Through the Ages Online Tournament

Sign Up for Through the Ages
Online Tournament Season 6

Sign up for season 6 of the Meeple League’s Through the Ages online tournament.

NOTE: This and future seasons use the app, not the website.

Players are sorted into Groups of 7 players based on previous results.  In a season, each player plays in 4 games and each other member of your Group will be in 2 games against you. Winning a game is worth 10 points, 2nd is 6, 3rd place gets you 3 points, and 4th nets 1. You can read more details about the rules for Meeple Leagues HERE.

Divisions are based on previous Season results. New players enter at the bottom level for their first season.

Our TTA event will now use the online implementation on ios, Android and now Steam (for Mac and Windows) from Czech Game Edition. The app is based on the most recent edition of the game (“A New Story of Civilization”) and no house rules.

You’ll receive a notice in your email once the pairings are ready. If you do sign up, you are committing to checking the app a couple of times on most days (it’s OK if something comes up every once in a while, or if you’re out of town for a weekend (for example), but in general we’re hoping game lengths will be measured in weeks not months.

Through the Ages Season 6 Signup

Season 5 Standings

As games end the standings are updated. See how each league is doing and check on your friends and rivals.

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Tournament Results

Through the Ages Online Tournament
Season 5 Report Results

Only the winner of each game should record the results. Use the form below.

If you have problems using the form on this page CLICK HERE TO SEE JUST THE FORM.

Season 5 Pairings

See below for your group and match assignmentse. When each game ends, the winner should report the scores using the form on this page.

The Through the Ages tournament uses Czech Games Edition application of the game.

Through the Ages Pairings

Previous Season Results

Season 4 games should be over. If any new results have to reported, email the game coordinator.

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Tournament Results

Castles of Burgundy Online Tournament

Sign Up for
Castles of Burgundy Online Tournament
Season 7

Sign up for season 7. Click on the title below to see the form on its own page:

Castles of Burgundy Online Signup

Standings Season 6

As games end the standings are updated. See how each group is doing and check on your friends and rivals. You can see lifetime standings HERE.

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Tournament Results

The winner of each game should record the results using the form below

If you have problems using the form on this page CLICK HERE TO SEE JUST THE FORM 

Report Season 6 Game Results

Season 6 Game Assignments

Group and Game Assignments for Season 6 will be here.

The Castles of Burgundy tournament uses the online implementation at www.boiteajeux.net. Use the “single random board” variant, which means that all 4 players in a game will play on the same board, and which board it is will be determined randomly.

Be sure to name the game using the game name below and invite the other players listed. Any player may set up the game, but the winner of each game is responsible for entering the results using the form further down the page.

If you have trouble viewing the list below, click here to see just the listing.

Overview & News

Season 5 games should be over or near completion.

Meeple League’s Season 6 of Castles of Burgundy is starting soon.

Players are sorted into Groups of 7 players each based on previous results, so you should be matched against players of about your ability. In each season, you will play in 4 simultaneous games and each other member of your league will be in exactly two of them. Do well and you’ll get promoted to a tougher division. Do badly and you’ll drop to an easier one. Full details about our format and scoring system (which is the same for all our online leagues) are here: rules page.

Our Castles of Burgundy tournament use the online implementation at www.boiteajeux.net. We  use the “single random board” variant, which means that all 4 players in a game will play on the same board, and which board it is will be determined randomly.

After signing up, you will receive an email notifying you once the schedule has been posted. If you do sign up, you are committing to checking the website multiple times on most days (it’s OK if something comes up every once in a while, or if you’re out of town for a weekend, for example), but in general we’re hoping game lengths will be measured in weeks not months.

The event sign up form will email you as soon as you submit it.

Last Season Standings

Season 5 games should have ended.

 If you need to report a late game, email the results to online_league@meepleleague.com

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Tournament Results

BPA Through the Ages PBEM Tournament 2019

This is the home page for a Boardgame Players Association “Play By Email” tournament for Through The Ages. It is open only to members of the Boardgame Players Association (BPA). It you attend the World Boardgaming Championship (WBC), and are up to date on your registration fees, then you are already a member. If not, you can purchase a “PBEM Membership” 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: Randy Buehler

Format

All games will be 4-player games using the app that launched in 2017 for iOS, Android, and Steam. You must own the app in order to participate in the tournament. Games will use “Rules: Digital” (which, yes, is slightly different from the tabletop version of the game but the massive quality of life gains are worth it) and “Default Asynch” 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). 

Heat Stage: Everyone who joins the event will play in 3 asynch games, which will launch simultaneously. They will be paired randomly within the constraint that we will do our best to avoid putting people into multiple games together. If you win any of your games, you advance to the semifinal.

