PrezCon Winter Nationals Trip Report

By Marcy Morelli

This was my second year attending PrezCon. It’s a bit of a hike from Suburban Philly – especially in the winter. But Amtrak runs right into Charlottesville and that’s a great way to travel. Charlottesville is the home of the University of Virginia and offers some good sightseeing opportunities for those who are interested in Presidential history.

I arrived Monday evening and the Doubletree shuttle picked me up at the train station. It ended up being too late to pick up my badge, but I was able to catch up with some friends.
The Doubletree Charlottesville is a really great spot for a convention the size of PrezCon. The hotel staff are very well organized and seem appreciative of the convention’s presence. A few employees even seemed interested in learning some games.
Besides the shuttle, a pool with hot tub, and the ubiquitous cookie, the hotel also runs a great restaurant. Breakfast offers a large buffet with made-to-order omelets. Lunch and dinner have a tasty menu and you can call in an order and pick it up at the restaurant. There is also a special stand outside the ballroom that offers drinks, sandwiches, pizza, and some special meals throughout the day. In the late evening, 4 or 5 different pies are available. If you have a car at hand, there are plenty of local eating establishments nearby as well as a Walmart.

I’m primarily a EuroGames tournament gamer, and the conference room layout works well for that. Most tournaments are held in either the large Ballroom, or a few steps away in the Gallery Rooms. The food stand is just outside the Ballroom which makes it easy to catch a quick bite if you don’t have many breaks. The vendors set up in-between while open gaming has a large room downstairs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The convention registration desk is organized and well-staffed for the long hours of the convention. Convention Director Justin Thompson is generally floating around keeping tabs on things, but is easy to find if you need him. PrezCon players are friendly and welcoming to newcomers.

Tournaments at PrezCon award plaques to the final table based on the total numbers of players who participated in the game.

Besides the regular tournament line-up PrezCon also holds several mini-cons during the convention: ColumbiaCon, RevCon, and a EuroGames sampler event. The Agricola and Catan tournaments are both regional championships with winners advancing to a National Championship.

PrezCon will also hold a Summer Nationals event in June. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend – you’ll have a great time!

TotalCon 2017 Report

Total Confusion 31 was held in Marlborough Massachusetts on February 23rd to the 26th of 2017. The convention moved to a new venue, the Best Western Royal Plaza. With more space and better lighting the board game space was great to play in and the tournaments were held in separate spaces with less noise and no crowding.

New England Regional Championships are a highlight of the convention. Listed below are the first 3 finishes in each of the 9 New England Championships.

GameChampion2nd3rd
ConcordiaWill WarrenKara MorseAndrew Harris
SplendorAndrew MenardIan DembskyMarvin Birmbaum
Ticket to RideNicholas CheungSteve CostaDean Scungio
St PetersburgAndrew HarrisIan DembskyShelly Thomas
AgricolaRichard J ShayRichard M ShayShelly Thomas
DominionJared RushananAndrew MenardThomas Jarrett
Castles of BurgundyIan DembskyWill WarrenKara Morse
Puerto RicoRichard MeyerAdam ShersonRichard M Shay
Power GridSteve CostaThomas JarrettBill Todd
Stone AgeShelly ThomasMongoJustin Roark

Chairman of the Board: Ian Dembsky

Chairman of the Board is awarded for accumulating the best record in different tournament games. Winning and placing in tournament games earns points, but you can only score for your best game in each tournament. Bonus points are awarded for placing overall in tournaments. Ian won Castles of Burgundy and finished 2nd in Saint Petersburg and Splendor. He also played well in other tournaments. Congratulations Ian.
Catan Regional Qualifier: Ian Dembsky


The Puffing Billy group spends the convention playing railroad themed games and has their own tournament format, giving prizes in the following categories:

Overall Champion: Roger Jarrett

1830: Bruce Beard

Empire Builder: Roger Jarrett

18XX: Bruce Beard

Empire Builder International: Roger Jarrett

There is also a Diplomacy tournament held over the course of convention.
Diplomacy Champ (& Best Italy): Brad Blitstein.

BEST GERMANY: Alan Levin

BEST ENGLAND: Rob Premus

BEST TURKEY: Andrew Katcher

BEST FRANCE: Randy Lawrence-Hurt

BEST AUSTRIA: Jay Aloia

BEST RUSSIA: Steve Cooley

Puzzle for February

The Game: Puerto Rico

By Marcy Morelli, Puzzle Editor

About the Game

Puerto Rico is a classic Economic game created by Andreas Seyfarth. Although originally released in 2002,  it continues to remain a top ten game in the BoardGameGeek rankings.

