twilight struggle  

Updated 2/18/2009

2008 WBC Report  

 2009 Status: pending 2009 GM commitment

Stefan MeCay, TX

2006-08 Champion

Offsite Links

Laurels ConsimWorld WAM

Event History
2006    Stefan Mecay     70
2007     Stefan Mecay     66
2008    Stefan Mecay     54

WAM Event History
2007    Keith Wixson     30
2008    Marvin Birnbaum     35
2009    Stefan MeCay    

PBeM Event History
2008    Stefan Mecay     86



Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Stefan Mecay       TX    09    260
  2.  Rick Young         NC    08     80
  3.  Marvin Birnbaum    NY    09     70
  4.  Keith Wixson       NJ    09     60
  5.  Chris Withers      CA    08     51
  6.  Bill Edwards       VA    09     42
  7.  Stuart Tucker      MD    08     31
  8.  Bruce Monnin       OH    08     30
  9.  John Emery         SC    06     30
 10.  James Terry        NJ    07     29
 11.  George Seary       NY    08     28
 12.  Sean McCulloch     OH    09     25
 13.  Darren Kilfara     UK    08     24
 14.  Phil Rennert       MD    08     20
 15.  Steven Brooks      FL    08     20
 16.  Rob Hassard        NJ    07     20
 17.  Paul Sampson       OH    08     15
 18.  John Buse          IL    06     15
 19.  Bruce Monnin       OH    07     12
 20.  Bruce DuBoff       NJ    08     10
 21.  Doug Austin        VA    07      8
 22.  Suzanne Tuch       NY    08      6
 23.  John Wetherell     PA    09      5
 24.  George Young       VT    08      5
 25.  Michael Sosa       FL    08      5
 26.  Mike Wallschlaeger WI    07      5
 27.  Charles Hickok     PA    07      4

2008 Laurelists                                             Repeating Laurelists:

Rick Young, NC

Phil Rennert, MD

Paul Sampson, OH

Bruce DuBoff, NJ

George Young, VT

Twilight Struggle remained the most popular CDW event at WBC for the third straight year.

The championship game was yet another Mecay-Young rematch with the same result as Stefan remained undefeated at WBC over three years.


54 Cold Warriors showed up for the 2008 Twilight Struggle tournament, all attempting to unseat two-time champion Stefan Mecay. Stefan has never lost in WBC live play, and much buzz surrounded the possibility of a three-peat.

The opening rounds saw some brilliant play and surprising upsets. Last year's fifth-place laurelist George Seary, fell victim, as did veteran Keith Schoose. Nonetheless, as the tournament proceeded, the winners turned out once again to be a mix of familiar faces and new blood. Rick Young scored a surprise DEFCON quarter-final win over newcomer Bruce DuBoff. Paul Sampson's meticulous, close-fought semi-final win over veteran Chris Withers came down to the treachery of Aldrich Ames. The average bid in the tournament was up slightly, from 2.3 last year to 2.4 this year, but the balance of wins was almost exactly 50-50.

Stefan's path to the title game proved to have few breaks; this did not stop the normally mild-mannered Stefan from talking a little trash, though! Someone asked about how seeds would be determined for the following round, and Stefan looked up from his game to put in, helpfully, that he would be perfectly happy to play anyone at all in the next round. His opponent laughed and waved, to remind Stefan that before he could be accommodating in the next round, he had to win the game in front of him first! But it isn't trash if you can back it up, and after advancing, Stefan showed his mettle as always. He dispatched Phil Rennert and George Young en route to a Final rematch against Rick Young. Stefan and Rick have faced one another no earlier than the semi-finals in all three years of the Twilight Struggle tournament, so a legendary rivalry may very well be in the making. In the Final, both sides bid 3 influence, and Rick received the U.S. by random draw. He drew seven scoring cards, which tipped the VP scale towards Stefan's Soviets, and was unable to overcome a lethally-timed Quagmire and USSR points in Southeast Asia and Central America. The final blow, which sealed Stefan's third consecutive title, was OPEC after Central America scoring for the automatic victory.

This event will be in need of a new GM for 2009.

The five-round swiss tournament of Twilight Struggle was the big event at the Winter Activation Meeting this year, with 30 of WAM's 43 players testing their mettle in the popular new game on the Cold War. Despite concerns of imbalance , the bidding for sides reflected caution--and a fair amount of inexperience, with the average bid being 1 VP to play as the Soviets. In 48 games, only twice did a player bid to play as the Americans, but the bids climbed as high as 3 VPs only four times. Many of the victories were so lopsided that early VP bidding had minimal impact. However, in one game where the Soviets gave away two VPs they lost the game by one on Turn 10. In another game where the Soviets gave away a VP, they only managed to get to 19 VPs in the mid-game, never quite able to reach automatic victory--and later lost at the end by 1 VP.