Quarterfinal Stage: If more than 50 people enter the event then single winners from the heat stage will be entered into two quarterfinal matches each. Winning either earns advancement to the semifinals along with the double winners from the heat stage.

Semifinal Stage: You will be placed in 4 simultaneous asynch games. They will be seeded based on the results from the Heat Stage as much as possible (details will depend on the number of semifinalists who qualify). In addition, we will avoid giving anyone repeat opponents if possible.

You will be awarded 10 points for winning a game, 6 for finishing 2nd, 3 for 3rd, and 1 for 4th. The top 7 point-earners will advance to the finals, with heat performance serving as the first tiebreaker and percentage of winner’s score in the semifinals as the second tiebreaker (and from the heats as the 3rd tiebreaker).

(This stage will be eliminated if there are 7 or fewer heat winners.)

Final Stage: You will be placed into 4 simultaneous games. Each of the other finalists will be in 2 of them, and you will have each starting position exactly once. We use the same scale of points for each finish position as in the semifinals and the final standings go by these points. (Ties in the overall standings will be broken by semifinal points, then heat points, then % of winner’s scores in the finals, then semis, then heats.)

Note on Ties: We will not use the in-game tiebreakers for finish positions. In the heats, anyone tied for 1st gets credit for a win. In the semis and finals the points for tied positions will be divided evenly among the tied players.

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 2 months are likely to be adjudicated, and the adjudication will include demoting slow players to lower finish positions.

Platform

Games will be played exclusively on the (awesome) app from Czech Games.

Schedule

Registration Opens: October 2018

Registration Closes: January 2, 2019

Heat Stage Begins: January 2018

Quarterfinals Begin: March 2019 (if necessary) 

Semifinals Begin: March or May 2019

Finals Begin: May or July 2019

Game Assignments

Everyone in the Heat Stage should be in 3 games with no overlapping opponents. Matches should be created inside the app using “Rules: Digital” and “Default Asynch” timing.

Click Here to See Just the Assignments

Game assignments will be posted here when registration closes.

Game Results

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Tournament Results

Game results will appear here once play commences.

BPA Through the Ages Tournament
Report Results

The winner of each game should record the results, unless otherwise arranged. Use the form below.

If you have problems using the form on this page CLICK HERE TO SEE JUST THE FORM.

Players in BPA Through the Ages PBeM Tournament

These people are signed up for the tournament:

Players will be listed here as they sign up.

Brass Online Tournament

Season 8 Standings

Season 8 results will be here as the results reported. You can see lifetime standings HERE.

Click to see results on separate tab.

Brass Online Tournament
Season 8 Report Results

Only the winner of each game should record the results. Use the form below.

CLICK HERE TO SEE JUST THE FORM.

Season 8 Game Assignments

Group and Match Assignments for Season 8 will be here. You may choose any color, as the webmaster of Order of the Hammer has confirmed that Start Player can not be predetermined and this capability will not be instituted.

Be sure to name the game using the game name below and invite the other players listed. All games should be password protected using the word “meeple” in all lowercase letters.  Any player may set up the game, but the winner of each game is responsible for entering the results using the  game results report form.

See in separate tab.

Sign Up Closed for Brass Online

Season 8 Registration is Closed

If you want to play in future seasons, please sign up to be notified below by using the form OR click on the link for just the form in a tab:

Brass Online Signup

Last Season Standings

Season 6 results should all be in. If you get a late result, contact the tournament administrator. You can see lifetime standings HERE.

Click here to see standings is a separate tab/window.

 

Brass Online Tournament News

Allan Jiang completed his charge to the top of the leader board by winning Season 6 of Brass.  The win gives Allan a commanding lead in the Online Gamer of the Year contest, which looks to be all but decided even though it is still early July.  Season 5’s winner, Alexandre Fafard, managed to squeak out a second place finish among the other competitors in a close race.  They will by joined by Jason Pytka and Ken Watson in Season 7.  Ken’s handling of Division 2-B was impressive – three wins and one second place finish.

Tournament format:

Players will be sorted into Groups of 7 players based on previous results. In a season, each player plays in 4 games. Each other member of your Group will be in 2 games against you. You can read the full details about league and scoring rules HERE.

Brass is Martin Wallace’s game of economic development in the early Industrial Age around Manchester and Liverpool.

Our Brass tournament will use the online implementation at brass.orderofthehammer.com. We will use the original version of the game – no expansion content, and no special options. You’ll receive a notice in your email once the matchups are ready. If you do sign up, you are committing to checking the website a couple of times on most days (it’s OK if something comes up every once in a while, or if you’re out of town for a weekend), but in general we’re hoping game lengths will be measured in weeks not months.

