Sunday, Sunday, someday... A day for more wargame tournaments and some really long civilization games. Advanced Civilization and Through The Ages in particular. I've only partially played an AC game but I play a lot of TTA online so that was my game of choice for the day. The last two years I've been prevented from really giving the tournament a try because it conflicted with A Few Acres of Snow but since I gave up on GMing AFAoS and no one else stepped up it died off. Now there's nothing to stop me from winning TTA!
The first heat was at noon. Many people like to bring their own copy of the game in order to avoid being stuck playing with other people who own the game in a heat. The theory being that the set of people who own the game rate to be more sharklike than the set of people who don't own a copy of the game. This is great logic if you want to advance to the semis. I'd rather play good games now, and to me good leans more towards one that is interesting and challenging and less towards one where I dominate the competition. So even if I had a copy of the game I wouldn't bring it! Pair me with a shark! So my first heat is of course against Robb and Jason. My former teammates... Jason always picks TTA as his team game and has won multiple times. Good game, woo!
I ended up going first and took pyramids to start. My first real turn got Caesar for 1 so I played him and made a bronze. From there things really went my way and I ended up with all of the good Age I cards. Knights, iron, alchemy, theology, irrigation, Leonardo, medieval army... I then transitioned that board state into most of the good Age 2 cards. Eiffel Tower, Napoleon, constitutional monarchy, classic army, strategy, riflemen... Leonardo's free rocks made it so I was able to exactly jump from 10 strength to 31 in one turn. I also ended up grabbing all of the Age I and Age II copies of breakthrough and revolutionary idea. An early Age III air forces sealed the deal. In all I hit Robb with a war over technology (for 2 bulbs total, not the best war ever), then I raided Jason's science buildings away (he never made another bulb for the rest of the game after that), then I hit Robb with a 38ish point war of culture drawing a concession. I followed that up with a war of culture on Jason and he responded in a way I didn't expect. He took Churchill, disbanded every single building he owned, and stuck them all into army. I was still ahead, but it was a sticky situation since I have to choose if I want to sacrifice first and I get less from sacrificing since Napoleon's 18 point bonus doesn't come along for the ride.
I went through some scenarios and decided that if I didn't sacrifice and Jason didn't sacrifice that I would just win. I'm ahead in strength and I'm still making food and rocks and science and points and he's making nothing at all. I also decided if I sacrificed everything and so did Jason that I would also win for the same reasons. It would be even more secure since he wouldn't be able to even rebuild a building if he wanted to if he sacced his entire population. If I didn't sacrifice and Jason did then he'd actually have a big point lead on me that I might not be able to make up over the last 2 or 3 turns in the game. Unless I had another war in which case I would win for sure. But I knew my hand and it didn't have any more wars. So this scenario is one where I might lose. If I do sacrifice and Jason doesn't then I score up a TON of points (something like an 80 point swing) and he almost certainly can't win. If he has a war to declare back he has a chance since I won't have any strength but in that case I can disband all my buildings too and rebuild up to a decent strength total. I felt like in this case the 80 point swing coupled with Eiffel Tower would be enough to win me the game. My only losing scenario was if I didn't sacrifice so I went all in. Jason didn't have a war of his own so he also went all in. He won the war by 2 points but could no longer play the game. I got Sid Meier and computers rolling and scored a ton of points by the end of the game to win something like 117-74-WITHDREW. So I got revenge on my old team for kicking me out? And beat a former champ? Woo!
Went out to eat at Red Robin I think. Yum! They took steamed carrots off the menu and replaced with steamed broccoli. Whoever made that decision should be shot. They also added in a fruit salad though and I figured it probably wouldn't kill me so I went with that instead. It turns out to be mostly cut up apple with some bonus fruit but it was good enough.
