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Subject: Advice for WBC Newbs? rss

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John R
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Hey All:

Two of us are road-tripping from Minnesota out to Lancaster, PA to attend the WBC for the first time. We're pre-registered, have a hotel, and all that stuff. But I have some specific questions about how things run there:

1. We are big fans of card-driven games. Our top five favorite games include 1960, Twilight Struggle, Here I Stand, Wilderness War, and Hammer of the Scots. We know to bring copies of the games we want to play, but what about something to cover the flimsy GMT boards with? Should we bring Plexi-glass, or is that just too cumbersome?

2. Scheduling is a nightmare. I've been doing spreadsheets for a week now and am not sure how I'm going to fit everything in. How would you suggest mapping out tournament play?

3. We're not planning on entering a team right now. Is that okay? Or will we be missing some huge component of WBC and regret it later?

4. In a Swiss tourney, when do you decide to ditch it? I'm thinking of playing Wilderness War one day, but it also overlaps onto Hammer of the Scots. If I lose my first game of Wilderness War, is it smart to hope over to Hammer, or what?

5. Food: anyone know what the policy is on this at the Lancaster Host? We'll be staying in a hotel down the street, and were planning on bringing bag lunches. Is this frowned upon? What if we leave them in a cooler and have a quick picnic in between sessions? Where does the Host stand regarding outside beverages, snacks, etc.?

Thanks for your help. Any other random advice would be appreciated. We want to have the best time, as this may be our only shot to attend.

Thanks,
John
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Tim Mossman
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BeatGuy wrote:
1. We are big fans of card-driven games. Our top five favorite games include 1960, Twilight Struggle, Here I Stand, Wilderness War, and Hammer of the Scots. We know to bring copies of the games we want to play, but what about something to cover the flimsy GMT boards with? Should we bring Plexi-glass, or is that just too cumbersome?


I seem to recall seeing a bunch of plexiglass in the wargaming area, but don't know if that was event or participant supplied.

BeatGuy wrote:
2. Scheduling is a nightmare. I've been doing spreadsheets for a week now and am not sure how I'm going to fit everything in. How would you suggest mapping out tournament play?


You likely won't fit "everything" in. I typically make a speadsheet that contains an "A" and a "B" schedule, complete with times and locations. The "A" event is my priority; however, in the event that it falls through or ends early, I have the "B" event already lined up without having to search through the WBC program.

BeatGuy wrote:
3. We're not planning on entering a team right now. Is that okay? Or will we be missing some huge component of WBC and regret it later?


I've not done a team - never felt like I missed anything. That being said, the folks who do team up seem to have fun with it.

BeatGuy wrote:
5. Food: anyone know what the policy is on this at the Lancaster Host? We'll be staying in a hotel down the street, and were planning on bringing bag lunches. Is this frowned upon? What if we leave them in a cooler and have a quick picnic in between sessions? Where does the Host stand regarding outside beverages, snacks, etc.?


There will be food vendors in the Lancaster Host who show for the event. The two that usually show have good food at a reasonable price. [Note: at least one of the vendors usually just does lunch / dinner.] I also make it a practice to keep some fruit and/or granola bars on hand just in case that I need to keep playing through meal time. I've never noticed anyone being cited for having "outside" food . . . although if you spilled your McDonald's coffee on someone's copy of We the People, you be amazed how no one in a room of 100s of people witnessed the beating you sustained.

One other note: Bring ibruprofin. Hunching over tables for hours will be a serious strain on your neck. A little ibruprofin can be a life-saver. If you can manage to squeeze in a little exercise time to recirculate the blood a bit - all the better.

Good luck and have fun.
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Brad Johnson
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1) Your call, but whether you're driving or flying, hauling around big panes of plexiglass is going to be a pain. In my opinion, it's only necessary if you as the game owner insist on it.

