air baron [Updated October 2002]

ABN  5 prizes Beginners Mult Ent Sing Elim Scheduled 
     14 Rnd1 Heat1  15
 Rnd1 Heat2 9    Rnd1 Heat3 21  
 Round 2 9 Round 3 Final 12    

  Rnd1 Heat1 Rnd1 Heat3 Maryland 3 Rnd1 Heat2  Round 2  Round 3 Maryland 1   

Chris Storzillo, NJ

2002 Champion

2nd: Chuck Krueger, MA

3rd: Andy Gardner, VA

4th: John Coussis, IL

5th: Jim Fleckenstein, VA

6th: Eric Shaffer, AZ

Event History
1996    Jack Jaeger      118
1997    James Garvey      110
1998    Fred Minard       94
1999    Ken Rothstein      117
2000    John Coussis     109
2001    Jack Jaeger      72
2002     Chris Storzillo      73

AREA Ratings

GM: Evan Davis

Past Winners

Jack Jaeger - VA
1996, 2001

James Garvey - NY

Fred Minard - PA

Ken Rothstein - NY

John Coussis - IL

Fare Wars ... a wargame for capitalists

The skies were partly cloudy over Air Baron Land as the seventh annual championship tournament began. A rookie GM had taken over the control
tower, and he was so green he didn't have any pre-printed scoresheets. Nevertheless, the games departed on schedule in three flights of six, six and nine boards. Not all of them arrived on time, however. The GM was determined to have every game completed before the three-hour time limit. Four boards
were adjudicated after time ran out in qualifying rounds, and there were some expressions of frustration, one quite intense. Otherwise, though, the event ran pretty smoothly.

Two of the first-round games featured two past champions each, but the only ex-champ who advanced to the semi's was John Coussis, who actually won two games. So did Tim Marvin, who was cheeky enough to knock the GM completely off the map in Round 3. (Oh, well, one of the former champs went bankrupt twice in his game.) Other qualifying round "highlights" included a disaster scenario with four fuel hikes and three bankruptcies, a defensive struggle with 17 jumbos deployed, and a game in which the winner had fewer points than another player who hadn't been able to declare victory on his own turn.

Sixteen players (five of whom were from the Jersey Association of Gamers) showed up for the semis, which turned out to be three distinctively different games. On board 1, Jim Fleckenstein, who had started up in Dayton, watched a couple of rivals take seemingly strong positions before he blasted through Detroit, Chicago, Dallas and Denver to claim the victory in 45 minutes. (Who says you can't win starting with a spoke out of Detroit?) Coussis finished a strong second to also qualify for the final.

Board 2 was apparently affected by the prospect of adjudication. Chris Storzillo came out of Orlando and almost won by mid-game, but he was in debt and then got hit by various disasters (including two snake-eyes rolls). Nevertheless, his opponents didn't make a concerted effort against him, possibly playing for second place and a seat in the finals. Storzillo sweated for long minutes before finally winning, while Andy Gardner's position in the central part of the map was good enough for the coveted second place.

Defense was the story on board 3, with only one hub controlled by mid-game. The five players had sixteen jumbos deployed and four more undeployed. Eric Shaffer, who had opened in humble El Paso, made the first big move, taking Dallas and Denver and some key spokes elsewhere. Chuck
Krueger took the West Coast, but Shaffer won the battle of Atlanta. He placed first and Krueger second with Jeff Schulte only five points behind.

The final proved anti-climactic. Storzillo, who was based in Boston, looked like he was in for a northeast struggle with Gardner, as both were
rolling in cash, while Krueger took over the always-imposing LAX and also got rapidly rich. Instead of a struggle, however, it was a romp, as Storzillo
powered through Detroit, New York and Washington D.C. and, with cash to spare, won his wood.

Regretably, the game's designer cannot return for 2003 so Air Baron is in need of a new GM this year. But he leaves us with these words of wisdom for his successor.

To whoever picks up the torch as GM, the main issue will be game length. I was content with the adjudication system I used, but a few people were pretty upset. My intention was to make sure all games were finished within the three-hour limit. As was announced before each round, I announced at 15 minutes before the final hour that players should finish their current rounds and then play one more. If no one had won, we added up cash and market share, subtracted debt and had a winner. A better plan might have been to subtract double the amount of a debt, to avoid last-minute borrowing for fare wars runs. Any ties in the prelims were to both count as winners. My plan in the semi's and finals was that if we had to adjudicate, a tie would be broken by having each person tied drawing one more chit and seeing who scored the most from all of those drawn.

An alternative is something my friends and I have been playtesting locally: Profit Taking. It's a sort of anti-fare wars that you can choose any time after at least one slot has been taken in each hub. You declare whether you are in it, and you stay in or out as you would with fare wars. You cannot make any
purchases or attacks, although you can redeploy your jumbos and SST. You are minus 2 on all defenses. You score triple value on all payoff chits drawn, including recession. One of the goals is to keep games from getting into long slugfests by giving players with good defensive networks a better chance to win with a surge of cash. It seems to work pretty well, though people's eyes do bulge the first time an opponent scores $120 for Paris.

A related House rule, which we have not yet tested but I know I would like, is not to allow fare wars until at least one slot has been taken in each hub. This is to prevent the occasional 30 minute-game won on an early lucky streak.

 GM      Evan Davis  [1st Year]   NA   NA

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