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The Year of Thirds (WBC 2011)
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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As some of you may remember, last year was The Year of Threes (WBC 2010) (three wins, three-peat in Ra, third overall win in Goa, etc.). I was not so lucky, in terms of wins, in 2011. I had plenty of 3rds (and 2nds, and 4ths, etc.), though. Here's the story of my close-but-no-cigar con.

Note: I've done my best to record the names of players in and correct scores for all of my games, but I might have made a mistake in the rush that is WBC. Please feel free to correct any inaccuracies in this list, or to share your recollections, whether or not they concur with mine.

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1. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:49]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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Several heats of events I like enticed me to arrive on Monday this year, and I was especially eager to try my luck at Stone Age, a game I played to death in its early days on BSW but have only recently begun to rediscover. My table featured Harald Henning (fresh off his Age of Renaissance title), Dave Rohde, and Marco Asteriti. I won by a fairly large margin by keeping my family small and quickly exhausting one stack of huts. I was also helped by Harald's extreme bad luck in not getting tool modifiers (the unused deck was literally full of them) for his 7 tools:

Me - 162
Dave Rohde - 142
Marco Asteriti - 133
Harald Henning - 120


The Stone Age format this year allowed heat winners to immediately play in a second winners-only game. I fell behind early at a very strong table of Joel Feldman, Greg Stripes, and Eric Freeman, and I never caught up.

Eric Freeman - 171
Joel Feldman - 160
Me - 137
Greg Stripes - 112
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2. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:272]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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Another game I've been playing much more this year also had a Monday heat. A tight race between the top three players found me victorious:

Me - 69
Glen Pearce - 67
Jordan Shea - 65
Craig Fox - 41
 
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3. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:172]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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My title defense in Amun-Re began with a very strong table of Cary Morris, Dvd Avins, Martin Villemaire, and Justin Morgan. I wish I could report more than that Dvd ran away with the game, but the score pretty much speaks for itself:

Dvd Avins - 42
Cary Morris - 32
Me - 31
Martin Villemaire - 30 (4th)
Justin Morgan - 30 (5th)
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4. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:27]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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This is traditionally the first game I play at WBC, scheduled as it is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, essentially the start of the actual con (Monday events are considered pre-con). El Grande is not one of my strongest games, but I really enjoy it. GM Rob Flowers must hate me, though, because I usually get a win or a few 2nds and can never play in the semis. I probably make rounding out the semifinal field harder than it ought to be.

My memories of this game were that Kevin was bumped out early when Drew took New Castile (his grande province) from him in the first turn and never let him get it back. We also had two players remove cabs from the board to fill their courts late in the game (something I'd never seen before). I held the lead pretty much wire to wire:

Me - 105
David Gubbay - 92
Drew DuBoff - 85
Bob Strauss - 82
Kevin Lewis - 75
 
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5. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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There are 4 heats of Ra at WBC, which I love because the game has enough randomness that even the best players will lose one or two games out of four, so the only way to ensure that the strongest players advance is to give them more than one chance to prove their worth. I've had amazing luck at Ra at WBC, but I seldom win my first heat. I have no idea why this should be true, but there it is. This year would be no different as Greg's monument strategy held the day:

Greg Thatcher - 42
Me - 40
Brian Sherwood - 31
Vassili Kyrkos - 28
Josh Arndt - 8


A couple of interesting notes from this game. Brian Sherwood is the son of Brad Sherwood, a strong Ra player in his own right. And though the final score doesn't show it, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I was impressed with Brian's play and expect good things from him in Ra next year. Also, I had a difficult endgame decision as I was alone with the last bid and two empty Ra spaces on the board. I calculated that a civ tile would put the game completely out of reach for me but thought that I had the win anyway if I traded my lowly 4 sun for the 14 on the board. It turned out that Greg had highest suns all along and those 5 points were the difference. I love that after all the Ra games I've played I still have to make difficult and interesting decisions every time I play another one.
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6. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:255]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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I felt pretty good about my chances at T&T this year as I'd been playing incessantly on Yucata.de and finally felt I'd more or less figured the game out. Everything went my way in my first heat as I won by a large margin:

Me - 30
Matthew Beach - 17
John Mewshaw - 10
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7. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:272]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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Heat 2 of Vegas Showdown was a runaway for me. I remember getting a couple of Fancy Lounges very cheaply in the early game, and I had something like 9 points off of diamonds when all was said and done. Chad was the beneficiary of many $5 slots, but the extra income didn't quite materialize into points for him (I'm pretty sure the slots-for-points event did not come out):

Me - 80
Chad Gormly - 62
Steve Cucaro - 59
Kyle Smith - 56
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8. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:172]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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If I was going to defend my title, I needed a win here (I had a conflict with the 3rd heat), and I didn't love my chances when seated next to Eric Freeman and Raphael Lehrer. I've had pretty good success against Eric in Amun-Re, though, and I was greatly helped by drawing three usable scoring cards early in the second epoch. In the final bidding round, all but one available province would fulfill all of my cards, so it would have been hard for me not to end with a big score. Sometimes the luck of the card draw makes the difference in Amun-Re:

Me - 44
Raphael Lehrer - 35 (2nd)
Eric Freeman - 35 (3rd)
Kelly Krieble - 33
Scott Fenn - 22
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9. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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The second heat of Ra was a reunion of sorts as I sat at a table with Dvd Avins and Scott Fenn (a regular Ra rival and strong player). I'd never met Rolinda Collinson, but obviously her family name speaks for itself. This one was a runaway for me, a rare occurrence at this year's WBC:

Me - 58
Dvd Avins - 43
Scott Fenn - 21
Rolinda Collinson - 20
 
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10. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.49 Overall Rank:182]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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I consider myself a very strong Egizia player, but I was not so confident about my winning chances when GM Sceadeau D'Tela sat at my table. His understanding of the deep structure of this game astounds me. He jumped far down river three times and still managed to crush our table:

Sceadeau D'Tela - 100
Max Jamelli - 84
Me - 82
Doug Faust - 77


Though the game was a blowout, I did enjoy meeting Max, who runs the BPA Stone Age pbem tournament. Also, Doug Faust is a former member of EPGS whom I never get to see any more. It was nice seeing him, if only for a game.
 
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11. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:61]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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My run of difficult table draws continued with the first heat of Princes. Ed Fear is the reigning EuroQuest champion and John Weber is a very strong all-around gamer. Ryan had trouble getting out his works, leaving John, Ed and me to battle for the win:

John Weber - 68
Me - 66
Edward Fear - 62
Ryan Houman - 47
 
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12. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:156]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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Macao is new to WBC, and I hope it comes back because I think it's an excellent game. Heat 1 afforded me the unique opportunity of actually playing a game with Skip Maloney, and old BSW friend whom I'd never gamed with at WBC. Skip and I exchanged jokes and pleasantries while mild-mannered John Wetherill, a completely newcomer to Macao, crushed us both:

John Wetherill - 66
Me - 60
Skip Maloney - 37
 
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13. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:49]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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Another double-dip for me as I won my first game and got to play the winners' "heat." I may have starved my peeps in the first game. My memories of the details of my Stone Age games from this year are pretty fuzzy.

Me - 173
Lars Astrom - 135
Eric Kleist - 124
Emily Bacon - 94


The winners' game was a murderer's row, and I raced way ahead on the board (prompting other players to assume that I'd won, despite my attempts to point out my poor card position), but finishing a game of Stone Age with only two cards tends to bring the field back to the leader. Still, it was a tight, tense game, and I really enjoyed it:

Greg Thatcher - 156
Sceadeau D'Tela - 155
Me - 153
Rodney Bacigalupo - 149
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14. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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Heat 3 of Ra saw me seated with last year's finalist Henry Dove and power gamer Eric Brosius. Henry took nothing in the first round and was pretty much out of the game, but I was impressed by his tenacity in clawing his way back in and finishing 4th. It was close between Paul, Eric and me down the stretch but, as Eric says in his own WBC report, I got a lucky late draw that filled my flood deficit and gave me a crucial monument. Close games of Ra often come down to such draws, and this time I was on the winning side of one:

Me - 46
Eric Brosius - 38
Paul Rubin - 37
Henry Dove - 32
Romain Jacques - 24
 
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15. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:255]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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My earlier win sent me through to the semifinals, and there I sat with Sceadeau--whom I swear I've beaten at least a few times but whose record against me in tournaments is pretty spectacular--and two people I'd never met before. Nonetheless, the Henning family name speaks loudly, and I'd certainly seen Faith Wobberking at semis in the past.

I took the early lead by gobbling up several key area chits (the all-greens, the all-colors, etc.), but Sceadeau quickly got his cartwright to six and threatened an early game end. Unfortunately for him, his draws got really bad and he had to play the administrator several turns in a row. This helped Alex H. greatly, and she was able to start racking up points for chits herself. I caught her a bit off guard by ending the game and was able to eke out the win:

Me - 24
Alexandra Henning - 23
Sceadeau D'Tela - 14
Faith Wobberking - 11
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16. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:255]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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The T&T final immediately followed the semi, and once again I sat in the first position. Steve LeWinter is a frequent WBC finalist (and Ingenious winner), Randy Buehler is the reigning EuroQuest Siegelman trophy holder (and I've lost count of his final tables at WBC 2011), and Kyle Smith decided that WBC 2011 would be his coming out party (he was a regular face at semis and finals all week long).

Only Kyle drew a good first turn card combo, and Randy's was particularly bad. On turn 2, Steve used the administrator and salvaged his route, but even the 6 new cards could not help Randy, who was forced to abandon his first route and never recovered. Steve would administrate several times, but Randy's bad luck continued. Meanwhile, Kyle drafted excellent cards off of the Randy's scraps and played his routes efficiently for a runaway win. I was pleased with second, especially considering the wide margin of victory:

Kyle Smith - 25
Me - 15
Steven LeWinter - 14
Randy Buehler - 12
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17. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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P.R. is another game that I don't count among my top 10, but the competition at WBC is usually very strong, and I like to get a few games in when I can. In this one, Robert's strategy of shipping early and often nearly edged out Eric's big building gambit, but once again money turned out to be the game's deciding factor:

Eric Monte - 47
Me - 44
Robert Murray - 42
Don Tatum - 34
 
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18. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:272]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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I was thrilled to be in the Vegas Showdown semifinals and even happier to play a 5-player game. And then I had the pleasure of sitting with Bob Wicks, Rod Spade, my roommate Mike Kaltman, and Steve LeWinter. I went with a big money strategy and was the only player to use a late ad campaign, but the game ended before I could finish my hotel or connect my doors, so I had no real chance to win (a last-turn Restaurant buy would have netted me 6 or 7 points, giving me 2nd--I really need to work on timing in Vegas Showdown). Steve played beautifully and advanced to the final:

Steven LeWinter - 58
Mike Kaltman - 53
Bob Wicks - 48
Me - 47
Rod Spade - 45
 
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19. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:172]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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It was back-to-back semifinals for me, and I couldn't have been at a much stronger table. Everyone at my semifinal had at least one WBC tournament win! Daniel was hurt by going for farmers early in a low-money game (he essentially passed on his 2nd epoch actions in order to avoid kingmaking), and Anni was short on cash all game and was never able to compete in pyramids. Rich played solidly, but in the end Rob and I battled for the win and I edged him to make my third straight Amun-Re final:

Me - 45
Rob Flowers - 42
Rich Irving - 33
Anni Foasberg - 20
Daniel Eppolito - 17
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20. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:49]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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My final heat of Stone Age came down to a single dice roll. Keith had a huge family and elected to try to feed (rather than starve) them. On the final turn, he needed 6 food and placed two meeples on the hunting fields. With only two tools, he would need a roll of 10 or better to avoid a 10-point penalty. He rolled boxcars and won by exactly nine points. I'm not sure if a third win would have got me into the semis, but I was a bit disappointed as I feel I played well at Stone Age this year and would have liked to test my mettle in the later rounds.

Keith Ferguson - 152
Me - 143
Daniel Collinson - 125
Thomas Idzikowski - 119
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21. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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A bit of advice from a Ra champion to anyone wanting to improve his/her game: taking zero tiles and negative 7 points in the first epoch does not correlate well with winning. While Emily and Jefferson fought for first (and both played wonderfully), I was actually fairly happy to have solid second and third epochs to grind out a less-distant last place finish:

Emily Bacon - 37
Jefferson Meyer - 35
Brad Johnson - 28
Matt Peterson - 26
Me - 23
 
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22. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:172]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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Bill Zurn and I were the only returning finalists, but it was an extremely strong table with Raphael Lehrer, Doug Smith, and Andrew Emeric seated next to us. Greg Thatcher is working on a detailed report, but the short version is that Doug raced out to an enormous lead on the strength of a set of pyramids, most on a side, two 3-point temples, and two scoring cards to score 23 in the first epoch (the highest score I've ever seen). But he was out of cash and could not compete in the second epoch's building wars. Raphael was the money leader at the half way point, and he'd also banked a very solid 16 points. My usually slam-dunk provinces of Sawu, Berenike, and Dakhla (with two 8-gold cards) gave me a lot of money, but farms were unusually lucrative in this game, so I could not turn a money advantage into a win. Andrew's last turn sacrifice and two 4-point temples gave him second. It was a well played game and a richly-deserved win for Raphael:

Raphael Lehrer - 45
Andrew Emeric - 42
Me - 40
Doug Smith - 38
Bill Zurn - 34
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23. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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In the second heat of P.R., I found myself at the table of Erics, and they both shipped all game long. My early coffee monopoly allowed me to build my way to second place, but Mike built even more and snagged the win:

Mike Backstrom - 48
Me - 46
Eric Kleist - 42
Eric Cheatham - 38


Another interesting tidbit from this game was that we were using Mike's incredibly worn set. Some of the doubloon pieces were completely white! It was wonderful to see a game that had been so clearly and thoroughly enjoyed.
 
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24. Board Game: Fresco [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:173]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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This game has had a lot of play at EPGS, so I was excited to see how it did in a tournament. I got some great deals at the market, nabbing several orange and green cubes while other players opted for hordes of primary colors, and a quick finish allowed me to leverage my early cathedral painting points for a narrow win:

Me - 94
Raphael Lehrer - 92
Lori Miskoff - 88
Keith Layton - 78


Because I'd finished 2nd in my first heat of Princes of Florence and wanted to shoot for the semis, I skipped the Fresco semis. At the time I didn't realize that I was a high enough alternate for Princes that I'd have made the semis anyway. I wish I'd continued to play Fresco as it seems its numbers were not great and it may not be back. Oh well, Princes went well.
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25. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:61]
Alex Bove
United States
East Lansdowne
Pennsylvania
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I love Princes with 5 players, and I love playing against really strong competition. I got my wish as former EuroQuest champion Lyman Moquin sat on my right and former WBC champion Eric Freeman on my left. I had incredible card synergy (all forests, only two freedoms) and was able to squeeze out just enough efficiency to edge Eric and advance to the semis:

Me - 61
Eric Freeman - 58
Lyman Moquin - 52
Roni Breza - 43
Forrest Speck - 34
 
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