2) After 12 (I think?) years of attending WBC, my advice is don't try to overdo the tournament scheduling, but I totally understand if you feel compelled to do it anyway. My first few years, I tried to squeeze everything in, and it can be very stressful. There's so much going on simultaneously, your odds of being able to get to all the heats/rounds that you need to for more than 2-3 tournaments is very low. Since a large number of events schedule their semifinals and finals on Saturday (or Sunday morning), if you actually advance in more than 1 or 2 tournaments, odds are very good you'll have to bow out of all but one anyway. (Depends on how long the games are that you're playing.) Every year I see a number of people who have something like 2 semifinals and a final all going on at the same time, and they have to pick the one they want to do and duck out of the rest. This actually can hurt the tournaments, because alternates aren't always available to fill the vacated spots.

3) The team competition, in my opinion, is a complete sideshow. You won't miss a thing if you're not in it. I only started running a team the last few years I've been attending, and even then every year we consider not doing it. Depending on your personality type, it's actually sort of frustrating because you've only really got one shot to score some points for your team, and you don't necessarily have that much control over how successful you are, so it's a bit of a crap shoot. (That being said, the same teams do tend to do well each year, so if you've got 4 guys who each have a game that they are guaranteed to kick butt in, go ahead and register.)

4) It depends on how many people are advancing and how many heats are being played, but if you're in it to win or nothing and you've absolutely got to maximize your time usage, then I think you may as well drop after you've lost once. I think in the CDGs in particular the final table are pretty much all perfect records.... (I could easily be wrong about that.) Again, I personally recommend against this approach - I think you should enter just a few tournaments that you really want to play in and keep playing as long as you're having fun. YMMV - if you're never coming back, then I understand you wanting to cram in as much action as you can. But I will just say this -- within a couple hours of our first visit to WBC (then Avaloncon), we said "we're coming back every year, I don't care what it takes", and we have. We drive from Chicago area every year.

5) I'm honestly not sure about the official policies regarding food, and my official recommendation would be to check the WBC web site and follow whatever rules are posted. But between you and me, I haven't ever seen any rules ruthlessly enforced. Lots of people order food in (pizza, sandwiches, etc) or carry fast food in and eat it all over the premises, and I've never seen anyone called on it. (Last year we found a great philly cheesesteak place that we ordered from numerous times. Can't remember the name off the top of my head, but I expect to be calling them numerous times again this year...) The Host does provide a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner which ranges from meh to not bad. Officially, they like to see us all eating their food. But my group gives them plenty of income on drinks at the bar, so I don't feel too bad about not paying for their food. (PS - We also have never had any problem carrying drinks from the bar and/or from our own cooler freely around the hotel.)
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John R
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Brad, Tim:

Thank you for your excellent advice. I will take it to heart!

Regards,
John
 
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Eric Brosius
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BeatGuy wrote:
Two of us are road-tripping from Minnesota out to Lancaster, PA to attend the WBC for the first time.


You'll have a great time, I'm sure! Welcome.

BeatGuy wrote:
what about something to cover the flimsy GMT boards with? Should we bring Plexi-glass, or is that just too cumbersome?


Most people buy 2' x 3' poster frames from Walmart for $10 or $20. They work great.

BeatGuy wrote:
How would you suggest mapping out tournament play?


I get a piece of graph paper and write in all the heats of games I'd like to play in. Then I go by feel. You may make it into semis or finals, in which case, throw those plans out the window!

BeatGuy wrote:
We're not planning on entering a team right now. Is that okay? Or will we be missing some huge component of WBC and regret it later?


Not a big deal.

BeatGuy wrote:
In a Swiss tourney, when do you decide to ditch it?


When you feel like playing something else. If you go 0-5 and are having a great time, what's not to like?

BeatGuy wrote:
We'll be staying in a hotel down the street, and were planning on bringing bag lunches. Is this frowned upon?


