The South Does it Again ...
A House Divided made its triumphal return to the WBC
in 2010 after a seven year hiatus with its largest attendance
ever. Given that success, I opted to keep the same format in
2011 and was rewarded with an even larger turnout and a return
to the Century. Since this was my first year as a GM, I took
this as an opportunity to solicit feedback on all aspects of
the tournament. Based on that feedback, I plan on making a few
changes in 2012.
As in previous years, we used the basic rules and the 10-turn
1861 scenario. Few expressed interest in optional rules or other
scenarios. However, many games ran beyond the two hour time slot
allotted for each round.
We also allowed several methods for choosing sides. The default
method was "high die chooses his side." However, players
had the option of bidding victory points for choice of sides.
Many players felt that the bidding system was more appropriate
and provided a higher level of player control than simply one
lucky die roll. So, in 2012, I will use bidding as the default
method for choosing sides.
Finally, some players approached me about using a die roll
averaging system for the critical "march" die roll
on each turn. Although I see the value in this approach, most
players take it for granted that this is a game using dice and
luck plays a role. Given that the majority of feedback did not
support using die roll averaging, I will not implement that in
the default tournament rules in 2012. However, die roll averaging
will be allowed if both players choose to use it. I will
bring a player's aid to help track this for those players who
opt for this rule.
As with most war games, our players love to debate which side
has an advantage. Although the majority of players seem to prefer
the Union, past tournament records illustrate that the game is
well balanced with neither side predominating. This year was
a little different. Amazingly, the Union won all 11 games in
the mulligan round. I attribute this to the fact that many of
the players were either new to the game or had not played it
since 2010. It does seem to be the case that the Union has an
advantage among novices. However, in the five single elimination
rounds which followed, as in past years, the Union advantage
melted away. The Union won 14 of 27 games, but, as in years past,
the Confederates prevailed in the semi-final and Final rounds.
Because we play the 1861 scenario, most of the Confederate
victories were spectacular wins with several players capturing
Washington or successfully getting past Washington into Baltimore
and the North East, thereby getting an automatic victory. On
the other hand, the Union generally won by attrition in long,
drawn out affairs.
The 34 competitors played a total of 38 games. We had many
of the usual suspects supplemented by some new players. In fact,
we had several who got their feet wet in tournament play after
learning the game at the demo. One of the new players, Linus
Park, progressed to the semi-finals. It is also noteworthy that
both Steve and Brad (father and son) Raszewski made it to the
quarter-finals. Fortunately, they did not have to play each other
this year. In one of the biggest surprises, Terry Coleman, a
perennial contender, fell in the quarter-finals. The final four
were made up of one new player, Linus Park, past champions David
Metzger and Phil Rennert, and a first time WBC attendee from
across the pond, John Sutcliffe.
In the first semi-final game, Linus commanded the Confederates
against four-time champion Metzger. Although the Union made some
initial headway into Kentucky, the rebels kept the Union at bay
for most of the game. Unfortunately, Linus could not gain any
momentum for a final push to the North and David managed a marginal
Union victory. Linus made a strong showing for a newcomer and
looks like a force to be reckoned with in future contests. In
the second semi-final, 2001 champion, Phil Rennert commanded
the Union against John. John was a very aggressive Confederate
which put the Union in a defensive position. The game was ultimately
decided when John's Confederates won a large engagement.
David's Union forces were extremely successful at the first
battle of Bull Run and managed to capture Richmond with one unit
on Turn 2 of the Final. John, however, did not let this setback
phase him. He re-constituted a large army in Nashville. From
this critical location, he threatened both Cairo and Louisville.
As a result, the Union moved the majority of their western forces
to garrison both Cairo and Louisville, while preparing for a
two pronged offensive. Unfortunately for the Union, John had
other plans. He moved his forces by rail back towards Richmond.
David was able to re-position his Louisville Army to protect
Washington, but he could not prevent John from recapturing Richmond.
At that point, John began moving his army north in an attempt
to get behind Washington. When David rolled "2" (the
lowest possible roll) for his marches on five consecutive turns,
the Union was unable to fully organize their defense of the North,
nor could they capitalize on the Confederate weakness in the
West. Eventually, the Union engaged in one final battle outside
of Baltimore but was soundly defeated. The Confederates went
on to win an automatic victory. To win his title, John downed
two former champions as well as several strong, experienced players.
Without a doubt, John showed his skill on both sides of the conflict
and won an impressive championship. Welcome to the WBC!
Edward Rader and Terry Coleman
Linus Park and Allen Joslyn