Sean's 2010 WBC.
Sean McCulloch
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Still recovering from this year's WBC- I was there for 9 days this year, Saturday through Sunday. That was a little long- I was thinking on Tuesday how my trip was about half over, but the convention hadn't really started yet
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1. Board Game: Age of Renaissance [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:926]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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This game was an early pre-con, and one that I haven't played in a few years, mainly because I don't like myself when I play it. (Since it's easy to be screwed over by someone not knowing what they're doing, I get overly sensitive to that). But with not much else going on, and a desire to keep the tournament in the Century, I gave it a shot. In my game, there was one really good player who I focused on, and a bunch of players who said they hadn't played much. I did well early, but peaked too fast, focused on making sure the good player didn't win (probably focusing too much..), and faded at the end when everyone had a lot of money when the leaders came out, and I didn't. Oh well, it was still a fast fun game.
 
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2. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:32]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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This was Sunday's tournament game, one I was a little wary about joining. Partially because the default was a 3-player game (I'd prefer 4-players, to give more chances to catch a leader), and partially because the heats were scheduled for 6 hours, when I think 4 hours is a long time to play this game.

Luckily, I had 2 fast games. The first game had the eventual winner get off to an early lead by ignoring military for a bit, but none of us had the cards to do anything about it (this is why I'd prefer a 4-player game- more chances for someone to attack him).

During the first game, there was a movement to start some games of the second heat early, which I jumped on, figuring I'd get paired with faster players. Luckily I did, and my second game went really fast (maybe too fast- we all made some mistakes) and I ended up winning.

I didn't end up playing in the semis, because I was doing well in my Union Pacific game at the time it was scheduled, but I hear that the finals (and maybe the semis) can go on for 8 hours! Yikes! I mean, I understand the desire to consider every move carefully, but that's just too long for this game, at least for me..
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3. Board Game: Union Pacific [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:506]
Sean McCulloch
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This was the morning tournament on Monday- you play several games, each new round matching people with similar records, eventually leading to a final. I won my first game (meaning I'd stay for the second game here instead of playing the Through the Ages semi), but then lost pretty horribly in the next two rounds.

Every year I play this game, I feel like I'm getting worse. Maybe there's some grand strategy I'm just not getting. Oh well.
 
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4. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:235]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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Monday afternoon's tournament, you get paired by record into 2-player games. (There was a lot of trouble getting enough copies of the game- if you're planning on playing next year, please bring a copy!)

I went 3-1 in my preliminary rounds, making the single elimination bracket. In that game, I had a hard time drawing good cards (the best I could find by the end of the second turn was a Silver), and never could quite catch up. The good news is that the person I lost to went on to win the whole thing, so at least he was a really good player.
 
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5. Board Game: High-Bid [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:8490]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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Tuesday was the auction, which I worked at. I got a copy of the new Republic of Rome for under $40, which saved me money, since I was planning on buying it anyway. I also got cheap copies of other games I was looking for, so yay!

Then, since I apparently didn't have enough Auction experience, I played in the Auction tournament. This is a game that I don't really "get"- I'm not sure how to forge a path to victory out of any random hand of cards. In this case, I had a couple of Jewelry, and probably should have bid more on the other ones that came out, hoping to win that way. But I just sat back and didn't win anything, and the game ended before I was expecting it to. Oh well.
 
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6. Board Game: March Madness [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:7991]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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After my Auction loss, I went over to play March Madness, which is a fun tournament with a fun group of people that I make room in my schedule for each year. You get to draft teams, and they set up a bracket for you to play in. In my first heat, I chose in the middle of the pack, and got a mediocre team. I won my first game, but played a girl who just learned the game that day in the second round, which of course means that I lost by 40 points

In my second heat, I got the absolute last pick, but still managed to take my team to the final game before they regressed to their true ability. It's a testament to how close the teams are to each other that it's possible for a low-picked team to have that much of a chance..
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7. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:344]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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After getting creamed in March Madness, I ran over to get a game of Ingenious in. I was paired with 3 serious players, and really felt outclassed by how good everyone was. Probably with cause- the player to my left won, which probably means that I didn't do enough to defend against her.

I did play a second heat later in the week, and won that game, but one win and one third place wasn't enough to make the semifinals.
 
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8. Board Game: Win, Place & Show [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:2355]
Sean McCulloch
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After Ingenious ended, I ran over to play a heat of Win, Place, and Show, which is a game I play about once a year. I know the mechanics of the game, but I don't know how good each individual horse is, or how they all perform relative to their odds. So, I figured I was outclassed, and decided to try for a couple of longshots to make my win that way (Hey, if you can't win on skill, admit it!). None of them came in, so I lost that game.
 
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9. Board Game: Titan [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:823]
 
Sean McCulloch
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Wednesday started the 2-player Titan tournament, which I decided to pick as my team game this year. Not because I'm a top player (I'm not), but because I've managed to well in it over the last few years, so I may as well ride the hot hand..

