2008 World Championship Yearbook

Bob "Strings" Hamel avoided being strung up by his fellow mobsters just long enough to capture undisputed domination of the criminal underworld and the right to be called our Godfather at this year's Gangsters World Championships.  The competition was intense with 71 criminal overlords attempting to dominate the streets of Chicago.  Many of them returned time and again -- refusing to be beaten until the last drop of cement in their new overshoes had hardened.

Gunfire continued late at night around much of downtown.  Even when the staccato of Chicago typewriters couldn't be heard, the sweet cajoling of the ladies persuading gang members to switch allegiance filled the night breeze.  When morning dawned a mere twenty factions remained.  Affectionately known as "semi-finalists," these gangs didn't ease up on the competition.  Even the Cops were running for cover -- finding a donut shop where they could take cover until it was all over.  Twenty became five.  Hardened street warriors all.  No mere drive-by shooting would discourage such from the quest.  But in the end, Strings owned the real estate and the other gangs were looking at bankruptcy, if they were lucky, or a heater wedged in their ribs if they weren't.  Congratulations, Strings!  OK, coppers, it's safe to come back out (as long as you take bribes from the right guy).

Such are the tales of the 2008 World Gangsters Championship.

We had a lot of fun not too long ago.

No sooner had the squirt gun fire died down than participants on the World Boardgaming Championships' board on http://talk.Consimworld.com were wondering if water was the right ammo for Gangsters' weaponry.  Replacement suggestions included lighter fluid, BBQ sauce, and time-freezing formula (that would allow one to miraculously participate in all 150 or so tournaments at the WBC).  Let's just say I'm glad the squirt guns contained water during the 45-squirt salute to celebrate my birthday at the start of the fourth heat!

Now that the dead have been buried (and the zombies too), the stats have all been calculated and the tales and pictures have all been collected.  This Halloween will be just a bit scarier since this newsletter contains all the gory details of this year's Gangsters event.  Once again I've collected a few Gangsters-related comics.  If you enjoy them, encourage your local papers to carry these strips.

Da Joker summed it all up when he wrote, "Most fun I have ever had."  Enjoy the memories!

Table of Contents

  1. Annual Survey
  2. Vampage!
  3. 2008 Records
  4. 2008 Winners
  5. 2008 Special Awards
  6. Favorite Joints of 2008
  7. Quotable Gangsters
  8. Game Commentary
  9. 2008 Final Report
  10. Copies of the Game
  11. PBEM Competition
  12. Happy Holidays!

1. 2009 Survey

There's no news about next year here yet -- except to say that I'll be running Gangsters at the World Boardgaming Championships on August 1st - 9th, 2009.  Plan on being there and throwing your fedora in the ring once more!  However, no Gangsters yearbook would be complete without an opinion survey to see what all of you think could be better or would prefer to see next summer.

No, I won't ask who you supported for president.  Think of this survey as one place where your vote really does count.  So vote early and vote often!  Please send your responses to john@gameaholics.com by the end of November.

1. In 2008 the big change was the move of the fourth heat, semi-final, and final to Saturday night (at 5, 8, and 11 pm respectively).  How did that work for you?

  1. I prefer the Saturday night line up
  2. Both Saturday and Friday are OK with me
  3. I prefer the old Friday night schedule
  4. I'd prefer a Sunday morning semi-final and final
  5. I'd prefer a schedule that didn't conflict with _______________________  Suggested time? __________________

2. The last two themes were "The Year of the Cop" (2007) and "Vampage!" (2008)  What theme would you most prefer for 2009?

  1. A Piece of the Action (the Star Trek Gangsters Episode)
  2. Donuts
  3. Licensed to Squirt
  4. The Rival Gangs (Green vs. Red vs. Yellow vs. Brown vs. Purple)
  5. Back to the Basics (No Theme)

3. At the 2008 Semi-Final, twenty heat-winners signed in.  The old format would have seen four five-player games played with a four-player final thereafter.  However, there's another possibility -- playing five four-player games with a five-player final afterward.  This year I asked semi-finalists to vote on which they preferred.  They almost unanimously went with the five four-player semi-final games.  On the other hand, another school of thought suggests the final should be the game kept to four players if possible.  What do you think?  Should the change be permanent?

  1. Yes; a 20-player semi-final should be played as five four-player games and a five-player final
  2. No; a 20-player semi-final should be played as four five-player games and a four-player final
  3. Either is OK by me

4. The parts of the Gangsters tournament that need the most improvement are:

  1. Pre-Tournament Newsletter
  2. Heat Scheduling
  3. Semi-Final and Final Scheduling
  4. Demo scheduling
  5. Demo presentation
  6. Check In -- Start of the Round
  7. Themes
  8. End-of-Round Time Limits
  9. End-of-Round Tie-Breakers
  10. Post-Round Communication (Kiosk Postings)
  11. Post-Tournament Newsletter
  12. Email Tournament
  13. None of the above

4a. What do you recommend to enhance each of the items you selected above? (Add as many comments as you desire!)

5. The time I'd most like to see a heat of Gangsters (when there currently isn't one) is: _____________________________

6. Some players are reputed to be using too much time before rolling the dice and getting their move underway. What change, if any, should be made to address this concern?