In 29 of the 48 games, the decision came early, 17 by Auto victory to the Soviets at -20, one to the US at +20, five resignations, twice the Soviets controlled Europe, the Soviets caused Nuclear War once, three times the Americans won with the Wargames card (none by the Soviets!), and interestingly, the Quagmire card caused one defeat because a scoring card never got played (hmm, better check the FAQ to see if that is possible--and if so, beware holding those Scoring Cards too long!). Overall, the Soviets won two-thirds of all the games, and even won a majority of those that went to endgame scoring.

Due to the Thursday night mulligan round allowing players to ignore an early loss, the field after four rounds still had three 4-0 players. Strength of schedule determined which two would face each other for the plaque: Keith Wixson and Stuart Tucker, leaving James Terry at the altar so-to-speak to play the top-rated 3-1 player. Neither Wixson nor Tucker had a smooth road to the final round. Tucker was the beneficiary of one of the aforementioned Soviet overbids in one game, while Wixson was the beneficiary of the other. Tucker favored playing the Americans and racked up 25 percent of the weekend's American wins. Wixson's brush with near defeat as the Americans in Round 2 convinced him to stick to the Soviets for the rest of the tournament. Tucker had to salvage one game with a risky Brush War in Pakistan at the optimal moment in front of an Asian Scoring Card, seizing victory from the game's lead playtester. Tucker's After Action Report of the Final shows just how much wear and tear occurs at a sleepless WAM weekend, as the synapses became fried toward the end. Wixson was gracious enough in the recounting of endgame victory points to only call Tucker a cheater in jest, when an error of mathematical sign was found for the Central American points to shift the victory into Wixson's proper hands at -7 VPs as the Soviets. Here are excerpts from Tucker's AAR, explaining loss:

"The Formosa Fade. That's what I'm calling my disaster Sunday morning. In truth, the brain fade was bound to happen somehow after three days of non-stop gaming (I think I got a total of no more than 13 hours of sleep in all over the course of Thursday to Sunday).

I managed to play rather well all weekend long (10-4). However, in the Final against Keith on Sunday morning, I forgot that the Formosa Resolution would not count for the final endgame scoring of Asia. That cost me 4 points when I ignored Keith's subtle takeover of Pakistan, thinking it didn't matter that much. I also missed his reduction of my control of Greece at a time when I wasted a point in Mexico that could have recontrolled Greece. That mistake on Turn 9 cost me another 4 points when I couldn't retain my domination of Europe. And I lost by a grand total of 7 points. The Formosa Fade will forever live in infamy for me.

Mind you, I could have lost that final MANY times before final scoring, due to my horrendous luck in the Space Race. He had two deals to get a Wargames victory (thankfully I got it on the turn 9 deal). On Turn 10, if he had been dealt the Central America scoring card, I was done in the Headlines phase. As it was, I had to manage the play of that scoring card, as well as Africa in the final turn, putting me behind the curve on Ops. He also could have won on his space race play when he had 16 points and a chance to get 4--that was about the only roll I remember him failing--and of course I failed my space race roll to get 1 VP during the previous three turns which is why he was in that position. And I needed the Africa Scoring points in Turn 10, even if I'd have preferred the card be dealt to him rather than me. Without the card at all, I might have lost to -20 VPs mid-turn.

Keith's such a gentleman though. He pointed out the DEF CON effect of the Korea War on an early turn before I blundered into Thermonuclear War. I returned the favor when I noted that by playing Summit (despite his dr modifiers) he could himself blunder into Thermonuclear War.

Five games later, I've become very impressed with the subtleties of this design--for example, another reason I lost was that De Gaulle essentially gives the Soviets permanent access to Algeria (the only spot they could reach once I Voice of America'd them out of the continent). Now that's pretty damn cool from the standpoint of history."

Congratulations also go out to the other 5-0 player, James Terry, whose only fault was that his defeated opponents failed to get quite as many wins as Tucker's and Wixson's.

The final rankings for TWS players with winning records:

1. Keith Wixson, 5-0, 60 tournament points, 4 Soviet Wins, 1 American
2. James Terry, 5-0, 59 TPs, 4 Soviet Wins, 1 American
3. Stuart Tucker, 4-1, 52 TPs, 4 American Wins
4. Bruce Monnin, 4-1, 51 TPs, 2 Soviet Wins, 1 American
5. Doug Austin, 3-2, 44 TPs, 2 Soviet Wins, 1 American
6. Charles Hickok, 3-2, 42 TPs, 2 Soviet Wins, 1 American
7. Terry Coleman, 3-2, 41 TPs, 2 Soviet Wins, 1 American
8. Chris Bauch, 3-1, 40 TPs, 2 Soviet Wins, 1 American
9. Michael Mitchell, 3-1, 37 TPs, 2 Soviet Wins, 1 American
10. George Young, 3-1, 36 TPs, 2 Soviet Wins, 1 American
...and 21. Pete Reese, well, at 1-0 he had other fish to fry, going undefeated all weekend long (... ahem, if we forget his Mulligan round loss in Twilight Struggle) and deciding to play for the Wilderness War plaque instead.

