Year Five of Virgin Queen at WBC
We played it safe and retained the schedule for Virgin Queen from previous years even though there is no more pre-con. The Virgin Queen tournament is a bit of an endurance test with both heats on the first Sunday. If you played through to the semi-finals on Monday morning you may have experienced several side effects such as dizziness, numbness in the extremities, blurred vision, and loss of memory—or that’s what they tell me as I can’t remember.
Fortunately, I took notes! Armies were destroyed, galleys were sunk, leaders were assassinated, and some people even played Virgin Queen.
Lots of new people showed up to the demo (more than I expected!) and, in total, thirty-one players showed up for the first two heats on Sunday in total. Games in both heats were played for a maximum of three Turns. Players picked their powers in random order: The most popular first pick was England followed by Ottomans; least favorite was Spain.
England was a good choice (Ottomans, not so much). In the first heat, Eric Monte and Paul Grosser won with England while Kirk Harris, Chris Trimmer, and Matt Hannan all won with the Protestants (including two religious auto-victories) You’d think that, with an opening heat like that, players in the second heat would be drawn to these two powers but they did not succumb to the temptation: In the second heat, the favored power to play was Spain. Wins in the second heat were England (Matt Hannan), Spain (Jeff Heidman), and France (Eric Monte) with the Protestants coming in far, far behind.
Matt Hannan and Eric Monte both won two games each in the opening heats and were given first choice of powers in the semi-finals. All games in the semi-finals and finals were played for the full four Turns of the Tournament Scenario. After already winning with England, Eric Monte chose to play England again and subsequently won his third game of the tournament! The other two games were won by Jeff Heidman who achieved a religious auto-victory as the Protestants in the second Turn (Turn 4) and Seth Gregor who also won with the Protestants but did so the old-fashioned way: by getting 25 VPs after four gruelling Turns.
The winners of the three semi-final games advanced to the final round along with the three players with the highest VP totals from the semis. Eric Monte who had already won with England twice — once in the heats and once in the semis — got first pick of powers and chose… <drumroll>… England!
Seth Gregor who won with the Protestants in the semis was given second choice and picked Protestants again.
Jeff Heidman chose Spain next — Jeff was the only player to win with Spain in the heats.
After Jeff, Chris Trimmer chose the ever-popular Ottomans.
Michael Kiefte who made it to the finals totally winless but with enough VPs in the semis to secure a spot in the finals was forced to make a difficult choice between the Holy Roman Empire and France and went with the HRE while Justin Rice (also winless) took France.
Highlights from the finals:
The Ottomans struggled to gain victory points from piracy and at some point decided to swear off pirating altogether and just kill people instead. They declared war on the Protestants! They Spring Deployed all the way to the gates of Lyons after negotiating an alliance with Spain. Although the people of Lyons resisted, it was briefly entertaining to see the Ottomans and Protestants at war. Meanwhile Spain retained both Venice and the Papacy throughout the entire game—in fact Venice was resolved only once and the Papacy was not resolved at all. The HRE attempted to assassinate Henry III which should have been a sure thing given his zero leadership rating but, amazingly, Henry survived to the great relief of the French (who need Henry in Paris to collect the Paris VP). William of Orange was not so lucky—Spain managed to assassinate him after an almost endless series of retools. In the greatest bluff ever, Leicester actually married Elizabeth I in the third Turn (Turn 5) just to bait Spain into attempting the English Catholic Rebellion while Walsingham lurked in the background. In a last-ditch effort to gain some marriage VPs, France betrothed Charles IX to Louise of Lorraine (who also happened to be French). However, Charles IX died for no particularly spectacular reason (i.e., Henry III was played and Charles IX died of natural causes…). The French VP total struggled throughout the game.
At the end of Turn 5, Jeff Heidman won with Spain at 28 VPs after cleaning up on Dutch Revolts and Enterprises of England. The final scores were:
1st place: Jeff Heidman (Spain) 28 VPs
2nd place: Chris Trimmer (Ottomans) 23 VPs
3rd place: Erik Monte (England) 21 VPs
4th place: Michael Kiefte (HRE) 20 VPs
5th place: Justin Rice (France) 18 VPs
6th place: Seth Gregor (Protestants) 13 VPs
Congratulations to Jeff for a fine win with a monstrous lead. Spain is a tough power to play and winning with Spain in the finals requires some real skill. Also congratulations to both Erik Monte and Seth Gregor who are new to the game and managed to make it to the finals!
This is the fifth year that Virgin Queen has appeared at WBC for a total of 61 tournament games. Victories by power so far are as follows:
Ottomans: 9 (including two by military victory - but there were no wins this year)
Spain: 9 (including three by Gunpowder Plot and three by military victory)
England: 15 (all by VP and five additional wins this year)
France: 6 (all by VP)
HRE: 5 (all by VP but none at all this year)
Protestant: 17 (including five religious victories and six military victories)
There were no military victories this year. Both the Protestant and English powers remain strong. The HRE showed some promise last year with three victories last year alone, but there were none this year as everyone assumes that the HRE has picked the optimal religious preference at any given moment. It was surprising that the Ottomans had no victories this year despite its strong showing in previous tournaments but that is likely just an anomaly. Meanwhile, the Protestants still lead in wins even without any military victories this year and despite having two clear natural enemies on the board: Spain and France.
We will likely be experimenting with a different schedule next year to make the Virgin Queen tournament a little less… challenging. We saw a lot of new faces this year and we hope to see them again in future years. Thanks to all who participated!
Thank you for the write-up!
I will cross-post my comment from CSW:
Thanks for running the tournament this year Michael.
I really like the current timeslots for the tournament as it gets out of the way early in the week without worrying about too many conflicts. If something had to move - I think they do allow finals to overlap with the Tuesday auction so that could work for the lucky/skilled few that make it.