Before reading this review, remember to do the opposite of any strategy you might learn here! Proof of this is that five former Medici champions. Josh Githens, Carmen Petruzzelli, Harald Henning, Susan Cornett, and Jeff Cornett, finished dead last this year in at least one of their heats.
Out of 32 heat games, there were 30 individual winners with 2 double winners. 6 out of 30 were no-shows, leaving 24 to compete in five semifinals games.
This year’s finals featured 5 veterans. When responding to the survey question, all five of this year’s finalists strongly agreed that they have a lot of experience playing Medici. Even so, playing styles and strategies varied. This year, the win went to the strategy that was the opposite of the three previous winners.
The finalists and their playing styles were:
- Cliff Ackman deserves the title of best all-around player. He won two of three heats, with his only loss by a mere 6 points while earning the highest score for any second place finisher (148). His semifinal win was the closest ever beating former champion, Peter Staab, and winning on a tiebreaker to Ray Wolff. Cliff is famous for his patient play, climbing the pyramid and finding bargains after everyone else’s hands are full. He buys his cards late and cheap.
- Terri Wicks last qualified for the Medici finals in 2007. She faced the toughest semifinal field, defeating two former champions, Susan Cornett and Carmen Petruzzelli, another double winner in the heats, Romain Jacques, and assistant GM Kevin Youells. Terri’s strategy was a balanced one, climbing the pyramid while also bidding moderately for high boat. Her veteran opponents tend to overlook her quiet yet effective game play.
- Eric Brosius had the most decisive win in the semifinals, winning by 17 over Dennis Mishler. His total of 155 points was enormous but he did even better in winning his heat with a score of 160, the highest in the tournament, and with the highest winning margin in the tournament. Eric displayed a talent for reaching the top of his pyramid quickly while scoring reasonably well for high boat. A patient bidder he fills his hand late and pays very little.
- Jefferson Meyer, the 2015 champion, outplayed Robert Drozd, the 2009 champion, by 11 points in their semifinal. His win in the heat was particularly impressive, reaching the top of two pyramids. He bought only one card of a different color. Jefferson looks for bargains in his color, but bids higher as needed to continue to climb his pyramid. He modestly bids up other players and when he bids 2 that means he does not want the card. A good thing to remember next year.
- Jeff Cornett, a two-time former champion, tends to ignore pyramid colors while bidding lots for high boat. That gives him an early lead but allows others to catch up in the end. His win over Cary Morris in the semifinals was a nail-biter. Cary’s patient play in the third round filled his hand after all others were full. All at once, that took Cary from last place to just a narrow 1 point loss. Jeff is famous for bidding too high, and his opponents tell him that all the time.
In 5-player finals, each player should be able to win one pyramid color. Just stake out your turf, and defend against all challengers. Try to top out in the second round, but certainly by the end of the final round. This strategy led to three consecutive last place to first place wins in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 finals. Not this year!
In the first round, Jeff Cornett built an early lead taking high boat with 21 for a modest price. He bought the 10 card, a colorless card that leaves the player short in the pyramid battle. All other players established their pyramid color with Cliff Ackman establishing himself in two colors. Scores at the end of round one were Jeff 64, Terri 50, Cliff 46, Jefferson 37, and Eric 27.
The second round saw Terri and Jefferson reaching the 10-spot in their pyramids. All others climbed their colors, except Jeff who again took high boat with 21. Cliff continued to dominate in two colors, not leaving a pyramid for Jeff to even try to chase. Even so, players were starting to say the game was over. Scores at the end of round 2 were Jeff 93, Cliff 64, Terri 59, Jefferson 54, and Eric 40.
The final round is the come-back round for pyramid climbers. Everyone, except Jeff, topped their pyramid. Cliff and Eric collaborated on bidding very low for the final cards, each adding two to reach their pyramid tops. Cliff even added the 10 spot to a second color. Overconfident and with a 29 point lead, Jeff overbid for high boat of 25 and it almost ruined him. He spent a total of 26, including 17 to buy the 10-card, to earn the 30 point high boat for a profit of only 4. His win actually came via second place finishes, adding a couple to win by a mere 4 points. Final Scores were Jeff 112, Cliff 108, Jefferson 88, Terri 88, and Eric 73.
If you think you learned anything from the above, now unlearn it! Cliff Ackman performed the all-around best this year, and fell short in the finals by very little. His patient play, filling his hand late and cheap, and topping two pyramids is an incredibly effective strategy. Now unlearn that strategy as well! The key to winning is just to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing! Hmmm… so does that mean you should do the opposite of the opposite?
And now, some vital Medici statistics that you always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
- Out of 13 five-player games and 25 four player games, the average winner scored 121 points
4 player wins averaged 128 points. 5 player wins averaged 108
- Average win margin was by 12 points over second place
- Average margin from second to third was also 12 points
- The average player scores 100 points, easy to remember
- Highest score was an amazing 160 by Eric Brosius
Largest win margin, in that same heat, was 44 points by Eric Brosius over Chris Gnech
- Highest second place score was 148 by Cliff Ackman, losing by just 6 points to Nick Henning
- Lowest winning score was 92 by Terri Wicks in her 5 player semifinal
- Highest last place score of 103 was by Mike Kaltman, losing his semifinal by 37 to Jeff Cornett
- Most commonly played color was green, played 29 times. Red was second at 27
- Green only won 2 of 29 games played. Green finished fourth or fifth a total of 15 times
- Favorite color among winning players was yellow, winning 8 of 23 games, a 35% win rate
- Favorite and most successful color in the playoffs was purple, played in all 6 games, and winning in 4 out of 6 of these, including the finals
- The most successful family were the four Wolff’s. Ray and his elementary school kids, Jack and Sam, all made the semifinals. Tricia also played well. They say that game night ,on Saturday is common, but sometimes it’s the whole weekend when the weather is bad. Next year, be afraid of wolves in Wolff’s clothing!