The ongoing purpose of the Train Gamers Association (TGA) is to facilitate and promote the play of train games. We sanction and run Puffing Billy™ Tournaments at large and small conventions throughout the year.
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TGA News Archive
Gen Con 50 set all sorts of attendance records, but in the TGA area we were much more impressed by a different record. We had a great competition, with over 700 participants, several critical nail-biting finals finishes, and five people who went into the Eurorails final with a theoretical chance to win it all. The envelope please…
We had the youngest Puffing Billy winner in history! Raechel Sanger took home the biggest plaque at the age of 18 years and 57 days. It was an impressive performance that included some tough finals and a strong win at the top Eurorails table on Sunday. And did we mention Raechel gave up quite a few hours of playing time to work as a TGA volunteer through the weekend?
Youth was served in the Challenger Class as well. Another teenage phenom, Samantha Orosz, won the Challenger competition. Although not the youngest to do so, Sam’s victory at 18 years and 324 days is certainly noteworthy. Finally, in the Iron Man we had our only repeat winner of a weekend tournaments in Mark Liberman. His accomplishment came at the age of… well, suffice it to say that Mark is no longer a teenager, and he raised the average age of the Gen Con big plaque winners significantly.
Overall, 21 people achieved their four category wins and we had a number of first time plaque winners in various tournaments. Congratulations to all. Detailed results can be accessed through the links below:
Puffing Billy Scores Iron Man Scores Tournament Winners
Our first major tournament of 2017 is in the books! Congratulations to past National Champion Roger Jarrett who took home the big prize at Origins as the Puffing Billy winner. Charles Rucker won the Challenger class and Anthony Medici got the Iron Man. The top 11 finishers all achieved their four category wins: Roger Jarrett, Chris Meyer, Michael Cheng, David Beery, Richard Sheives-Bein, Charles Rucker, David Stanford, Anthony Medici, Trella Bromley, Phil Cottrell, and David Hooton. Well done to all.
Puffing Billy Scores Iron Man Scores Tournament Winners
Rules Committee EBI Announcement:
It has become apparent that key Empire Builder International (EBI) rules are not being played consistently, and even some of our most experienced conductors and players have different ways to interpret them. In particular, there are multiple conflicting methods currently in use related to ferry movement and half rate movement.
As many of you know, the TGA Rules Committee has undertaken an effort to gather information and hold discussions with the goal of clarifying these rules to eliminate the annoying confusion this creates. The plan is to have clear guidelines for TGA-sanctioned EBI tournament play published no later than Origins 2018, and we hope to implement on a trial basis for Railcon 2017 in October.
Until these new guidelines are published, TGA tournament play will continue as in recent years. The actual published rules are the default method of play, however if all players agree at the beginning of the game, the table is allowed to play variants such as area of effect or public domain ferries. However, since these variants means different things to different people, all are encouraged to clarify the specific rules under which you have agreed to play before you begin.
Special Announcement from Trella and Jeff: As many of you heard at Railcon, Bart Pisarik has stepped down from his position as Volunteer Coordinator. This is a good time to acknowledge that we cannot put into words how valuable to us Bart has been and continues to be in many ways. Fortunately for us Bart is staying on in all his other TGA capacities, but next time you see him please join us in thanking him for his years in this mostly thankless role. Going forward, we are happy to announce that we have offered the position of Volunteer Coordinator to Justin Moul, and even happier to report that he has accepted. Justin has big shoes to fill, but he and Bart will be working together over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition.
Railcon- the 22nd Annual National Championship, at was held in a new month and location this year. After more than ten great years in Denver in conjunction with another converntion, we moved to Schaumburg IL to run Railcon as a stand-alone event. Turnout was excellent and feedback is mostly positive so we are planning to make Schaumburg our home for the foreseeable future.
As always at Railcon, there was intense but very enjoyable competition. A record 20 people achieved five category wins (it's tougher at Railcon), and several people had a real shot of the National Champion title. In the end it came down to the Sunday Eurorails final, and Charles Hooks posted a score of 15.9722 to squeak past John Puddifoot who finished at 15.9669. Charles gets the special honor of being the first recipient of the Peter Bromley Memorial National Championship plaque, along with becoming our designated target for 2017. At least John got to take home the Challenger plaque. Ken Gutermuth won the Iron Man.
Top 20 finishers were Charles Hooks, John Puddifoot, Bob Rich, Michael Cheng, Roger Jarrett, Ken Bachman, Debbie Gutermuth, Justin Moul, Chris Meyer, Anthony Medici, David Belew, Ken Gutermuth, Jeff Jackson, William Spear, Phil Cottrell, Eve Corbin, Bart Pisarik, Anthony Carver, Cheryl Orosz, and Janet Bromley. Congratulations to all!
