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2012 WBC Week
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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This list will recap my week at the one of the gaming highlights of the year, the World Boardgaming Championships (or "WBC" for short). In my view, although Origins and GenCon are larger, the WBC is the largest and premier gaming convention in the US that focuses on the competitive play of boardgames. Thus, while other larger conventions (Origins, GenCon, Essen) are primarily trade shows, WBC is the largest "gamer's convention" around.

This year I managed to break a 10-year drought and actually win a tournament. Although it was not one of the coveted "Century" events, a win is a win, even a win on a hokey tiebreaker (see details below under the "Founding Fathers" entry). Also, I believe I may have set a personal record in terms of number of different people played with: over 100 during the course of the week.

As in the past, this Geek List will focus primarily on the games I played and the people I played them with. There will be a few entries to cover other activities, such as game purchases.

Stats from this year's WBC:

Tournament Games: 23 total, 9 different games, 9 games won
Open Gaming: 18 total, 13 different games
Game Purchases: 4

Number of Different People Played with: 103

Links to Prior WBC Geek Lists by Me:

http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/70732/2011-wbc-week
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/57547/2010-wbc-diary
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/45090/2009-wbc-diary
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/33774/fun-and-games-at...
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/23588/2007-wbc-recap
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/15837/games-played-at-...
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1. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:146]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Got up at 5 AM, loaded the stuff into the car, left the house around 6:30 and still had time for a quick stop in at the Waffle House on the NW side of Lancaster before hitting the Host for my first event, the first ever WBC Sekigahara tournament at WBC. Game designer Matt Calkins, who had personally introduced me to the game (and administered a fearsome beating to my Tokugawa forces) at last year’s EuroQuest convention also served as the GM, which of course meant any rules questions would be quickly and precisely answered. Matt had some cool-looking prizes in the way of model swords from the era depicted in the game for some of the heat winners, but that unfortunately did not include me. In the first heat, I was pleased to be paired with a good gaming buddy, Dave Bohnenberger (dweeb) who it seemed had played the game a bit more than me and thus had a firmer grasp of the strategies and rules. I took Tokugawa, Dave was Ishida. I had grabbed some resource locations and had an early points lead, then we killed off a few of each others’ units in the first combats and sieges of the game. After a couple of turns of maneuvering, Dave gradually gained the upper hand and wiped out Tokugawa and his army on Turn 5 after expertly marshaling all his Ishida units to Osaka. A couple of lost loyalty challenges contributed to my defeat, making me 0-for-3 in my three plays of this game (having lost a second pick-up game, a much closer affair, after my initial mauling by Matt back in Nov. when the game was relatively new).

I decided to stick around for a second game, hoping to learn something to improve my play. This time I switched sides and went with Ishida. (If you can’t beat them, join them, right?) Ed (my second round opponent) and I each built up our forces slowly, fought over some castles, and the game went into the final turn with two huge armies, largely unbloodied in combat, facing each other on the main highway, and the final burden of attack on my side as I needed to take two heavily defended resources to tie on points (Ishida winning ties) or to kill Tokugawa who was likely entrenched in one resource area with Ed’s large stack. I went after the large stack first, hoping to generate some cards that might give me a shot at the second “Hail Mary” combat where I was outnumbered four or five blocks to three. As it turned out, the first block to be committed to combat by Ed was Tokugawa himself. The battle then hinged on a key loyalty challenge which (for once) went my way and, as a result, I killed all four of the Tokugawa units Ed had committed to the fight. In retrospect, I think Ed could have played it safe and risk losing the battle but not the war by holding back Tokugawa since he had a clear retreat for any blocks that might survive the combat. However, it was my first win at the game so I wasn’t complaining all that much.

Anyway, there was a third round of the tourney that I could have played in, but that meant missing out on another game, so I bowed out, pleased with having snapped my losing streak while also looking forward to another opportunity to play this very innovative game, which was justifiably included on the short list of nominees for a Charles Roberts Award.

