®
2004 World Championship Yearbook

The streets of Chicago were pure pandemonium during Gangsters' last year in Baltimore. We had record numbers of participants especially during the official squirt gun heat (50 entrants alone). We also had more fun than ever! 53% of all entrants had so much fun they came back to play another!

After taking a year off to earn cash, the Vamps returned to the streets with a vengeance this year reaching an all-time record number of seductions. Shootout losses were up slightly too in our never-ending quest to use the squirt gun more often! That added up to record levels of carnage!

Next year the World Boardgaming Championships moves to Lancaster, Pennsylvania as does our annual Mob War! Will the rooms still be warm enough to induce random or even self-inflected squirtings? Bring your water gun and find out!

The record attendance has motivated some minor changes see the section on changes so you'll be ready. I may also implement some changes based on the survey at the end of the newsletter please let me know what you think!

Thank you for joining the action this year. Enjoy the newsletter!

Table of Contents

  1. Records
  2. Winners
  3. Special Awards
  4. Favorite Joints
  5. Quotable Gangsters
  6. Final Report
  7. Changes for 2005
  8. Tie-Breaker Penalties
  9. PBEM Competition
  10. Copies of the Game
  11. Sign-off
  12. Survey

1. Records

We set a lot of records and firsts this year. These include the following:

Records

Firsts

* Low was set last year
** The maximum that can be spent on a gang (assuming three $100 joints) is $2,900. A 6/1/3 gang costs $3,000.

Notes: 1) The 4/1/1 gang was more popular this year than any year since 1997. 2) The average winner is getting seduced more than the average player, but shootout losses more than make up for the difference. 3) The average total losses (16.52) were much higher than the median (14), suggesting that a few games were total carnage fests! 4) Firsts are getting harder and harder to come by! The only legal starting gang that makes any sense which has yet to be used is the 4/1/5 gang.

You might think that a tough gang is necessary to win, but our winners this year proved that winning gangs come in all combinations! Here's how the winning gangs (shown as Racketeer/Vamp/Thug) stacked up:

Gang

# of
Winners
1/1/1 1
1/1/2 1
2/1/1 1
2/1/2 3
3/1/1 2
3/1/4 1
4/1/0 1
4/1/1 1
4/1/2 1
4/1/3 2
4/1/4 1

5/0/1

1

5/1/1

5

5/1/2

2

5/1/4

1

6/0/3

1

6/1/1

3

6/1/2

3

6/1/6

1

7/1/1

2

7/1/2

1

9/1/2

1

Note: Winners who were missing a gang member won their games based on the tie-breakers at the time-limit (even though the tie-breaks penalize players for missing gang members)!

2. Winners

It was dusk long before the sun set on the chances of the other finalists, but when the twilight ended Nick "Dusk" Henning took the Godfather title home to rest. None of our five finalists had been to the Gangsters final before, but in the end it was a brand-new player who learned the game during the Thursday demo who took top honors. This is the only time since 1992 (the year Gangsters was released by Avalon Hill) that a single player took home both the Junior Godfather award as well as top honors. Congratulations, Nick!

Here are the top twenty-five finishers:

  1. Nick "Dusk" Henning
  2. Jim "The Instigator" Castonguay
  3. Robert "Bobby Tweaks" Buccheri
  4. Kevin "Big Daddy" Brownell
  5. Victor "The Waiter" Hogen
  6. Andy "The Duke" Joy
  7. Michael Musko
  8. Angela "Blue Rose" Collinson
  9. Tim "Bite the Bullet" Evinger
  10. Forrest "Hatchet Man" Speck
  11. Rolinda "Ma" Collinson
  12. Mark "Ladykiller" Love
  13. Kaarin "The Enforcer" Engelmann
  14. Karl "Sweet Cakes" Henning
  15. John "The Viper" Pack
  16. Wendy "Brutally Honest" DeMarco
  17. Tom "Teflon Don" McCorry
  18. "Hot Tub Johnny" Kilbride
  19. Daniel "The Dasher" Fox
  20. Blair "The Plug" Morgen
  21. Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc
  22. Kevin "Shades" Wojtaszczyk
  23. Evan "Chaz 'Domino' Domingo" Tannheimer
  24. Joel "The Chair" Tamburo
  25. Scott "The Bag Man" Sirianna

Mark "Ladykiller" Love was the best among the tournament officials! But with the record level of seductions going on, you can tell that Ladykiller had an off-year.

