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Subject: World Championship 2017 Write-Up rss

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Jeff Molander
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Hey everybody, my name is Jeff Molander, and I won the 2017 Eclipse World Championship at GenCon 50 this past weekend. It was a wild ride, and here's the story of how the championship unfolded, from my perspective.

First off, I should say that obviously my memory of the exact events of the game several days ago is a little fuzzy. I mean there's a whole other day of GenCon, a bunch of other games, a full day of driving, and a couple days of work in between. I remember the general path of how the game unfolded, but couldn't tell you who researched what or who fought where on what rounds. So bear with me, ask any questions for clarification, and I'll do my best to answer them. Also, of course if any of my fellow players from the final game want to chime in and add some details from their perspective, that would also paint a clearer picture for everybody reading.

Various tournament rules and regulations can be found on this forum, so I won't go into that and will assume people have at least checked those out if I talk about how race selection worked, mulligans, etc.

Here are the raw numbers:

1st: Jeff Molander (Wardens of Magellan [purple]) 33 alliance score, 45 individual score
2nd: Megan Hills (Keepers of Magellan [gray]) 33 alliance score, 30 individual score
3rd: Paul Brown (Descendants of Draco [yellow]) 33 alliance score, 25 individual score
4th: Arik Mayernick (Hydran Progress [blue]), 30 alliance score, 33 individual score
5th: Deri Morgan (Orion Hegemony [black]), 30 alliance score, 27.5 individual score
6th: Jason Parol (Octantis Autonomy [red]), 22 individual score

Fun fact, my winning score in the qualifying game Friday night was also 45, but that was as Hydran and I wasn't in an alliance for that one.

As far as race selection and strategy are concerned, I sat down to the table with Magellan in mind. I've had a very good track record over the years with Magellan in my home games, and their racial bonuses are very strong, in my opinion. They're probably the race I've used the most ever since Rise came out, so I know their tricks and play style pretty well. I figured I should pick the gray ones just to keep Rho Indi out of the game, as they're more of a threat than Exiles or Lyra by far. I also like Shapers of Dorado quite a bit, but their distortion tiles are so hit or miss that I felt Magellan was a much safer choice. Maybe next year, Shapers :)

Interestingly, there was no bidding at all in race selection. Here are my two cents on that: player 1 grabs Hydran or some similarly super strong race. Players 2 and 3 think, "I don't need to bid against that, because somebody else will." But then players 4, 5, and 6 don't want to risk giving up their early spot in the turn order by making a bid. I mean that's exactly how I got Hydran in my qualifying game. I was picking last and bid against the guy who had first-picked Hydran, and he was like, "Yes please, I would love to go first." I didn't even want Hydran, I just wanted to make him pay for picking it since nobody else had bid against him all the way around the table.

The seating from first pick/last play to last pick/first play went Arik, Megan, me, Paul, Jason, and finally Deri.

Arik went straight for Hydran with his pick, didn't even seem to think about it. And with good reason, I mean we all know how good Hydran is. Personally, I've never used them much, and still rode them to victory in the qualifier with very little experience having played them. So I know how incredible they can be, even with little or no preparation.

Megan picked second, and she went with gray Magellan. I thought, "Well, here we go, first rival right here, gonna be fighting over discovery tiles." More on that later.

I still went with Magellan even though they're probably less good with a neighboring Magellan player. I figured even if she got a few of the discovery tiles I wanted, I still had my ability to flip colony ships for resources and that's pretty great.

Paul picked Descendants of Draco. I've honestly never been a big fan of them. I mean I get that they're good early because they're not slowed down by Ancients, but they have to snowball that into something unstoppable to really stand a chance into the late game, in my opinion.

Jason picked Octantis, another choice that I felt was odd. He probably figured he could sit back and do his evolution stuff, gaining a bunch of untouchable points in the long run. Not a bad plan.

With the last pick, Deri thought for a bit and then went Orion. I seem to remember him also saying something to the effect of, "I feel like I have to," which I took to mean that he was accepting the responsibility of attacking his Hydran neighbor to keep them from getting out of hand. Paul and I both breathed a sigh of relief at this development.

First few rounds were fairly normal. People explored, some people got better things than others. On one of my early explores, I was about to place a tile blocking off Paul's yellow guys. He made some comment like, "Don't you wanna be friends?" I thought for a second, I mean I had never met Paul before and didn't know how likely he was to betray me. But I also figured I didn't have a lot to fear from Draco, so changed my rotation, placed the tile, and offered diplomatic relations. He accepted and we exchanged diplomats.

