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Subject: 2012 WBC Results and AAR rss

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The 2012 WBC Kaiser's Pirates tournament has come and gone, and game designer Jim Day held on to win a squeaker. The final table ended thus:

1st: Jim Day, 9 round points
2nd: Scott Beall, 8 round points
3rd: Mark Hinkle, 7 round points
4th: Dan Lawall, 6 round points

Congratulations to all the finalists, and to the 5th- and 6th-place laurelists, Richard Bliss and Melody Thompson.

2012 WBC Kaiser's Pirates After Action Report

The Kaiser’s Pirates tournament went through a few changes this year: First off, the game fell from its hard-won Century status back to a Trial event. Furthermore, game designer and long-time GM Jim Day chose to play in the tournament instead of run it. Finally, for the first time since 2008, the Greenville Mafia didn’t occupy at least half the seats at the final table. One thing that hadn’t changed was the use of the optional rules for tournament balance and additional damage.

35 people played in 18 single-round 3-and-4-player preliminary games to determine who would move on to the semi-finals. One memorable moment was the victory of newcomer Melody Thompson, whose forces sported the “Happy Ship” Konigsburg (complete with deck chairs and a buffet). Commerce raiders sank or succeeded based on their ability to surprise and deceive, and no-one suspected just how deadly Thompson’s “cruise ship” would prove until too late.

Nine players competed in the three semi-final games, sending three victors and the top second-place player to the final three-round event. The finalists included Day, Dan Lawall (repeating from last year), Scott Beall, and Mark Hinkle. Beall came out shooting, sinking two merchantmen to take the lead. As the round went on, players began to develop strategies they would maintain throughout the final – Day whittled his hand down to a fairly constant single card, which discouraged other players from playing events against him, and Hinkle made a point of filling out his back line with as many German ships as possible. Lawall played “Breakout” and pulled the Karlsruhe, the best warship in the deck. He spent a couple of minutes learning proper pronunciation from Day, only to have Beall transfer command of the ship to himself. The first round ended with Beall in the lead with 4 round points, followed by Day with 3, Hinkle with 2, and Lawall with 1.

Turn 2 started quietly, with 3 passes and Day playing his hand down to one card. Suddenly, Lawall used a Second Chance card and a mine-laying sub to help him sink the Wolf and four merchantmen in a single sequence. Seeing the writing on the wall, his opponents started to focus on the metagame, putting at least as much effort into manipulating the round results as they put into winning the hand. At the end of Round 2, the game was a four-way tie: 5-5-5-5.

For the first time in event history, scores from the first two rounds only mattered as a tie-breaker. Day took an early lead and Lawall, after sinking three merchantmen, fell to the back of the pack. Beall and Hinkle fought for the middle, especially after Beall, Day, and Lawall combined to locate and destroy Hinkle’s 18-point Prize ship. Things came to a head in the final 5 card plays, when Beall put Day in a Fog Bank, eliminating the leader’s final turn and leaving himself one more chance to sink a nine-point merchantman for the win. Hinkle damaged Beall’s 18-point raider and played Deception on Lawall to stop him from scoring the ship. Day lost his turn, Lawall was forced to play an unhelpful random event from his hand, and the final two plays belonged to Beall and Hinkle. Beall could win if he sunk Hinkle’s 9-pointer, and Hinkle could win if Beall missed and the ship achieved safe passage, followed by Hinkle sinking Beall’s damaged raider and the weakest of Beall’s merchantmen. Alas, none of these things happened. The game ended with Day the victor, followed by Beall, Hinkle, and Lawall.
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