Deja Vu All Over Again ...
Has Andy Latto got that die roller
George Young humbles the Master.
A very competitive throng of 52 players entered the tournament, including eight rookies and a strong European contingent. This year, the top 12 players (according to AREA ratings plus last year’s top three) were seeded. Rookies were separated from each other and seeded players in the first round. All other players were placed in the brackets by random draw. As fate would have it, the rookies faced veterans from the weaker end of the AREA ratings, and managed to go 7-1 in Round 1. One of the bigger upsets was rookie Nathan Wagner taking down 18th-ranked Michael Mitchell by playing three Messenger Intercepted events and winning 10-8 as Carthage. Randy Pippus survived Tim Miller by Double Envelopment of Scipio Africanus in Sicily. Bidding 3 for his side, Michael Ussery’s Carthaginians could not hold back top-ranked James Pei’s Romans, with a desperation sailing of Mago on the last turn being sunk. Riku Riekkinen’s Romans took Bill Edwards to the end, but lost the 9-9 tie. Defending champ George Young was pushed hard by Grant LaDue’s Carthaginians, but Grant finally resigned with three cards left and no way of breaking the 8-10 score. Lyman Moquin’s Carthaginians forced Daniel Hoffman’s resignation on Turn 8, having a 13-5 advantage and Rome running out of PCs. Andy Latto’s Romans used a Turn 2 Messenger Intercepted to gain an advantage in Numidia and a game-long 12-6 province advantage against GM Stuart Tucker, eventually using a reincarnated Marcellus to sack Carthage on Turn 9. Round 1 went to Rome, 12 wins to 10 losses. In side bidding, the winning bidder chose Carthage 20 times with an average bid of 1.7, while Rome was chosen twice, only once for a positive bid. Syracuse joined Carthage 14 times, being sacked ten times. Rome had the advantage of 24 Messengers Intecepted to 20 against. Hannibal died eight times, Carthage losing each time. Scipio Africanus died three times.
In Round 2, most of the 1-0 rookies faced top-seeded competition and succumbed. Second-ranked Keith Wixson survived by a 9-9 count against Joe Kelleher’s Romans. Young’s Romans evicted Derek Landel’s Hannibal from Gaul twice and then finally killed him on Turn 8, leading to resignation. Sixth-ranked Michael Sosa defeated Wagner’s Romans by suit for peace for lack of PCs on Turn 6. Third-ranked Chris Byrd received James Griffith’s Turn 7 resignation after a frustrating lack of 3-pt strategy cards. Randy MacInnis’ Paulus killed Edwards’ Hannibal with a big retreat roll, leading to resignation on Turn 4. Frenchman Guillaume Bouilleux lost Africanus at Emporiae to Kevin Wojtaszczyk and eventually lost 8-10. Moquin’s Scipio invaded Africa on Turn 8 and sacked Pippus’ Carthage on Turn 9 before the Messenger Intercepted could save Carthage. Larry Luongo’s Romans killed Hannibal and defeated newbie John Ratanaprasatporn by a 10-8 count. Jim Heenehan’s Syracusan alliance led him to sail Hannibal against Latto’s Scipio who was besieging Syracuse on Turn 7, ending in Hannibal’s annihilation and Heenehan’s resignation. Max DuBoff chase Pei’s Hannibal out of Italy in Turn 2, only to face an unbeatable fortress Sicily on Turn 8, leading to resignation on Turn 9. Round 2 went to Rome, 13 wins to 10. Side bidding remained the same: Carthage chosen 21 times with an average bid of 1.7, Rome chosen twice for zero. Syracuse joined Carthage 14 times, and was sacked six times. Rome retained the advantage of 20 Messengers Intercepted to 16 against. Getting your best general killed continued to be a sure-fire method to lose, as Hannibal died eight more times, and Scipio thrice, in all cases leading to defeat.
Day Two, Round 3 and the matches got tougher, resulting in several running overtime. This led to some unfortunate circumstances later due to time constraints in Round 4. As a result, next year the GM will be enforcing time limits strictly, with the threat that slow play by both sides could lead to adjudicators deciding that both players lose. Late arrivals may lead to forfeiture. Larry Luongo continued his victory march with Carthage forcing Andy Joy’s Turn 7 resignation, ending the run of the last unbeaten rookie. Wagner’s reward for facing tough opponents was being the top-scoring 1-1 player, so he advanced to play the odd 2-0 player (Moquin). The see-saw war witnessed the death of both Hannibal (by Fabius) and Scipio (by Hanno) and turned on a late Numidian province defection to secure Moquin’s 9-7 victory as Rome. Sosa’s Carthage gained Syracuse in Turn 7, but lost Hannibal in Turn 8, but survived to win 9-9 against Wixson. Latto’s Hannibal died sailing to defend Carthage on Turn 7, leading to Young’s 12-4 victory. Pei’s Hannibal narrowly escaped death on Turn 2 only to die on Turn 3, but managed to hold on to the end when he benefitted from a Turn 9 Messenger Intecepted to secure a 10-8 victory against MacInnis. Byrd survived three Messengers Intercepted by Wojtaszczyk’s Carthaginians, winning 10-8. Round 3 was split with nine wins each. Side bidding leaned a bit more to Carthage, which was chosen 17 times with an average bid of 1.8, while Rome was chosen once for zero. Twice Hannibal’s death did not lead to defeat. Carthage flipped the advantage, with 23 Messengers Intercepted, to 13 against. Syracuse joined Carthage nine times, only being lost once, and leading to Carthaginian victory eight times.
