wilderness war 

Updated 11/30/2009

2009 WBC Report     

 2010 Status: pending 2010 GM commitment

James Pei, VA

2008-09 Champion

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Event History
2002    Rob Winslow     50
2003    Paul Gaberson     30
2004    James Pei     35
2005    Ron Fedin     40
2006    Keith Wixson     30
2007     Paul Gaberson     35
2008     James Pei     27 
2009     James Pei     23 

WAM Event History
2003    Tom Drueding     20
2004    Bruce Monnin     18
2005    Tom Drueding     20
2006    Keith Wixson     13
2007    Pete Reese     17
2009     Sean McCulloch     14

PBeM Event History
2003    James Pei     64
2006     John Buse     50
2008    James Pei     62
 Laurels

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  James Pei          VA    09    284
  2.  Keith Wixson       NJ    09    162
  3.  Ron Fedin          PA    08    141
  4.  Paul Gaberson      PA    09    138
  5.  Peter Reese        VA    08    111
  6.  Tom Drueding       MA    09     98
  7.  George Young       VT    09     95
  8.  John Buse          IL    06     75
  9.  Rob Winslow        NY    05     70
 10.  Bruce Wigdor       NJ    05     48
 11.  Bill Edwards       VA    08     42
 12.  Bruce Monnin       OH    09     38
 13.  Stefan Mecay       TX    06     30
 14.  Bill Peeck         NY    06     29
 15.  Gary Phillips      MD    06     28
 16.  Grant LaDue        NY    09     24
 17.  Adam Deverell      au    08     24
 18.  Don Chappell       TX    08     21
 19.  Randall MacInnis   NJ    07     20
 20.  Jonathan Miller    DC    06     20
 21.  Jim Gutt           TX    04     20
 22.  Phil Burgin-Young  VT    08     19
 23.  Bryan Thompson     VA    04     18
 24.  Roger Taylor       VA    02     18
 25.  Riku Riekkinen     fn    09     16
 26.  Ken Gutermuth      TX    07     15
 27.  Bari Wigdor        NJ    04     15
 28.  John Haas          PA    02     12
 29.  Doug Mercer        MD    09     11
 30.  Sean McCulloch     OH    09     10
 31.  John Vasilakos     VA    02      9
 32.  Andrew Maly        MD    07      6
 33.  Michael Ussery     MD    03      6
 34.  Dennis Culhane     PA    03      6
 35.  Doug Smith         PA    03      6
 36.  Michael Sosa       FL    09      3

2009 Laurelists                                        Repeating Laurelists:

Grant LaDue, NY
2nd

Riki Riekkinen, finland
3rd

Keith Wixson, NJ
4th

Paul Gaberson, PA
5th

George Young, VT
6th


Past Winners

Rob Winslow, NY
2002

Paul Gaberson, PA
2003, 2007

James Pei, VA
2004, 2008-09

Ron Fedin, PA
2005

Keith Wixson, NJ
2006
 

John Rogers takes his schooling from two-time champ Paul Gaberson.

Bob Jamelli looks for help in his hand to use against Tom Drueding.

First to Three Titles

Top seed James "The Master" Pei defended his 2008 Championship and became the first three-time winner in the event's history. Pei defeated Scott Beall, Paul Gaberson and Bill Peeck in the preliminary rounds, Riku Riekkinen in the semi-finals and Grant LaDue in the championship game. His only loss was to Doug Smith in Round 2 of the preliminaries. LaDue was undefeated entering the Final, having beaten Peeck, Bob Jamelli, Smith and George Young in the preliminary rounds and Keith Wixson in the semi-finals.
 