This year saw a remarkable number of family groups participate.  Established mob families "Mickey the Wire" and "Bobby Tweaks" Buccheri, "Blue Rose", "Angel", and "Ma" Collinson, "The Boot", "Greasy Thumb", and "Bite the Bullet" Evinger, "Strings" and "Hell Raiser" Hamel, and "The Kid" and "The Viper" Pack were joined by newcomers "The Sore" and "One Arm" Eastman, "Two Guns" and "Sizzle" Fedin, "The Dasher" and "Plugs" Fox, "Sweet Cakes" and "Dusk" Henning, Erika and "Baby Face" Poniske, and "The Infidel" and "Shotgun" Wojke.  I think we can all agree that Gangsters should be the family business.

We hope ex-Godfather Pitt "Sluggo" Crandlemire returns to action next year to see if he can't be the first to win the title four times!

The results have been sent to AREA.  Updated ratings can be seen at: http://wolff.to/area/T_Gangsters.html

3. Special Awards

Cement Overshoes Sportsmanship Award Tim "Bite the Bullet" Evinger has a habit of earning one of the special plaques each year. Normally, that's because his gangs are being shredded (which is why Tim needs a sub-machine squirt gun to keep up with the mayhem). But this year several people went out of the way to let me know how much they enjoyed their games because of Tim. Added to nominations made in previous years, Tim makes the Cement Overshoes his fifth special plaque in a row! Tim has been cited frequently for help given to new players helping them to understand the game even when it hurt his own position. But more than that, whether his gang is being thrashed, he actually manages to win a game, or both, Tim is always contagiously enthusiastic. Thanks for making Gangsters more fun for everyone, Tim!

Many thanks to Ken "Roulette" Rothstein and Kevin "Big Daddy" Brownell who were first-time nominees! All of our good sports make it fun to come back and play again and again!

Junior Godfather Award - Nick "Dusk" Henning made it look easy as he took home top honors for the whole shootin' match too!

"I Think She Likes Me!" Award With record levels of seduction going on, this was a very hotly contested award this year! In fact, there were four players who beat the total posted by last year's winner! But no one could match Kevin "Big Daddy" Brownell whose fickle gang lost eleven members to batting eyelashes in the final. Some players never have eleven gang members to lose! Stephen "Shocker" Quirke was the runner-up, losing nine gang members to vamps. These two may not know much about wine or song, but I suspect they've got the women part seared into their memories!

Roadkill Award When womanizing Kevin "Big Daddy" Brownell turned in his final results, I awarded him the Roadkill plaque too. Not only did he lose eleven to vamps, he lost another eleven in shootouts. However, Kevin wasn't this year's roadkill. That "honor" rightfully belongs to Stephen "Shocker" Quirke who lost twelve gang members in the second heat. Didn't his mom teach him not to play with guns? In the Victory in the Pacific tradition of not taking back plaques that were errantly awarded, I've re-created the 2004 Roadkill Award and will mail it to Stephen. What I want to know is where "Shocker" and "Big Daddy" get all these gang members to lose!?!

Honorable Mention Initially, honorable mention was an easy choice when I thought "Big Daddy" had edged "Shocker" for both the Roadkill and "I think She like Me!" awards by a 22 to 21 total body count. However, when it turned out the awards were split, then it became a very tough choice. I'd had the other winners posted on my website for almost a week before I could settle on one.

Daniel "The Dasher" Fox merited consideration for letting my senior assistant GM, Kaarin "The Enforcer" Engelmann, sneak her way into the semi-finals when 15 shots from his Racketeer (over several turns) failed to take out one of The Enforcer's lowly level one joints. A noble effort, Dasher Dan!