Try to avoid ostentatiously dissing the hotel and you should be fine.
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Greg Schmittgens
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Plexiglass - I have four plexiglass sheets cut to 17" x 22". They fit in a suitcase. One sheet is perfect for a game like Combat Commander. Two are the right size for most CDGs (Wilderness War, PoG, FtP, BtB, EotS, etc). Most maps are 22" x 34".

Scheduling - As has been said, you won't 'fit everything in'. Don't let that hinder your fun.

Team - IMO, the main reason for having a team is so we can trash talk each other. I think most teams I've been on have proudly proclaimed they never took a point. But we always keep track of when the team games are being played.

Ditching - The only thing I would add is tell the GM when you decide to leave a tournament. Most GMs won't mind as long as they're informed.

Food - As stated, I don't think there's any sitgma to bringing in your own food. Buying a drink or a cookie on-site might be appreciated, but it's not like there's someone watching.

I never had a problem with toilet paper.

Also, if your traveling companion is a BGG denizen, be sure to post his/her name to this list - http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/402482.

I'm making buttons for all the BGGers to wear at WBC. (The BeatGuy name is already on my list.)
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Doug Cooley
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BeatGuy wrote:
1. We are big fans of card-driven games. Our top five favorite games include 1960, Twilight Struggle, Here I Stand, Wilderness War, and Hammer of the Scots. We know to bring copies of the games we want to play, but what about something to cover the flimsy GMT boards with? Should we bring Plexi-glass, or is that just too cumbersome?


If you can't transport plexi, you might also consider stopping by a local WalMart and buying a $10 poster frame. These fit most one-map games very well and have the huge advantage of not being "shiftable" over the map as it's all in one piece. When you're done, find someone who will take it home with them if you don't have room.

When I attended, I'd come out from the West Coast and often put most of my games in large baggies or hard folios instead of bringing the box. One year before I started bringing the games we ended up in a PoG tournament with no game copy, and had to borrow the designer's!

Also, make sure to save room for games you'll buy there. If you've got any games on P500 with GMT or other publishers planning to release pre-order copies at the con, be sure to get to their booth early to find out when they'll be available and to ask them to bring your copy. One year, I ended up playing the first production copy of Wilderness War that Volko (the designer) had seen, which was pretty cool, and the developer (Rob Winslow) was in the area so we could ask questions as we went. It was perhaps my most memorable experience there.

Quote:
2. Scheduling is a nightmare. I've been doing spreadsheets for a week now and am not sure how I'm going to fit everything in. How would you suggest mapping out tournament play?


Prioritize the games you want to play - there won't be enough time, get used to that idea right now. Have a couple of backups in case you don't advance in a tournament you expected to. This is very important: make sure you have some downtime scheduled in - playing games for five days solid (or more) will turn your brain into mush PDQ. At least if you're over 40 (like I am).

Quote:
3. We're not planning on entering a team right now. Is that okay? Or will we be missing some huge component of WBC and regret it later?


For some, this is the high point of the week. For me, it's a metagame that encourages far too much weaseliness. I GMed the Successors tournament for a couple of years, and actually had one player who threw a game so that his brother (playing in a different game) would have a better chance of making the finals since it was his team game. That's bullshit, and the brothers were not back the next year.

That said, many people consider the team element to be one of the high points. I don't feel it's necessary at all and enjoyed the con immensely back when I attended regularly just fine without it.

Quote:
4. In a Swiss tourney, when do you decide to ditch it? I'm thinking of playing Wilderness War one day, but it also overlaps onto Hammer of the Scots. If I lose my first game of Wilderness War, is it smart to hope over to Hammer, or what?


Depends on how much you want to win wood. Again, I'm in the minority as I'm there to meet people, play the games I love, and be around a lot of people who don't think I'm a freak for enjoying complex board games. I'd rather play a lot of different games and meet different people than play Paths of Glory three times in a row (which I've done).

If winning any sort of trophy is important, then I would bail after losing two games. Keep in mind that many times, people who qualified for the last few rounds don't show up, so it is possible that you can get into a semi that you were several positions out of.