For a while I was still hot:
- In my first round game, I played a kid who hadn't played much, and beat him.
- In my second game, I got pretty severely out-recruited, and decided to attack his ttn/beh stack in the jungle with a pile of rangers, figuring he'd either protect his titan and I can strip his behemoths, or he can protect his behemoths and I can get a bunch of swings on his Titan. He did the latter, I managed to kill his Titan, and I moved on.
- In my third game, I played one of the Titan Sharks. Luckily, he had a lot of bad rolls and could never get anything good going in his titan stack, and eventually I hunted it down.
- My fourth game was similar, except he kept his (weakish) titan stack in the tower for a lot of the game, while my titan stack ran around getting serpents. We actually ran out of serpents in that game, something I don't think I've seen before. Meanwhile, he had other stacks getting Colossi. Eventually, in an aggressive move to get to 400 points, he moved his Titan out of the tower to block me. I attacked him, and killed his Titan, but I think even if I don't kill him, being out of the tower is bad for him, since I'll hit 400 points soon myself and jump on him with my serpents. But maybe he thought that was his best chance.

Anyway, all of that put me in the final. Short story, I lost by playing really, REALLY stupidly. Long story..

(Titan geekiness on!)

So, it's turn 4 or so, and I'm someplace on the bottom (let's say it's M112) with {ttn wlo lio cen cen gar gar}. I split, roll a 1, move one space (to S111). Next turn, I roll a 5, move my titan stack 5 spaces (to the brush), get ready to take a cyclops, and pick up my stack.

And look at it

And look at it again.

Turns out, that instead of splitting off my centaurs like and sane, non-stupid person would have, I split off my gargoyles! Now I can't recruit in the brush. I can't even move there, because he's got his 6-high titan stack in the tower right next to that brush, and I'd be 5-high with no natives. So I wait.

He then gets a few good rolls to teleport a ranger stack with 2 guardians into my way, but really, the game is over by then anyway.

(End titan geekiness!)

Such a sad, sad, embarrassing way to lose a final. In my team event, no less. Sigh.

I also played a couple of games of the 4-player when I had holes in my schedule, but didn't make a priority of it, since I had so many 2-player games, and lots of other things to do.
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10. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:293]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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Without really trying, I managed to play in all 4 of the heats of Lost Cities because they fit into holes in my schedule. I went 3-1, my only loss against someone who played in a really strange way I couldn't wrap my head around (He'd dump all kinds of good cards into the middle at the beginning, hoping to draw them back later if he had enough to make a deep run. I can't _leave_ them there for him, but taking them clogged up my hands- or made me start columns I probably shouldn't).

Anyway, 3-1 was good enough to make the semifinal bracket of 32. I got lucky enough to win the first couple of games with good cards, putting me in the final 8 (or, far enough to start thinking about how far I can go..) In that round, I had a negative score in the second game (of 3) because I started a color with the 10 in my hand, and never drew any more of that color. Thus, in the third game, I was way behind, and knew I had to build up a long run of a color- I chose red, and held a bunch of red cards in my hand until I could get a couple of red handshakes down.

Luckily for me, while I was waiting to get those handshakes, the other guy started red himself. He couldn't have known I had all of the cards he was looking for, so it was a lucky break for me. His negative score was enough to let me catch up, and put me in the final 4.

In that round, I played a kid who said he was "just happy to be this far", which I didn't believe. Especially since I think he was the boyfriend of the March Madness Girl from Tuesday night who killed me. But the luck was in my favor, putting me in the final.

..where I faced Rebecca Hebner, who's... well, I don't know if there is such a thing as a "Lost Cities Shark", given how luck-based the game is, but if there is one, she'd be it. We played 2 really tight games, meaning it was just about tied going into the last game.

As it turned out, in the last round, she had 3(!) green handshakes and a bunch of other greens, but I had enough high greens and almost all of the whites (seriously. It was something like 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10 with no handshake), which added up to enough to beat her. I didn't believe it when the scores where counted, but she only got like 40 points from all of that green, which was less than what my white scored. So, yay! One card in her hand instead of mine, and I lose big, but I'll take the win!
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11. Board Game: Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:578]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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This game is probably my favorite of all the Star Wars crossover games, and it's one I make sure to play every year. This year, my first game was against a kid who was pretty good, and managed to kill all of my units as the bad guys for the win.

My second game was against some kid I was teaching the game to. Past experience led me to believe that I'm usually in trouble in this situation, but I managed to grind out a long win.

The annoying (to me) advancement rules meant that because I won my game in my second try, I was behind everyone who won their game in their first try. So, I was like 28th in line for 16 spots. At the appointed time, I saw a big crowd of people milling around, assumed I wouldn't qualify, and ran off to play something else. My mistake, since they told me I would have gotten in. Oops. At least now I'll know for next time.
 
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12. Board Game: Kremlin [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:899]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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After playing my third-round Titan game in the morning, Thursday afternoon was time for Kremlin, another game I make sure I play at WBC because I don't play it enough during the year. I got 2 games in this year- in my first game, I got Nestor for 4, failed the first turn wave, got convicted in a trial on turn 2, and spent the rest of the game watching as all my high-level people were tied with someone else, and losing the tie. Sigh.

