British Arms Still Prevail ...
The defending champ runs the British
James Terry tries to win with the
in A Few Acres of Snow was down significantly this year,
but it wasn't so much a lack of interest as a game shortage.
We had approximately as many players appear; the issue was a
dip in the number of people who brought copies to play. Despite
making use of several mulligan round winner copies of the game
for the first round while the winners sat out we still had to
randomly turn away many players who didn't bring a copy. It is
important to note for next year - if there is a next year for
this event - that it's really important to bring a copy of the
game with you if you're interested in playing.
The big concern many have with A Few Acres of Snow is the
rather asymmetric board positions between the two sides. There's
a known degenerate strategy that leads to the British winning
the game with a military attack that is too fast and powerful
to be stopped. At WBC we use a bidding system for sides in an
attempt to compensate for this situation. We can't use a standard
bidding system since the British attack strategy results in an
auto win so bidding points wouldn't help. Instead we bid a number
of times the other player is allowed to, as a free action, draw
a card then discard a card. The idea behind the power gain here
is that it allows the French player to smooth out and speed up
their draws which may allow them to end the game in another manner
before the British player can implement the unbeatable strategy.
This year we have 25 game summaries to review, with the French
winning 14 of the 25 games. Even among games that ended in a
military victory the British won 4 and the French won 3. Bidding
was always for the British side, though in 9 of the 25 games
the players didn't bother bidding at all. Did the players in
those games have a solution for the British attack or did neither
player implement it? It's hard to say from the sheets alone.
As the event wound down we ended up with the same top three
players from 2012. Last year the bids in the games between those
players were 5 and 6 and the British won both games with a military
attack strategy. This year the bids between them were 6 and 7
and the British won both games with a military attack strategy.
Last year the games seemed close but inevitable in their conclusion;
this year the games were both incredibly close. Both had the
French reach an end condition (all disks in play) with a victory
point lead. The British player would have one more turn to either
outscore the French player or start a fight. In both games the
British player had one card in their deck that would let them
start a fight and had drawn around half of their cards since
their most recent shuffle. It doesn't get much closer than that,
and implies a bid in the 6-7 range was probably very solid for
players with this level of experience. The question then is will
there be strategic innovations in the next year to shift that
number one way or the other.
The good news was certainly that the bidding system seems
to have a fair point. The games in the last couple rounds of
the bracket weren't decided just by side played and neither were
the games in the first couple rounds either since both sides
were finding wins in the early rounds. Perhaps most importantly,
people who just learned the game at the demo and people who played
in the event last year all seemed to be having fun.
Edward Rader commands the British.
GM Nick Page, recently dethroned,
watches his finalists this year.