WBC 2014: Jump Starting Just Short, or Not Fancying the Fancy Lounge
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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This was my 6th year at WBC. I go to lots of conventions, but WBC is the only convention at which I take part in tournament play. I often tell myself that I spent 51 weeks of the year trying to learn as many new games as I can, and 1 week at WBC trying to win games I already know.



In any case, here are my total stats for the convention:

colonist Pick-up Games: 5 (1 win)
colonist Tournament Heats: 16 (5 wins, 7 2nds, 4 3rds)
colonist Semi-finals: 5 (2 wins, 2 2nds, 1 4th)
colonist Final tables: 2 (2 4ths)
colonist Total Games: 28
colonist Plaques: 1 (4th place Vegas Showdown)
colonist Laurels (est.): 21
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1. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1075]
Board Game: Merchant of Venus
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Monday Heat 1: Me, Kathy Stroh, 2 others

I had some absolutely amazing luck in this game. I picked up a Jump Start in turn 2, and a number of telegates came out pretty early across the southern side of the board. I ended up using the Jump Start a LOT--sometimes to warp across the board, sometimes just to save myself a few pips (which was probably unnecessary, but I had no reason not to). And the Jump Start worked--every single time. I don't think I had ever gotten such amazing dice luck in Merchant of Venus. Add onto that a relic yellow drive that I picked up halfway through the game, which turned out to be mostly unnecessary anyway, as I mostly could get where I was going. Despite all this, I notice throughout the game that I'm not really gaining on Kathy in money/deeds, who has been making good use of the telegates herself. Toward the end, I'm a couple turns short of ending the game, when Kathy comes into the system I'm about to visit and buys out all the Rock Videos. One came back by the time I got there, but the second Rock Video would have ended the game for me a turn sooner. As it was, she managed to end it the turn before I would've gone out.

Wednesday Heat 3: Me, Richard Irving, Roderick Lee

In this heat, Richard was offering a game with variant ships (not the overpowered ships from The General, but rather underpowered versions of them) that would be used instead of the standard ships. At this point, I already had a win in Power Grid, and the Merchant of Venus semis conflicted with the Power Grid semis, so by some strange reasoning that gave me leave to try something weird. The start ship is truly horrible--1.5 holds, roll 2 (or was it 3?) pick one and triple it. I got lucky with my first move and find a place to upgrade my ship to something slightly less horrible--1.5 holds, roll 5 pick 4. At least I have a shot of getting through nav circles with that. The other two ship options have more holds but are really expensive (more than the original Transport), so I decide to try to end the game with this, noting that having fewer than 2 holds makes factories more important and spaceports less important. Again, I manage to pick up a Jump Start in this game, but it's less important here because there are fewer telegates, and they're less well-positioned. I end up jumping way ahead of everyone else, both in deeds and what I can do with my turns. However, Richard eventually saves up enough for the biggest ship, which has a ton of holds, and starts trading en masse. Toward the end, he heads to one system and buys up all four Servomechnisms there, which hurt me since I was planning on going there, but at least I had other options. Again I get myself in position so I'm one turn from ending the game, and then Richard goes and sells all 4 Servomechs to end the game.
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2. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:122] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Board Game: Stone Age
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Monday Heat 1: Me, Daniel Eppolito, Carol Haney, 1 other

This was more just a way to fill time than a serious tournament for me, since I'm not really a big fan of Stone Age. Anyway, my normal strategy in the game is to load up on tools and farms and try to buy point multipliers for them, taking the occasional hut when it was convenient. I pretty much stuck to this plan, except a little bit into the game I ended up taking symbol card for a farm bump, and then talked myself into taking more symbol cards in addition to multiplier cards. I ended up with 25 points worth of symbol cards at the end, which is okay I guess. Anyway, Daniel, who stated before the game that he hates the starvation strategy but will do it if everyone leaves it open for him. Well, we left it wiiiiiide open for him. I think he got the extra worker spot every single turn until he had 10 workers (I like the worker spot and all, but I'm not going to take it just to block him if I see something that works better for me). He used his massive army of workers to take a ton of resources and grabbed like 14 huts over the course of the game, and of course managed to grab all the multiplier cards for both huts and people. In the end, he finished like 60 points ahead of me. I actually got 2nd place, but was only a couple points ahead of 3rd, and 6 points ahead of last.
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3. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:180]
Board Game: Ra
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Monday Heat 1: Me, Steve Scott, Antony Saccenti, 2 others