UPDATE: Sekigahara did win the coveted Charles Roberts Award for the best 2-player wargame in its time period. Yay!
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2. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:194]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Next up was the first heat of Automobile, a game that was now in its third year as a WBC event that I had once again targeted after having advanced and finished in the top six for both of the first two years. Random pairings matched me with two fellow Marylanders, Don Tatum and young Thomas Morris and a guy from Quebec whose name I don’t recall. I took Durant on turn one, placing three distributors in the expectation that the normal sequence of play would reach one of the other car types, be it a low-price or high-price model. However, my game went South real soon when Don made the very unusual play of taking two white cubes in all three first round actions, producing no cars. This caused me to pick up a couple of unwanted loss cubes and put me in a position from which I was unable to recover. The guy from Quebec went on to win by a wide margin, around 1000 ahead of the rest of us, with Thomas in second, Don third, and me in last. This meant I would have to play in one of the two remaining heats to have a shot at advancing to the semis as I had done in the two prior years.
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3. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:272]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Like Automobile, Vegas Showdown is a top 10 game for me and one that has been among the most-played game in my collection over the years. I was the volunteer GM for the first WBC tournament, and since then it has been ably run by Eric Freeman, who also coordinates the schedule with other Euro-game GMs. First heat matched me in a four-player game with Elaine, Jason Levine and Mike Shea. It was a close game, and while I got the Theater to put me in front, it was Mike who pulled away in the end with a strong finish. I believe I came in last in the final scoring, so I would have to play in another heat to have any chance of advancing.
 
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4. Board Game: Lords of Baseball [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Second time playing this game, still in demo form, that is the product of the collaborative effort of the father-and-son duo of Bob and Max Jamelli. Played a four-player with Bob, Max and Pete Staab, as each of us took on the role of a big league general manager. Bob won the pennant and series in the first season but, as the game was running a bit long and it was already after midnight, he headed off to leave the three of us to finish the final two seasons. My team won the last two pennants and the final series, but when the points were tallied, I actually came in third. Anyway, it was an enjoyable experience even though it did run fairly late into the evening.

Bob and Max have made several improvements to streamline the game since my first play last year, and I hope to see this game in print before too long.
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5. Board Game: Tennis [Average Rating:4.87 Overall Rank:10355]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Woke up earlier than expected on Tuesday and saw the figure of Pete Putnam on the tennis courts behind the hotel. Pete called me out, said he had a spare racket, asked me to join him and Rob Bucchieri, for kind of an impromptu hit and some two-on-one action. Proving that two heads are not necessarily better than one, Rob managed to take Pete and I by something like 6-2 or 6-3 but it was a good start to the day, particularly since there were no tournaments on the agenda until around the traditional 6 PM start times on Tuesday. Enjoyed it quite a bit as I hadn’t played in awhile, my serve was really rusty, but Pete’s spare racket was so similar in feel to my own that I almost walked off with it.
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6. Board Game: Village [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:73]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Given that nothing much was happening in the way of tournaments until later in the day (due to the rather significant schedule protection that the WBC affords the auction, something I hope might change at some point in the future), I made my way to the open gaming area which was already quite full. Saw a couple of gaming friends from the Columbia group, Brian and Jen, wrapping up a game of Alhambra, along with Eric Kleist (have to use last names here, as there are an inordinate amount of guys named Eric in the gaming community), so they readily agreed to play Village, which is my current favorite and most-played game from the last year. Eric had played once before (I taught him the game a little more than a week before at the Games Club of Maryland picnic), while Brian and Jen were new. Don’t recall much about the game except I am fairly certain Eric won and I was maybe second or third. Brian and Jen liked the game so much that they snagged a copy at the vendor’s area later that week. (I heard through the grapevine that the games sold out quite quickly, not surprising since this game recently won the Kennerspiel (“gamer’s game”) award in Germany.
 