  1. As soon as one player's turn ends, start a 3-minute timer for the next player which covers their whole turn.
  2. The abuse is limited to just a few players; put a 3-minute timer only on players incurring complaints.
  3. It's a minor issue; address it through announcements and reminders only.
  4. It's not a significant problem; make no changes.

Thank you for participating in this year's survey!

2. Vampage!

Vampage is pronounced like rampage, and that's exactly what we had this year. There were more losses to Vamps than ever before (with 8.41 per game). Was it the shirts and badges? The table flags? Or have players finally discovered the power of their lady mobsters?  

"No! The special prizes must be mine!"
-- Ladykiller

The "Vampage!" was "Gangsters' Ladies Night." It got underway even before the convention as Rolinda "Ma" Collinson, Kaarin "The Enforcer" Engelmann, April "The Ox" Gardner, Ruth "Miss Kitty" Evinger, Aurora "Tasslehoff" Pack, Marie "Da Djinn" Pack, Sharee "Jezebel" Pack, and Mary Ellen "Da Kitten" Powers volunteered to wear custom polo shirts to the each heat they played. For the Vampage to work, I needed to seed the tournament with shirts -- since players had to win a game against someone who was already wearing a shirt in order to win their own. Many thanks to these volunteers for accepting that bulls-eye so cheerfully. In return, each got a unique shirt with their very own mobster nickname on it.

Thanks to Mark "Ladykiller" Love (above) for providing some bonus prizes that fit our theme nicely (which he'd picked up for Monsters Ravage America at after-Halloween clearance sales).  These prizes were made available to lady gangsters who already had a Vampage polo shirt. The three bonus prizes were a pair of spider gloves, a set of $$$ brass knuckles, and a red and black feather boa. These were won by three of our early volunteers -- April "The Ox" Gardner (below) took the gloves, Rolinda "Ma" Collinson (left) got the feather boa, and Mary Ellen "Da Kitten" Powers scored the knuckle bling.

Thanks to the lady mobsters many others were able to win Vampage polo shirts. These included Chuck Halberstadt, Andy Gardner, Nick Smith, and Bob Hamel in the first heat; Tony Musella, Thomas Richardson, and Christ Entwistle in the second heat; Michael Wojke, Craig Reece, David Pack, and John Elliott in the third heat; and all heat winners thereafter. Congratulations to all of our lucky winners!

Between the "Year of the Cop" and the "Vampage," there are now thirty-two custom Gangsters polo shirts out there. Double congratulations to anyone who managed to get a shirt from both years!  This coming year, I'll be looking for a non-shirt giveaway.  For the shirt owners, I note that you should wash in cold water.  If the inkjet color runs a bit, a washing should clean it right up (at least that's what happened with my Cop shirt).

If you're interested in making the most of your Vamp, check out the strategy article I wrote last year to prepare for the Vampage. It's still available at The Art of Seduction. A pretty face may not solve all your problems, but she can sure make some problem for the other gangs!  And somehow that makes one feel a lot better...  :-)

3. 2008 Records

We set about twice as many records this year as last.  After taking a year off, Gangs pulled the lead (and the heaters) out this year.  Appropriately, losses to Vamps were at an all-time high this year.  We really did have a Vampage!  In addition, we also set a lot of records for carnage from shootouts -- so either the police were a lot more effective or the gangs were shooting it up.  Winners took more damage than ever, but they're still taking less damage than everyone else.  (Maybe there's a reason they're the winners, right?)

Interestingly, it's getting harder to win with cash.  Don't get me wrong, cash still prevailed in 60% of the games, but it's a far cry from the 84% of 2006.  This is the second year in a row that we've set the record for lowest percentage of games won by cash.  Is it because players are getting better at collecting joints or because they're getting better at putting the smackdown on the cash leaders?


# Previous high was set last year
* Previous low was set last year


Notes: 1) No one has ever won a tournament game starting with fewer than four Racketeers or without a Vamp or a Thug (i.e., 4/1/1 is the smallest starting gang that has any chance).  2) The only starting gangs that recorded a victory this year were 4/1/2, 5/1/1, 5/1/2, 5/1/3 (once), and 6/1/1.  Those gangs won 42%, 35%, 25%, 9%, and 60% of the games where they were used respectively.  That suggests that our better players are using 4/1/2, 5/1/1, or 6/1/1 gangs most often.

Get complete statistics at http://www.gameaholics.com/gsr_wbc/gsr_statistics.htm.

4. 2008 Winners

Bob Hamel pulled the right "Strings" to pull off his win with ten joints.  He needed to recruit both his Thug and Vamp on the last turn, but he rolled low enough to finish with $200 to spare.  This is the second year in a row that the final has been won with ten joints -- a first in tournament history.  Last year's winner, Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker, finished in eighth place this year.  In fact, none of last year's finalists returned to the big game this year.  However, of the finalists only John "Bugs" Elliott was new to the final.  Bugs had finished as high as seventh place before.  Two former champions returned to the finals -- Nick "Dusk" Henning and Tom "The Mumbler" Richardson.  Nick "Slumlord" Smith has appeared in many finals but has yet to claim the top prize.

