Returning to its traditional first Saturday time slot, the Hannibal tournament drew 35 veteran players, including 9 former WBC/WAM champs to play five rounds of swiss play for the six plaques. The competition with other convention events in the first weekend cost us a half dozen entrants, plus the early departure of two undefeated players. Nonetheless, the quality of competitors was exceptional this year, with an average AREA rating of 5307. Only a half dozen of the 43 games ended in early resignations or suits for peace. Average game length was 4:03. The average bid for sides as 1.8 for Carthage, with the highest bid at 4 for Carthage (by you-know-who). Carthage won 27 games to Rome’s 16, justifying the escalation of bids for Carthage. In two games Carthage was sacked. While Rome was besieged in a couple of games, it never fell. Carthage won on a 9-9 province count in five games. Hannibal died nine times, but in one case he died on turn 4 and Carthage still won. Scipio Africanus died in six games, with Rome winning one of those. Syracuse allied in 25 games, but was sacked 8 times. Philip allied 20 times, but made peace 7 times. The Messenger Intercepted count was even at 40 to 40, occurring 9 times on the final turn. The Valley Games version was the preferred rule set in slightly less than half the games (the Second Edition with the original game set still favored). We viewed the beautiful, new Phalanx version; let’s hope this version brings more new blood into our event. Perhaps I’ll run a coached rookie’s round prior to the main event next year.
Round 1: John Gitzen drew the Omen card matching him against the defending champion, Andy Latto. Gitzen’s Carthage received an early Syracuse to make up for an early death of Hannibal, but was forced into resignation on turn 9. Thibault Nguyen flew in from France to faced former champion George Young in the first round, taking the close game to an endgame count of 9-8 in favor of Young’s Rome. Bill Edwards sent Hannibal to support the Syracuse alliance, fighting off No. 3 Seed Nathan Wagner’s Marcellus and then double enveloping Africanus to kill him on turn 6. Two Grain Shortages later and Edwards secured a 10-8 win. Roderick Lee’s use of the side bid to quickly gain W.Numidia was negated by Michael Mitchell’s Sophonisba and two campaigns to reverse the province count in Carthage’s favor for a 10-8 win. Aurelia Allbert and her husband Geoff returned to the tournament after several years’ absence. Unfortunately for Aurelia, she drew the No. 5 Seed, Chris Byrd and witnessed the death of her Hannibal on Turn 2, leading to resignation on Turn 5. Geoff drew GM Stuart Tucker and found himself needing to win by sacking Carthage, only to have Africanus and two siege points eliminated when Mago and 3 successful elephants double enveloped him. Nels Thompson sacked Michael Ussery’s Carthage on Turn 6. Keith Wixson’s Rome found Ed Rothenheber’s Hannibal ad portas for three full turns before using Marcellus to drive him off and kill him in turn 9 to win 9-8. Other seeded players winning their first round games were James Pei, Michael Sosa, Lyman Moquin, and Randy Pippus. Robert Woodson upset 11th Seed Randall MacInnis. Other winners were Derek Miller, Brian Conlon, and Aaron Fuegi.
Round 2: Defending champ Andy Latto received three Messenger Intercepts, but couldn’t get past former champ Aaron Fuegi’s Carthaginians who won a 9-9 tie. Top AREA-rated James Pei defeated Randall MacInnis’ Rome 10-8, with a pivotal battle seeing Marcellus fail four straight initiative die rolls. No. 4 Seed George Young’s Romans suffered a turn 9 Messenger Intercepted, allowing Derek Miller to win 9-9, having lost Hannibal on turn 4. No. 5 Seed Chris Byrd’s Carthaginian Naval Victory on turn 9 allowed him to secure a 10-8 victory against No. 8 Seed Michael Sosa’s campaign-less Romans. No. 6 Seed Stuart Tucker received Syracuse on turn 8 and benefitted from a Carthaginian Naval Victory plus Philip joining on turn 9 to seal a narrow victory against No. 7 Seed Keith Wixson, as Hannibal fought to secure enough of Spain, while Mago slipped into take Sicily with the final two card plays. Pippus remained undefeated by defeating Nels Thompson 10-8, as Nels’ Roman leaders failed too many initiative die rolls. Woodson remained undefeated by killing Hannibal and defeating Roderick Lee’s Carthaginians 11-7. Lyman Moquin’s Romans conquered Nick Pei’s Spain in turn 7 leading to resignation. Michael Mitchell’s Carthage survived Ray Freeman’s early campaigns to fight to a 9-9 tie when the final two deals turned against Rome. Nguyen’s Carthage benefitted from a turn 8 Messenger Intercept to help win 10-8 against Geoff Allbert.
