Blood flowed in the streets of Chicago in 2001 as mob bosses competed fiercely for control. In fact, this year's tournament was the bloodiest in the history of the WBC/Avaloncon with the average number of dead Gangsters in each game climbing to 8.40 (from last year's previous high of 7.39). Of course, it wasn't the winners' blood that was running down the gutters -- in fact, the triumphant mobsters averaged only 1.20 gangsters gunned down per game (an all-time low)!
Averages didn't help Tim "Bite the Bullet" Evinger, who won the "Roadkill" Award for the second year in a row when his gang suffered ten casualties during the third heat! That's good news for Tim, however, since it was fewer than last year! Tim had stiff competition this year, however -- Nick "Slumlord" Smith took nine casualties in the same game where Tim took his ten! Nick's consolation prize was winning that bloodfest (the other two players had nine more fatalities while vamps seduced fourteen more)!
By comparison, the average game had only six seductions (returning to the all-time low after last year's high of 6.42). Of course, the winners did much better than everyone else -- losing only 0.80 gangsters to vamps vs. the average of 1.50.
That's little consolation to Mike "The Nose" Anchors, the PBEM champion, who lost ten of his men to a pretty face during his semi-final match to win the "I Think She Likes Me!" Award -- allowing Mark "Ladykiller" Love to advance! "The Nose" holds the PBEM record for mobsters lost to vamps too -- losing 17 in a single game! Ladykiller's men, on the other hand, were the epitome of loyalty -- with nary a single defection!
This was the bloodiest, most lawless, and wettest tournament ever. Many players don't even wait for the Thursday night Official Squirt Gun Heat to open fire! With the temperatures high, no one minded and there were even a few self-inflicted wounds! Next year the organization may put a contract out on passers-by who think squirt guns and game boards don't mix!
The big question on everyone's mind, as gunfire rang through the streets and seasoned mobsters were deserting their gangs left and right every time a dame batted her eyes, was who needed a pair of "Cement Overshoes" and a trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan? The nominees for our sportsmanship award were Fred "The Saint" Gosnell (last year's winner), Mike "The Nose" Anchors, Nick "Slumlord" Smith, and the winner, Kaarin "The Enforcer" Engelmann. The Enforcer helped improve the way the end of heats will be handled -- while graciously taking a loss in her semi-final due to the old method. Further, Kaarin volunteered to run a heat -- allowing Gangsters to retain a Friday heat. She also personally helped many novices to learn the game. Consider this trip to the bottom as our collective "thank you!"
Honorable mention for this year goes to Matthew "Hell Raiser" Hamel (the lowest AREA rated player) for finishing the tournament in 12th place -- well ahead of his father, Bob "Strings" Hamel (the AREA ratings champion)! Despite his moniker, Matt was very well-behaved, so we can only speculate on his home life...
Finishing in 11th place was Christopher "Half Full" Hensley, who played and won his very first game in the fourth heat. If it weren't for two-time finalist, Nick "Slumlord" Smith, "Half Full" might have made the finals. As it is, he'll have to settle for the "Junior Godfather" Award!
Also deserving of mention is John "No Cigar" Poniske who ended the four heats as the alternate with the first and second place tie-breaks. Unfortunately, his semi-final didn't go any better...
This year's final featured two-time defending champion, Godfather Pitt "Sluggo" Crandlemire, Mark "Ladykiller" Love, Nick "Slumlord" Smith, and Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc. Pitt is the first mobster to ever make it to three finals in a row! On the other hand, this was "Da Spider's" first trip to the finals after several years of persistent effort!
The opening positions were as follows --
Da Spider: Downtown Bus Station (5 Racketeer), Taylor's
Machine Shop (Vamp), Franklin Hostel (2 Thug), $300
Ladykiller: Ambassadors' Club (Vamp), Brzkowski's Imports (2 Thug), SMC Cartage Co. (5 Racketeer), $0
Sluggo: Brizelli's Riverside (Vamp), Greenwood Park (5 Racketeer), Serva's Market (2 Thug), $400
Slumlord: Palace Chophouse (2 Thug, Vamp), Belmar Theatre (6 Racketeer), Sadler's Stichery, $200
The finalists were all very good sports and played their game in the Victory in the Pacific room (where the GM thought he'd be playing as soon as he was out of the Adel Verpflichtet tournament "any minute now" -- he eventually won it a couple of hours later). Fortunately, all the finalists are old, experienced tournament hands and managed without need for question or interpretation (even after the GM arrived)! They even made their own player chits and rummaged up their own timer!
