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2011 WBC Run Down
Gary Phillips
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Another WBC is in the books. It once again confirms itself in the spot as the best week of gaming of the year. For me, again this year, a very nice blend of open gaming vs. events, wargames vs. Euros, and new games vs. old favorites.

The best part, as always, was seeing old friends and playing a few games with them.

Here are the games that were played.
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1. Board Game: Wilderness War [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:361]
Gary Phillips
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From it's usual spot on Wednesday, the Wilderness War tournament has migrated to Monday in search of more players. I believe I was seeded 11th out of the 12 seeded players for this event.

First round game was versus Larry Burman. Larry had played in the past, but was a little rusty by his own admission. We rolled randomly for sides and I drew the French. I did the usual 'grab HCN' gambit with the French, but unfortunately Larry had the 'Massacre' card, which meant I only grabbed 1 VP for HCN and lost four of my starting Indians.

I did get a good complement of Indians eventually, though, and kept the British busy by raiding my ass off. Though I only eventually scored 2 VP all game for raiding, I had the British player spending card plays to shift units around to stop the raids. Unfortunately, I did give up Louisbourg, so as 1759 rolled around I was not in a good VP position. He eventually got the VP total to British 1, so I had to go on the offensive in the Hudson Valley with Montcalm. I attacked and won the first battle (with us both on the top col., Wolfe vs. Montcalm) by rolling a '3' to his '2', forcing the VP back to 0. He then attacked, and I won again, by rolling a '3' to his '2', getting the VP to French 1. This allowed me to burn Crown Point down (VP back to 0), run back to Montreal and prevent a final show down and salt away the win by playing 'Foul Weather' on his last card.

My opponent for the second round was the GM, Keith Wixson. Keith is a very, very good player, the kind I don't usually beat unless I get to dice them (cf. George Young last year). I was hoping for the Brits, but I drew the French. I took HCN (and had Massacre played on me AGAIN) but much worse things were already happening by then...his first card play was Big Highlanders, and he rolled up Amherst and Wolfe as his two leaders. Things never got any better for the French. I lost Louisbourg, plus Drucour and his regiments...most of the British reinforcement cards had been played by the end of the first year. By 1758 I was mostly playing for pride, as only a perverse shift of luck would have brought me back at this point. Well, there was some perverse luck...

In early 1758 Montcalm accepted battle. The British rolled a 'six' (natch) and so I rolled for leader loss. Montcalm 1! Vaudreuil 1! Levis 1!. I lost the big three all on one battle. I played on for a few cards just for forms sake, even though the pygmies I had left couldn't even move the tattered remains of the French forces with their command capacity.

I resigned a few card plays later.
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2. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
Gary Phillips
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After dinner, a game of 7 Wonders with a badly jet-lagged Peter Card, John Vasilakos, JR Tracy, and Chris "Campoverdi" Greenfield.

I either finished or started off the evening by getting JR lost as we looked for the local Home Depot to pick up some overpriced plexi-glass.
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3. Board Game: Fury in the East [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:5495]
Gary Phillips
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We started this Tuesday morning, JR and I played until 5 or 6.

I can hardly surpass JR's write up on the game...see here: JR's WBC Geeklist - Fury in the East

And I added a comment below his.
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4. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:98]
Gary Phillips
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I then saw Bob Sohn and David Bohnenberger and talked them into playing a three handed version of this. David and I had played it once each before this, and this was Bob's first game of it.

It's the only game of it I have played so far with less then five players (it seats 2-5), I think it is best with five. Also, with three players and no one working for the end game the end game was a little wonky, exacerbated by the fact that we were trying to finish in a certain amount of time, to make a Ra heat, and then decided not to try for it, which led to some weird pacing.

I forget if David or Bob won. Lots of fun. I also played exactly one game with Bob and David at Winter Offensive (Ra) and also had a good time. I need to follow them around more.