Finally, if you were considering jumping to a different tournament, again I'd consider whether or not you feel you're going to be competitive if wood is the ultimate goal. A lot of players at WBC focus on a handful of games and getting very very good at them, so if you've only played a game a few times or against only one or two opponents, take that into consideration.

Quote:
5. Food: anyone know what the policy is on this at the Lancaster Host? We'll be staying in a hotel down the street, and were planning on bringing bag lunches. Is this frowned upon? What if we leave them in a cooler and have a quick picnic in between sessions? Where does the Host stand regarding outside beverages, snacks, etc.?


Can't help you here, I only went to the Baltimore venue. Keep in mind that many hotels charge the event based on rooms rented and assuming a certain amount of hotel amenities will be consumed. You can always contact the hotel ahead of time and ask for their policy. BPA may have it's own policy concerning alcohol.

Quote:
Thanks for your help. Any other random advice would be appreciated.


Spend time getting to know people. I always enjoyed closing out the evening in the bar, and met some great folks there.

While it's a lot of work and a huge time sink, consider GMing a tournament at some point in the future if this becomes a regular thing. You will gain tremendous respect for the people who do this.

Consider playing some of the lighter evening games, like Slapshot, or even B-17 (a solitaire game largely on a rail, but made into a huge amount of fun by the GM).

Leave some time for open gaming. Be willing to play prototypes if you can, as it's always nice to be able to give some feedback on a game system to the designer/developer.

Carry a bottle of water with you and drink constantly. They have water stations around so you can refill it regularly. I'd also bring some granola bars or similar because the game schedule rarely matches up with when food is easily available.

Be a good sport, even on Saturday when there's a mob. If you feel you have an opponent who is a problem, let them know you're having a problem with their play/behavior, then go to the GM if they continue. If the GM isn't helpful, finish the game and get out of the tournament - good GMs mean good tournaments, and the bad ones don't deal with conflict well. A good GM wants everyone to have a good time playing that game and will do whatever is necessary to ensure it goes smoothly.

Fill out your eval cards. The last year I GMed, not one player did this, and I felt I'd worked very hard to my own detriment to make sure the tournament was fair and fun. Not getting any evals was a slap in the face - I'd rather have gotten bad evals than none at all.

Thank your GMs for their time and effort. Without their hard work (and it is hard work) you wouldn't have any tournaments at all.

There can be a bit of cliquishness, but in general most people who are there are friendly and happy to talk with you as time allows. Don't let the fact that many of these people have been playing in the same tournaments with the same people for years intimidate you. It's also nice to talk with designers about their new games.

Have fun. I'm surprised that so many people confuse this with playing as many games in as little time as possible.
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Matt Peterson
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Hey John,

I'm a fellow Minnesotan who made my first trek to Lancaster last year, and I'm bringing a buddy along with me this year. You're in for a great time!

I went solo last year, so didn't get into the team tourney thing--and I still had a great time. It seems to be, like someone else already mentioned, more of a metagame sort of deal.

However, if you and your friend would like to team up with a pair of other Minnesotans to make a team just for the heck of it, let me know!
 
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Richard Irving
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BeatGuy wrote:
Hey All:

Two of us are road-tripping from Minnesota out to Lancaster, PA to attend the WBC for the first time. We're pre-registered, have a hotel, and all that stuff. But I have some specific questions about how things run there:

1. We are big fans of card-driven games. Our top five favorite games include 1960, Twilight Struggle, Here I Stand, Wilderness War, and Hammer of the Scots. We know to bring copies of the games we want to play, but what about something to cover the flimsy GMT boards with? Should we bring Plexi-glass, or is that just too cumbersome?


Since you are road tripping--it you fit it in the car, go for bringing plexi. If you were flying in, much more difficult decision.


