British Arms Prevail ...
UK's Peter Card runs up against Alexandra
Nick Page polishes off Chaley Hickok
on the way to the title.
The debut of any WBC tournament is always full of surprises,
and FAS was no exception. Going into the event we had anticipated
a shortage of games so made efforts to borrow a few spares but
almost every player brought a copy in stark contrast to most
two-player events I've experienced.
Another concern was that games would run long as they invariably
do for new games and at first this appeared to be the case as
the Mulligan and Round 1 games were requiring more than two hours.
However, once the field was reduced play speeded up considerably
with the Final requiring only 45 minutes. No games had to be
adjudicated which was a relief to all concerned.
The issue of game balance has been discussed in great depth
on various gaming forums with the verdict strongly favoring the
British. Martin Wallace, the games designer, has addressed this
with a second edition set of rules changes that were in effect
at WBC. Also employed was a fairly standard WBC bidding system
and while this was on the event preview it seemed to come as
a surprise to many players. The tournament rule is that you are
bidding how many draw and discards you will give your opponent
to have choice of sides. Being able to cycle cards can be decisive,
so the idea is to establish how many of these opportunities you
will concede in order to command the British. I don't think the
correct range was established this year, and I expect future
bids to evolve accordingly.
Attendance was a rather robust 33 for a game that has been
touted as "broken" by the card sharks and a total of
34 matches were played. All were played in an atmosphere of good
humor and friendly competition. I also appreciate the patience
shown to a very rusty GM by all. The 34 games played produced
17 wins for each side. Point victories were dominated by the
French 17-10. However, the British enjoyed a 7-1 advantage in
Military wins. The average bid for side was 1.97 with the bids
topping out at 7. The highest British point total was 63 while
the best the French could manage was 60. Of the 27 Point wins,
five were by three points or less. Twelve games were won by 11
points or more. Given that the majority of players were inexperienced
the results cannot be seen as typical. It is clear that it takes
a few games to get to grips with the unique systems and see the
strategies that favor each side. By next year, French players
are going to have to adjust their bids if they are to counter
the British Military Strategy.
Mulligan Round - Sunday 9pm
Having an optional extra round of games preceding Round 1 allowed
both players and the GM to get a refresher in the game and the
mechanics of running a tournament. All players can still play
in the official first round on Monday after having had a chance
for a practice game. The advantage to players who win in the
Mulligan round is that they automatically advance to Round 2,
gaining schedule flexibility on Monday.
16 players started the Mulligan Round where it quickly became
obvious that many were playing for the first time. A lot of explanation
of the rules and the changes made in the 2nd edition was conducted
before everyone settled down to play. One humorous incident stood
out. One player who hadn't played the game before was having
a great time against another first time player who clearly was
not taken by the game system. After a long game, the losing (and
unimpressed) player promptly offered his copy for sale to the
games latest convert to much general amusement - especially after
his offer was accepted. Otherwise, it was a British night with
five wins (two by Military) against three losses.
Demo - Monday 11am
The interest in the game was still high a year after its initial
appearance in the Showroom as the darling of the Open Gaming
crowd. This curiosity extended to the demo immediately before
Round 1 with a good turnout of people interested in how this
euro-style wargame played.
Round 1 - Monday Noon
The first round saw 12 games played with many of the same faces
from the Mulligan round returning for more. As in the Mulligan
round we had mostly new players and lots of questions concerning
the game and the tournament format. However, this time the French
won the day with eight wins against four losses. Two of the four
were Military defeats.
The second round fielded 14 players who had won in either the
Mulligan or Round 1, yielding seven games. The pace was quicker
with far fewer questions although the bidding was in the main
still pretty light. The earlier French advantage was upheld,
but barely ... 4-3, and again with two British Military wins.
With seven surviving players, the GM was pressed into service
as a spoiler to field four quarterfinal games. In the unlikely
event the GM succeeded, a random chosen loser would get a second
life in the semifinals. The only French Military victory of the
event was scored against the GM who tried and failed to execute
a British expansion strategy against a very belligerent (in game
terms) French player. The other three games were all British
point wins with, even at this late stage, little bidding to gain
the British side.
Patrick Mirk (British) vs Nick Henning (French) Bid 4
Nick Page (British) vs Kevin Lewis (French) Bid 5
The pace quickened in the semis with both winners demonstrating
the strengths of their chosen sides. Henning guided the French
to a points win while the other Nick took the Military route
with the British. All four players had obviously studied the
game and played frequently prior to WBC. The bidding was higher
also reflecting the players understanding of each side's value.
Nick Page (British) vs Nick Henning (French) Bid 6
The French started a siege of Permaquid - a good way to slow
down the British while building up settlements. However, the
British ignored this siege (other than to keep it going) in favor
of a siege of Port Royal. This had the effect of tying up some
French military assets that could have been used elsewhere.
Both sides built their military with the French frequently able
to ambush the British Regulars or Artillery. After winning the
Siege in Port Royal, the British moved on to Louisburg and the
pattern was set.
The British siege was slowed by French ambushes while the
French expanded their settlements. The French used the card draws
from bidding at critical moments to keep sieges alive. The British
tuned their deck to keep their coffers fueled with 6 money turns
to fund a military purchase. The siege of Louisburg grew until
the French were forced to abandon the Permaquid siege to free
up their military assets. The fall took several more rounds but
the British prevailed.
During the lull between sieges the French continued to expand
while the British prepared for the next siege. The British started
a siege at Trois Rivieres that became the game winner as all
the French points beyond Trois Rivieres were now out of supply.
Much of the French deck becomes useless and they soon concede.
Bruce Hodgins's Redcoats run up against
the French of everyone's favorite Ticket to Ride GM.
GM Roy Gibson oversees his finalists.
Page's win prevented Nick from getting his fourth championship
of the week.