Here are all of the top twenty-five finishers:

Place Name & Moniker %
% of
Winner's Assets
1 Bob "Strings" Hamel 100 100
2 Nick "Dusk" Henning 80 240
3 Nick "Slumlord" Smith 75 113
4 John "Bugs" Elliott 60 114
5 Tom "The Mumbler" Richardson 50 158
6 John "The Viper" Pack 99 88
7 Rolinda "Ma" Collinson 91 113
8 Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker 90 104
9 Craig "No Cigar" Reece 90 60
10 Michael "The Infidel" Wojke 86 119
11 Andy "Scarface" Gardner 77 100
12 Chuck "Da Joker" Halberstadt 75 116
13 David "Da Kid" Pack 75 51
14 Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc 73 249
15 Tony "Big Tuna" Musella 70 215
16 David "Wheels" Fritsch 70 54
17 Chris "Little Red" Entwistle 67 49
18 Angela "Red Rose" Collinson 60 127
19 Phillip "Iron" Entwistle 52 57
20 April "The Ox" Gardner 50 101
21 Mike "Mickey the Wire" Buccheri 100 -
22 Jim "The Instigator" Castonguay 100 -
23 Ernie "Da Provoker" Chambers 100 -
24 Louis "Coins" Gehring 100 -
25 Mary Ellen "Da Kitten" Powers 100 -

Phillip "Iron" Entwistle makes his case to Rolinda "Ma" Collinson and a bystander, "I've been vamped too much!"

The Mumbler and the Viper are pretty sure Iron's Racketeer
needs to be vamped another once or twice...

21-25 are the heat winners, alphabetically, who didn't come to the semi-finals.  If they'd come, all of them would have been able to play in the semi-final since Gangsters counts each heat entry as an independent single-elimination opportunity.  The tie-breakers are listed to give everyone an idea how they work.  This is the second year in a row that no alternates have advanced to the semi-final.  Before that, at least one alternate had always advanced!  Both years exactly 20 heat winners have shown up at the semi-final.  How likely is that?

Current AREA ratings include all 2008 results and are available at: http://wolff.to/area/T_Gangsters.html.  The ratings are a pretty good, over-all indication of how one has done over the years with the exception of the GM (because I play in every heat and, therefore, have a lot more early rated games than anyone else).  As with all rating systems, recent results tend to have a greater impact on the rating.

The Preacher contemplates while Ben "The Roach" Gardner looks on and Keith "Sparkey" Galbraith is blinded by the flash.

  5. 2008 Special Awards

Cement Overshoes Sportsmanship Award – This year there was only one nominee for the Cement Overshoes.  Thankfully, it was a good one!  Nonetheless, I encourage each of you to make note of any good sportsmanship, funny comments, or other notable occurrences during your games on the back of your player chit.  That's the only way I can honor the right players and make this newsletter fun to read.

On his way to the bottom of Lake Michigan with his new pair of Cement Overshoes is Jordan "Preacher" Halberstadt.  The Preacher went out of his way throughout an entire heat to ensure a first-time Gangster had a good experience -- even though his help was often detrimental to his own position.  This was Jordan's first nomination for this award.  I appreciate both the person who nominated Jordan as well as Preacher's welcoming play.  His sportsmanship is the kind of thing that will ensure that the new players comes back for another try on the streets of Chicago next year.  Thanks, Preacher!

New recruits learn the ropes of the criminal underworld at the Gangsters Demo.

Junior Godfather Award - Speaking of novices, this year there were 18 Gangsters with zero or one prior games of experience.  Four of them won games in the heats -- Craig "No Cigar" Reece, Chris "Little Red" Entwistle, Phillip "Iron" Entwistle, and Ernie "Da Provoker" Chambers.  The first three competed in the semi-final.  However, in the semis "old age and treachery" beat "youth and exuberance."  The winner of the Junior Godfather Award, therefore, was determined by tie-breakers.  We should say it was "close but no cigar."  Craig "No Cigar" Reece was our winner -- having completed 90% of his objective by the time his semi-final finished.  The winner of that game is lucky it didn't take him another turn or two!  Congratulations, No Cigar!  Congratulations to Little Red and Iron Entwistle for doing so well as a family in their first showing -- we hope to see you all back in 2009.

No Cigar earns the Junior Godfather award in his semi-final against Dusk (the eventual winner of this game, "Pink Nick" Henning)

Andy "Scarface" Gardner and Chuck "Da Joker" Halberstadt face off
in the semi-final against No Cigar and Dusk.

There were a lot of Gangsters who made the tournament a family business this year -- including Chris "Little Red" and Phillip "Iron" Entwistle.  Other mob families that participated were Angela "Red Rose", Ashley "Angel", and Rolinda "Ma" Collinson; Ruth "Miss Kitty" and Tim "Bite the Bullet" Evinger; Andy "Scarface", April "The Ox", and Ben "The Roach" Gardner; Dee Ann "Roadkill" and Louis "Coins" Gehring; Jeff "The Head" and Kevin "The Bag" Hacker; Chuck "Da Joker" and Jordan "Preacher" Halberstadt; Aurora "Tasslehoff", David "Da Kid", Howard "The Dentist", John "The Viper", Marie "Da Djinn", Mirth "Da Pillow", Sharee "Jezebel", and Whitney "The Shy" Pack; and Henry "Teech" and Tom "The Mumbler" Richardson (minus Pat "The Honeymooner" this year).  We'd like to see many more enter the family business next year.

Mirth "Da Pillow" Pack claims the title "cutest criminal mastermind."

