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2011 WBC: The quest continues
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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It's no secret that my pilgrimage to Lancaster is paved in wood. I'm what people call a plaque hunter and I'm past being embarrassed about it. 2 years ago, I won the consul, only to have it taken away by a quirky tie breaker that said a co-op game 'win' was more valuable than my win in Saint Petersburg. (I'll be sore about that until I finally win consul, or after I have accrued enough vacation to do euroquest and win Caesar.) It's my goal, so say what you will, I expect that eventually I will achieve it.

Last year was a bit of a let down, with only 1 win, and a handful of almosts, I was hoping for a rebound back to the level I performed at in 2009.
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1. Board Game: Days of Steam [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3061]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Usually I would start off with the San Juan tournament. San Juan is a game that I really suck at 2 player, and I decided that tough it's only an opportunity to play 1 heat, I'd fare better playing Days of Steam which I'd never even seen before, than San Juan which I have never advanced in.

The result was a mixed bag. I did well, and had a 50% chance of winning depending on a die roll. it was my chance to get a win, and start off WBC on the right foot so i took it. As usual, the dice hated me and I came in a very close second. I was going to have to hope that result was good enough to advance, as i didn't have this event penciled in anywhere else on the schedule.
 
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2. Board Game: Union Pacific [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:287]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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UP is a game that I learned at WBC 2009. I ended up winning the event that year, and thought that I really had a knack for the game. Last year I was knocked out in the third swiss round after 2 wins when I got a dreadful 4th place.

This year I won my first game easily, and drew the winner table that got to play with a 2nd place player. Turns out that wasn't the best luck I could have had as that player won, but I still picked up a 2nd place. My final table but me with both double winners, and another 1st-2nd place player. The 2 cabbies fought with each other enough that I was able to squeak in a 1 point win, and that was the difference between going to the final, and leaving with a very bad taste in my mouth.

Last years winner, Bruce Reiff (who I had just beat by 1 point) and the guy who won my second game were both there, along with someone I didn't know, who barely squeezed in through the tie breaker system. I drew second seat, and as luck would have it, the lowest qualifier drew first seat. For some reason, the first player didn't take a U.P. stock one turn, and allowed me to gain the early advantage. That was pretty much the story, as though I fell behind early, each scoring round I gained more and more ground with the help of that U.P. stock majority.

This was my first repeat tournament win, and I was off to a great start to the 2011 WBC.
 
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3. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:173]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Amun Re is another game I've had marginal success in. My first year, i got 2nd place in this, and I've also had a 2nd online, and a 4th (just one away from getting a plaque).

I drew a 4 player table, and it was an odd game. Everyone was in a sharing mood with 5 point bonuses being shared on each side the first half. I've never seen such high scores, as 1st was 18, second 17, then 16, then 15 points in the first half. The second half was much the same, as every province had a pyramid. I ended up with 50 points, and never scored a single power card. That was good enough for 1st.
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4. Board Game: Eat Poop You Cat [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:444]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Tuesday morning and afternoon had no tournaments and the stupid auction stuff was going on. I played a couple of pickup games, but my heart was set on more wood. Picking up my U.P. wood made me feel better, but I still wish I hadn't lost so much potential tournament time here.
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5. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:26]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Going into this game I was feeling pretty good. I won this event last year, and had been in the final the past 2 years.

My luck would change here. A couple of other players knew that I had won last year and made sure the other 2 knew it. I was piled on very quickly, and very often. People were telling others what to do and how to move the whole game. I was... Irritated.

I ended up getting 3rd, but I don't like losing an early heat since that means I have to start making scheduling choices.
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6. Board Game: Samarkand: Routes to Riches [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:842]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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This was a quick playing game that fit my schedule. I figured though I've only played a couple of times, I can give it a go.

Lucky for me, most people that showed weren't that familiar with it either. I won this heat in a manner that never left the outcome in doubt. it was a relaxing win, and a good balm to the El Grande game. This qualified me for the semis
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7. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:94]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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This game Was much like the Samarkand game. I had a fairly easy game against some opponents that just weren't all that familiar with Ra. I won't complain, as a first heat win in this event is huge.
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8. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:288]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Yspahan is a 3 player game that takes 4 players. I don't understand why in a tournament setting the 4 player game is used, other than getting more people into the heats.

As is my custom at WBC, I drew 4th seat, and there my game was ended. 4th player has no chance when any of the first seats have even half a clue what they are doing unless you first couple of cards drawn are for camels. They weren't.
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9. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:23]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I played a couple of RFTG heats Wednesday morning, and lost one with a close second, and one another with a close first. RFTG has skill, but the cards determine so much of what you can do.
 
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10. Board Game: Formula Dé [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:406]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I love playing this at WBC, but the schedule and format were against me this year. It would take at least a win and a place, and I would have to win this heat to have any shot. The GM was nice enough to get an early heat set up with some other players, but alas, as often happens, the dice struck again and blew my motor for me when I was but 5 or 6 turns from winning. I guess i should mention I stalled at the beginning while starting from the back already, and was pretty happy to have made a come back to that point.
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11. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:173]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I wanted to secure a spot in the semi for amun re, so I played this heat. I could have won, but for the play of a weaker opponent that over bid me for very high prices that to me were outrageous. The result was I got knocked down, and he was taken completely out of contention. I also lost a tie breaker for money that dropped me from first to a tie for second, which I lost for third place due to some other tie breakers.

