Those Nasty Russians still kicking
Doug Smith runs into newcomer buzzsaw
Geoff Allbutt and Fred Finkenbinder
fight the cold war.
Twilight Struggle had a new champion this year as Chris
Byrd defeated Anthony Russo to win the title. Chris has consistently
placed well, but was unable to break through against perennial
victors such as defending champion Riku Riekennen (who was absent
this year) and Stefan Mecay.
experienced a heavy falloff in attendance this year to a record
low, but still netted 45 participants. As usual, we employed
a swiss format, with rounds continuing until there was only one
undefeated player. Positions 3-6 in the ranking were determined
based upon record. Many players took advantage of the option
to play all five rounds. The tournament also drew a few new
players who were given the option of playing a teaching game
in the first round.
Twilight Struggle has generally been seen to favor the Russians,
particularly in the first part of the game, unless adjustments
are made. In past years we have tried bidding or the addition
of the Chinese Civil War variant, which prevents early Russian
play of Red Scare and has other balancing effects, with bidding
as well. After discussion with a number of experienced players,
this year we played with a standard adjustment - US received
3 influence. But players were also required to switch sides
each round. This approach was well received and is largely consistent
with the balancing adjustment used by the online Twilight
Struggle ladder. Games were all played using the Deluxe
edition rules, without the optional cards.
Even with the balancing rules, the game play, as usual, favored
the Russians; Russian players enjoyed a 37 to 25 advantage This
was an improvement over last years' 46-21 lopsided margin, but
suggests that further balancing work is needed. Significantly,
though, among the four players who ended up with four wins, the
US and USSR win totals were virtually even (9-8 US), with none
of them losing as the Americans.
One advantage of a smaller field is that the tournament resolved
in five rounds. We had two noteworthy newcomers Tony Russo
proved tough for everyone. He had not previously played at WBC,
but had extensive online experience with our 4th place finisher,
David Amidon. He managed to take out havy favorite Stefan Mecay
in the third round and only lost in the Final. Evan Woodham
also made his first appearance and went undefeated. Unfortunately,
he skipped the first round (which counted as a loss in the rankings),
so could not compete with Chris for the championship. Nonetheless,
his performance put him in the top four with Byrd, Russo, and
Amidon. The top six were rounded out by Kevin Lewis and Andrew
Doughan, each of whom had three wins - they edged three other
players based upon head-to-head matchups and strength of schedule.
In the Final, Containment and Red Scare offset each other as
headline events and Byrd's Americans took an edge by winning
the coup/counter-coup in Iran, allowing early play into Asia.
Marshall Plan simultaneously enabled American dominance in Europe.
Over Turns 2 and 3, Antony's Russians struggled to keep pace,
hampered by scoring cards and generally lower operations values.
The Americans even managed to get rid of Decolonization and
Destalinization on the space race.
The early positional edge allowed the US to assume a VP advantage
as Europe scored twice over the first four turns. Meanwhile,
the normal infighting in Central America and Africa provided
no net gain as the VPs offset one another. But the US continued
to improve its relative position by playing higher value cards.
Over the next two turns, the US continued to augment its point
lead, first taking advantage of OAS to pick up a quick 4 VPs
in South America and then playing Dr. Strangelove for a further
3 VPs. Russian counter efforts took a favorable position in
South America, but it was too late. At the beginning of Turn
7, the US had 19 VPs and Alliance for Progress scored a mere
VP, but it was enough for the win.
Bill Edwards and Paul McCarthy plot
Chris Byrd finally wins the big one
vs Antony Russo.