Sinking Ships During the Great
GM and designer Jim Day oversees a
GM Day keeps score for his four finalists.
The commanders of the dreaded Kaisers Pirates took
to the high seas in head-to-head competition to determine who
would emerge as the most skillful captain. The participants slugged
it out over four preliminary rounds on Thursday and Friday where
they played single, three-player hands to determine who would
eventually advance on Saturday to the semi-finals and ultimately
the four-player Final.
During the preliminary events, the basic game system was used
with the addition of two of the published optional rules: 6.4
Tournament Balance and 6.8 Additional Damage. The Tournament
Balance rule assures that each player's initial German force
contains at least one warship of equal capability as the opposing
players. It also holds out some of the weaker German raiders
in the initial deal. That way, each player starts with a German
force of roughly equal strength. The Additional Damage rule helps
to move play along by marking damage for every hit. Typically,
a ship may only have a single damage hit.
The preliminary events included a mix of experienced (25%)
and inexperienced players (75%). Those inexperienced players
were able to quickly pick up the rules without holding up game
play. In fact, the top-scoring player from the preliminary rounds
(121 points in sunk ships!) had not seen the game before he walked
up to the game table on Friday morning.
Six players made it to the semi-finals where they again participated
in two, three-handed rounds. The top four players advanced to
the Final. To demonstrate how luck ebbs and flows, the top qualifying
player unfortunately finished in sixth place. Maybe the other
two players at his table were gunning for him.
The four top scoring players (two from each semi-final) advanced
to the Final --Matt Bacho, Andy Lewis, Steve Caler, Joel Tamburo.
These players were now going to face their biggest challenge--
a complete four-player game. Where they played only single-hands
in the preliminary rounds and the semi-finals, the finalists
now had to prove their mettle over a full game composed of three
complete hands. A single lucky hand would not be enough to carry
them to victory in this case. The format for the Final retained
the structure of the qualifying events with the addition of optional
Rule 6.7 Warship and Raider Retention and the use of six of the
new promotional cards that were handed out to all players of
The first hand featured tense back-and-forth action that ended
with Andy (four points) leading the pack, followed by Joel (three),
Matt (two) and Steve (zero). Steve had the misfortune of not
sinking any ships during the hand (therefore, he scored 0 points
for the hand). That really put him at a disadvantage going into
the second hand.
After the feeling out period of the first hand, the players
now started to really demonstrate their skill and style of play.
Joel (four points, seven total points) emerged out of the smoke
of the second hand in the lead, followed by Steve (three points)
in an excellent comeback from his first hand, Matt (two points,
four total), and Andy (one point, five total).
Going into the final hand, only four points separated the
first and last place player. Three of the four players were still
easily in striking distance of the wood. Only Steve faced the
greatest uphill challenge being four points behind the leader.
Tense action dominated the final hand. A rarity in the game,
Steve started the final hand with a force composed entirely of
German Warships. That initially raised a few eyebrows at the
table. A great deal of back and forth action dominated play with
Joel understandably the primary target. That did not stop the
players from eliminating Matt's entire German force halfway through
One of the greatest turns of bad luck occurred when the warship
Dresden was attacked in what appeared to be a sure thing. The
Dresden had heroically weathered six previous attacks, and now
had four damaged markers dotting her card a minus "8"
die-roll modifier. After the defense roll, the only thing that
could have possibly saved her from a watery grave was if the
attack roll resulted in two "1s" on a d10 and a d8
it did. A hush initially fell over the table followed by
a great deal of laughter from all parties.
As the last card was drawn, Joel (4 points, 11 total) won
the hand (and the eventual championship) barely edging Matt (3
points, 7 total), followed by Steve (2 points, 5 total), and
Andy (1 point, 6 total). All four of the final players demonstrated
great skill and sportsmanship throughout the entire three days
and were solid representatives of the tournament.
Next year should prove to be another great tournament. The
format worked quite well and should maintain a high level of
competition and challenge for all players.