Most players appreciate that there is very  little luck in Puerto Rico. Each player starts the game with one plantation and 3 doubloons. Each turn a player selects one of the available roles and executes it. Then in turn order each other player also executes the role. The player who selected the role also gets a bonus. The goal of the game is to build an engine of plantations and buildings that allows you to accumulate victory points. At the end of the game, each  player counts the number of victory points collected during the game, and also gains points for the buildings they have purchased.

Your position

This game occurred at Congress of Gamers in late 2016.

 

It is a little less than halfway through the game. On your turn, you were the Governor,  selected the Trader and accumulated a handsome sum of doubloons.

The next player selected the Builder action and purchased a tobacco storage.

Now it’s your turn to build something.

Here’s what your board currently looks like:

Other Players


 

The situation

 

Your Decision

You are a big fan of the 4 point building Guild Hall because you feel it is easiest to obtain the maximum bonus points. With your quarries, you have enough to buy it now. However, it’s a bit early to purchase it. Another alternative would be to buy a good three point building that would help you earn more victory points. This will set you back on funds, and it might take a bit to get more doubloons to purchase a 4 point building.

You consider the following buildings:

Which would you purchase?

  1. Factory
  2. Harbor
  3. Wharf
  4. Guild Hall

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

Sign Up for WBC Now

Go Sign up for WBC

By Randy Buehler

There are some great conventions out there. In fact, there are two great ones coming up the last weekend in February and if you can get to New England for TotalCon or Virginia for PrezCon then you absolutely should.

But. . .

For most board game tournament players the year revolves around the annual pilgrimage to the World Boardgaming Championship. WBC began life as Avalon Con, and has been lovingly nurtured by some of the same folks who more or less launched our hobby while working for Avalon Hill back in the day. “Avalon Hill” is now nothing more than a brand name owned by Hasbro, but the nonprofit Boardgame Players Association has kept the Con going. Last year it moved to a new location at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort about 90 minutes southeast of Pittsburgh, and it seems to be settling in there quite nicely.

The Con features well over 100 tournaments, spread across 9 days near the end of July, and 1500-ish players competed last year. Most events use a system of heats followed by playoffs that is essentially the same as the official format used by Meeple League sanctioned events. While there are other, sometimes bigger, conventions out there, nothing this large has the focus on tournament play that makes WBC unique and special.

Why Register Now?

The reason I’m writing this now, in January, is that there are a couple of reasons you should consider going ahead and signing up for this summer’s convention now. First of all, hotel rooms went on sale last weekend (though only for folks who want to stay 5 nights or longer). They sold out well in advance of the Con last year so consider this a friendly reminder to deal with this now while all your lodging options are still open.

The other reason to sign up now is that you get to vote on which games will be contested at the Con as Trial Events. Every year the 100 most attended events from the previous year are brought back (along with a handful of Legacy events). There is then a vote for which other 25 games should make the cut and get tournaments. The ballot is, as always, a mix of new games and old favorites that didn’t quite make it into the “Century”.

This year there are 67 games on the Trial ballot and if you buy your membership now then not only do you save $20 – $30 on the price of admission to WBC itself, you also get to throw your weight behind 10 games. Personally, I think it’s been a good year for new games, and there are a couple of medium to heavy “weight” Eurogames that I am hoping will win the vote: Terraforming Mars is my personal favorite, but I know a lot of people are also fans of Scythe and Feast for Odin. (Great Western Trail is another great new game from the last few months, in my opinion, but no one filled out the paperwork to volunteer to run a GWT event so the only way that one will be held is if someone sponsors it. That said, if anyone from Stronghold Games is reading this and wants to Sponsor it, I’d be happy to serve as GM!)

Anyway, the TL/DR version of this article is that you should go ahead and sign up for WBC now and let your voice be heard. Either you already know you’re going to go anyway so you might as well do it now, or you don’t realize it yet but you’re going to want to start going to this awesome event for years to come.

New Meeple League is Live!

The Meeple League is proud to announce the launch of our re-imagined website at www.MeepleLeague.com. As part of our ongoing effort to help grow the boardgame-tournament community, we have turned our website into a destination for tournament players. Our new features include:

  • A Magazine section with strategy articles written by some of the best gamers around.
  • An Events schedule that collects information about board game tournaments from around the country.
  • An ever-growing collection of game master (GM) Tools and information to help everyone who wants to run a tournament.
  • Online leagues so players can compete while waiting for the next live, in-person event. Our first two leagues will be for Thurn & Taxis and then Agricola.