"I Think She Likes Me!" Award – After winning this award last year (by losing eight gangsters to Vamps in a single game), I decided to make myself ineligible for the special awards.  Apparently, youse guys didn't get the message, since I still lost seven gangsters to Vamps in a single game.  Thanks for thinking of me!  (And, yes, that game was the semi-final where I finished with $9,900.  The same game where Phillip "Iron" Entwistle complained about the Vampage when he finished with a total of six seductions.  We'd have done more for you, Iron; you just needed to recruit some more guys for us to seduce!)

This year's winner also lost seven gangsters in a Vampage that she probably had a hand in starting -- because that's her playing style and source of her nickname.  Sharee "Jezebel" Pack, my wife, was this year's "ladies' favorite."  Congratulations, Jezebel!  There were lots of players who lost six mobsters to Vamps this year -- coming up just short.  The vamps working for the family business will do their best to help someone else win next year!

Second heat action sees April "The Ox" Gardner and Ashley "Angel"
Collinson across the table from "The Head."

Angel watches Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker, 2007 Godfather, add to
her Roadkill-winning death toll as Aurora "Tasslehoff" Pack observes.

Roadkill Award – Game winners suffered more violence from their opponents this year than any previous year for the second year in a row!  Interestingly, despite the record carnage levels, the Roadkill winner actually took fewer hits than in many past years.  We've had winners take 12 or 15 hits in the past.  However, someone in the tournament always takes it in the chin a bit more than everyone else -- usually a good player that everyone else is trying to stop (or else the player who insists on extorting in the Pussycat Club)!  This year's winner, Ashley "Angel" Collinson, was no exception.  She took nine casualties in a single game.  It's tough to have much of a gang left after those kind of losses!

Writing of her game, Angel said, "There was a lot of shooting.  I was in the last Purple, owned by Slumlord.  Shot it with my last Racketeer, hit, and was promptly shot dead on the spot."  Of that game The Head reported, "Angel stopped me from winning by buying the last Blue joint.  Slumlord won by defending The Head's Rack Attack on his joint."  Angel's game saw the highest total losses to gunfire with 23 total losses.  Angel finished with 4 of the 5 Purple joints.  There was another game with 22 total casualties, but no player in that game had more than six losses.

This year saw the original winner of the Roadkill award, Dee Ann "Roadkill" Gehring, and her husband, Louis "Coins" Gehring, return to the action.  As you might guess, Dee Ann's moniker is not a coincidence.  We hope to see them back next year along with their daughter, former Godfather "The Stephmeister."

Barney Fife Memorial Award – This year we inaugurated a new award in keeping with last year's "Year of the Cop" theme.  To win, all one has to do is be the first to use Barney Fife (Cop #2) to inflict two losses on a rival gang in a single shootout.  This award is unique in that it can be awarded immediately but also in that it may not be awarded at all some years.  To kick things off, the retroactive 2007 award was presented to the winner of last year's Robocop shirt who also managed to roll boxcars with Barney -- Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc.  Da Spider is one of my multi-year assistants who can always be counted on to peer from under his rumpled green fedora to answer your questions.  This year Da Spider used a bribe of Barney to save his Brizelli's Riverside from being raided.

It took until the fourth heat to award this year's Barney Fife Memorial.  Who won?  None other than last year's Godfather -- Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker.  The Head's skill with Barney helped propel him into this year's semi-final as he was able to delay his opponents' plans long enough to collect ten joints.  The Head knows that Barney is the thin blue line standing between Chicago and total anarchy (which we define here as "other gangsters winning").

Honorable Mention – The number of unusual occurrences on the streets of Chicago was lower than normal (or at least fewer were written down).  But there were still several good candidates for honorable mention:

Jim "The Instigator" Castonguay took seven losses in shootouts and another four losses to lovely ladies during the third heat.  The other three players took two losses in shootouts and seven to Vamps between them!  The Instigator took more than half of the games' total losses.  He hung on and managed to prevail anyway -- winning with a blue monopoly on tie-breakers when time expired (83% complete).  There were only three victories by way of a monopoly this year.

Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc (wearing his Robocop shirt) and Angela "Red Rose" Collinson, fedora on standby, play their semi-final.

On the other side of the same board, Anthony "Big Tuna" Musella plots his domination of Chicago.  The Slumlord (Nick Smith) avoids a mug shot.

The first heat game between Alan "Tick Tock" Arvold, Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc, Gordon "Itchy" Rodgers, and Scott "The Bag Man" Sirianna did everything in three's.  The only shootout of the game saw three of the Bag Man's Thugs attack one of Itchy's joints.  Result:  After three turns, three dead Yellow Thugs.  The only recruiting of the game?  Three Yellow Thugs to replace the dead.  Da Spider lured the x3 Public into the upgraded Downtown Bus Station thrice.  The Bag Man bought the Ambassadors' Club three different times after the Cops busted it twice.  The end of the game saw Da Spider "forget" to buy a $600 joint and shortly thereafter declare victory with 10 G's.  (At least he didn't get away with declaring victory with just $3 G's!)  Ripley's Believe It or Not is interested if all of the players were born on March 3rd.

My third heat game with Blair "The Plug" Morgan, Gordon "Itchy" Rodgers, and Rob "Moneybags" Kilroy saw all four Public markers paying out at once.  Not only that, but all four continued to pay out turn after turn for some half-dozen turns.  They weren't always paying the same gangs -- each turn every gang's top priority was stopping those Public payoffs.  But the result was always the same -- the Public moved out of one gang's joint and across the street into the moving gang's establishment.  The x1 Public markers paid a lot of dough to their establishments -- since they were always the low priority.  As you can probably guess, the winner didn't have ten joints or a monopoly.  Everyone had some serious G's.

