2002 World Championship Yearbook

We committed crime wantonly again; killed and got killed again; squirted innocent bystanders and ourselves again; and we kept the cops in the donut shops again.  In short, we had an gloriously fun time! 

Other than that, however, pretty much everything was unusual.  From the 72 mobsters who battled it out over the streets of Chicago to the paltry three monopolies (following last year’s record 17% monopoly victories), it was a year of unusual performances.  Here are some of the records we established:

2002 Gangsters Records

Most Entrants:  72  (Previous High: 63)
Highest use of 5/1/2 Gang:  58%
Fewest wins with 5/1/2 Gang:  22%
Most wins with 5/1/1 Gang:  47%
Winningest Starting Gang:  4/1/2 (50%); Two years in a row
Highest Percentage of 10 Joint Wins:  29%
Lowest Percentage of Cash Wins:  62%; Two years in a row
Highest Vamp Loss by Winners:  2.22
Highest Vamp Loss per Game:  7.37
Highest Total Loss by Winners:  3.63
Highest Total Loss per Game:  15.41
Highest Median Vamp Loss by Winners: 2
Highest Median Vamp Loss per Game: 7
Highest Median Shootout Loss per Game: 7
Highest Median Total Loss per Game: 14


  • Five-Player Tournament Game used (Semis and Final)

  • No Three-Player games played

  • 3/1/4 Gang used (unsuccessfully)

  • Winner started with Frankie’s House of Cards

  • Winner started with Channel View

  • Winner with Brown Monopoly

  • Double Sportsmanship Winner

  • Winner of game also wins “I Think She Likes Me” award

  • GM wins final

  • Winners lose more to vamps than everyone else

That’s a lot of records and firsts!  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the extra playing time had something to do with all this!  Thanks for joining in the fray!  Average total losses have been climbing for three years in a row – this year, however, the game winners were not immune (and, in fact, were almost average – and seeing more than average numbers of their gangs seduced)!

Compared with last year’s record shootout carnage, this year was almost as bloody – but the damage was more evenly spread.  Nick “Slumlord” Smith and Bob “Strings” Hamel might disagree (each having ten dead gangsters in a single game) but everyone else saw fewer casualties.  Slumlord claimed the Roadkill award by virtue of having one more total casualty in all his other games.

Despite slightly lower carnage, the total mobster loss was at an all-time high thanks to many very successful vamps.  The odd thing about the record number of seductions is that the “I Think She Likes Me!” award went to someone who lost just 6 Thugs and Racketeers to a pretty face (last year’s winner lost ten).  Stranger still, Tim “Bite the Bullet” Evinger emerged triumphant in that very game!  Bite the Bullet – a two-time Roadkill winner – decided this was the year to be charmed by the ladies.  It beats lead poisoning, apparently.  With the winner losing just six mobsters, how did the total loss climb so high?  Let’s just say that the eight-way tie for second (5 seductions) was impressive!


Having heard no complaints about the tournament format this year (other than the mobster who lost his chance to be an alternate when he wasn’t present when his name was called), it seems that the changes made this year were a big success.  I don’t anticipate many changes for next year.  But, just to make certain, I’ve attached a short survey at the bottom of this email to get some feedback.  Please let me know your opinion!

As of now, the only changes next year will be:

4th Heat: Friday at 8 pm (instead of 4 pm) – that way it’ll flow right into the Semi-Final.

1st Beginner’s Session:  Tuesday at 8 pm (instead of 9 pm) – that’ll let me take slightly longer to teach the new players AND start their games before the regular heat.  That way all the new players will be together where I can work directly with them throughout the heat (and they won’t slow everyone else down).  Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t allow me to do that with the 2nd Beginner’s Session (which will still be Thursday at 10 pm).

That’s all of the changes!  Well, except one – namely that most of you will now have a name tag that has your moniker plus your real name (primarily for police records, of course).  I sure enjoyed having the name tags for everyone this year.  I hope you did too!

