In its sixth year at WBC, the Here I Stand tournament continued to post healthy attendance numbers: 54 players showed up throughout the week to fight it out on the Renaissance battlefield or in theological debates. We had seven games in the Tuesday heat for the third year in a row. We continued to use the play balance adjustments to the tournament scenario first introduced in 2008, though this year we added a new rule that delayed the addition of the Copernicus card to the deck until Turn 5. Military powers dominated these Tuesday night games. Winners included Justin Rice (Hapsburgs), Brad Merrill (England), Dan Hoffman (Hapsburgs), Jeremiah Peterson (England), John Vasilaskos (Ottoman), Henry Rice (England), and Nathan Hill (Hapsburg-Papacy in a 3-player game).
The Protestants and French were able to join the ranks of victorious powers in the second heat on Thursday night, but the Hapsburgs were the dominant power that night. Victories for Charles V and his Holy Roman colleagues were won by Kirk Harris, Justin Morgan, and Andero Kuusi. The other Thursday winners were Dennis Mishler (Protestant), Manuel Bravo (France) and Barry Setser (Ottoman). All games in the opening round went at least two turns for the second year in a row and most games were completed well before the allotted five hours.
Ten winners of Round 1 games joined 8 at-large players (those with the highest preliminary round total VP accumulation) for the Friday morning semis. Henry Rice was first to make it to the finals, hitting on an amazing run of piracy results to secure a one-turn Ottoman win. John Vasilaskos’ Ottoman pirates did well in the second semi, scoring 9 Piracy VP over two turns. But it was still not quite enough to defeat Barry Setser, who advanced to his first HIS final with the Protestants. The closest game was the only three-turn semifinal. Justin Rice could have won with a successful conquest on Turn 5; it failed however, leaving Justin’s 21 VP entering the final turn just 1 VP above four of the other five powers. In the end Jonathan Tarquino squeaked out an English win, edging out Kirk Harris (another Ottoman) by 1 VP.
Power selection for the finals was as follows: Henry Rice (Ottoman), Jonathan Tarquino (England), Barry Setser (Papacy), Kirk Harris (France), Justin Rice (Hapsburgs), and John Vasilaskos (Protestant). Both Rices and Tarquino were playing the same power they advanced with in the semifinals.
Turn-by-turn highlights of the two-turn final are included below.
• Hapsburgs get cards on both their initial colony rolls.
• Divorce granted for two cards from English (but Anne Boleyn is a loving stepmother)
• Hapsburgs get 2 cards for phony DOW on Venice and first impulse play of Paul III. They turn out to be Smallpox and Andrea Doria, both received from the Papacy after he drew these 2 cards from England for the divorce!
• Hapsburgs get 1 card and 2 mercs for ceding Cologne to Protestant
• France takes Milan; Hapsburgs capture Metz. Scots tenaciously defend Edinburgh (hitting on all four dice).
• 11 CP are added to St. Peter’s with the Michelangelo event.
• Hapsburgs add a third colony, conquer the Maya, and get the Mississippi and Great Lakes. End 1 VP from victory.
VP: Hapsburgs (22), Papacy (20), France (18), Ottoman (16), Protestant (14), England (9)
• Hapsburgs get all 4 cards from colonies and the Maya (Copernicus is included in those in his hand).
• Ottoman allies with France and receives a card from the Papacy.
• Hapsburg cedes Trier to the Protestant.
• Genoa flips to France with Andrea Doria.
• Protestant plays Printing Press early for the second turn in a row.
• Papacy plays Unsanitary Camp on his ally’s stack (the Hapsburgs) in Vienna. Will the Ottoman siege fail anyway after Roxelana calls Suleiman home? No sir, Treachery is played and Vienna falls! However a countersiege by the Hapsburgs late in the turn flips it back to the Hapsburgs.
• Elizabeth is finally born to Anne of Cleves. No sign of a male heir though.
• Hapsburgs play Copernicus and gain a 1 VP exploration with Orellana for the victory.
VP: Hapsburgs (23), France (21), Papacy (19), Protestant (19), Ottoman (16), England (13). Justin Rice wins his first WBC plaque in Here I Stand in his second appearance in a HIS final.
Next Year: The Rest of the Sixteenth Century
With the expected publication of Virgin Queen, sequel to HIS, in early 2012, next year’s tournament will offer the option to play either HIS or VQ in the opening rounds. Players will express their preference for one game or the other (or that they are happy with either) and be paired accordingly. However we’ll continue to stick with HIS for all semifinal and final rounds for the next few years (until sufficient play balance data can be collected on Virgin Queen.)