WBC 2014 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Con
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Two moments on Thursday morning epitomized my whole week.


I got to the room where a Le Havre heat would start over an hour early, and decided to pass the time by playing solitaire (with an actual deck of cards, not a laptop). Rather than play the 'standard' solitaire game, I opted for a non-thinking passing of time known simply as "Perpetual Motion".

Now, anyone who is really curious can click here to read the rules. All that matters is, in all my life I have never actually won this solitaire game. Never in a few decades.

Until this one game.

That got me thinking as to how the rest of the week would go, especially considering how the week started.


There was something else, though: while playing, I noticed a father and son come in to pass time playing a 2-player game. And that got me thinking as to how selfish I was to, once again, leave my wife and (now) two children back home. My daily phone calls homes kept reminding me how much my son (now 8) missed me and, moreso, missed gaming with me.

This is something I will never let happen again. Of this, I swear.

But this will be a story for next year.


The fact remains that my gaming experience was made even before I got to Lancaster, what with crossing off one of my 'bucket list' dreams by being named GOTW, even if I got the nod by simply asking the guy before. That week was awesome, and now I had one last week to myself for playing countless tournaments, catching up with familiar foes, and yes, trying to earn my first-ever tourney win.

Here, then, is my WBC 2014 story. For those who are curious, here are links to previous years' trips:

WBC 2013
WBC 2012
WBC 2011
WBC 2010
WBC 2009
WBC 2008
EQ 2007
WBC 2007
WBC 2005
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1. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:2210]
Mike K
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Having a full week this time around, there was little played by me a year ago that I did not play this year. There was one notable omission, though:

Princes of Florence: Funny that the one game that I made final table at a year ago is one of the few games I did not play. But I've never been a huge fan of the game, and there were scheduling conflicts all over the place (including one I would not have predicted going into the Con). So far as I know, the game went on perfectly well without me.

Yspahan: The only other game I played a year ago that returned that I did not play. Another (pleasant) conflict prevented me from doing so. I like the game, but have never been that good at it. I did not miss this too much.

(I also played Tikal a year ago, but that failed to make it to this year's schedule.)


I will also note in passing that I passed up on Goa, a game that I've had success in years' past but will likely not play going forward. I really did sour on the game, do not care for the 3-hour blocks (though necessary), and am entirely outclassed compared to those who make the SF round every year. Still, I'd hate to see it get dropped completely.

One other shout-out must go to El Grande, a game I don't see myself playing any more due to the volatile, political nature of the beast ... but I must give a big congrats to my gaming roommate of so many years, Alex Bove, for winning this year's tournament. This was likely the last year I will travel with him, and will miss the car trip table-talk.
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2. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:349]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Even before that solitaire win, I had an inclination as to how the week would go based on the results of Monday's events.

Alex and I got to Lancaster by around 1pm, and I planned to play in 5 events, starting with T&T. Now I was really only hopeful for decent results in two of these five heats, as I barely play two of the five games (including this one) and have fared poorly at a third. I'd've been content with one win, and happy with wins in the two events I felt at least somewhat confident in.

So how did I do on Monday?

FIVE AND OH!

My first heat turned into my first win, 13-10-18-16, as I was the first to complete the 'white' area and placed a ton of houses on the board before 4th-seat ended the game. (I was also fortunate, as Matt Craig, sitting in 2nd seat, passed up an opportunity to end the game thinking the game would continue one more round; he cost himself about 10 points on that mistake, and likely the game.)

As two wins (or at the least, a 1st and a 2nd) were needed, I played my 2nd game of this on Thursday morning, after Le Havre. I found some familiar females at my table: Perri Lurie and Anni Foasburg; they would scoop up many tokens while I tried to speed-rush the end. I came up short, as Perri won by a score of 10-9-1-7. (3rd-seat had to toss two routes during the game; unfortunate luck, to say the least.)

So I was out of Thurn, a game I rarely played but still got a win in. Not a bad start.
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3. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
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Part of my Monday sweep involved this game, the other 'barely played' game I indicated before, and the third game I played on Monday. I was fortunate enough to snag the 'triple-hut' card, loaded up on tools, then held on as the guy who was in last the whole time, Chris LeFevre, scored over 100 points at the end and came up just short at the end. Final scores: 140-103-119-138.