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7. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:142]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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After the Village game, I hooked up with gaming buddy Kevin Walsh from NY. Kevin asked what new games I had, and I mentioned Manhattan Project, which seemed to fit in the time slot as both of us had planned events starting at 6 PM later that day. Couldn’t round up more players, so we went with a two-player. I managed to win with a uranium strategy, while Kevin went with plutonium that took a bit longer to developed. Two really large uranium bombs, once loaded, were just enough for the high point total required for a two-player win. During the game, Kevin observed that the plutonium reactors didn’t cost any money to operate and came to the conclusion that plutonium was better than uranium. Having had about five games under my belt, I respectfully disagreed, given that you had to take the extra step of detonating a low-value plutonium bomb first to get the higher VP numbers. Both of us vowed to test our respective theories about the game with more players, if such an opportunity arose later in the week.
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8. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:153]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Before the convention each year, I map out my schedule but for the 6 PM Tuesday time slot I was really kind of undecided right up to the last minute. Traditionally, it’s been Power Grid for me; however, I had soured on the game recently and wanted to try something else. Good gaming buddy Chris Moffa was the Goa GM and, although I hadn’t played the game in six years, I looked at the rules and attended the demo and seriously considered giving the game a shot. I still felt uncomfortable trying the game in the tournament, particularly because I might slow the game down and take too long to make my moves. So, I opted for a game I had played recently, including a couple of wins: St. Petersburg. Fortunately, the pairing gods smiled upon me as I wound up in a three player game with Katie, an attractive young lady, and Herbert, an older guy from Austria with an attractive German accent who – although hard to understand at first – had a nice sense of humor that made the game fun. Also, everything went right for me this game, and it was probably my easiest win of the the tournament. I drew the orange piece to start, put a blue card or two in my hand to make sure I had 18 when the first turn Mistress hit the table on turn one – which it did. On turn four, I got the second Mistress which I quickly exchanged for an Orange Upgrade. Got the tax man which, by game end, was worth 10 additional income. Got both Observatories, in the same turn no less, albeit too late (with one turn left) to really use them effectively. Wound up with nine aristocrats for a nice win. However, given the fact that there were four heats and the cut was down to 16 for the semis, one win in this event was not going to guarantee advancement, so I now had to re-examine my schedule to try to work in a second game of St. Pete if I wanted to quit playing.
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9. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:194]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Second heat of Automobile was next for me, at 9 PM Tuesday. Again, because of the loss in the first heat combined with my past record of advancing, I kind of felt duty-bound to play. (Had I won the first heat, I would have opted to try a longer new game, Virgin Queen – included by designer Ed Beach as part of the Here I Stand tourney – and that game would have covered both the Automobile and earlier St. Pete time slots.) Anyway, this Automobile matchup had a really international flavor as I was the only US player in a four-player game that included Romain from Quebec, Lachlan from Ontario and Akihisa (call me “Aki”) from Japan. Once again, there was a surprise move on turn one when Aki took the close factory action to shut down a double factory on a medium-price model that would have produced just one loss cube. I managed to do a little better than the prior game, but in the end it was the two Canadian guys vying for the win, with Lachlan edging Romain while Aki did well enough to put me in last once again.

With two fourth place finishes in two four-player games, at this point I had to face the fact that this was not going to be my year in Automobile. The third and final heat on Wednesday conflicted with another game I was interested in, Founding Fathers, that was being run on a continuous play rather than a heat format. Looking further ahead, the St. Pete semis (should I be lucky enough to advance) might conflict with Automobile elimination rounds on Friday. Thus, starting on Wednesday, some tough choices from a scheduling perspective would have to be made.
 
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10. Board Game: Trajan [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:38]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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After Automobile, I met up with Kevin in the open gaming area for some late-night gaming. While Village was my favorite new game, Kevin’s was Trajan, and he had two California guys (Roderick Lee and Winton Lemoine) all set to play a game, so I was the fourth. I hadn’t played the game since the one play when Kevin and others in his NY-based gaming group introduced the game to me at PrezCon in February, but most of it came back to me after the first few moves. I had bad luck from early on in meeting the people’s demands, and once again I ignored the Senate (partly because we played on a large round table and the Senate tiles were too far away to read). So, my game probably suffered as a result. However, I believe I did well enough to jump in front for a turn or two. In the end, I believe it was either Winton or Roderick who pulled out the win. I can’t recall for sure, but I either beat or was very close to Kevin’s score in the battle for third place.

