The 2000 battle for control of the streets of Chicago involved a record 38 skirmishes as 63 godfather-wannabes (40 in the first heat alone) collided in the only four-round Gangsters Tournament ever!
When the last bit of extortion was done and the last bullet had been fired, Godfather Pitt "Sluggo" Crandlemire emerged to claim sole control of the Chicago underworld for the second year in a row despite wearing a name tag declaring who he was during the whole melee! "Two-timin' Sluggo" is the second champion, after Jason "Sticky Fingers" Wagner, to claim back-to-back titles. Sluggo is the first player to make it to three finals in a row (taking 2nd place in 1998). Will he be the first to take three titles in 2001?
Starting the tournament off with a bang, Tim "Bite the Bullet" Evinger won the "Roadkill" Award when his gang suffered twelve casualties in shootouts in the very first heat! That didn't stop him from coming back and taking nine more casualties in his next game! Last year's winner, DeeAnn "Roadkill" Gehring, maxed out at just seven casualties.
Not to be outdone, Kevin "Ice Pick" LeRow won the "I think She likes me!" Award in the first quarter-final game ever finished when opposing vamps coaxed, seduced, and otherwise persuaded ten members of his gang to switch sides! If that weren't enough, he lost six more as casualties in shootouts when he ran into Jeff "Stonewall" Finkeldey! As a warm up, "Ice Pick" (or should that be "Hot Stuff?") lost nine more gang members to enemy ladies in earlier matches. He's definitely a ladies' man!
There's no doubt this was the bloodiest, most lawless tournament ever. And with the introduction of the Thursday night Official Squirt Gun Heat, it was also the wettest! Many players had never braved the squirt gun before (including the GM), but found themselves enjoying it enough to want it in every heat (especially with the temperature in that little room)!
Adding a bit of sanity to the bloodbath, "Two-timin' Sluggo,", Anthony Daw, Matt Evinger, Doug Galullo, Fred "The Saint" Gosnell, Bob "Strings" Hamel, Gordon Rodgers, and Nick Smith were each nominated for the sportsmanship award. Fred "The Saint" Gosnell, who also received nominations in 1999, won the award for his patient guidance of novice players, pointing out moves that worked against him when they were in the best interest of the other player, and an overriding desire to make the game enjoyable for everyone all the time! What did he get for his efforts? A pair of "Cement Overshoes" and a trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan, of course!
In the 1:50 am final, Roger "The Banker" Taylor bought the Ambassador's Club, the Pussycat Club, and the Palace Chophouse along with 5 Racketeers, 2 Thugs, and the Vamp to start. "Two-timin' Sluggo" went with his patented sneak-up-the-cash opening: Greenwood Park (immediately upgraded), Franklin Hostel, Lou's Diner and a 6/1/1 gang. Alfred "Flash Flood" Wong went with Brizelli's Riverside, the Downtown Bus Station, Taylor's Machine Shop and a 5/2/1 gang. Nick "Slumlord" Smith opened with Brzkowski's Imports, Brandon's Bikeshop, Westgate Hotel and a 5/2/1 gang.
Slumlord dropped to a single move (thwarting his joint buying strategy) before his first turn as Sluggo, Flash Flood, and The Banker vamped to increase their own flexibility. With 8 Racks, Sluggo jumped to an early lead -- keeping the public orbiting around and in the Park (which thwarted Flash Flood's one jump joint strategy). The Banker was largely unable to get them into the nearby Clubs and kicking himself for not getting two blue joints so that he could upgrade; though he was able to extort from local businesses.
With Vamps going nuts, Sluggo needed to move out of Greenwood Park to protect his Racketeer. He declined to go to SMC Cartage Co. because of a nearby Vamp at Brandon's Bikeshop. After his turn, he realized that it was his Vamp! In fact, worry about vamps was a big factor throughout the game. Slumlord commented, when his Vamp was unable to take advantage of a good roll, "She's such a good girl."
Slumlord took Flash Flood down a notch by using a tactic he learned from Jim "Mr. Nice Guy" Rochford (one of Flash Flood's own teammates) -- buying a joint where a criminal thug is extorting in order to wipe that piece out in successive shootouts. The cops finally did Flash Flood in by wiping out his vamp ("Welcome to my world!"). Without the squirt gun, he resorted to knocking over a glass of water to soak himself. The game was quickly relocated to another table!
When all was dried and done at 4 am, Two-timin' Sluggo was champion once again with 10 G's. In second place, winning the "Junior Godfather" Award was Roger "The Banker" Taylor. In third place, and gaining honorable mention was another first-timer, Nick "Slumlord" Smith. Al "Flash Flood" Wong took 4th. Come join us next year to see if anyone can unseat Two-timin' Sluggo!