The QF round took place on Saturday morning, and one guy at my table utilized the 'starvation strategy' very well, racking up 9 huts with the 'triple-hut' bonus and 20 more points from a 'double-meeple' card. I did well myself with a number of farm, tool, and hut bonuses, but the '+card' he got from a card turned out to be a 'double-hut' bonus, netting him an additional 18 points. Instead of a close 2nd that may have put me in the SF round, I finished a distant 2nd, 150-123-171-137. (On the plus side, I did roll a quadruple-six at the end ... too little too late, though.)
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4. Board Game: Automobile [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:323]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Monday built me up; Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning beat me back down.

One event that I really looked forward to after missing it a year ago was this one, particularly as I made the final table (and lost in large part to a distributor blunder in Round 2). I was eager to prove to myself that that run was no fluke.

Maybe it was.

I had black cubes rolling in early, and was never able to get into the all-important 'economy' factories late. I did get three factories in 'luxury' for some usage, got rid of all my loss cubes by the end of the game, and finished far better than I thought: only $40 out of 2nd place ... but almost $1400 behind the winner, who went virtually uncontested in the 'midsize' section for most of the game. Final scores: $5350-$3970-$4010-$3970.

The 2nd (and final) heat would conflict with Agricola, and while I debated for some time about it, I did opt for Agricola. One and done this year for me at Automobile.
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5. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:37]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
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I must admit: though I have had prior success at this game (including one Finals appearance), I have really soured on it. I just feel that, if there's only one pathway to success (produce a ton of coal, convert it all to coke, and go for steel ships and shipping), with any other avenue a dead-end, it gets boring.

I like trying different things, like using the 'special buildings'. In my first game, an early trip to the Marketplace revealed that the 'Fish Restaurent' was coming out. I figured I'd try to use that for early cash, and got the Fishery while another player got the Smokehouse. I got some early money out of it, but soon fell behind to the 'coal-coke' strategists. I ended up tied for 3rd (losing the tiebreak), 150-198-150-179.

Come Thursday morning, I set my copy of the game up and notice that Dan Eppolito is going to play in this heat, despite winning his first game (and thus qualifying for the SF round) ... and I convince him to sign up for Ra Dice instead!

(To be fair, both were in the same room.)

Karmic retribution: I end up with Nick Page at my table instead! I put up over 230 points and still lose by 70! Final scores: 309-239-187. But at least we got done in 2 hours! (Just in time to lose my 2nd T&T game, as mentioned above.)

Quick shout-out to Ken Horan, who GMed the event with very little help from me. On the other hand ...
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6. Board Game: Spyrium [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:483]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
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... Ken was a humungous help to me for the Trial Run of Spyrium at the WBC.

I honestly don't remember much about my own playing experience. I only entered the first of two heats, and lost to perennial shark Nick Henning, 69-74-60-70. (The player in first-seat, Pieter Villion, would play in the 2nd heat and eventually make the final table.)


As for the event's turnout ... not so many turned up.

The simple truth is that as GM, I'm able to schedule this game so as not to conflict other games that I personally enjoy. Instead, I conflicted with games that I don't play much ... but these tended to be games that many others do play (most notably: Thurn & Taxis, Stone Age, and St Pete). This led to a paltry turnout: only 16 showed up for the first heat, and a scant 8 came for the 2nd (2 of which played in Heat #1 ... both of whom won their games this time around).

And it could have been worse.

Due to an unforeseen conflict, I could not play or even be at the 2nd heat. Ken (and his wife Jen) were gracious enough to run that heat without me. But my copy of the game was the only copy around, for 8 people.

I scrambled to find someone with a copy, as the library did not have one on hand. I was very fortunate to find a fellow EPGS member, Tim O'Flynn, and get his (still unopened) copy to the table, avoiding an embarrassing situation.

Once again: MANY THANKS to Ken, Jen, and Tim for all their help with this event.

