by Rich Shipley
The first Empire Builder & Eurorails tournament at the WBC had 64 entrants over three heats. The first heat on Tuesday night had 9 games played, Wednesday night had 8 games and Thursday morning had 6 games. In the first round heats, participants could choose to play either Empire Builder (17 games) or Eurorails (6 games). Games were four player, except for 1 three player game each in heats two and three, and lasted from two to four hours.
My assistant GMs, Steve Okonski and Greg Meyer, were very helpful both prior to and during the tournament. Each was also undefeated in the first round heats with Steve at 2-0 and Greg at 3-0 (each beating me once as well).
All winners of heat games were eligible for the semi-finals, which were played on the Empire Builder board. There were 20 separate winners, but 3 were not able to play in the next round. In the future, I will stress that high second place finishers should show up as alternates to the semi-finals to help fill out boards. I could have used two more to have the 5 four player games that I wanted. I used the heat results to seed the semi-final boards so that the four players with the best records were at different tables and the top two were at four player boards.
Steve Okonski won his semi-final game to continue undefeated, but Greg Meyer's winning streak was snapped by a loss. Cliff Ackman, Tom Dunning, and Jim Yerkey won their semi-final games, and Paul Van Bloem advanced with a strong second place finish to fill out a five player Eurorails final. Debbie Otto missed the finals, but took sixth in the tournament with the next highest second place finish, breaking a tie by her heat record.
Steve went first, Starting in Bremen and building into England. Tom, in an unusual move, started his train in Bruxelles which was connected only by Jim's track. Paul started in Sarajevo, Cliff in Marseilles, and Jim in Bruxelles, finding that he could only get one load of chocolate as Tom had taken two.
At one point, Tom got stuck in Spain due to flooding, and Steve kindly helped him out by riding his track for a turn, giving Tom enough to repair his bridges. When Tom finished his run, he made over $100 and paid back Steve by riding his rails later in the game. Jim had the hardest luck with events, losing several loads and turns.
At the first money check, the top three players were Steve at $123, Jim at $123, and Paul at $120. Taxes came out early in the second time through the deck, delaying things a bit. A later money check had Steve at $198, Jim at $185, and Paul at $164. Much card dumping ensued as the leaders tried to get the deliveries to put them over the top which generated many events.
In the end, Steve won with $259, with Paul at $241, Jim at $232, Tom at $166, and Cliff at $137. Steve's track avoided Italy and the Alps entirely, while Paul avoided England and Jim didn't venture west of Paris on the continent. Tom ended with a track similar to Steve's, avoiding Italy, while Cliff did not reach Wien, but did go to Arhus and Aberdeen, apparently preferring the northern climes.
I distributed a survey during the first round heats to gauge whether people wanted to see some of the other games in the Empire Builder series included in the tournament next year. By nearly three to one, players preferred that other games should be included, but people preferred by as great a margin that the semi-finals and finals should only include Empire Builder and Eurorails. Iron Dragon was wanted in by some, specifically not wanted by others, and also suggested as a possible separate tournament.
My plan is to offer two games for play each first round heat next year, one of which will be either Empire Builder or Eurorails. I will also be scheduling rounds for four hours each and eliminating the build first tournament rule as well as revising other tournament rules and interpretations based on what I learned this year.
Thanks to all who participated and everyone working to keep the convention going. -Rich
The 1999 Empire Builder / Eurorails (EPB) tournament will use Swiss-Elimination format. This means you can play in one or more of the three first round heats. The top winners advance to the semi-finals. The top semi-finalists advance to the final.
Since these games are not published by Avalon Hill, they were not played at past Avaloncons. Therefore, it is difficult to predict how many people will participate this year, and consequently difficult to estimate how many will advance to the semi-final and final rounds. Empire Builder and Eurorails were in the top 5 most popular "games to add to the WBC" balloting recently performed by the BPA. Therefore, it is likely EPB will be one of the more popular tournaments at the WBC.
In each first round heat, participants may state a preference for either Empire Builder (EB) or Eurorails (ER). We will accomodate these preferences as best as possible, but players should be prepared to play either game. Victories will be treated equally for round advancement purposes, regardless of which game was played. For the semi-final, only Empire Builder will be played. The final will be Eurorails, since it is deemed by many to be the slightly tougher game of the two.