At the fifteen minute warning, all of the finalists agreed to bypass the normal 2.5 hour time limit and play the game to completion. In the future, the GM will offer this option to finalists at the start of every final -- even if he doesn't have a round of VITP to play alongside!
Sluggo, the defending champion, caught Alzeimers early on as he rolled a six on the white die and then proceeded to move a public marker into Franklin Hostel -- one of his favorite joints -- giving $400 to Da Spider! Ladykiller out-did him later on by leaving the x3 Public in the Palace Chophouse (handing $300 to Slumlord) when he could have earned $1,200 himself by moving it to the Ambassadors' Club!
Finally at 2:30 am, Ladykiller managed to complete a Red monopoly and win it all! In the final, he was seduced six times and had both his Thug and Vamp eliminated at various points along the way! In second place, Slumlord had managed to purchase nine joints (slums all) and keep $7,900 away from his tenants! Two-timin' Sluggo was denied his bid for a three-peat though he still managed to salt away $8,100! Da Spider had managed to retain six joints (despite being the target of numerous attacks and nine total gang members lost when he threatened to win early on).
Ladykiller is the first player to win the final with a monopoly since Jason "Sticky Fingers" Wagner did it twice in '96 and '97. However, this win wasn't unusual this year as the percentage of wins by cash dropped to an all-time low of 62% (down from a high of 82% in 1999). On the other hand, wins with ten joints surged back to its most common level (21% after a low of 4% in 1999). Monopolists won 17% -- an all time high percentage of games (including the final) and a massive improvement over last year's all-time low of 8%. Next year, as tournament playing time is increased to 2:45, will joint strategies do even better? Will the blood flow increase again? Come and find out!
Final Report from Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc
Thinking back on the final, I probably had 1st or 2nd when you called time. I certainly got the snot kicked out of me trying to stop Mark's win (same old song as the e-mail game: On my turn 4R went into Astoria Houise (? or Hawthorne Hotel) to take on a 1J, I missed, he killed 1; on Sluggo's turn, I missed, he hit 2; on Slumlord's turn we both hit, but that let Ladykiller's joint surviving). At the start of his turn, Ladykiller only had to flash the $600 for the joint and we conceded (at 0300 in the morning).
On the other hand, my defensive dice were phenomenal. Too bad you weren't there to record the ebb and flow.
Final Report from Godfather Mark "Ladykiller" Love
My mug shot may not be in the yearbook. Let's just say I had the photographer SHOT -- never try to photograph a godfather!
I can fill youse in on what happened in da final.
All four finalists knews how ta play da game -- no newcomers. Pitt "Sluggo" Crandlemire extended hiz record for appearing in consecutive finals. Mark "Ladykiller" Love actually knew all da players, having played Sluggo in da Play By E-Mail (PBEM) 2000 final. He'd met Nick "Slumlord" Smith at da Enlightenment weekend (Age of Renaissance tournament) and played at hiz board three times in 1999-2000. Slumlord had made the Gangster finals in 2000 -- one 'o Sluggo's victims. Ladykiller had actually nominated Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc for da Sportsmanship Award in 2000 for Monsters Ravage America. Ladykiller, Slumlord, and Da Spider ran inta each others beforehands, and agreed dat dey waz not goings ta sit by and let Sluggo use hiz patented Sneak Up On Ya Collectin' Cash strategy. But Sluggo nearly pulled it off anyway!
Da game started wit Slumlord spoilin' Da Spider's effort to git two green one-jumpers and Da Spider messin' up Sluggo's usual yellow joint strategy. Ladykiller had won hiz first PBEM game wit a blue monopoly in 7 turns, and waz poised wit both one-jump blue joints. Ladykiller and Slumlord vamped Sluggo's racketeer four times collectively at da start of the game, slowing his movement ta one. It looked like Da Spider waz goin' for da Michael Anchors patented Bus Station Strategy at da start, but he placed hiz racketeer in Taylor's Machine Shop, foolin' Slumlord's nearby vamp. Ladykiller's racketeer used da same idea, hidin' in SMC Cartage to avoid da ladies. But Sluggo's vamp made him live up ta hiz moniker, payin' a visit on Turn 1. Ladykiller den sent hiz racketeer out of SMC -- and den back in agains, wit heaters ready fer action -- and killed da Lady! Sluggo waz able ta buy hers back quick-like for a lucky $300. Ladykiller den quickly dispatched da coppers afta Sluggo's thug, killin' him az wells.
