Winter Activation Meeting 2012 (WAM X)
Feb. 13, 2012

19 players

1st: James Pei
2nd: Keith Wixson
3rd: Stuart Tucker
4th: Michael Mitchell
5th: Randall MacInnis
6th: Tim Miller

Write-up  Event Page

30 players

1st: Chris Byrd
2nd: Keith Wixson
3rd: Michael Mitchell
4th: Larry Fryer
5th: Marvin Birnbaum
6th: Kevin Earle

Write-up  Event Page

22 players

1st: James Pei
Marvin Birnbaum
3rd: Chris Byrd
4th: Terry Coleman
5th: Paul gaberson
6th: Rob Doane

Write-up  Event Page

After ten years, the annual get together of the "Card Sharks" is still going strong—WAM X was held in Timonium, Md., on Jan. 26-29. Thirty-six CDG players made the trek this year. That was down two from last year, but the total did include nine new faces. That made up for several regulars who were unable to attend this year. If the missing regulars return in 2013 we should be in very good shape going forward.

This year's formal tournaments with scheduled rounds were: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage (HRC), Twilight Struggle (TWS) and Washington's War (WWR). Combat Commander (CBC) was also scheduled, but disappointingly only four players signed up to play. As per BPA rules, the CBC Tournament was therefore cancelled for lack of interest. The three remaining events were dominated by James Pei (titles in HRC and WWR), Chris Byrd (a title in TWS and a 3rd place finish in WWR), Keith Wixson (runner-up in HRC and TWS), and Marvin Birnbaum (runner-up in WWR and 3rd place in TWS). AARs for the tournaments are below. For updated laurel totals, see the associated WBC Event pages.

Players 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 a detailed schedule of the next day's events was displayed. We continued the concept of Open First Rounds on Thursday (because it is a travel day) and Round 5s (if required) being scheduled on Sunday morning. TWS and WWR both had a Round 5 this year.

Outside of the tournaments there was much open gaming (a handful of people only open gamed). Games that were played included Paths of Glory, Stalin's War, Labyrinth, A Few Acres of Snow, Atlantic Storm and 1812 (a new Euro-type game). Games ran pretty much nonstop from 0900 in the morning to as late as 0200 at night.

Here are a few other highlights:

  • We filled our room block with the Hotel and were therefore charged less for the meeting room.
  • This year we had 29 preregistrations and 7 walk-ons.
  • I will conduct a poll of all of this year's attendees by email this Summer to determine the line-up of tournaments for next year. Due to its very poor showing this year, CBC has been dropped and will not be offered again at WAM. At this point the leading candidate to replace it is A Few Acres of Snow, which was easily the open gaming favorite this year. On the other hand, Labyrinth looked like a shoe-in as a tournament at this point last year, but it flopped when the poll was conducted. Time will tell, but as in the past, any new game will have to be published by the time of WBC to be included in the poll.
  • All tournament winners can pick up their plaques at WBC in August.
  • I have some WAM X t-shirts left over. They are blue with white and red lettering. This year's theme was the American Revolution. If you would like one, please send me an email. The cost is $13, not including shipping. I will bring any extras I have to WBC in August.

Thanks to everyone, both new and long-time WAMers, for the friendly rivalries and camaraderie that makes this one of the most fun weekends of the year. I would also like to thank Terry Coleman and Paul Gaberson for serving as GMs and for otherwise assisting me.

Keith Wixson, WAM Director

Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
GM: Paul Gaberson

The breakdown of wins was even, with the Romans winning 12 games to 11 for the Carthaginians. Ten Round 1 games yielded nine winners (one game won by eliminator) but as luck would have it one winner dropped out leaving a perfect number for resolution in four rounds. Round 2 saw seven games played and produced our four 2-0 players; Keith Wixson, James Pei, Stuart Tucker and Michael Mitchell. In Round 3 five games were contested, and Pei defeated Tucker and Wixson bested Mitchell to produce two unbeatens to vie for the title.

In the Pei-Tucker match, Pei's Romans were able to defend against Tucker's patented island strategy until the last turn. Unable to establish a foothold in the islands, Hannibal rushed across the Alps in a final do-or-die bid to gain the ninth province. In a close battle, Consul Paulus successfully foiled the Carthaginians.

Only one game was played in Round 4, Pei against Wixson. Lady Luck smiled upon Pei and his Romans once again. Hannibal crossed the Alps on Turn 1 but rolled a 6 on the attrition roll and was further weakened on Turn 2 when Pei played Epidemic and rolled a 6. On a Campaign move Consul Fabius attacked Hannibal in an even battle, 15 cards to 14. At one point Hannibal failed his counter roll six straight times! On the 13th battle card, unable to match a Probe, Wixson played his last strategy card of Allies Desert to take one of Pei's two remaining battle cards. In a screaming outburst, he failed to pick the lone remaining Probe card and Hannibal was defeated and trapped. Consul Nero, who had marched up from Sicily on two Force March cards, then followed up and finished off the now depleted Hannibal before he could flee Italy. Wixson then resigned.


