EuroQuest » News » EuroQuest 2011 Wrap-Up Report

Author: John Weber
EuroQuest 2011 is now history. New records were set in several categories, and several new faces graced the winners’s circle. Record attendance of over 325 (over a 10% jump from 2010) meant that the convention has now more than doubled in size since its inaugural edition in 2003. This year’s event had a truly international flavor, as attendees represented four different continents, coming from as far away as Australia, Israel and Rumania, to converge at the Hilton Pikesville near Baltimore for four days of fun and competitive gaming. This year’s convention program was jam-packed with tournaments, new game demos and a variety of other activities in a welcoming environment. Tournament attendance swelled as well, with eight of 11 returning main event tourneys setting all-time highs, while the remaining three fell only one or two short. The Hot New Game for 2011 -- 7 Wonders -- led the way with an all-time EuroQuest single event attendance record of 80, shattering the old mark of 68 set by Ticket to Ride in 2009 when that tourney doubled as a qualifying event leading up to a World Championship tournament sponsored by Days of Wonder. Ticket to Ride attendance also broke the old mark, by 10, with a total of 78, while Stone Age – in just its second year as an EQ main event – tied the old mark at 68.

Dramatic finishes were also the order of the day, with the new attendees playing a leading role. Heading into the final series of tournament finals on Sunday, Haim Hochboim of Israel – one of two EQ 2011 attendees from that nation – stood atop the HLS leaderboard with 28 points, plus he had advanced to the final of one of the three remaining tournaments – Ticket to Ride, guaranteeing even more points. Thus, it seemed likely that the HLS Trophy – which had made it all the way to the Seattle area in 2010 (in the custody of Randy Buehler) – might head even further, all the way out of the country. Former HLS winner Rob Kircher’s bid for a second HLS win ended when he flamed out in the Settlers final, finishing fourth. However, all was not lost for the USA as the Power Grid final also featured Daniel Eppolito, another EQ first-timer, who was still in contention, bidding for his second event win after having captured the Ra title. The Power Grid game, which took a long time to complete, went Dan’s way, enabling him to surge past Haim in the HLS standings. At this point the pressure shifted to Haim, as only a first or a second in the Ticket to Ride final could tip the balance in his favor. However, it was not to be, and the HLS Trophy went to Dan Eppolito who amassed a record total of 33 HLS points. Haim Hochboim (30 points) finished second, followed by California’s Bill Zurn, who zoomed to third place overall with a win in the final event to finish – 7 Wonders. Bill’s 28 HLS points was good for third place ahead of a trio of former Siegelman Trophy winners: 2007 winner Rob Kircher (25 points); defending Champ Randy Buehler (25 points) and 2009 winner Sceadeau D’Tela (24 points) who came in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

Dan’s two wins in Power Grid and Ra were matched by Ben Scholl, who was also a double winner in Agricola and Puerto Rico. Like Dan, Ben was attending his first EuroQuest. Haim Hochboim put himself near the top of the Siegelman charts with a win in Dominion, followed by a runner-up finish in Agricola, assuring that there was going to be some “wood” on the plane back to Israel. Haim’s countryman, Aran Warszawski, was not to be outdone, taking top honors of Princes of Florence, which was the first event to finish. Bill Zurn (7 Wonders), Vien Bounma (St. Petersburg) and Jim Castonguay (Thurn and Taxis) rounded out the list of first-time EQ winners; Vien was also a EQ rookie, while Bill and Jim were not. The Settlers, Stone Age and Ticket to Ride titles were the only three events to fall to prior EQ Champions. Brian Reynolds, back at EQ after a year’s absence, did not lose a step as he took his fourth Settlers of Catan title, making him only the second six-time event winner in history (his other two wins coming in Princes of Florence); he also became the first to win the same main event EQ tourney four times (after already becoming the first three-peat in this category in 2009). Stone Age was won by Virginia Colin, who now had a different event win to go with two prior titles in Ticket to Ride. Sceadeau D’Tela won the Ticket to Ride tournament, which makes him only the second player in EQ history to win four different tournaments – in Sceadeau’s case, it is now four wins in four different events in just three years. Sceadeau’s 23 tournament wins over the course of the four days set a new record – two more than the 21 racked up by Rob Kircher in 2010.