Long story short: there were only 6 winners, and 2 didn't make the SF round. The 4 that did went right to the Final table, which was won by Redie Smith.
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7. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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After making four straight final tables, I was unceremoniously bounced from the tournament after one heat, losing to Sceadeau D'Tela as so many do. Certainly, I was hoping for some redemption this year.

I actually played a 'skittles' game on Tuesday afternoon against Dan Eppolito, Rob Murray, and Winton Lemoine (which could easily passed as a SF table) and put up 52 in a close win.

Including that game, I had (at that time) won my first 6 games at the Con. I would proceed to lose my next 5, a streak that would end, coincidentally enough, with my first actual heat of this.

Looking back, I'm surprised I beat Dan 'Woolly' Farrow; he got the Clay Seller (which I saw in the draft) AND the Clay Mixer (never saw), eventually got to a six-room house with the Chief (also saw) AND scored the 'House Steward' bonus that someone else played for the wood. But it wasn't enough: he also had 7 empty spaces, only one pasture, and no Pottery (despite all that clay).

For my part, my first two drafted improvements were the Fish Trap and the Landing Net. I got both out by the end of Round 2 and proceeded to load up on food. I only built one room (and had some bad luck with a late FG space; I didn't grow until Round 9), but I renovated early and got out the only two occs I would play: Plow Driver and Manservant. I also got good wood grabs, snagged 4 boar after building fences when a player with the Forest Pasture opted for a Sow/Bake action (for fear of starving), got all 15 fences out before anyone else got one, and edged 'Woolly' for the win, 40-23-45-22.

So, do I get back to the SF round and a chance at a 5th final in 6 years? Well ...

I qualified for a SF that conflicted with Heat #2, and surprised myself with a Finals appearance in another game that knocked me out of Heat #3. Due to the shark-infested waters surrounding Agricola, one win was not enough to advance, and I retired from this year's WBC undefeated at Agricola but without a spot in the SF round.

(I might be disappointed that I couldn't go further, but I know at least a few gamers who missed a Final table, so I can't complain.)
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8. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1121]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
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Agricola was not the only game where I won without advancing. I entered two heats of this fun, quick game ... and won both.

I was more than happy to get Dan Eppolito in my first game of this, and the dice were kind to say the least: I rolled 5 Civs twice during the game, which helped propel me to a 49-66-56-50 victory. My 2nd game dragged on for some time, with numerous disasters striking. One other player who maxxed out his Nile track seemed to be on his way to winning ... until one last late disaster killed his flood and deprived him of 12 points. I took advantage, scoring enough on Civs and Monuments at the end to win, 29-39-32-37.

I would have loved to continue my streak in the QF round ... but I had qualified for a more 'serious' game's SF round, and eventually opted for that.
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9. Board Game: Egizia [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:282]
Mike K
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I played Dan one other time during the Con, on Thursday during a heat of this.

I was behind after the last round of scoring, but scored a number of points from Sphinx cards ... only to miss by a couple points, 57-91-93-92.

I wasn't disappointed; this was a game I played mostly because it 'filled a void'. These are the games I will likely pass on next year when I bring the family.
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10. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:35]
Mike K
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This is another one of those games that I have never done well at. I don't always play it at WBC, and have never won a game there. And when my first game put me in 4th seat, I watched as everyone else burned out the iron to start on cotton mills.

Well, I figured I'd fill the void, and went for iron mines early and often. This led to scads of money, which I later converted to lucrative rail lines to start the 2nd half. I was also able to build both of my '2' shipyards, as no one else went for them. I didn't think I could beat the '3' and '4' mill players, but I ended up winning by eight: 126-86-89-134. And this was after someone overbuilt my '3' iron mine in the 2nd half, costing me 7 points.

The SF round ran opposite Ra Dice. For better or for worse, I chose this.

I was in 4th seat again and tried the same strategy ... but this time, (a) I had more competition for filling the voids, and (b) someone went for shipyards early. I focused mostly on what I did last game, minus the shipyards, and built every rail I had for over 60 points ... but it wasn't nearly enough this time, and I lost, 155-114-139-132.

