Maybe its your Year
Lyman Moquin, Marc Berenbach, Chris
Katherine McCorry, and Andrew Gerb
play in a qualifying
GM Eric Brosius plays in a game with 2008 champ Alex Bove, soon-to-be champ Rob Flowers, 2008 laurelist Dave Platnick, and 2009 champ Thomas Browne.
Many games cast you as a merchant, with victory going to the
richest player, but in Princes of Florence, wealth is
not the object. Aristocrats care only for prestige. Of course,
it takes money to maintain the illusion, and the small inheritance
you start with runs out quickly. Often you must sell off the
master works of the artists you attract to raise the cash you
need to keep pretences up.
Princes of Florence is a "gamer's game" that
beginners learn quickly because it has a clear structure and
a familiar theme---shopping. There are seven rounds, and in each
round you buy one item at auction and carry out two actions---thus,
you have 21 opportunities to maximize your winning chances. The
game has been out of print, but I understand that a new printing
is due from Rio Grande Games soon.
Five newcomers appeared for the demo, and after a rules explanation
we played part of a practice game, giving them a feel for play
before the real action began.
We had 33 players for Heat 1, so we played five 5-player games
and two 4-player games. At one table, Rod Spade and Raphael Lehrer
finished in a tie at 53 VP each, but Rod had 100 florins left
over to win on the tiebreaker. Another table featured three former
champions---Eric Brosius, Alex Bove and Thomas Browne---together
with David Platnick, who leads the AREA ratings and is the Guild
Master for the game on Brettspielwelt. Of course, the fifth player,
Rob Flowers, won the game, buying items at relatively cheap prices
and staying out of trouble, even though he drew the supposedly
weak 5th seat.
We had exactly 30 people for Heat 2, so I was able to form
six 5-player games (I think the game is best with five players.)
In another close game, Stu Hendrickson defeated Chris Senhouse
by 200 florins on the tiebreaker. Rob Flowers won a second heat
to become the only player to do so this year. Rob was vacillating
about playing in the semis, since the Final conflicted with the
semis for another game he thought he had a better chance to win,
but I told him "when you're on a streak, you should keep
playing," and he decided to stick with it.
Only 19 people came for the semis, so in accordance with the
rules published on the website, I took the top 16 and formed
four 4-player semi-final games that would determine the contestants
for a 4-player final. Although I prefer 5-player games, several
alternates (including me) had done no better than 4th place in
either heat, and that doesn't seem like a record that justifies
participation in the semis.
In the semis and Final players bid for player order, paying
florins to get their choice of seats. This year, the average
bids were as follows:
1st: 40 florins
2nd: 60 florins
3rd: 100 florins
4th: 20 florins
Oddly enough, each of the four seats was bid on by someone.
Of course, we don't have a lot of experience bidding for player
order in 4-player games, so disagreement was not unexpected.
The players in general are less experienced in 4-player games,
leading to some groans as people realized they had overbid for
an item here or played the wrong action there. In one game, Rod
Spade and Andy Gerb were tied with 69 PP, but Rod had an extra
300 florins, enough to propel him to the Final as Andy settled
for fifth place laurels. In another, former champion Eric Freeman
beat Tom Johnston by two PP, leaving Tom in sixth. Aran Warszawski
won his semi by a comfortable margin, and Rob Flowers won his
third game in a row.
I wrote a detailed play-by-play account of the Final; you
can read all about it at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/553168
The final scores were close, just as they were last year:
Rob 65, Aran 64, Eric 63, Rod 60.
Congratulations to Rob, who won his first Princes of Florence
title while winning four straight games. Rob was the only player
among the top six to never have earned laurels in this event
before. And thanks to all who took part in this year's tournament.
If you're interested in Princes of Florence, come to WBC
next year and join us. I'll explain the game during the demo
and you can try to outshine your neighbors.