Meanwhile, we will continue to sanction events and keep track of Meeple League standings throughout the year. In 2017 our featured games will be:

  • Lords of Waterdeep
  • Ticket To Ride
  • Saint Petersburg
  • Stone Age
  • Power Grid
  • Catan
  • Puerto Rico
  • 7 Wonders
  • Castles of Burgundy

We will be awarding a plaque at the end of the year to the winner of each event, along with our Player of the Year.

Three conventions have already committed to running Meeple League events in 2017:

If you want your local convention, or even your friendly neighborhood game store, to run events that count toward Meeple League standings then tell your local organizer to contact us. Sanctioning an event is free – all you need to do is run tournaments using our format, which is based on years of success with board game tournaments.

Here’s hoping the board game hobby continues to grow, and that there are more and better tournaments for hobbyists to play in!

Online Agricola Announcement

Agricola Season 1 Sign-ups Closed

Reserve a Spot in Season 2 Below

The Meeple League recently announced our first online event – a league for Thurn & Taxis players – but we’re not done there. We’re also starting up an online Agricola league for those who like their Eurogames a little heavier. Agricola Cover

The format for all our leagues will be identical: players get grouped with 6 other players and put into 4 games (2 with each other player). Games will then be played asynchronously over the course of several weeks and a point system will be used to determine who wins the league (10 points for 1st, 6 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, and 1 point for finishing last). Winning your league gets you promoted to a higher division for the next season, while finishing in the bottom 2 gets you demoted to an easier one. You can read the full rules for our league format HERE .

For folks who like a complex challenge, Agricola has proven to be one of the best board games ever made. It may not draw the biggest crowds on the tournament circuit, but it is legendary for its consistently shark-infested fields. When it was first published back in 2007 it led the Spiel des Jahres committee to invent a new category (for “complex games”) so it could award a special prize, and as of this writing in early 2017 it is still the #11 overall ranked game of BoardGameGeek.

We’ll be using the online implementation of Agricola on www.boiteajeux.net. Games will 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). For season 1, we’ll be using BPA laurels in Agricola (see the Agricola Event History Page) to seed people into the initial divisions.

                If you want to Sign up for Season 2 Agricola, please fill out this form (this will also put you in as an alternate for season 1 in case someone fails to join their games):

You must be 13 or older to participate. If you are 13 to 17 years old, you must have parent/guardian approval.
You must have an account on www.boiteajeux.net to play.
If you have laurels listed on the BPA website that will be used to match players in leagues.
You don’t have to join the Meeple League to play, but we would really like you to join us.

 

Through the Ages: Plan A

Through the Ages: Plan A

Plan A

The new edition of Through the Ages has made it so that there is a primary way to win the game.  Plan A, if you will.  Plan A in Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is to hit someone with a war at the end of age III so that when they take their turn, it’s Age IV and they can’t resign, nor can they catch up to you in strength.  It takes advantage of two  rules changes in new TTA:

  • Uncapped military strength
  • No resignation in Age IV

For the rest of the article, understand that I’m going to explain how you make this materialize, and to talk about the differences between the two games so you can easily transition from the old game to the new game and stay on top of your competition.

The Core of TTA

In Through the Ages, everything is equally important, with military being slightly more equal than the others.  You always have an axis you are weak on that you need to solve, and you want to make sure that you also solve for military while solving for your other weaknesses – ending your turn as the strongest is preferred, but not being the weakest at the end of your turn is nearly mandatory.  The “strength tax” needs to be paid.   Why and how this works out between the two versions is slightly different.

Aggression Cards, Then and Now

Aggressions were often defense card checks, especially early in a game.  A one point strength lead meant you could either: force a discard of a highly sought after defense card , win the aggression, or make them sacrifice a unit.  All of those outcomes were great, so hitting someone hard early was something that was desired – making Caesar the highest ranked leader in Age A.  His extra red dot meant more cards drawn, the ability to hit and keep drawing cards, and a minuscule strength lead good enough to hit someone in round 3 with an aggression.

Aggressions in the new version of the game are quite a bit more deterministic.  The math is easy to do, and red dots define how high you can ever get your strength to.  Being 1 point behind means that the events are going to bite you, but aggressions aren’t going to bother you much.  To the point that fewer aggressions get played if everyone is keeping up with their strength relatively well.  Relatively well is simply measured by this formula:

Safe zone: Strength >= strength leader – 1 per red dot.

