Omens of Caesar ...
Running the event as a pre-convention Mini-Con had a positive
effect upon attendance this year. We reversed the long-term slow
decline in entrants, and greatly increased the number of rounds
played by each player. The lack of competing events certainly
helped keep people in the later rounds of swiss play, but even
the fifth round showed only a slight drop-off of players, despite
the beginning of other WBC events during its time slot. Each
round witnessed a few players skipping, but this was minimal.
As a consequence, the five swiss rounds served their function
well of giving entrants plenty of games, while clearly distinguishing
the field's top six players for the sixth (medal) round.
Pre-registration for the event was 40, of which 36 showed
at some point during the event. I know that one of our pre-registered
no-shows was in the POG pre-con and then wanted to play in the
demos of TNW. The other three no-shows represent the lowest rate
I've ever witnessed in any convention event. That fact in itself
makes the pre-convention Mini-Con concept seem viable for the
future. We also had five walk-ons, including three players at
the start of the event who went on to play four or five rounds
We had 27 players who never before had been in the HRC tourney--a
welcome influx of new blood. The downside of this is that more
than half of last year's entrants did NOT attend, including the
defending champion (though it is not unusual for the defending
champ to skip a year in this event). So, while we showed growth,
it was at some cost to others who couldn't attend the pre-con.
Surveys of attendees of the pre-con show very strong support
for continuing this event in the pre-convention slot. However,
I know that those who couldn't make it must be considered as
We have a "rule edition" split in our HRC community,
which caused some of the absences, though clearly we had no choice
but to continue to play using the published 1st edition rather
than the web-available 2nd. More than half the
entrants arrived having not seen the 2nd Edition (which is available
at http://pages.infinit.net/mykeul/hannibal_rules.htm). The 2nd
Edition provides about a dozen changes, while greatly consolidating
all of the clarifications/errata and GM interpretations that
apply equally to the 1st Edition. All in all, the changes are
not huge, so players of the 2nd Edition
didn't have much trouble adjusting.
Round 1 got started with 18 games, with matchups made according
to AREA ratings and prior tourney results. The only returning
champion, James Pei (,00), thus met some of his toughest competition
in the early rounds--and surprisingly didn't fare well. Last
year's fourth place player, Jim Heenehan knocked him off with
a bare Roman 9-8 victory, after finally killing Hannibal in Cisalpine
Gaul on Turn 9. This ensured that there would be no two-time
champion for the first seven years. The third-seeded GM avoided
a bye due to the arrival of a walk-on--Chris Hancock--who pushed
him to the brink despite
bad strategy deals, but Tucker won a Carthaginian 9-9 victory
after losing Hannibal on turn 7. In one of the more lopsided
Round 1 games among the top-ranked players, Peter Reese used
an intercepted messenger on turn 1 to pile up a 13-4 Carthaginian
province advantage by Turn 4, leading to Jared Scarborough's
resignation. Meanwhile, among the unranked players, POG GM David
Dockter defeated sometime-WTP GM Terry Coleman by having Hannibal
double envelop a big Roman army and then besiege Rome during
the final two turns, finishing with a 11-6 Carthaginian victory.
Round 2 matched Heenehan against highly-ranked tourney veteran
Craig Melton (who beat Charlie Hickok in the first round). Heenehan's
Scipio Africanus invaded Africa on turn 7, suffered setbacks
in turn 8, but with Marcellus' reinforcements defeated Hasdrubal
and sacked Carthage on turn 9. GM Tucker again fought after an
early death of Hannibal (turn 4) against Reese's Romans, but
couldn't hold on to a 9-9 tie in turn 9 when his mid-turn truce
was broken. Scarborough sent Pei down to an unprecedented consecutive
defeat, with a Roman 10-8 victory in a game seeing the death
of both Hannibal and Africanus. Dockter used a turn 6 Alps crossing
to inflict two double envelopment disasters upon Dennis Culhane's
Romans (including killing Africanus), securing a 12-5 victory.
Nick Frydas drove Bill Dufton to a turn
6 resignation when Frydas' Mago pursued Africanus and killed
him in battle on his turn of arrival. Doug Cooley's Carthaginians
slipped a small army into Tarentum by using Bad Weather to forestall
an attack and then playing Traitor in Tarentum. As it happened,
Mago's 3 CU army later defeated Longus' 8 CUs anyway. Lane Newbury
resigned when the death of Africanus left him no way to counter
Hannibal's control of most of Italy.
Round 3 matched undefeated Keith Wixson against his second
Day brother of the day. Michael and Warren were among the only
two players with active HRC AREA ratings who hadn't played in
the HRC tourney in the last three years. They made their presence
known this year, both ending ranked in the upper half of the
participants. Wixson survived them both, beating Michael in round
1 by killing Hannibal while he had two siege points against Rome,
and beating Warren by killing Hannibal on turn 6, inducing resignation.
