WBC 2011 in the Rearview Mirror — August 2011
Aug. 29, 2011

By Don Greenwood, WBC Convention Director

I hope you enjoyed your recent visit to The World Boardgaming Championships. As I often say, WBC is not for everyone, but it IS unique and for so many of us, it is not to be missed. This month's newsletter will double as a retrospective of the gala gaming week just passed and is sent to all of this year's attendees who favored us with an email address as well as our usual subscribers. Regretfully, this will cause some of you to receive this twice, but rest assured that such double mailings will NOT be repeated until after the next WBC. To receive future bulletins, you must subscribe to our free newsletter at the address in the signature block below.

PFEIFFER WINS HOBBY SERVICE AWARD: Scott Pfeiffer became the 12th recipient of the BPA's Hobby Service Award by an unprecedented unanimous vote of the Board of Directors and was presented with the honor during the Annual Meeting at Lancaster Host on Aug. 3. Scott was the originator of the BPA, establishing it as a South Carolina non-profit corporation in 1999 in the wake of the sale of Avalon Hill to Hasbro and the resulting end of Avaloncon. More details are available at http://www.boardgamers.org/service.htm.

... Most convention reports are viewed as seen through the eyes of the author's participation (which is why no two such reports are alike), and this one is no different. Although as the Convention Director who has long since abandoned a typical gaming schedule to deal with the mundane tasks of running this three-ring circus, I too manage to slip in the occasional game between putting out fires. My travails will be used as the comic relief backdrop of this report to bring you my own perspective of the week just passed.

To some foolish folk, "Doncon" is the cool, unofficial name for WBC. To such misguided souls, I play the role of the hero who brings them their annual gaming fix. Well, every hero has to have a villain antagonist, right? Enter the heavy, quite literally, Bruce Reiff, who plays the Joker to my Batman. The plaque king has scored championship wood at every WBC—44 times at last count—and topped his accomplishments last year by winning Consul while taking four tournaments—retiring "Coussis" (a derogatory term for having the chutzpah to win two of his own GM'ed events) from the jargon lexicon of WBC in the process by winning ALL of his own events.

Enter the hero ... determined to put an end to this reign of terror, I came out of retirement to oppose Bruce in Football Strategy—an event he has dominated with nine titles and a game in which I fancied myself a fair hand. Although I haven't played it in ten years, I figured my 25 years of experience in league play had prepared me for anything the big guy could dish out and with the co-operation of my antagonist who relished the challenge we have finagled the refs into pairing us in the first round for each of the last three years. My first mistake ...

ATTENDANCE: Meanwhile, there was a convention going on. And on. And on. Attendance grew nearly 10% to set new records in the midst of recession/depression doom and gloom. No sooner had it ended than Lancaster Host announced that it was already sold out for 2012! Coupled with the twin announcements of Gen Con returning to its mid-August dates and ending its direct conflict with us and the move of Origins to just after Memorial Day, the likelihood of even greater gains in 2012 rose as patrons of those mega conferences turn eastward to contemplate WBC for the first time.

... So in 2009, I shook off the rust and set forth to battle the wood beast coming out on the short end of a 3-point loss decided by his making a short FG dice roll while I missed mine. For those not familiar with the game, Football Strategy is either all skill or all luck depending on your point of view. Be it a game of bluff, mathematical calculation or Romulan mindmeld, the game is played on a matrix of offensive and defensive calls where your decisions determine the outcome. Except for the kicking game ... where a dice roll is made to determine the result. Put another way, we played for two hours. He made a good die roll, I made a bad one. Arrgh! ...

AUCTION: The move of the Auction and Auction Store to Lampeter went smoothly and made for a more convenient location for those delivering games while freeing up the showroom for a full week of Open Gaming. Those interested in the Auction prices will find a list of what their items sold for and a more detailed summary of the game commerce at http://www.boardgamers.org/wbc/auctionsales.htm.

... In 2010 I swallowed my shame, and set out for revenge in Grudge Match II. Looked like I was going to get it too—leading Bruce 10-3 until he managed to tie it on his last possession. Once again, I missed a FG while Bruce made his. Although officially a tie, it became a forfeit when I—to my everlasting shame—opted to take my wife to dinner rather than stay longer for overtime. Lesson learned ... leave the wife at home next year. Dice 2, Don 0. Double Arghh! ...