In the second game, I tried to lay low for a few turns, but a fluky health phase meant that we were forced to end up with a really young, healthy party chief (owned by someone else) that we weren't able to dislodge.

Expert Kremlin moment: Suppose the party chief has 2 waves, and is healthy. You roll the health die, and add 1 illness to him. You then have a chance to play "Wrong diagnosis" (which gives a reroll at -3). Basically, you have an 11/20 chance of getting at least back to where you were, with a 5/20 chance of making him sicker, but a 9/20 chance of not making him sick at all (meaning you lose the game immediately). What do you do? I think the right move is to hold the card- make him roll for the win. But other people thought that a 13/20 chance of him making his wave roll wasn't good enough, so it was worth the chance.
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13. Board Game: Pro Golf [Average Rating:5.57 Overall Rank:13486]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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The Thursday night Party game, and the one with the least skill. Roll some dice, look at the chart, and see if you make the shot. Still, it's a lot of fun to do it in a large group. And this year, my -7 was enough to make the Final Skins game (and stay up even later)! It was a fun experience, but any skill I had that got me there was lost, as I didn't win a single hole. That's about as close as I'll ever get to winning this one..
 
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14. Board Game: Football Strategy [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:4152]
Sean McCulloch
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Since I didn't think I'd make my Queen's Gambit semi, I ran over to play this. I'm working on a program that uses game theory to play a decent AI for this game, so I figured I'd give the game a try and see if I learned anything.

The answer: no. I played a decent defense, but couldn't get any kind of an offense going, and lost something like 13-3.
 
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15. Board Game: Paydirt [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:3069]
Sean McCulloch
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After checking to see if my next Titan game was ready (it wasn't), I ran up to play this- it's sort of like Football Strategy with randomness, and with teams you can bid on. We spent a bunch of time figuring out which teams were good, but I got there late, so I got the worst team for no bid. Which actually isn't a bad strategy, since I get extra points in all of my games.

It worked out great in the first round, where my lions "only" lost to Arizona by 17 when they were 21 point underdogs, so I won the game. In the second round game, I drew a worse-rated team that happened to match up with me better, and I conceded when I was down 35-0 at the half with not much hope.
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16. Board Game: Liar's Dice [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:585]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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Friday Night's late-night game, and always a lot of fun. I was at a table with a bunch of friends, got the table down to where there were 4 players and 5 dice on the table or something, and made one dumb decision that cost me the game. Aargh.
 
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17. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:132] [Average Rating:7.45 Unranked]
Sean McCulloch
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I slept in on Saturday, and got in this game instead of playing some of the longer stuff I was considering. I did well in this game, drawing lots of lucky tickets, and already being done (but greedily drawing cards for long connections) when one of the other players "surprisingly" ended the game.

This put me in the quarterfinal Sunday morning, where they play the 1910 version, which I like. (Hate the Europe version, by the way). I drew 3 inter-related cross-country routes at the start, and by the time I made them, I had 10 trains left. Rather than draw tickets, I made two 5-car connections to grab longest train and end the game. Lots of people missed tickets and I won the game.

Now, I'm on to the semis (to the consternation of the people who were driving home with me and now have to wait.) They got a weird number of people in the quarterfinals, so there were 12 semifinalists, which they put at 4 3-player tables. I don't like the 3-player rules (where only one side of a double-connection can be used), because I don't think the board is built for it. It didn't end up mattering much, though, since one of us drew the cross-country tickets, and the other 2 drew all east-coast stuff, and lost.

Come to think of it, that may have been a good game to try the "Be an obstructionist and get all of the 6-train connections" strategy. Hmm.
 
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18. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:791]
Sean McCulloch
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I got this game in on Saturday as well. I usually play Galaxy, but all of my Titan games fell in such a way that I couldn't get it in. (Sorry, Mark!). This game was close to the end, where I tried to set something up so the next player would kill the creature I wanted dead. I think he would have, if he had a card to kill it with. Oops. One of my creatures dies instead, and I end up losing.
 
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19. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:16]
Sean McCulloch
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Saturday afternoon was the scene of my devastatingly stupid Titan loss, and after kicking myself for an hour or two, I decided to play Puerto Rico, a game that I _know_ I'm bad at. Sure enough, I tried the factory strategy only to see everyone buy all of the factories and harbors before I could afford them, and I come in last. Boy, am I behind the curve on this game.
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20. Board Game: Slapshot [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2899]
Sean McCulloch
United States
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Saturday night's late-nigh event, and the one that I run. It was fun and crazy as usual, and a good time was had by most. I may consider making a small change to the Massively Unfair Slapshot Semifinal next year, and make it just a touch less Massively Unfair. We'll see if I remember by then.


So, that's it. Lots of fun, lots of frustration, lots of good games. I already can't wait for next year. I'm seriously toying with the idea of using next year to play all of the games I don't ever get a chance to fit into my schedule, and that I'm really bad at. I don't know if I'll be able to bring myself to do it, but it would be interesting..
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