Dockter continued his march toward the tournament's "Best
Carthaginian" award with a 9-9 victory over Rob Hassard,
by playing Truce on turn 9 to save a besieged Syracuse (with
2 points accumulated). Undefeated Chris Byrd handled Randall
MacInnis by sailing Hannibal, Mago and 18 CUs (including 4 elephants)
Sicily after intercepting a messenger in turn 8. Heenehan squared
off with Reese in a tight game that came down to who got the
Messenger and Syracuse cards from the turn 9 deal. Heenehan resigned
upon seeing his weak hand and facing an 8-10 province count.
Thus, the first day ended, having seen Carthage win 27 out
of 52 games. Bidding for side showed a bias toward Rome (winning
bids averaging 1.5 PCs by pro-Romans, while pro-Carthaginian
players had an average winning bid of 0.5). The second day saw
Carthaginian winning bids increase slightly.
By the end of the tournament, 85 games were played, with Carthage
winning 46 (54%)--18 by PC advantage (nine of which were ties).
Rome was only sacked twice --once against John Pack, who also
earned the Saddest Story Award. Pack managed to have Carthage
sacked as well (by Varro, no less), and in one game ended with
no CUs left. Carthage was sacked a total of six times, but Rome
sued for peace due to lack of PCs six times. Nearly half of the
games went the full nine turns, but 19 ended before the arrival
of Africanus. Rome naturally did well in games seeing no Syracuse
alliance (41% of the time) or when they re-took Syracuse early.
An unrecovered Syracuse figured prominently in 21 of the Carthaginian
wins. The Macedonian alliance did not correlate as well with
the distribution of Roman and Carthaginian wins, though the GM
will attest to having seen Philip only once in four games, contributing
mightily to his own naval shipment problems. The early death
of Hannibal helped Romans, but Carthage still won 30% of its
games in which Hannibal died (typically Hannibal died two turns
later in Carthaginian wins than in Roman wins). Africanus died
in 26% of Carthaginian
wins, but Romans managed to win five of their games after his
death. A favorable Messenger Intercepted ratio existed--with
the winning side drawing it 69 times to only 55 times for the
Playing time was closely correlated with number of turns played.
Full games averaged 4 hours and 5 minutes, with the 27 minute/turn
average holding for most games lasting six or more turns. Fifteen
of the games took the full amount of time alloted for the round,
while only four of the 9-turn games finished in three hours or
less. In short, the five-hour gaps between round starts worked
well for most people, though the GM's game usually ran the limit,
due to the number of rule questions levied.
With 34 players playing in round 4, the tournament continued
strong into the second day, making the tournament point tie-breaking
system quite valid (based on strength of opponents during the
swiss rounds). We entered the day with four undefeated players
(Reese, Byrd, Wixson, Dockter) and 13 players in striking range
just one win behind them. Wixson outbid Reese for Rome, only
to witness both the Syracuse and Philip cards played in turn
2. Reese profited from the
Messenger Intercepted in turn 3 and drove Wixson to resignation
by turn 6. Dockter's Carthaginians never got Syracuse in his
game against Byrd, but managed to hold onto a 9-9 victory in
a game involving no pivotal battle results (though both Hannibal
and Africanus escaped alive from battles lost to double envelopments).
GM Tucker's attempt to avoid a losing record fell apart against
Hank Burkhalter when Hanno Counseled Carthage for the final four
turns of the game, and Hasdrubal lost the rest of the army at
sea on turn 8, thus securing Tucker 27th, the worst rank among
the 20 HRC tourney
veterans present this year.
Round 5 began with two 4-0 records and eight 3-1 players,
ensuring that a player had to have no more than one loss in order
to make it to the medal round in which the top six players would
play for prizes (first against second, third against fourth,
fifth against sixth). The announced format of the tournament
meant that the two undefeated players faced each other in Round
5, with the potential that they would face each other again in
the medal round for the Wood (depending upon the successes of
their prior opponents and the resulting impact upon the tie-breaker
points for the players with 4-1 records). However, the tie-breaker
points were very close among most of the top ten players, so
neither Reese nor Dockter could afford to coast in this round
if they wanted to ensure a shot at the Wood. Wixson gained a
medal berth the quickest by sacking Carthage in under two hours
to defeat Chris Hancock (whose only other loss was to the GM).
Melton next won,
forcing Roman Chris Byrd's resignation on turn 8 (after Hannibal
had died at sea). Ed Rothenheber gained a medal round slot by
defeating Nick Frydas 9-9 in a game neither wanted to play as
Rome. Robert Hassard gained the sixth and final entry into the
medal round by conquering Sicily with Hannibal and turning back
Africanus' attempts to take Sicily and Africa, thus inducing
Randall MacInnis' resignation on turn 8. In one of the longest
games of the round, Reese suffered through numerous successes
by Dockter's Mago, but ultimately won the game by invading Spain
and sinking Hannibal's fleet, gaining a berth in the championship
Tournament tie-breaker points rated the five players with
4-1 records closely in the following order: Dockter, Wixson,
Rothenheber, Melton and Hassard. Thus, Reese faced Dockter again
in the final. Had Reese lost to Dockter in Round 5, the championship
game instead would have been Dockter against Wixson, due to Reese's
opponents having fewer wins than Wixson's. Heenehan earned the
most points among non-medalists, earning seventh, followed by
MacInnis, Byrd, Coleman, Frydas and Burkhalter. Hassard conceded
the fifth-place plaque to Melton. Wixson's Africanus annihilated
Hasdrubal in Spain, while Mago was counseled by Hanno in Africa,
leaving Spain to fall. Rothenheber resigned in turn 6, giving
Wixson the third-place plaque.