This game got off to a bit of a slow start--we had set up for five, assuming that we'd be part of the majority of games that had five people. The fifth person never showed up (and Steve the GM was very busy), so after a while, we put away the 5-player suns and set up the 4-player suns. Of course, as soon as we did that, Steve the GM sits down at the table and says that he's going to be the 5th player. In any case, the game itself moves along pretty well. Though I had some nice individual moves, I wasn't really on my game for this one. At one point, I called Ra on a single Flood tile, which was okay for me, but really nice for Steve, who was sitting on my left. That elicited a response of, "Well, you play dirty, don't you?" I was amused by that. In any case, Steve was the winner at the end, and I finished with 34 points for 3rd place.

Tuesday Heat 2: Me, Steve Scott, Jason Levine, 2 others

This was another game that looked like it was 4 players until Steve sat down (again on my right) to play (though it was sooner this time; I think the administration was a little less hectic). More than anyone else I'd played with before, Jason love love loved God tiles. During the second epoch, he collected so many of them that we joked that he was trying to make a set. Despite having so many, though, he did a great job of using them for positive effect and not just letting them sit for 2 points. In any case, it came down to the two of us in the end: him with 47 points and me with 42 points before scoring suns. However, I had largest suns and he had smallest, so I ended up winning with 47, and he ended with 42.

Thursday Heat 3: Me, Rich Meyer, Ashley Kilroy, 2 others

At this point, I had a heat win, so I really wanted to get a second win so that I could advance to the semis. I ended up having a really sharp game, I felt like I kept making really good decisions (at one point Rich even complimented me on my play). However, I was having a little trouble figuring out what the less experienced players at the table would do--at one point Ashley grabbed a lot that I was sure would come back to me, and at another the player on my left passed on a lot I thought he absolutely needed to bid on. Still, I had a really good game and finished with a score of 43--which ended up being short of Rich's 47 points (and that was after he lost 5 for lowest suns).

Friday Heat 4: Me, Kevin Wojtaszcyk, Blair Morgen, Chaka Benson, 1 other

Last chance! Unfortunately, I struggled in this game. Despite going after Pharoahs, I was only able to score them in one of the three epochs. I scored decent points for my monuments, but without significant other points it just wasn't enough. To top it off, though, I lost 5 points for lowest suns in the end, despite trying to avoid that distinction. I finished with 36 points, which was enough for 3rd place. Kevin won.
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4. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:585]
Board Game: Vegas Showdown
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Monday Heat 1: Me, Daniel Speyer, 2 others

This wasn't a particularly experienced table--the player on my left said he just learned the game at the demo, and Daniel said that he doesn't get to play more than a couple times per year. The player on my right did something that got me thinking--he went first and bought the Sports Book for 25 on turn 1. I love the Sports Book--the 2 revenue and its sheer space-filling ability plays very well with my strategy--and I wonder if buying it at 25 on turn 1 is a good move. Anyway, I use my usual strategy of buying one of each of the base rooms, and then focusing on saving up for advanced rooms that fill space. I was a little concerned that I wasn't able to go all-in on either of the Ad Campaigns, which both came up off-cycle for me, while others were. Eventually though, I was able to fill both sides of my board, and then on the very last turn I bought the Theater to seal the game for me. Surprisingly, the guy who just learned the game finished in second, congrats to him!