OPEN GAMING: Although it got off to a late start due to a hotel error, the Showroom was soon bustling with happy Open Gamers and operating at near or full capacity all week long to rave reviews. The addition of color coded Open Gaming kiosks that solicited players in one of three categories was well received and saw frequent use. A projected schedule with a by-the-minute countdown till the next event starts kept players informed of the time till their next event. The Game Library did a booming business with over 1,200 games loaned during the week. Martin Wallace's newest creation: A Few Acres of Snow got the lion's share of the new game buzz as Open Gaming monitors Paul Bean and Tony Raimo did a splendid job of issuing Parking Tickets to shanghaied tables and keeping things in good running order throughout.

... 2011 would be my year. While I had ostensibly and literally played Bruce to a draw in our first two matches, one would think he had wiped the field with me to hear him tell it. Game on. Make way for Grudge Match 3! It meant foregoing my favorite event which was debuting the new version of my Breakout: Normandy game, but I was determined to beat Bruce. And how sweet it would be if it were to happen in a year when he was finally denied wood.

Wife at home ... trash talk fully engaged ... victory dance choreographed and ready ... I was primed for bear and took an early lead. After driving the length of the field for a score, Bruce took the ensuing kickoff back for 100 yards with what else ... a dice roll. Now, this is almost the equivalent of winning the lottery, but I was undeterred and retook the lead. Another dice roll ... I fumble the kickoff. His ball on my 30. I'm beginning to doubt justice in the universe, but soldier on. Surely, fate could not be this cruel—I was long overdue for a break.

True enough, the dice struck again ... causing me to fumble yet another kickoff and turning the ball over again deep in my own territory. I've played this game hundreds of times and I've won and lost many a game on such a dice roll, but to have it happen three times in one game is truly the stuff of legend. End result ... Bruce wins again by a single score after being gifted three times by the dice. I now understand how Bruce wins so many games ... he is not only good, but holds the patent on four-leaf clovers as well. Instead of stopping his mastery, I've greased his wheels for another title. Oh woe is me! ...

STREAKS: Overall though, it was a tough year for returning champions. Bruce Beard proved the exception to the rule as he extended his run as the longest continuous reigning master at WBC by holding serve to win his seventh straight 18XX title, one of just 13 prior champions to successfully defend their title ... down from 24 in 2010. In particular, Rob Beyma ended a 5-yr run in Russia Besieged at the hands of his son Richard, while Rich Moyer, Nels Thompson, Alex Bove and Robert Renaud all failed in their third consecutive title defenses.  More importantly, the Joker was unable to gain his fifth straight title in Battleline—falling to Barrington Beavis in the semis. ... Barri—the ale is on me next year. This ceded second in active Streaks to James Pei (FTP), Jason Levine (FDE) and Richard Beyma (WAT)—all tied with 3.

... And what is this? Bruce didn't repeat in Football Strategy after all, but was stopped by Ray Stakenas II. I always liked that kid. The Juniors Room program pays its first dividend as a graduate takes down the king! But maybe Bruce used all his karma against me. Yes, that's it. I'll have to take solace in that. ...

MASTERS: 20 won multiple titles, led by five who "tripled" with three titles each: Richard Beyma (MAN, RBS, WAT), Randy Buehler (DOM, EGZ, POF), Curt Collins (DOS, ELG, UNP), TY Hansen (A&A, DUN, WOR), and Nick Henning (GSR, LRC, MRA) as the race for Caesar/Consul appears to have no shortage of candidates. In all, 20 players either joined the ranks of those earning Master status (three championships in the same event) or raised their level in that exclusive club.

... but Bruce wasn't among them. The streak was over! As this dawned on me I came to realize that this was the best WBC ever! For one day at least, the sun was shining and all was right with the world. Not even a flurry of hugs could ruin my day. It took four before I discovered Jason Levine's nefarious plot to have all the Liar's Dice players give me the warm and cuddly treatment. Now, I didn't mind the pretty girls but when I saw Grant LaDue approaching with arms outspread ... that was the last straw. I'll get you for that, Jason!

