Fresh Blood ...
Sean McCulloch, Ed O'Connor, Chris
Trimmer and Mark Smith compete in the second heat.
GM Jim Jordan, Lewis Pulsipher (the
game's designer) and eventual champion Ewan McNay.
It was a year for the bean counters! In 2010, the closest
preliminary contest was a game decided by five points. This year,
there were two games in the first heat with 1-point wins! Another
1-point victory was recorded in the second heat, and a fourth
in the semi-finals where the spread from top to bottom was only
14 points. But I get ahead of myself...
As another indication of the increasing competitiveness of
the WBC Britannia community, we managed a bit more balance
in color wins during the heats. Last year, Yellow had ten wins
in 19 preliminary games. This year, the field managed to reduce
that to six wins in 17 games. Meanwhile, there's still some balancing
work to be done. While Red also had six wins, Blue only managed
three and Green but one. Amusingly, in the semi-finals, just
as last year, Blue won three out of the four semis, while Red
pulled out the last. Of course, Yellow was second in that 1-point
semi-final. <sigh> ... getting ahead of myself again.
Anyway, for the preliminary closest wins, we had an excellent
story for the first heat. There, Ewan McNay's Blues had just
pulled out a tight 1-point win over Rick Kirchner's Greens for
one of those three scarce Blue wins. Final score 226/225 for
the top two. Ewan was looking forward to his first closest win
in the heats award when another game finished. And as the dust
settled in that game, we realized that Rich Curtin's Greens,
with their score of 229 over Greg Hultgren's Yellows with 228,
had managed to pull out the closest win in the first heat! And
remember, I calculate the closest second places as percentages
of the winner's score. I had to calculate this one to four decimal
places to find a difference. Greg's second was 0.995633, Rick
Kirchner's 0.995575. Rich Curtin had the closest win by 0.000058
In the second heat, Steve Smith pulled in with another of
the 1-point wins as his Reds held on with 233 points over Llew
Bardecki's Yellows. Steve's Saxons definitely helped there, scoring
a huge 41 points on Turn 13. For the last heat, your GM claimed
the last closest win plaque with another of those Yellow wins.
That game ended with a 12-point differential 231/219 over Ed
The second heat also sported an interesting game in which
the Roman Legions demonstrated their impressive ability to get,
every once in a while, beaten up badly by the Belgae. On the
first turn Ewan's Yellow stalwarts from Rome lost eight legions.
James Sulven's Belgae took out six of that total. Of course,
after that the legions once again displayed their invincibility
by not bothering to lose any more. The dice periodically like
to remind us that they will have their say.
To round out the preliminary heats, we, of course, have the
Ethelred the Unraedy award. There was a bit better showing this
year as Llew Bardecki garnered another Ethelred award with 186
points as the low score for a semi-finalist in the heats.
OK, now I can finally catch up with myself and discuss the
semi-finals. For whatever reason, Blue seems to be a winner in
the semi-finals, again racking up three victories, with one red
tailing along. We had typically larger victories for the winners
in the semis, with point top-to-bottom spreads from the three
Blue wins averaging 51, and first-to-second averaging 18. In
the last game, your GM's Reds eked out, by dint of a couple of
lucky rolls, a 1-point win (in keeping with the theme of 2011)
over Scott Pfeiffer's Yellows. Everyone was in the hunt until
the end. So we had Ewan McNay, myself and Barry Smith advancing
to the Final, with, again this year, representation from the
Hultgren's. This year though it was Micah's turn to play while
Greg watched (and tried not to comment) from the sidelines.
The Final started Sunday morning with a fine selection of
colors (I finally got to play Blue!). Meanwhile, Ewan had pulled
Red, Barry Yellow and Micah Green. That was interesting for a
couple of reasons. I had Blue, which would be enough to worry
Ewan. Meanwhile, he had Red, which was enough to worry me. Barry
tends to be a bit of a wildcard, so his having Yellow lessened
the ability of that tendency to affect the flow of the game.
And then Micah with Green was another bit of a wildcard because
he's not been playing at the WBC as much as the rest of us, so
his style is not as well known.
Barry's Roman invasion was relatively uneventful. The most
notable events were the Brigs getting a decent number of kill
points to put Ewan's Reds slightly up. Meanwhile, Barry headed
to the Hebrides, which put Micah's Greens slightly down in the
The action started getting hot with Ewan's Saxon invasion.
The Jute in Kent refused to make any deals for survival. Meanwhile,
Barry's RB's had setup in usual fashion, occupying the Downlands
with 4 and some of the lowlands to balance out the population.
Ewan's Saxons took out the lowlanders and headed for the hills
to take out the RB infestation. On the first round of the invasion,
the Saxons were thrown back with a couple of losses almost immediately
and retreated to lick their wounds and regroup. On the second
turn of the invasion they came back refreshed and yet, Barry's
mighty army of Romano-British wiped out the entire expeditionary
force of Saxons in the Downlands, leader and all.
