wilderness war  

Updated Nov. 23, 2012

2012 WBC Report     

 2013 Status: pending 2013 GM commitment

Keith Wixson, NJ

2012 Champion

Event History
2002    Rob Winslow     50
2003    Paul Gaberson     30
2004    James Pei     35
2005    Ron Fedin     40
2006     Keith Wixson     30
2007     Paul Gaberson     35
2008    James Pei     27 
2009     James Pei     23
2010     Paul Gaberson     23
2011    James Pei     26
2012    Keith Wixson     22

WAM Event History
2003    Tom Drueding     20
2004    Bruce Monnin     18
2005    Tom Drueding     20
2006    Keith Wixson     13
2007    Pete Reese     17
2009     Sean McCulloch     14

PBeM Event History
2005    James Pei      64
2006     John Buse      50
2008    James Pei     62
2012     Keith Wixson     50

 Laurels

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  James Pei          VA    12    354
  2.  Keith Wixson       NJ    12    280
  3.  Paul Gaberson      PA    12    192
  4.  Ron Fedin          PA    08    141
  5.  George Young       VT    12    119
  6.  Peter Reese        VA    08    111
  7.  John Buse          IL    12     99
  8.  Tom Drueding       MA    09     98
  9.  Rob Winslow        NY    05     70
 10.  Grant LaDue        NY    12     49
 11.  Bruce Wigdor       NJ    05     48
 12.  Bill Peeck         NY    10     45
 13.  Adam Deverell      au    12     42
 14.  Bill Edwards       VA    08     42
 15.  Stefan Mecay       TX    12     42
 16.  Bruce Monnin       OH    09     38
 17.  Al Owen            au    12     36
 18.  Gary Phillips      MD    10     32
 19.  Michael Ussery     MD    11     30
 20.  Bryan Thompson     NY    12     21
 21.  Don Chappell       TX    08     21
 22.  Randall MacInnis   NJ    07     20
 23.  Jonathan Miller    DC    06     20
 24.  Jim Gutt           TX    04     20
 25.  Phil Burgin-Young  VT    08     19
 26.  Roger Taylor       VA    02     18
 27.  Riku Riekkinen     fn    09     16
 28.  Ken Gutermuth      TX    07     15
 29.  Bari Wigdor        NJ    04     15
 30.  John Haas          PA    02     12
 31.  Doug Mercer        MD    09     11
 32.  Sean McCulloch     OH    09     10
 33.  John Vasilakos     VA    02      9
 34.  Paul Haseler       au    10      8
 35.  Kevin Worth        ab    12      6
 36.  Andrew Maly        MD    07      6
 37.  Dennis Culhane     PA    03      6
 38.  Doug Smith         PA    03      6
 39.  Michael Sosa       FL    09      3

2012 Laurelists                                   Repeating Laurelists:

James Pei, VA
2nd

George Young, VT
3rd

Grant LaDue, NY
4th

Paul Gaberson, PA
5th

Nels Thompson, NY
6th

Past Winners

Rob Winslow, NY
2002

Paul Gaberson, PA
2003, 2007, 2010

James Pei, VA
2004, 2008-09, 2011

Ron Fedin, PA
2005

Keith Wixson, NJ
2006
, 2012

Larry Burman vs George Young

Bill Edwards vs Tom Miller

 Gary Phillips vs Michael Ussery

 Marty Sample vs Stephen Munchak

The Master Rebuffed ...

James Pei's bid for back-to-back titles and for his fifth overall championship fell short in the Final at the hands of current PBeM Champ Keith Wixson. Wixson, who won his second WBC championship, was undefeated, beating Nels Thompson, John Vasilakos and Grant LaDue in the preliminary rounds and George Young in the semifinals. Pei defeated Randy MacInnis and Michael Ussery in the preliminary rounds after a bye in Round 1 and then dropped LaDue in the semifinals. Young and LaDue were both returning semifinalists. Young was undefeated in the preliminary rounds while LaDue advanced to the semis on tiebreakers despite losing to Wixson in Round 3. Ussery, last year's other finalist, was knocked out in the preliminary rounds.