"Barney Fife" (Cop #2) also deserved some consideration for failing to bring any criminals to justice so often. In one game, Barney went after the same vamp several times falling to her seductive charms each time. He showed up nine ineffective times in the final! But I wanted to give the award to a real player... Nonetheless, I'd love to get the whole list of cop nicknames on my website. Send me any suggestions you have (Cop #10 is already affectionately known as "Robocop").

Derek "Kats" Miller, Peter "The Wolf" Martin, and Victor "The Waiter" Hogen for winning games by establishing red monopolies. "The Waiter" was the only semi-final monopolist. Monopolists aren't at the all-time low they were last year, but it's still a rare event (8% of winners). More fittingly, this year saw the return of Jason "Sticky Fingers" Wagner to the tournament. "Sticky Fingers" won the world championship two years in a row with red monopolies. Are monopoly wins poised for a comeback (as many as 17% of winners in the past)?

But in the end, I elected to give "honorable mention" (worth exactly what it sounds like) to an entire game (played by Steve "Dancin' Man" Cameron, Stephen "Shocker" Quirke, Robert "Bobby Tweaks" Buccheri, and John "Baby Face" Poniske) for the most impressive carnage of the tournament. "Baby Face" went for a Red Monopoly. After he grabbed 3 of the 4, "Bobby Tweaks" spent $500 to help "Dancin' Man" stop him. Then the blood bath began! Twenty-six dead mobsters and another eleven falling to seduction leaving a paltry 16 gangsters between the four players at the game's end! The biggest gang at the end of the game? 3/1/1. The smallest? 0/1/0 (posted by our Roadkill winner, naturally)! "Bobby Tweaks" didn't win this bloodfest, but he went on to be the only player this year to play in all six possible games!

4. Favorite Joints

The Downtown Bus Station expanded its dominance among winner's joints improving its percentage substantially! Over one-third of all winners held the Bus Station at the start of the game!

Here are the joints ranked in this year's top ten:

Rank

Winner's Joints

2004

Total 2002
Rank
Overall
Rank
Trend

1

Downtown Bus Station

36.79%

30.48% 1 1 UP

2

Brizelli's Riverside

31.13%

28.10% 3 2 Slightly UP

3

Ambassadors' Club

28.30% 25.24% 5 3 UP

4

Greenwood Park

22.64%

22.86% 5 4 Holding

 

Brzkowski's Imports

22.64%

21.90% 9 5 UP

 

Palace Chophouse

22.64% 17.62% 2 6 DOWN

7

Franklin Hostel

16.98%

17.14% 5 7 Slightly DOWN

8

Brandon's Bikeshop

14.15% 7.62% 32 12 Way Way UP

9

Pussycat Club 11.32% 11.43% 3 8 DOWN

 

SMC Cartage Co.

11.32% 9.05% 16 9 UP

 

Westgate Hotel

11.32% 6.67% 16 16 Way UP

Shockingly, this list contains 76% of all of the joints listed by winners in their starting set ups! In fact, many winners had no starting joints whatsoever that weren't on this short list! This year's top seven matched identically with the over-all top seven.

Surprisingly, the top five joints saw an increase in the percentage of winners which owned them! The usage of the top five is trending upward even though they're already in the top positions. In other words, those who win the game are increasingly using the top five in their starting setups. Will anyone act to stop the Blue and Green One-Jump strategies from increasing their dominance next year? (Even the lower part of the top ten are the joints which round out these strategies!)

The biggest change this year is Brandon's Bikeshop which wasn't picked by a single winner in 2003 but which zooms up to 8th place this year! On the flip side, the big losers are Wylie's Storage which dropped from eighth in 2003 to a tie for 17th with Huck's Marine (which dropped from a tie for ninth). Cavalry Club was tied for ninth last year but wasn't picked by a single winner this year!  Of the top joints, Pussycat Club and the Palace Chophouse see their fortunes fall -- as mobsters everywhere realize how easy it is to get to those establishments for shootouts, seduction, cop raids, etc.

5. Quotable Gangsters

"I never do the Cop thing." Brutally Honest

"My father gave birth to me." Shocker

"You know you want to." The Viper, whispered in the background as Stanfa Nicademo thought about putting the Public x3 into a $100 joint (a position that would almost certainly result in a prompt visit to the Viper's upgraded Pussycat Club, just as it had twice previously).

