A First for the Campaign ...
Kirk Harris, Nick Benedict, Ed Beach
and Justin Rice burn heredicts.
GM Justin Rice with his six finalists.
Jim Stannard is the 2014 Here I Stand champion, the
first to have earned the title via the full game in the championship
round. Stanard had fifth choice of powers in the Final, and rode
a strong reformation to a 10-point Turn 5, pulling away from
a tightly contested game. Michael Kiefte was second with the
Turks, Michael Dauer third (France), Dennis Mishler fourth (Hapsburgs),
Nick Benedict fifth (Pope) and Evan Woodham sixth as the Protestants.
The tides rose and fell for all -- especially the Pope, who nearly
won on Turn 2, and the Hapsburgs, who were dicing in the New
World on Turn 4 for the victory.
The entire tournament drew 42 players for 11 preliminary games
and three semifinal contests to whittle the field down to six,
with the standard tournament scenario again featured (with Copernicus
entering on Turn 5 instead of Turn 4). Preliminary victory totals
by power were four for the Hapsburgs (twice by 2012 champion
Mathieu Para-Paquin), three for the Pope, two for the Protestants
and one each for England and the Turks, The French were shutout
for the week. The Protestants had the best per-game score average
(21.91), boasted by a 29-point effort from Benedict in a preliminary
round win. England (20.7) and the Hapsburgs (20.73) were in a
virtual tie for second. His Holiness brought up the rear in average
terms of average finish, the Protestants led the way at 2.27,
followed by England (2.82). France was last, as expected at 3.91.
Of note for the Frogs was Dauer's 24-point effort in the semifinals.
It was the highest French score in the tournament scenario for
the week, and earned him second at his table and the last seat
at the Final. Top seeds after the preliminaries were Joe Appel
(two wins, including a 29-pointer as England), Para-Paquin, Michael
Kiefte, Nick Benedict, Dave Cross and Steve Koehler.
Woodham won one semifinal (25-point Protestant win), with
Stanard finishing second (England). Mishler, a finalist in 2013,
won his semifinal with 26 points as the Hapsburgs and Dauer second.
And Benedict's Protestants scored 27 points and Kiefte 24 as
the Hapsburgs in a semifinal table featuring the game designer,
a two-time HIS champion and perennial contender Kirk Harris.
The order of power choice in the Final was Benedict - Mishler
- Woodham - Kiefte - Stannard - Dauer.
The Hapsburgs were boosted by the fortunate draw of Diplomatic
Marriage to activate Hungry before Kiefte's Turks could start
an invasion and the Pope burned Carlstadt for a 21-point mark
at the end of the turn.
On Turn 2, the Pope added Tyndale to his burn pile and activated
Venice, finishing the turn with 24 victory points, just one point
short of the title.
A Sack of Rome by France occurred in Turn 3, but the French
invasion into Italy netted no key changes. The Protestants managed
some progress and the Pope ended the Turn with 22 VPs, ahead
of the Hapsburgs, French and Turks all at 16.
The Schmalkaldic League formed on the first impulse of Turn
4 and the Hapsburgs grabbed three electorates from the Protestants.
The Pope again flirted with victory, finishing the turn at 24.
The Hapsburgs had a mathematical chance to win in the new world
(Mishler finished the turn at 22 VPs), but pulled the negative-1
rated Narvaez and didn't fare well.
With so many powers flirting with victory, events spun out
of control on Turn 5. Desperate to get the reformation moving
(and willing to keep a diplomatic agreement), the Protestants
reformed all of England in the turn. Stanard also had good fortune
in war in France and the low countries, and saw a new wife birth
a healthy baby boy.
With the Pope unable to reform spaces in England, Stanard
finished the turn with 27 Victory Points for the win, with Kiefte
claiming second (25) and Dauer third (23).
The full game as the Final presents some unique challenges
that we'll attempt to address in 2015. Nevertheless: The format
proved itself enough to again be the choice for next year's championship