newby wins it all ...
It's been a long time since I've seen
a row of Wooden Ships games in progress.
The event attracted enough new blood
to remake the Century for the first time in years.
The Wooden Ships & Iron Men tournament got comfortable
in its second straight year of free form scheduling, allowing
players to drop anchor or set sail almost at will, ranging in
age from 14 to -- let's just say retirement age. The single largest
age group was the twenties.
For single ship actions, players squared off with either British
64 gun ships-of-the-line or French 44 gun frigates. More confident
tars ventured forth with two-on-two actions. Double frigate actions
featured a British 40 and 38 gun frigate per player. Double ship-of-the-line
actions gave players a menu of British, Spanish, Turkish, Russian,
and French ships. The French 74s proved the most popular choice.
Only the old salts dared undertake three-ship, three-hour,
slugfests, wherein each player designed his own squadron.
In the semi-finals, Ron Glass made his first appearance at
the convention in a decade and was barely outlasted by Derek
Whipple, a first time WBC attendee.
In a rematch of their semi-final match of last year, GM Tim
Hitchings reversed fortune on his son, Evan, the defending champ
and reclaimed family braggin' rights.
The tournament ended with a bang during the Final when Derek
Whipple gained a critical hit on one of Tim Hitchings' ships
of the line, detonating the magazine and blowing it out of the
Congratulations to Derek in his first appearance at WBC. For
Tim, it's another, "wait 'til next year."
Derek agreed to favor us with a retellin' of his experience
without even the threat of the lash.
"The WBC 2009 was the first game convention I have ever
attended, and it was a very memorable experience. Playing "Wooden
Ships & Iron Men" at WBC was a blast. The caliber
of the opponents was high, and I had a number of very intense
games with Ron Glass, Dan Long, Mark Sciera and the GM, Tim Hitchings.
I was fooled a couple of times by opponents dropping in for
a quick game who claimed, "Oh, I remember this game, I played
it once about ten years ago." They then proceeded to school
me, even while I was attempting to teach them a few intricacies
of the game. I later came to realize that what they really meant
to say was, "I last won the tournament 10 years ago."
My favorite opponent was Joseph Belyeu, a 14-year old who
spent a lot of time with us in the "WSM" room. Joseph
seemed relatively new to the game and, even though he was beaten
often, he always returned for more action. He even suffered the
worst defeat of the tournament, having his lone ship explode
from a critical hit after only 10 minutes of play; yet, he was
able to smile, shrug it off and return to the action for another
The "Fleet Action" held on Saturday [in the open
gaming area] was a clever scenario and a great deal of fun, with
the British leading a raiding party including frigates, bomb
ketches, a fire ship, plus a few infantry and cavalry units against
an unsuspecting, unprepared French fortified port. I got the
pleasure of both marauding across the countryside with a British
cavalry unit, blasting some fortifications with a bomb ketch's
mortar and guiding the fire ship safely past the shoals and shore
batteries into the harbor to set-up for an eventual collision
with the French flag ship."
Champ Derek Whipple, midshipman Joseph Belyeu, and all the
sailors in between made the 2009 Wooden Ships & Iron Men
tournament another success. Whether played for high honors or
just a good time, there was camaraderie for all!
The four finalists gather for the
GM Tim Hitchings again falls short
of the mark in the Final.