I definitely actively blocked off Megan, though. Figured she would be a fierce neighbor, racing for any discovery tiles that came up between us. I did reach a point at which I was placing a ring 2 tile and couldn't block her off, but it was also an Ancient cruiser, so I figured okay, we can race to build ships to fight that and hopefully I can win that race. I did, and then I immediately offered her diplomatic relations, which she accepted. I also had my eye on the Security Council development at this point, planning on sitting back, developing my economy and tech, and eventually attacking the center just for the discovery tile and the opportunity to put out my third diplomat to whoever would exchange.

The only really great thing I found in my exploration was a ring 3 hex with a single white planet. Throughout the game, I used the influence action several times, using that single white planet to move cubes from one track to another as needed while also gaining resources from my colony ship flipping power in the process.

Things got interesting when Deri lost some ships in a combat with his own Ancient cruiser that he had found. I believe it was round 3. I forget how many cruisers he lost, but it was enough to be a giant setback and signal to all of us that he was not going to be able to fulfill his responsibility of keeping Hydran in check. I believe Arik saw this as an opportunity, and I think that's when their alliance started. I wish I had talked to Arik and Deri after the game to see what they were thinking when they founded their alliance. My assumption is that Deri saw his demolished fleets and figured an alliance with Hydran was a way back into the game, and Arik most likely was just covering his back side against potential attack so that he could more safely deal with those of us on the other side of the table. Those are just my assumptions, though. They could have had other reasons.

Also by this time, Arik had found a Pulsar, a Supernova, and a Black Hole. He was well set up to attack whoever he wanted, and he had a strong science engine rolling.

The next round, Paul and I started our own alliance so that we could beat Hydran/Orion to the center. I think it was his idea. Either of us could have defeated the GCDS alone, but then that person would be faced with attacking into an alliance alone as well. We founded our alliance and took the center, and I let him actually place his disc because his economy needed the help more than mine did. We added Megan to the alliance in round 5, I believe. Just didn't see a reason not to as she was clearly a good player, and it was kind of insurance against her joining the other alliance or attacking us from behind on her own.

Jason had also explored a good amount during this time, and pretty much had his own corner of the galaxy carved out so he could sit back and research his evolution tiles. He also had the evolution rare tech at this point, boosting his genetic goop production. We knew we couldn't just let him sit back the whole game and gain points while we duked it out with Hydran and Orion, so we resolved to crush him asap and then focus on the enemy alliance. Also, at some point I believe Arik and Deri offered to add him to their alliance. I'm assuming he didn't like that idea because he was under the impression that he could score a lot more points than any of us by sitting back and evolving while we fought each other. I knew we had to cut him off of being able to create diplomatic relations with Orion and change his mind, so that was my main focus while also keeping an eye on what our opposing alliance was doing.

The rest of the game was pretty much just back and forth skirmishes. They were fairly defensive while we probed in and just attacked where we could. We did eventually get around to attacking Jason and taking most of his territory. He built a bunch of ships and took some things back, but never fully recovered.

In the end, we barely won. If a few dice rolls in the multitude of combats in the last round had gone differently, we probably would have lost. But we pulled it off. I don't know about Megan or Paul, but I honestly never had a thought enter my mind about breaking our alliance. I also never bothered to really think about making sure I had more points than them for the purpose of placing higher in the end. I just grabbed as many points as I could through research actions in the last couple rounds. Also did end up snatching that Security Council development for 3 points. Not game breaking, but I believe it was my last action disc of the game. Arik had moved in to take some 3-point hex from me, and I could have moved ships or built to fight him, but figured I was better off researching for 3 points than trying to defend 3 points and relying on dice.

When adding up scores, I got 45 and thought, "Okay, that's pretty high for a six player game, let's see what my teammates got." Megan had 30 and I thought, "Sure, average is still high 30s, we still have a shot." Then Paul told me he had 25, and I was worried. 33 points is not a reliable score, in my opinion. But I figured it was at least higher than Octantis was likely to have, putting me in third if the Hydran/Orion alliance scored higher than us. I resigned myself to taking third and being happy with it.

Then Arik and Deri told us their score. 30. It took me a sec to connect the dots in my head. My thought process was something like, "We have 33... that's more than 30... I have 45... that's more than Megan or Paul... AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!"

Overall, this was easily the most stressful and awesome game of my life. Literally every action seemed like a huge decision at the time. Paul did most of the work figuring out how best to fight our enemies. Megan and I sent a lot of ships in to help out wherever they were needed. I did most of the work crushing Octantis out of the running. We all played our parts and did our jobs well.

Most importantly, everybody at the table seemed to have a good time. Nobody got visibly salty, nobody got bent out of shape over anything. I would have honestly been happy to get crushed in my qualifier. Just having a chance to play my favorite board game at its highest level of competition was enough to get me excited.

I would like to thank my fellow players, and of course JC and his team for putting this whole thing together. The event was run beautifully, and I could not have asked for a better experience. If I do end up attending GenCon again next year, this is the first event ticket I'll purchase for sure.