Good luck!

BPA Terra Mystica PBEM Tournament

This is the home page for a Boardgame Players Association “Play By Email” tournament for Terra Mystica. It is open only to members of the Boardgame Players Association (BPA). It you attend the World Boardgaming Championship (WBC), and are up to date on your registration fees, then you are already a member. If not, you can purchase a “PBEM Membership” 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: Ryan Feathers

Format

All games will be 4-player games. We will use the base game rules with the following additions and modifications:

We will be using the variable turn order (VTO) rule introduced in the Fire and Ice Expansion

We will be using the following content from the 2015 mini-expansion

  • 4 new town tiles
  • Shipping bonus tile
  • Temple round scoring tile

Group Stage: Everyone who joins the event will play in 4 asynch games, which will launch simultaneously. As best as possible, players will be put into 7 player groups. Within those groups you will play every other player in your group exactly twice. Every player will start from each position (1st pick, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) exactly once. As necessary there may be a few groups of 6 or 8 players to make the overall numbers work. Players in those groups will still pick from each position exactly once.

You will be awarded 10 points for winning a game, 6 for finishing 2nd, 3 for 3rd, and 1 for 4th. Players who drop from a game will be awarded 0 points. The top point-earners from within each group will advance to the next round. As needed we will advance additional players to the next round based on the remaining player(s) with the most points. Tiebreaker will be average percentage of winners score across all 4 games played.

Semifinal Stage: This stage will only be necessary if 57 or more players enter the tournament. All group winners will advance to this stage. Then, we will advance additional players based on those who have the most points until we have a total player count that is a multiple of 7. These players will be put into groups of 7 and play 4 asynchronous games, just like the group stage. Group winners will advance to the finals, along with those remaining players who have the most points from the Semifinal round. Tiebreaker will be total points in the heat round, then percentage of winners score across the 4 games played in the SF stage.

Final Stage: 7 players will advance to this stage. They will be placed into 4 simultaneous games with each of the other finalists in 2 of them. Every finalist will be seated in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seat exactly once. Furthermore the games will be set up such that every finalist will be seated before every other finalist exactly once, as well as being seated after every other finalist exactly once. We use the same scale of points for each finish position as in the semifinals and group stages, and the final standings go by the points earned in the final stage. (Ties in the final stage will be broken by semifinal points, then group points, then average % of winner’s scores in the finals)

Note on Ties: There are no in game tiebreaker rules in Terra Mystica and this tournament will not use any either. For all players who end a game tied at a certain position they will share the points. For example if two players tie for 1st within a game they will both be awarded 8 points. (Splitting the 10 and 6 points for 1st and 2nd place).

Pace of Play: Games will be on a timer. Every player has an 8 hour grace period for every move, so their timer does not start deducting until after 8 hours. Therefore if a person diligently checked and made their moves every 8 hours they would never have any time deducted off of their clock. Games will be set to a time of 5 days plus 1 day per round. This still allows for a fairly leisurely pace of play while ensuring very slow players will get dropped so that games can end in a reasonable amount of time. In general this timer should ensure that games finish in about 8 weeks, with most finishing quicker than that. If you do wind up dropping in a game due to slow play you will be awarded 0 points for the game, regardless of your actual finish position.

Platform

Games will be played on https://terra.snellman.net/ using the above described settings. Just to reiterate that means games will have the following options in effect: Mini Expansion #1 (town tiles), Shipping bonus tile, Temple round scoring tile, and Turn order determined by passing order. Additionally the Time limit will be set to Chess Clock with settings of 5 days initial, 1 day added per round, and a grace period of 8 hours.

The platform does have one ease-of-life adjustment to the game rules; it does not strictly enforce turn order on leech decisions. This means that players can take turns even while another player may still have a leech decision to make. This helps speed up the pace of play dramatically. If you ever want to strictly enforce turn order for a leech decision, you can use the wait command to force that player to make their decision before you take your turn.

If there are any questions about how to use the platform please reach out to the GM Ryan Feathers.

Schedule

Registration Opens: September 17, 2018

Registration Closes: November 1, 2018

Group Stage Begins: Early November, 2018

Semifinals Begin: Mid January, 2018 (If Needed)

Finals Begin: Mid-March 2018, or if no SF needed, Mid-January 2018

Sign Up for BPA Terra Mystica PBeM Tournament

If you want to play, please sign up below by using the form OR click on the link for just the form in a tab:

Terra Mystica PBeM Signup

Players in BPA Terra Mystica PBeM Tournament

These people are signed up for the tournament:

Insert an iframe for the list of players from the appropriate tab on the Google Sheet for the tournament

Game Results

Note: Unlike other Meeple League events, players do not need to report results of their games. The GM is notified whenever a tournament game finishes and will be entering all results, as such players do not need to do so.