Twilight Struggle
GM: Terry Coleman

Twilight Struggle isn't an original member of the WAM club; the game wasn't even released until 2005. But in the past half-dozen years, it has certainly been the most played event by far. This year's tourney was no exception, as TWS had 30 participants. While that number was shy of its all-time total of 35 at WAM, it still means that more than three-fourths of this year's attendees were involved.

We played 2nd edition rules with two changes: 2 influence were added to Canada regardless of whether players opted to use optional cards from the Deluxe set; in an effort to avoid draws (we had three last year) the holder of the China Card at the end of the game was only awarded 1/2 point. The latter had a significant effect in one of the very first games played, where Michael Mitchell thus won by a half-point margin over Bruce Monnin. Michael went on to take third in the event with a 4-1 record, while Bruce finished just out of the running.

There were 42 games played overall, with the US triumphing in over half of them, gaining a 22-20 edge. Exactly half of the games were played using the optional cards, and those results were split pretty much equally between US and Soviet wins. Only a few games opted to use the Chinese Civil War rules, something we will keep in mind for next year.

In addition to the usual TWS crowd, we had a number of new players—at least they were new to WAM. TWS seems to be gaining every year in popularity for online or online-assisted play (ACTS, Vassal, etc.) and an increasing number of players forged in the online crucible have decided to try their luck the old-fashioned analog way. Tim Bina, for example, nearly won the title at WAM last year. Although Tim was unable to attend this time, the banner was carried with pride by a number of players new to WAM. None of these was more successful than Kevin Earl, who started fast out of the gate with wins over Greg Ottoman and Jeff Finkeldey. His momentum was slowed by losses in the final rounds, but Kevin's overall record was still good enough to give him a 6th place finish; his stellar play shows that he will be around for many WAMs to come. More importantly, by Kevin's own enthusiastic admission, he had a great time.

In addition to the (welcome) invasion of newcomers, a number of veterans distinguished themselves as well.

If we gave an award for most improved player, that would no doubt go to Larry Fryer, who despite never before having managed a winning record at WAM, blitzed through the competition to 4-1 and 4th place this year. Marvin Birnbaum, former winner of this event, didn't quite reach the heights to which he is accustomed, but still took 5th overall. With the absence of Stefan Mecay—winner at the last two WAMs—this year's Cold War struggle came down to a Final between Keith Wixson, the 2007 champ, and Chris Byrd, who is becoming a true WAM Renaissance man, winning titles in Hannibal, Paths of Glory, 1960, Combat Commander, and now Twilight Struggle. Byrd won as the US on Turn 9 by playing Wargames after building up a comfortable lead.


Washington’s War
GM: Keith Wixson

James "The Master" Pei added to his Hannibal tournament victory by besting a field that included defending WAM Champ Tim Miller, the past two winners of the WBC tournament and several other sharks to win the five-round tournament with a perfect score. He defeated in order current WBC Champ Michael Mitchell (as the Americans), Bill Edwards (as the Brits), Marvin Birnbaum (as the Americans), Terry Coleman (as the Americans) and Chris Byrd (as the Brits).

Pei had several scares along the way and enjoyed more than a little luck. In the match against Edwards, on a game ending turn in which Edwards held a Major Campaign, Pei's Cornwallis won an even odds battle against Greene in Boston. If Greene had intercepted, or won the do-or-die battle, then the Major Campaign would have sealed Pei's fate. Pei had managed his downside risk by factoring in a Minor Campaign, but not a Major. It was ironic as it was a Major Campaign by Keith Wixson last year on the final card at the same tournament that knocked Pei out.

In the game against Birnbaum, Pei drew a Major and two Minor Campaigns on the same hand! Prior to that Marvin had him on the ropes, but Pei deftly dished out the Campaigns and plugged all the holes. You can imagine Marvin's reaction.

In the Final against Nest of Spies teammate Chris Byrd, the players sparred toe-to-toe until the game ending turn in which Byrd played a Minor Campaign as the last card. Lincoln with 1 CU attacked Boston defended by 1 British CU, on a 2 vs 4 die roll. It was a close affair, but again Pei's luck held.

There were a total of 38 games played with the Americans winning 23 to the Brits 15. The Americans went 9-2 in Round 1, but thereafter the results were pretty even. Sides were random with the exception that each player was required to play both sides an even number of times when possible.

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