BPA Through the Ages Tournament 2021

This is the home page for the 2021 Boardgame Players Association “Play By Email”  tournament for Through the Ages. It is open only to members of the Boardgame Players Association (BPA). If you attend the World Boardgaming Championship (WBC), and are up to date on your registration fees for 2021, then you are already a member. If not, you can purchase an “Associate Membership” (PBEM only) for $10 from this website: www.boardgamers.org. This tournament will award laurels and contribute to the annual Caesar award, all of which is tracked through that same website.

GM: Allan Jiang

AGMs: Randy Buehler and Galen Loram

Tournament Format

This tournament will be played on the TTA app by Czech Games that launched in 2017 for iOS, Android, and Steam. You must own the app AND the New Leaders and Wonders expansion in order to participate in the tournament.
The GM will attempt to run this tournament using the TTA app Tournament feature, which will require an extra confirmation step by participants. The Tournament feature will automatically create games, balance seat order in the final round (and possibly also in the semifinals), record finished games, and automatically calculate standings.
Games will be 4-player, use “Random Mix” for the card set, “Rules: Digital”, and “Default Async” timing (which means you have 24 hours to make a move once it is your turn, plus a time extension bank that refills whenever a new age begins … if you run out of time you will be dropped from the game and replaced by a bot).

Stages: There will be 3 stages in the tournament: heats, semifinals, and finals. In each stage, all players will play in 4 simultaneous asynchronous games.
Advancement: Advancement will depend on number of participants. Details on semifinal matchups are subject to change depending on the capabilities of the TTA app Tournament feature.
  • 26-31 participants: Top 13 in heat standings will advance to the semifinals where each semifinalist will play all others once. Top 5 in semifinal standings will advance to the finals where each finalist will play the others three times each.
  • 32-47 participants: Top 16 in heat standings will advance to the semifinals where each semifinalist will play all others once, except those in their quartile (i.e. top 4 in heat standings will not play each other). Top 7 in semifinal standings will advance to the finals where each finalist will play the others twice each.
  • 48+ participants: Top 20 in heat standings will advance to the semifinals where each semifinalist will play 12 different opponents; seeds 1-4 will not play each other, seeds 5-8 will face exactly one top 8 player in each game, and seeds 9-20 will face either one or two top 8 players in each game. Top 7 in semifinal standings will advance to the finals where each finalist will play the others twice each.
Standings: Each stage will have its own standings. You will be awarded 10 points for winning a game, 6 for finishing 2nd, 3 for 3rd, and 1 for 4th. Points for tied positions in games will be divided evenly among the tied players.
Standings Tiebreakers:
  1. Points in the semifinals (if applicable)
  2. Points in the heats (if applicable)
  3. Average % of winner’s score in current stage
  4. Head to head record in current stages, then in previous stage(s)
  5. Average points of opponents played in current stage (strength of schedule)
  6. Later average seat order in current stage, then in previous stage(s)
  7. Random

Resignation: Players may resign as their political action prior to age IV, by clicking on ‘Game Menu’, ‘Forfeit the Game’, and ‘More about resigning”. A player who resigns will place last among the players currently in a game, and will still earn tournament points accordingly.

Bot Alert: When a player runs out of time or abandons a game, the app replaces that player with a bot. This is generally unpleasant for all parties involved, so please resign on your political action if you will not be finishing the game. You will not receive any points for games in which you were replaced by a bot, while the remaining players will receive points according to their finish rank including the bot.
If a player is replaced by a bot in age I and in the first two weeks of a stage, then the game is to be restarted as a 3-player game unless all players agree to continue playing with the bot. If a player is replaced by a bot at any other point, then the game may be restarted as a 3-player game if all players agree and the GM approves, on the basis that this restart will not prolong the stage.

Pace of Play: You are expected to check your games and take your turns (at least) once per day. It’s OK to have an occasional break of a couple of days, but we expect most games to finish in less than two months. Games that haven’t finished in 8 weeks are likely to be adjudicated, and the adjudication will include demoting slow players to lower finish positions.

Sportsmanship: Please be respectful to your opponents. Each player is entitled to make their own decisions in the game. However, it is not permitted to discuss pacts before offering them, to reveal any hidden information, or to intentionally help another player without any personal benefit in game. If you have any concerns, please contact the GM team.


Registration Opens: June 13, 2021

Registration Closes: July 25, 2021

Heat Stage Starts: ~August 4, 2021

Semifinals Start: September/October 2021
Finals Start: November/December 2021


Thirty-eight participants played 61 games in this year’s TTA PBEM tournament, which was run using CzechGames’s tournament interface for the first time. The CGE interface allowed for balanced seating in the latter rounds, automatic game creation, easy checks on tournament progress, and automated results into standings. Also new this year were a consistent format throughout all rounds (4 games each, weighted 10-6-3-1), a strict 16 players in the seeded semifinals, and new rules when players are replaced by bots.

In the heats, Mike Turian lead the way with three wins and a second, while Ryan Feathers, Jason Leggett, and Steve LeWinter each had two wins and two seconds and rounded out the top 4. Kevin Warrender set the high score with 375 culture, and finished the round with 23 tournament points, taking the 16th and final spot in the semifinals on tiebreaker over the GM, who managed to sabotage himself with all the new rules introduced in this year’s tournament.

In the semifinals, everyone faced all the other semifinalists except for those in their quartile in the heats standings. Steve LeWinter was the star of this semis, with three outright wins and a tie for 1st/2nd, and the high score of the round with 273 culture. Jason Leggett was just behind with three wins and a second. Joining them in the finals were Galen Loram, Randy Buehler, Eric Freeman, Michael Thiessen, and Mike Turian, who made it in with 20 tournament points plus tiebreaker over Sceadeau d’Tela.

Finals report by Galen:

The finals of the Through The Ages tournament featured a whole range of exciting games that somehow all turned out okay for me. In one of them, only knight tactics were played and despite desperate attempts to stay within strength range, aggression after aggression landed. I finally was lucky enough to give up my sovereignty to Randy and be a bit sheltered from attacks and safe from wars; Watt flipped an early oil which let me build up which, when combined with a Mech ag, let me stabilize and grab wonders while not being part of the wars flying left and right, and sneak out a win. Another one featured a random early printing press and Jan Zizka to get a nice culture lead early and endure some abuse later on; Mike and I had symbiotic civilizations and a big enough culture gap between us that our impacts together took him from fourth to third and me from second to first. One other game featured a nice military and Jason realizing that I was in the driver’s seat, and that playing for second was his best play – sending a military alliance my way to direct my hostilities other ways. The other game was just a “first seat doing first seat” things – the built in advantage of going first was enough to make the game go reasonably smoothly.

The CGE tournament system was a huge boon. We could see where we were relative to other games in terms of progress and everyone in the last game was sweet enough to speed up play in order to ensure that we could finish the tournament on time. Beyond that, having seat order balanced and a bit of seeding in the semis based on the heats was really great – definitely things that I hope to see in the future! Thanks to all the participants and organizer for a great tournament, and I hope to give defending my crown for a three-peat next year a try!

Congratulations to Galen Loram for winning both of his first two BPA TTA tournaments! Will anyone be able to challenge him? Next tournament will start in spring 2022.

The final standings were:

  1. Galen Loram
  2. Michael Thiessen
  3. Michael Turian
  4. Steven LeWinter
  5. Jason Leggett
  6. Eric Freeman

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