Top 25 Finishers

 1. John “The Viper” Pack
 2. Kevin “Shades” Wojtaszczyk
 3. Nick “Slumlord” Smith
 4. Bob “Strings” Hamel
 5. Kaarin “The Enforcer” Engelmann
 6. Jeff “Bananas” Ribeiro
 7. Paul “Da Spider” Bolduc
 8. Christopher “Half-Full” Hensley
 9. Rolinda “Ma” Collinson
10. Andy “The Duke” Joy
11. Peter “The Wolf” Martin
12. Marshall “Machine Gun” Applestine
13. Jim “The Grim Reaper” Mason
14. Wendy “Brutally Honest” DeMarco
15. Steve “Pretty Boy”
16. Mark “Ladykiller” Love
17. Paul “Gabby” Gaberson
18. Charles “Side Step” Stucker
19. Jeffrey “The Head” Hacker
20. “Dangerous” Doug Galullo
21. John “Black Eye” Kilbride
22. Steve “Dancin’ Man” Cameron
23. Matthew “Hell Raiser” Hamel
24. Alfred “Flash Flood” Wong
25. Gordon “Itchy” Rodgers

Award Winners

“Roadkill” Award – Nick “Slumlord” Smith (10)
“I Think She Likes Me!” Award – Tim “Bite the Bullet” Evinger (6)
“Junior Godfather” Award – Jeff “Bananas” Ribeiro (6th)
“Cement Overshoes” Sportsmanship Award – Kaarin “The Enforcer” Engelmann
Honorable Mention – Bob “Strings” Hamel 

For the second year in a row and despite the record number of new players, PBEM veterans composed the entire final field (top five).  The long time to contemplate moves by email must provide some advantage even when the two-minute timer is running!  Jeff “Bananas” Ribeiro, the Junior Godfather winner, came close but finished one spot out of the final (in sixth).

Kaarin “The Enforcer” Engelmann won the Cement Overshoes for the second year in a row.  The Enforcer’s cheerful and upbeat performance in the final (despite having vamps drop her to a single Racketeer before her third move) was the epitome of sportsmanship.  If that weren’t enough, Kaarin continued to fight towards victory despite her position.  Her moves were often critical turning points of the game, and she finished with six joints – poised to strike for a win if the rest of us had managed to stop ourselves a few more times.  Kaarin is also instrumental in introducing the event to many new players, teaching them as she plays, and in running the fourth heat.  If you like many of the small changes made in the tournament over the years, most likely you should be thanking Kaarin!  For all this and more, The Enforcer gets the Cement Overshoes and a one-way trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan!  Thanks, Kaarin!

The hardest award to select this year was the honorable mention.  There’s no hard and fast criteria, but every other year there was always just one item that stood out as deserving of recognition.  But who should it be this year?

Rolinda “Ma” and Ashley “Angel” Collinson for being a new mother-daughter combination (one excited enough about the game to outbid me for a copy on Ebay)?

Kaarin “The Enforcer” Engelmann for winning two games with a 4/1/2 starting gang?  For that matter, for being one of three people to actually win with a monopoly this year?

Matthew “Hell Raiser” Hamel for winning two games using non-cash strategies?  Or for getting a sportsmanship nomination for being an extremely effective police chief?

Tim “Bite the Bullet” Evinger for his impressive collection of water weaponry – especially the automatic sub-machinegun?

Nick “Slumlord” Smith for being the only player to play in every single game possible including both semi-finals and the final?

Peter “Happy” Stein for an amazing run of luck (where his extortion was always over $900, no one could touch him with a cop despite a three 50% chances, he replaced a dead vamp on the first try with a Red 1, and he got a yahtzee of sixes that enabled him to score $3,500 on Turn 7)?  With dice like that, who wouldn’t be “Happy?”  Or should the honorable mention go to his opponents for hanging on against the wrath of the dice gods and nearly pulling it off?

Kevin “Shades” Wojtaszczyk for defeating defending-Godfather Mark “Ladykiller” Love in their semi-final?  After all, Ladykiller narrowly won an adjudicated semi-final over Shades last year before going on to win it all (which Ladykiller says would probably have been won by Shades had the game continued)!  Shades also managed to use the single bribe he purchased to stop Cop #9 (ironically sent his way by Ladykiller)!

