Winter Activation Meeting 2010 (WAM VIII)
Feb. 17, 2010

WAM VIII in Timonium, MD was a blast as usual. Despite the recession and the threat of a major snow storm we drew 37 players, down only slightly from last year’s 40. The transformation of the facility from a Days Hotel to a Holiday Inn has been completed and the place is much nicer as a result.

This year’s four formal tournaments with scheduled rounds were: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage (HRC), Paths of Glory (POG), Twilight Struggle (TWS); and Combat Commander (CBC). There were also informal tournaments for March Madness and 1960: The Making of the President. AARs of each of these tournaments are below. Attendees were asked to sign up for each tournament just prior to the start of Round 1 and at the start of each successive round attendance was called off of that list. Each evening we displayed a detailed schedule of the next day’s events on an aisle. The significant changes that we made for this year, Open First Rounds on Thursday (because it is a travel day) and all Round 5s (if required) being scheduled on Sunday morning, worked very well. Only TWS had a Round 5 this year, and participation was light since people were anxious to get out of town due to the weather.

In between tournament games there was much open gaming. Games that I noticed people playing included: For the People, Empire of the Sun, Commands and Colors: Ancients, Pacific Typhoon, Hellenes, Wilderness War, PQ-17 and several Euros that I did not recognize. Games ran pretty much non stop from 0800 in the morning to as late as 0300 at night. On Sunday Volko Ruhnke stopped by to demonstrate his new CDG entitled Labyrinth: The War on Terror, which is being published by GMT later this year. It looks very interesting and reminds me a little of TWS. I would not be surprised to see a WAM tournament for it in the future.

And above and beyond the playing of games, it is always great to get together and socialize with the Card Shark gang, which has become a close knit fraternity over the years. There were the usual trips to Andy Nelson's and elsewhere for food, much drinking of beer and the usual banter and joking around.

On Saturday night we had our annual meeting to discuss next year’s WAM. The highlights were as follows:

  • I mentioned that the current team of me, Dockter and Terry were committed to running WAM again in 2011.
  • I explained why it was important for everyone to preregister because Don plans around it. This year we had 26 preregistrations and 11 walk-ons. That is not awful, but I stressed that we need to do better in the future.
  • I also explained how important it was for us to sell out our block of rooms, as our ability to do so effects the cost of the game room. This year we had a problem with people reserving the rooms late or via the internet and not getting them credited to our block. We had mixed success getting that fixed on site, but fortunately the Hotel waived the requirement and we were not charged for the game room after all (the recession has its advantages!). Next year everyone needs to do a much better job filling the block, including Don and me getting the word out at the time.
  • I mentioned that I would once again conduct a poll of all of this year’s attendees by email this summer to determine the line-up of tournaments for next year. I anticipate that Mark Herman’s Washington’s War will be added in place of either HRC or CBC, but that remains to be seen. Any new game will have to be published by the time of WBC to be included in the poll.
  • I mentioned that going forward all plaques would now be ordered after the convention instead of preordering them as we have been doing. It makes no sense to preorder when we don’t know the exact line-up of tournaments by the time the preorder decision must be made.

The meeting was then adjourned and the games continued!

Keith Wixson, WAM Director


1st: Tom Drueding
2nd: Charlie Hickok
David Dockter
4th: Jay Meyers
John Hassey
Tim Hall

Write-up  Event Page

1st: Chris Byrd
2nd: Stefan Mecay
3rd: Bill Edwards
4th: Steven Brooks
5th: Keith Wixson
6th: Michael Mitchell

Write-up  Event Page

1st: Bob Heinzmann
2nd: Terry Coleman
3rd: Mike Mitchell
4th: Jeff Finkeldey
5th: John Wetherell
6th: -

Write-up  Event Page

1st: Bob Heinzman
Bob Jamelli
John Wetherell
Stan Buck
Chris Byrd
Chris Bauch

Write-up  Event Page

Unofficial Tourney

1st: Paul Gaberson
David Dockter
Chris Bauch
Jay Meyers


1st: Keith Wixson (4 wins)
2nd: Randall MacInnis (3 wins)
3rd: Martin Sample (2 wins)
4th: Michael Mitchell (2 wins)
5th: Terry Coleman (2 wins)
6th: Peter Putnam (1 wins)

Write-up  Event Page


Paths of Glory

16 players participated in our 8th PoG tournament at WAM, with a previous WAM and WBC PoG champ, Tom Drueding, walking away with another gold ring. 15 games were played. As usual, we allowed gamers to try any of the PoG "family" of games (Barbarossa to Berlin, Triumph of Chaos, Shifting Sands or Pursuit of Glory) in the prelim rounds. And, we are happy to report that all were played in addition to the historical Paths of Glory variant we have recently begun using at WBC. There were an equal split of AP and CP victories in the early rounds among the 16 players.