6pm brought the next heat of TTA. Fresh off a win I was looking at likely needing a close second to advance to the semis. I ended up getting a table for this round with Randy Buehler and Nick Henning. Hurray for not getting stuck with soft tables this year! Randy is the GM and has won the event multiple times. Nick hasn't really played the event before (the last two years at least he was playing A Few Acres of Snow with me) but he's apparently been playing online and is really good at games in general. He made a few mistakes in the game I think but he actually ended up winning the whole tournament (spoiler alert!) so definitely not a pushover at this game! Randy ended up being start player and got off to a good start with Michaelangelo piloting 8 happy faces thanks to St Peter's Basilica and a pair of theologies. Neither Nick nor I was set up to punish him for scoring 12 points a turn and that was very unfortunate. Randy and Nick snapped up both knights so I was stuck playing great wall as my military 'strategy'. I actually ended up being the strongest at some points in the game with 7 warriors! I think I played this game entirely on bronze. The midgame featured Randy still happily scoring 12 points a turn while Nick and I got in each other's way militarily. Nick got Napoleon but only drew tactics using archer cards and kept saccing his medieval armies to colonize territories. I was great wall so I kept taking archer cards in the hopes of eventually drawing a tactic to use them. Really we needed to find some way to share and then beat up Randy who was amassing a ludicrous point lead. At one point Randy was making 2 rocks and no food and offered Nick a pact so that Randy could make a 3rd rock per turn if Nick made his 5th or 7th food. Nick snap accepted which felt wrong to me, but then I was in the 3rd seat and have a hard time making an impartial call there. It felt like Randy was going to win if we didn't do something to stop him and giving him 50% extra rock production was going to give him more of a chance to recover his infrastructure and be able to keep playing after Michaelangelo died. But maybe Nick needed the food to set up a good play?
At any rate, I ended up drawing the classic army and eventually decided to play tanks and run out a 7 warrior and 2 tank army. Randy also bumped up his strength and Nick did other things. I attacked Nick with an 8 strength lead for 7 points, then Randy attacked Nick with a 6 strength lead for a raid. This would kill all of Nick's science production and blow him out and he didn't have a defense card. He decided to sac a medieval army to defend. Then he resigned from the game since he decided the best he could do on his turn was get back to the same board state and then get pummeled by the two of us for more stuff over and over. I'm not sure I agree with that (since I was actually out of attacks I couldn't have hit him again) and maybe he can keep saccing to hold off Randy? But even then he's really spending every turn to take out 2 or 3 of Randy's red dots and I might draw another attack and Nick is not winning this game regardless. So I can see withdrawing. He considered letting Randy's attack through since he let mine through and wanted to be fair but I feel like that would have been poor. He wasn't going to resign after my attack and it was strong enough he couldn't have realistically defended. Randy's attack knocked him out of the game and would have done so even if I hadn't attacked. I don't like rewarding the person who knocks me out so I like defending and then withdrawing rather than giving up free stuff and then withdrawing. It's the same logic for why I was fine with Robb withdrawing in the first heat. I played a card that said Robb can't win. Then Robb got to take an action to deny me a reward for eliminating him.
With Nick gone I seeded an event which punished the new weakest player, Randy. This made him very bitter. I then went all in on scoring points (again with Sid Meier I think) and tried to close the massive point lead that Randy had. It came down to the wire but Randy managed to stay ahead by a mere 7 points with something like 162-155. I could map out a way the game could have played out that let me win and part of me wants to say that's what should have happened. Gang up on the leader! Michaelangelo for 12 points is insane and everyone else needs to drop everything to beat them up. But that line of play likely results in Nick still coming 3rd so I'm trying to argue he needs to kingmake for me instead of Randy. I do want that, I guess, but it sucks. I don't know. I just hate when someone gets an early lead and gets to ride it to victory. I feel like I expect everyone to gang up on me when I do it! But then everyone certainly should play their own game and this game was fun so it's all good. This second might or might not be close enough to advance so I probably need to come back for the 3rd heat to try again. And get more practice? People keep doing well without iron... Maybe I need to stop putting such a priority on it.
The rest of my team had shown up by this point so we hung out for a while and then went to Waffle House once Robb finished playing his slow game of TTA. Waffle House didn't make me sick so hurray!