The battle for first was a rematch between Peter Reese and
David Dockter. Despite Reese being the Best Roman and Dockter
the Best Carthaginian of the swiss rounds, neither player wished
to push the other out of their comfort zone too far by trying
to play the other position. Reese's nominal 0 bid for Carthage
yielded to Dockter's bid of 1. On turn 1, Dockter's Hannibal
was hit by Epidemic as well as full attrition when crossing the
Alps. On turn 2, in a battle in which Hannibal was
overmatched, Peter paused to point out that David could accept
defeat to a Probe rather than risk a more damaging defeat later
in the battle (which certainly would have killed Hannibal). David,
obviously tired from the lengthy tournament, would have missed
the opportunity without the alert from his kind opponent. (It
is good to see that this repeat matchup didn't turn
into a blood feud.) Hannibal slipped back over the Alps with
only 1 CU. Dockter also decided against playing the Syracuse
card this early in the game. On turn 3, Reese intercepted a messenger,
stealing Dockter's Minor Campaign. On turn 4, Dockter again demurred
when offered the Syracusan alliance (sadly to never receive the
opportunity again). Marcellus survived a double envelopment loss
to Hannibal in Africa on turn 5. By the end of turn 6, Africa
was swept of Roman PCs. At the start of turn 7, Carthage was
down 8-10 in provinces, while Rome had 37 CUs and Carthage had
Marcellus was removed by Cato. Hannibal re-invaded Gaul, securing
a 9-9 count by the end of turn 8. Reese sent Africanus into Spain
on turn 9 to try to win a province. In the end, the game came
down to a battle between Africanus and
Hasdrubal for possession of the battlefield and therefore control
of the winning province. The battle went down to the final BC
play, as Africanus won, giving Reese the HRC championship game
by a 10-8 count.
Reese over Dockter for first
Wixson over Rothenheber for third
Melton over Hassard for fifth
Rankings after five swiss rounds (W-L record and side propensity)
tourney pts., awards:
1. Reese, Peter (5-0, 3xRW), 64 pts., Best Roman
2. Dockter, David (4-1, Carthage exclusively), 56 pts., Best
3. Wixson, Keith (4-1, 3xRW), 55 pts.
4. Rothenheber, Ed (4-1, 3xCW), 54 pts.
5. Melton, Craig (4-1, Carthage exclusively), 52 pts.
6. Hassard, Robert (4-1, split evenly, 1 RL), 51 pts.
7. Heenehan, Jim (3-2, all RW, CL), 47 pts.
8. MacInnis, Randall (3-2, Roman exclusively), 46 pts.
9. Byrd, Chris (3-2, all CW, RL), 45 pts.
10. Coleman, Terry (3-2, all CW, RL), 43 pts.
11. Frydas, Nick (3-2, 2xRW), 42 pts.
12. Burkhalter, Hank (3-2, 2xRW), 42 pts.
13. Pei (3-2, Carthage exclusively), 41 pts.
14. Hancock (3-2, 2xRW), 41 pts.
15. Dragonetti (3-2, all CW), 40 pts.
16. Day, Michael (3-2, 2xCW), 40 pts., Best Sacking of Rome (turn
17. Scarborough (2-3, 1 RW, 1 Bye), 37 pts.
18. Ussery (2-3, 2xRW), 33 pts.
19. Day, Warren (2-3, 2xCW), 33 pts.
20. Sinigaglio, Bruno (2-3, all RW, 1 CL), 33 pts.
21. Landel (2-2, one each), 30 pts.
22. Dufton (2-3, Roman exclusively), 29 pts.
23. Mirk (2-3, one each), 29 pts.
24. Eliason (2-2, all CW, RL), 28 pts.
25. Hickok (2-1, one win each), 26 pts.
26. Cooley (2-2, Carthage exclusively), 26 pts.
27. Tucker (1-3, Carthage exclusively), 23 pts.
28. Morse (1-4, 1 CW), 21 pts.
29. Mericli (1-3, 1 CW), 18 pts.
30. Culhane (1-2, 1 RW), 17 pts., Best Sacking of Carthage (turn
3/4, by Varro/Flaminius)
31. Anner (1-2, 1 CW), 17 pts.
32. Brooks (1-2, 1 Bye, Roman exclusively), 17 pts.
33. Pack (1-3, 1 RW), 14 pts., Saddest Story
34. Card (1-0 as Roman), 11 pts.
35. Miller (1-0 as Roman), 10 pts.
36. Samuel (0-4, Roman exclusively), 8 pts.
37 Newbury (0-4, 3xRL), 6 pts.
38. Wigdor (0-2 as Carthage), 5 pts.
39. Lentz (0-1 as Roman), 3 pts.
40. Shaw (0-1 as Roman), 3 pts.
41. Sinigaglio, Buddy (0-1 as Carthaginian), 1 pt