The 2009 National Block party was down a little in attendence as we drew 35 people from across six states.  Players attended from across the Midwest.  This year every gamer, that is right, every gamer recieved a free game from Avalon Hill or Rio Grande Games.  Columbia Games provided a limited number of games for sale at a large discount.  We had 11 tournaments in traditional "block games" and many others that all featured wooden components.  Open gaming went on all weekend and we saw play in Liberty, Risk, Robo Rally, Cowboys, Napoleon's Triumph, Texas Glory, Talisman & many others.

Crusader Rex (GM: Scott Bowling) started the weekend off with a single elimantion tournament on Friday at noon.  There were seven contestants that tried to conquer the Holy Lands! All of the games were close coming down to the last card play.  The Franks won 5 of the seven games played.  All of the games except one was a 4-3 win with the other being a 5-2 victory.  Two time champion Mike Updike drew his favorite side the Franks and played Ric Manns who took the Saracens.  The Saracens took a quick lead due to good luck with dice and cards.  Mike began to make a come back as the Knights Charge began to wreak havoc on the Saracens.  King Richard the Lionheart had a final stab at Antioch and fell short on the city walls costing Mike his threepeat.

Hammer of the Scots (GM: Ric Manns) had a new format for 2009.  We had a single elimination tourney with eight players.  We had a change in timing of the tourney because of a schedule change.  Players could have bid for sides, but no one took advatage of this.  Hammer has a steeper learning curve than Crusader Rex or War of 1812.  The new players however did pretty well and pulled two upsets in the early round as Michael C. Sims crushed Dad Mike as the Scots took 11 of the 14 nobles.  The Scots won 4 of the 7 games played leaving Scott Bowling and Ric Manns in the final.  Ric had the Scots and had a poor start, but righted it with good cards and dice around 1300.  Ric had a commanding lead going into 1305.  Scott had to have a good hand and be agressive and have some risks come his way.  Scott was able to make a great comeback converting two nobles on the last card and killing Moray to take his first plaque for Hammer.  I want to encourage the newcomers to keep playing this classic game as it rewards persitence.

Commands & Colors (GM: Mike Updike) tournament consisted of ten great players each deserving of being called "champions".  Unfortunately only two could play for the title of tournament champion.  After many hard fought battles between all, John O'Haver (Runner up in '08) and Mike Updike vied for the plaque.  The battlefield was Ilipa with John leading the forces of Carthage and Mike as the vaunted Roman Legions.  When the carrion littered the battlefied it was the Roman who stood victorious.  Mike had an extremely strong hand being 2 Double Times, First Strike, Line Command, Spartacus and a Mounted Charge.  The Battle concluded with a 7-2 victory for Mike and John finishing second for the second straight year.  Thanks to all players for a great tournament event.

War of 1812 (GM: Mike Sims) was a free form tournament.  Players competed in three games against three different opponents.  We had nine players play over the weekend.  Late Saturday night Scott Bowling stood undefeated and it was a question of wether it would be Mike Sims or Wesley Chapman facing him in the finals.  Players could play the earlier version or the newest version.  Mike Sims played Ric Manns for his third game and Ric was able to knock Mike off as this Brits were able to defeat the US.  The US held a slight advantage for the weekend.  The Final was between Scott and Wes.  They diced for the version and the the newest version was the game for the final.  Wes played the US and Scott the Brits.  Scott had very wet powder and Wes had very hot powder as he was hitting constantly.  It was a rout as Wesley became the youngest tournament winner at 13 years old.