Steve "Muscles" Quade, our official Demo Monkey, studies notes as David "Da Kid" Pack,
Chuck "Da Joker" Halberstadt, and Anthony "Big Tuna" Musella make a triple-grab over the board in
front of an innocent bystander.  The big question?  Who's on the payroll of the mob?

But the Honorable Mention winners for this year are David "Da Kid" Pack, Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker, and Peter "Numbers" Staab.  Their unusual game ended in a three-way tie at the buzzer.  Each had seven joints (70% completion).  The second tie-breaker determined that Da Kid would qualify for the semi-final with the most assets ($12,400 vs. $7,550 and $6,300 respectively).  Keith "Sparkey" Galbraith, the fourth member of the match, playing his first game ever, wasn't far behind the 70% tie -- he had $6,700 in cash (67% completion).  More than that, this game set some serious total carnage and vampage records -- with 22 gangsters dying in shoot-outs and another 21 changing hands due to seduction.  Numbers wrote, "This was a very bloody and 'loving' game."  What a warm welcome for Sparkey!  Lest anyone think blood shed will scare Sparkey off, he wrote, "First Time; good game. :-)  See ya next round!"  That's the spirit!

6. Favorite Joints of 2008

SMC Cartage Co. returns to the top ten after a one-year absence.  The other long-term favorite that dropped out last year, Taylor's Machine Shop, remains out of favor, languishing in a five-way tie for eleventh place.

The bigger news, however, is that the iron grip of the Downtown Bus Station seems to have been broken.  The Bus Station is still number one in the cumulative standings (which change very slowly) but drops all the way to a tie for fourth place this year.  The share of winners owning the Bus Station at the start of the game dropped 27%.

However, Brzkowski's Imports, which was tied for first place with the Downtown Bus Station last year, drops even more -- plunging to 8th place.  The share of winners holding Brzkowski's drops 54%.  Lest you start thinking that this is sounding like the stock market, there are also big winners.  This year's top dog is the Ambassadors' Club -- moving up from 6th place last year.  It's interesting that the other half of the blue one-jump strategy takes first place this year.  Brzkowski's fate suggests that other players are still refusing to allow an opponent to own both of these joints (and wisely so)!

Brizelli's Riverside and Greenwood Park were tied for third place last year.  This year they're tied for second place.  Brizelli's is usually the weaker sister in the green one-jump strategy -- but not this year.  Greenwood Park is a favorite add-on to almost any strategy and a cornerstone in the Mean Yellow Middle and Sneak-up-the-Cash strategies.

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


Winner's Joints




Ambassadors' Club

31.43% 25.50% 6 3 Way UP


Brizelli's Riverside


28.33% 3 2 Slightly DOWN


Greenwood Park


23.51% 3 4 Slightly UP


Downtown Bus Station


29.75% 1 1 Way DOWN


Jaeger's Clothier

22.86% 9.92% 10 10 Way Way Way UP


Franklin Hostel


17.28% 5 6 UP


Pussycat Club 20.00% 12.46% 8 8 Way UP


Brzkowski's Imports


22.10% 1 5 Way Way DOWN


SMC Cartage Co. 11.43% 10.48% 17 9 UP
  Cavalry Club 11.43% 5.38% 27 18 Way Way UP

Cavalry Club makes its first appearance in the Top Ten since 2003.  The biggest winner of the year is probably Jaeger's Clothier -- moving up from 10th place to a tie with the Downtown Bus Station for fourth.  In 1999, Jaeger's wasn't owned by a single winner.  Now our favorite clothier has cracked the all-time Top Ten (a very tough feat as most years see no movement in the over-all rankings at all).

Franklin Hostel remains a rock solid add-on to any joint, yellow, or sneak-up-the-cash strategy -- dropping one notch from last year (but back into it's all-time 6th place slot).

Green's loss with the Downtown Bus Station also sees Green add-ons Westgate Hotel and Taylor's Machine Shop lose favor with game winners.

The year's biggest drop may be the Palace Chophouse -- which is out of the Top 10 for the first time since 2000.  The all-time 7th place joint drops to a three-way tie for 16th.  Perhaps players have figured out that the Palace Chophouse is located in Vamp Central (same as the Pussycat Club, but without the massive one-jump potential).  It's a great place to leave (e.g., Vamp jump-off point), but not a great place to be!  Fewer winners owned the Palace Chophouse this year than any other year when this data's been collected.

One interesting joint that's not in the Top Ten is Myrtle's Massage Parlor.  This year Myrtle's ended in a five-way tie for eleventh.  But more importantly, Myrtle's was owned by more winners than ever before.  That was true last year too.  If that keeps up, we'll be seeing Myrtle's in the Top Ten soon.

7. Quotable Gangsters

"You can make deals!?!" -- Dusk [GM: Yes, during the buy phase the active player can made deals.  The active player can transfer cash and/or joints to other players.]

