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2014 Centurions  

2014 may well be remembered as the year the public forums changed from pillorying the Lancaster Host to criticizing the decision to leave it. Venue changes are always controversial and this one was no different. The announced change of location to Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs Mountain Resort two years hence aroused much comment, pro and con, as was expected. Much of it predictably was predicated on whether the change in venue moved WBC closer to or farther from those offering an opinion. The oft repeated amenity concerns of prior years took a decidedly subdued position in the ensuing discussions. Virtual tours of the new venue in repeated looped presentations calmed more than a few fears and most left with a hopeful wait and see attitude about what this latest turn in WBC evolution had in store for them. 

Meanwhile, we set another attendance record during our ninth year in Lancaster. In all, players from over 50 states and Canadian provinces plus a record 21 nations attended in 2014. 24 events drew triple-digit participation—another all time high! All of the scheduled 159 events achieved tournament status with fields ranging from a minimum of eight to a record 303 players for Ticket to Ride. 14 reigning WBC champions successfully defended


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their titles, led by the Master, James Pei, who extended his latest streak in For The People to six years to maintain his hold on WBC’s longest current winning streak.  Curt Collins II remained his closest pursuer with his fourth straight Union Pacific title. Other contenders in this 14-member pack were Peter Gurneau (Combat Commander) and Eric Wrobel (Merchant of Venus) who claimed their third straight championships in their respective specialties.

113 new champions were crowned for the first time, including 35 who claimed their first WBC title of any kind. That left 46 enjoying another taste of victory in their favored event—with 29 of them claiming higher Boardmaster status with their third (or more) championship in their game of choice. 92 players earned their first laurels to claim genuine contender bonafides in the years to come. 15 gents managed to win two events each while the ladies’ market share shrunk by 40% as only six achieved the top rung in 2014. But all were overshadowed by the awesome performance of Nick Henning who won FIVE titles—a heretofore never achieved total that rendered my usual baseball analogies obsolete. The accomplishment was even more impressive because Nick had won only one of those events previously.

As one might expect when someone wins five tournaments in one WBC, Nick was to be a prominent and recurring name in the various metagaming honors of WBC 2014. He started by anchoring his team’s record breaking 30-point performance as his Now Playing team took the Team Tournament with a dominating performance by his fellow young Turks (Dave Meyaard, Jon Gemmel, and brother Karl) by besting the previous scoring record by 25%. The 22nd ranked 50-1entry bested the third ranked Harry B’s by six points—a virtual landslide in Team Tournament scoring.

But there’s where the magic ended. The biggest surprise of the post-WBC Award announcements came when Nick was NOT proclaimed Caesar - or even Consul—finishing second in both categories to James Pei and Richard Beyma respectively. Nick’s 169 laurels were 7 less than Pei’s total which benefitted from a 36-laurel boost from the preceding year’s email event results—which had, in turn, cost James the Caesar award in 2013 when they were not credited to 2013, but delayed to 2014. Similarly, Nick’s 109 WBC laurels finished second to Richard Beyma’s 128, when Nick’s Through the Ages win was judged a Pre-Con event while Richard’s Grognard  laurels were not. 

With upsets the order of the week, it was tough sledding for prognosticators again with Andrew Maly winning the Annual Team Tournament Bracket Busting contest with just four correct picks—albeit the top four. That proved crucial as the winning tiebreaker to separate himself from Andrew Drummond, Ewan McNay, Mark Love and .... ahem, Nick Henning again ... who were the only others to manage to select four correct teams in ten picks. 

As disappointing as all those near misses must have been, Nick was destined for one more "almost" performance when the membership vote left him once again second in our Annual Sportsmanship Award vote. This time the honor went to Tom Gregorio who captured 13.3% of the vote to Nick’s 12.6% to win free lodging at WBC 2015. Both had been nominated for allowing opponents to correct or redo moves that eventually cost them a win and a shot at their respective tournaments. Other high ranking nominees were Tim Horne, Katharine McCorry, Doug Smith and Julia Carrigan in that order. p

In the continuing circle of life that marks the evolution of Winners and Losers in WBC events, 21 events set new attendance highs for the past decade against 20 that set new lows. This was a reversal of the usual trend wherein attrition usually causes more losers than winners inasmuch as new events start high and usually lose entrants over time. The composition of the Century was also more stable with only six changes—about half the usual number—although numerous events were on the cusp of elimination for the first time. The following record attendance highs and lows are limited to events with at least a three-year track record. 

Zenith: Those setting new highwater marks for the last year years were: Ticket to Ride +54, Can’t Stop +24, Facts in Five +18, Carcassonne +11, Wooden Ships & Iron Men +10, Stone Age+10, Slapshot +8, Afrika Korps +7, Brass +5, Robo Rally +5, ; San Juan +4, Kaiser’s Pirates +3, RaThe Dice Game +3, Thurn & Taxis +3, Automobile +2, Merchant of Venus +2, Advanced Civilization +1, Formula Motor Racing +1, Kremlin +1, Leaping Lemmings +1, Ra +1

Nadir: Those sinking to new lows for the past decade were: Last Will -1, Sergeants Miniature Game -2, Titan -2, Union Pacific -2, Victory in the Pacific -2, Trans America -2, Napoleonic Wars-3, Star Wars: Queen’s Gambit -3, Twilight Imperium -3, Dominion -4, War At Sea -4, Atlantic Storm -6, Here I Stand -6, Circus Maximus -7, Goa -7, Labyrinth -8, Twilight Struggle -8,Dominant Species -15, Gangsters -15