Thursday Semi: Me, Eric Freeman, Scott Saccenti, Jim Fry, Kate Fractal

Eric both the GM and former champion of this event, so I knew this wouldn't be an easy semi. The card that came up before we got a turn was an Ad Campaign, in which everyone but Kate went in for the full amount. The second Ad Campaign also came up fairly early, but I had money for it, so I went all-in a second time, even though it wasn't particularly good for me saving up for stuff. In particular, I had my eye on a Fancy Lounge, but Eric scooped it up before I had a shot at it, despite not having a regular Lounge. A second Lounge came out, and Eric is again all over it, despite still not having a Lounge. The third Fancy Lounge came out, but unfortunately it was off-cycle for me and I didn't have a shot at it--but still, Lounge-less Eric bid on it (but didn't win it this time). In any case, I got a Night Club early, but I don't like being shut out of Fancy Lounges, because it means I'm not in the conversation for the Theater. I had a point lead in the game, but I really needed the Theater not to come out, because it would've been a game winner for the eventual buyer (probably Eric). So, we're getting really short on tiles, and a big one flips--it's the second Night Club! I've got the cash exactly, so I bid 42 on it. Eric can outbid me, but he surprises me and passes, still holding out for the Theater. So I get the Night Club, and the game ends before the next turn. I win, and now I'll get to defend my title (I'm last year's champion) in the the finals!

Friday Final: Me, Mike Kaltman, Andrew Drummond, Steve LeWinter, Matthew Craig

This game did not go well for me. Both Ad Campaigns came out when I couldn't afford more than a pittance, while many other players could go all-in. There was one Fancy Lounge that came out early, but I didn't get it. I think the Theater came out fairly early too, and I naturally didn't get that either. I was not able to establish an early point lead in the game, which is really bad for me, as I tend to play a fairly low-income game. I actually ended up getting a Fancy Slots and 2 Fancy Restaurants in the game, tiles that I normally eschew because of their small size, just because I was behind and felt like I needed to do something. I ended up finishing in 4th place a few points behind 3rd and well ahead 5th, but if you watched the game, I was really closer to last than 3rd. 4th was good enough for a plaque in this event though, so that works for me! In the end, Andrew, who bought the Theater early, ended up in a point tie with Mike, who was able to score a ton of corners. Mike had more money left over, so he was the new champion! This was actually Mike's twentieth (!) final table in his years at WBC, but his very first win. He was so happy to get that monkey off his back that he was literally in tears. Congrats, Mike!
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5. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:47]
Board Game: Power Grid
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Tuesday Heat 1: Me, 4 others

This heat was on the Central Europe map, which is my favorite board. I end up placing fairly centrally, poised to spread quickly into the cheap western region of the board. Unfortunately, the Wien player jumped me on the second turn (despite having tons of cheaper options) to get there first. So I turned the other direction, but I was concerned that the Wien player had the entire western half of the board to himself. On the plant front, I managed to get the 25 (2 coal powers 5) and the 26 (2 oil powers 5) pretty early and at not too much of a premium. These are my two favorite plants, so I was happy with that. As Step 2 came, I was able to quickly expand into cheap regions that the Wien player had monopolized before. I found myself in a pretty good position--lots of relatively cheap options for expansion, and good plants that powered cheaply. One player commented that if I could build to 15 right then, I would power the most and win the game. That comment made me do a double-take--I looked at my cash, I looked at my board position, and then I built 4 cities and ended the game. Possibly I would have figured this out without the other player saying anything, but hey, I'll take whatever help I get.

Wednesday Heat 2: Me, Tim Horne, 3 others

Power Grid standings go by a point system, so I knew I needed more than a single win to advance, but a second win was probably overkill, so I should play conservatively. This heat was on the Spain/Portugal board, which is one of my least favorite boards because the small wind plants coming out at the beginning of Step 2 exacerbates the stall. A long stall means I need to be aggressive about getting capacity early, so I bid hard and walk away with the 25 (2 coals powers 5) and the 28 (1 nuke powers 4). I was happy with those going into Step 2 and the stall, but I had really sacrificed my board position to afford those plants, and was well behind the money curve. So I really needed to build cities fast to catch up. Right at that moment, the 32 (3 oil powers 6) falls into my lap at cost, and the rest of the table remarks upon my good fortune. I wasn't planning on buying any plant for like 4-5 more turns, but somehow the table talked me into shelling out for the 32. So now I was at like 4 cities and 15 capacity. That's not playing conservatively! Anyway, at that point I spent the rest of the game building to as many cities as possible, but I'm consistently making less money than my opponents each turn. The stall ends up not lasting as long as it might have, as less experienced players kept buying bad plants. The rest of the table was concerned about me, as I had 15 capacity showing, but I was more concerned that the player on my right (who had actually learned the game at a demo earlier that day) would build to 15 and end the game early before I even had a reasonable number of cities. Well, he didn't do that. However, he did eventually get his capacity up and built to 15 to win the game. By that point, I had enough cities to finish in 3rd place.