Safe-ish zone:  Strength >= strength leader – current age defense card strength – number of red dots + 1

For example, in age II (with defense cards at 4), if I have two red dots, a two strength different is extremely safe.  A 5 point strength difference is mostly safe.

I use the same formula when determining to attack someone or not.  This can change based on the number of defense cards seen, how many of the previous age were used, etc.  Due to fewer aggressions overall, people can be assumed to have a previous age defense card as well, but as per every game of this nature, you must make that judgement call based on what has happened thus far in your game.  But I do tend to not send aggression to people who are safe-ish based on the above presumption.

So Strength Doesn’t Matter as Much Anymore?

No – strength still matters for Plan A.  Strength still matters for events.  You may notice more events getting seeded due to less aggressions being played.  It is still true, however, that at higher levels of play, you’ll see less and less cards seeded during a game.  This is because you tend to be the weakest at the start of each of your turns when playing with good players.  You tend to not to want to seed when you aren’t the strongest unless you have good enough knowledge of what’s left in the deck and have an event or two left in there you really want to see pop before you take your turn.

Tactics Cards and How They’ve Changed

One of the big weaknesses in the old Through the Ages was the Age II tactics lottery.  You wanted to have 3 red dots going into Age II to maximize your chance of drawing a classic army, or perhaps a Napoleonic army as a consolation prize.  Sometimes you just set up your military for whatever and hoped for any (non-fortification) tactics card.  Failing to draw a red card in Age II probably spelled the end of your game.

The attempt to fix this in new Through the Ages was allowing people to copy tactics in play, albeit a turn later, so that the person playing it will get one turn to exploit their newfound strength before others can join in on the fun.  When playing casually, this means everyone will go play their tactic when they can to enjoy the strength benefit for a turn of events, to avoid being last in strength, or to get in one good aggression on next turn before losing the advantage.  Due to this, the number of tactics cards in the deck went down in the newest edition.

Competitively, however – this means there is only one way you want to play with these tactics – on the turn you declare a giant war in your favor.  The best way to execute Plan A involves planning on including the red dot to play your tactic in addition to all the dots you need for your war.

Putting It All Together

So now we understand the value of strength.  The question is, how do you get there?  There are a few key cards to make this strategy work.

First, you NEED red dots.  And you need to deny red dots to others.  So high on the list, for me, is Constitutional Monarchy.  Spend those actions making that happen.  It is just worth it.  Next on the list are the age II/III military techs.  Just because you have Constitutional Monarchy doesn’t mean you can ignore Strategy or Military Theory.  Picking them up denies those reds to your opponents.  Playing them gives you a massive army build-up after a war.

The top of the list, however, is Air Forces.  This card is still as good as it ever was, even with the re-balancing.  You also obviously need to either have the Age II or III military techs matching your chosen tactic.

There are ways to shore up your weaknesses if you are unable to pull it all together.  Winston Churchil has the ability to make up stone and science.  Albert Einstein can keep you topped up with the science needed, provided you can find a Computers card.  Yellow cards abound to help make up the stone issues.

One thing to keep in mind is that while having food so you can keep increasing your population and shoving them into the military is nice, it isn’t needed.  You’ll just need enough white dots to fire everyone and the red dots to  move them over in the second to last turn.  There have been many games where I’ve ended with 1 farmer and a priest or two, with everyone else conscripted into the army.

In conclusion, strength is even more important in the new version of Through the Ages than the previous edition.  You will want to get your strength to 80 to 90 and declare a war on the penultimate turn to maximize your points.  It’s not really fun, and it feels a little dirty.  But it is how you win.  Or at least, how you should be planning on winning.

About Sceadeau D'Tela

Sceadeau is one of the most feared tournament boardgamers around. He won the coveted Siegelman at Euroquest in 2009 and finished 2nd in the race for the Boardgame Players’ Association’s Caesar award last year. He’s also been a member of the winning team in the team competitions at both Euroquest and WBC. While Agricola is probably the game Sceadeau is most well-known for (and he does lead the all-time Laurel count in Agricola by almost 50%), he has also been amassing very impressive finishes at Through The Ages – the other most “shark-filled” event every year at WBC. He’s made the final table in 4 of the past 5 years so when he tells you the secret to the new version, it makes sense to listen! - Randy

A Quick Guide to Online Agricola

– Randy Buehler

The most popular place to play Agricola on the web is at boiteajeux.net. Games are typically played asynchronously, which means you check in a couple of times per day and see if it’s your turn yet. Since most people are in more than a couple of games at a time, it’s probably your turn in a couple of them. Overall, games can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to finish, and there’s nothing stopping you from playing games in real-time if you have a group that’s all online at the same time.

