Kiefte the English (elder brother
to the Ottoman Kiefte, BTW), Justin Rice the French, Kirk Harris
the Papacy, and Dennis Mishler went with his beloved Protestants.
The first turn was fairly quiet. Pope Kirk gave Henry his
divorce for two card draws, which produced fabulous results for
each - Pope drew Calvin's Institutes and proceeded to bury it
for the rest of the game, while Henry VIII knocked up Anne and
got Edward! The Ottomans and Hapsburgs each took a key in the
Med, but a well-timed Revolt of Communeros and an inexplicably
empty Valladolid lost Charles his capitol. France was unable
to take Milan, and whiffed in the New World to end a dreadful
turn for Le Coq.
The Hapsburgs went into second turn diplomacy looking to sell
the Netherlands to England but was rebuffed with a powerful anti-Hapsburg
machine built by the French. Pope Kirk fired up the Protestant
BBQ by burning Latimer with a Papal Bull, and Dennis's Protestants
could only net 3 spaces with an English New Testament. The real
action was in the east, however, which saw one of the most exciting
campaigns around Vienna heretofore witnessed. Suleiman's proud
army of Janissaries threw themselves at Vienna but were decimated,
with only Suleiman and a single combat unit surviving in the
retreat to Pressburg. Mathieu's Hapsburgs smelled green blood
and successfully played "City States Rebel" on Buda,
thus trapping Andrew's once powerful army with no escape! Ottoman
Andrew's only hope was to attempt a march through Buda, which
would result in a deadly field battle or a "bounced"
siege since he didn't have enough power to actually set the siege
(Buda had a single CU to Suleiman's single CU). Mathieu's Hungarians
wisely fought the field battle and they each rolled a single
hit..... BUT since the Ottomans rolled three dice with Suleiman
to Buda's two they retained a unit and "won" the battle
and was able to set siege!! Then, when Mathieu attempted to move
Charles out of Vienna to squash Suleiman again he had an attack
of gout and Suleiman got his retreat!! It was an incredibly exciting
sequence of events, and the Hapsburg kick to the nuts continued
in the New World, with the English getting the Amazon and the
French the Incas.
Turn 3 diplomacy again featured a Hapsburg offer to sell the
Netherlands, and this time they found a taker in Justin's French.
The turn's battlefields shifted westward - Hapsburgs took two
electorates and the French finally conquered an independent Metz.
But the purple Gods weren't done with Dennis's Protestants -
both Tyndale and Olivetan were burned in massively lopsided debates,
and the pro-Protestant event drought continued. Luther could
only watch and wipe ashes and tears from his robes....
Turn 4 diplomacy saw major power alliances while bullying
the minors. France ended up allied with EVERYONE, but declared
war on plucky Genoa. Hapsburgs declared war on Venice. As the
turn got underway, Protestant dice continued to stink of sadness
and nightsoil. The English Bible only netted three spaces, and
Dennis declared the turn a lost cause. He offered to put every
CP into bringing the Pope down since he appeared on the verge
of winning, but made the English, French, and Hapsburgs promise
two card draws next turn as recompense - his CP included the
Wartburg and home card which would likely lose him the opportunity
to filch Copernicus. His fears were realized as the Ottoman played
Copernicus, but Pope Kirk did slide down to 24VP and the game
seemed destined for another turn.... However, Justin and Les
Bleus had a final trick up their sleeves - he played Diplomatic
Marriage to activate Venice. Since the Hapsburgs had accepted
the French alliance, Mathieu's war with Venice was ended without
a shot! Justin now stood at 25VP, and the board's last gasp came
from Dennis's Protestants - he used his home card to draw "City
States Rebel" out of the discard pile and played it on French
Antwerp. He rolled five dice, needing three hits to successfully
kick out the French, drop them to 23VP, and keep the game going.
Not surprisingly, the dice weren't with Brown and only two hits
were scored. Vive le France!
This was an especially satisfying end for Justin - he got
into the Final by the tiniest of margins and had the last choice
of powers, but pulled a white dove out of his butt with masterful
alliances and went on to win his second title in three years!
The scores were: France (Justin Rice) 25, Pope (Kirk Harris)
24, England (David Kiefte) 22, Hapsburg (Mathieu Pare) 21, Ottoman
(Andrew Kiefte) 21, Protestant (Dennis Mishler) 15. Good game
Geoff Allbutt, Frank McNally and Robb
Most of the "Stand" finalists
prefer to sit.