You Did Build That!
Scott, Greg, Eric and Katherine head
up a whole row of princes.
Tom DeMarco and Rich Meyers ... a
couple of princes
When I explain Princes of Florence to new players (as
I did during this year's demo) I start by describing how to put
on a Work. Putting on Works is the main way people gain Prestige
Points. I hand each player a Profession Card and explain the
various items that contribute to the Work Value. Players buy
and build things that increase the value of the works they put
on, like Landscapes, Freedoms, Buildings and Jesters, usually
choosing items primarily to support the Works they plan to put
on. But it doesn't always follow that pattern. This year's tournament
took a twist at the end. The winner's path to victory went in
a different way -- one that will have people talking over the
upcoming year about what he did and how to implement (or counter)
There were several close games in Heat 1. Jason Levine beat
Alex Bove by one PP, 55-54, and Anne Norton edged David Platnick
57-56, but the closest finish involved Ken Horan, "Legend
Dan" Hoffman and Katherine McCorry, one of my Assistant
GMs. At the end of the game, the scoring markers of all three
sat at 51 on the PP track, tied for first. The first tiebreaker
is florins remaining, and Legend Dan had 600 florins to take
1st place. Ken and Katherine, however, had 200 florins each.
If not for the special WBC tiebreaker they would have stayed
tied, but there can be no ties at WBC, so we checked each player's
lowest-numbered Profession Card. Ken had #6, the Physicist, on
the table, but Katherine had #1, the Mathematician (she was taking
no chances!) This gave Katherine 2nd place and Ken 3rd place
by the closest of margins.
Heat 2 also had its close games. Tom McCorry, Katherine's
husband, beat John Corrado by 500 florins on the tiebreaker,
and Anne Norton got her second win (becoming the only entrant
to do so in 2012) by a margin of 59-57 over Lachlan Salter. No
one this year achieved a margin of victory as large as Jay Fox
rolled up in 2011; the widest gap between first and second was
Jason Long's 10 PP.
24 qualifiers appeared for the semis -- a much better turnout
than last year. We needed only the top alternate, Bruce DuBoff,
to complete five 5-player games. In the elimination rounds, we
bid for seating order. There's little agreement about which seat
is best in the 4-player game, but most people prefer the second
seat in a 5-player game, even though the data suggests the benefit
is small. You can view the data at the following link: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/840947
The semis are often interesting and this year was no exception.
John Corrado used a Builder strategy to defeat Anne Norton, David
Platnick, Tom McCorry and Legend Dan Hoffman to earn his spot
in the Final. Tom Johnston downed former champions Eric Brosius
and Eric Freeman, among others, amassing a margin of nine PP
over second place. Bruce DuBoff, though he was just an alternate,
won by a comfortable margin as well. he two closest games were
Jason Levine's two- PP victory over Jason Long and Rod Spade's
one PP margin over Peter Walsh (who thereby earned sixth place
Bidding for seats in the Final was restrained. Rod bid 300
florins for the second seat and John bid 100 for the first, but
the other seats were taken for zero. We got a hint how the game
would go in the opening round. The very first item auctioned
was a Builder, and Jason paid 900 for it (a "respectable
price", as we say.) A Jester then went for 1200 and a recruiter
for 800, but still, 900 is a lot for a Builder. In the Action
Phase, Jason built a University, spending a few minutes thinking
about where he wanted to put it before he was satisfied. He then
put on a Work (the Theologian) for the bare minimum Work Value
of 7. He took it in cash, but earned a valuable three PP for
Best Work at the end of Round 1.
In Round 2 Jason bought a second Builder, this time for 500,
which almost looked affordable after he had paid 900 in Round
1! He bought a Freedom and a Bonus Card and then stumped up 700
for a third Builder in Round 3 (at least his opponents knew he
wouldn't be bidding on any more Builders -- the limit is three
With three Builders, Jason could build at no cost, and he
could pack Buildings in eave to eave. He built two free Buildings
in Round 3 (each one earns the person who builds it three PP,
so Jason was shooting ahead on the Prestige Point track. Of course,
he had only two Profession Cards left, so it was not clear whether
he would be able to maintain his lead.) Jason next turned his
attention to Prestige Cards. He bought one for just 200 in Round
4 as all his opponents were focused on other things, then built
two more free Buildings for another six PP.
In Round 5 Jason bought a Lake, built a Building and just
managed to play his second Work with the help of the Bonus card
he had bought in Round 2. In Round 6 he paid a whopping 800 for
a second Prestige Card, dropping his available cash to just 100.
He needed a Bonus Card to put his last work on, so he gave up
two PP to fund the purchase, and with his other action built
yet another Building.
Jason was now broke, but after Rod bought a cheap Forest,
Jason coolly put a Prestige Card up for auction, knowing that
he'd have to give up more PP if no one raised his bid. However,
Bruce bid 300 and took the Prestige Card. Jason next put a Jester
up for auction, speaking (to my ears) in a calmer voice than
usual. As I recorded the action in my role as GM, I wondered
whether Jason badly needed the Jester to get his last work out.
No one bid, so Jason gave up another two PP to buy the Jester,
looking relieved. This allowed him to play his final Work (together
with yet another Building for three PP more.)
In a WBC first, after we added up the PP for Prestige Cards,
Jason had won using a pure builder strategy. The scores were
Jason 59, Rod 57, John 56, Tom 54, Bruce 46 (Bruce's Round 7
Prestige Card purchase came up dry as none of the five cards
he drew provided him any PPs.)
I wrote a detailed play-by-play account; you can read all
about it at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/839548
Congratulations to Jason, and thanks to everyone 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 join in the fun.
Jason Levine rounding third base on
his way to a four-bagger.
GM Eric Brosius oversees his finalists.