WBC 2009: Tournaments, Open Gaming, and Experiences
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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The World Board Gaming Championships are held annually in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I attended the convention last year, and had a good time, and I was happy to be here again this year (even if I could only make on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). I had not planned on playing in many tournaments, but I was very excited by the Age of Steam and the Chicago Express tournaments. There is much more to discuss, and it starts now...
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1. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:533]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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My first game of the convention was Dice Town. I have heard some positive reports concerning this game, but I was not impressed. Dice Town is another re-implementation of the Yahtzee mechanic. This time, players attempt to form poker hands using, surprise, poker dice. My issue with the game, is that it took too long to play. Our game lasted over an hour, which was a bit too much roll, lock a dice, re-roll, lock a dice, re-roll, etc. for my tastes.

On the other hand, the company was great. I was joined by Jim, Lyle, Alex, and Eric.

Final Scores:
Brad - 44
Jim - 29
Lyle - 18
Alex - 11
Eric - 24
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2. Board Game: Steel Driver [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:582]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Then Lyle, Eric, Alex, and myself were joined by Jim Carvin to play Steel Driver. A solid game, in my opinion, I was happy to have another chance to play. It would also be my first game with 5 players, so I was interested to see how it would turn out. I believe that I was the only person who had played before, though Jim had read through the rules and helped me to teach. It was particularly interesting in this game that all of the railroads built on the East Coast, presumably to steer clear of the high build costs on the other side. I noticed early on that everyone was paying very high prices for their shares, essentially making the auction irrelevant. I sat back in the first round and acquired a share but hoarded my money. Then, in the next couple of rounds, I was able to pick up 2 shares to everyone's one. In the end, because of this diversification I was able to come out first.

Final Score:
Brad - 1000
Lyle - 780
Jim - 830
Eric - 930
Alex - 740

I am still unsure about the coherence of the two different halves of the game. Does the second half really matter? I suspect that it does but it is definitely the hardest part for new players and it is difficult to calculate just how well a company is doing. This doesn't bother me that much. I figure that I will do my best moving the companies that I care about towards different color cubes or at least to as many cities as possible. I also try to collect shares of companies that are at many locations. I honestly don't mind the inability to be 100% certain of success in the second half, and because this game is relatively short, I will rarely turn down a game. (This is similar to my opinion of Tinners' Trail, which remains one of my favorite Wallace games).
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3. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion #1: England & Ireland [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.08 Unranked]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Now, about 30 minutes prior to Steel Driver finishing up, I saw this guy waving an Age of Steam box in the air. My instincts were sharp, my ears perked up, and I knew that this meant that I had the chance to get in on a game. I leaped out of my seat, upended the table (j/k), and quickly bounded up the stairs to lock my place in the game, providing that they could wait for Steel Driver to finish up.

Rob, the box waver, said that they would probably be able to. It turned out that they did, and, get this, when I joined their group, Rob actually thanked me for joining the game! Can you believe that? I immediately thanked him for letting me play my favorite game!

Rob and I were joined by Phillip and Jon (new to the game). Rob had the England map setup, and after some rules explanations we were soon ready to go. I ended up in a tangle at the start of the game. Jon and Phillip both cut off some essential builds and that really set me back for the remainder of the game. But I still pulled through in the end with a second place finish.



Final Scores:
Brad (Red) - 82
Rob (Yellow) - 108
Jon (Black) - 77
Phillip (Blue) - 65

After the game, we had a nice chat, exchanged Geek creds (and by the way, Rob, I have watched your videos now....they are quite funny! I will admit that I sleeve my cards. I even sleeved Tempus!). I found out that Rob would be in the AoS tournament and we agreed to meet up for some gaming later in the convention. But I had a drive home awaiting me so I headed out for the night.
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4. Board Game: Robotory [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2685]
Bradley Keen
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Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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I was joined bright and early on Friday by Cody for two quick games of Robo-Tory. This is one of my favorite convention games because of it's extreme portability, quick play time, and strategic depth.
 