(I'll have to read Sceadeau's article on the subject at some point; he does the same thing, but much more efficiently.)
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11. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:629]
Mike K
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I missed out on this a year ago. Not this time!

Bonus: I was able to play with friends! Also at my first table: Elaine Pearson, Rob Murray, and Marissa.

(I've been told that I was rather animated that night. Like I was buzzed, but without the alcohol.)

(I also must've missed the dress-code policy, as many came in suits and ties.)

Even numbers went quickly: I got the 6 and 8, Rob got the 10, and Marissa got the 12. After a long wait, I eventually got the 7 to win the table and advance to the next round.

Considering that the others got to go to bed, I think now that the 'winners' are in actuality the losers. I waited about another half-hour before the next game, where I drew Aaron White, Kyle Smith, and Tim Packwood.

I said at the beginning that, if I get 6-7-8, I would not stop until I got to the top on at least one of those numbers. I got precisely those numbers on my first attempt ... and fell. I got them again on my second attempt ... and raced to the top on the 6 while stopping just short of the 8 (which I would later get). Tim would later beat me on the 7, while getting near the top on both the 5 and 12, and Aaron got the 10.

Late in the game, Kyle got the 5 and 9 going, and Aaron and I egged him on to go right for the top of the 5. And he kept rolling 5s, 5s, and more 5s, all the way to the next-to-last spot ... and then crapped out.

Next roll for Tim: 3-3-6-6, finishing the 12. Next roll gave him a 5 and the win.

Tim would go on to finish 2nd overall, and I went to bed late.
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12. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:261]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
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There are a number of games that, while I enjoy playing, I do not do well at. This is one of them.

I have played many games of this over the years, and have never had much success. I did make one SF round, but blundered away a strong first-half before succumbing to defeat; my only other possible shot at a SF ended in a 'dice-off' for a final spot. Thus, my expectations were low to say the least.

Amun Re was the 2nd game I played on Monday; I drew a 4-player game against Marissa Bianco, Bill Zurn, and Perri Lurie (before the T&T game mentioned before).

I amassed a sizable cash stack during the first-half, then bought out pyramid-filled provinces in the 2nd half, eventually breaking the 50-point barrier with a 51-41-36-21 win. Late in the game, I bid 21 with the Bid Blockade on Dakhla; Marissa could have outbid me but opted for Damanhur, which did score 8 at the end due to high sacrifices ... but we both believe that she wins if she goes 36 for Dakhla. I still contend that it wasn't a 'done deal', but at the least it would have been much closer than the final score indicated.

(Oh, and not scoring points for money while holding $45 will not happen often.)

I did not need to play any more heats to make the SF, but I ended up playing both remaining heats anyway. I lost Heat #2 to 'Coach' Hazel by a score of 29-35-28-33-31 and won Heat #3 (featuring fellow EPGSer Barb Flaxington among others) by a count of 41-28-33-24-26. The SF round would take place on Thursday night.

I draw a familiar nemesis in my SF round: Rich Meyer, who stopped me from winning Caylus more than once. I also got the always-dangerous Rob Kircher. Considering my previous track record, it'd be safe to say I'd go out quickly.

But I gotta say, ours was easily the loudest, funniest table of the four. All four of us (including Mary Ellen Powers, who helped Alex out with GM duties the whole time) were having a good time. And maybe that looseness played out in my favor. I really don't remember much of the details of that game, but I do remember the score:

26-33-43-39.

I exorcised some demons that game, and qualified for a Finals table in my 12th different event over the years at the WBC.


Despite my best hopes of rescheduling, the final took place as listed ... this was the conflict that knocked me out of Agricola. And with the likes of David Platnick, Andy Latto, and Eric Freeman with me at the table, I knew it'd be a tough one.

It proved too tough. By far.

David, along with Kevin Wojtaszczyk, both raced out to a sizable halfway-point lead while still holding on to a good stack of money. I had some bad card draws, made one mistake in Round 3 which cost me a chance at making a Bonus card (which, to be fair, I only drew after making that mistake), failed at an attempt at getting the most on one side, and had my worst loss of the Con, 37-37-33-33-25. (I cost Kevin the win by finishing ahead of him for 3rd on money by a buck. Ouch.)


