princes of florence [Updated October 2005]  

2005 WBC Report  

 2006 Status: pending 2006 GM commitment

Ian MacInnes, NY

2005 Champion

Offsite links:

AREA Ratings


Event History
2001    Arthur Field     65
2002    Arthur Field     94
2003    Eric Brosius     88
2004    Eugene Lin     77
2005    Ian MacInnes     82

Euro Quest Event History
2003    John Kerr     31
2004    Brian Reynolds     24


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Eric Brosius       MA    05     64
  2.  Arthur Field       SC    02     50
  3.  Eugene Lin         WA    04     44
  4.  Ian MacInnes       NY    05     40
  5.  Doug Kaufman       MD    04     37
  6.  David Platnick     VA    05     36
  7.  Brian Reynolds     MD    04     30
  8.  John Kerr          VA    03     30
  9.  Legend Dan Hoffman MD    04     28
 10.  Tom Johnston       IL    03     24
 11.  Davyd Field        SC    02     24
 12.  Doug Smith         PA    02     22
 13.  James Carvin       PA    03     18
 14.  Donna Rogall       MD    04     17
 15.  Joe Nemet          PA    05     16
 16.  Clyde Kruskal      MD    03     16
 17.  Greg Thatcher      FL    05     12
 18.  Rod Spade          PA    04     12
 19.  Holliday Jones     MD    04     12
 20.  Stuart Tucker      MD    03     12
 21.  John Weber         MD    03     12
 22.  Scott Nicholson    NY    05      8
 23.  Nathaniel Hoam     OH    04      8
 24.  Brian Jones        MD    04      6
 25.  Anne Norton        NJ    02      4
 26.  Brian Jones        NC    01      4
 27.  Andrew Gerb        MD    04      3
 28.  Bruce Reiff        OH    03      3
 29.  Randy Cox          SC    01      3
 30.  Marc Houde         DC    01      2
 31.  Justin Veazey      MD    01      1

2005 Laurelists

Eric Brosius, MA

Joe Nemet, PA

Greg Thatcher, FL

Scott Nicholson, NY

David Platnick, VA

Past Winners

Arthur Field, SC
2001 - 2002

Eric Brosius, MA

Eugene Lin, WA

the path to victory ...

As Others See Us: Another well-run event. The director was willing to donate his time by sitting and watching the other entrants play, or to participate if needed to make a multiple of five players. ... Frank Cunliffe in EPGS' HEROICS newsletter

In Princes of Florence, you play a Renaissance aristocrat, seeking not cash (so bourgeois) but prestige. In each of the seven rounds you may purchase one item at auction and take two actions, and you must make the most of these 21 opportunities to win. At the start of the game, many strategic options are available, but the decisions you make as you go along limit your choices and force you to choose a course of action. Resources are scarce, however, and if your opponents purchase items you need, you will need to abandon Plan A in favor of Plan B, C or D. The hallmarks of a successful player are solid strategy and tactical flexibility.

Eight or nine players attended the demo session before Heat 1. This is a shopping game at heart, and this familiar structure makes it surprisingly accessible. One of the new players was Jay Fox, an accomplished Euro player who had never played Princes of Florence. Jay went on to compete in two heats, scoring a 3rd place and a close 2nd, and he let me know afterward how much he enjoyed the tournament. If you want to learn, please attend next year's demo.

Princes of Florence accommodates three, four or five players, but is best with five if you want a competitive game. The additional players make it harder to obtain the items you want, taxing your powers of adaptation more severely. The game is at its best when each player's plan is in tatters and you must all scramble madly to find suitable alternatives. As a playing GM, I resolved to play in any heat for which the number of other players was not a multiple of five (thus converting a 4-player game to a 5-player game) and sit out any heat for which the number of other players was a multiple of 5. In the end, no 4-player games were needed, as 82 players competed in the heats, playing 24 5-player games.

There are many ways for an aristocrat to gain prestige. The most common is to attract scholars and artists of various professions to work in your principality. You may use their works to boost your prestige or sell them to raise funds for additional purchases. You may also gain prestige through the construction of beautiful buildings or landscapes, or through the purchase of Prestige Cards, but the most direct route to victory is by putting on works. This presents challenges, because at most 26 works can be put on during the game (an average of five per player,) and the Personality Cards and Jesters needed to put these works on are hotly contested during the auctions.

In the first heat, Winton Lemoine started a trend, winning his game by means of a Builder strategy. Winton did not strive to put on the most works. Instead, he purchased three Builders and used them to stuff his principality with cheap buildings, lining them up eave to eave like California mansions. Buildings are worth 3 PP (Prestige Points) each, and he added several Prestige Cards. The money he saved by staying out of the auction frenzy allowed him to turn most of his works into PP rather than cash, and he won by a margin of 9 PP, even though he passed up his right to make a purchase in the Round 7 auction. Many players know about the Builder strategy, but it has not been common at WBC (refusing to compete in auctions may be too unnatural for most gamers!) 2005 was the coming-out party for the Builder strategy at WBC.

The second heat featured another successful Builder, Ian MacInnes, who won by 10 PP, putting on just three works while buying three Prestige Cards and building seven buildings. Many people have criticized the game on the basis that the only way to win is to put on six or seven works. As the GM, I was thrilled to be able to stick a fork into that criticism. You can win with six or seven works if you get the necessary items for a reasonable price, but if the price is high, the cost will kill you.