I'd like to know what its like to WIN a tie breaker one day.
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12. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:153]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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Having won this before, i thought I try again. Unfortunately, I drew an awful starting spot and played just about the worst game imaginable of St. Pete. Dead last, and out of the tournament. The frustration was beginning.
 
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13. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:26]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I needed a win to defend my title, but what I got was another helping of 'let's beat on last years champ'. Not the most pleasant experience, but not the worst I've ever had. Well, until the end when one of the other guys was unhappy that I was unhappy. It seems that the 'correct' attitude is to be happy when you are in last place for an entire game. I'm sorry if I feel bad for losing an opportunity to advance, but that's who I am. I really do try to put a good face on things, but this was a moral blow.
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14. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:61]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I'm not especially strong at this game, but I wanted to 'play and see'. I ended up in 2nd, but there's something about this game that sometimes I just don't get. It's a game I'm not sure if I should stop trying at and sail for greener pastures, or stick with it and maybe break through.
 
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15. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:154]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I' had only played this twice, but the last time had turned out well, so i gave this a shot.

I wish i had gone to bed. I dind't know the rules that well, and entire strategies and loads of planning were ruined by me not being able to do things i thought I could. I got 2nd, but it was a frustrating end to a frustrating day.
 
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16. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:26]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I hate having to play 3 heats in one game, but I like el grande and wanted to make the semis at the very least. In this heat, i found myself at a friendly table for a change. All nice people that play in a manner other than 'kill last years winner' It was a pleasant and close game that I ended up winning. felt relieved more than anything to finally qualify for the semi final round.
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17. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:33]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I gave this a go because it fit my schedule. I'm fairly good at it, but my table draw had me with experts. It was a hard fought game where I had a ton of red and blue, but never enough black or green. I still tied the leader, but lost a tie breaker again for 2nd place.
 
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18. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:26]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I drew the 4 player table at the semi final. It seems I could have just shown up and made it. The guys at the table were fun guys to play with, but I had learned a bit about 4 player games in earlier rounds. I spread out more than usual, and was about to pull off a win and get myself back into the final for a third year in a row (and nobody wants me on their team!!)

The final was packed with former winners. 5 championships were represented at the table, along with Drew Duboff. Drew is only 13. Greg Thatcher, Rob Flowers, and Jay Fox were the other 3. Very strong competition. It was a pretty tight game, though Jay got stuck in the back early and could never quite catch back up. The result was still in the air until the final scoring round when I saw that I had repeated and retained my El Grande title. At this point I was feeling a bit embarrassed by how stressed I was, but I was also very happy, and almost late for my next semi final...
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19. Board Game: Days of Steam [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3061]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I was one of 8 people who showed for the semi final of DOS. Since there were only 8, two semi's were played and the top two would each get into the final. My favorite format! An early leader was quickly established, and I let him truck along unmolested. The other players each fought to stop him, but I was only concerned with 2nd, and the final. I solidified 2nd place, and hindered 3rd and 4th while speeding up the end game as much as i could. The ploy worked, and I had made back to back finals!

In the final, somehow, I got off in a direction of my own, where the other three were all competing for cubes. I got a couple of cheap circuit markers and was tied with 12 points with only a couple of tiles left to be drawn. With one more turn, I would end the game with 14 points, but it looked like I wouldn't get that turn. At this point I figured I needed to know the tie-breakers. Luckily, they worked in my favor, right when I needed them to. I had won Days of Steam. my third tournament win of the week. At this point, I've already had my best con ever, but consul was on the brain.
 
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20. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:351]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I was feeling great at this point, and this game reflected that. I fell way behind early, but was sitting in a decent end game position where I might get the bonuses. One player had gotten that lucky end of round draw where he got biggest boat. Being 30+ points back I just trudged on and never gave up. I only collected 2 colors the entire game and won by a landslide. Not only did I get 2 20 point bonuses on day 3, but I even got one on day 2. What a day of games!
 
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21. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:84]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I seemed to be off to an easy win, but as I was getting tired, I forgot to connect one of my routes. It cost me the most trains bonus, and another 30 points in tickets. I would have more chances in this one though.
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22. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:173]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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The semi final was an odd one for me. I had 8 power cards in my hand at the same time, I ended up scoring 15 points from cards alone. I had no money though, and the 2 points I lost due to having 1 dollar less than the winner cost me the game.
 
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23. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:84]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I won my second heat by a point. 157-156. I thought for sure I would lose, not because of my play, but because my opponent played so well. Sometimes fortune does favor me though, and I try to remember that.
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24. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:94]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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The player that sat to my right mercilessly called ra every turn, this knocked me out of the game quickly. My revenge was to kingmake against him.
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25. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:804]
Curt Collins
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
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I won a very pleasant game of this during the middle of the day. It's a dice game, and yeah, it's a dice game.
 
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