I will not lie: I was frustrated by that game. And I'm not proud to admit this, but some of this anger got directed at Alex back in our motel room afterward. Now FWIW, everything's cool between us now; we're good and all. But I will not soon forget one thing I said to him:

"At this point, I don't care if I never win an event!"
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13. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:414]
Mike K
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Along with Automobile, this was the one event I really regretted not playing a year ago. And like many other games, it's not one I've had much success with. I did make one Final (which I DFLed) and one other SF, missing another SF as an alternate, but otherwise have had scattershot success at best.

But I still love playing this game. And it, along with Ra, were the two games I was most looking forward to playing on Monday.

By the time I finished my Stone Age game (getting to 3-0 at the time), I was afraid I used up all my success too soon, and was destined to lose the two games I really wanted to play.

I did win Ra, (more on that later) but drew two particular players that I would have preferred not to face so early: Cary Morris and Eric Freeman.

OK, I've already won 4 times today. Whatever happens, I can NOT complain about this game.

Those were my thoughts going in ... but things broke for me, I got a lot of points off diamonds (a common theme, it would turn out), and somehow won in a runaway: 45-68-52-50-50.

(I slept well on Monday night, still trying to figure out exactly where everything went right for me.)

One win was enough, but I enjoy the game and played in the 2nd heat. I thought I played well enough, but lost a squeaker to Kyle Smith, 52-45-53-37. (The player with 45: Redie Smith, who had won VS in the past and won Spyrium this year. That's one strong player!)

The SF round would take place on Thursday evening, right before the aforementioned Amun Re SF. I had a lot of familiar faces at my table: I was in 2nd seat, behind Kyle Smith and right before (in order) Joel Lyttle, John Corrado, and Craig Trader.

My SF game went similar to my previous games: I got early slots and a lounge, connected across, and started on diamonds. Late in the game I held $18, with an income of $14 due to my 'pop' at 14, and I calculated that I would be a buck short for a crucial buy in the next round.

As is usual in such situations, I was searching my board to make sure I didn't miss anything.

As is unusual, I found that I did miss something. On a previous Fancy Lounge buy, I forgot to move my pop up!

I didn't ask for the buck I missed for that round, but I did move the marker to the correct '15' spot. That buck proved crucial: I got my $33 buy on the next round (I forget exactly what I bought) and ended up winning by a score of 52-69-48-54-59. My first SF game of the Con (this came before Amun Re and the other games) would also be my first SF win of the Con.


After losing badly at Amun Re, and scrambling to find a board for Spyrium (this Final was what knocked me out of the 2nd Heat), I rushed over to the Final, located in a room I had never been in before. Another omen?

I drew first seat. After me: Andrew Drummond, Matt Craig, Steve LeWinter, and last year's champion, Doug Faust.

Now the other three I am very familiar with, but I must say a few words about Andrew. He dressed for every game like 'Leisure Suit Larry', made the SF round as an alternate, and beat Cary Morris in that game to make this table. I also learned that this was his first WBC, and that this was his first Final.

I said to many people, including Andrew, that he would win this game. It just felt like what would happen. This was my 20th Final (having just lost at Amun Re), so it'd be fitting to lose to someone else in their 1st, right?

Several turns in, and I feel that I'm doing well ... but Andrew's keeping up with me. In one crucial stretch I go 'out of sync' by getting a Fancy Slots for $12 when everyone else hits 'Pub'. They all spend money the next round while I go 'Pub'; Andrew gets a Fancy Lounge, and would later grab the Theater. For my part, I get the Dragon room and 2 Fancy Lounges; I feel it's between the two of us, but I don't know who's got it.

Then I get hurt by two late events (both involving Restaurants) that give Andrew 3 VPs and $3 more than me. Right before game end, I use my last $15 to get a 2nd Restaurant to fill my Hotel; the 'cash for Restaurants' card ends the game while giving me $9, a buck shy of another point. Andrew gets to an even amount of money.