As games end the standings are updated. See how each player is doing and check on your friends and rivals.

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Tournament Results

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Game Assignments

League and Game Assignments will be posted here.

The GM will be creating all games, players will be placed into the games they are assigned to. (Unlike most PBEM websites, snellman.com allows game creators to just add players to a game without any action required by the player).

 

Insert iframe of game matches generated for the current round of the tournament.

Agricola Online Tournament

Season 7 Standings

As games end the standings are updated. See how each league is doing and check on your friends and rivals. You can see lifetime standings HERE.

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Tournament Results

Report Season 7 Agricola Online Tournament Game Results

Only the winner of each game should record the results using the form below.

If you have trouble using the form shown, click on the title below to open the form in its own tab or window.

Game Report Form

Season 7 Game Assignments

This Agricola league uses the online implementation at www.boiteajeux.net. Games must be created with the Tournament mode setting (which just means the banned list used in most tournaments is implemented) and “Draft 7” will be used to distribute occupations and minor improvements from all 3 of the implemented decks: E, I, and K, though there are a few cards from the printed version of the game that have not been implemented  (see the article about online Agricola).

Be sure to name the game using the game name below and invite the other players listed. Any player may set up the game, but the winner of each game is responsible for entering the results using the form further down the page.

If you have trouble reading the iframe, click on the title below to open it in its own tab.

Game Assignments

Sign Ups Closed for Season 7 of the Agricola Online Tournament

Players are sorted into groups of 7 players based on previous results.  In a season, each player plays in 4 games. Each other member of your group will be in 2 games against you. See scoring rules below.

Divisions are based on previous Season results. New players enter at the bottom level for their first season.

Our Agricola tournaments use the online implementation at www.boiteajeux.net. We use the original version of the game with drafting.

You’ll receive a notice in your email once the pairings are ready. If you do sign up, you are committing to checking the website a couple of times on most days (it’s OK if something comes up every once in a while, or if you’re out of town for a weekend (for example), but in general we’re hoping game lengths will be measured in weeks not months.

If you want to play, please sign up below by using the form OR click on the link for just the form in a tab:

Sign Up for Next Season Notification

Previous Season Results

The results of the last season are here. The overall standings are on a separate page. Please see the menu under Standings.

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Tournament Results

Thurn & Taxis Online Tournament

Season 9 Standings

As games end the standings are updated. See how each Group is doing and check on your friends and rivals.

Lifetime standings can be seen HERE.

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Tournament Results

Thurn & Taxis Online Tournament
Season 9 Report Results

Only the winner of each game should record the results. Use the form below. Be sure to add the seat number of the player who triggered the game end.

If you have problems using the form on this page CLICK HERE TO SEE JUST THE FORM.

Game Assignments

Season 9 Matches

Our Thurn & Taxis tournaments use the online implementation at www.yucata.de. We use the original version of the game – no expansion content, and no special options.

Players are sorted into leagues of 7 players based on previous results.  In a season, each player plays in 4 games. Each other member of your league will be in 2 games against you. See scoring rules below.

Divisions are based on previous Season results. New players enter at the bottom level for their first season.

If you have trouble viewing the list below, click here to see just the listing.

Thurn & Taxis Season 9
Sign Ups are Closed

Fill out this form to be notified about the next season. Please be consistent in spelling your name and username, as minor differences need to be resolved manually at this time. Click on the title below if you have trouble using the embedded form:

Sign Up for  Next Season Notice

Last Season Results

It took seven grueling seasons, but two-time WBC champ Rob Murray finally pulled off a win.  It was certainly not an easy ride, as Rob tied three-time Meeple League champ (and former WBC champ) Kyle Smith atop the final standings at 25 points.  Rob had a slightly better percentage of winner’s score (97.6% to 95.4%) after shenanigans occurred in Kyle’s last open game that allowed Rob to sneak in the division victory.  In a very tightly competitive Division 1 race where 6 of 7 players earned a win, Rob and Kyle were one point ahead of Rob Kircher, who was one point ahead of Alex Bove.  The two players relegated from Division 1, Tomas Lamser and Andrew Emerick, tied at 13 points each.  Kyle and Alex will continue their fight in Season 8 to see who the last man standing will be in the top division, as they are the only two players to compete in every season at Division 1.