Saturday Semi: Me, Tim Horne, Kevin Broh-Kahn, Jim Fry, 1 other

The semifinal was on the UK/Ireland map, which I hadn't played at all up until now. On this map, once per game you can jump from one island to the other for $20 and essentially build out 2 networks, but the catch is you have to do it fairly early, because you can only jump to a completely empty city. I got outbid on the 4 plant to start the game, so I actually ended up with the 6--garbage started at 5, so it's not nearly as horrible as it usually is. I started out in central England, and got blocked out of Wales early on, so I spread south into the London area. I got hemmed in from there, so I jumped over into Ireland at what seemed like a pretty ideal time. As for plants, I again ended up with the 25 (2 coal powers 5) and the 26 (2 oil powers 5) early, but I did pay in the 40's for each of them. However, then the 20 (3 coal powers 5) and the 31 (3 coal powers 6) are both bought, and warning klaxons begin to go off in my head: WARNING! IMPENDING COAL SHORTAGE! (Coal never ended up running out, but it got close enough to make people sweat.) At that point, I began to focus on turn order. I wanted to stay behind the other coal players in turn order (and maybe Tim too, he had lots of hybrid plants), which meant building fewer cities. At this point the 32 (3 oil powers 6) becomes available, and Jim and I are the only ones left in the bidding. I think long and hard about this--normally I wouldn't worry about getting my 3rd plant this early, but if I'm not using my money on cities anyway, why not spend it on my final plant? So I bid on it, and Jim bids me up, and I end up winning it for 52. Of course, that puts me out a ton of money, and makes managing turn order even harder, as the 32 (being higher than the 31) is the biggest plant in the game. So I'm poor for the rest of the game, while the other players are wondering if I might end it soon (my lack of money isn't visible, but my 16 capacity sure is!). We end up playing past the turn where either me or the guy with the 31 would presumably end the game, but neither of us has nearly enough money. So, the next turn is the crazy turn where everybody catches up in capacity, giving everyone either 16 or 17 to finish the game. A quick estimation says that I'd be lucky to build to 16 cities, so I resist the urge to bump up to 17 myself. We all build, and sure enough, I can only build to 15 because I'm poor. The game actually ended 16-16-15-15-14, with Tim earning the victory, and me ending up in 4th place.

Moral of the tournament: Don't worry about that 3rd end-game plant, you idiot!
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6. Board Game: Empire Builder [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:1306]
Board Game: Empire Builder
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Wednesday Heat 3: Me, Richard Irving, Catherine Raymond, 1 other

This is a win-and-you're-in tournament, but unfortunately I only had time for one heat. It's run with an unorthodox "sit wherever you want" policy, so I try to hold out for someone setting up a Eurorails board, but to no avail. I ended up at a Martian Rails board, which is my second-favorite map. In any case, I think I'm doing decently, but Richard is just making gobs of money without having to build much track. I end up being on the last players to upgrade my train, which I think put me a little behind the curve. Toward the end of the game, I ended up beating out Catherine on a "Mars Needs Women" communal delivery because she was one dot short (and no, I didn't do the math, I'm too lazy). That definitely hurt her cash position, but I don't think it affected final placement, as Richard won easily, Catherine was in 2nd, and I was in 3rd.
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7. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:15]
Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Wednesday Heat 2: Me, Keith Layton, 1 other

