Guess Who? ...
For such a one-sided event, FTP
Peter Perla and Richard Phares continue
their annual match.
The Twilight Stuggle
GM looks for new CDWs to conquer.
Tom Cannon tries to find the
range with his surname.
This years tournament was another barnburner as the best players
continue to try to unseat James Pei, who has dominated the event
since its inception. I give you James Pei's personal point of
view of the tournament.
"2012 proved to be a tough year. Not only was this a
grueling tournament in terms of strong players, but the heat
conditions in the Lampeter room was not unlike campaigning in
the fields of those old days. Long story short, the antiquated
AC system of the Host was knocked out by a severe thunderstorm
in midweek. They tried to fixed it, but to no avail. So by Saturday,
the temperature was hot and stifling. Most of the wargamers sought
refuge elsewhere, leaving only a handful of stalwarts to tough
It was in this sauna that Mark Giddings and I met in the Final.
Unlike other "wimps" who cannot stand the "heat',
or the faint hearted who can only endure a few hours before seeking
relief, the two FTP titans endured and fought the Civil War at
its best for nearly eight hours!!! Needless to say, we were both
Special mention goes to Taylor Golding who came here from
Canada mainly to compete in FTP. He brought his "bible"
of FTP notes, rulings, and FAQ. He was often seen poring over
a much worn map, studying and chatting with people days before
the tournament. He fought valiantly against Nick Pei and Mark
Giddings, two perennial Top 5 players. Another up-n-comer is
Nels Thompson, a 3-time Breakout Normandy champion, whose FTP
game has improved a lot. He went down in a very tough Round 2
match to Jeff Donald. Jeff is a local VA boy who has been playing
FTP online for a number of years. This was his second WBC appearance,
many years after his first when he was blown away. He showed
he has learned his lessons well before meeting his match against
Bill Pettus. Bill is another TOP 5 player who won the 2004 PBeM
tournament by fielding four full-strength, 15-SP armies as the
Then, there is Mark Giddings, whose specialty as a Union player
with oversized corps has propelled him to his fourth WBC FTP
Final. This matches the Final appearances of my other, more colorful,
protagonist, David Dockter. However, in a twist of fate, Giddings
was to play the South while I took command of the Union. In hindsight,
I think this proved to be more beneficial to me as his Union
play is much stronger -- especially given the way the cards were
1861: Turn 1: I took the wrong pile as his cards contained
a Major Campaign and two CSA reinforcement cards. I was only
able to leverage the Farragut card by sacking Columbus GA. Turn
2 was better as I pushed into AR and took out TX, just before
he can play his Mexican Pipeline card. AOP also made inroads
in N Va by kicking the Rebels out of Manassas. Turn 3 was terrible
as I had four 1-Op and two 2-Op cards. Without any 3-Op card
to move my lumbering AOP, the eastern theater remained quiet.
I fortified the DC area and consolidated AR. Mark played more
reinforcement cards and spent the turn evicting the Union foothold
in Columbus GA. He also tried unsuccessfully to defend AR. By
the end of 1861, TX and AR joined the Union, causing the permanent
loss of two CSA reinforcements. This came back to haunt the Rebels.
1862: I drew good cards on Turn 4, allowing me to make advances
in VA and close the W Gulf Blockade Zone. Elsewhere, I was fortunate
in several attacks that delayed Lee's formation of an army in
TN and killing off Bedford Forrest. But you can tell that pressure
was building as the South was forming killer armies with ample
reserves from reinforcement cards. Sure enough, Turn 5 saw the
clash of big armies in the East as AOP gallantly butted its head
against AONV in an effort to soak attrition. Losing two large
battles, I pulled back AOP after being Choctawed. But CSA was
sufficiently bloodied that the damage was minimized. Lee finally
crossed the Mississippi River into Cairo but no further. Turn
6 saw AOP losing another large battle, but the attrition rate
was starting to tell as the South did not receive any more reinforcement
cards. Coupled with the loss of two states and a blockade zone,
it was losing the attrition war. The end of the turn saw the
CSA pulling yet another Major Campaign and succeeded in getting
KY. But it was unable to prevent MO's entry into the Union.
1863: Upon Grant's arrival, he took his new army and promptly
marched on to Richmond. In the fourth large battle, Grant lost
a close tie, but Stoneman took a bullet, causing the entire Eastern
Theater of operation to grind to a halt. So the focus of effort
was shifted to admit WVa to the Union. Elsewhere, we sparred
around a bit, and Lee was still unable to make headways from
Cairo due to the excellent defensive positions of the Union forces.
By this time, the Blockade level was raised to 3.