Yucata shark Andy Schwarz has been on a mission to get to Division 1, as he has been tearing through the lower divisions since joining the league.  He and Chris Wildes will join Division 1 for Season 8 after winning their respective Division 2 brackets.  Also noteworthy, Allan Jiang is making a push for online gamer of the year and has made it to Division 2 after winning Division 3-A in Season 7.  Sky Winslow Roy, Haim Hochboim and DJ Borton will also move up to Division 2.

Final Season 7 standings are still open, as Division 3-C moved at a glacial pace largely due to Andrew Drummond’s campaign for the NDP in Burlington in the recent Ontario elections.  Although he wasn’t able to pull off the win, he had a very impressive turnout and came in second.

Lifetime standings can be seen HERE.  They will be updated following the official conclusion of Season 7.

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Tournament Results

 
 

Andy Latto’s Tie-Break Rationale

Andy Latto is a very competitive gamer. Beating him at Thurn & Taxis was when I knew I understood the game. Having him win a game that you are teaching him is no longer a surprise. Andy is also generous with his time and talent to the hobby. Andy is the Game Master for the Thurn & Taxis tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships every year. To keep track of his tournament, Andy created a Google Sheets spreadsheet to register and track entrants in the tournament. He has, generously, shared it with other GMs and I will be using it for the 2nd time for my Puerto Rico tournament at WBC this year.

Along with other clever programming throughout, Andy implemented his tie-breaker rules for advancement. As part of the documentation, Andy explains why he uses certain tie-break rules. I found that so interesting (and well explained) that I felt compelled to share just that with other folks who may never explore Andy’s GM spreadsheet. So here, in his own words (and with permission), is Andy Latto’s tournament advancement tie-break philosophy. You may disagree, but if you do, I hope your reasoning is as clear as Andy’s.

Thurn and Taxis tiebreak system is as follows:

Each game you play that you finish first or second, you score points as follows:

  • Win in first game played: 1500 points plus (your score/second place score)
  • Win not in first game played: 1000 points plus (your score/second place score)
  • Second place, 4-player game: 100 points plus 10 * (your score/winner’s score)
  • Second place, 3-player game: 50 points plus 10 * (your score/winner’s score).
  • Top 16 scores qualify for the finals.

This scoring system was designed to fulfill the following goals:

1. Playing never hurts

People should always be encouraged, not discouraged, from playing a game. So I never want to put people in the situation of “I qualify now, but if I play again, and do badly, I might not qualify”. So playing an additional game can only help, not hurt, your qualification score.”

2. Reward achievement, not attendance.

The best players should qualify for the semifinals. Showing up for a heat and finishing last doesn’t show you are a good player; it just shows that you showed up. So points are awarded only for finishing at least average, which in a game with 3 or 4 players, means 1st or 2nd. If you play a heat and finish 3rd or 4th, it doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t help, either.

3. Scores should only be counted as score differentials.

In many games, a game may be high scoring for everyone or low scoring for everyone, depending on how the game goes. A Thurn and Taxis or Saint Petersburg game with many turns will have higher scores for everyone, but doesn’t mean that everyone is a better player. So the absolute score should never be used in the qualification formula, since it gives an incentive to aim for a high-scoring game, which can be in conflict with the main objective of scoring higher than the other players.

4. Score differentials should be measured by ratios.

If scores are higher, we expect score differentials to be higher, too. So winning 15 to 10 is a more impressive achievement than winning 20 to 15, and should get more tiebreak points. So the tiebreak always measures the ratio of your score to another’s score, rather than a difference. This has the added benefit of producing far fewer ties; since an 18-17 win is just slightly better by ratio than an 18-19 win, exact ratio ties are very rare except when both compared scores are the same.

5. Compare to other good players where possible.

Tournaments will always include some beginners who play poorly and finish with very low scores. The difference in skill, and therefore in score between the best and the worst players can be quite large, and the luck of having a very weak player at your table should not be rewarded. Some luck of the draw is unavoidable, but if we say that it’s unlikely that there will be more than two very weak players at a table, their effect on qualification is minimized if the first player is only compared to the second player, and vice versa, rather than comparing to all players or to an average.

Also, to the extent that one can make plays that target particular other players, I’d rather the first and second player target each other, rather than target the players who are losing, which I think makes a more fun experience for all.

6. Count closeness of seconds as more important than big firsts.

A close second means you did well against a player who won, while a win far ahead of second only means you did well against a player who came in second. There’s less evidence you did well against a good player, so you get fewer tiebreak points.

7. First in a three player game counts as much as first in a four player game, but second in a three player game counts for less than in a four player game.