Unfortunately at this point I hadn't eaten since noon and it was 9 pm so I had to skive off while they started a different game...
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5. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Napoleonics [Average Rating:7.96 Overall Rank:203]
Gary Phillips
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Wednesday morning it was time for the Command and Colors: Napoleonics tournament. We were grouped into 'pods' of four and we had to play against each member of our pod. The scenario for the first round was First Rolica, a scenario I had played twice and lost twice, as each side.

Side selection was by random selection of first bidder, then bidding banners for sides until the bid was accepted. Not knowing what to do with the undermanned French, I bid one banner for the British, which was accepted. My first opponent, Terry Cotter, was game, but was as mystified by his first play of this scenario as the French as I was when I played it. Despite some early success blasting my artillery I was able to pull ahead and win it (5-4, iirc).

My second opponent was Peter Elkridge, a Brit. He also accepted my bid of 1 British. He also had some luck with his artillery, wiping out one unit with a perfect yahtzee of three red flags. I tried to squeeze him by building up the flanks, but he didn't wait for me to complete this maneuver before boiling over the ridge and attacking the one place where the French had the advantage (the center) and beat me 3-5.

Last opponent was Nick Charles (another Brit!). He opened with a bid of 1 British, and not wanting or daring to go 2 British (having just lost to the French with a bid of 1 British) I accepted and played the French. Tense going, but I think Nick was trying to do to much in the center, and I got a good card combo and came over the hill to win as the French 5-4.

I didn't make the semi's, but a fun time, none the less. I always like the first year of an event where it isn't all sharks and newbies but players who are generally closer to each other in experience level.
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6. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:94]
Gary Phillips
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I played in a heat of Ra.

It was embarrassing.

Note to self, no more Euro events unless you bring your game face and are ready to play. I played as if it were a friendly game and rightfully got gutted. The winner not only had great situational awareness, he was keeping a running track in his head of how many floods, disasters, and other important tiles were still out, while I was playing by 'feel'. And he was fast. Largest discrepancy between first and last (me) that I had seen in quite a while.
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7. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:98]
Gary Phillips
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Wednesday night was more Navegador, as I taught the game to Brian, Perry and John Poniske. John won this one.
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8. Board Game: The Setting Sun [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Gary Phillips
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Got in a playtest of this Thursday morning, me (Allies) vs Brian Youse (Japanese).

A 'Storm Over' series game on the Philippines campaign in 1944-45. The Japanese no longer have control of the sea and the air but have some powerful one-shot weapons in their surface fleet and last carrier group, plus some land based air. The Americans have the resources, but they are on a tight schedule for a win, and the Japanese are looking to disrupt that. American VPs are for taking land areas, Japanese VPs are for eliminating American units.

I think I had close to enough VP on the ground, but I had played too fast and loose with my naval forces resulting in excessive casualties, keeping me from the win. Watch out for the Kamikaze card!
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9. Board Game: Savage Streets [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:7500]
Gary Phillips
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After we had finished The Setting Son, Brian and I played a game of this, which is included in the MMP Special Ops #1. Area movement game about the struggle for central Stalingrad.

What a fun, fast paced game. The Russians get hidden deployment, plus they have three 'special event' chits to place at the beginning of each turn. These are things like Snipers (free attack on one German leader), Ambush (one free attack on a German combat unit), Molotov Cocktail (free attack on one German armor unit), Fanatic Strongpoint (one extra point on defense), etc.

After both sides place reinforcements and the Russian has placed his hidden events, both sides move. Then combat is resolved anywhere there are Germans and Russians in the same area. The Russians are revealed and any special chits like Snipers are resolved. Combat is resolved by each side rolling dice, based on relative strengths. The Germans can add a die to one combat once a turn by committing their Stuka unit, the Russians have some Event Chits (Artillery) that allow them to add dice on defense. If the German high dice is higher than the Soviet high dice they win (and win ties if they have a leader present). For every die the Germans have that are better than the Russian high (or tied, if leaders) the Soviets take a hit. No matter what the result, the Germans lose a step at the end of every combat.