FAB: The Bulge (GM: Bill Beswick) began Friday night with a single elmination tourney that dre four players.  (I felt that this was a good draw with a fairly new game) The Germans dominated the tourney winning every game.  The new tourney scenario may make it more of an even battle.  The final pitted Mike Updike and Bill Beswick.  The game opened with the US taking few losses and holding the line on turn one.  Bill was feeling very good about his start of his game. The second turn saw the German artillery focusing their aim and blowing open holes along the American line.  Crushing the 106th opened up a clear path for the German armor to drive towards the Muese river with the 82nd & 101st arriving too late to save the day.  Great game Mike, I'll get ya next year - Bill

1960: The Making of the President (GM: Ric Manns) began Saturday morning with seven campaign managers.  Nixon and Kennedy split the games over the tournament.  The largest landslide was held by Karsten Klint winning a 379 -147 electoral victory as Richard Nixon.  The closest game was between last year's finalists Bill Beswick and defending champ Brian Schmidt.  Brian playing JFK won a nailbitter 283 - 255.  This year's finals pitted Brian Schmidt and Ric Manns.  Brian played Kennedy and the game see sawed back and forth.  The election day turn was pivotal as Kennedy lost the southern electors, but he was able to capture California on the last event card (CT and CA) and thus the election and his second title in this game.

Diplomacy (GM: Mike Sims) was down this year like many of the other tourneys.  We had 12 diplomats that fought for European dominance over the weekend.  The tourney began with two boards on Friday evening.  We managed only two more boards over Saturday & Sunday.  Jim O'Kelley of the Windy City Weasels dominated the weekend.  He was able to pull a rare feat a solo win on the first night as Austria.  After that he cruised to the tourney title and the initial lead for the Central Shuffle Diplomacy League.  Mark Kusnir finished second for the weekend.  Best country awards were as follows:  Austria - Jim O'Kelley, England - Scott Bowling, France - Charles "Ducky" Stucker, Germany - Charles "Ducky" Stucker, Italy - Jim O'Kelley, Russia - Scott Bowling and Turkey - Wesley Chapman.  The plans are to keep the draw system, but to tweak it a little.

Friedrich (GM: Kevin Rohrer) drew only four combatants this year after having to turn players away last year.  The game is based on the Seven Years War and Fredrick the Great.  The Prussian player struggled as it seemed that Karsten Klint of Ohio could not get any traction against the coalition of Mike Sims, Dave Leary and Mike Updike seemed to dominate the game.  France, Russia and Sweden came out very aggressively while the Austrians laid back.  The French never lost an army and took victory on turn 7 just before Austria could reache her objectives or before Russia could buy her way to a win.

Settlers of Catan (GM: Charles Stucker) was a two round event that added your best scores.  Four players played a game on Friday night and then again on Sunday.  Here is the account of champion: The first game was the closest I've ever played.  Craig obtained the largest army one turn ahead of me and won the game.  This placed Craig Springstube in front of George Springstube, Floyd Resler and Brian Schmidt.  The next game I put pressure on Craig right away with natural 7's and knights.  Blocking his resource production I gained momentum early on with the longest road and settlement. Eventually, I obtained the largest army, but Floyd twice challenged me for the longest road.  I had to solidify my position by building three roads in one turn.
      Floyd experienced a first in his Catan gaming by building his first ever City ever, not only did he build one city but he added another later in the game.  This is the first time that I started the game in the lead to hold that position through out the game. 
Thanks to George for his insight in the tournament.  George would best his brother by one point to take a repeat in this the father of all Euros!

Agricola (GM: David Burris)
drew ten players for its first year.  Two first round games would narrow the field for a final later that evening.  Tome Cleaver won one of the first games with a strategy that maximizing livestock.  Walt Brewer took the other preliminary game.  The final was domianted by Craig Springstube by managing to score in all resources.  It was a dominating performance and score.  David Burris made a come back to make a run at Craig, but to no avail.  Craig took this title in its initial year.

Puerto Rico (GM: David Burris) was played on Sunday.  Ten players particpated in a single elimination format.  Two players adavnced into the final.  We broke for a while to watch the UofL Elite Eight game.  The final featured David Burris, Ric Manns, Craig Springstube & George Springstube.  The game started with Ric taking a lead in Corn.  Craig focused on indigo and George was able to take an early lead in coffee.  Ric combined his lead in corn by adding tobacco and building a wharf and a small warehouse.  Ric won the first Block Party tournament in Puerto Rico.