First of Three for the Newcomer
Michael Pustilnik and Thomas Tu
GM Rob Renaud and his co-finalists
Richard Boyes won the eighth WBC RFG tournament, defeating Chris Kizer, Matt Naughton, and defending champ Rob Renaud in a dramatic, gutsy Final featuring a clinic in when to stick with the blind trade. In doing so, Richard won a special prize: a copy of Roll for the Galaxy. Two other randomly drawn participants, Rodney Bacigalupo and David Platnick, also won a copy of this special prize sponsored by the GM.
The tournament structure was heats; most-wins, with a GM-specified tiebreaker of most second place finishes. The first two heats were played on the base game, and the remaining heats were played with the Gathering Storm with goals (the first expansion).
In the first heat, Brian Chan had by far the largest margin of victory with a 63 to 37 win. Previous champions Rob Renaud and John Riston, as well as 2014 runner-up Keith Dent both managed a win. In the second heat, perennial semifinalist Tim Tu had a 30-point win. After two heats, five players had won both their games (thereby likely qualifying for the semis): Rob Renaud, Keith Dent, Tim Tu, Brian Chan, and Bill Carrigan. They were joined by Michael Powers (who had an impressive 20-point victory in Heat 3), Catherine Raymond (with the largest win in Heat 4), Chris Kizer, Michael Powers, Nick Kiswanto, Matthew Naughton, Nick Alexandro, Jason Grognale, and Richard Boyes. Former champion John Riston just barely made the cut, with one win in his first heat entered plus two runner-up finishes. Former champion Aaron Fuegi missed the top 16 (with a win plus two seconds, but a loss in his first heat entered), but qualified for the semifinals nonetheless as an alternate when top-seeded Micah McCormick (three wins and a second) opted for other diversions.
The semifinals featured Rebel vs Imperium with goals but no takeovers. Chris Kizer won his semifinal by a large margin, 69 to 37, over nearest competitor Michael Powers. For the second year in a row, Rob Renaud eked out a narrow victory, taking first over Thomas Tu 46 to 43, while Nick Kiswanto missed an astonishing three blind trades in a row. Matt Naughton won his semifinal (with Nick Alexandro in second) and Richard Boyes won his as well (with Aaron Fuegi in second).
In the Final, played on Alien Artifacts without the orb scenario, Rob started with Alien Artifact Hunters, Chris took Sentient Robots, Matt New Sparta, and Richard Uplift Researchers. On Turn 1, Rob picked explore + 1, Chris develop, Matt explore + 5, and Richard blind traded. Showing perhaps more balls than brains, Rob emptied his hand for a first turn Galactic Federation. Chris built Imperium Stealth Tactics, Richard Public Works, and Matt missed the develop.
Turn 2 had three explores: Rob and Matt with a deep explore, and Chris with an explore + 1. Richard stood his ground and missed with a blind trade again. Here, the players have an interesting dilemma. Even if Matt and Chris know that Richard will blind trade again, refusing to settle could still be a losing proposition. Rob has a big advantage in both explore from his home world power, and develop from his Galactic Federation placement. Refusing to settle will likely give Rob too much time to recuperate his big investment. Matt cleverly, and perhaps begrudgingly, thinks it through, and calls the needed settle. Richard stands his ground, and his third blind trade hits. Rob and Chris both explore again. Matt and Richard settle uplift military worlds, Chris settles a deserted alien windfall world, and Rob misses the settle.
On Heat 4, Rob develops, Matt and Chris trade, and Richard builds Wormhole Prospectors: +$2 to trades, discard up to 2 cards for 1 vp each, and rewards for non-military worlds and trade powers. Despite Rob's exploring and big dev discount, Rob can only build Expeditionary Forces, probably hinting that he didn’t find much develop synergy. Meanwhile, Matt builds Galactic Investors, which gives him +2 cards after he develops, blunting Rob's lead in develop. Chris misses the develop.
In Turn 5, Rob again deep explores, Chris settles, Matt produces, and Richard trades his fresh genes good for an impressive $6. Rob settles Distant World, which costs 4 and puts a lot of pressure on his hand. Chris settles Frontier Capital, which gives him a dev bonus, probably hoping to leech off Rob and Matt's strong position on develop. Matt builds Alien Fuel Refinery, an Alien production world which bans trading from itself. Richard misses the settle.
In the next turn, Rob and Matt trade, Chris settles again, and Richard produces. Richard seems to be getting into a produce/trade rhythm, exploiting his Wormhole Prospectors. If players build quickly, Richard can use his trades to stay rich. If players build too slowly and he would be discarding because he overflows the hand limit, he can take some points from the discards. Rob settles Star Nomad Lair, Chris settles Rebel Underground, Matt misses the settle, and Richard settles Artist Colony.
In Turn 7, Rob and Richard trade, while Chris and Matt settle. Rob settles Comet Zone, Chris a rebel uplift card, Matt Empath World, and Richard Avian Uplift World.
On Turn 8, neither Rob nor Matt develop to the detriment of both of them. Instead, Rob and Chris, probably in desperation, pull yet another explore + 5. Both Matt and Richard trade. Here Richard punishes the lack of building by discarding for two points.
At this point, Richard continues his produce/trade/trade cycle, staying full of cash and options, and winning with an impressive 54 points. Chris lands a couple more alien worlds and the Alien Tech institute, but it's not enough to match Richard's powerful trading engine, finishing with 39. Matt eventually relents on his “never call dev” policy, but it's too little too late and barely misses second with 37. Rob limps through with a series of explores and trades, but his first turn Galactic Federation gambit clearly fails and nets only 26 points.
Congratulations to Richard for the win with his gutsy early repeated trade calls.