NEWBIES: Not surprisingly, with overall attendance up 10%, tournament participation also jumped 6% to an average field of 55 players per event buoyed by mega events like Slapshot (226) and Ticket to Ride (207). Gainers outnumbered losers 4:3 as 28 events set new 10-year attendance highs as opposed to only 21 which drew new lows. In all, a record 20 events drew triple-digit fields with a 21st on the cusp with 99 entrants. But not all the attention went to the new and the quick. Even more impressive was the continued growth of B-17 whose bombers battering the Third Reich grew to a staggering 78 this year. Many of those fliers were born after the game went out of print. Nearly every state in the Union was represented as well as no less than 16 different nations. So at the other end of the title spectrum, 46 players won their first WBC championship (up from 31 in 2010) and 106 earned their initial laurels (up from 85). Young RJ Gleaton deserves a special nod for scoring wood at his first WBC at the tender age of 12 in Pirate's Cove which is one more plaque than dad, Ralph, took home. The ladies, meanwhile, lost market share—snagging just six titles—down two from their 2010 haul.

CHAMPIONS: You'll find a preliminary list of 2011's 105 champions on line at http://www.boardgamers.org/wbc/champs.htm—to be followed in November by our detailed event report pages as only WBC does them.

... By the way, that means that 105 people now have longer active winning streaks than you-know-who. ... And did I mention the best thing about this list is that he-who-shall-not-be-named isn't on it? But his daughter, Nicole is. Seems she won Slapshot—the 226-player big kahuna event of WBC and has now won wood two years in a row. That gives her a two-year lead on the rest of her household when comparing winning streaks. One streak ends, another begins. Oh, what a wonderful ride home that must have been. ...

LOOKING AHEAD: Next year's World Boardgaming Championships will be the 22nd anniversary of this reunion of kindred spirits counting back to our roots in the original Avaloncon. We've come a long way and the future looks bright thanks to over 100 volunteers who contribute their time in varying degrees as Board members, GMs, and behind-the-scenes workers submitting to a few simple rules to band together for the common good.

The point is that we all own WBC and we get out of it only what we put into it. No one profits from this convention or gets paid to run events. We do it because we love our hobby and we want to give it substance. We are an organization of volunteers whose combined efforts are greater than the sum of its parts which is a fancy way of saying—here is what YOU can do to help make next year even better. Regardless of your busy schedule or state of lethargy, I challenge you to find something from the following list you can contribute to the betterment of the next WBC.

1. FOLLOW THE RULES: I don't enjoy patrolling WBC like a stormtrooper but when even 1% of the people are inconsiderate to the other 99%, someone has to play the heavy. This means do your Open Gaming in the designated Open Gaming area—not in tournament rooms where tables are scarce for the next event. It also means not setting up games and leaving them unattended for hours while others are searching for a place to play. I'm usually not in the mood to put such games away carefully when I'm called to move them and the best sorting pieces can expect under these circumstances is a ceremonial pouring into the box.

2. FEEDBACK: Did you run across an outstanding act of sportsmanship or a great GM performance this year? Tell us about it at CD@boardgamers.org. From such unsolicited testimonials, we draw the nominees for our GM of the Year, Sportsmanship, and Hobby Service Awards. Reward good behavior—take a moment to single out those who should be applauded for their service. And conversely, if you had a bad experience with a GM that could benefit from some advice on how to better run their event, tell us about that too. GMs don't get better in a vacuum. They need feedback to improve their events and their own performance. We share your input with them and allow you to do so anonymously.

3. SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES: If you had a good time, don't be reluctant to tell others about it ... if not this year, then next. We spend a lot advertising WBC, but it isn't as effective as the many enthusiastic Geeklists that our members have authored for Boardgamegeek since the convention ended relating the fun they had. Out of such testimonials, future gaming partners grow. And that kind of word-of-mouth advertising is necessary to offset those all too eager to comment on any shortcomings they may perceive. Testimonials tend to be drowned out by grouchy bartender encounters, faulty AC, or personal "wanna haves" in the scheduling process so it helps when the positive vibes outnumber the gripes. A number of such reports are already on line at http://www.boardgamers.org/wbc/publicity.htm#press.