Tribute to Peter Bromley: My friend Peter Bromley has passed away, after a lengthy struggle with various ailments. I met Pete in 1982 when he introduced me to a brand new board game called Empire Builder. A few years later he taught me to play Express. That puts me among the countless people who can say “Peter taught me a train game”. It was one of his favorite things to do.
Peter was not the easiest person to know, but beneath the exterior was a generous soul who cared deeply about the train gaming hobby and the success of the TGA. Even before there was a TGA, he would happily drive to just about any convention where he could spend a weekend showing people games. Peter helped his brother Darwin start Mayfair, and together they amassed the world’s largest train game collection.
Peter was a founding corporate officer of the TGA, and he served continuously on the TGA Board until his death. He was never one of the obvious or most vocal leaders of the TGA, but he contributed a great deal of time and energy behind the scenes in ways most members would never see. He will be missed.
We have renamed our most prestigious award in his honor - the Railcon Puffing Billy winner will henceforward be known as the Peter Bromley Memorial National Champion.
Jeff Jackson, for the Train Gamers Association
At Gen Con, we had another large turnout of train gamers. This is a recording: Charles Hooks won the Iron Man, and Mark Liberman was a very close second! In the Puffing Billy, Jeff Jackson and Dave Beery were tied going into the Eurorails final, which Jeff won by $4 to squeak out the overall win. Dave finished second, followed by Mark Liberman, Alex Puddifoot (this year's teenage phenom Challenger Class winner), Ken Bachman, Charles Hooks, Scott MacGregor, Roger Jarrett, Ed Hewlett, Raechel Sanger, John Puddifoot, Alan Borowski, Robert Rich, Dave Thornburg, Richard Sheaves-Bein, Anthony Carver, Dave Slidek, and Chris Meyer. All 18 people listed got their four category wins.
Origins was fun as always. Charles Hooks won the Iron Man tournament, with Mark Liberman finishing second. In the main event, 11 people achieved their four category wins, but Michael Cheng took home the Puffing Billy plaque with a decisive win. Following Michael were Jeff Jackson, Roger Jarrett, Dave Thornburg (Challenger Class winner), Mark Liberman, Ed Hewlett, Charles Hooks, Ken Gutermuth, Phil Cottrell, Dale Evankovich, and Raechel Sanger.
Major Tournament Year in Review:
At Origins 250 different people played train games, about the same number as last year, and we had some very interesting results. Michael Cheng had a terrific weekend and ran away with the Puffing Billy tournament. He was seemingly unstoppable with three finals wins and a second place (what happened there?). Michael racked up one of the highest scores we’ve ever seen, along with one of the largest margins of victory. Charles Hooks proved his train game versatility once again in winning the Iron Man event, with solid results in eight different categories. But the closest competition of the weekend was for the Challenger class title. Dale Evankovich got off to a great start, and posted a score that would have won this prize at most conventions. But Janet Bromley kept fighting, and finished strong with a fourth place in the Rolling Freight finals Saturday night plus a glorious win at the top table of the Eurorails finals Sunday morning to eke out – barely – the Challenger win over Dale. At age 15, Janet became the youngest player ever to win one of our weekend-long tournaments. Rumor has it she’s headed to Railcon with her eye on the National Championship plaque. Couldn’t possibly happen – could it???
We set an attendance record at Gen Con for the fifth straight year, played and taught lots of games, and had a busy but fun competition. Former Challenger winner Roger Jarrett turned several strong finals into his first overall Puffing Billy win. Roger held off Origins winner Michael Cheng who finished second, with Charles Hooks, Chris Meyer, and Raechel Sanger rounding out the top five. Charles Hooks followed up his Origins Iron Man win with another impressive variety of game results to take the same title at Gen Con. Our ongoing theme of “outstanding teenage performance” continued. 14 year old Alex Puddifoot made his Gen Con debut with a win and a second place in his two finals. And Raechel Sanger (age 16) posted six category wins and became the second-youngest person to possess a Puffing Billy Challenger class plaque, thwarting Tony Medici’s valiant effort.