The turning point came during Turn 8, when a depleted AONV
failed to evade from Richmond, and then lost the ensuing battle.
Mark correctly judged that with his weak forces in the area,
that AONV was better off as a force in being than being grinded
to oblivion defending Richmond. To add insult to injury, I drew
Rail Degradation and took his Minor Campaign card away. With
my last play, I was able to convert VA and isolate all remaining
CSA forces in NC. The end of the turn saw a huge SW swing with
USA 111 to CSA 39. At this point, we were both mentally and physically
exhausted after almost eight hours battling in the sauna. Mark
probably could still fight on, but his SP and SW were both low.
His reinforcement rate had been steadily declining with no more
event cards added since Turn 4. He said he still wanted to soldier
on, but when he failed three blockade zones on Turn 9, he graciously
The perennial BKN champ looking
for new worlds to conquer faces Jeff Donald.
This time Mark Giddings gets the honor
of falling in the Final to the Master.
By Email 2011+
By all accounts, the 2012 World Boardgaming Championships
were a great success, if a bit uncomfortable due to a 6:1 die
split that resulted in a HVAC failure. Once again, James Pei
successfully defended his FTP title. Of course, and not to take
ANYTHING away from James, it was undoubtedly easier due Don Chappell's
unfortunate absence (and maybe David Dockter's). Seriously, congratulations
to James and our thanks to him for giving us all something to
shoot at... I mean shoot for! Shortly after WBC, the results
of James' PBeM match against previously undefeated newcomer Alberto
Molina were reported. Alberto's CSA conceded to James' Union
after the Summer of '63 with the SW at 75:42. The Union had closed
three Blockade Zones and had a 35:16 edge in SPs.
In a second battle of the undefeated, Herr Dockter's Union
downed third ranked Michael Mitchell's CSA in the Fall of '63
with the SW at 90:38. As of this writing, Nick Pei and Gary Kirk,
both previously undefeated, are enjoying a battle for the ages
in a game found on ACTS under the handle BPA 4-1. It is the Spring
of '64 and the SW is 31:24 (USA:CSA). This is a donnybrook well
worth the effort of looking through the journal. Doug Pratto,
the other previously undefeated player is locked with newcomer
Jeff Donald in yet another masterful game.
James Pei and David Dockter are guaranteed their positions
in the Single Elimination bracket games to begin at the end of
September, and as befits their AREA ratings (first and second
respectively) they will anchor the brackets. The winner of the
Pei/Kirk game will also be seeded as will Pratto should he prevail
against Donald. Known to have qualified for the drawing to complete
the bracket are: Michael Mitchell, Alberto Molina, Grant LaDue,
Tom Thornsen, Sean Dolbee, Tim Tow and Jean Louis Dirion. Possibly
qualifying, depending upon the outcome of their current games
are: Jeff Donald, Mike Pacheco, George Young, Steve Likevich
and Mustafa Corapci. Round 4 officially began on May 25th and
ended on September 28th 2012.
The fourth round ended on schedule with one adjudication.
Things only got tougher thereby, however, as there were 13 players
with 3-1 records and only five slots available in the Single
Elimination bracket. Five of the 13 were randomly selected to
participate in the championship bracket. With exactly eight
remaining, a special "Trans Mississippi" bracket was
created for fun, honor and "I coulda been a contender!"
bragging rights. While disappointment was clearly evident, all
accepted this invitation in the spirit of good sportsmanship
that is the hallmark of BPA members.
The Championship Quarterfinals feature Jean Louis Dirion (USA)
vs James Pei; Tom Thornsen (USA) vs Jeff Donald; Gary Kirk (USA)
vs Doug Pratto and Sean Dolbee (USA) vs David Dockter). Shortly
after the brackets were announced a flurry of unauthorized handicapping
for a betting pool broke out on ComSimWorld. It seems to me
that the handicappers were basing their odds on their own experiences
against these players rather than any valid mathematical analysis,
so my advice would be to take the long odds in each case as I
suspect that pay-offs are larger than risk across the board.
This bracket strikes me as a highly competitive one. While
Dockter and Pei are seeded to allow yet another Final confrontation,
the path to both getting there is not going to be easy. This
may yet be the tournament that sees the beginning of an end to
a certain dynasty... and if not, then the greater the glory as
the story will continue for another chapter. Round 5 of the tournament
officially began on September 29th and will end on February 2nd
As I suspected would happen, Round 4 ended with more balanced
results with respect to the sides. There were six Union victories
vs five losses (and the one adjudication). Additionally the
games lasted longer with one, the contest between reliable grognard
Bill Peeck and Mike Kunin going into the last turn before a decision
was reached. For more details please visit our tournament website
at the link above.