Carcassonne Tournament #UKGamesExpo

Each year at the UK Games Expo there are a number of events which are part of the Grandboard Game Tournament run by Declan Waters:

  • The UK Carcassonne Championship
    • This is a qualifier to enter the world finals in October in Germany (£100 expenses)
    • Sponsored by UK Games Expo.
  • The UK Settlers of Catan Championship
    • This is a qualifier to enter the World Championship in USA in 2012 (expenses paid).
    • Sponsored by Heron Games and Mayfair Games.
  • 7 Wonders (new event)
    • £25 vouchers for spending with Northumbria Games.
  • St Petersburg
    • £25 vouchers for spending with Northumbria Games.
  • Agricola
  • Puerto Rico

Being the experienced board-gamer that I am, Carcassonne is my game of choice as the others are either too dull (Settlers) or too hard (the rest). Any game that just requires you to lay tiles on the table in an easy-to-follow fashion is fine by me.

Normally the player that wins the most games and by the widest margin over the other players in his or her games becomes the overall champion (if I remember correctly, which I probably don’t). This year, though, we received the instruction “Score as many points as you are able” with winning only providing a miniscule bonus (plus being used as a tiebreak). The best 4 players after the first two rounds play together in the third round for the Championship; everyone else plays for pride.

That seems strange as we all try to score as many points as possible anyway. The cunning amongst us, though, quickly realised that the largest scores are obtained by cooperating:

  1. Instead of building a city on your own, coordinate play so that everybody gets to be part of completing it – and make sure you use as many tiles as possible.
  2. Similarly, roads should be a multiple effort using the same approach
  3. Fields, again, should be jointly owned by all the players with the biggest area possible to touch the greatest number of cities.
  4. Cloisters built together will result in overlapping areas and increased individual scores

For most, this was an alien way of thinking. Helping each other? In a tournament game of Carcassonne, of all things.  Where were the opportunities to foil the plans of your fellow players? What about the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from winning a game?

One player (let’s call him Mr Poor Loser), discussing the winning criteria afterwards with Declan, was definitely not pleased. I remember him from the first two rounds being especially pleased with his wins, not realising at the time that a low-scoring win would count for little.

For those interested, and to show the massive difference co-op can make, the final scores were:

  Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
      Top Table  
Richard Gough (Champion) 110.006 115.01 195 (tie-break) 420.016
David Dorward 86.001 109.003 195 (tie-break) 390.004
David Bruckley 93.01 113.006 193 399.016
Matt Young 88.01 119.01 165 372.020
      Playing for Pride  
Ben Richards-Cousins 108.003 82.01 65.006 255.019
Martin Zommers 115.01 59.006 63.006 237.022
John Breakwell 77.01 (a win) 102.01 (a win) 50.003 (jt 3rd) 229.023
17 other losers people 87.006 – 28.001 109.006 – 43.001 88.010 – 26.001 227.022 – 136.007

Personally, I think it’s a great approach to chuck in for tournaments every now and then to get people to think about what they are doing. It’s common for players to build up an array of winning tactics so throwing a spanner in the works can have a real levelling effect. I can’t wait to see what happens next year (assuming I go to the new venue).

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