"That girl has a mean aim!" -- Little Red, referring to The Ox

"I don't like the cop there." -- Ladykiller

"As much as I don't like seeing you make money, I really don't like seeing him make money." -- Muscles

"This is killing me!" -- Dusk

"Come on, Baby.  The cops'll be here any minute." -- Miss Kitty (as her Thug gets vamped and busted at the same time)

"You are crazy!" -- Dusk

"The carnage has begun." -- The Viper

"There should be a I-can-only-roll-1's award.  Stupid dice game.  :-(" -- Moneybags
"See if you can roll 6's instead of one." -- Strings
"See.  That's what I'm talking about!" -- Moneybags

"Everybody's unhappy -- Big Tuna produced the #4 bribe on Dusk's move to save the Thug extorting in the only Blue joint not owned by Dusk.  What a bribe!" -- Dusk

"Make some fast cash." -- Strings

"I think the Body Shop has turned into a brothel." -- Muscles (after being vamped twice there)

"I got my own agenda.  I'm gonna let 'im have another $2 G's.  Then you'll have to pull your own weight around here." -- Moneybags

"What youse pullin' in?" -- The Viper
"$100" -- Da Spider
"Ka-Ching!!" -- The Viper

"Don't think of it as losing a Thug but as gaining a target." -- Bugs

"Double your profits; double your fun." -- The Mumbler (scoring with the x2 Public)

"That's amusing!" -- Da Spider (seeing a possible move for T.J. Hooker [Cop #7])

"If youse smells somethin' bad..." -- The Viper
"If only we could narrow it down to just one source." -- Itchy

"The Vamp's not earning money???  That's because she's working too hard -- vamping my Racks!" -- Little Red

John "Bugs" Elliott gives pointers to John "The Viper" Pack,
Henry "Teech" Richardson, and Paul "Da Spider" Bolduc

"Seven crimes and two cops.  I like this city -- just like D.C." -- The Mumbler

"I'm still Rack-backward." -- Shades

"I'm not the champ; I'm the GM." -- The Viper
"So that's like saying, 'You're not the hero; you're the diety'!?!?" -- Moneybags

"Oh, so now it's 'we' gotta stop this?!!??" -- Itchy

"*#$'ing vamping." -- Iron (this is an exact quote from Iron's paperwork)
"You're a chick magnet!" -- The Viper
"Time for the Vamps to get to work." -- The Viper (later as Iron recruits three Racks)

"Just smack him if he keeps that up!" -- Ma (about The Mumbler)

"You moved it into a brown joint?!" -- Iron
"Yes......... I'm brown." -- Ma

"That was stupid.  I don't win this turn because I don't have $600." -- Da Kid (missing out on a Red Monopoly)

8. Game Commentary

"Da Kid, Big Tuna, and Muscles destroyed me!  :-)" -- Da Joker

"My three Thugs attack a x1 Joint, don't get a hit, and get wiped out!" -- The Bag Man

Kaarin "The Enforcer" Engelmann  and Andy "Deck" Latto have their
heaters hidden around here somewhere...

Marie "Da Djinn" Pack summons cash from The Enforcer as
Chris "Little Red" Entwistle looks on.

"Kojak (Cop #6) failed to get Da Djinn's Vamp -- she was too cute.  Da Djinn spent the game with just 1-2 Racks.  Little Red blew away two of the Enforcer's Racks in a drive-by on the street.  The Enforcer paid $500 to stop Little Red from scoring another $2,400." -- The Enforcer

"Vamped the Preacher's Rack to go to six." -- Dancin' Man

"Every payout in one of my joints saw the very next player hit my joint with a cop." -- Bobby 2 Fingers

"The Infidel had really bad rolls." -- Strings

"Double vamped on Turn One under the Viaduct." -- Shades

"The Big Tuna wanted to control the Red joints.  It took three gangs to can the tuna." -- Wheels
"Well executed battles to eliminate the Astoria House the turn before I purchased Hawthorne Hotel.  Ladykiller is a crack-shot, and my joint fell." -- Big Tuna
"Big Tuna shot out Hawthorne Hotel after I bought it to stop his Red monopoly.  I shot out a x2 Astoria House to prevent the Red monopoly and reduced the Caravan Club by sacrificing a 1-Thug.  Early move of x2 Public into x2 Joint gave Wheels, the winning player, $1,200." -- Ladykiller  [GM: FYI If enemy gangsters are completely eliminated, any hits assigned to a joint are ignored.]

"The Viper and The Mumbler both try to move another gang's Vamp on two different occasions each!" -- The Viper

"All of these guys were very cool and chill." -- Dusk

"Great game" -- The Mumbler

9. 2008 Final Report

Bob "Strings" Hamel showed that his high AREA rating in Gangsters is well-deserved by scoring a quick ten-joint victory in this year's final.  It marks the first time the ten-joint strategy has prevailed in the final two years in a row.  Here, in movement order, are the five finalists, their starting positions, and their status at the end of the game:

John "Bugs" Elliott (Purple)
Start: 4/1/2; $500; Pussycat Club, Channel View, Martha's Commissary
Finish: 4/1/0, 0 Hits, 3 Seductions; $2,200; 5 joints (3 of 5 Purple) – 4th Place

Nick "Dusk" Henning, 2004 & 2005 Godfather (Yellow)
Start: 5/1/1; $400; Brzkowski's Imports, Ambassadors’ Club, Carlton Apts.
Finish: 7/1/1, 1 Hit, 0 Seductions; $5,500; 8 joints (3 of 6 Blue) – 2nd Place

Bob "Strings" Hamel (Red)
Start: 6/1/1; $400; Jaeger's Clothier, Myrtle's Massage Parlor, Lou's Diner
Finish: 4/1/1, 4 Hits, 2 Seductions; $200; 10 joints (5 of 9 Brown) – Wins!