Based on conversations with several gamer friends, it seems Trajan is a “love it or hate it” game for many. Kevin and several others seem to think it is one of the best recent games, holding in high esteem. Others, and I guess after two plays I would probably include myself in this category, think it’s a mish-mash of the typical “collect resources, gain more stuff” mechanic with one new device – the Mancala – added in. For me, theme is important and the Roman theme certainly doesn’t seem to fit at all. However, since the game is a recent purchase, I suspect I will try the game again, next time probably not late at night when I am super-tired as happened in this late Tuesday-night play.
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11. Board Game: Quarriors! [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:442]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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While the other two players turned in for the evening (it was around 2:30 AM when the game ended), Kevin as usual was up for another game, so I taught him Quarriors. It was a two-player, and I am fairly certain Kevin got his production engine going and won easily, but (writing this from memory now), I have to confess I am not 100% sure who won the game, just remember that it was really, really late when we finished.

Quarriors is basically “Dominion with dice” but with a bit more variability and luck, and perhaps more replayability as well as the outcome from having a strong set of creature dice is not guaranteed. I enjoy the game as a quick filler, and the setup time seems a bit shorter than Dominion. Looking forward to picking up the new “Quarmageddon” expansion which right now seems rather hard to get.

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12. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:242]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Despite staying up until almost 3 with the Trajan game, I managed to get up in advance of my first scheduled event at 11 AM on Wednesday, grabbed some breakfast and accepted an invite from Skip Maloney (who was running the Café Jay area for Rio Grande Games this year) to learn the Friedemann Friese solitaire game called Friday. I had seen Dave Platnick taking on this brain-burner and his endorsement, plus Skip’s enthusiastic recommendation, was enough for me to give it a try. After teaching the basics, Skip left me to start up another game but fortunately Steve Caler stopped by to offer me some strategy tips. Nonetheless, as forewarned by Skip and others, the game system defeated me although I did manage to advance to the second level before losing. However, I liked the game enough to pick up a copy in the dealer’s area later in the week.
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13. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:272]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Second heat of Vegas Showdown was at 11 AM, and going in I felt that I really need a win to qualify for the semifinals as the third and final heat (at 9 AM Thursday) now conflicted with the only remaining St. Petersburg heat that might represent another opportunity to advance. Unlike the first heat, it was a five-player this time, with Marilyn Flowers (wife of Rob, the Assistant GM for the game back the first year when I was GM), Kyle Greenwood, a guy named Houston, and Dave Duncan were my fellow casino-builders. It was a close game all the way, and I felt my chances slipping when Marilyn was able to outbid me for a valuable Space Age Sports Book that would have helped me gain diamond points and set up more endgame scoring bonuses. Marilyn politely replied, “you’ll probably have enough to get the Theater,” and her prophesy proved correct as the price dropped and, with just a turn or two left, I managed to snag the high scoring Theater and added some diamond bonus points as well, enough for a narrow win with Houston second and Marilyn third. Mission accomplished, and I was looking forward to the semifinals after missing out the last few years.

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14. Board Game: Founding Fathers [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:688]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Unlike most of the other “Euro” game tournaments I played at the convention, this game used a continuous format of three successive games, back-to-back, rather than multiple “heats” spread out at different times throughout the convention. Last year I had played in two of the three rounds, winning both games, but missing out on any prizes because I had to miss the key middle round due to GMing a Puerto Rico demo. This year, relieved of any GM duties, I had the freedom to participate in all three rounds. Now, with the final heat of Automobile scheduled against the second and third rounds of Founding Fathers, I decided to continue playing with a good finish (first or second) in the first game.

As it turned out, I did manage to place second, behind a new player (Kris) who had just learned the game at the demo. Others in the same game were Jim Freeman, Kevin (not Kevin Walsh, another Kevin this time) and a guy named Bill whom I remembered from last year who seemed fairly familiar with the game. Jim was third, and the result of game one was encouraging enough that both of us decided to continue in the event.