I was really excited about the Burgundy tournament this year, both because I really like the game, and because I feel like I'm pretty good at it. I ended up missing Heat 1 to play Ra and Vegas Showdown, on the theory that playing two games I love is better than playing one game I love, but it was close in my mind (and I won that VS heat, so I guess that was the right decision). This was the only other heat, so I made sure to play. Here, I ended up at a 3-player table with Keith, who I knew from my EPGS days. We were playing on the base boards, so my strategy is usually to concentrate on ships and animals, and grab the big goods bonus tiles from the black tiles when they become available using my turn order (yes, that's a little risky in 3-player, when not all of the tiles come out). The tile that gives you one point per sold good came out early, and while I could have used 2 workers to sell a good so I could afford it, I chose to let it go and hope it came back to me. Well, it didn't, as the player on my left scooped it up. I did grab the +1 animal bonus tile, which turned out to be worth a lot of points to me, as I had only placed one animal in my big field thus far. Later, I got the 3 points per color good tile, with a big sigh of relief as it was actually available this game. Keith had jumped on the early mines, so I decided to forgo them entirely. However, I was the first to complete my castles, ships, and animals sections, so I got the big tile for each of those. The player to my left did grab the last pig before I had a shot at it, which definitely hurt my score, but as it turned out, I still finished well ahead of the other two players.

So onto the semifinals... wait, they're the same time as the Vegas Showdown finals? Nuts!
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8. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:83]
Board Game: El Grande
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Thursday Heat 3: Me, Brad Sherwood, 3 others

I got off to a particularly bad start in this game of El Grande. My Grande region was Old Castile. The player who went first picked up a "score the first player in each region" card, and put one cube in Valencia to score it. Unfortunately, there were no other empty regions next to the King, so he put his other two cubes in Old Castile to stop me from scoring, meaning everyone but me scored and got their Grande bonus. To add insult to injury, another player going before me takes a decay of authority card, making everyone send two cubes from a region back to the provinces. So, before I even get a turn, I'm looking at an 11 point deficit (6 points to 4th), with no cubes on the board. So slowly, I begin to try to rebuild my position. By the end of the first scoring, I'm like 20-25 points behind the leader. By the end of the second scoring, I'm 15 points behind the leader, still in last place. At the end of the game... I end up winning by a single point! Well, that was the biggest come-from-behind victory that I've ever pulled off.

Thursday Semi: Me, Alex Bove, Jefferson Meyer, Jean-Francois, 1 other

The semi-final was pretty much right after this heat, and I found myself up against former Caesar Alex Bove. Alex actually had to run an Amun-Re heat right after this semi, so he used a timer on his iPhone to make sure his usually thinky turns didn't last too long. (Not sure how practical this was, as he kept forgetting to turn it on and off, but his turns weren't that long anyway.) Alex jumped out to an early lead and was leading throughout the game, but the rest of us were grouped pretty tightly behind him. Before the second scoring, Jefferson put the big mobile scoreboard on his home region of Catalonia, so naturally I dumped my Castillo-winning group of cubes there for an easy 8 points. It was actually too many cubes for that region, but I was able to move some off via subsequent intrigue actions. Likewise, I was able to pull off the 1-13 gambit for the second scoring, and in that way I was able to win my home region of Granada despite only have 4 cubes there. I realized that was going to be an issue going into the third scoring, so I happily grabbed the "move your Grande" card and moved mine over to Catalonia. As predicted, at least 2 people dumped their cubes in Granada at the end. The game ended very close between all five players, but Alex ended up with the win, with me 2 points behind for second place.
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9. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:102] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Board Game: Dominion
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Thursday Heat 1: Me, Jamie Tang, 1 other

I decided to jump into the Dominion tournament largely out of curiosity, as I had never done Dominion at WBC before. GM Nick Ferris had a bizarre method of seating players, handing each registrant a bingo-sheet-like grid filled with seemingly random numbers. He then called out a row and a column (A1 in this case), which for me was labeled 76, so I went and found a table with a seat labeled 76 to play. Weird. Anyway, I ended up at a 3-player table. This heat used only the base game, which I found to be a bit boring. Furthermore, players were allowed to veto cards, which for my opponents meant that attack cards were banished. We played back-to-back games, and with the attack cards being gone, the resultant card sets were very similar. I would have preferred more variety. In the first game, I used a combination of the Mine and the Market at 5, and actually bought some Adventurers at 6 (thinking I could get gold with Mines anyway). Well, more than once I blew by my Mine with the Adventurer. I ended up winning, though. In the second game, I bought a single Moneylender, and then went after the Mine for 5. I got some early Gold and ended up switching over to Duchies too early though, as I wasn't hugely invested in the Mine with a Moneylender in my deck. Only ended up with 2 Provinces, which put me in a close 3rd. Jamie ended up finishing second in both games, and somehow two seconds beats a first and a third (which I found to be really strange), so she ended up advancing.
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10. Board Game: Last Will [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:471] [Average Rating:7.19 Unranked]
Board Game: Last Will
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Friday Heat 1: Me, Andrew Emerick, Nick Henning, Tom McCorry