Tournament Highlights:

· For the first time the tournament was offered as a Class B event with the GM presenting a Demo a few hours before. This paid off as five new players who had attended the Demo entered the tournament and played "teaching games" in Round 1 against experienced volunteer players. None of them won, but all seemed happy with the experience and all expressed an interest in learning the game better and returning next year.

· Despite the new blood, attendance set a new low. I was actually expecting to do worse as the competition with other tournaments in the Monday timeslot has become brutal, but the low to mid 20's appears to be where attendance has settled with 15 to 20 diehards returning every year. Needless to say, this obviously puts the tournament on the Century bubble every year and an attempt to bring that number up by returning to the Wednesday slot is a possibility for next year if we do make the cut.

· Five of last year's laurelists made it into the top six again this year. Thompson was the new tenant in the high rent district.

· The best French player was Wixson with four wins. Several players had two wins as the Brits.

· The rule changes that were implemented to address the game's inherent French advantage appear to have worked as intended. British players are now allowed to retrieve a reinforcement card from the discard pile at the start of each turn (if conditions permit), the French Marine Detachment units have been reduced to only one loss step, the starting French VPs have been reduced to 3 and side selection has been made random in order to eliminate specialization. For the second year in a row the games split almost evenly with the French winning 14 of 26 games (that is 54% French wins as compared to 50% French wins last year, 69% in 2010, 65% in 2009, 67% in 2008, 61% in 2007, 52% in 2006, 56% in 2005, 71% in 2004 and 62% in 2003). The French did win all three of the elimination games, but Wixson and Pei are arguably the two best French players in the world.

· Additional Prizes: I awarded books and hand painted tin soldiers to the other laurelists and to MacInnis as the winner of the "Sad Sack" award. Randy was defeated as the French by Thompson in Round 3 despite being ahead by 10 VPs, losing on victory spaces as Ohio Forks and Montreal had been taken by the Brits. He missed several raid attempts in the last turn in an attempt to get the 11th VP (which would have caused a French autovictory). Randy was his usual cheerful self after the loss, however, and in my opinion was worthy of a prize!

Championship Game Recap:

Early 57

Montcalm advanced on Ft. William Henry with the first card play, but with no Campaign card was not immediately reinforced. Loudoun counterattacked with the main army on the first British card and Montcalm evaded contact back to Ft. Carillon before completing the siege. Things went from bad to worse for the French when Wolfe entered with the small Highlanders card and after the main French army was hit with Small Pox. The turn ended with no change to the VPs and with Montcalm and Wolfe opposite each other at HCN-Ticonderoga.

Late 57
Montcalm built his army and caught the Brits off guard at HCN with a risky attack. The gambit paid off with a French victory and the death of General Wolfe. Before the Brits were able to mount a counterattack, Ft. William Henry fell. With one successful raid the French scored four VPs in the turn and were up by seven.

Early 58
British reinforcements started to pour in. Amherst appeared and took command of the main British army. Montcalm, who had wintered at Quebec, was forced back from HCN without a fight and after being hit with Small Pox again decided to abandon the Champlain valley entirely. Destroying the forts, he withdrew to Montreal to rebuild. At a cost of two VPs, the turn ended with France up by five.

Late 58
Forbes entered and built a force for a western offensive. The French raided heavily but with little success, although they did gain one VP. The turn ended with France up by six.

Early 59
Forbes advanced on Ft. Duquesne, which the French decided to leave in place. That decision had far reaching consequences as it took six siege rolls for the fort to be taken. The Brits had planned out an offensive against Ft. Niagara but the delay at the Forks wrecked the timing and probably sealed the game for the French. Also important was the French play of Louisbourg Squadrons at the start of the turn. This allowed the withdrawal of the French garrison to reinforce Montcalm. After losing the Forks the French ended the turn up by three VPs.