Second heat paired together players with similar scores, so Kris went to the “winner’s table” while Jim and I were once again at the same table, and the others were Steve Scott (the Ra GM), Danny Lewis (the defending Champion and winner of the initial Founding Fathers tournament at 2011 WBC) and a fifth player whose name escapes me. A close game with strong players, and it began with two quick rounds ending in less than half an hour. I was responsible for one of them by closing out round two after just four players with a double play event card (declare a vote, then take a section action) and played George Washington with just the fourth card play, meaning the round ended before the player to my left (Danny) had taken any actions. The final round, however, was a long one, with a lot of stalling while players tried repeatedly to improve their respective positions while foiling others. Everyone but Danny seemed to be contending for the win, and in the end it went to Jim with me coming in second on the most “5” value debate tokens tiebreaker (a special one used for just this tournament). Thus, with two seconds, I was in position to play with the other top players at the final table.

The final game consisted of myself, Jim Freeman (for the third game in a row), Jim Doughan, and a guy named John S. At this point, with two wins, John S. was leading the competition, and a first or second would probably clinch him the overall title which was based on points from all three games. Jim F and I would need a win in the final game and some help in order to take the overall title, although we were both happy just to be playing in such a decisive game. I fell behind, focusing more on debate tokens and voting, but one saving grace was that it was a low-scoring game, with a lot of defensive play. I remember having just two or four points heading into the final round, and it looked like I was out of it. However, I managed to collect debate tokens from all four factions, and a second Federalist token to tie John S. for the most. Then, Jim F decided to end the game with the outcome still far from certain. He controlled the committee room, picking up three VP there and, in a surprising move, switched the article tile to create an unusual four-way tie for first place. Since I had first or a tie for first on three of the four factions, I had 15 points – more than anyone else – to move me to 19 for the win. In the end, it turned out that Jim, who wasn’t in the race for debate tokens, had probably kingmakered the game from one of the other two players to myself, and his play had actually created a three-way tie on points between the other John (John S) and the other Jim (Jim D) and myself at 13 points for the overall win.

We consulted the GM, Jacob, who compiled the results on his trusty computer and informed me that I had won, by virtue of the “most debate tokens collected from winning factions” tiebreaker. OK, I would be the first to admit that it was kind of a back-door way to win a tournament, but hey, it was clearly stated in the pre-tourney event profile. Besides, the win ended a 10-year drought for me in terms of tournament wins at WBC going all the way back to 2002. In addition to the usual winner’s plaque, a special prize – a replica of the original Constitution signed by the players in the tournament – was a nice added bonus, so overall this tournament had to be a big highlight of my WBC week and it was only Wednesday afternoon, with four days left to go.

Anyway, as far as the Jason Matthews co-designed series of games is concerned (Twilight Struggle, 1960, Campaign Manager and more recently, 1989), I believe this one is my favorite, in part because it’s multi-player but also because it really does seem to execute the theme quite well in terms of the game components and mechanics. And, although all three Founding Fathers games at WBC were really tight, filled with tension, they were the most enjoyable set of games played in any tournament this year.
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15. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:1526]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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With a tournament win under my belt and some time before my next event, I wandered into the open game area and saw a playtest starting of a demo of this new Cowboys and Indians game (working title of "Apache") being designed and developed for Worthington games by Stan Hilinski. The game started with Stan and I as the Cowboys against Dan Raspler and Andy (guy with a British accent but his badge said “Kuwait” on it) taking on the Indians. It was a special scenario designed by Stan. A key feature was a roaming herd of cattle that could – if players were not careful – trample and eliminate one of their characters. The game developed slowly – too slowly, in fact, for me to make my next event. At the time I left, I thought we (the Cowboy team) were doing well, but when I checked back later I heard the Indians had won. So, I can only blame Stan for the defeat.
 
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16. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:59]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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I always try to work in at least one game of Princes each year at WBC, in part because I was the original GM when the event debuted back in 2001 and also because it’s still a top 10 game for me. In this first heat I was paired with some really strong opponents, including Chris Senhouse (a WBC finalist in Princes twice before), John Brier (a very experienced player with many games under his belt as “verandi” on BSW), Kevin Walsh and Rich Roberts. Don’t remember much about the game, except for the fact that it was Chris coming home the winner while John B nosed me out by 100 on the tiebreaker for second. Still, it was a fun game and a good group of guys to play with.
 
