Sinking Ships During the Great
John Emery and Roger Taylor tackle
defending champ Joel Tamburo.
Bruce Young reloads as Paul Bolduc
contemplates his response.
a second year an enthusiastic group of players matched their
wits and skills in head-to-head competition to determine who
was the most capable Kaiser's Pirate. They battled it out over
four preliminary heats on Thursday and Friday in three player
games to determine who would advance to the semi-finals and Final
The preliminary events included a 50-50 mix of experienced
and inexperienced players. The inexperienced players learned
the ropes quickly, thanks to the veterans helping them along
without slowing play. 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
keeps some of the weaker German raiders out of the initial deal.
That way each player starts with a German force of roughly equal
strength. The Additional Damage rule speeds play by marking damage
for every hit. Typically a ship may only have a single damage
In a change from 2007, 12 players made it into the semi-finals,
including 11 heat winners and one alternate. They then played
in three four-player hands to determine who would advance further.
The three winners of the semi-final hands plus the top runner-up
scorer advanced. Advancing were Phil Barcafer (heats high scorer),
Stanley Buck, Joel Tamburo (the defending champion) and Rob Winslow
(semi-finalist high scorer).
These players then faced their biggest challenge -- a complete
four-player game. Where they played only single-hands in the
heats and the semi-finals, the finalists now had to prove their
worth over a full game composed of three complete hands. In this
situation, a single lucky hand would not be enough to carry them
to victory. 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 eight
The four players each started with a powerful force of German
ships: Phil -- the Königsberg, Möwe and Cap Trafalgar;
Stanley -- the Dresden, Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse and Kronprinz
Wilhelm; Joel -- the Nürnberg, Wolf and Cormoran;
and Rob -- the Emden, Berlin and Prinz Eitel Friedrich.
Relying on capturing prize ships strategy, Rob won the first
hand, outpacing the others by almost 30 points. However, the
game's scoring system awards 4-round points for winning a four-player
hand, thereby keeping all players in the game. There is only
a 3-round point spread between the players for each hand.
Joel rebounded nicely, winning the second hand after finishing fourth in the first hand. Going into the last hand, only 3 round points separated the first and last place player; all four were still easily in striking distance of the wood. You could see the tension on all the players' faces throughout the hand as the play ebbed back-and-forth. When the last card was drawn, Phil emerged as the champion with a stunning hand with which he bested the next closest player by more than 60 points.
All four of the finalists demonstrated great skill and sportsmanship
throughout the entire three days and were solid representatives
of the spirit of the tournament. Next year should prove to be
another great tournament. The revised format worked quite well
and should maintain a high level of competition and challenge
for all participants.
Designer Jim Day provided scale model
miniature nautical props to enhance the mood.
Bruce Young (right) watches Tom Sessler, Phil Barcafer, and John Emery in Semi-Final play.