That left only three Saxons remaining. Only one had been killed
by the Jute. And then there were murmurings of amazement as the
Romano-British declined to eliminate those three Saxons in the
Meanwhile, to the North, the Brigantes were refusing, under
any circumstances, to submit to the Angles. Given that they were
fully populated, that left my Angles with a couple nasty choices.
Submit the Brigantes and risk a rather severe hit to my forces,
or take out a couple of Brigantes and then spread out for a large
number of points. I opted for spreading out. Sadly, continuing
the lack of dealing in the game from anyone, Micah's Welsh immediately
came out and headed for York. My Angle empire was then split
and threatened with quick decline as the additional four Saxon
reinforcements came on and started growing quickly.
The mid-game proceeded with lots of three-way sniping between
the Welsh, the Saxons and the Angles as each tried to gain an
upper hand in preparing for the Danish invasion. All that really
happened though was the weakening of each of those three forces
such that the Danes had a full, but skeletally manned board as
they prepared to launch their invasion. Barry's Romano-British
were eventually eliminated by the Saxons by Turn 11, but only
after taking out 19 Saxon armies on the way to their departure.
And so, on came the Danes and the Dubliners. Micah's Danes
rolled well against the Angles and seemed to be in excellent
position to score well and keep a reasonable force. Unfortunately,
they encountered some tough holdouts in trying to take the Angles
in the Pennines and the Blues gained six points or Ivar/Halfdan
from the weakened Danes. The fierce battle there sapped the Danish
invasion force and left them spread thinly on the board. Barry's
Dubliners then had to decide what to do. Cumbria and York were
both thinly protected after the Danish invasion, and the Danes
weakened forces made it unlikely that they would threaten Dubliner
point scoring. But, Ewan's Saxons had come back substantially,
and his Brigantes were still numerous and had never been submitted.
Ewan's Brigantes then were gleeful when the Dubliners headed
south to take out some Saxons in HWI. It did weaken the Saxon
position, but it left the Brigantes to collect ten points for
Strathclyde on Turn 13, and was a definite turning point in Red's
fortunes. The Dubliner expeditions went reasonably well and they
also were to score well on Turn 13. In taking their point though,
the Dubliners spread themselves among the Brigantes, Danes and
Angles, who took advantage by sniping away Dubliners in the following
Another benefit to Red at this point were Ewan's Norsemen.
They easily fought their way into the Hebrides and then were
able to create a small kingdom for themselves by occupying the
Orkneys and Caithness.
And thus we come to the endgame. My Blues, Ewan's Reds, and
Micah's Greens all appeared to be in the hunt, with a few points
advantage to the Red with their Brigante and Norse Turn 13 scores.
Barry's Yellows were not terribly far behind, but enough that
they appeared to be a longshot unless the Norwegians did incredibly
well. The Norwegians were faced by Danish opposition though and
struggled in combat, losing enough in their invasion to be fragile.
In another blow to Yellow, Ewan's Norsemen continued their romp
through the north, eliminating the Scots in a final stand in
Skye, after the Brigantes did their share attacking the Scots
After the Norwegian invasion, Ewan had to decide what to do
with the disposition of his Saxons in facing the Norman invasion.
He was most concerned about the scoring potential of my Blues.
Thus, Harold went off on a mission with one unit to speak with
Harald in the north about the Norwegian's misdeeds. Naturally,
the discussion was short and points for Harold went to Barry's
Yellows. My Norman's then faced a scattering of Saxons in the
south, as well as a few last holdouts among the Danes in the
Suffolk and Norfolk regions.
My Norman invasion went well, and all of the reinforcement
areas were captured along with most of the point scoring areas.
The gap with the Red score was closed to within a few points.
The last turn was setup with just the usual minor maneuvering
for point spaces as everyone waited to see what the Normans would
do in the last move. Everyone else stayed to the north, although
the still powerful Welsh did take an area from the Normans. As
the points were analyzed, it became evident that my Blues could
win, but only through a series of desperate battles. William
easily conquered in the Downlands, but the Norman cavalry had
a tougher challenge, needing to win three battles between single
cavalry units and two infantry. One space fell...but the other
two did not.
When the last body was buried, Ewan's Reds had hung on for
victory with 242 points. My Blues trailed five points behind,
while Micah's Greens stood at 228. Barry's Yellows trailed with
217 points. Ewan will be the first name on the new Britannia
plaque, and then we're set for another 20 years.
Steve Smith, Llew Bardecki, Gregory
Hultgren and Rick Kirchner were gung ho - filling 11 out of 12
Finalists Micah Hultgren, Ewan McNay,
Barry Smith and Jim Jordan in the 21st tournament.