The final scores are tallied in player order, starting with me.

I finish with 68 points and $9.

Andrew finishes with ... 68 points and $0.

Oh my God.

Matt has 43, Steve (who had a point lead on the board but lacked bonus points) gets to 66.

Oh my God!

Doug finishes with 56.


I need to point out three moments over the past 10 years of my life:

The day my son was born.

The day the Phillies won the World Series.

The day I learned my wife needed a C-section. (Our daughter was born the next day.)

For all of these moments, I lost it and cried. Literally a blubbering mess. Even as I type this, my eyes well up at the thoughts.

And I cried at the final table of VS.

What can I say? I've always been an emotional guy, who usually just keeps everything bottled up. But I can be overcome by emotion very easily. And after so many tries, this proved too much for me to keep inside.

Yeah I know, it's 'just a boardgame'. And perhaps in the grand scheme of things, it is an insignificant achievement. But for me, at least in terms of my hobbies, it ranks as the greatest gaming moment of my life.
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14. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I've been told that, once I got my first, I'd likely get many more. Would that happen? Well ...

Ra was one of the 'first five' that I played (and won) on Monday. I got a nice early lead and hung on, 41-23-25-29-38.

I drew Cary in my 2nd game; he won that one, 34-39-22-41-31.

My 3rd game, which took place before the two final tables mentioned above, featured Andrew and (for the 2nd time in 3 games) Frank Bragg, who I would also played in Transamerica. I got early monuments but Andrew scored a lot in the 2nd epoch and held on by a score of 56-40-37-30-30.

I go 1st-3rd-2nd, which puts me solidly in the SF round (which takes place immediately after my emotional VS win).

I draw Greg Thatcher for the first (and only) time at this convention. The first round is brutal: the Ra tiles kept coming, and the scores for the round were 5,0,0,-1,-5 (I had 0). I had the Pharaoh lead after that round, and kept it in the 2nd round while Greg amasses monuments. I give up the Pharaoh lead during the 3rd round, due to the low suns on the board and the thought that I could get that lead back. Big mistake: I never get that lead back, do not finish with high (or low) suns anyway, and lose to Greg by a scant 2 points, 39-26-37-26-17.

I missed a 6th place finish by a tiebreak. Close, but no cigar.
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15. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I only got in one game of this, and didn't make much of my chance.

I had 2nd corn; the guy in 1st corn got early Tobacco and a Construction Hut, eventually getting the Guild Hall and most of the production buildings. I make a valiant run with shipping and the Fortress (he would also get the Residence), but come up short, 29-28-46-39. In my defense, the guy who beat me also won his first heat, beating the defending champion, Henry Dove.
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16. Board Game: Navegador [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:163]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I've come close before. I made the semis a year ago (losing to Wade Fowble), and hoped to improve on that this year.

My first heat was on Friday night: one of my opponents, Ian Streeb, I know well from our online games through Ventrillo. In this game, I got an early gold colony, then switched to factory production. I would end up with double-digit factories, scored a lot on churches (a common strategy, to be fair), made gobs of cash, and won easily, 128-93-93-107. I was unable to play another heat, but unlike with Agricola, my one win here was enough to make the SF round.

Now, I mentioned that I lost to Wade last year. The other 3 players at that final: Antero Kuusi, Rob Kircher, and Vien Bounma (who beat me in my first-ever game of Navegador at the WBC). Why do I mention this?

Because these were my opponents in the SF round! (Had I beaten Wade a year ago, and everything else being equal, this table would have been THE final table from a year ago.)

Basically, it means I got some serious competition. But hey, at least I was able to watch the auto race while playing. (It's true: the 'Stock Car Championship' event was taking place in the same room.)

Have I mentioned that I play better when I'm loose?

I went for early factories again (after grabbing a single gold colony early), and took it to a rather extreme level: I eventually get ALL the sugar and spice factories, score well for churches again, and hold on as Rob amasses a ton of points through colonies, shipyards, and navigation tokens. It's a close finish, but I edge Rob (and Vien) by a score of 109-92-114-111. The 13th game where I've made a final table over the years.