That's 60% of the rules. It plays very, very fast. It's fun, and gives the Soviet player something to do besides roll dice. Very nice effort.
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10. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:98]
Gary Phillips
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Later that evening, two more games of Navegador with Brian, Perry, Ken and Andres. Much yelling and kvetching. Too much fun.

Followed by the annual early AM pilgrimage to Waffle House.
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11. Board Game: The Mighty Endeavor [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:1729]
Gary Phillips
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Another feature of the end of the WBC week, Ken and I start a wargame we can't possibly finish in the time left in the con.

Last year it was A Victory Denied. This year it was The Mighty Endeavor.

To switch things up, Ken landed in the south of France ONLY on Turn 1. Then he landed opposite Bordeaux on Turn 3, then he landed the British in Holland on Turn 7.

I loved it, not because it was a possibly spurious strategy, but because it changed the game up. The 'safe' play is to land in Normandy and recreate the historical cycle of build up, breakout, and pursuit, but I had to guess about his intentions and fight battles and conduct holding actions in unlikely places.

By mid-game (Turn 12) he wasn't that bad off, but I think the experiment of landing the Brits in Holland north of the Rhine didn't quite work as they were easily contained, and Ken's hope that the Panzers would end up too far south to react wasn't realized.

When we quit (Turn 16?), the American spearheads were finally close to a link up as they were in Brussels; meanwhile I was squeezing the bridgehead pretty hard and when the linkup would happen was unclear (though it was going to start costing me dearly in troops to keep the Americans away in that clear terrain for as long as possible.)

A wild game, and it is always fun to play Ken in a wargame.

MMP is going to publish an expansion of this that extends the map into Brittany and provides a German map and Soviet counters to play out the 'end game' of the ETO.

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12. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
Gary Phillips
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Friday night Andy Lewis brought 7 Wonders by and taught us the game. It was Brian, Perry, Andres Dunn, Ken, John V., and I.

I had already played it a few times, so I made it my task to teach Ken the game by yelling at him every time he did something wrong. Or something like that. At this point I was drinking vodka straight out of the bottle, or at least that is how I remember it. I may have blacked out.
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13. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1551]
Gary Phillips
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Ken and I took a break from TME to playtest with Len Millman, designer of Devil's Den and Little Round Top.

The game we played had Devils Den, Little Round Top, AND The Wheatfield on the two standard sized maps. Regiments were around 8-20 steps, based on unit strength, and were represented by a leader, and a number of 1 and 2 step units based on its current strength. The maximum number of steps in a hex was 4, so regiments spanned several hexes. You moved and fired by regiment and not counter, so a little different.

The game showed its miniature roots pretty clearly but was light on procedure and moved quickly. Units move and fight by regiment so despite the number of counters on the board it didn't bog down during combat (not all of those little stacks were firing individually, etc.)

It will be interesting to see where this goes.
 
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14. Board Game: Savage Streets [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:7500]
Gary Phillips
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I taught Jeff Evich the game, and took the Soviets again. Much fun was had. As I told everyone who wasn't actively shunning me at this point: "I may not play this game 50 times, but I will play it at least 10 times, and who can ask for better than that?"
 
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15. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
Gary Phillips
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And finally we finished off the week with three games of, what else, 7 Wonders. Ken had snapped and bought a copy so we were playing with his set.

Ken and Andy Dunn, JR Tracy and his charming daughter Matilda (or Tildy) and myself were joined by Jeff Evich's two sons Nick and Mark for the first game, a learning game for all three kids, iirc. I think I won this one, I probably cheated.

At this point, Nick and Mark had to go, so Brian and Perry stepped in for two more games, though I vaguely remember that John Vasilaskos took Perry's place for the last game? Though at this point it may have just been another hallucination. I picked a really bad week to stop huffing paint.

And then it was over.

Did I mention that this game was also crazy fun?

Another Great Week. Except for my spanking in Ra, there really wasn't ever too much of a down moment, or one where I wished I was somewhere else, not even when I lost at C&C Nappyburger or Wilderness War.

Is it August 2012 yet?
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