However, the most stunning result at EQ this year occurred in the Wild Card event. Five-time Champion Eric Freeman was going for #6, but he faced a determined challenge from EQ first-timer Andrew Emerick, who targeted the Wild Card event as a member of the defending team Champions, Magic Men. Eric willingly accepted the challenge from Andrew, and the two played many games together, often back-to-back. Andrew jumped to an early lead by the conclusion of the first day (Thursday) and, by 8 PM Friday, he had built a 57-point lead (187-130) over Eric. By the close of the day, though, Eric had reduced the gap to just 12 (234 to 212). By late morning on Saturday Andrew’s lead was just 15 (255 to 240). At this point, Andrew put on a surge that carried him well past the 300-point level. By Sunday morning, though, Eric had run up the white flag, ending an epic marathon battle in defense of the title he has owned the past four years. Final Wild Card point totals: Andrew Emerick, first (393 points); Eric Freeman, second (338 points); Rob Kircher, third (191 points); Sceadeau D’Tela, fourth (153 points); Randy Buehler, fifth (136 points); Eugene Yee, sixth (136 points). Andrew’s 393 points set an all-time record, as both he and Eric surpassed Eric’s prior record totals of 334 (2009 and 2010).

The team tournament – co-sponsored this year by EPGS and GCOM -- provided even more excitement as the defending Champions, Magic Men, were forced to regroup as defending HLS Champion Randy Buehler had to scramble to find replacements for two team members who had collectively carted off first place EQ plaques in 2010. He found suitable replacements in Sceadeau D’Tela, his predecessor as HLS points winner, and the aforementioned Andrew Emerick. However, the Israeli duo of Haim Hochboim and Aran Warszawski partnered with EQ veteran Raphael Lehrer, and their team – Line of Succession – stood atop the team standings heading into the final day of competition. Then, with Andrew having locked up the Wild Card, Sceadeau reached the final of Ticket to Ride while Randy advanced in 7 Wonders. Could a double win – and a perfect team score of 30 points – be in the offing? Sceadeau executed his part of the plan, but Randy came up a little bit short and came in second – his fifth second place in the past two EQs. The team total of 28 points was enough to earn the Magic Men a repeat title, besting their 26-point total from 2010. Once again, Randy (with eight points for the 7 Wonders result) proved to be the “weak” link in the chain.

Here is a complete summary of 2011 EuroQuest Tournament Results (numbers of participants in parentheses):

7 Wonders (80): Bill Zurn
Agricola (41): Ben Scholl
Dominion (54): Haim Hochboim
Power Grid (57): Daniel Eppolito
Princes of Florence (34): Aran Warszawski
Puerto Rico (58): Ben Scholl
Ra (42): Daniel Eppolito
St. Petersburg (47): Vien Bounma
Settlers of Catan (55): Brian Reynolds
Stone Age (68): Virginia Colin
Thurn and Taxis (45): Jim Castonguay
Ticket to Ride (78): Sceadeau D’Tela
Wild Card Event (150): Andrew Emerick
Team Tournament (17 teams): Magic Men

This year’s EuroQuest was not just about the tournaments. There was a main Prize Table Drawing on Saturday evening that included several Essen games, other top new releases such as Belfort, Eminent Domain and Urban Sprawl. There was also an Early Bird Prize Drawing on Thursday. Another new popular new feature was the “Designer’s Den” which saw several game designers on hand showing their published or prototype games. Award-winning designer Volko Ruhnke, Bill Crenshaw, Matt Calkins and the father-son duo of Bob and Max Jamelli were the participants in this inaugural effort. This, coupled with a jam-packed schedule of new game demos, provided adequate opportunity to whet convention-goers’ appetites for new games, not all of which fell into the “Euro” category.

This year’s convention also had a new look, as green tablecloths designated tables reserved for tournament play, and key convention staff donned bright red-colored badge holders. Four recently released English editions of Russian games were on hand, courtesy of Right Games, LLC. Three vendors (Canton Games, Our Game Table and Z-Man) did a brisk business, and Z-Man brought a demo copy of the recent Essen hit Dungeon Petz that was in constant use. The Hilton staff provided a food and beverage service to keep convention attendees from going hungry and thirsty while not missing out on much gaming time. New tables were added on Saturday as overcrowding became an issue for the first time in the new facility.