This game began with a little bit of a kerfuffle--after we sat down, GM John Corrado announced that each table would randomly draw its own starting money. We draw a $90, and I start looking through my opening hand, noting that it's telling me to go the Reservation route. However, at that point John then announces that each table will be using the same amount of money, and the table next to us complains that they've already started their game. John asked them what they were playing to, they said $130, and John proclaimed that everyone would be playing to $130 this heat. Well, that's a little bit of strategic whiplash. I've actually never played to $130 before (mostly I play low to accommodate teaching), but I've heard that property-less strategies don't work as well at high money levels, so I scrap my Reservation idea and do a boring Manor strategy. I played two Manors, got down an Estate Agent that let me use one without an action, played a Gardener that made one of them +3, and then just used them every turn. Boring, right? Well, Nick was doing a property-flipping strategy with all the right Estate Agents, Tom was using Farms, and Andrew was doing the same thing as me, except not as well. So Nick was doing way more exciting things than anyone else, and we all assumed that he was going to win, while Tom was using a ton of money per turn, but got stuck with a bunch of expensive farms at the end. I was able to sell off my Manors with Nick's property-flipping rhythm, which was pretty good for me. No one got down to $0 at the end, Nick ended up with $1 and I ended up with $5 for second place. However, I was informed that 2nd place would almost certainly be good enough to make the semis, so I was happy for that.

Sunday Semi: Me, Sceadeau D'Tela, 2 others

For the semis we're playing to $120, and I keep telling myself that I'm not going to get psyched out of a strategy because of a large money value. Upon seeing 2 Waiters in my opening hand, I immediately commit to the Reservation/Dinner strategy. I'm start player, so I jump on the 1st spot to take the opening Old Friend, despite the fact that it might slow me down some. The card I drew was the Messenger promo card, which confused me since I didn't know we were playing with promos. In any case, it ended up being a casualty of hand size. On the second turn, there was another Old Friend, but no one seemed to want to go first, so I actually jumped on a decent spot and went first to get him. With my draw on this turn, I picked up a 3rd Waiter! I spend some time getting all my cards out, and end up with Old Friend x2, Waiter x3, $2 Reservation (no action), and $4 Reservation (action). At that point I start drawing white and blue cards like mad, and just start burning through my remaining money. Meanwhile, Sceadeau has managed to get both Coachmen, as well as the Tailor, and is burning through my money as fast as I'm burning through mine. I try to make sure he doesn't get the Opera spot every turn, but still, we're neck and neck. On turn 6, he manages to burn $28 to go to -$7, but my luck fails me as I'm going last in this turn and all the 6-card spots are gone, and the cards I do draw aren't great and don't match my companions. Still, I use $22 to put me at -$1. I'm a little shocked that I got the best draw that I've ever gotten by a longshot in this game, and still I manage to lose.
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11. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:7.98 Overall Rank:29]
Board Game: Puerto Rico
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Friday Heat 2: Me, Catherine Raymond, 2 others

Puerto Rico is a game that I don't put a lot of emphasis on at WBC because, while I'm decent at it, the later rounds tend to be a shark tank. In this game, a less experienced player took Builder first, and I exhibited my Puerto Rico quirk of taking the Construction Hut over the Small Market. Turned out not to matter though, as I got the Small Market with my second build. I then proceeded to execute my usual building strategy, but I decided to see if I could do without a Factory since I actually got the Small Market this game. So I built up to 3 quarries, started buying all the different production buildings, and got the Guild Hall. I managed to keep the money coming via the Trader, particularly the one time the player to my right neglected to take the role despite us both having coffee sitting there. I ended up picking Builder far more than the other players could use it, and I quickly moved toward ending the game by filling my board. However, I wasn't getting very many points from the Captain, and Catherine had built up a good amount of corn was had a good stack of point chips. I built a second large building to end the game, but nobody took the Mayor so I couldn't man it. When we counted up the points, I had 39 to Catherine's 41.
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12. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:240]
Board Game: Navegador
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Friday Heat 2: Me, Eric Engelmann, James Doughan, Dennis Mishler