Round 4 began with six undefeated players paired, but 16 other players were still in the hunt for one of the six plaques. Another six players hung around for the playing experience. Sosa lost Hannibal trying to escape Italy, while defending champ Young used Messenger Intercepted in Turn 8 to steal Philip to then enact peace and steal a Force March card. Sosa’s desperation sailing of Hasdrubal to Corsica was lost at sea. Moquin’s Hannibal died on Turn 8, leading to Luongo’s 10-8 victory. In a matchup of two Nest of Spies team members, Pei drove all of Byrd’s PCs off the board, ending in Roman defeat to the Sicilian Grain card. Round 4 went to Rome, 11 wins to 4. Bidding for Carthage escalated this round, with the average bid reaching 2.1, with Rome chosen once for zero. Hannibal died eight times, Carthage losing all such games. Syracuse joined five times, being sacked three times, and Carthage winning only one of these games. Rome had the advantage of 16 Messengers Intercepted to 10 against.
With three remaining unbeatens for the fifth and final round, tournament tie-breaker points determined the pairings. Tournament points are based on strength of schedule (based upon AREA ratings of opponents faced). Each winner gains points equal to their opponent’s AREA rating. Each loser gains one-tenth of their opponent’s AREA rating. These points determined that George Young would face James Pei, while Larry Luongo faced the 3-1 player with the highest tournament points (Andy Latto). The winner of the Young-Pei match wins the Wood, while Luongo played to earn the second-place plaque. Tournament points would also break all the ties of those six players ending up 4-1, to determine ranking for the plaques. This left 14 players playing in Round 5 games that mattered for determining which players won wood. Another 12 players persevered for the playing experience. This resulted in a record net count of 91 games played, vouching for the popularity of this swiss-style event. Latto’s bid to reduce the count to a single undefeated player ran into rough luck early. Latto’s Hannibal failed five initiative rolls and had to return over the Alps. Luongo’s Turn 7 play of Diplomacy followed by Numidia Revolts helped gain an advantage that he drove home on Turn 8 while Carthage had no naval cards to reinforce Africa. Luongo scored a 12-6 victory, earning him a 5-0 record, and becoming the first ever undefeated player to not win the tournament (losing on tie-breaker points). Larry may not be consoled by the fact that this result puts him on a track to meet tougher competition in next year’s tournament brackets! In a rematch of last year’s championship-determining game, Young let Pei have Carthage for a bid of 2 PCs. He then fought off early Syracusan and Macedonian alliances. The tight match (like last year) came down to who drew the Turn 9 strategy card hand holding the Messenger Intercepted. Young benefitted by stealing the Numidia Revolts card from Pei’s remaining three cards, securing a 10-8 victory and repeating as champion, the first such repeat in Omens history. Pei’s tournament points left him in third place. Keith Wixson secured fourth by defeating Randy MacInnis’ Rome when Hannibal killed Scipio Africanus in a double envelopment victory, gaining resignation on Turn 6. Kevin Wojtaszczyk’s Carthaginians used a Turn 8 Syracusan alliance to defeat Bill Edwards, winning fifth place. Chris Byrds’ Romans earned the coveted Sand Plaque by defeating Michael Sosa, using a Turn 9 Messenger Intercepted to secure a 10-8 victory. Two other players deserve honorable mention for going 4-1, but ending up in seventh and eighth place due to their strength of schedule. Lyman Moquin’s Romans pushed Paul Gaberson to a Turn 5 resignation, with the count at 12-6 and Carthage in deep peril. Jim Heenehan’s Rome earned peace with Philip on Turn 9 to win 10-8 against Randy Pippus. As a final footnote on the strength of the veteran players of this event, rookies went 11-19, with the best-finishing rookie ending up with a 2-3 record. No rookie entrant defeated any player ranked better than 18 in the AREA rankings. In the only game to witness the sack of Rome, Stuart Tucker’s Romans managed to get two siege points against Carthage before being driven off and succumbing to Emily Wu’s siege-train assisted sack of Rome on Turn 5.
Over the course of the 91-game tournament, Rome outdrew Carthage with the Messenger Intercepted 83-79. Syracuse allied 48 times, and was sacked 22 times. Hannibal died 33 times, but Carthage managed to win three of those games. Eight times the winning bidder chose Rome, usually for zero, but once for 3 PCs. Carthage was chosen 83 times with an average bid of 1.8 and a maximum bid of 4. Rome was victorious 52-39. The champion rode Rome to victory in all five of his games.