Da godfadders made some silly mistakes early on. Ladykiller left da x3 public in Da Slumlord's joint -- givin' Slumlord $300 and cost hizself $1200 smackers for forgettin' ta send 'em ta da Ambassador Club. Den Sluggo moved a public inta hiz usual joint -- only ta be thanked by Da Spider, who had bought dat joint hizself at da start of da game. When Sluggo waz lookin' for a spot to place hiz new vamp after Ladykiller iced her, Ladykiller suggested he place her in Spider's joint. (Hey -- da final started at 11 on Saturday night -- deze guyz waz tired!)
Da godfadders figured deyed already cut Sluggo down ta size quick-like and stopped worryin' about him. Da Spider's racketeer waz already buyin' joints like crazy, and didn't seem to be even plannin' on usin' da Bus Station to try to win wit cash. Slumlord's vamp could smell English Leather cologne on Ladykiller, and followed him all over town, raisin' Slumlord's racketeer so he'd be strong enuf ta knock off one o' Da Spider's joints. Ladykiller figured what he waz up ta and didnt retaliate or even hide. Slumlord knocked off da Bus Station and made it hiz own. Sluggo's racketeer looked like he waz headin' ta buy da Pussycat Club, so Ladykiller sent his racketeer inta da red Hawthorne Hotel east of it, figurin' on cashin' in when Slumlord's attacks threw da publics back in da cup - and hopin' ta win wit $10 G's. Ladykiller then bought da red joint across da street. Wit 5 entrances in da joints, he waz still plannin' on a cash win. But Ladykiller remembered howz he'd spent almost da entire PBEM final and da previous 21-turn PBEM game tryin' ta STOP red monopolies.
Ladykiller got hiz racketeer inta da red Caravan Club, but deze waz experienced godfadders, who waz havin' none o' dis! Da Spider sent his racketeer inta da red Martin & Sons and purchased it. Slumlord's racketeer knocked off da Hawthorne Hotel and purchased it hizself. Viper (da GM) came in and waz ready ta adjudicates da game, but nobody knew what dat word meant and dey convinced him (at gunpoint) ta lets 'em play until somebody wins. Slumlord had maybe 7 or 8 joints and might have been da winner at dat point.
Slumlord got a little cockey (or waz it cockney? Slumlord came all da way from da Mother Country ta play dis here game!) Slumlord (wantin' ta live up ta hiz name), sent a public inta hiz new bloodied Hawthorne Hotel. But Ladykiller sent da cops right in, knockin' off Slumlord's joint marker in da process. It waz da turnin' point in da game, as Ladykiller raced back in and bought da place back. He now had three red joints, and he'd just raised da Caravan Club ta a level-2, meanin' any intruders wood be facin' 4 shots from da 2 joint guards, wit a 50% chance o' hittin ya.
But Ladykiller still had ta knock off Martin & Sons ta win -- not easy wit a 6 rack and a 1 thug. So Ladykiller spent most o' hiz money in a all-or-nothin' move -- and bought five more thugs. Slumlord bought hiz 9th joint -- it waz gonna be close! Ladykiller needed ta roll a 5 and 6 to get his racketeer and thug inta Martin & Sons at da same time. Otherwise he needed ta knock off one o' Slumlord's joints -- which turned out to be nowhere nears any subways, in da southern part o' town! (Smart thinkin'!) Ladyluck gave Ladykiller a 5 and 6 on da dice, so hiz 6 racketeer and six thug landed in Martin & Sons and gunned down da joint guard.
Somebody sent a 8 cop inta Martin's. Ladykiller had four cop bribes, but dey waz all da wrong cops! Between da joint guard and cops, Ladykiller's gang took several losses, but waz still standin'. (Hiz vamp was just sittin' admirin' herself in a mirror, so da cops couldn't get her.) Slumlord sent hiz racketeer inta a red joint, but didn't have much firepower left afta takin' hits from Da Spider's joint guard in da Bus Station, and Ladykiller's joint guard in Hawthorne. Da rack missed Ladykiller's joint guard. Ladykiller bought Martin & Sons for a red monopoly, but it wazn't over yet. Slumlord's racketeer waz still standin' in da red joint -- da only hope left. He fired and missed da joint guard again, givin' Ladykiller da wood.