I couldn't make Heat 1 because of the Vegas Showdown semi, and I couldn't make Heat 3 because of the Power Grid semi, so this was my only shot in this tournament. I was in the second seat, and Eric the start player opened by sailing to gold, so I went to build first and took a gold factory. I stopped on workers after that and bought one, but maybe I should've gone for two as I had some trouble building up to a church after that. When the Navegador came to me, I used it to sail to sugar and bought two. I continued investing in gold factories and sugar colonies, and soon I was completely dominating the market, as the other players split everything else. I had to work to get the privilege chips as I passed up some in the early game, and they ended up getting flushed due to early crossings of both phase 2 and phase 3. Eventually the game ended up buildings and we counted everything up. Everyone was expecting me to win because I was dominating the market, and while I did win, the margin of victory was not nearly as high as it seemed. Eric took second place, which is a nice accomplishment considering he just learned the game earlier in the week.

Saturday Semi: Me, Carter Su, Barry Eynon, Robb Effinger

The semifinal started similarly to my heat--Carter on my right sailed to gold, so I started by building a gold factory. This time, bought two workers on the first time around. I grabbed a few sugar, but I didn't get nearly as many colonies this time around, so I had to double-down on factories in the late game. On the other hand, churches were easier to come by because of my early double-worker buy, so I ended up executing a fairly classic factory/church strategy. Robb shifted to a exploration/shipyard strategy, and made that work pretty well for him. The game again ended on buildings, and when we totaled everything up, I finished by a single point over Robb.

Saturday Final: Me, Andrew Emerick, Mike Kaltman, Romain Jacques

While this ended up being a pretty strange game for me, it started largely the same as my other games--Andrew sailed to gold first, so I started by building a gold factory and then bought two workers. However, a good opportunity to buy colonies never presented itself, as by the time I got the Navegador they were mostly gone. So I figured that I would double down on factories early, and I started in on sugar factories because I couldn't afford the gold (and still buy a worker). I still needed a secondary strategy though, but unfortunately Andrew took the church privilege the turn before I was going to grab it. I ended up taking the shipyard privilege, even though factories/shipyards isn't really a thing. Having no colonies really put me in a money bind early in the game, so I was really having trouble affording a church. At one point in the game, I pulled a sequence of odd moves--I really thought I could get a church on this trip around, and the privileges were gone, and I wasn't near any colonies. I didn't want to spend money on ships because I was saving up for a church, so I went to colony and did nothing. I still needed more money for the church though, and unfortunately no one went to the market before my next turn. I took a look around, and I predicted that that both Romain and Andrew would go to the market in the next turn, which would give me enough to buy a church after my own market trip. So I decided to waste another turn waiting, and went to ships and bought nothing. As predicted, Romain and Andrew went to market, so I went to market after them... and came away with $240, $10 short of buying a church. Darned math mistakes! So I had to settle for another factory, and picked up the church next time around. (In retrospect, I should've bought a single ship, went to market, and then bought a factory, which would have saved me time and given me an extra ship.) As it turned out though, I was never able to get a third church before they ran out, and I was only able to grab a second shipyard before they were out too. Well, so much for a secondary strategy. Since I didn't really have any way of getting more points in this game, my only hope now was to end the game before the third set of privileges flipped, and the way buildings were going, I thought I had a pretty good shot at doing just that. Unfortunately, Mike would have none of that, and launched two gigantic fleets and started gobbling up navigation tokens. Andrew took advantage and started scooping up tons of colonies in his wake, at one point taking four at once! This was only getting worse and worse for me, but I finally set myself up to buy the last 3 factories all at once. Unfortunately, Romain saw that the game was going to end, so he bought two factories before I could get there, leaving me with only buying one to end the game. Andrew ended up winning (for the third time in four years), on the strength of his 17 colonies, while I was in fourth place with 99 points.
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13. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:1154]
Board Game: TransAmerica
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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Sunday Heat 1: Me, Jim Savarick, Gordon Stewart, Carol Haney, Kate Fractal, 1 other