Here are some highlights of the tournament:
* Attendance was down again to only 23 players after falling from 35 to 27 last year. It may be time to reevaluate the Wednesday timeslot that we have been occupying for the past several years.  With the convention now starting earlier in the week, I will definitely give consideration to moving the tournament to Monday or Tuesday for next year (assuming we survive the Century cut this year, which is by no means certain). I did notice that both of those days had a scarcity of tournaments this year, while the competition with new events on Wednesday has been hurting us for a couple of years now.
* There were only three new players this year, which is the smallest number that we have ever had. Since the game is now out of print, this is not really that surprising. What has really been hurting attendance is that regular attendees from the past have moved on to new events, and new players have generally not been sufficiently charmed by the game to return in subsequent years. For example, none of last year's new players returned this year.
* Half of last year's laurelists made it into the top six again this year, and only one of this year's semi-finalists (Pei) was a semi-finalist last year. LaDue advanced to the elimination rounds for the first time.
* The Top New Player was Riekkinen, who reached the semi-finals and defeated Wixson and Bill Edwards, the sixth and seventh seeds respectively.
* The best British player was LaDue with three wins. The best French player was Pei with three wins.
* This year I tried something new to address the yearly dominance of the tournament by the French, instituting a new rule whereby the British players were allowed to retrieve reinforcement cards from the discard pile at the start of each turn. I also did away with bidding for sides in favor of random side selection (IMO bidding in the past may have allowed players to become "specialists" of one side or the other). My fear prior to the tournament was that I had gone too far and that the new rule would lead to British dominance, but my fear was unfounded as French dominance continued unabated! This year the French won 65 % of the games played (as compared to 67% last year, 61% in 2007, 52% in 2006, 56% in 2005, 71% in 2004 and 62% in 2003).
* I will continue to strive to better balance the game, and have several ideas for next year. I realize that attendance may suffer from house rule hating purists staying away, but I feel that the current imbalance is very bad for the game and hurts attendance itself.
* Prizes:  In addition to the plaques, the Champ received a Brass Head Pipehawk and the runner up received a French Style Warhawk. Books and period 54mm toy soldiers were also awarded to the worthy.

Wilderness War 2009 Final AAR, by Grant LaDue with comments by James Pei:
 
Grant LaDue (French) vs. Defending Champion James Pei (British)

 Early 1757
I opened with a Campaign, sending Montcalm and Levis to HCN.  Webb intercepted Montcalm, but Montcalm won the battle.   Montcalm then successfully took HCN, but James played the Massacre card to eliminate four Indian units and start the "no Indians" theme of the game.  VPs to FR5.  James secured HCS and started a fort line towards OCE.  James had no Regulars reinforcements, but did move the Provincial Assemblies to Enthusiastic and played two consecutive cards to recruit Provincials.  This secured all normal raiding routes as well as giving him copious cannon fodder.   Attempted raids with my last two Indian units resulted in both being intercepted and destroyed.  Zero Indians for the French!  Two Campaigns by the British allowed James to begin a siege of Ticonderoga.  Vaudreuil died when Montcalm sacked a fort under construction at OCE.   I held a British Regulars card to keep it out of the discard pile.
 
This was a very good turn for the British.  They gained no Regulars reinforcements, but James' other cards were beyond excellent and he was already establishing a supply line towards Niagara.  I had little choice but to cut it with my last play as the main French army was already weakened and had no Indians to absorb losses.  Direct combat could see it quickly reduced to impotence.
 
Pei's Thoughts:   I didn't think I had a great hand at the time other than the Campaigns and the Provincials.  As the British, you need to have a good starting hand to get the ball rolling since time is against you.  In hindsight, compared to Grant's hand, my cards were pretty good.  Seeing that Montcalm was without Indian support, I tried to entice Grant into attacking my forces, hoping to ding more French Regulars.
 
Late 1757
Loudoun dropped Johnson at Ticonderoga to work the siege with a +1.  Montcalm attacked, but Loudoun made the interception (the fourth straight successful 50-50 intercept for the British).   Loudoun had a max army with a 0 modifier while Montcalm was on the 22-27 column with a +2 modifier.  A 6-6 result gave the British the win.  VPs to FR4.  Ticonderoga then fell.   VPs to FR2.   James got Light Infantry with Amherst and his third Campaign.  I drew no reinforcements and had not yet seen an Indian card.   The Campaign allowed him to begin a drive on Ohio Forks and send his main army into winter quarters.  I evacuated the Louisburg garrison to Quebec because Montcalm needed the men.
 
The situation looked bleak for me.  Montcalm's army was heavily damaged and brittle, the British were poised to drive up the Champlain Valley and on. Ohio Forks and Louisburg was undefended.  A VP loss for the French seemed likely as no Indians meant that I could not gain VPs by raiding.  In addition, I discarded two British Regulars and the Big Highlanders cards (no choice), so he was guaranteed reinforcements next turn.
 