Tom "The Mumbler" Richardson, 2006 Godfather (Brown)
Start: 5/1/2; $300; Brizelli's Riverside, Franklin Hostel, Taylor's Machine Shop
Finish: 4/1/3, 0 Hits, 1 Seduction; $4,300, 5 joints (3 of 7 Green) – 5th Place

Nick "Slumlord" Smith (Green)
Start: 6/1/2; $200; Palace Chophouse, Belmar Theatre, Albemarie House
Finish: 6/1/1, 2 Hits, 3 Seductions; $700, 6 joints (3 of 4 Red) – 3rd Place

Some observers claim there was more violence than reported.  Maybe the media is gettin' da squeeze?

Setup Commentary – Since I was running a concurrent Medici heat, the final was over before I got to observe much of the action.  Thankfully, Slumlord took a few notes for us and Strings wrote an account of his victory later that I'll also include in its entirety.

The setup is interesting in that only one player uses the common, default 5/1/2 gang setup.  No one is playing on automatic -- every detail is being squeezed to maximum advantage.  The 4/1/2 with Purple that only works when you're moving first is present as are this year's favorites -- 5/1/1 and 6/1/1.

John "Bugs" Elliott calmly takes in the big board on his way to a semi-final triumph over the standing Chris "Little Red" Entwistle.

Little Red towers over David "Da Kid" Pack (who seems to have acquired Ladykiller's hat) and David "Wheels" Fritsch.

Bugs takes advantage of his spot picking first by selecting the Purple one-jump joint, pairing it with another purple, and then saving $500 for an instant upgrade of the Pussycat Club on the first turn (which allows the Racketeer to flee before the Vamps arrive en masse).  However, his second Purple (Channel View) doesn't help a cash collection strategy (which benefits from Cavalry Club) or monopoly strategy (which almost requires Frankie's House of Cards).  Two-time winner Dusk selects the Blue one-jump strategy and picks up both key joints (Brzkowski's Imports and Ambassadors' Club).  He saves $400 for the first turn upgrade.  It's a deadly strategy employed by the Stephmeister in her 1998 win and by The Viper in 1995.  It's only downside is that experienced players will not be caught off-guard by it any more!  Strings and Slumlord both begin with three $100 joints and six Racketeers.  It's a race for the cheap gin joints!  Good thing all the gray buildings are available for $100 in the five-player game.  The Mumbler begins with two one-jump joints (Brizelli's Riverside and Franklin Hostel) as well as a second green joint (Taylor's Machine Shop) and the $300 needed for a first-turn upgrade.  Presumably, he'll attempt a Sneak-up-the-Cash strategy -- having bypassed the obvious and unowned Downtown Bus Station one-jump strategy.  (This is quite likely the first final in more than a decade where no one has owned the Bus Station!)

It's worth a look at the starting joint collections of each player.  Bugs owns the 8th, 22nd, and 38th most popular joints.  Dusk owns the 3rd, 5th, and 41st most popular.  Strings takes the 10th, 14th, and 26th place joints.  The Mumbler takes the 2nd, 6th, 11th most popular joints.  Slumlord takes the 7th, 12th, and 59th (the Albemarie House has never been owned by a winner before).  On this basis, the Mumbler appears to have the edge; however, Dusk has a similar set.  Strings has the edge over Slumlord but only because of that 59th pick.  Given the quick game, I'd have said Bugs or Dusk with their one-jump duets would have had the best shot.  But we know that's not how it played out!

Slumlord's Notes

"Donation for my Thug -- like flowers!" -- Strings (collecting $600)

"That's a big gun..." -- Slumlord commenting on Pink Nick's Vamp with Kojak (Cop #6)
[I gather that Pink Nick is "Dusk" -- since he was wearing a black vest over a hot-pink shirt.]

Bugs kills Pink Nick's Thug with a Cop while killing String's Vamp with his Rack.

"I can't get a Public into a Red joint, no matter how hard I try!" -- Slumlord

The Godfather Speaks

Bob “Strings” Hamel: After dinner and the loss in We the People, I had a tough choice to make. Naval War was at 6 pm but was scheduled for 3 hours. Normally, Naval War SHOULD be over in 2 hours, but if you have a slow table (usually of 5 or 6 players) it COULD go longer, and the GM said he couldn't assure me I would be done in time for my 8 pm Gangsters semi-final, so I had to forgo this game.

GM: Interestingly, there's more water in Gangsters than in Naval War...  Obviously, Strings choose his events wisely.

Strings: I got to the Gangsters semi-final and was matched with Andy Gardner's daughter, April, and Jeff Hacker (last year's winner of Gangsters and one of my opponents in last year's semi-finals). We had a good game, but early die rolls for all players except April were VERY low – lots of ones, which is very bad for movement. April had four blue joints when Jeff and I went into each of the remaining two. Then she "faltered." She should have gone into at least one of the joints to knock it off and convert, but she didn't. Instead, she seemed to switch to a money strategy which gave me an opening for my 10-joint strategy.