I encouraged both qualifiers and alternates to be available for the semifinals, and I advanced four alternates when only 21 qualifiers showed up. Most people believe Seat 2 has an advantage in a 5-player game because that player has a chance to buy an extra Profession Card at a relatively low price (if five of the six extra Profession Cards are bought in Round 1, the sixth is available for Player 2.) To offset this advantage, I introduced bidding for seating order in the semis and finals. Average bids were 67 florins for Seat 1, 267 florins for Seat 2, 17 florins for Seat 3, and zero for Seats 4 and 5. Eugene Lin had won the 2004 finals after paying 300 florins for Seat 2 and putting on six works, and many players wanted to duplicate his success. Bidding to put on more works in the semis was frenzied, with Jesters routinely going for 1000 to 1200 florins and Recruitment Cards for 600 to 900.

Given all the focus on works, the semifinal results were a shock. Greg Thatcher won his game by 5 PP, putting on just five works and bidding modestly. Eric Brosius won by three PP with a cheapskate strategy, buying no Jesters or Recruitment Cards and putting on four works with two Prestige Cards. Joe Nemet, Scott Nicholson and Ian MacInnes won the other three semifinals using Builder strategies. Joe and Ian put on four works while Scott put on just three, filling all but one space in his principality. In Ian's game, Abigail Cocke went into the Round 7 auction needing a Forest for both of her works and her Prestige Card---and Legend Dan Hoffman also needed a Forest for both of his works and his Prestige card. Abby had 500 florins and Dan had 300, but Abby paid 1600 florins for the Forest. This required her to turn 11 PP back in for cash to pay her bid, and it left both of them far behind in 4th and 5th place. It's always a risk to go into the Round 7 auction needing a Forest.

Hysteria reigned as we gathered for the Final. The Builder strategy had dominated the semis, but it's almost impossible for more than one player to use the strategy. Eric and Greg, the two who did not win using Builders in the semis, competed for Seat 2, and Greg took it for 300 florins as Eric settled for Seat 1 at a price of 100. Ian, Scott and Joe were happy to take Seats 3, 4 and 5 at no cost, possibly because seating order doesn't matter as much when you're the Builder.

Eric began the auction by putting a Jester up for bid. Eric took it for 1000 florins, a common price for a Jester in Round 1. Greg bought a Recruitment Card for 600 and Ian auctioned the Builder. Ian dropped out as Scott and Joe contended to be the Builder for the game, and Scott got the first Builder for 900. The Builder strategy is built on cost containment and is not as attractive if you pay nosebleed prices for Builders. For our Round 1 actions, Eric, Greg and Ian each bought a Profession Card and a Freedom, but Scott did not buy a Profession Card, choosing instead to construct a Hospital smack dab in the middle of his principality. Scott had committed to a Builder strategy with only three works, and his decision not to buy a Profession card meant that Ian in Seat 3 would also be able to buy an extra Profession card. Greg had paid 300 florins for this right, but Ian had paid nothing. I immediately upgraded my opinion of Seat 3; it's the seat that can get lucky if an opponent chooses to be the Builder.

In the Round 2 auction, Greg put up a Jester, which Ian bought for 1000. Ian had already switched his strategy to one of putting on many works, and the Jester is invaluable for this approach. Scott and Joe again held a bidding war for the Builder, with Joe paying a high price for the second one. Despite the fact that two Builders cannot succeed, Scott and Joe were teetering back and forth above the precipice, each seeking to be the one who did succeed. Joe got another Builder in Round 3, hanging Scott out to dry. Scott's Hospital build and his decision not to buy a Profession Card made it impossible for him to pursue a non-Builder strategy, so this was fatal to his chances. Joe's choices were less extreme, leaving him other options, but thus far he was the one with two Builders. Eric put in a bid of 400 for a Recruitment Card, a seeming bargain, but one that left him in trouble. Eric's cash was now only 200 (he had spent 100 to buy Seat 1) and he did not even have any PP to cash in to buy a freedom or a building. By Round 3 you need a Work Value of 12 to put a work on, and with a freedom, a Jester and six Personality Cards, he had only 11. Eric was fortunate to have bought a Bonus Card in Round 2, but he was forced to spend it for just one extra Work Value point, giving him a Work Value of 12 and the cash he needed to avoid disaster.

By now there were a number of anxious and disappointed players at the table. Greg had paid dearly for a privilege his neighbor received for nothing. Eric had wasted valuable actions wriggling out of a jam. Scott and Joe were bleeding from their tussle over the Builders. Joe could recover, but Scott was mortally wounded. Scott won the last two Builders, but Joe didn't let them go easily, and Scott finished far behind the pack. Joe changed course, picking up a Recruiting Card and a Prestige Card and putting on five works. Greg also put on five works and Eric six, but the necessary spending cut into their gains. This left Ian free to buy three Jesters and put on seven works, using just one freedom, two landscapes and two buildings. Ian never bought a Prestige Card, but the lead he piled up from his works was too big for his opponents to overcome, and he achieved another impressive tournament victory with 58 PP. Joe and Eric both had 54 PP and were equal in florins, the tie-breaker, but Eric had the #1 Personality Card (the Mathematician) on the table to take 2nd place. Greg was 4th with 49 PP and Scott finished fifth with 45 PP.

 GM      Eric Brosius  [2nd Year]   NA   NA

2005 Preview Page | View the Icon Key | Return to main BPA page