Late 59
Amherst drove on Niagara from Albany while Forbes advanced up from the Forks. Montcalm threatened Amherst's flank while protecting the back door into Montreal. With time running out Amherst made it as far as Tegynagerunte, where his army was destroyed when Montcalm swung around the northern shore of Lake Ontario and attacked from Niagara. The final score was four VPs for the French.

Final Comments
This game was played very close to the vest with only two major battles; the two decisive attacks by Montcalm. The first battle, besides killing Wolfe (which was decisive in itself), gave the French the VP cushion that allowed them to abandon the Champlain Valley after heavy losses to battle, siege and disease. After that it became a game of maneuver. The epic siege of Ft. Duquesne may have decided the game. But the French main army was in good shape after being reinforced with the Louisbourg garrison, so it is not certain that the result would have been different had Forbes taken the Forks quickly. And while the French were the recipients of some lucky breaks, the Brits had several things go their way too; they got most of their reinforcements, and they were able to hit the main French army with Small Pox twice, killing many Indian units in the process. But as they say, it is better to be lucky than good, and against James you generally need all the luck the Wargame Gods are willing to grant you to stand any chance at all of winning!

Paul Gaberson vs Wayne Ratliff

Randall MacInnis vs Wayne Mucklow

 Play By Email 2012


GM Keith Wixson (the 2006 WBC Champ) bested a field of 50 players to win the 2012 Wilderness War PBeM Tournament, a seven round swiss-elimination format competition which began in February 2010. The #8 seed at the start of the tournament, Wixson ran the table, going 7-0 to win his first PBeM crown. He defeated Bob Jamelli, Henry Rice, Kevin Worth and Al Owen in the swiss rounds, Bill Peeck in the quarter-finals, Adam Deverell in the semi-finals and Owen again in the championship game. Also going undefeated in the preliminary rounds were John Buse (the #9 seed) and Stefan Mecay (the #10 seed). Worth, Owen, Peeck, Deverell and George Seary all advanced to the quarter-finals with one swiss loss on tiebreakers. Owen defeated Jason White, Tom Drueding and Paul Gaberson in the early rounds, Worth in the quarter-finals and Buse in the semi-finals. Buse defeated Deverell in the Consolation Match for third place honors. None of the top seven seeded players made it past the preliminary rounds, an indication of the number of very good players that participated.

The 96 games played broke down as follows: 57 French to 39 British wins for a 59% French win rate. As is usually the case in Wilderness War tournaments, however, the British win rate was much better in later rounds after many less experienced players departed the scene, and in the elimination rounds the Brits won five of the eight games. The Champ played and won as the Brits in all three elimination rounds.

The tournament went off without any significant problems and was completed in less than two years. Thanks to everybody who participated and thanks to Paul Gaberson for being the Assistant GM.

The tournament website is http://mysite.verizon.net/vze4bc94/index.html.

An AAR of the Championship Game follows:

French: Al Owen
British: Keith Wixson

Early 57

Events Played:
Campaign (French), Foul Weather (Brits), Campaign (Brits), Courier Intercepted (French - successful), British Regulars (Bradstreet drawn), Northern Indians (half roll, two units gained), Mohawks, Indians Desert (French), Militia x2 (French)

Raid Attempts: French were 0 for 2

VPs at Turn's End: FR4

The French attempted the standard Montcalm/Levis Campaign move against Ft. William Henry on the first card, but were delayed by bad weather. The Brits then followed up with their own Campaign to bring Abercromby and Webb up to defend the fort in force. The main French army settled in at Ticonderoga. After an early successful Courier Intercepted by the French (on top of the British use of a response card), the Brits were down several cards and had to plan for a possible French four-play at the end of the turn and start of the next turn. It appeared that the French were setting up a move against Albany or Boston with the windfall. Since they couldn't defend both spaces, the Brits concentrated on building up a force to defend Albany by scraping together a small army there under Bradstreet from what was not with Abercromby's main army. But the French ended the turn with two events and held a card, so nothing came of the threat. Interestingly, Levis finished the turn out west in the Pays d'en Haut after leading an unsuccessful raid.