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17. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:153]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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As I have nothing listed in the way of late-night open-gaming after the Princes heat, so maybe it was one of those rare nights I turned in early, particularly with a 9 AM event penciled in for the next day. I did arise early for the second heat of St. Petersburg, and I was matched with a group of experienced gamers: Kerrin from Australia, Bob Cranshaw, and none other than Vien Bounma, the reigning EuroQuest Champion (from 2011) in this event. Things went well for Kerrin who got an early Mistress and went on to win the game. Bob and Vien got the two Observatories. I didn’t have any of those really good special cards, but I battled back to come in second. This, coupled with a win in the first heat, put me on the borderline as far as qualifying for the semifinals, but I decided to rest on those results as the remaining St. Pete heats conflicted with other events, but the Friday semis (now that I didn’t have to worry about Automobile) were at a time I could make.
 
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18. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:47]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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There are basically three reasons I enter tournaments at WBC: (1) it’s a game I play seriously and thus I want to test myself against others and hopefully advance; (2) it’s a new game that I want to learn better, and what better way to learn that playing against really good players; and (3) it’s a “filler” game, one that I play in between other activities that I don’t really hope or plan on advancing. For 2012, the two “filler” games I had marked down on the schedule were both St. Pete and Stone Age (actually there were a couple of others that I didn’t wind up playing, either because I advanced in tournaments or decided to play something else in open gaming).

Anyway, my pairing in the Stone Age tournament (which has grown to where it now outdraws heavy-hitters like Puerto Rico, Settlers and Ra in recent years at WBC) included Henry Dove, Jim Bell and a guy named Samuel from NC. After a slow start, the dice gods actually began to smile on me and I built up a solid family (got 9 of the 10 meeples into play) supplemented with a goodly amount of farms. I actually starved a couple of turns, once to gain three of the four available huts. Henry, who had done fairly well in some Stone Age tournaments in the past, proved to be my toughest opponent, and he managed to snag the cards with better endgame scoring that eluded me for most of the game. Samuel also did well, while Jim (whom I knew from his participation in the McGartlin Stock Car game at prior WBCs) could not seem to get much traction, particularly since he started out as the fourth player in the initial turn order. Final scores for the top three were Henry 205, John 185, Samuel 175. I was fairly pleased with the result, knowing Stone Age was going to be a “one and done” event for me.
 
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19. Board Game: The Manhattan Project [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:142]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Had some more down time before the first of several games I really wanted to play, so this time I opted for open gaming rather than playing in another "filler" tournament. I hooked up with Kevin who had just wrapped up a Caylus game, and we were joined by Jim Freeman and Beth Raphael, so Kevin and I could test out our respective theories about the game in the context of a four-player game. I knew my pro-Uranium strategy had the edge from the beginning, when four of the five opening bomb designs were of the uranium variety. I managed to pull off a relatively easy win while Kevin (call him Mr. Plutonium) was stuck at six points. Beth, who came in second, said she was within a turn or two of reaching the score goal when I ended it, while Jim (in his first game) struggled a bit and hadn't even played his first bomb to the table when the game concluded.
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20. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Next up was the initial heat of the game I had GMed at WBC since its inception, in 2002, but for the first time there would be a new GM, Malinda Kyrkos. Mindy did a great job of running the event, getting plenty of help from her husband Vassili, dad Barry, and Richard Shay who has served an assistant for this game at EuroQuest. Good for me, it gave me more time to concentrate on my game although I still had people still kept coming up to me with stories about their individual games and even a couple of rules queries. My opponents in this heat were Marissa Bianco, Randy Buehler and Lee Mewshaw. Random draw put Marissa and Randy in the indigo seats, while Lee and I had the corn seats. I recall getting an early lead in money (one of the reason the corn seats are so good) but being caught out in some middle-game tactics initiated by both Marissa and Randy. I actually thought I was losing to Randy at one point but, in the end, I pulled out a four or five-point win with Randy coming in second. I remember there being a key moment when I was one short of a key large building purchase when Marissa pulled Trader, allowing me to get the funds to acquire the needed building. Can’t recall the sequence, but I believe I got an early Factory, then added a Harbor and Customs House, but that could have been a later game. Randy and Marissa are both solid gamers; Randy has won something like eight WBC events in the past two years after coming to boardgaming from a competitive Magic background, but Puerto Rico is one game that is relatively new to him. Marissa I remember from having reached the elimination rounds in 2011. Lee, on the other hand, seemed a bit distracted and off her game, and her score showed it in the end.
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21. Board Game: Stock Car Championship Racing Card Game [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:2635]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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One of the great things about WBC is the opportunity to play a bunch of your favorite games, some times in the same day, some times back-to-back. That’s what happened on Thursday, as two of my three “10” rated games – Puerto Rico and this game (aka as “McGartlin”) – were back-to-back on the schedule. For the first heat, there were three six-car races. At my table were Bill Beckman, Carol Caler (one of the few “women” drivers in this event that has had produced two female Champions in its WBC history), Jim Bell, a young fellow whom we called “Junior” because he had picked the #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. car, and a guy whose named I can’t recall who was part of the “Green Team” from the Allentown, PA area. Anyway, I drove the #3 Dale Earnhardt Sr. car and got some measure of assistance from Junior, and vice versa, all to the consternation of Carol who seemed upset with some of my tactics during the race. Anyway, after being shuffled to the rear with a bad event, I managed to have the right cards and the end and pulled out a victory, with Carol coming second. The top three made the finals, and fortunately for me, this eased my schedule pressure as I would not have to play again before the final race at 6 PM Saturday. As it turned out, the other three drivers in this game all reached the 24-car final field as well.
 