After considering all these and more, I finally had to go with Bob “Strings” Hamel for being the first ever, anywhere, anytime to win with a Brown Monopoly.  No one else has ever done it!  Admittedly, Strings used the five player tournament game (which allows Gray joints to be treated as Brown), but it’s impressive.  What I’d like to know is how he managed to avoid getting a joint of any other color along the way (to win with 10 joints instead of 9 Brown)!  Congratulations, Bob!

Top 10 Joints

The favorite starting joints among winners stayed fairly stable at the top (though the Ambassadors’ Club is making a comeback) – but a lot of new establishments made the lower half of the top ten.

Joint                 Rank       Prev     All-Time
=====                 ====       ====     ========
Downtown Bus Station    1          2          2
Ambassadors’ Club       2          6          3
Brizelli’s Riverside    3 (Tie)    1          1
Greenwood Park                     4          5
Brzkowski’s Imports     5 (Tie)    3          4
Taylor’s Machine Shop              8          8
Jaeger’s Clothier                 14         12
Pussycat Club           8         10          9
SMC Cartage Co.         9         10         11
Franklin Hostel        10 (Tie)    6          6
Palace Chophouse                   4          7
Brandon’s Bikeshop                14         14
Wylie’s Storage                    8         16

Taylor’s Machine Shop and Jaeger’s Clothier both made a huge move up the list.  The former as part of the Downtown Bus Station strategy while the latter replaces the Palace Chophouse as the favorite extra (not key to the main strategy but cheap and flexible).  Martin & Son Carriage Repair fell to 19th as Red monopolies (and monopolies in general) went out of favor.

“This is just as much fun as Gangsters” – Final Report

The above quote is The Enforcer’s answer to how fun the game is (causing the other finalists to double over in laughter once again).  I think she meant Slapshot (where she’d just lost a close playoff), but we’ll never know – maybe Gangsters is just in a league all by itself!

Here are the finalists in movement order (with joints shown in purchase order and the finish shown in braces):

  • Nick “Slumlord” Smith:  $600, 5/1/1, Downtown Bus Station (R), Westgate Hotel, Palace Chophouse (V,T) [8 Joints; $50; 4 of 9 Brown]

  • Kevin “Shades” Wojtaszczyk:  $400, 5/1/1, Ambassadors’ Club (R), Brzkowski’s Imports, Sadler’s Stichery (V,T) [9 Joints; $2,600]

  • Bob “Strings” Hamel:  $600, 5/1/1, Greenwood Park, Taylor’s Machine Shop (V,T), Wylie’s Storage (R) [8 Joints; $650]

  • John “The Viper” Pack:  $300, 5/1/2, Jaeger’s Clothier (R,V,T), Martin & Son Carriage Repair, Myrtle’s Massage Parlor [10 Joints; $500]

  • Kaarin “The Enforcer” Engelmann:  $400, 5/1/2, Brizelli’s Riverside (V), Franklin Hostel (R), Serva’s Market (T) [6 Joints; $1,750]

Yeah, you got that right – all five players were going for a Ten Joint win!  Have you ever seen a poorer set of mobsters at game-end?

The only similarity of the final to any other was the GM’s involvement in Adel Verpflichtet.  Many thanks to the other finalists for agreeing to delay the game by 45 minutes to allow me to play in the ADV final.  I won ADV largely because I was the only one who could pronounce the game’s name.  Despite the 3:20 am finish of the Gangsters final, three of the finalists played something else afterward!  Criminals obviously thrive during the darkest nights...

With four players known to favor joint strategies in the first five-player final, Shades was the only one to play a one-jump strategy.  Three players (Strings, Slumlord, & The Enforcer) opened up with the intent of going for ten joints right from the start.  The Viper purchased Martin & Sons with the idea of trying the early Red monopoly.  (If I’d done the statistics before the game, I’d have known better!)