Players have three ways to win - 10K in cash, 10 joints, or a monopoly of one color. I pretty much always go for 10 joints – it’s easiest on my brain, but sometimes I will try to combine joints and monopoly. This time I just went for the 10 straight-out but, again, was hampered by poor early rolls. Lucky for me the other two players besides April were going for money or monopoly and had worse rolls. I finally got into my last joint and, even though I was shot up, was able to hold on for the win. So I was in the finals for the first time in about five years!

Strings takes advantage of the Godfather Jeffrey "The Head" Hacker's absence to win his semi-final.  The Ox wonders what happened to her Blue monopoly.  Mike "The Infidel" Wojke conspires on the other side of Chicago.

The Gangsters final was a five-player game – not originally designed on the board.  It requires a fifth, Purple gang and makes ALL the joints, including gray buildings, available for purchase. For my 10-joint strategy that change is tailor made for me, and I went for it. Nick Smith was going for a Red monopoly; Nick Henning, two-time winner, was going for money; Tom Richardson, also a former winner, was kind-of going for money; and John Ellis was also sort-of going for money.

GM: The ten-joint strategy really benefits when no one else is aiming for the same goal. It makes finding an available property each turn much easier.

Strings: We started out again with poor rolls for me as my Rack rolled a one three turns in a row which ALMOST made me switch to a money strategy as I had the Bus Station by then. Greenwood Park was unowned for five turns until my Rack finally was able to make it into this other "cash" joint. BUT I stuck with my 10-joint plan and started to get the rolls. I was helped significantly by my Vamp, who managed to take away other gang's Racks and Thugs – increasing my moving ability, helping me recover from a shootout, or over-all increasing my gang’s size for the end game. Once my Thug had been shot up in the previous turn, but I was able to recruit another Thug using my Vamp. I put the Thug on the board and was able to use him right away to make $500 which proved critical in the final turns. On the next turn around the board, I was able to move into the next-to-last-joint I needed but lost my Vamp to police fire.

GM: A little vampage goes a long way…

Strings: Nick Smith was going for a Red monopoly and had three of the four joints needed when I got my Rack into the final Red joint in the top, right corner of the board [Caravan Club]. I now had nine joints, and, with this purchase, I would be able to stop Nick while buying the last joint I needed to win. So I was the target as everybody had what might be the last turn around the board. Tom was not able to do anything to stop me, so it went over to Nick Smith. He also was not able to do anything, so John killed my Thug – now putting me in a very dangerous position.

In order to win, you have to have one of the three criteria stated above BUT also have to have at least one of each gang member on the board.  I had two (of three) off the board and only five Racks. If my opponents took out two of my Racks I would not be able to buy the missing gang members (since that would drop my ability to move or recruit pieces from two to one).

Anyway, that never happened as my opponents’ Vamp/Thug rolls were very low. Nick Henning's rolls were pretty much no-go, so it came down to me. Now I needed to pay $600 for the last joint (the most expensive kind on the board) AND have enough money left to buy back at least one Thug and a Vamp. The Vamp costs $300 x roll of the red die while the Thug costs $100 x roll of the black die. I had $1,800 after buying the joint. Remember that $500 Thug that I scored a turn or two ago? Well, that pretty much saved my bacon as I rolled a five for the Vamp and a one for the Thug for total cost of $1,600 – leaving me with just $200 left. If I had rolled a 6-Vamp or a 4-Thug roll, I'd not have been able to get all three gang members on the board, and Nick Henning had just about 10K. …BUT I did have the goods and WOODED!!!!

The game was over by 1:20 am, so I even got to bed at a "decent" hour – not like the 2:30 am game that was my last final.

A few more things that I remember about the tournament (some things still pretty hazy): In my first game of Gangsters I was playing Sharee Pack (the GM’s wife), and, as it was the year of the Vamp and I won, I won a Vamp Shirt. Also, in my semi-final AND final games of Gangsters, I forgot to buy for a turn such that if one of the other players didn't also forget to buy I would not have won either game...whew!

10. Copies of the Game

At the moment, I have no copies of the game available except the jumbo-size demo copy (the board and pieces are four-times the normal size) which is available for for $100 plus shipping.   I hope to have a few copies before the 2009 WBC and that the prices can be kept at 2008 levels.

11. Email Competition

The VASSAL game set for Gangsters is still under development.  I still expect to announce a PBEM tournament as soon as the module is ready to go -- which I hope will be in 2009.  The good news is that VASSAL is Java-based, so everyone who can access the internet can use it.  There are also stand-alone copies for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux machines.  Even better, VASSAL and its game sets are free of charge!  Bill Thompson is the designer.  I have great confidence in the quality of his work. I expect we'll see a very professional looking module that we'll all wonder how we managed to get without paying a lotta G's!

12. Happy Holidays!

You can get additional statistics, reports, articles, and information by following the links from the main tournament web page http://www.gameaholics.com/gangsters_tournament.htm! I'm in the process of revamping the organization of this website, so keep an eye out for updates and changes!  ("Revamping" is such an interesting word as it relates to Gangsters...)

I hope you all have a wonderful Gangsters' holiday season from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas and Hanukkah to the New Year. Here's a little something for your Gangsters' Christmas! Give yourself a BPA membership and plans for next year's WBC in your stocking this year -- and maybe a little oil and polish for yer heater too.

And, for the GM, remember to send your survey answers in soon. Thanks!  I hope you enjoyed this newsletter as much as I enjoyed having all of you participate in the tournament this year!


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