I draw 4th seat for the final. The other players? 'Another' Andrew (Emerick), Doug Faust (again!), and Romain Jacques, who I know well from previous Cons. Once again, I grab the first sugar factory ... but this time, Doug (who got the first gold factory) takes the 2nd sugar factory, while many sugar colonies go unclaimed early. Feeling the need to shift gears, I go for shipyards and (later) navigation tokens. Unfortunately, I don't challenge Andrew for colonies as much as I need to (though I do get 4 gold colonies and 1 sugar colony during the game), and he ends the game with 17 colonies for 68 points. Meanwhile, Doug gets 12 factories for 60, Romain gets to 5 churches for 45, and I take a middling strategy of navigation tokens (6 for 36) and shipyards (4 for 36). In the end, the 3 navigation tokens that Andrew earned early (for 12 points) provided most of the margin of victory: he wins, 116-99-101-103.

Any other year, I'd've bemoaned the fact that I *only* got a 2nd. Not this year!
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17. Board Game: Hoity Toity [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1207]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Usually, Sunday is about 'TA' and going home ... but there was a heat of 'Adel' at 9, so I figured I'd try it.

Now, 2 games are played during the heat, but one is allowed to bow out after the first game. I figured that, if I lost the first game, I'd just enter TA at 10.

I didn't count on that first game running so long (not helped out by a pair of phone calls that one player made; I prefer not to name names, and I don't know the circumstances). The winner (who I also played in the Brass semi) finished +8 relative to the finish line; I tied for third at +3. (The others finished at +5, +3, and -3).
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18. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:899]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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I raced over to TA, and just barely made it in.

I'm glad I did; we ended up with seven 6-player games. Personally, I love playing with 6!

I also love going out first in the first two rounds; I had an 8-point lead early. The '6' I got hung on my in Round 3 hurt, but I was able to hold my own in Rounds 4 and 5 and went out first in Round 6 to win.

Seven winners advanced, and one graciously bowed out so that the remaining winners could go right to the final table. (Hey, my 14th different final! And yes, Alex, I count this!)

Oh, speaking of which: I didn't actually play Alex during the entire convention ... until now! He was at the table, as was Jim Savarick (a former EPGS member), Dan Speyer, Patrick Shea, and Huston (pronounced 'Houston') Johnson.

Jim went out first in Rounds 1 and 2, helped by others building into his cities three times during those rounds. (I was guilty of one, building through Portland to try to get to Medford.) I did go out in Round 4, but most of the later rounds were 'oatmeal': most scores were 2 or less for each player, which couldn't make up the ground lost during the first two rounds.

(Yes, I use 'oatmeal' as an adjective here.)

Jim wins, and I end up in 3rd (after the tiebreak). Final scores: 10-14-14-7-13-13. (Low score wins here.)

After saying final goodbyes, it was time to go home.
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19. Board Game: Happiness [Average Rating:4.87 Unranked]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Without a doubt, at least in terms of gaming, this has been the greatest two-week stretch of my life!

I crossed off two events from my bucket list: I got to be Geek of the Week, and I won my first-ever WBC event. In addition to my 1st, I also finished with a 2nd (Navegador), a 3rd (yes, I count TA), and a 5th (Amun Re). I made two other SFs (Ra and Brass) and a QF (Stone Age), qualified for another QF (Ra Dice), and won heats in three other games (Thurn & Taxis, Agricola, and Can't Stop ... yes, I count that too!).

I don't know if I'll ever match that run again, but I doubt it. I'll have other things to do ... like taking the family to Dutch Wonderland on the Tuesday before the 6pm events, or entering my son in Junior events (or even regular events ... he still loves Small World). Or maybe I look after my daughter, who will be just shy of 2 years of age by then.

With 2015 being the last year in Lancaster, it's time to enjoy all the area has to offer. That means time to cut back on the gaming intake.

But of course, there'll still be time for some games. And I certainly look forward to one more first: the first time I will enter an event as the defending champion.

Until next year ...
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