Putting on this year’s EuroQuest was truly a group effort. As Convention Co-Director, I wish to thank everyone who helped out this year, in particular my new Convention Co-Director, Norman Rule, along with: Marcy Morelli, who assumed the new position of Tournament Coordinator; Amy Rule, who served as Schedule Coordinator but also as chief Administrative Assistant with a variety of additional functions; Lee Mewshaw, who filled in for Keith Levy as Hotel Coordinator; Nessa Mongold, who was the new Front Desk and Registration person; and Uber-Geek Ron Robinson, our new computer software and hardware guy. Not to mention Brian Stallings, who once again served as Wild Card coordinator, EQ organizing committee member and also prepared the program book; Eric Sokolowsky, who ran a very successful Math Trade; Mike Brazinski, who helped with the scoresheets and the demo table placards; Eric Hymowitz, our GCOM Webmaster who was kept busy with numerous website updates; Eric Haas, the guy behind the camera, taking tons of pictures that will hopefully be posted on flicker soon, along with Games Librarian Rodney Bacigalupo who transported the bulk of the supplies and storage cases, along with a valuable assist from Brian Mongold. All the GMs, Assistant GMs, Wild Card GMs, demo volunteers -- including Larry Loiacono and Kerrin Addis, who both had returned to Essen and shared some of their favorite new games with others, as well as Jeff Thornsen, who volunteered to demo a couple of games sight-unseen -- also Doug Faust, who secured a copy of Core Worlds through the efforts of Stronghold Games and game designer Andrew Parks – you guys did the bulk of the work. Also, thanks to the front desk volunteers, all of whom helped out tremendously. A big shout-out to companies and individuals like Tasty Minstrel Games, GameSurplus, Z-Man Games, Alderac Entertainment Group (unsolicited), Canton Games, Rio Grande Games, Right Games LLC, Family Game Store, Stronghold Games, Our Game Table, Matt Calkins and Alliance Game Distributors, who stepped up to the plate and provided games and other merchandise for either the prize table or the games library during the convention.

While we have yet to finalize a hotel agreement for next year’s EuroQuest, everyone should pencil in the dates of November 1 – 4, 2012. However, I believe it will be hard to top this year’s convention which was by all stretches our most successful to date.

I may try to put together a Geek List of personal experiences, but offhand some of the highlights of this year for me were:

1. Beating game designer Bill Crenshaw at his own game, Entrepreneur, played late Saturday night after all the tournament action had concluded. Of course, the fact that the other two players also finished ahead of Bill meant he came in last -- Priceless!
2. Slugging it out in the Colombian jungles (metaphorically speaking) in game designer Volko Ruhnke’s recent creation, Andean Abyss. Even though I didn’t understand the game that well and had to keep pestering Volko with questions, the game mechanic of being active on only one of two revealed cards was a refreshing change to the typical card-driven wargame.
3. Taking on game designer Matt Calkins at his own game, Sekigahara and getting crushed as the Tokugawa player although I did manage to escape an early demise on the second turn to battle on before going down to a glorious defeat in turn five. Also got to try Matt's new game, Tin Goose, which I hope gets published by RGG soon.
4. Beating both of the top two Wild Card guys, Andrew and Eric Freeman, along with Eric’s Dad, Jim, in a four-player game of Vegas Showdown in the Wild Card event.
5. Getting to an elimination round game (semifinals) in Puerto Rico after having two last place finishes the year before.
6. Watching Derek Poletti pull out both his sisters and Dad in the Saturday PM prize drawing.
7. Playing Automobile with Jeremy Oppenheim, Justin Morgan and Brian Waterhouse. I managed to win that game, but it was bittersweet as, with only other play, it looks like Automobile will be removed from the agenda for next year.
8. Seeing my GCOM-Laurel teammate Eric Sokolowsky take the second place prize in Princes of Florence, making him the top US representative in the field, since the winner, Aran, was one of the two Israeli guys who did quite well.

Tue Nov 8, 2011 5:12 pm
Author: gattling
Thanks, John, to you and your "crew"! This was our third EQ, and my wife and I had a blast!
Wed Nov 9, 2011 3:45 am
Author: kerrinaddis
Thanks to all that made EQ so much fun. There is a lot of talk about tournaments and scores and results and schedule but I am not one for the stress of tournament play (although I did play in a few).

For me it is about the great friends you make, and a chance to hang out and play games with people who love playing games. I hung out mainly in open gaming and taught a lot of games and learnt a lot of games and played some old favorites.

It was a blast and worth traveling from Australia. Hope to be there next year depending on exchange rate and air fare prices. I might try the wild card event next time

Congratulations to all the winners of wood and the organizers for putting on such a great event that created such a great atmosphere.

Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:09 pm
Author: Sceadeau
I always look forward to your reports. You never disappoint.

You run a great event.

To add something to the exciting team tournament -- Line of Succession had all but wrapped up the team win going into Sunday -- with Randy not having even a semi locked up, and me having a semi in a game I don't feel terribly strong in -- Ticket to Ride.

I had to pull out a double win at it, while Randy had to win either in settlers to make it to the semis, or in 7 wonders -- he ended up getting the 7 wonders semi, and making it to the finals from there. We were a very long shot going into the day, but somehow pulled it out by the end of it.

Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:20 pm
Author: Hector Vortac
Miss y'all.
Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:32 pm
Author: John Weber
I should add to the initial wrap-up report that our final paid attendance number for this year's EQ is 340, by far a record (the previous mark was around 290, from 2010).
Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:19 pm