If first didn’t count as much for three players as four, a player in a three player game would be at a severe handicap in qualifying. A second in a three-player game is easier to achieve than a second in a four-player game, so it counts for less. The fact that you can’t get full credit for a second balances out the fact that it’s easier to get a first.

8. For simplicity, incorporate the HMW (heats: most wins) rules into the formula

Technically, the point formula should only apply if the list of precedence rules for qualification reaches the ‘GM specified tiebreak rule’. But I think it’s easier to understand a rule that says “Add these up; highest score qualifies” than one that says:
“First see who has most wins; then see who has a win in their first heat entered, then…then add these numbers up and see who is highest”
So the size of the bonuses for win in first heat entered, other win, and second place ensure that the standard HMW rules will be followed, with the tiebreak points only mattering in comparing people with the same number of firsts and same number of seconds, and both or neither having a win in first heat entered.

If your tournament is HSW (heats: single win), rather than HMW, so that a win in the first heat entered is more important than two wins, you can achieve this by modifying the points for win in first heat entered to be:

Win in first game played: 5000 points plus (your score/second place score)

Feedback on this scoring system is welcome; email me at andy.latto@pobox.com.

Thanks, Andy, for permission to publish this. If you, gentle reader, have different view, please add it as a comment to this article. If the terminology of tournament structure is unfamiliar, you should read the WBC GM Guidelines at

http://www.boardgamers.org/wbc_gmeventform.html

Agricola Online Season 1 Report

Agricola Season 1 Wrap-Up

by Randy Buehler

Season 1 of the Agricola league was a smashing success, with the Meeple League’s largest turn-out for an online event so far and some great matches up and down the ladder. 77 players signed up to play, which meant 11 leagues spread across four divisions. I was the biggest winner, but by the narrowest of margins as I defeated Sceadeau d’Tela for the Division 1-A crown *on tiebreakers* (3 match wins to 2). Congratulations are also due to Bernt Nodland and Steven LeWinter, who won the two leagues in Division 2 and thus earned spots in the top division for season 2. (Steve’s win was particularly close with only 3 league points separating 1st from 4th in his league.) You can see all the standings HERE.

Season 2 is about to start, and the field has expanded to 96 competitors. That means there will be 7 leagues in division 4 and 14 leagues in total. Good luck to everyone as they try to win promotion, and have fun playing.

With season 1 in the books, I thought it would be interesting to see how accurate the initial seeds were. As you may recall, I did the initial player sort first by looking at BPA laurels and then at Elo ratings on boiteajeux. There has been some debate (bordering on trash talk) about how accurate Elo ratings are, and I saved a copy of everyone’s rating before the season began. I then looked at the absolute value of how far each player’s finish position was from the position that would be predicted by Elo or laurels. (In other words, if you had the 5th highest Elo in your league but finished 1st then you were 4 spots away from where you were predicted to be.)

Laurels did a significantly better job of predicting division 1 than Elo did (8 spots off in total versus 18), but in Division 2-A it was the other way around (20 spots off versus just 4). Meanwhile Division 2-B was close to a wash (12 off for laurels versus 10 off for Elo). If you add up all 3 leagues that included at least some players with laurels, Elo comes out looking a little better at 32 to 40 (or an average of 1.5 spots off per player versus 1.9). Meanwhile in Division 3 there were some major upsets, including division wins from each of the two lowest rated competitors, but Elo was a quite reasonable predictor if you ignore those two players (1.7 spots off per player, or 1.1 spots off per player if you ignore the two outliers).

One surprising fact about season 1 is that only one player managed to collect exactly a first, a second, a third, and also a 4th place finish. Ed Fear is apparently the Epitome of Average. Meanwhile the triple winners club included only 3 people and exactly one person managed to win all four of their games: William F, aka wsefranc, from league 4-D.

There were, unfortunately, some players who played too slowly in season 1. The vast majority of games were done by the end of March and I think that two-month timeline is what folks should see as acceptable (we started in the last few days of January). The truly unfortunate part of having a slow player is that they impact four different games. My only real recourse to deal with this problem is to tell those players they aren’t allowed to play in future Meeple League events, and while most of the slowpokes from season 1 did not choose to sign up again, I did decline one registration attempt for season 2. For the handful of matches which haven’t finished, I treated them as 4-way ties when determining promotion and relegation and I will add the real points to the lifetime standings page once they finally do complete.