So we were on to the National Championship at Railconwith many unanswered questions. Could Debbie Gutermuth defend her title? Could Michael or Roger manage their first National Championship win? Could another first-time winner step up, or would it be a former Champion repeat? Which Iron Man streak would end? Charles won at Origins and Gen Con, but Ken Gutermuth has won the past four Railcon Iron Man titles. Could one of our teenage phenoms follow her summer Challenger win with a serious run at the National Championship, and who would get the teen bragging rights for the year? We held another terrific Railcon in Denver, with several first timers and a few faces we haven’t seen for a while. We had so many people advancing to so many finals boards we were worried we might run out of games on the prize table before we ran out of winners! Great people in a fun environment, and of course excellent competition where unlike our other tournaments everyone gets to compete fully.
The results? A record 17 people achieved their five category wins, with several people getting into five or six different finals. Should have been a hard fought battle to the end, but to the dismay of the rest of the field Roger simply blew everyone else away in the finals. The Eurorails final on Monday was a battle for overall second place, and Roger didn’t even let someone else win his table at that one. Congratulations to Roger Jarrett, our 2015 National Champion. We look forward to making him the official “target” for 2016.
The top ten Railcon finishers were all former major tournament Puffing Billy or Challenger class winners. Following Roger were Anthony Carver, Trella Bromley, Ken Gutermuth, Chris Meyer, Ken Bachman, Michael Cheng, Jeff Jackson, Charles Hooks, and Raechel Sanger. That’s a tough crowd. Overall positions 11-13 were the top three Challenger competitors, and that battle was much tighter. Nathan Wagner and John Puddifoot gave it a good shot, but David Belew beat them out to win the Challenger plaque and the right to have the coveted black dot next to his name on the results sheet. Plus, with perhaps the largest blowout margin of the year, David can claim to be the oldest Challenger class winner of 2015!
In the newly dedicated Heather Barnhorst Memorial Iron Man tournament, the results were also close. An impressive 13 people played in at least eight categories. The top four all had seven category wins and any of those four could have won with one improved result. However, Ken Gutermuth managed to pull off his fifth straight win, edging out Charles Hooks, Roger Jarrett, Jeff Jackson, and Chris Meyer. Perhaps we’ll offer a special reward for taking that title away from Ken next year. Finally, in the unofficial but hotly contested teenage class, Caitlin Wagner, Raechel Sanger, and Janet Bromley all performed very well, each appearing in multiple finals. But the top finish among them, and first ever teenage top ten at Railcon, went to Raechel. How will they do next year? How will they do in 2046???
Tribute to Heather Barnhorst: Some sad news - we’ve learned that Heather Barnhorst passed away last week. Long-time members will recall Heather as one of the TGA’s founders, who for many years was Senior Tournament Director, Rules Maven, Head Conductor, Tournament Sanctioner, President, and Editor-in Chief all rolled into one. She organized the first Railcon, ran the PBTs at Origins and Gen Con, developed the first TGA Conductor's Handbook, and published the TGA Gazette for many years. Without Heather’s tireless energy in the early days of the organization, the TGA would not exist today. Among her many contributions, Heather originated the Iron Man tournament at Railcon, which will now be named in her honor.
Major Tournament Year in Review:
Congratulations to Debbie Gutermuth, who held on for a close win at Railcon to become the Puffing Billy National Champion (and official target for this year). Railcon top five were Debbie, Ed Hewlett, Jeff Jackson, Michael Cheng, and Trella Bromley.
Origins was a hard-fought competition, with Trella Bromley just holding on for the overall championship. Michael Cheng won the Challenger class, and for the first time we had two teenagers crack the top 12 in the Puffing Billy. 14 year olds Janet Bromley and Raechel Sanger showed themselves to be forces to be reckoned with in the future! Plus it was nice to see that our Origins attendance was up from the past couple years.
Gen Con also had a first. Never before has the same person won both the Challenger competition AND the overall Puffing Billy championship at the same convention. Congratulations to Mark Liberman, who not only pulled that off but made it a trifecta by winning the Iron Man plaque, too. And yet another teen – 16 year old Samantha Orosz – finished in the top 12.
We set new attendance records for the fourth year in a row with about 740 different people playing train games with us at Gen Con, and over 1100 total for our three major tournaments. Correspondingly, we set a record for number of volunteers and volunteer hours worked, including several very welcome new faces. Thanks to everyone who helped out, scheduled or not – there is no way we could manage all those people and games without you.
Ticket to Ride World Championship- The TGA was honored to be part of the 2014 Ticket to Ride World Championship, sponsored by Days of Wonder to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the popular train game. Congratulations to TGA members Cheryl Orosz, Michael Cheng, Jeff Jackson, Trella Bromley, David Belew, and Phil Cottrell who were among the 24 finalists in the North American Championship. None of them won the trip to Paris but the TGA was well represented in the competition and we are proud of their efforts.