The 7th time is the charm ...
ACV moved into a new room all its
own in 2007 to cut down on the noise level and the new venue
brought a host of new faces as well.
Four new laurelists replaced the usual
suspects as four games were played in the opening Heat with only
Kevin Youells and Shantanu Saha repeating.
2007 tournament was an exceptional opportunity for competitive
gaming and social interaction. There are several things of interest
to note about this years event. First, the tournament was located
in the Kinderhook Room. This salon style venue provided a quiet,
congenial and well air conditioned atmosphere. Second, for the
second year in a row we had a total of 50 positions played with
four 7-player games in Heat 1, two more in Heat 2, and an 8 -player
Final. Third, the most successfully played nations this year
were Assyria with an average finish of 2.167 followed by Thrace
with an average finish of 3.800 and the lowest average finish
was Illyria at 5.143. Fourth, many of the more experienced players
were absent this year allowing for several newcomers to make
a Final appearance. Conspicuous by their absence were Doug Gallulo,
Charlie Hickock, Joe Lux, Jamie Tang, Eric Gundersen, and Tedd
Mullaly, to mention but a few. Hurry back. Defending champ and
GM Joe Gundersen was the only past champion in the field which
may have made him a marked man.
The Final was a tough test even absent many of the traditional
sharks. The game started with the traditional random drawing
of the nations to be played. As one of my friends once stated,
"at this level of skill you should be able to play any of
the positions". Once enjoined, the game progressed with
the typical declarations and negotiations for national boundaries.
Also, worthy of note in the context of general comments, is
that the Final did not go to completion this year because Crete,
played by Kevin Youells, was so far in the lead that no one could
catch him, finishing with a 1000 point lead over the closest
The first big event in the game was a trade dispute between
Iberia and Illyria. This dispute lasted a number of turns with
declarations of war "for the rest of the game" if the
affront was not rectified. After a few turns the war to end
all wars resolved it self into a more peaceful understanding
of mutual tolerance and never reached a complete settlement.
Unfortunately for Iberia this war along with his "I will
not let you win" strategy relegated him to a last place
finish. Illyria, on the other hand, worked hard the rest of
the game to restore his position sufficiently to manage third
place laurels. His philosophy of "I am too weak, no one
will bother me" allowed him to maximize his purchases for
discount cards rather than expensive advances for protection
Assyria and Babylon reached an understanding on mutual borders
and worked well together throughout. Unfortunately, this opportunity
to mutual success was struck down by the early collapse of the
Assyrian Empire. Assyria was the primary target of one calamity
and the recipient of many secondary effects during the first
big turn of numerous calamities. Assyria then suffered from
several turns with bad card draws where more than half were calamities
which for a while relegated him to last place. Even after being
placed in the last place position, the secondary effects were
still targeted on this ailing empire. Babylon on the other hand,
had a good game, only in the end to suffer from the treacherous
Egyptians and the vengeful Iberians. Some of the early success
for Babylon could be attributed to the acquisition of the entire
book of bronze in mid-game from his friendly neighbor Assyria.
The Babylonians reciprocity for this early boon helped Assyria
limp from the cellar to a seventh place final ranking.
Africa, Thrace and Egypt played good games but never quite
reached the pinnacle of success required to threaten the leader.
Africa easily reached six cities early in the game, but remained
there until the last three turns when he reached eight cities.
This continual low city count took him off the glide path to
success relegating him to a 4th place finish. Thrace, played
by our Canadian comrade, did well in the early game achieving
eight cities only to languish in the mid- and late-game with
five or six cities. He found the Final to be played by "a
great group of guys" and a wonderful opportunity to learn
a few lessons. Egypt did well for most of the game although
suffered from lower city counts in the mid-game. Egypt was also
the primary recipient of more calamities in the game than any
other position including two civil wars - one of which was on
the last turn. Egypt fought well against these adverse conditions
and his achievement of second place laurels is a clear indication
of better days to come.
The winner, Crete played an excellent game. He started by
going east towards Rhodes and Asia Minor and followed that a
few turns later with a move to the Peloponnesus to lock in some
city sites. In the early game he avoided the curse of being
the primary recipient of calamities thruough careful trading
and the secondary recipient of calamities by selectively noting
that he was in last place. In mid-game he established a nice
steady state empire with nine cities that also allowed him to
purchase a gold card regularly for five turns. In the late-game
his very advanced empire easily withstood the few assaults that
were directed his way. Interestingly, Crete was the primary
recipient of an average number of calamities; nine in all, but
of those six were from Barbarian Hordes which had no effect.
In the end, a Crete victory was well assured and the last turn
of the game was not played by unanimous consent. Kevin Youells
noted at the end of the game, "that finally after seven
years in the Final round, he had struck gold". Indeed he