All of which brings us to season 2, which has quite a few interesting storylines to follow. A few more well-known WBC ringers have entered the league now (Jon Senn, Eric Wrobel, Josh Cooper, Rob Kircher), but they will have to fight their way up from the bottom. Turambar will be the champion of the pro-Elo crowd as he joins Division 1 and is the only player there without a WBC pedigree. Rob Murray and Petri Savola barely missed getting themselves promoted to division 1 and will be trying to finish the job. Meanwhile Daniel Eppolito will have something to prove as he was a consensus pick to finish in the top 2 of division 1 according to the fantasy league participants, but instead got himself relegated to division 2. In my own case, Agricola has not historically been one of my best game but I have invested a lot of time in the last 18 months or so trying to bring my game up to a world class level. I don’t know if I’m there yet, but I will do my best to claim back-to-back titles.

I’m confident there are many other interesting stories around the players I’m not yet familiar with, but that’s the beauty of a league like this. As the seasons go by we’ll get to see who rises and who falls. Good luck to everyone, and have fun in season 2!

Kyle Smith on Thurn & Taxis Strategy

Thurn & Taxis: Don't Just Mail it In

Thurn & Taxis, the 2006 Spiel des Jahres winner, was one of the first games I purchased when I first got into the boardgaming hobby 10 years ago. It has remained one of my favorites over the years and I believe I’ve played close to 600 games (thanks in large part to Yucata). Although it’s certainly not the ‘deepest’ game, I feel there are multiple layers of strategy to discover and potentially master. There is some luck involved, as with any game played with a shuffled deck of cards. For me, however, the ratio of strategy to luck is just right. On occasion, the extremes of good or bad luck can decide the game, but not often enough for it to bother me.

Basics

There are a number of things that most players realize pretty quickly in their first couple plays:

Planning ahead – While picking up and playing cards for your current route, you need to also think about and start taking cards for your next route.

Key Cities and the ‘Around the World’ Bonus Chit – The bonus chit for getting into all colors is an important bonus. Although it’s possible to win without it, the winning player will have one of these chits a vast majority of the time. As a result, the colors with just a single city (Lodz, Innsbruck, and Sigmaringen) are a little more valuable initially. You can also add Pilsen to that list, as it’s the only way to get into Lodz.

Efficiency – An average game of Thurn probably lasts around 17-21 turns. That’s not a lot, so you need to be efficient with your actions and your routes. That efficiency comes in several forms.

  1. Try to complete routes that allow you to place a post office in each city from the route, or all but one.
  2. Avoid (as much as possible) going through cities you’ve already placed houses in earlier in the game.
  3. Don’t have more than three cards in hand when you close a route.
  4. Make smart use of the Cartwright and Administrator, but don’t over use them.

When I’m teaching Thurn to a new player I usually incorporate the above into the rules explanation. I consider these the ‘common sense’ that they’ll learn within a game or so anyway.
The rest of this article is my attempt to explain my own personal strategies on different areas and situations.

Reshuffles

In a four-player game, you’ll generally go through the deck around two times or so, depending on Administrator use. With only 3 copies of each city in the deck, obviously at least one player will miss out on the key cards the first time through. When the opportunity is there, I will try to make sure I’m working on a route that includes a key city when the first shuffle occurs. Better yet, I’ll also be holding another key city in my hand ready for my next route. I’m often willing to take a tempo hit to extend a route one extra turn to keep a card out of the shuffle, especially if another copy is also out.

In addition, it’s important to pay attention to what routes are in process at the first shuffle to be able to better plan routes for the next time through the deck. It’s not unusual for two copies of a key city to be sitting in front of players at the shuffle. I often see this with Pilsen-Lodz. Unless a player gets both together early, it’s often a player’s second or third route which puts it close to the shuffle. It’s a tough position to need a card with only one available, tougher still when you don’t realize it.

Relative Play Order

This is an area that I don’t feel a lot of players think too much about, but I consider to be key. No matter where I’m at in turn order, I always have the most impact on the player to my left and the least on the player to my right. Early in a game, I make a conscious effort to work on a route (or start collecting for the next route) that follows my left-hand neighbor. Likewise, I try to stay away from anything my right-hand neighbor is currently working on. I’ve talked to players that think I’m counter-drafting them, but that’s not really the case. I rarely take a card I don’t intend and expect to play. Ultimately, it’s not something you can always make happen, especially if you have a strong right-hand-opponent who is thinking the same way, but I find I’m able to use this strategy to my advantage in a majority of my games. A lot of strategies/tactics I use may only result in small incremental gains, but when the winning scores are in the teens and low twenties, that can make all the difference that’s needed.

Turn Order

Actual turn order does have an impact on how I play, at least at the beginning of the game. Once I see how the other players are playing, that will often impact how I play out the rest of the game. Here are my thoughts on each seat.