Roger Taylor writes:
In the final I was singlemindedly after the money. As initial joints I wanted the Ambassador Club and the blue one that was 4 away from subway #4 (can't remember the name). I got the former but was beaten to the latter, then I made the mistake of buying the Pussycat Club instead of a second blue joint. It was a mistake because I forgot that I needed two blues to upgrade the Ambassador. (And, as it turned out, I never made a cent off of the Pussycat. Grr.) I remember getting one Public into the Ambassador at x1 when it could have been x2 with foresight.
When Pitt bought the park I thought: good, then I can steer his Public into the Ambassador. But Pitt was able to upgrade the park early, and he got better Public rolls than I did. He outplayed me at the money game.
I was pretty frustrated when all the Public came out of the cup early, and they did a good job of avoiding my joints.
On the first turn I used my Vamp to seduce a Racketeer to bring mine up to 7. After that, she extorted, except when my Rac or Thug strength got low, at which time she "recruited" again. I didn't use her offensively. In retrospect, I should have Vamped Pitt's Rack every chance I got. My Thug only extorted.
Al Wong writes:
I can't remember if I moved last, but I moved after Pitt. If I move before him in another game I'll use his strategy of the Park/6 Racketeers/1 Thug. Buying 2 yellows and a brown lets him upgrade the Park on turn 1.
Pitt and the second-place guy (Roger) had bonus joints from the 3 subway, but it was Pitt who was mainly collecting.
I tried 3 greens/5 Racketeers/2 Thugs and upgrading to level 3, which worked well in my previous 2 games. Perhaps I should've bought 1 yellow instead which would've let me upgrade immediatedly.
I reduced Pitt's Park joint from a 2- to a 1-level twice by moving a cop there when it had a public. Roger had a chance to do the same and wipe out that joint entirely, but he used a different cop to hit me and moved the public to his 3 subway bonus joint.
With two publics left I had tried to get one into my 4 subway bonus joint. Unfortunately I pulled the 1 public. Pitt pulled the 3 public and moved it into Park joint and another public into another joint to end the game.
Nick pulled a trick on me he learned from my teammate "Mr. Nice Guy" Jim! He moved his Racketeer into a building with my Thug and built a joint. I had tried to move out but missed a building I could've moved him to. This hurt because Nick moved after me and I would've had to survive three turns.
I didn't get the public into my 4 subway bonus building much because Pitt and Roger were pulling the publics. My Thug and Vamp also got killed several times.
Nick could only get 1 hit on 6 shots on Roger's 2-level Thug. My Vamp was in position to kill Roger's Thug and restore my killed Thug, but a cop got her first. This really hurt because Roger's thug ended the game earning $600 for 5 turns and $400 on the last turn.
Nick Smith writes:
I really hadn't expected to get past the heats for this event, my first game was the Official Squirt Gun heat on Thursday night. We were decisively beaten by Jim "Mr Nice Guy" Rochford, but I enjoyed the game so much that I entered the final heat on the Friday and was lucky enough to get through to the play-offs as first alternate. To my great surprise I reached the final, which started at 0150(!).
We agreed that the game would finish at 0400 if nobody won before that, and then we were off. I decided to try for 10 joints to win the game, only to find my Racketeer vamped by Pitt on the very first move of the game. Unfortunately Al Wong did the same on the second move of the game and I started my first turn with only one move (I think - I'm pretty sure I started with 5-1-3 and 400, 300, 200 joints - but it was a week and a half ago at 2 in the morning...). I managed to get my Vamp and Thug extorting within a couple of turns, but it was quite a while before I was able to vamp anyone and get my moves back up to two. Pitt seemed the clear leader from very early on: he was sitting on 4 moves and was keeping pretty good control of the public, who all stayed pretty close to the park (apart from when they were actually IN the park). The first half of my game was pretty static, I only had one move per turn and wasn't able to move around much. I was also worried about the Vamps, since I got hit three times very early in the game and I had seen the effect of being reduced to zero Racketeers in a heat game. Once I got back up to two moves I was able to start buying joints, sticking to the $100 ones because my income was low - I don't think I got a payoff from the public in the whole of the game. On one occasion Al moved a Thug into a joint with my Racketeer and left him there, I then bought the joint and the resulting shootouts left Al with no Thug when it got round to his turn again (I think. I'm pretty sure this was in the final, but you might want to check with Al as well. The joint in question was the one near the edge of the board adjacent to the "8" on the email map next to the "6" subway - sorry, I don't have the board handy so I can't tell you the name).
Apart from the comments that Pitt wrote down, the only noteworthy event that I remember was Al knocking a cup of water over, resulting in some frantic mopping up and a move to the next table.
I enjoyed all the games I played, even the final was great fun and played in a friendly spirit - I hope the other players had as good a time as I did. Gangsters is definitely on my list of "games to play" next year, not on the "games to try and fit in if there's time" list.
Pitt Crandlemire writes:
To be honest, I don't remember much of that kind of detail. I tend to focus more on the experience and the fun I have playing. For sure, I always play to win but my first goal is to have fun, which I certainly did in that case.
(Pitt also wrote down notes during the game that formed a good part of the article's flavor and all of the quotations.)