Again, any questions or discussion, I'm open to it. And if some of the other players from the game want to chime in with their perspective on some things, feel free. Thanks for reading my novel.
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Brian C
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Great write up Jeff and congrats on your win.

I was the Magellan player next to you in the Friday qualifier and it was also a fun game. The final looked pretty intense!

Hope to see you back next year...
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Jeff Molander
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Propbuddha wrote:
Great write up Jeff and congrats on your win.

I was the Magellan player next to you in the Friday qualifier and it was also a fun game. The final looked pretty intense!

Hope to see you back next year...


Yeah, the Friday qualifier was crazy. Planta got stomped in the last round. Like he could have ended his alliance in round 8 to bring up his score, but looking at the numbers, he still wouldn't have won. He just ran away with the game too quickly and drew too much attention to himself. Meanwhile, I sat back and quietly filled my tech trees like a good Hydran.

Next year... is up in the air. Thinking about Shut Up & Sit Down Expo in Vancouver, assuming it goes well this year and they do it again next year. But now I have a title to defend, so idk haha.
 
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Paul Brown
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The alliance was definitely my idea, I didn't really give you a choice in the matter lol. My dreads were rocking soliton turret, ion disruptor, 2 positron computers, 2 improved hull, fusion source and nuclear drive. Yours were a soliton cannon, fusion source and some combination of improved hull and/or an electron computer. You also had one of them on the center and one on your sector one, where I had both of mine in sector one

I was very tempted to take your sector one and homeworld, but I knew I could never beat the alliance by myself. I threatened you into the team but then I went all into it and never thought of breaking it, although I was constantly concerned that we would crush them and then the alliance would fall apart. My Draco pick got me an early advantage in resources but the table dynamics left me kind of screwed on ancients and I should have opened my sector 3 space up to jason. I had been planning on playing Magellan as well but after both of you picked it I didn't want us all playing the same thing so I rolled a die to play either planta or Draco lol.

It was an epic game!
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Jeff Molander
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I totally forgot that you had rolled a die haha
 
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So I'm Deri,

I was Orion and, being a bit late to the aftermath, I'll give my short synopsis of the game.

I picked races last and went first. The right of me was Hydran, 2 Magellan, Draco and Octanis left. Improved hull was out and I thought I had to take Orion because I could get them tough fast and make an early play on the center.

In hindsight, I think I should've gone Machinima because lack of computers hurt a bit. I digress, Arik, Hydran, got a bunch of good tiles early and really started cranking his machine. My game moved along at a more tender pace, I got some good ancient drops but they were awkwardly spaced and cruisers that required some patience to attack. I had limited growth until I could beat them. I didn't have the resources to take on Arik, I was focused on improving my position and becoming a bit frustrated at its slow build because I didn't want someone to get the drop on me or the center.

That's when Arik suggested an alliance. It hadn't occurred to me to that point but it seemed to make sense. I feared his advance on me and it dispelled that worry. Focusing on my growth and there was a good chance Orion and Hydran would dominate the board and then it would be a VP race.

2 things changed that.
Shortly after the alliance, I attacked an ancient cruiser and an ancient from an adjacent hive. My souped up cruisers were far away leaving my dreadnaught and a fighter to attack. I should have waited and maintained my ship presence but I gambled, frustrated at stagnant growth and failed the gamble losing me 11 materials and an even further drop in tempo.
Also very soon after our alliance Draco and One Mag allied, completely altering the power landscape and the board. My position suddenly precarious due to the dreadnaught loss. The DracoMag alliance increased its ascendancy when they introduced the 2nd Mag player in the alliance. A well-timed power surge that cemented dominance over the galaxy

What followed was mainly a defensive stand by me with the aid of Hydran doing most of the heavy lifting in our alliance. We made one massive repulsion of the DracoMagMag alliance against the odds and that gave us time to recover in the 6-8th rounds to stage somewhat of an attempt to gain control but the center was lost to me from about the 4th or 5th round on and we never looked to retake it. My choice to buy the neutron absorbers in the 5th round proved to be just short of the mark but still a choice that could have paid off if I hadn't made some big errors. I will forever rue my impatience to attack the ancients a round early. In a game as close as this one extra 3 point hex makes a difference.

The counter alliance tactic was sublime though and really the action that decided the match. In hindsight, it seems obvious, but I didn't really consider the possibility or its ramifications. The galvanizing effect, coupled with the creation of a 3-way alliance, asserted board dominance and control. The solid play kept their advantage (such as the ruthless destruction of the mutant octanis) Some desperate maneuvers from me and a well piloted Hydran made the game knife edged till the end. The narrow score was mainly attributed to Ariks play with Hydran i felt on survival mode for much of it.

An excellent game that I'm sure to revisit in thought for many years.
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