The biggest drawback to Boiteajeux is that not all the cards are included. Some cards were left out because they were tricky to implement (especially for asynch play), though almost all the cards from the E, I, and K decks do exist (aka – the decks that come with the game) and you could play for quite a while before even realizing anything was left out. Here’s a complete list of the cards from that are missing:

19 – Gypsy’s Crock
34 – Basket
38 – Madonna Statue
40 – Mini Pasture
58 – Animal Yard
68 – Harrow
70 – Punner
73 – Guest
97 – Slaughterhouse
117 – Greenhouse
125 – Broom
138 – Reed Hut*
339 – Pelts

Occupations
164 (4+) – Master Forester
169 (4+) – Storyteller
178 (4+) – Hut Builder
179 (1+) – Merchant
196 (1+) – Mushroom Collector
198 (3+) – Ratcatcher*
207 (1+) – Stablehand
208 (1+) – Stable Master
215 (4+) – Tenant Farmer
216 (4+) – Animal Keeper
223 (3+) – Harvest Helper
230 (4+) – Clay Digger
234 (3+) – Wood Buyer
237 (4+) – Juggler
239 (4+) – Corn Profiteer
251 (4+) – Reed Buyer
255 (4+) – Stone Buyer
260 (4+) – Taster*
261 (4+) – Outrider
263 (1+) – Fence Builder
269 (4+) – Acrobat
273 (4+) – Basin Maker
284 (1+) – Wood Distributor
289 (4+) – Countryman
299 (3+) – Slaughterman
301 (1+) – Wood Carver
307 (4+) – Animal Breeder
308 (4+) – Foreman
312 (1+) – Fence Overseer

Online Thurn & Taxis Tournament

Sign-ups closed for Meeple League's 1st Online Event!

Reserve a spot for the next Season Below

Here at the Meeple League our primary mission is to improve the quality of board game tournament offerings. We are delighted to announce that one of the ways we will do that is by offering our own online events! Just like “live” events, we will use a standardized format so you’ll know what to expect whenever you sign up, but the details for online events will be different from the typical tournaments you might have experienced at a convention.

This article will walk you through everything you can expect from our League format, plus – most importantly – tell you how you can sign up for our first  supported game: Thurn & Taxis!

Our online events will be structured as ongoing leagues, and not as one-shot tournaments. When you sign up you will be placed in a league along with 6 other gamers, and you will be placed into 4 total games (with each other member of your division appearing in 2 of them). All the games will be played “asynchronously” through a specified website, which means players will each check in to see if it’s their turn several times a day at their convenience, and the games will play out over the course of several weeks.

Once all the games are done, we use a point system to see who won each league (10 points for 1st, 6 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, and 1 point for finishing last). The leagues themselves are divided into divisions and whenever you win a league, you get promoted up to a tougher (but more prestigious) division. Meanwhile, if you finish in the bottom 2 of your league, you get demoted into an easier division for the next season. We’ll keep track of lifetime standings so everyone can see how they measure up, and we’ll also be prominently displaying the names of everyone who wins division one. Click to see detailed rules.

Fans of Terra Mystica may recognize this as the same basic format being used on http://tmtour.org/#/ to govern tournaments run using the online implementation at http://terra.snellman.net.

We think this system will work well for lots of other games, too. Note that in order to seed players for the very first season, we’ll be using the lifetime laurel counts from the Boardgame Players Association – aka, the folks who run the World Boardgaming Championship . You can check your laurels for the game on the T&T Event History Page.

Thurn & Taxis is a nice light Euro-game that has been very popular on the tournament circuit ever since it won the Spiel des Jahres in 2006. It’s actually one of the few games at the World Boardgaming Championships that’s big enough to require a quarter-final round.

Our Thurn & Taxis League will use the online implementation at www.yucata.de. We will use the original version of the game – no expansion content, and no special options. Games are scheduled to start in late January and you’ll receive a schedule 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 in future Thurn & Taxis tournament, please sign up here:

You must be 13 or older to participate. If you are 13 to 17 years old, you must have parent/guardian approval.
You must have an account on yucate.de to play.
If you have laurels listed on the BPA website that will be used to match players in leagues.
You don’t have to join the Meeple League to play, but we would really like you to join us.