"Then it got REALLY bloody." Dancin' Man

"At this point I am gonna say it anyways." (Unknown - Paying $500 kibitzing fine) "Ah, not a money win, huh?" (The Instigator in response)

"You paid top dollar." Two Guns (taking a lone Thug that'd just cost Stanfa Nicademo $600 on the previous move)

"I still like it, but vamps are just cheap hoes. Like vampires, they just suck up everything. But it's OK because it's better that way." Sweet Cakes

6. Final Report

The starting and final positions of the 2004 final (in order of finish) were as follows:

Nick "Dusk" Henning (Southern Syndicate)
Start: 5/1/2, Franklin Hostel, Brizelli's Riverside, Midland House, $400
Finish: 1/1/1, 1 hit, 6 seductions, 8 joints ($1,400; 5 Brown/Gray), $10,000

Jim "The Instigator" Castonguay (Purple People-Eaters)
Start: 5/1/3, Greenwood Park, Hotel Belgrave, Grinder's, $200
Finish: 3/1/5, 2 hits, 4 seductions, 9 joints ($1,400; 5 Brown/Gray), $2,800

Robert "Bobby Tweaks" Buccheri (North Shore Mob)
Start: 5/1/1, Ambassadors' Club, Brzkowski's Imports, Bixby's Books, $400
Finish: 7/1/0, 8 hits, 2 seductions, 9 joints ($2,200; 5 Brown/Gray), $1,600

Kevin "Big Daddy" Brownell (East Side Gang)
Start: 5/1/2, Downtown Bus Station, Palace Chophouse, Westgate Hotel, $400
Finish: 0/1/1, 11 hits, 11 seductions, 9 joints ($2,700; 2 Purple), $2,200

Victor "The Waiter" Hogen (West Side Association)
Start: 4/1/2, Astoria House, Myrtle's Massage Parlor, Britt's Sandwich Shop, $800
Finish: 8/1/2, 7 hits, 3 seductions, 5 joints ($3,200; 3 Red), $700

A quick glance at the final numbers shows that all of the finalists attempted to win using a joint-based strategy. "The Waiter" started going for a Red Monopoly and stayed after it, coming up one joint short at the end (and several times throughout too). The rest ended up with eight or nine joints. In fact, The Instigator was in the tenth joint and ready to buy on the very next move when "Dusk" came up with the 10 G's. Cash is king.

Only "Bobby Tweaks" started with a traditional one-jump combination (Ambassadors' Club and Brzkowski's Imports). "The Instigator" began with a "Mean Yellow Middle" combination which has sneak-up-the-cash potential as well as being a good basis for racking up ten joints. "Dusk" started off with a mixed one-jump set allowing him to grab another while also preventing others from getting key sets to start. "Big Daddy" gets the supreme Bus Station but rounds out his initial set with just one other green joint (Westgate Hotel) in favor of cheap flexibility (Palace Chophouse). "The Waiter," of course, starts off with one red joint and a couple of cheap brown joints on his way to try for the Red monopoly which won him the semi-final.

Many thanks to "Big Daddy" for taking notes throughout the game. Testimony is incomplete and blood stains cover some of the evidence, but there's enough here to convict any of 'em:

And then it was over just like that. The player with the weak gang that everyone had mostly ignored had come up with the dough. Dusk had arrived!

Games where lots of players are going for joints usually end up being bloody. 30 casualties were racked up in turf wars while vamps caused gangsters to change sides no less than 26 times (even more than our honorable mention game)! Given the number of times Barney was on patrol and the number of cops whiffing, the casualty numbers are truly impressive!

However, because the players weren't collecting cash, they could also afford to recruit more often. Even with casualties, there were still 33 mobsters on the board at the end of the game (more than double the honorable mention game)! However, the winner finished with the smallest winning gang of the entire tournament (1/1/1)! Dusk hoarded his pennies and won the rainy day! (Apparently it was raining bullets and beauties!)