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5. Board Game: Pico 2 [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:4677]
Bradley Keen
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Harrisburg
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I picked this game up in a trade with Jim, and Cody was again willing to sit through my supply of silly two player games. We played through two games and then I pulled out my heaver hitter, PanzerZug!
 
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6. Board Game: PanzerZug [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:7256]
Bradley Keen
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Harrisburg
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PanzerZug could easily be my one of my favorite "experience" games. Rob told me, after our game of Age of Steam, that Erin would be at the con today, so I had made sure to bring along this Winsome Classic. Cody was interested in the game, so we decided to bring it out next for a quick two player game. It later become very evident that Cody is a much better World War II fighter pilot than I am. He really walloped the German Tanks and almost tripled my score.

Final Score:
Brad - 47
Cody - 138

After this game, I knew that more training would be necessary. My pilot skills were weak and in need of some sharpening. I thought about heading home, but instead sat back, calmed down, and simply convinced myself that the game was a fluke and that I would do better next time.
 
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7. Board Game: ...und tschüss! [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2894]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
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After PanzerZug, Cody and I went down to the vendor hall to check out the deals. Sadly, I need to conserve me cash, and I moved through the hall quickly prior to heading back up to the open gaming room. I met up with Erin and I do believe that we got a game of Robo-Tory in prior to a game of Und Tschuss! with Cody and Brenda.

Final Scores:
Erin - 34
Brad - -13
Cody - 30
Brenda - 11

When will this game be re-printed? I have a set bundle of light filler games that I bring to conventions and this is a staple. A game that can handle up to 6 players and still plays in about 10-15 minutes (including teaching) is perfect for conventions and time constraints.
 
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8. Board Game: PanzerZug [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:7256]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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And then, we played PanzerZug! Erin had wanted to play this game since Origins and now we would finally get the chance. Even though it was another 2 player game, I had a blast playing. Sadly, I was still unable to chalk up enough train kills and Erin walked away with the Victory. She was well on her way to winning the World Championship title.

Final Scores:
Erin - 99
Brad - 70

Okay, I know that I said that my skills were now honed, but they were not. But stay tuned, I am getting better. If I keep introducing new players to the game, surely my prior skills will lead me to victory against people who don't know the game.
 
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9. Board Game: Brass [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:15]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Yes! I have not played "live" Brass for some time now so this was an awesome opportunity to play a game with Erin and Jesse, two people who know the game well. And it showed. I have heard people talk about "Speed Caylus" and this game was akin to that. In fact, I think that I was a bit out of my league. I have grown lazy through online play and I was forced to get up to speed. I started out kind of rough and was having a difficult time forming a coherent strategy. Erin and Jesse developed a couple of times and I had hoped to capitalize off of this by building resource centers but the cards did not align. In fact, I was forced to just drop things here and there onto the board with the hopes of forming a sturdy base for the iron age. Even shipping cotton was performed with a large degree of inefficiency. I believe that I used this action three separate times for 1 shipment each (oh Brad...what were you thinking)! By the Iron Age, I was into my comfort zone, and I was ready to become the guy on the box cover. I had a huge rail network and had also built all of my iron mills and almost all of my coal mines. Whatever the outcome, I knew that I would be happy with my play.

Final Scores:
Jesse - 177
Brad - 176
Erin - 175

Do you see that score! That was one close game and an excellent time. I need more games like that.
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10. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:101] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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After Brass, we ventured over to the Chicago Express introduction in the hopes of meeting John Bohrer, but he wasn't there. But we did meet up with Jesse's friend who joined us for a game of Small World. I still enjoy this game, but I still think Vinci is better.

Final Scores:
Brad - 85
John - 79
Erin - 78
Jesse - 79
Dan - 72
 
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11. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:247]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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I have recently acquired a taste for games that I do not understand how to play, and Chicago Express definitely takes the cake. I am still seeking a grasp of game, and what better way to learn these than tournament play at the WBC. Honestly, this is a terrible way to learn, and it showed in my tournament results. In my first game, I was paired with 4 new players for a 5 player game. I purchased a share of the blue railroad for $17, and it was immediately split from the start. This put me in the cash/stock poor situation that has plagued me before. I finished last.