Pei's Thoughts:  My hand was below average, with mostly 1-Op and 2-Op cards.  Most disconcerting was no Regulars or Highlanders.  Then I saw why as Grant played multiple British reinforcement cards.   He had lots of 3-Op cards, but few usable events.   The main comfort I had was that I won the crucial battle at Ticonderoga and damaged the French army enough to force Grant to pull the Louisburg garrison out so early. 
 
Early 1758
James used the tournament rule to retrieve the big Highlanders from the discard pile and played it for Murray and Forbes while Montcalm reoccupied Ticonderoga.   Amherst attacked Montcalm unsuccessfully at Ticonderoga, with both Amherst and Webb killed assaulting my Fieldworks. VPs to FR3.   The Small Pox card was played on the damaged British army, but got only one hit.  James played Victories in Germany to replace six of the British step losses.   I stole a Fieldworks card from him with Courier Intercepted.
 
The French had seen no Indian reinforcement cards to date.   This was the only turn of the game where James didn't have a Campaign card.   The victory at Ticonderoga gave me my first glimmer of hope.  Losing Amherst had greatly complicated his command situation, and the stolen Fieldworks card prevented him from coming to grips with the battered French army.   I had to spend most of my activations keeping the main army functional.
 
Pei's Thoughts:   My hand was not bad, with Victories in Germany and Fieldworks.  More importantly, I was able to pull the big Highlanders card from the discard pile.  This proved to be my only Regulars reinforcement for the entire game.  I didn't get Wolfe, so I sent Forbes to the West to start the Ohio Forks campaign.  Losing the two leaders later sure put a crimp in my plans as I had to shuffle leaders around to fix my command problems.  Then with my Fieldworks card gone, I basically just sat quietly until the next turn.  The main French army was somewhat battered which forced Grant to be on the defensive.
 
Late 1758  --  (reshuffled here) 
I finally got some reinforcements in the form of a French Regulars card and got my only raid of the game in with a Cdb raid in the Northern Dept.  James sent Johnson out West with some Rangers, forcing Dumas to move north to the French Creek stockade to block an easy VP for the British.   James got his fourth Campaign of the game and took Ohio Forks.  VPs to 0.   The year ended with VPs at FR1 because of the raid.
 
Some hope existed for me if I could get some raids in during 1759 and win a battle or two.    A 0 VP French win was still possible, but any kind of bad luck and I was dead.   Through the first four turns of the game James had drawn four Campaigns to my one.  He also had more reinforcements, and I had seen no Indian cards and no Ambushes.  The situation out West was precarious at best and I would have to work hard to extract my Marine Detachments so as not to give him free VPs.
 
Pei's Thoughts:   My hand was average, with a Campaign and a Ranger card, but still no sign of any Regulars.  With the VPs in manageable condition, I decided to send Johnson with a small force to harass the French western stockades.  My plan was to have Murray lead a sizeable force to take Ohio Forks while Johnson tried to pick up a cheap VP.   Grant played well and blocked my efforts.  I took comfort in that the Forks fell rather easily, but this was somewhat offset by the successful French raid.
 
Early 1759
The situation out West came to a head.  James missed a chance to overrun a Cdb and crush my last force out there for two VPs, but not until I had also missed a chance to overrun his Ranger and escape to Niagara.   In the end, he was faced with a 4 strength force at a stockade with Fieldworks against his 10 strength force with no retreat route, and he declined to risk the battle.  Montcalm's army then moved onto Lake Ontario and the threat forced him to abandon his drive on Niagara.  James had another Campaign (his fifth) and began the siege of Louisburg, which had no garrison.    Small Pox hit the Brits for three steps.   I used Bastions Repaired to put Louisburg back to siege 0 just after James finally rolled a hit.
 
The game was still up in the air.  If Louisburg were to hold out, I would have a fair chance.   I still had yet to see any Indians.   James felt that I should have perhaps sent Montcalm to Louisburg to hold the fortress and that may have helped.  Unfortunately, with Vaudereuil dead I would not have been able to move a full army with Levis in command, so it likely would have cost me elsewhere.
 
Pei's Thoughts:   My hand was good, with another Campaign and the Foul Weather card.  I missed the opportunity to kill Dumas when I could have combined Murray's and Johnson's forces together.  But I didn't want to risk the chance when the game was so close. Besides, I was forced to withdraw when Montcalm's army came screaming to the rescue.  In any event, I pulled Murray out quickly and shipped him to Louisburg before Grant could send a good leader to defend the fortress.  
 