The semi’s included Drueding’s CP matched up against Hall’s AP and Hickok’s CP vs Dockter’s AP. In that game, Hickok’s Army of Islam dug a very timely trench to save Turkey from a combined French Army of the Orient and Greek force. The CP seemed to be on the ropes the entire game, until the Treaty of Brest Litovsk was played on Turn 18 with only five Russian cities in the claws of the CP. That combined with three victory cities in the West, a push in Italy, Belgrade and a High Seas fleet brought the victory total to 11. Turn 20 witnessed a frantic AP attack in the west and the Italian border to pry one last VP loose, but to no avail. The game came down to one long shot attempt by Laurence of Arabia vs. Kemel in Medina on AP 6. Unlike history, the Turks had their big guns facing in the correct direction and the attack was successfully thwarted. However, Hickok indicated he was "fried" after the marathon game and would not be able to get in another game of PoG. The solution we arrived at was to have Dockter play Drueding in the Final; if Drueding won, the gold would be his. If Dockter won, there would be no WAM PoG champion in 2010.

Dockter played the CP with a bid of 0. An early push in the West resulted in the CP getting a trench in Calais and Cambrai verses a lonely AP trench in Ostend. In the Near East, the CP virtually ignored the front after a supply fiasco occurred around Gaza. The Near East eventually fell when the CP decided not to aggressively defend the front or bring Bulgaria into the war. Italy witnessed a number of critical battles at Bologna, with the three southern Italian victory cities eventually falling to the CP, but the AP retaining the Verona/Bologna magic trench line. The late game witnessed a see-saw fight in the East and West, with both sides holding on by the thinnest of gray/white/tan/red/blue margins. On Turn 17, the CP began to collapse in the West and the game was called in time for the late night March Madness tourney to begin. Mr. Drueding had won his third consecutive WAM title.


Twilight Struggle

Considering the economy and the inclement weather, it can easily be argued that Twilight Struggle lived up to its name with a very respectable 21 Cold War participants. Of the 38 games contested, the Soviet side won 23, or just over 60%. As one would expect, bidding still tends to strongly favor the Soviet side, though there were some significant wins this year with the US.

Although some notable players were absent, this was still a strong field, featuring multiple Twilight Struggle champions from years past. Defending WAM champ Stefan Mecay used mostly Soviet supremacy to steer his way to victories (over Jay Meyers, Terry Coleman, and Steven Brooks), but he did play the US for the only time in this year's event to score a win over Keith Wixson. Chris Byrd, on the other hand, was splitting his time fairly evenly between sides while defeating Jeff Finkeldey, Justin Rice, James Terry, and again, Keith Wixson in round 4, to make the Final.

To Keith's credit, he bounced back from tough losses to both Stefan and Chris to finish fifth, including a first-turn TKO of Randy MacInnis, which has to be one of the fastest tournament games on record. Likewise, Steven Brooks started out 3-0, only to run into the Stefan Express, and settled for a fourth-place finish. Bill Edwards continued his recent strong Twilight Struggle play at WAM, finishing third with wins over Chris Bauch, John Wetherell, Jeff Finkeldey, and Mike Mitchell, who finished sixth. Rounding out the Top 10 were Terry Coleman, James Terry, Randy MacInnis, and Jeff Finkeldey.

The Final was a tempestuous affair, where Chris had great cards with the US (he was able to purge the Russians on both Turn 2 and 3), balanced by Stefan pulling out one key war roll after another for the Russkies. Both Mid and Late War stayed tense, with the score fluctuating between +3 and -3. On the decisive last turn, Chris played Duck & Cover for his headline, forcing DEFCON to 2. After playing Terrorism on the Soviets, Chris had backed Stefan into a corner. Stuck with KAL-007 and Tear Down this Wall events - and without the China card to fall back on - Stefan was doomed to blow up the world. Even had he been able to somehow avoid this fate, both players agreed that the US would likely have won in final scoring. An epic from two of the best card-driven wargame maestros, it was thrilling to watch. Chris thus adds a Twilight Struggle crown to his Paths of Glory and 1960 wins in prior WAM years. Congrats to Chris, Stefan and all the gang for making this event so much fun to run. Can't wait until next year...


1960: The Making of the President

After a 24-player debut in 2008 and another strong showing in 2009, this year's 1960: The Making of the President event was unable to keep pace at WAM 2010, drawing a mere 10 contestants. Part of this was no doubt due to the tournament's unofficial status, as well as its distance from the historic real-world election of 2008.

