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What a difference a year makes! WBC 2013 was perhaps our best convention to date. Certainly it was the largest, having shattered our previous attendance high water mark by a resounding 6%. The Host was at the top of its game to make amends for a dismal 2012 performance wherein the elements and a cranky air conditioning system combined to yield a trying and hot experience. In contrast, a nearly flawless effort was made in hosting the 15th WBC and this year’s guests were greeted with the gift of free breakfast vouchers throughout the week as a make good gesture. Even the weather co-operated, with the mildest temperatures anyone could remember during our eight years in Lancaster—and in stark contrast to the heat wave that sweltered the area the previous week. Life was good again.
In all, more than 50 states and Canadian provinces plus 17 nations sent participants in 2013. The record crowd was reflected in tournament participation with no less than 23 events drawing triple-digit participation and five more knocking at the century door with 90+. Average participation in the 156 tournaments rose to 56.8 players per event, buoyed by 203 players for Stone Age, 205 for Lost Cities and Can’t Stop, 249 for Ticket to Ride, and 265 for Liar’s Dice. Only one scheduled event failed to achieve tournament status. Twelve reigning WBC champions successfully defended their titles in 2013, led by the Master, James Pei, who extended his latest streak in For The People to five years to maintain his hold on WBC’s longest current winning streak. Curt Collins II (Union Pacific) and Sean McCulloch (Battleline) emerged as his closest pursuers—both retaining their third straight title in their specialties.
Elsewhere, the fair sex doubled their previous market share with ten ladies claiming titles in 2013—up from five, six and eight during the previous three years. Newcomer Trella Bromley (RBN), Angela Collinson (CMS), Jessica Brown (LBY), Tammy Wyatt-Johnson (LLM), Janet Ottey (RA!), Julie Ehlers (SET), Kristen LaDue (SLS), Carol Haney (AVU), Hilary Haagen (TTR) and Stefany Speck (PRC) lorded it over the guys in their respective events. Multiple winners were scarce with only 15 finding the winner’s circle more than once compared to 20 in 2011 and none winning more than twice. However, 11 new Boardmasters joined the fraternity by earning their third WBC title in an event, while 11 more changed colors while improving their current levels. At the other end of the title spectrum, 49 players won their first WBC championship (up from 42, 46 and 31 in the previous three years). 93 managed to record their first laurels compared to just 88 last year.
The next generation continued to elbow their elders aside as Nathan’s Nuggets overcame 139-1 odds to edge the Ski Patrol team by attendance tie-breakers after rallying to tie the Finnish team with a pair of bonus points for scoring in events they had not previously won. The surprise team of 20-something wanna-bes weren’t on anyone’s radar—appearing on none of the Annual Bracket Busting contest entries. The latter prediction contest was won by another young turk, Dave Meyaard, who tied the record for correct Top Ten predictions with six.
Randy Buehler’s two-year stay atop the BPA Laurels list came to an end as Andrew Emerick emerged as our newest Caesar—besting top career laurelist James Pei by 29 laurels thanks to a combination of minicon standings and a delay in the completion of Pei’s PBeM specialty past the WBC “fiscal” year. Buehler fell to seventh for the year. The cessation of mini-con activity as a bankable headstart in the laurels race should make this competition even closer in the years ahead. The BPA Chairman of the Board overcame schedule handicaps caused by his Board meetings and Auction finances obligations to post his best WBC week in years to take Consul honors—besting defending Consul Nick Henning by a mere four laurels in the WBC week standings. Another charter member, Larry Lingle, won Top GM honors for his captainship of Pirate’s Cove and dedicated service to WBC.
But it was a newcomer who stole the third leg of our Triple Crown of Year End awards as Emily Wu won our Sports(wo)manship prize by vote of the membership for getting married at WBC and spending her honeymoon in wargame tournaments. Geoffrey Allbutt has himself a keeper and should also be commended for keeping his priorities in order.
2013 may be remembered as the year the badges took on a personalized look with photos of the members. Others may recall it as the year the 23,540 sq ft Expo Center debuted as an overflow Open Gaming site. Relatively few people made it out to the Expo Center to check it out, much less game there so its future use remains unresolved. The twin advantages of improved lighting and additional space seem equally offset by the inconvenience of distance from everything else. An informal poll of the sparse users there on Friday night yielded a 12-12 split on preferences between it and the Showroom as the site for Open Gaming going forward.
In the continuing circle of life evolution of WBC winners and losers, the events themselves again competed for the player lifeblood needed for another year of WBC existence. This constant churn yielded 11 new occupants of the Century club which appears to be the average turnover. Losers outnumbered gainers 23:19 although the gains tended to be higher than the losses. Among events with at least a three-year track record, 19 raised their attendance bar by posting their own personal best entrant numbers for the past ten years. The other end of that spectrum saw 23 tournaments drop to new attendance lows for the past decade.
Zenith: Those setting new highwater marks for the last ten years were: +45 Liar’s Dice; +30 Alhambra; +29 Ticket to Ride; +26 Stone Age; +22 Robo Rally; +21 Ivanhoe, Can’t Stop, and Thurn & Taxis; +18 Yspahan; +14 Ra!; The Dice Game; +10 Formula Motor Racing; +8 Advanced Civilization; +7 Pirate’s Cove; +6 Carcassonne; +4 Conflict of Heroes; +3 Through the Ages and 18XX; +2 Amun-Re and Merchant of Venus.
Nadir: Those sinking to new lows for the past decade were: -37 7 Wonders; -16 Manoeuvre; -11 Labyrinth; -8 Le Havre and Medici; -7 Adventurers, Atlantic Storm, and Dominant Species; -6 Baltimore & Ohio; -5 Wilderness War; -4 White Star Rising; -4 Gangsters, Julius Caesar, Puerto Rico and War at Sea; -2 Commands & Colors: Napoleonics and Twilight Imperium; -1 Bulge ‘81, Britannia, Manifest Destiny, Tikal, Titan, and Twilight Struggle.
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