Seat 1

Many players think seat 1 is the strongest. You have a head start on being the first player to get one or more of the bonus chits, including the ‘around the world’. You are also initially in control of the pace of the game. When I can get the first color bonus chit after just my first two routes, I’ll usually continue to push the pace of the game.

Seat 2

I consider this the weakest seat and I think statistics from WBC show that to be the case, if only slightly. It’s not as good as seat 1 for chit advantage or pacing and has none of the advantages that I think make seat 3 or 4 better. It’s not enough for me to be overly concerned when I start second but enough for me to be aware that it’s my least favorite seat.

Seat 4

My preference is to go last. There are couple things I think seat 4 has going for it. As I mentioned earlier, I value relative player order pretty highly and the player in seat 4 has the most information to start the game. You know every other player’s first two cards (unless someone draws blind); which card they played first; and most of the cards that will be left on the board to start turn 2. That’s a lot of valuable information to start the game with and getting that information is the primary reason I value seat 4 the highest. Another benefit is knowing when the game will end or, occasionally, being the player in control of ending the game. If you can take the lead in carts, you can potentially force the other players to close their final route prematurely in anticipation of what could be the final turn. This can often earn extra points by picking up a remaining long-route chit.

Seat 3

Seat 3 is not as good as seat 4 in the same way that seat 2 is inferior to seat 1. However, I still really like seat 3. I’m probably in the minority, but I actually put seat 3 ahead of seat 1 in my personal ranking. The extra starting info and the possibility of forcing 2 out of 3 opponents to close their final routes early puts this ahead of seat 1 for me.

Tempo and the Cartwright

On the majority of your turns, you’ll be using either the ‘Draw 2’ or ‘Play 2’ special ability so it’s fair to think of your turn as having 3 actions. Every city in a route costs you two actions; one to draw the card and one to play it. With 20 post offices, you need a minimum of 40 actions, or 14 turns, to be able to end the game that way. However, you are bound to need to hit a couple cities more than once, adding a few turns to that. If a player is rushing to the 7-cart by using the cartwright, turn 14 is also the earliest that the game end can be triggered. The 7-cart is worth 3 points more than the 6-cart, which is over 10% of most winning scores. It’s another 2 points less for the 5-cart. In addition, the first player to acquire a 7 also gets the 1 point bonus for ending the game so if you end the game while still on the 6-cart, you already have 4 points to make up. I point all this out to stress the importance of keeping pace with the cart leader. Although Thurn is not a race game, it often plays out like one. The cartwright ability serves a couple purposes in relation to tempo – 1) It can help maintain pace with the cart leader; 2) It can help you catch up when other circumstances have caused you to fall behind; and 3) it allows you to get away from small routes while still picking up the next cart.

The Administrator

Don’t be afraid to use the Administrator. I’ve seen plenty of players refuse to (or rarely) ‘flush’ the cards because they consider it inefficient or feel that it just helps the other players too much. On its surface, the administrator does “waste” 1 action, by depriving you of the ability to draw or play a city. However, if the ideal cards aren’t there to draw, you aren’t losing a good action. The alternatives are drawing blind off the top or taking a less desirable card for your route, possibly hitting a duplicate city. The blind draw could get you a completely useless card (for the 1 action wasted as using the Administrator) and leaves you in the same position for your next action. That’s not to say there aren’t times to draw blind as well. If there are several connectors that will work and the deck is low and you’re confident there’s a good chance, then go for it. But also pay attention to what cards your opponents are currently looking for. The flush can be used as a good defensive play, getting rid of someone’s key card while improving your own card selection. Similarly, if I notice that there is nothing on the board that connects to the next player’s route, I may be more likely to blind draw, and possibly put them into a position where they need to flush.

Conclusion

Most of these may only result in small incremental advantages, but in a game with winning scores averaging around 20 it can make the difference. While I always keep these strategies in mind, there are times when you need to zig instead of zag. I don’t consider any of these strategies to be absolute. That’s what keeps the game interesting even after so many plays, and the ability to know when to alter your plan is what separates the top players from the rest. It’s no fluke that many of the same people make semis and finals year after year despite WBC fields of 150+ players.

About Kyle Smith

Kyle Smith is unquestionably one of the best Thurn and Taxis players in the world. He won the annual Thurn and Taxis event at the World Boardgaming Championship in 2011 and has since finished in 2nd place twice – in 2014 and again in 2016. He's also made the finals at Euroquest in 4 of the last 5 years (with 2 wins). For a game with as much randomness as T&T this is a truly impressive resume. For whatever it’s worth, he’s also the single player I fear the most whenever he sits down at my own T&T tournament table. While he’s a great guy away from the table, as you’ll read here his in-game strategy is both cutthroat and very effective. - Randy