Nick shows that a player who patiently collects small payoffs while everyone attacks everyone else will often prevail in the long run. No doubt Dusk felt thwarted in his run to collect joints as his gang and movement options were annihilated, but then he started saving cash instead of spending it sticking with his small 1/1/1 gang until he had enough. The others would have offed him for certain if they'd suspected he was getting close!

Will there be a dawn next year or has dusk come permanently to Chicago? Congratulations, Nick!

7. Changes for 2005

The change to the end of the round (where each player plays once more and then the game continues until everyone has moved an equal number of times) worked very well. We'll use the same end-of-round procedure next year.

1) The big change comes as a result of the confusion and delay caused by having 50 people in a narrow hallway at the start of the third heat! In 2005, the sign-in procedure will change! I'll still begin accepting sign-ins (using the player chits) ten minutes before the official starting time, but now I'll immediately assign players to tables (using Uno cards to assign table numbers and player colors). A table may begin as soon as it's got four players (even if it's ten minutes early)! Players who have a copy of the game will be assigned a table number.

It's been quite a while since there were less than six games at a heat, so I'll start the process with six tables and add more as necessary. During heat #2, one table will be pre-designated for those wishing to use the advanced rules. During heats #1, #2, and #4, one table will be pre-designated for those desiring to use the squirt gun. During heat #3, game owners will designate their game as squirt gun or not (and be placed within the room appropriately) and players will be assigned accordingly. During heats #2 and #3, one table will also be reserved for an early semi-final should five heat winners show up!

If a player randomly ends up in a game with a family member, friend, or teammate, that player can be immediately re-assigned by returning to the GM.

In the best tradition of Gangsters, some of these ideas were stolen. Many thanks to those they were stolen from!

Come early, play early, play longer, and have more fun! I'm pretty sure this plan will let everyone start playing within five minutes of the scheduled time (and some even earlier)!

2) Many thanks go out to Steve "Muscles" Quade for volunteering to teach the Thursday demo session this year. Muscles did an terrific job, as evidenced by the triumph of one of his pupils over the whole shootin' match! As it turned out, my schedule allowed me to attend Steve's demo which was an invaluable way to see it from the attendee's perspective. One thing that became very clear was that with 20 people crowded around a little board no one can see the map well enough to understand!

Thanks to that experience, Steve and I split up the crowd so that everyone could see some examples on the map. If our new champion's skill is any indication, I think it helped a lot.

I'd like to do the same with every demo from now on that is, I'd like to have two or three people teaching each demo so that the crowd can be split up and thereby see and hear clearly.

If you can volunteer to help teach a smaller demo (roughly 6-8 people), please let me know! Next year's demos will be at the same times: Tuesday at 9 pm and Thursday at 10 pm.

3) The announcement sheet was too cluttered this year. I will trim it to the absolute minimum. However, minimal instructions to alternates and winners will be retained more semi-finalists were able to play early this year than ever before as a result.

4) Secondary tie-breakers will no longer be calculated for any player with a completion percentage (the first tie-breaker) less than 70%. Experience shows that this will still give us a list of 25 alternates going into the last heat.

5) The late-night heats will have alternate lists posted on the kiosk by 11 am the next morning. (This will let the GM get a good night's sleep instead of staying up to 4 am both Thursday and Friday nights!)

6) Early semi-finals will require five players.

There were no new rule clarifications this year.  Maybe we've found 'em all?

8. Tie-Breaker Penalties

This year a few players felt that players going for the cash win are unfairly penalized by the "missing gang member" penalties. Please read the following information and then let me know what you think on the survey!

The two tie-breakers, in order, are percentage completion and percentage of winner's total assets. Missing gang members result in a penalty against one's cash total of $700 for the Racketeer, $1,050 for the Vamp, and $350 for the Thug.

The rationale for the penalty is the requirement to have all gang members on the board in order to win. The amount of the penalty for the Vamp and Thug is based on an average die roll (3.5) times the purchase price of the first gang member. The penalty for the Racketeer is arbitrarily set at twice that of the Thug simply because a player without a Racketeer is also effectively losing the entire next turn and has no choice but to buy. The penalty is assessed against cash because that's the resource a player would be spending to replace the missing gang piece.