4. VOTE FOR NEW EVENTS: Simply by playing in events this year, you helped determine the next Century lineup by pure head count. However, 25 new or "second-chance" events will be chosen solely by membership vote in our annual December Membership Drive. By joining the BPA then you can influence the events that are offered next August. And as a bonus, you'll save money on the cost of registration and get a free full color 2011-12 yearbook and souvenir t-shirt or hat. Membership also entitles you to free play in BPA email tournaments throughout the year.

5. SUBSCRIBE: Even the most lethargic among you can handle this one. If you are not already receiving our free monthly email newsletters, go to the address at the end of this message to subscribe and thereby be kept up to date on all the news pertaining to WBC as it happens. Or, if that's not cool enough for you, join us on Facebook or Twitter.

6. PUSH THE ENVELOPE: Not content with the event offerings at WBC? Then do something about it! Our events are run because enough people want to play them, but also because someone got off their duff and volunteered. If you get our newsletters, then you should know that every October we announce the call forprospective GMs to submit event forms for games not run the previous year. Only by doing so in a timely manner, can these events appear on the membership ballot in time for the December membership drive. Got a favorite game that is not played at WBC? Submit an event form in October to correct that omission! If you're not willing to run it, then you've got no right to complain about its omission.

7. VOLUNTEER: Want to get your feet wet before going all out to run an event yourself? Most events are in need of assistants to help sign people in, conduct demonstrations, write event reports, or adjudicate games. Just contact the GM whose address appears beneath each event page on our site to offer your services. Most will gladly accept any and all help. Only when enough people get involved that we don't have the same volunteers pulling double and triple duty will there be any chance to actually increase the number of events at WBC—regardless of the attendance. Many complain about what the schedule does or doesn't do—relatively few actually do anything about it other than gripe. Well, guess what? Those GMs run their events because they care about them—not out of any obligation to your preferences! If you want game X at WBC, do something about it. Be part of the solution! Most of our GMs have been "giving back" to the hobby for years. They could use some help.

8. TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN: "Hey, Look whose talking!" I come by my cynicism naturally, but for the rest of you there's still hope! Turn down the testosterone level in those multi-player games, folks—it's only a piece of wood. WBC is about having fun so rejoice in the games and so many kindred spirits to share them with. There is no such thing as a bad move in a multi-player game. Each player's move belongs to him and him alone. It is his to do with as he wishes without any criticism from others. So, if you can't play a game without deriding other's choices, go elsewhere. Not into tournaments? Teach people a game. If you're just going to play within your circle of friends, you might as well have stayed at home. Reach out and befriend someone. Disney may be the happiest place on earth but I like to think we can audition for the title of friendliest.

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PBeM NEWS:

SPEED CIRCUIT: Racing is added to the PBeM menu for the first time Sep. 1. Check out the rules at http://lucidphoenix.com/sc/wbce/ or at wbcspeedcircuit@verizon.net. There will be two qualifying heats qualifying six from each heat for a 12-car Final. Total time for the event should be approximately 8 months with a 36-hour response time between moves.

VICTORY IN THE PACIFIC: The next PBeM tournament begins this Sept. 15. Join by contacting john@gameaholics.com. Get the details at http://www.gameaholics.com/vitp_format/vitp_bpa_format.htm.

All BPA PBeM tournaments require current BPA membership when the event starts. All multi-day paid attendees to WBC are current BPA members for the balance of that calendar year. Associate Calendar year memberships enabling play in all PBeM events starting in that year are only $10. You need not keep your membership current to finish a PBeM event. You can upgrade your current membership at any time by remitting additional funds. See the BPA Terms page for details.

BPA members who would like an email tournament for a particular game are encouraged to step forward to GM such an event. BPA does not run tournaments. Rather, we are an organization of gamers lending support to one another so such events can happen. No one cares as much about your hobby as you do. Get involved. See the requirements to host a BPA email tournament at http://www.abovethefields.com/top_pbem/

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Our next convention is EURO QUEST IX at the Pikesville Hilton in Pikesville, MD Nov 3-6. WBC 2012 is only 49 weeks away. See you there!

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