2009 WAM Twilight StruggleTournament

Three-time defending WBC Champ Stefan Mecay made his WAM debut and surprised nobody in besting a field of 28 to win the five-round Swiss tournament with a perfect score. He defeated in order Christopher Yaure (Wargames on Turn 8), Mark Yoshikawa (Autovictory on Turn 8), Keith Wixson (Wargames on Turn 9), Bill Edwards (Final Scoring) and John Wetherell (Autovictory on Turn 6). Mecay played the USSR in all five games, bidding 3 IPs thrice and 4 IPs twice. Perhaps his biggest scare was in his Round 3 match against Wixson. On the first turn of Late War in a close game the US played "Chernobyl" in Europe followed by "Tear Down this Wall" (VPs were at -9 but the Soviet position was vulnerable in several places). Mecay's position had all but collapsed by the end of the turn and Wixson was poised to gain Control of Europe at the start of the next turn. But Stefan drew Wargames and was able to claim victory on the second action round of Turn 9. After both players revealed their remaining cards, Mecay agreed that he probably would have lost otherwise. 

Bill Edwards won the book "From the Shadows" by Robert Gates, a history of the Cold War, for finishing in second. The Best Soviet Player award went to Mecay (no additional prize since he won the plaque)and the Best American Player award (Robert Kennedy's "Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis") went to Sean McCulloch. The tiebreakers used to determine the final standingswere (i) strength of schedule, (ii) head to head results, (iii) most US wins and (iv) most WAM t-shirts bought from the GM. The first criteria proved sufficient in all cases.

There were a total of 59 games played with the USSR winning 32. The Soviet wins broke down as follows: 15 autovictories (20+ VPs), five by nuclear war, seven by Wargames and five at Final Scoring. The American wins were 12 autovictories, four by nuclear war, five by Wargames and six at Final Scoring. Players bid influence points to be added to the US setup before the start of play for the right to be the USSR. There were four bids of 4 IPs (two of these by the champ), forty bids of 3 IPs, fourteen bids of 2 IPs and one bid of 1 IP.

2009 WAM Laurelists

Bill Edwards, VA

Keith Wixson, NJ

Sean McCulloch, OH

Marvin Birnbaum, NY

John Wetherell, PA


Twilight Struggle 2008 PBeM Tournament Results

Congratulations to Stefan Mecay, who successfully defended his three year streak of WBC TWS crowns by defeating Chris Withers in a very quickly played final match to become the winner of what proved to be the 2007-2008 BPA PBeM TWS tournament (not 2007-2009 as expected!). 86 players composed the field and contested a total of 218 matches with the top six players advancing to Single Elimination format. Others earning laurels were Darren Kilfara, George Seary, Bill Edwards, and Suzanne Tuch in that order.

Chris's Soviets had all the cards for the first three turns, including De-stalinization on Turn 1, and Decolonization and Red Scare/Purge on Turn 2. Stefan's US whiffed on four straight big coup rolls (getting 1's each time) in places where the momentum could have been stopped somewhat. So it looked like a quick Soviet victory was in order, as Chris had total control of South America and domination in Africa, Asia, and Central America at the start of Turn 4, while Stefan had only Europe (the Middle East was a push).

Then lady luck decided to do a complete180 for the duration. Chris suffered through three really bad hands in a row and the US dice suddenly got red hot.  Stefan was able to get a huge Brush War roll in Argentina and eventually re-align Chris out of Chile to make South America a push. Two ABM Treaties (by Turn 7) plus Nuclear Subs let Stefan eventually get total control of Africa. Stefan was also able to Missile Envy the Muslim Revolution card to save the Middle East on Turn 4, and it never re-appeared. Chris did get to Purge Stefan on Turns 2 and 7, but Stefan was able to use SALT on Turn 9 to get the Purge card back and play it against Chris on Turn 10. Chris still had a couple of last gasp chances but missed three 50-50 rolls to grab 4 VPs in Space and via the Iran-Iraq War. Meanwhile, via the Purge and superior ops, Stefan was able to overrun North Korea and force a push in Asia, and thereby pull it out in Final Scoring. It was a wild and close game, with each side having a chance to win, but Stefan's US prevailed.

Stefan's combined BPA TWS tournament record is now 25-1, with the sole loss having come to Chris during Round 4 of the Swiss phase of this tournament. For my part (as GM), it's been great to organise such a well-supported and closely fought tournament. I plan to run another tournament in 2009 - probably a straight Single Elimination format this time - so stay tuned to the BPA newsletters for more details about that!

 GM      Ananda Gupta (1st Year)  NA   NA

2008 Preview Page | View the Icon Key | Return to main BPA page