So, I played in the second heat. This time I was at a table with a friend from Maryland (Ben). It was also a 4 player game. I did not win the game, and I do believe that I still came in last place. However, I did not hit that point 5 minutes into the game where I knew I was going to lose. Thus, I had a good enough time playing, absolutely no complaints. Thanks for the good game guys!

After 2 Heats: 5th place, 4th place

Oh yeah, after my tough losses, Rob had the following suggestion: "Brad, perhaps it is time that you give up train games." Ack. Well, Rob, let me tell you something. I will not give up! One of these days I will figure out the game, just you wait.
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12. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Austria & India [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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After the second Wabash Cannonball heat, Erin and I had a chance to talk with John Bohrer for a good 45 minutes or so before heading towards the granddaddy of tournaments: AGE OF STEAM!

I saw the list of potential maps and, unlike many others, was thrilled by the opportunity to play some of my un-played maps. You are allowed three choices, and I quickly checked off, among 2 others, the Steam Brother's India expansion. Erin did the same.

I assumed this would be a good idea, until we found out that we were paired with no other than the designer of the map, Martin Sasseville! Actually, this was excellent. The fourth at our table, Peter (the GM), also turned out to be an experienced player. This would be a chance for a game with some of the best players in the world. I didn't care if I won or lost, I was going up against the best.

I started out the game with my standard progression, not grabbing locomotive but instead opting for "First Build" over and over again. I ended up with a decent network, but the 6 link shipments were not steady enough or early enough to match Martin's super quick ascension on the income track. And it was quick. That guy was in the third income track as I was reaching the second! I learned a lot from this game, and I will use these lessons in future plays.



Final Scores:
Martin (Blue) - 110
Erin (Purple) - 44
Brad (Red) - 86
Peter (Yellow) - 75


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13. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:851]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Saturday I was joined by Dan at the convention, and we kicked off the day with a game of FITS with Beth. For our third round of low scores, we would be joined by Dominique. We played a number of Ted Alspach's latest expansions for the game and had a brilliant time not scoring points. I do believe that after the 5 rounds, I had something like -53 points. Dominique, on the other hand, had a pension for sliding those plastic tetris pieces onto his board, and finished three rounds with a total of 8 points. I do believe that he is the best FITS player in the world.
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14. Board Game: Robotory [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2685]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
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Dan and I checked out the dealers room next and then played two games of Robo-Tory while waiting for the second Age of Steam heat.
 
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15. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: North Eastern USA / South Africa [Average Rating:7.55 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.55 Unranked]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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I was giddy to play Age of Steam again (3x games in 3 days!, this is so cool). We checked off the same maps on our list, hoping to get in on the same game, and we did. I started off this game with a much riskier build, one without any first turn shipments and actually seeming to lack any second turn shipments as well. Honestly, it was a bit too risky but it played out in the end. Connecting to the lone "port" city in the upper left corner of the board should have given me the win, as I was shipping 6 linkers for at least 3 turns. Sadly, a last minute mistake concerning urbanization (along with Jon's very very good play) cost me the game. Ah well, I have not played games of Age of Steam that were this tense and this much fun for months now and it was absolutely worth it to be involved in these tournaments.



Final Scores:
Jon (Blue) - 79
Dan (Green) - 77
Brad (Purple) - 78
Nathalie (Red) - 72
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16. Board Game: PanzerZug [Average Rating:6.30 Overall Rank:7256]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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But I couldn't let my second place Age of Steam finishes get in the way of the World PanzerZug championships. I was not 0/2 in the heats. Cody has 1 win, as does Erin. This could easily be the final game and Erin was definitely hoping for the "wood". Ryan joined in for this game. He had expressed an interest in a very deep and thought provoking game after a tough Age of Steam match-up and I knew that this would be the way to go. I explained that PanzerZug was a very deep game, and Ryan nodded his head in approval, clearly excited to once again exercise his mental abilities while sipping a cup of tea. Ryan had "wood" already, winning the Age of Empires championships (congratulations!!!!), so we knew we were up against the best. To round out the game, we had Dan and Rob.