After beatin' down Sluggo early on, hiz opponents waz shocked ta find he had $8,100 ta take 3rd place. Dey figured he only had about $3500. If Ladykiller had rolled low and didn't get inta Martin & sons, he wood have had ta knock off one of Slumlord's joints -- and Sluggo might have won hiz third consecutive final. Ladykiller's gang hardly did any extortin' durin' da game, gettin' cash from movin' publics inta hiz joints. Da early leader usually gets knocked off early in Gangsters, and dats what happened ta Da Spider.
More Comments from Ladykiller
That reminds me of something I left out of the GSR final report. I NEVER could have possibly won the Gangsters final at the WBC if I had NOT played the three rounds and final of the PBEM tournament. The rules of the game seem kind of complicated (rules lawyer run amuck), and the face-to-face game goes too fast for someone learning it. But the PBEM lets you take all the time you need to review the rules before making each move, and to count out all possible moves with all possible gang members, and decide which is the best combination on each turn. And [the GM is] helpful and answering any questions -- some of those PBEM games really tested the limits of the rules, and improved everybody's play.
But PBEM made me reluctant to play it at WBC because you don't have the luxury of that much time, and I'm very intimidated by the clock. So without a lot of expectations, I played in the 4th heat and won the way most face-to-face players do -- with $10 G's. I told one of my opponents that the handout [the GM gives out] showing the one-jump joints and the high and low mobility spots is a great tool for PBEM play. Even though I'd forgotten a lot of the rules, because of PBEM, I still knew where all the one-jumpers were and how to use the subways with both gang members and cops. The articles Michael Anchors wrote for the website are inspired for developing strategy. He raises the level of play from just playing against him.
The semifinal was adjudicated and I had three red joints. I mistakenly left the x3 public in Michael Anchors' Martin & Sons on Turn ONE, putting another $1800 in his pocket for $3600. We all beat poor Michael into the ground, making sure he didn't get his typical cash win -- we made him spend it on new gang members. Kevin Wojtaszcyk had a 10 rack and a 3 thug and was kicking butt and taking names, so I think he would have won with a little more time. I bought the first red joint halfway through the game. I had actually followed Kevin's vamp into one to try to kill her, since she had been following me all over the map, making me live up to my moniker. (I can't help it.) I bought the place 'cause I was there anyway. Kind of won by accident.
I knew you [the GM] found Pitt to be your nemesis in your semifinal, and he really came close to winning the final. I knew he likes Greenwood Park for its many entrances, which creates lots of opportunities to get the public in and return them there if they're moved out. So I figured he'd start his rack there to double it on Turn 1, which he did. My vamp was waiting for him in Ambassador Club. In the PBEM final and the WBC final, he sent his rack towards Pussycat Club, the absolute easiest place on the map to catch a rack with your vamp and keep leaving and re-entering. I don't think he actually went in there in the WBC final -- he might have been vamped off the map if he did. But he showed that you do NOT need more than a 1 move on your rack to compete effectively for the win.
I also felt that from playing Pitt before, that he would do nothing to stop a player from getting 10 joints, other than using cops, so he also wouldn't buy muscle to stop me on my end game move for a red monopoly. But his reasons are sound. He's going for cash from the start -- it takes a lot of discipline to stick to it, and it usually works. He couldn't believe it when I used a 6 roll on my vamp to vamp his rack, instead of going for the cash. But it gave me an extra move on my rack, which soon put a public in my joint.
There's a lot to be said for Pitt's method. I won with a blue monopoly in 7 turns in PBEM by using the vamp and thug exclusively for extortion, right from the beginning. It gave me the cash to buy each joint. I think that when you [the GM] went for a red monopoly right from the start in the PBEM final, you became the first target. I actually used the blue one-jump joints to finance the purchase of a red monopoly -- but I actually never planned to do that. I kind of fell into it -- I really wanted to use the blue AND the red joints to finance a cash win, since that's how most of the face-to-face games are won. I just got lucky on the dice and bought all four red joints in about 6 or 7 turns. I didn't even buy the first one until about Turn 5. As you found out yourself, once you've got TWO, everybody starts sweating, so you better have some cash.