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22. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:167]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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It was time for another break from the tournament scene in this busy day (Thursday), and I met up with Nick and Nate who had come up from MD primarily for some open gaming. Decided to introduce them to this new game, which was well received. Nick grabbed an early lead but faded to second near the end, as I believe Nate won with me coming last. It was a game that I find fairly easy to teach that has some great replay value. Not sure about it as a three-player game, however, given that two of the players could limit a third from participating in a second highlight – believe that aspect of the game could have used more playtesting. Therefore, I would put it in the “best with four” category.
 
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23. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:272]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Literally had to run from the Blood Bowl game to the Vegas Showdown semis, where 20 qualifiers were paired into five four-player games, winners going to the final. I was randomly paired with Curt Collins, Max Jamelli and a guy named Barrett whom I kept calling Brandon for some reason. Max, who was co-designer of the Lords of Baseball game, kept the game moving and also kept us entertained, so it was a fun game despite the pressure of it being a semifinal. For a long time I thought I was out of it, but I managed to make up some ground near the end. Barrett always seemed to have the lead in money, but he was unable to convert it to a win. Curt won our game to advance to the final, and I managed to come in second, three points down. The closeness of the finish caused me to check the results from the other semis, hoping that I might have come close enough to earn a sixth place finish for some “laurels” honors. While one of the semi games was a blowout, to my surprise the remaining games were all closer – all three coming down to the money tiebreak. Thus, I was only ninth overall in the event, but it was a good run for me after having failed to advance since the initial year when I was the GM and, similarly, finish second in the semis.
 
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24. Board Game: Martian Dice [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1321]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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After the Vegas Showdown semis, it was around 1 AM but still time for some open gaming although, due to the lateness of the hour, I went for some lighter games. One of these was Martian Dice, which I played with Beth, Kevin, Dave Denton and Sandy Scanlon. We decided to play to 25 which turned out to be a mistake as, after a few good early rolls, the game stalled out which led to a close battle for the win. Dave finally pulled it out, 27 to 26, with Kevin second, but it took 11 full rounds for any of us to hit the 25 point level.

This quick-playing filler from Tasty Minstrel games, which proved to be a sleeper hit at last year's EQ, is a good game to play when you are looking for something light for a break from heavy games like those played in the tournaments at WBC.
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25. Board Game: Cheeky Monkey [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1568]
John Weber
United States
Ellicott City
Maryland
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Beth and Dave took their leave, but Sandy and Kevin were up for another game, so it was Cheeky Monkey, another push your luck game – this one without the vagaries of the die roll. I actually kept the scores in my notes on this one: Kevin was the winner with 31 (after having some negative experiences in earlier plays of the game). I had 26 and Sandy 24 in a relatively close game.
 
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