This year marked the sixth year of Navegador at WBC! By now, the game has a dedicated base that plays every year and I was happy to see both familiar faces and new ones. We had 18 tables in the heats, down 10% from 2015.
As players have improved, the winning scores have increased. This year, there were three preliminary games won with more than 130 points. The highest was Brian DeWitt’s 145 in Heat 1. There were some unusual, but still successful strategies used. For instance, Mikaela Kumlander went for factories and shipyards (though to be fair, she also did churches). However, the classic factory/church strategy was the most successful overall, while colony/shipyard was also employed successfully in several games. Many players commented that this is the one time in the year when they get to play Navegador. I suspect that’s true of many of the older WBC games, especially the multi-player ones!
We had an ideal 16 qualifying winners thanks to two double winners (Jacob Wagner and Kumlander), but as always happens, schedule conflicts claimed three so a trio of close runners-up were also advanced as alternates.
The featured semifinal matched triple champion Andrew Emerick with Sara VanderWal, Brandon Bernard, and Kumlander. Mikaela focused on churches but didn’t get many points from anything else. Sara and Andrew both went after the shipyards; Sara getting three and Andrew four. Sara was the explorer and Andrew the colonist, but Sara was colonizing as well. Ultimately, Andrew scooped up 12 colonies to Sara’s nine, but she also had a pile of seven navigation tokens. Meanwhile, Brandon stayed at home, built some churches and was alone in focusing on factories which ultimately paved the way to his advancement.
Eric Wrobel, Rob Flowers, Sue Goodson and Patrick Shea competed in the next semifinal. Patrick took the exploration approach, building shipyards and collecting navigation tokens (Eric got a few as well). While he gained seven colonies, he didn’t get any privilege tokens for them, beefing up his shipyards instead. Sue followed in his wake, gathering colonies. Rob and Eric both pursued factories and churches, but Rob got five churches to Eric’s seven and won the game.
The third table comprised Micah McCormick, Ian Streeb, Erik Schlosser, and DJ Barton. All except Erik did a little exploring but amassed a large pile of tokens. Ian was the one who was most interested in this strategy, pairing his navigation tokens with shipyards and a few colonies. Erik and Micah competed for factories and churches. Erik committed most heavily to the factories, picking up ten for fifty points, but Micah’s churches were more valuable. DJ, meanwhile, sailed the world with his four shipyards, and was the only one to seriously colonize. He won with 11 colonies.
The fourth table was manned by Patrick Mirk, Chad Martin, Jason Levine and Jacob Wagner. Patrick and Jacob competed for shipyards and colonies, while Chad and Jason both went after colonies and factories. Jason went much further with the factories though, acquiring ten to Chad’s five. Jacob, meanwhile, edged Patrick slightly on both colonies and factories but also managed to do well with the navigation tokens. In fact, he was the only player to get considerable points from them. The game was close, but Jacob topped Jason by two points.
The Final, then, would be contested by Brandon Bernard, Rob Flowers, DJ Borton, and Jacob Wagner. Brandon opened by buying a gold factory, and on his next two turns took a worker and a factory privilege respectively. The other three had more conventional openings involving sailing – Rob to Guiné, DJ to Bahía, and Jacob using Henry on his second turn to join Rob, having purchased a worker on the first turn. Throughout the beginning, Brandon focused heavily on gold factories, buying three early and also taking the privilege. Meanwhile, the other three colonized. Rob went for gold colonies and sugar factories, often gaining workers along the way and eventually buying a church. DJ did the opposite – sugar colonies and gold factories – but also made sure to build ships, and acquired the church privilege. Jacob colonized gold, but also started building a collection of shipyards. He took the shipyard privilege as well.
Phase 1 lasted a long time. Players spent this time building their economies and didn’t sail much. When the navigator card reached Brandon, he made his way to South America and started some sugar colonies. All the players’ economies started to click at once. Rob acquired workers while the game was still in the opening phase. He was able to buy a church and a factory in the same turn, and Jacob got all his ships on the board. Eventually, DJ (who had the navigation privilege) opened Phase 2 and built his second shipyard. Brandon and Rob immediately jumped on the factory privileges. Jacob grabbed one of the shipyard privileges in the following turn and DJ took the next one soon after. DJ continued to colonize. He also took his second colony privilege in this round. In fact, he was the only one to take colony privileges at all! DJ only sailed once in Phase 2, discovering Zanzibar. Other than that, Jacob was the only one to sail in this phase. He was also still building shipyards, eventually acquiring five. Brandon and Rob, by this time, were more interested in buildings. Brandon had begun building factories two at a time; Rob continued to build factories along with churches. Between the three of them, it didn’t take long for the game to reach its conclusion. Brandon was the one who got the last two buildings. Both Jacob and DJ gained shipyard privileges late. Jacob, impressively, spent his last turn building five ships.
Because Phase 2 was entered so late, this was quite a low scoring game. The final scores were: Jacob 98, Rob 94, DJ 88 and Brandon 87.