The early game quickly ruled out some strategies, however.  There were only three significant public payoffs in the entire game – two of which occurred in the second turn.  Slumlord collected $1,800 at the Bus Station.  On the next move, The Enforcer paid $500 to kibitiz and recommend a one-jump cop to knock down the Bus Station.  Instead, Shades moved the public to the Ambassadors’ Club and collected $2,400.  After that, the public were stingy until the 12th turn (when they paid another $1,800 to Slumlord).  By then, of course, all the players had abandoned cash as a primary means of winning.  Without the green rolls needed to buy red joints (and with Slumlord and Strings buying them), The Viper abandoned his monopoly strategy before moving his Racketeer for the first time!  That left all five players trying to win with ten joints!  The final ended with an incredible 41 joints on the board (despite Slumlord losing one on the final move)!

The whole game was also characterized by heavy use of vamps.  The Viper lost two Racketeers before his first move and another one on the second turn.  This prompted the pronouncement, “John, you’re a babe magnet!”  On both turns he recovered a second move by having his own vamp take a Racketeer from The Enforcer.  The Enforcer, on the other hand, was crippled permanently by losing four Racketeers on the first three turns to vamps.  Despite being at a single Racketeer for every turn except the first two, The Enforcer finished with six joints and ready to buy a seventh – within striking range of victory.  Ultimately, sixteen mobsters changed hands as a result of vamp activity (the most in any game during the entire tournament)!  The Viper credits his ultimate victory to a successful vamp who made his gang big enough to knock off the joints owned by Strings and Slumlord while keeping their gangs too small to return the favor.

More dramatically, Kaarin earned the nickname “Economy Enforcer” by rolling the exact number of hits needed to wipe out criminal gangsters with cops five different times in the first seven moves of the game (including one 3-Thug)!  Those early vamp eliminations together with vamping of Thugs (also by Kaarin) combined to keep cash totals extremely low.  The best cash finisher (Shades) had only $2,600!

Strings and Slumlord both hit seven total joints on the same move (around turn six) initiating a “the other guy’s in the lead” contest.  Slumlord even brought out his cash to prove he only had $2,100, stating “I could buy 21 more joints!” which prompted him to be labeled “an honest gangster” – “5th place for sure.”

Like any late-night game, the final produced some errors – such as The Viper setting up a cop raid and then moving his criminal Thug into the line-of-fire (which The Enforcer, of course, capitalized on by annihilating the Thug on the very next move) or setting up another cop raid later while, at the same time, blowing a joint away and sending the public to the cup!  There were other errors, but sufficient bribes have been paid to keep me from mentioning them.

Strings threatened to win first by buying a large number of cheap, gray and brown joints and knocking off the Astoria House (owned by Slumlord) in the early going.  The combined efforts of the other players ended Strings chances and gave Slumlord an opportunity.  That’s where The Viper’s large gang came into play – enabling him to shoot out a joint each turn and then buy it on the next move.  Even so, going into the final play of the game, The Viper, Slumlord, and Shades all had nine joints and were in position to buy the winning tenth.  With Strings men trying to knock over Martin & Son, the Viper attacked one of Slumlord’s joints on the final move just in case.  However, it turned out to be unnecessary – as the Viper’s lady, using the new Q&A that allows a piece to do a 180 into the starting space from a friendly joint, snagged yet another Racketeer from Strings’ attack force.  In fact, Strings was then annihilated by the joint guards – which put him at 10 hits for the game (and nearly won him the Roadkill award).

With all of The Enforcer’s cops and the various attacks on joints, the final also saw a hefty 21 casualties.  Only one game, The Enforcer’s semi-final, saw more dead (24) – giving Slumlord the Roadkill award.  While the median game saw total gang losses of just 14 – the final contributed 37 (the highest in the tournament)!  Afterward, everyone agreed that 4 enemy vamps makes a big difference (not to mention the extra thugs and racketeers)!

The Viper claims that he was lucky just to get to the final – winning his semi-final on a move where he collected $4,600.  The GM hasn’t won a semi-final since 1997 (when he came in fourth out of four).

Nonetheless, there is some poetic justice.  In this year of record wins with 10 joints, the final was a fitting finish.  For that matter, the last and only other time the final was won with 10 joints was 1995 – also by The Viper.