Naturally, a player who wishes to avoid the tie-break penalty can simply purchase the missing piece on his/her last turn after the fifteen minute time-limit is announced. Of course, if the die roll is higher than 3.5, the penalty is better than making the purchase.

So, what's the dilemma? These penalties affect the first and most important tie-breaker only for players going for the cash win. For example, a cash player with $9,900 who's missing the Vamp will have a completion percentage of 88.5% ($9,900 1,050 = $8,850 which is 88.5% of $10,000). On the other hand, a player with 9 joints who's missing the same Vamp still has a completion percentage of 90%. The penalty affects all players equally with respect to the second tie-breaker (since both players' assets would be docked the $1,050 penalty).

That might seem unfair, but here's a few additional items for consideration:

1) Cash victory was claimed in 73% of all games. Ten joint victory occurred in 19% and monopoly victory in 8%. The overall system is not biased against cash winners.

2) In the five cases where tie-breakers determined victory at the time-limit this year, four went to cash winners despite penalties and one went to a player collecting joints. Three of the five won despite the penalties. These results are consistent with the over-all percentages where tie-breakers weren't used.

3) Players claiming victory through monopoly or ten joints rarely have trouble replacing missing gangsters. Their only other cash needs are the purchase price of the joints.

4) No players who attempted, but failed, to win by joints were admitted as alternates to the semi-finals. Joint-based victory conditions do not allow the possibility of being 91-99% complete. 90% is the highest tie-breaker a joint-based player can get. This year that wasn't enough to make the semis (though it has been occasionally in the past when more alternates were needed).

5) Longer games are more likely to see Ten Joint victories. As a result, the tournament time limit and tie-breakers are more likely to be imposed on games where a ten joint victory is becoming likely.

That's everything I can think of that seems pertinent to the issue now let me know what you think on the survey!

9. Email Competition

Games are already under way. New games are starting as soon as I get four players signed up! Join in the fun by emailing me today at john@gameaholics.com! Check on the action at http://www.gameaholics.com/gangsters_status.htm!

10. Copies of the Game

My supply is almost gone, but I still have new, shrink-wrapped copies available for $45 (plus $7 shipping). As soon as the supply is gone, the price will jump to whatever I have to pay to get more!

If you do find a copy somewhere that you don't buy for yourself, please let me know I buy them to keep the tournament well-stocked! If you find one on eBay, let me know so that we don't bid against each other!

My prices are set to earn slightly less than $5 profit per game which I use on the special awards, name tags, timers, and other goodies for the tournament.

11. See you in 2005!

I hope you've enjoyed this newsletter! Next year, you'll be seated at a table as soon as you turn your player chit in! Come early and play more! I'm also hoping to have a commemorative squirt gun for everyone who participates! Don't miss out!

For anyone who wants even more statistics and information on the games played this year, there's more (and more than ever) on the website: http://www.gameaholics.com/gangsters_tournament.htm!

See youse criminal masterminds on the streets of Lancaster, PA next year!

John

12. Survey

Select all answers that apply.

1. The cash penalties for missing gang members which are applied to tie-breakers are:

(a) not high enough
(b) appropriate as is
(c) unfairly penalize cash strategies
(d) should be eliminated
(e) should be applied to cash assets only
(f) should be applied to all completion percentages and total assets

2. As the Gangsters tournament grows, there will eventually be more than 25 entrants who win a heat and show up to play in the semi-final. How should that scenario be handled?

(a) stick with "one win and you're in" and

(a.1) play a quarter-final round (32 players; Top 2 advance)
(a.2) reduce the field with a squirt gun competition
(a.3) randomly select the semi-finalists
(a.4) play a partial quarter-final (limiting the game to one hour)
(a.5) play a partial quarter-final (limiting the game to two hours)

(b) reduce semi-final to 16 and admit players

(b.1) with multiple wins then combinations of wins and seconds, etc.
(b.2) based on points earned in multiple heats


Gangsters® is a registered trademark of The Avalon Hill Game Company.