Late 57

Events Played:
Ministerial Crisis (no effect), Militia (Brits - South), Rangers, Small Pox (Brits - full roll/2), Campaign x2 (Brits)

British Reinforcement Card Retrieved: No

Raid Attempts: French were 0 for 3

VPs at Turn's End: FR4

This was a relatively uneventful turn. The French concentrated on raiding, while the Brits spent most of their effort shifting Bradstreet to the West and setting up a move against Ft. Duquesne in 1758. With winter approaching, both main armies pulled back from the Champlain Valley, but both left strong garrisons behind in the forts. The deck was reshuffled at the end of the turn.

Early 58

Events Played:
Campaign x2 (French), French Regulars, Fieldworks (British), Northern Indians (half roll, two units gained), Francois Bigot

British Reinforcement Card Retrieved: No

Raid Attempts: French were 0 for 2

VPs at Turn's End: FR3

The Brits drew no 3 cards, so the main army at Albany under Abercromby was stuck. As the French consolidated it's main army for the push down the Champlain, the Brits scrambled to get Monckton to Albany from Halifax so they could react. Luckily, the Brits had planned well in the the previous turn and when the French push against the heavily garrisoned Ft. William Henry came, Johnson was already in position to intercept with a force from Ft. Edward. Johnson made the roll, threw up Fieldworks and won a major victory in the first real battle of the game. Montcalm and Rigaud were among the French casualties, leaving Vaudreuil in command of the French army. While the French reinforced and brought Levis back from Ft. Niagara to take command, Monckton took command of the main British army and brought it up from Albany. But with the danger of an ambush and the alarming lack of reinforcements in mind, Monckton was content to stay on the defense. The Brits spent the rest of the turn preparing for the move against Ft. Duquesne, while the French went into raid mode. At the end of the turn a small French force moved into Wood Creek and built a stockade in an attempt to threaten Monckton's rear. The British play of Bigot on its last card may have prevented a French attack there (the Brits had been down a card because of Fieldworks).

Late 58

Events Played:
Troop Transports (British), French Regulars

British Reinforcement Card Retrieved: No

Raid Attempts: French were 0 for 7

VPs at Turn's End: 0

Bradstreet's army finally made its move against Ohio Forks. The French garrison did not destroy Ft. Duquesne and retreat, but withdrew inside to defend the siege (sans Dumas, who stayed outside) . This may have been a mistake in a close game because the extra VP lost when Bradstreet took the fort on one roll came back to haunt the French at the end of the game. The British victory had a cost, however, as Dunbar was killed in the assault. His death crippled the British command structure in the West and effectively eliminated any further threat from Bradstreet. Bradstreet rebuilt the fort but never left the Forks again. The French concentrated heavily on raiding this turn with miserable success. With winter approaching, both main armies pulled back from the Champlain Valley, but this time the British left no garrisons behind and held their final card. The deck was reshuffled at the end of the turn.

Early 59

Events Played:
Campaign (French), Foul Weather (British), Courier Intercepted (British - successful), Light Infantry (Amherst drawn), British Regulars (Forbes drawn), Governor Vaudreuil

British Reinforcement Card Retrieved: No

Raid Attempts: French were 0 for 1

VPs at Turn's End: FR1

The French once again attempted a Campaign move against Ft. William Henry on the first card of the year, but were once again delayed by bad weather (the British hold card from the previous turn). Abercromby took command of the main British army and moved it up from Albany to defend. The British finally drew some reinforcement cards, and Amherst arrived and eventually made his way to Hudson Carry North to take over command of the main army himself. Johnson was sent to Charlestown with a small force to threaten the French rear after a successful British play of Courier Intercepted. The French were forced to use their final card of the turn (Fieldworks) to respond to the threat of a British double move by Johnson, when their preference was to hold the card. Following the play of Governor Vaudreuil to send Levis out west on an inspection tour, Amherst attacked the main French army under Drucour at Ticonderoga in only the second major battle of the game. The results of the Montcalm-Johnson battle of 57 were reversed even without the Fieldworks, however, as the Brits were repulsed with heavy losses and their commander killed.

