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 wargameroom.com 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
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
"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
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,
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
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
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
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!