Quote:
2. Scheduling is a nightmare. I've been doing spreadsheets for a week now and am not sure how I'm going to fit everything in. How would you suggest mapping out tournament play?


You will probably not be able schedule every game you might want to play. Pick a game or so each day you really want to play and have other games as a back up plan--you will need either because you lose early or (more desirably) make a semi or final you didn't expect.

Quote:
3. We're not planning on entering a team right now. Is that okay? Or will we be missing some huge component of WBC and regret it later?


Don't worry about the team tournament--Each player picks a different and you have to finish 6th or better to score any points. Many teams score 0 points in this event.

Quote:
4. In a Swiss tourney, when do you decide to ditch it? I'm thinking of playing Wilderness War one day, but it also overlaps onto Hammer of the Scots. If I lose my first game of Wilderness War, is it smart to hope over to Hammer, or what?


Don't quit in the middle of a game, but if you decide after one game to play something else, tell the GM. A Swiss tournament is easy to handle dropouts.



Quote:
5. Food: anyone know what the policy is on this at the Lancaster Host? We'll be staying in a hotel down the street, and were planning on bringing bag lunches. Is this frowned upon? What if we leave them in a cooler and have a quick picnic in between sessions? Where does the Host stand regarding outside beverages, snacks, etc.?


The Hotel does not allow coolers in the main gaming areas (If you are staying in the hotel, you can put one in your room). You certainly can leave a cooler in your car, to keep some drink or a lunch.

The food at the Host has been pretty good overall and reasonably priced.

Quote:
Thanks for your help. Any other random advice would be appreciated. We want to have the best time, as this may be our only shot to attend.


Oh, after you attend, you'll be back!
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Russ Shurts
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Hi all, I'm the mysterious friend BeatGuy mentioned. Thanks for the advise so far.

We'll be driving out, so it looks like bringing plexiglass won't be a problem. I might have to take a look at the poster frames. Framing some of my game boards just sounds like a geeky fun thing to do.


A few questions of my own:

1. How much open gaming is going on vs. tournament play? One of my goal is to play a number of new games and find one that I really like.

2. How easy is it to learn to play a game at WBC? I recently bought Napoleonic Wars and Flying Colors but don't think I'll know them well enough (or even played them) to feel totally comfortable walking into a tournament game. But if there is open gaming, where I can learn from an experienced player with other people, that would be great.

3. We have a hotel booked at a good rate, we're driving and doing picnic lunches on the way, we've already have funds set aside for boardgame buying at the WBC, but any other hints on doing the WBC on the cheap but still having a blast?
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Greg Schmittgens
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Open vs tournament - Open gaming is going on all the time. You will always be able to get in an open game of something. You have to show up at a specific time and place to play in a specific tournament.

Learning a specific game - For a game that's not already in the WBC tournament schedule (and isn't too obscure), it's usually pretty easy to get in a game. For a current game, you might talk to the vendor and ask them for an idea of who to hunt down. Or post on the Open Gaming dry erase board.

For a game that's on the schedule that's rated B (Beginners Welcome), that's what they mean. Sit in on the demo, then sit in on the tournament. Everyone in a B event knows there'll be beginners scattered throughout the entrants. Join in and you WILL have fun.

For an A (Experienced Players Only) game, I think it could be a little more difficult - IMHO. For example, in the case of Napoleonic Wars, the experienced people interested in the game are probably already playing in one or both 6 hour rounds. They may not want to get in another game. (However, they may be more willing later in the week if they haven't qualified for the semis or finals.)

That said, you may be able to set up something here or at ConSimWorld. (I've already communicated with people who want to learn Die Macher and Twilight Struggle.)

On the cheap - You've taken care of lodging. Water is free. Food at the Host is pretty cheap (breakfast and lunch all-you-can-eat buffets, lunch and dinners lines set up for the convention). If you stay on the Host grounds (there's really no reason to leave), I think your largest possible expense would be alcoholic beverages.
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