It was a tough match, and the Germans actually looked like they may run away with the game, but I learned how to fly and actually won this heat! Sadly, this leaves the championship title up in the air. We will have to play many more games next year to clear this up.

Final Scores:
Brad - 77
Germans - 70
Dan - 73
Erin - 60
Rob - 21
Ryan - 61
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17. Board Game: Meepile [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:6031]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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In between Age of Steam and PanzerZug, PanzerZug and Und Tschuss!, and then between PanzerZug and Ingrigue, we played some very deep games of Meepile (with the Rocker expansion). First, we used my train pieces and then later we broke out the standard meeples. I have no scores, but I do not believe that I won. In fact, I must have made it my explicit goal to collect those darn meeples.

Below, you have Rob smiling in amusement at two meeples doing bad things.


Now you can see Dan completing some sort of brilliant meepilian maneuver.


And here is Rob, again, attempting to complete his turn.
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18. Board Game: ...und tschüss! [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2894]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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We decided to keep with the meaty games, so I brought out Und Tschuss. I love this game and I hoped that everyone else would enjoy it as well. With 5 players, the game took only about 10 minutes, and everyone at the table made it a very enjoyable experience.

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19. Board Game: Intrigue [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1345]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Ryan then suggested that, since we were all getting along so well, we bring out Ingrigue. Intrigue is a game that necessitates lying and back stabbing, two traits that I must admit that I definitely possess. Throughout the game I broke promises, lied, cheated, and employed long honed skills in deceit. And I lost. But, even though this is definitely not a game that I thought that I would like, I had a very good time playing it with this group of players. This truly lends credence to the idea that no matter how good or bad a game is, it is the gamers that will make or break a game.

The final scores were:
Erin - 100
Brad - 89
Dan - 94
Ryan - 103
Rob - 95

[Oh, and for people who know me, I am a terrible and I tend to fail in the deceit category. I think that my unfailing gullibility may have even robbed from the experience of the rest of the group.]
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20. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:247]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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My final game of the convention would be the final heat of the Chicago Express tournament. Dan and I were paired with Michael, Cliff, and Peter for a 5 player game. I started off doing pretty good, but not good enough. Dan and Peter ended up tying, and had to roll a die to break the tie! (This is a very bad tie breaking situation and they really should come up with a better one for next year). Dan lost the die roll but still won a copy of the expansion.

After the game, Ryan, Erin, Rob, Dan, and myself all went to Ruby Tuesday's for dinner.
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21. Board Game: Lord of the Fries [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:2632]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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Did I say that Chicago Express was the final game of the tournament? I lied. At Ruby Tuesdays, Dan, Ryan, Rob, and myself participated in a competition to see just how endless their endless fries were. I failed miserably, eating only half of my original supply of fries. Dan took care of the huge vats of ketchup that the waitress supplied. But the real winner of the event was Ryan, who gained even more wood by finishing up 2 plates of those fries. Rob was close, but close just doesn't count when eating plates of french fries. The restaurant broke out in applause and Ryan clearly enjoyed the celebration.
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22. Board Game: Funny Friends [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1151]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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This was my second WBC, and it was a blast. I know that the WBC gets a hard knock from some Euro gamers, and it deserves some of it. It is a convention geared towards tournament play. Tournament schedules will dictate your open gaming time. And sometimes tournament play brings out the worst in people. But tournament play also brings out the best in people. As I said before, the two games of Age of Steam that I played in were the best that I have played for months now! They were tight and every move mattered. But the players at the table were still polite, fun, and a pleasure to game with.

And a huge thanks to Rob, Erin, and Ryan for making the convention so darn fun. Saturday evening, following the AoS tournament, when we played light filler after light filler was one of those memorable gaming/convention experiences that will be hard to emulate. This was followed up by a great dinner. I definitely look forward to future gaming opportunities.

Phil Sauer
United States
Willow Street
Pennsylvania
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Rob Leveille
Canada
St. Catharines
Ontario
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Jesse Dean
United States
Orlando
Florida
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
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Ryan Sturm
United States
Lancaster
New York
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Erin Leonhard
United States
Aldie
Virginia
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Martin Sasseville
Canada
St-Redempteur
Quebec
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