I wasn't planning on playing in this because of the Last Will semi that morning, but the Last Will game finished so quickly that I had time to run over and sign up. All the tables were 6 players in this heat. The memorable thing about this game was I pulled off an odd move that was very similar to something I did in the finals last year. Gordon, who was on my right, accidentally revealed that he was trying to get to Buffalo, and would finish next turn by building there. I couldn't go out this turn; the best I could do was be one away, and I wasn't getting another turn. So, I built to Buffalo on my turn, still being short by one, but this way I'd deny the other players a chance to better their scores. I still think this was a good move, but it wound up giving Gordon a tiebreaker advantage over me at the end, so he took 2nd and I took 3rd. Jim ended up beating the both of us by two points.
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14. Board Game: The Capitals [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:2278]
Board Game: The Capitals
Doug Faust
United States
Malverne
New York
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And to finish things up, here are the non-tournament games I played over the course of the week--

Monday Russian Railroads: Me, Anni Foasberg, Bill Hoch

Here, I ended up focusing on the Trans-Siberian rail. Bill took the early lead, and Anni was doing some nice things with the industry track. However, unchecked, the Trans-Siberian rail is just too many points, and Bill knew he was in trouble when I passed him in score before the last turn happened. I ended up getting my big white track to the 7th position, all with x2 tiles. I won by a whole bunch.

Tuesday Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar: Me, Rob Flowers, Lori Miskoff, Joshua Gottesman

It was nice to finally meet/play with Joshua, who I knew from my GCL league on BGG. Anyway, I used a fairly standard strategy of going after skulls and temple bumps. This ended up netting me 2nd place, but it wasn't gap between me and 4th was not great. What was truly amazing was what Rob, the winner, did. He went up to 5 workers right away, bumped all the way up on the resource-gathering tech track, and then proceeded to get tons and tons of resources. When he needed corn, he used the yellow track to convert his resources into the needed corn. He barely scored anything during the first scoring, but once he got his engine rolling, he started building tons of buildings and quickly shot up all of the temple tracks. He ended up scoring just short of 100. I'd never seen anything quite like that before, I'll have to try it sometime.

Tuesday The Capitals: Me, Carolyn Caton, Kelly Krieble, Eric Ritter, 1 other

I hadn't expected to try to play something in this brief window, but I had really wanted to try this one, they had an open spot, and everyone was agreed that we'd pack up by 6pm to get to our events. The early game really seemed to be more about avoiding scoring too many negative points, so I worked on getting my population and employment up as far as I could. In the early going, the building actions didn't really seem worth it to me because of the negatives I'd take, so I spent the first few turns simply taking a culture. In the middle of the game, Kelly ended up taking a whole bunch of negative points to get money and was able to afford a lot of stuff. We were running short of time, so we all decided to call the game 2/3rd the way through. When we added up the points, we say that Kelly had earned more positive points than he took in negatives, and since everyone else was still swimming in negatives, we declared him the winner.

Sunday Splendor: Me, Jeff Kahan, Rick Bynaker

Rick wanted to teach Evolution, and I was excited to learn it, but Anni was in the middle of a pick-up game of Last Will, so we played this to wait until she was free. Once again, I failed to get any of the bonus tiles despite trying to align my purchases toward them. However, I was doing a good job of buying the higher value tiles (particularly in the second row), so I was the first person to 15 points. Unfortunately, Rick got another turn after me, and was able to score 17 points for the win.

Sunday Evolution: Me, Anni Foasberg, Jeff Kahan, Rick Bynaker, Brian Stallings

We ended up having a fairly peaceful first part of the game, and there wasn't a single carnivore before turn 3 or 4, when I played one. I was dead obvious about it, and I was a little concerned that there would be no species to eat, but fortunately I managed to find one. Meanwhile, Anni was making very good use of the foraging skill on both of her species to take all of the food before the rest of the herbivores could get there. Eventually Jeff got into the carnivore business as well, and had a nice set-up with symbiants and scavengers. He ended up winning, coming in just ahead of Anni's hungry hungry dinos. At one point in the game, someone made a comment that the bags that we had in the prototype weren't final, and someone else said that they should make the bags look like stomachs. They should so totally do this!
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