All first round heat winners will advance to the semifinals. Some second place finishers may also be included. Top second place finishers will be determined by cash on hand subtracted by $50 for each city less than the minimum connected.
In the event of a tie in cash values, the player who served a higher percentage of the cities on the map will be ranked higher.
One tidbit of advice: if you bring your copy of the game to the tournament, don't leave it in your car. Baltimore's summer sun will melt the crayons (we speak from experience!).
The following is the EPB play schedule:
|Round 1, Heat 1||EB or ER||Tuesday||July 27th||19:00|
|Round 1, Heat 2||EB or ER||Wednesday||July 28th||19:00|
|Round 1, Heat 3||EB or ER||Thursday||July 29th||9:00|
|Semi-finals||on EB map||Thursday||July 29th||19:00|
|Final||on ER map||Sunday||August 1st||10:00|
The exact schedule is determined by the BPA. We have requested the BPA to try to avoid time slot conflicts with Rail Baron as it is likely many Empire Builder / Eurorails players also enjoy that train game.
Late arrivals will lose their right to participate in that heat or round. A player is considered late if he has not submitted his badge to the GM for the round signup when the GM has finished badge processing for all the players already present and waiting to start.
Due to time conflicts with other games, it is likely one or more semi-final and final slots will be unclaimed. Thus, even if you did not win during the prior round, but had a high cash value, you should stop by and check in because you might advance. If, after 20 minutes past the scheduled start time of the round, there still remain open slots, per BPA suggestion, these slots will be offered to those present in the following preference order: 1) pre-registrants carrying a copy of the game; 2) walk-ons carrying a copy of the game; 3) other pre-registrants; 4) other walk-ons. If more than one person fits in one of these four groups, the person present and waiting longer will be given the bye.
Rich Shipley will be GM for Empire Builder / Eurorails. Greg Mayer and Steve Okonski will serve as Assistant GMs.
Feel free to write to Rich with any questions about the EPB tournament. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org and conventional address is 1241 Linkside Drive; Baltimore, MD 21234.
Build First (variant by Steve Okonski): To speed play, players will build and then move in each turn. In addition, demand cards will be replaced at the end of players' turns. This will let players do their planning while others are taking their turns. Two beginning build-only turns are still used so each player will have three build phases before they move.
Time Limit (modified): If time is called before a game ends the round continues until the last player has gone. The winner will be determined by most cash minus $50 for each city less than the minimum connected.
Equal Turns: After a player declares victory, play will continue until the last player has gone. If another player can also declare victory, the player with the most cash wins. If there is a tie, play continues with the cash requirement raised to $300.
Late Payment (modified): A player may use other players' track and pay the track usage fee from from delivery payoffs obtained by delivering loads while on other players' track, but only with the permission of that player or players.
Backtracking: A player may reverse his train's direction on any milepost at a cost of losing 1 full turn. This may not be done if a turn is to be missed for any other reason or if not able to move. The train may move in any direction the next turn.
Dropouts: If a player withdraws from a game, that player's track is kept on the board and any usage fees are paid to the bank. Any player that withdraws from a game may not be allowed to participate in future heats or rounds of the event.
No other variations are in effect.
At any time during the game you can build out of any major city at normal build cost. The $5 charge applies only if you build into a major city. Note that such build-outs are limited to two per turn.
While you are stopped due to a lost turn, another event card (such as a derailment event card drawn by another player) cannot cause you to lose another turn (i.e. lost turns do not accumulate).
After a player announces he has sufficient cash and city service to win, if during the final round that follows such an announcement, an event card is drawn that causes some of the "announced" player's track to be erased (a river flood card) and which consequently severs his track network such that it no longer connects the minimum number of major cities, that event shall not prevent him from being declared winner (provided he indeed has the most cash).
No "walls" or other obstructive track may be built that would prevent another player from building into any city to which he is otherwise allowed.
The cost of building the ferries to Ireland already includes the cost of building into the Irish cities to which they directly connect.
Empire Builder and Eurorails are trademarks of Mayfair Games, Inc. Any BPA GM who wishes to create a Web page for his/her game is welcome to copy the HTML of this page and modify it as needed. If you do so, all I ask is that you add a link from your modified page back to this one. Let me you have done so, and I'll add a link from here to your page. Thanks!