Late 1759
James had another Campaign in his hand and used Courier Intercepted to steal a Campaign from me!  He had the last three plays of the game.  James hit on all his siege rolls at Louisburg, and it fell quickly - VPs to BR2.   I had one last chance as he had not torn down the fort at HCN.  Unfortunately, Loudoun defeated Montcalm twice in even battles which gave James too large a lead for me to recover from and I resigned.   I finally had drawn an Indian card, but it was too little too late.    I never did see an Ambush card.
 
In retrospect, I am quite pleased that I managed to take this game the full length.   James did not appreciate his lack of Regulars reinforcements, but I'm convinced that he had a near ideal set of British hands.   The Brits never lacked for an ability to move their troops, nor did they ever have much to worry about with regards to raids after the first few card plays.  The Brits got three of their five leaders into the game, and had maximum Provincials to provide men.  I believe that my lack of Indians was the deciding factor in the game.   Indians usually provide two or three French VPs on average, and the lack of those VPs really hurt.  If it had been 0 VP after the fall of Louisburg, it would have been a much different game.  Montcalm lost three battles where he had at least a slight advantage, which was another three VPs lost.  The British made every 50/50 intercept throughout the first three turns (at least six attempts) until the Cdb managed to sneak by for a raid.   The "draw a discarded reinforcement card" rule played a major factor in the game as the leaders James got (Forbes and Murray) were the key to keeping him mobile. James played his position very well.  I do believe that if I had not gotten lucky killing Amherst and holding James off out West, the game would have been effectively over in 1758.
 
Pei's Thoughts:  My hand was terrific, with another Campaign and the Courier card.  But time was running out.  I definitely needed to roll well at Louisburg to win.  My siege rolls were on the money, and the fortress fell handily.  (I almost had flashbacks of my Hannibal game where Africanus rolled over a dozen times, failing to take Syracuse).  With the VPs then on my side, I made sure that Loudoun's army at HCN was maxed out.  So even if Monty won that first battle, I would have been able to counterattack effectively. As it turned out, Loudoun stood his ground and defeated Montcalm.
 
This was the first game that I played as the British with very little reinforcements.  I didn't think I was hopeless, but it definitely made it very difficult to win.  Lack of mobility was another issue until Forbes and Murray came along.  What saved me was the lack of French Indians.  That has a greater impact on the French game than the lack of Regulars has on the British game. Grant played very well, given his hands.  He has risen steadily through the years, and I have no doubt that his time will come and he will eventually win the tournament.

Bruce Monnin goes point-to-point with Jason White. The field continued to shrink this year as it often does for high skill games where the shark pool is deep and established.

The Master gets his revenge again! Ok, different game, but someone's got to pay for breaking that winning streak. Riku finds the going tougher this year.

The WNW tournament was a disappointment as 14 players (not bad) played only 12 games (sad). I called it after three rounds in favor of Ohio's Cabbie Sean McCulloch, who was the only unbeaten player. Since he defeated two former WBC champs, Paul Gaberson and Keith Wixson, his title does have some merit attached to it, however, despite the paucity of games played. Sean took home a Medicine Arrow for his effort. The French won eight of the twelve games played.

It was obvious during the general meeting on Saturday that this game was a poor choice for the last tournament. The interest was just not there and our methodology for choosing this was flawed. So this was the final year for WNW at WAM. It had a good run and it should live on at WBC for another year or two at least. Next year's WAM will have a new fourth tournament.

On the bright side I was able to test a new rule for WBC that I hope will address the play balance issue. Instead of having the players bid VPs to play the French, sides were determined randomly and the British player, starting with the Late Season 1757 turn, was given the option to retrieve one British Regulars or Highlanders card from the discard pile (at the beginning of EVERY turn - after the cards had been dealt and examined but before the first Action Phase) and place it in his hand after RANDOMLY discarding one card from his hand. Despite the usual lopsided win totals for the French, which I ascribe for the most part to several brand new players and rustiness by a few vets, I was pleased with how the test went and expect to adopt the new rule for WBC this year.

2009 WAM LAURELISTS

Paul Gaberson, PA
2nd

Tom Drueding, MA
3rd

Michael Sosa, FL
4th

Doug Mercer, MD
5th

Bruce Monnin, OH
6th

 GM      Keith Wixson  [6th Year]   425 W. Price St, Apt B4, Linden, NJ 07036 
    Keith.wixson@verizon.net   908-862-4486

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