Almost all of the games were played on Thursday and Saturday, between more hearty wargame fare. By Sunday morning, the only two players with an undefeated 2-0 record, Bob Heinzmann and Terry Coleman, faced off for the title. Terry, as Kennedy, jumped to an early lead, and even managed to win three states in the west, including California. Bob, counterpunching patiently as Nixon, ate into Kennedy's lead in the South and Midwest. Debates were nearly even, and going into the final turn, the game seemed very much in doubt.

Unfortunately for Terry, his final endorsements were in areas where he already had leads, rendering them useless. Bob, on the other hand, was able to not only erase Terry's endorsement lead in the east, but to also flip practically the entire eastern seaboard for Nixon, a tremendous accomplishment. Final scoring thus went from a nail-biter to a Nixon landslide, as Bob won going away, 361-177.

Given the small field, it will come as no surprise that only nine games were played in all. Nixon players had the slightest of edges, five wins to four - a smaller margin of victory than in previous WAMs. Nearly every game was played with no preference shown by either player (and thus no bids).
The best Nixon player was tournament champ Bob Heinzmann at 2-0. No one managed to win twice with Kennedy.


Combat Commander

19 grizzled veterans and a few new recruits formed up and played Combat Commander Saturday at WAM. Scenarios from Europe, Mediterranean and Pacific were played (but no players were up for any Random Scenario Generator based matches.) 21 total games were reported to the GM. Bob Heinzman won the tournament going 4-0, defeating Stan Buck in Round 3 and Chris Byrd in Round 4. And a special thanks to Bob—he not only won the tournament he generously agreed, on the spot, to be assistant GM.


March Madness

If it's Saturday night at WAM, it must be time for the annual, if unofficial, Saturday night college hoops-fest. In sharp contrast to the cerebral play of most card-driven games for the long weekend, March Madness tends to bring out a more vocal, feisty side of the participants...particularly David Dockter, who was forced to miss his favorite sports game the previous WAM and seemed determined to make up for lost time.

There were nine games played in all. The field was slightly down from previous years, as ten would-be Dean Smiths—many playing the game for the first time—tried their hand at mastering the intricacies of Zone defenses and working the ball inside. Many were the chortles heard (perhaps aided by a few well-timed beverages) when a player fouled out, or yet another coach was hit with a dreaded technical at the worst possible time.

Dockter, trying to grab a title that has thus far eluded him, mowed down all comers to secure a place in the final with his beloved '97 Minnesota team. Long time WAM vet Paul Gaberson countered with 1979 Michigan State, having already beaten Chris Bauch's UMass squad and WBC champ Terry Coleman's Michigan '76 team.

Dave started off well, managing to keep Paul's guards in check enough to forge a 36-33 halftime lead in an entertaining game. Foul trouble on three key players, however, forced the Gopher defense to back off the pressure. The momentum turned toward the Spartans, and Magic Johnson exploded for 18 points in the second half. The final score was 75-74, as Paul won his first March Madness WAM crown on the final die roll...and rumor has it you could hear Dockter's laments all the way to Minnesota. Better luck next year.


Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage

Defending WBC Champ Keith Wixson bested a field of 14 to win the four-round Swiss tournament with a perfect score. He defeated in order Bill Edwards (as Carthage), Randy MacInnis (as Rome), Michael Mitchell (as Carthage), and Marty Sample (as Rome). His biggest scare was in his Round 4 match against Sample. After wiping out two Roman armies sent by Wixson to Africa, Sample got a little overconfident and attempted to deliver the coup de grace in Italy when Hannibal attacked a large army under Fabius on Turn 5 near Rome. Fabius won a decisive victory, destroying half of Hannibal’s force. With the appearance of Scipio Africanus on Turn 6, Hannibal was forced to abandon Italy and return to Spain. With very heavy losses up until then, Wixson hunkered down after that and consolidated his lead. A large Carthaginian army attempted to force its way into Sicily late in the game but was lost at sea. Wixson ended up winning 10 provinces to 8.

There were a total of 18 games played with each side winning nine. Ten games were relatively close and went the distance (six were Roman wins) and five were blowouts ending with a resignation (three were Carthaginian wins). Rome and Carthage were each sacked once and one game ended with Rome suing for peace (no more PCs). Nine players bid to play Carthage (seven bids of 1 PC, one bid of 2 PCs and one bid of 3 PCs). Seven players bid to play the Romans (two bids of 0, one bid of 1, one bid of 2 and three bids of 3). There were two games without bids

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