Quotable Gangsters

“What color are you, Brown?” (Slumlord)

“I can tell there’s a little ‘self-help’ going on.” (Strings)

“How do you read that clock?” (Strings) “1:23 am” (The Viper answering)

“That sounds good – but you’re the only one who can move more than one piece!” (Machine Gun)

“Six, Six, Six” (Bananas, while rolling three dice) “Who are you?  Satan?!” (Itchy, after Bananas rolls three sixes)

“There is some sort of a plague in this town that causes all of the men to be unable to think properly.” (The Enforcer)

“One of you guys has got to go after one of his joints.” (Unknown)

“Sure, I'll keep an eye out for Gangsters ... I guess that's always a good policy anyway.” (Twenty-two)

Player chits also recorded some sound advice such as “Use Subways next time!” and “Need to remember to move public out of joints!”

Finding Gangsters

The last quote came from a college friend whom I’ve asked to keep an eye out for copies of the game.  Speaking of which, if any of you ever come across a copy that you don’t want for yourself or one of your friends, please let me know – I’m certain I’d be interested (so that future tournament participants can own the game).

In that vein, anyone interested in a copy should contact me and get on a waiting list.  Preference will be given to those without a functional copy, of course.  When joining the list, please give me your email address (if I don’t already have it) and Ebay ID – that way I won’t get in your way if we both happen to find the same auction (the way Rolinda “Ma” Collinson and I did a few days ago)!

Play by E-mail

Speaking of copies of the game, Bob “Strings” Hamel has created a Gangsters module for the Wargame Processor (http://www.wargamesbymail.com).  It’s not quite done, but should be ready in the next few weeks.  With this module, one can play be email without setting up a board!

Those who would be interested in trying out a PBEM game using the Wargame Processor should contact me ASAP.  I’d like to give the module a trial run!

The Wargame Processor can be downloaded for trial freely – allowing one to save up to 15 moves before the trial expires.  After that, a license costs just $25.  The game modules, like the one for Gangsters, are free – and include a huge array of the games featured at the WBC!  Personally, I think it’s a terrific bargain!

The next PBEM tournament will start after the Wargame Processor module test.  Details will be forthcoming once the start date is selected.


Here’s your chance to provide me with some valuable feedback on the tournament!  Please let me know what you think!  Select any/all appropriate answers (or add your own).

1. The Announcement Sheet

  a) Was terrific and allowed more playing time
  b) Took too much time to read
  c) Didn’t have enough information on it
  d) Had too much information
  e) What announcement sheet? 

2. Ending at 2:45 (rather than 2:30)

  a) Enjoyed the longer playing time
  b) Didn’t notice any difference
  c) Longer is too long
  d) Would rather use 2:30 to allow more rounds on Friday night 

3. Name Tags

  a) Enjoyed them
  b) Picked a nickname
  c) Already had a nickname
  d) Didn’t find a name I really liked
  e) Didn’t really want to pick a name
  f) Took my name tag off as soon as possible 

4. Five Player Game

  a) Prefer Five-Player Game to having a Quarter-Final
  b) Prefer a Quarter-Final Round to having game with five gangs
  c) I didn’t play a five-player game 

5. Schedule

  a) Like the schedule as is
  b) Would prefer a Friday 8 pm heat instead of Friday 4 pm
  c) Would prefer Friday 4 pm heat lead directly into semi-final and final
  d) Early semi-final is enough flexibility for me 

6. Timetable

  a) Glad to see pairings handled at exactly five minutes after
  b) Prefer longer period before pairings start

7. Beginners

  a) Prefer to have new players mixed in with veterans
  b) Prefer to have new players play themselves 

8. Player Chit

  a) Too complex
  b) Laid out poorly
  c) Didn’t use all of it
  d) Reasonable
  e) Useful 

9. Should cash be kept in a pile that other players can see (but not inspect)?

  a) Yes
  b) No 

10. Other comments? 


Due to prohibitive cost, I will be emailing newsletters from now on.  I’ll send the pre-convention newsletter by postal mail – but only to those who don’t have an email address.  Feel free to forward this to anyone you know who might be interested (and encourage them to make sure I have their email address)!

I hope you enjoyed this report and that you enjoyed and continue to enjoy the Gangsters tournament for years to come!  -- John Pack, john@gameaholics.com

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