Our 11th tournament was an exciting one with a lot of new players joining us for a wonderful time. This was my first GM gig, and I appreciate everyone’s patience as I learned on the job! We had a great showing at the demo with players stacked up several rows deep and some of them even came to the tournament, so aapparently, that was an hour well spent! We had 39 players overall with 18 players advancing to the semifinals.
One big change was the addition of a new French Home Card mechanic, which we hoped would give France both a slight boost and make them a little more interesting to play. I think this was nicely accomplished with France being seen as a much more desirable power when side choices were made. Improved results, leading the powers with four wins and being second in average place certainly didn’t hurt their popularity.
Our two preliminary heats generated nine games. Two were 5-player games (a mistake not to be repeated), and the rest were 6-player contests. Oddly enough, one of the historically strongest powers (Ottomans) scored no wins during the preliminaries!
The 18 semifinalists were split between three tables for the 4-turn semifinal. Dennis Mishler won the fast game at Table 1 as the Hapsburgs. Jeff Heidman then won as the Ottomans for the first Turkish win of the tournament. Robert Davidson won the last semi as the Protestants, scoring the highest VP total of the round to secure choice of side in the Final. Joining the three winners were runners-up Michelle Benson, a first time player, Jesse Adcox, and Justin Rice.
The Final was to be a full game, started bright and early Saturday morning. Robert, encouraged by his recent win, selected the Ottomans, despite their poor showing in the preliminaries. Dennis Mishler chose next and took the Hapsburgs. Jeff Heidman selected the Protestants with the third pick. Michelle Benson (England), Jesse Adcox (Papacy), and Justin Rice (France) in that order completed the side assignments.
Turn 1 saw the Hapsburgs DOW France and take a space from them in order to try to deny them the bonus DRM to the Chateau role. France took the space back, while the Hapsburgs conquered Metz and England took Scotland. France activated Genoa, which raised some eyebrows, while the Hapsburgs explorer failed spectacularly in the New World. France got “Pacific Straight”, and misses the circumnavigation roll by 1. Should have settled for the Amazon!
Turn 2 opened with France moving a substantial army into Milan. This raised many alarms around the table, but Justin assured everyone that he meant no harm, and promised Jesse that he will not move on Florence or any other Papal keys. There is some debate about the exact wording of this, if you call debate as “Everyone involved except Justin agrees that he said exactly that” while Justin claims he said something else.
And then of course it became clear what that army was doing there when “Sack of Rome” is played. Justin sacked the Holy City, taking both remaining Papal cards. He then proceeded to march on Rome and take both it *and* Florence! So much for promises.
The Ottomans conquered Buda, but then retreated under threat of imminent Hapsburg destruction.
Turn 3 diplomacy is rather involved. Suffice it to say, the quote of the tournament is made when someone remarked in regards to Jesse’s diplomacy announcement of peace with the Great Betrayer: "It's amusing how much you can smile with so much hate in your eyes”.
With France occupying all of Italy and sitting at 21 VPs, there is grave concern over a short game. The inevitable anti-Justin alliance forms to punish him for this gross betrayal. Ottomans and Hapsburgs ally, and a combined Haps/Ott force marches into France. The Ottomans besiege Lyon, while the Hapsburgs threaten Paris. The Protestant reformation had never really gotten going, although with the poor Pope being pounded, the Protestants were doing ok given their terrible dice at reformation. “Schmalkaldic League” is played early, leaving three Protestant keys under Hapsburg control.
So now Lyon is under siege, there is a Hapsburg army threatening Paris, and England swoops in and joins the fight on the side of France! Michelle besieges Antwerp while the Spanish army is off taking Bordeaux (with the help of the Hapsburg fleet) and attacking Paris.The Ottomans successfully capture Lyon, but the English assault on Antwerp fails, and the Hapsburg siege of Paris is broken when all the Hapsburgs mercs abandon the fight before the assault, and the defenders get four of five hits on defense to break the siege and force the Hapsburg army to retreat.
Turn 3 ends with the French threat to AV stymied, and Dennis’ Hapsburgs leading at 20 VPs, Robert’s Ottomans at 18, and the Protestants at 17. France sues for peace with both the Hapsburgs and the Ottomans. The Pope allies with France, and gets the Genoese and Venetian fleets loaned to him. The Hapsburgs declare war on the poor Pope, and SDs a huge army into Trieste! However, he won’t be able to take a Papal key without Treachery unless he can take out the Papal fleet, but that should not prove to be a problem between his huge fleet and peace with the Ottomans.
The Protestants and Hapsburgs make a deal - the Protestants will not attempt to take the last two electorates if the Hapsburgs don’t defend the third electorate.
The Hapsburg fleet, which had sailed to the Atlantic, moves back into the Med to support their attacks on the Pope. It is in the Barbary coast along with the neutral Ottoman fleet when the Ottomans play Machiavelli, declaring war on the Hapsburgs and forcing an immediate naval fight. Disaster for the Hapsburgs! Their fleet is smashed, and the remnants chased down and destroyed by pirates! So much for the Hapsburg threat to the Pope!
The Hapsburgs, of course, look to punish the Ottomans for this betrayal, and that giant army getting ready to invade Italy in Trieste neatly pivots into Hungary and smashes into the Ottoman army, playing “Surprise Attack” in the ensuing battle. But the dice gods continue to punish Dennis, and his army is smashed just like his navy, and the invasion repulsed.
The Ottomans then use “Roxellana” to take Buda and farms some piracy VP to get to 25 - strangely enough, there was no navy around to stop him! The Protestants had used the distraction of the Pope to get the reformation really moving, and with “Calvin’s Institutes” gets their VPs up to 22 with spaces. They break their agreement with the Hapsburgs, and place both remaining electorates under siege. The dice gods do not quite favor them enough, and they are unable to secure both undefended electorates, finishing instead with 24 VPs.
The Final was very exciting, with France (Justin) taking third, Dennis (Hapsburgs) in 4th with the tiebreaker over newcomer Michelle (England) in fifth and the poor Pope (Jesse) trailing the field.
We might be looking to make some changes to scheduling next year and I suspect the France HC adjustments will stay, but perhaps be tweaked.
|The Chestnut Room proved just the right size
for these 6-player games.
|Designer Ed Beach, relieved of his GM chores
this year, competes in his creation.
|The six finalists pause for the press before returning to the blood letting.
2017 PBeM Tournament
It took Stephen Koehler 15 years to follow his third BPA tournament win with his fourth, but he did it in style with a 60-laurels win over five rounds and a field of 68 in an event that started two years ago in April of 2015. Also taking laurels in the Final were Dennis Mishler, Michael Dauer, Zac Willoh, David Kiefte and Brian Kluger in that order.
| Dennis Mishler