Round 3: Sunday morning found eight players still undefeated in attendance. Fuegi’s Carthaginians overran Italia forcing Pippus to resign in turn 8. Byrd’s Carthaginians killed Woodson’s Scipio Africanus on turn 9 to secure victory. James Pei’s Carthaginians survived several close battles in Spain against Africanus and benefitted from a turn 7 Messenger to force Moquin’s resignation. Derek Miller’s Romans couldn’t dislodge Tucker from Sardinia, then witnessed Hannibal slipping into an allied Syracuse and Africanus’ death on turn 8, leading to a 10-8 victory for the bleary-eyed GM, who had missed breakfast due to his late night against Wixson.
Round 4: James Pei defeated teammate Byrd with the crucial endgame battle occurring in Sardinia where Varro’s 10 battle cards were not enough to defeat Mago’s 5 cards. Tucker defied the Roman navy by sending Hannibal to Caralis (-3 roll) to kill Scipio in a 15-13 card battle with no retreat for either army, thereby securing a 10-8 victory against Fuegi.
Round 5: With six plaques available, eight players played the final round. Wixson’s Hannibal suffered attrition from tribes, Alps, and epidemic leaving him with 5 CUs in Gallia Cisalpinia on turn 1. He managed to stay in Italia until fleeing on turn 7. Moquin found his hand deficient when Truce was played on turn 8 while down 4 provinces, leading to his resignation, and securing the 5th place plaque for the 3-2 Wixson. Nguyen’s Carthage benefitted from an early Syracuse which was never sacked and a late Messenger to defeat Sosa, winning 4th place. Pippus finally drove Hannibal out of Italy on turn 9, only to see the Syracuse card played to secure a 10-8 victory for Byrd. This turn of events gave Pippus (3-2) the coveted Sand Plaque (stealing it from Wixson), and secured the Byrd (4-1) 3rd place for valuable points in his team event.
For the Wood: The two undefeated players, Pei and Tucker hadn’t competed with a prize at stake in quite a number of years, but both knew each other’s tendencies well. Pei drove the side bid to 3, giving Carthage to Tucker and using the 3 points to threaten Numidia. Tucker easily swept away the first Roman army to arrive in Africa and then used his island strategy of having Mago take Sardinia and slipping in a large army under Hasdrubal to hold it. He then played the Messenger and the Syracuse card at the end of turn 6, sending Hannibal and a sizeable force to Syracuse. Failing to immediately reinforce him with an extra 5 CUs to have 20 BCs, Tucker witnessed Hannibal’s death at Syracuse in a near even battle in turn 7. Pei sacked Syracuse on turn 8, but still needed to recover another province. The turn 9 deal looked sweet to Tucker (4 campaigns), but Pei managed to use his one Major Campaign to perfection, moving Africanus to southern Spain, while Nero used his special ability to move through two provinces in northern and central Spain. When Mago in central Spain failed twice to intercept Nero, Pei was sitting atop enough spaces with just enough strategy point cards to flip three provinces. Tucker’s only chance remained in using his final campaign to seal in the Roman generals (so they couldn’t sail to retake Sardinia as well), and also win battles to prevent all three province flips. Mago moved to prevent the flip of northern Spain. The strategy came down to Hasdrubal returning from Sardinia and fighting Africanus in Baetica to block the port and prevent a PC flip. When this battle failed, Tucker knew he was defeated. Pei finally had his revenge for his loss at the first Winter Activation Meeting.
Once again this game proved its beauty by delivering exciting games that never, ever play the same way twice. It has collected quite a competitive field of players who keep coming back for more year after year. See you again next year at the first Saturday in Seven Springs!!!
|Perrenial laurelists Chris Byrd accompanied
by his lieutenant.
|Lyman Moquin studies his options.
|Keith Wison contemplates his next move.
|Finalists James Pei and GM Stuart Tucker in action.