Late 59

Events Played:
Large Highlanders (Wolfe and Murray drawn), Small Pox (British - full roll/5), Campaign (British), Surrender (British)

British Reinforcement Card Retrieved: No

Raid Attempts: French were 0 for 2

VPs at Game's End: BR1

The situation at the start of the final turn was favorable from the French standpoint. The Brits had to score a net of two VPs to win, and that didn't appear likely (and taking another victory space was just not feasible). The two French forts in the Champlain Valley were obvious targets, but if the French just destroyed the forts, pulled back the main army and scored a VP on a raid they would be tough to beat. Luckily for the Brits, however, the main French army under Drucour at Ticonderoga could not move because of command problems and Levis would have to make his way back East before it could. And while the main French army had been well reinforced from Europe and Louisbourg, battle losses, small pox (two outbreaks) and a lack of Indian support had taken its toll since the start of the game. The Brits were also lucky in drawing a very good hand.

The appearance of Wolfe and the Highlanders seemingly saved the day for the Brits. He was able to make his way to Hudson Carry North and take command before Levis could make it back to Ticonderoga, so when Wolfe led the main army forward Drucour had no choice but to stand and fight in front of Ft. Carillon. The Wargame Gods were not going to make it easy for the Brits, however, and Wolfe was repulsed with heavy losses in a battle he should have won. This brought VPs up to FR2 and allowed Levis to destroy Ft. Carillon when he arrived immediately thereafter (bringing VPs back down to FR1). The Brits were out of other options, and Wolfe advanced on Ticonderoga again. The French army was now down two columns on Wolfe, but with Levis back the command problems were resolved and this time the French evaded to Crown Point. An auxiliary screen left behind did not slow the now desperate British advance, and Wolfe continued on through the wilderness after the overrun, without pausing to build a stockade. A small force of Provincials was dropped off to protect the space. Neither side had a viable retreat from Crown Point, and now things got interesting as it became a game of maneuver and bluff. Levis evaded again, this time into Green Mountain Central, leaving behind Drucour and a small garrison at Ft. Saint Frederic to defend the siege, and on the next French play slid past Wolfe's flank and cut off his line of supply at Hudson Carry South. But the French had fallen into a trap and now it sprang shut! On a Campaign card Wolfe left behind a small force under Monckton to siege and marched back to HCS to clear out Levis, who had no choice but to evade to Wood Creek. Wolfe had to stop at HCS because he had no auxiliaries (the Rangers were with Johnson at Charlestown). With supplies now available, Monckton was able to initiate a siege of Ft. Saint Frederic on the second half of the Campaign and played Surrender to complete it without a roll, scoring two VPs. For the first time in the game the Brits took the lead.

The French had three cards remaining to get the VP back. Unfortunately they were all "1" cards. Bougainville took command of a portion of the main army and attacked the British Provincial force at Ticonderoga, destroying it (but not overrunning it). With Bougainville now in position to advance on Crown Point and retake Ft. Saint Frederic, Johnson advanced up the Connecticut River valley with his force and into the Green Mountains to threaten the French supply line. Realizing that Johnson would therefore be able to prevent a French siege of Ft. Saint Frederic on their final card, with two cards to play the French attempted a last raid at Trenton. It failed, and with no possibilities for attempting any other raids on the final French card, Al resigned. Had the French succeeded in raiding at the end, Johnson was poised to lead a Ranger raid on New France on the final British card play.

Final Comments

This was a very even game and was played very close to the vest by both players. The obvious keys to the British victory were (1) never losing Ft. William Henry, (2) killing Montcalm on the third turn, (3) scoring an extra VP at Ohio Forks when the French neglected to destroy the fort, and, perhaps most importantly, (4) the French going 0 for 17 on raids! Those four factors allowed the Brits to keep the game close even though they received very limited reinforcements until 1759. When Wolfe finally did arrive, the Brits were in a decent position to take the game with aggressive play. Al played very well and could have easily won with a little better luck. He was a well deserving runner-up.

 GM      Keith Wixson  [9th Year]   NA 
    Keith.wixson@verizon.net   NA

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