After five years of consistent player turnout in the 50’s for Egizia, 2016 recorded a totally unexpected 104 unique players. Some of this was due to adding a Sunday heat, but the Tuesday evening session, which had some serious scheduling opposition, was the largest, at 65 players - a number that dwarfed the entire field of all previous tournaments in that heat alone.
The use of bidding for turn order in the elimination rounds was successful last year, so I retained it and it will likely continue as long as I run the event. The bids were made prior to revealing the initial card row (except at one semifinal table by unanimous player agreement), and were applied as negative points during scoring.
In the 42 4-player games in the heats, first seat won 18, second seat won ten, third seat won five and fourth seat won nine.
To make it to the Final, Antony Saccenti won from the third seat in the game that revealed the card row prior to bidding. Christopher Ellis won from the first seat with a remarkably low bid of 1.5. Scott Saccenti also won from the third seat with a bid of 1.5 against bids of three and five for second and first seats, respectively. Finally Keith Dent won from the fourth seat with the customary zero bid, against bids of .5, 2.5, and 3.5.
Christopher Ellis took the Final’s first seat with a bid of four, Antony Saccenti went second for 2.5 points, Scott Saccenti third for 1.5 points, and Keith Dent again accepted fourth seat for zero.
For those bids, Christopher flipped 3 quarry above the Sphinx. Antony picked up the other 3 quarry, this one below the Sphinx. Scott, having taken the bonus card requiring him to finish both tracks, decided to get started early, taking the top card for two bumps on the stone track. Keith went to the Sphinx first. Christopher picked up a 3 green field, and Antony decided against the +2 sphinx card sitting on the bottom of the Nile, taking two grain track bumps instead. Keith gladly jumped all the way down to pick it up, having previously placed in the Sphinx.
Scott starved for six, having increased his crew strength to nine but no food was left on the board for him. Antony decided to decline the build in the pyramids to get first seat in the second round. The scores after Round 1 were Antony 0, Scott 1, Keith 5 and Christopher 10.
Antony used his first seat to pick up a 3 quarry above the Sphinx. Scott wanted to continue progressing on the tech tracks for his card, but decided to take the 2 quarry instead. He was hoping to get into the Sphinx, but alas, the other players filled it first. As food worries increased, Keith skipped the Pyramids/Columns building slot again to secure 2 green food, despite having a card calling for 4 in the columns. The Saccentis appeared to be angling to feed on yellow fields, while Christopher and Keith were secure with the weaker but more consistent green fields. Scott moved the water ring to yellow this round, but there is always be tension surrounding the water ring.
For the sphinx cards, Christopher decided to swing for the fences from a relatively weak pack, picking the ten point "both columns complete" card, discarding the weaker 4 point "finish the grain track" card. Both columns are hardly ever built, but doing the grain track would be rather inconvenient for him.
Antony had a lead in stone production, but again hung back on the scoreboard, declining to build in the pyramids. The scores after the second round were Antony 5, Scott 10, Keith 10 and Christopher 23.
Unfortunately for Antony, hanging back for the third round was not as profitable as it was for the second round - the board was relatively barren. Scott missed the Sphinx again due to having to fix his food problems, but doing so, he was then working with green fields. Only Antony remained dependent on yellow fields. Chris picked up two green food to increase his capacity to 11, and then made an unusual play at Passalon, moving the water ring to green. Before, Antony was threatened with starvation this turn, but assuming that one of them controlled the ring and moved it to brown, he would be safe next round. Now that was no longer true. Even if he controlled the water ring that turn, he would still be in danger on the next. Antony decided to gather more quarries, locking up the "most quarries" Sphinx card and played in the Pyramids, but paid by losing the water ring, starving for six.
In the Sphinx, Christopher found 5 in the obelisk, a very lucky draw considering he already had 3. Keith took a somewhat risky card in the 7th level of the obelisk. The current level was 4, with Christopher having three of those. In the worst likely card, Christopher would place a fourth brick, leaving Keith to build both the sixth and seventh levels, but he might get lucky and have others build one or both of those for him.
The order remained unchanged as it had since the second turn, but Christopher's lead continued to widen: Antony 9, Scott 19, Keith 20 and Christopher 35
The top three cards on the fourth round were the “go upstream” card, a 3 quarry, and a 3 green field, all rather good. Antony took the “go upstream” card as expected. Scott decided that he needed a Sphinx card more than he needed either of those, having missed the Sphinx on both Rounds 2 and 3. Keith unexpectedly took the move down both tracks. He had a slight food problem, which the grain bump helped, and the stone bump got him closer on his Sphinx card "finish the stone track". Chris took the 3 quarry. Antony skipped the Sphinx entirely to pick up the “field improver”, as being the only person relying on yellow fields is never a comfortable position.
For the Sphinx, Christopher drew just one card - the blue crew card, which wasn't great - he only had two, but it was better than nothing. Scott got a set with the “2 everywhere” card, which he was then on the bubble for making, needing two graves, a pyramid and a column to complete, and the “1 column complete” card, which is two bricks away. He decided to take the safer card and attempt to wheel the “2 everywhere” card on the next turn.
Scott had a good building turn, picking up a lot of points and closing the gap with Christopher considerably. The scores going into the last round were: Antony 24, Keith 31, Scott 43 and Christopher 47.
For the last round, Antony needed the “sell 10 stones” card. He was not advanced on the stone track, so all his excess stones would be worthless, so it's a 10 point card for him. He found it, but it was below the Sphinx. Keith immediately flipped his double action card to pick up the 8 grave tile in addition to the Sphinx. He had entered the Sphinx every single round with his +2 Sphinx card. Scott sized up the Sphinx deck. He saw the “2 everywhere” card, his placements in the previous turn set him up nicely for it, and since discards are placed on the bottom rather than shuffled, it was possible to keep track. He chose the second position on the Sphinx. Christopher had the "build on a full building site" card, so he was not worried about his spot in the Sphinx. As a result, he took four points for bricks in the graves and obelisk. Antony jumped upstream for the Sphinx, and Keith jumped past the Graves and Obelisk for four points on the “pyramid and columns” card. He could only build in one site or the other given his crews anyway, but it left his seventh level of the obelisk up to the other players to finish for him.
Christopher once again drew just a single card at the Sphinx, and hit the jackpot with the “most green fields” for six points. Antony found the “yellow fields” for seven points, while Scott got his “2 everywhere” card. He took the “keep two at the Sphinx” card, and decided to gamble by taking the eighth level of the obelisk as well, while the current level was only 6. It did not work.
However, Christopher's early speculative pick of "both columns" for 10 points did, with very little help from Christopher himself due to others having the "1 column" and "4 bricks in the columns" cards. This proved to be decisive.
Christopher finished with 67 points on the board, 38 points from final scoring, less four points for his bid for a total of 101 points. Scott had 60 points on the board and 36 from final scoring, less his 1.5 bid for 94.5 points. Keith had 46 points on the board and 42 from final scoring, with no bid for 88 points. Antony brought up the rear with 56 on the board and 34 from final scoring, less his 2.5 bid for 87.5, missing wood by half a point as the tiebreaker would have otherwise been in his favor.