This year’s championship game had an Army/Navy theme as ex-paratrooper Keith Wixson faced off against retired submariner Dan Leader. Wixson vanquished the Squids to earn his fourth championship in the last 8 years. Along the way Wixson defeated Steve Dworschak in Round 1 and former 3 time champ Brian Mountford in Round 2, lost to Alex Nesenjuk in Round 3, and defeated former champ Michael Mitchell in Round 4. He advanced to the semifinals on tiebreakers where he defeated former 4 time champ George Young, who had also advanced on tiebreakers with a 3-1 record. Leader was also 3-1 entering the semifinals, defeating, in order, Mark Gutfreund, Derek Landel, and defending champ Bill Peeck, before losing to former 2 time champ James Pei in Round 4. Leader then bested the previously undefeated Pei in a rematch in the semifinals. Nesenjuk, Peeck and Randy Pippus all had 3-1 records after 4 rounds but had weaker tiebreakers than Wixson, Leader and Young. Young was the only returning laurelist from 2016.
For the second year in a row attendance was in the low 30’s, necessitating the cancellation of the traditional Round 4 byes for undefeated players as well as the quarterfinal round. This would appear to be the new normal for attendance, so next year I will accept reality and make the format change permanent. The Thursday night demo was poorly attended with only 3 attendees, none of whom showed up for the tournament. There was only 1 new player at the tournament this year. I plan to return as GM in 2018 and to schedule the tournament in its traditional Saturday slot, but I may change it from a Class B event to a Class A event since the quest for new players has been so unsuccessful in recent years.
Not counting one teaching game in Round 1, out of 45 total games played the Brits won only 8 games, 18%, with only 3 wins after Round 1 and none in the elimination rounds. That is a rather surprisingly poor showing by the Brits compared to the results from the previous 3 years, as the Brits won a slight majority of the games in each year. I really don’t know what to make of this and I personally feel that the game is well balanced. Admittedly, the Brits are much harder to play. It should be noted that 5 of the 8 British wins were by the laurelists, which is an indication that skill and experience count a lot when playing the Brits. In any case, it is hopefully a one year aberration and since everyone is required to play both sides any possible imbalance affects everybody equally. I will continue to monitor play balance in the future as I always have.
Here is a short report of the championship game between Keith Wixson’s Americans and Dan Leader’s Brits.
1775 – It was a very good start for the Brits as they were able to lay down quite a few PCs in the South while the Americans struggled with a poor hand. At the end of the turn an army under Cornwallis landed at Norfolk and defeated a small American army at Baltimore when its commander, Arnold, switched sides. Cornwallis then drove back a counterattack from Delaware by Washington’s Continental Army.
1776 – On the first British action, Cornwallis swung around into Pennsylvania in an attempt to disburse the Continental Congress in Philadelphia via Reading. Washington intercepted from Delaware and beat him back, saving the Congress. Washington then counterattacked and pushed Cornwallis out of Reading. The Brits landed Clinton and a large force of reinforcements at Baltimore while a new American army under Gates was raised in Delaware. Cornwallis abandoned Pennsylvania and swung back through Maryland, taking troops from Clinton, to hit Gates but lost his third battle of the year and was displaced in the retreat. Another new American army under Lee was raised in western Virginia. On the final card play of the year the Americans used a Major Campaign to set up three different British PC isolations in the West. Philadelphia was left exposed, however.
1777 – On the first British action, Clinton marched out of Maryland to disperse the Congress at Philadelphia and then backtracked into Delaware. Unfortunately for the Brits, this did not have the desired effect as the Americans immediately declared independence and put down 9 PC markers. Coming after the PC isolations of the prior turn, this essentially spelled defeat for the Southern Strategy that the Brits had pursued since the start of the game. All that was left for the Crown in the South were a few ports. This was confirmed when Washington attacked Clinton in Delaware and won the battle despite a -3drm on the attack. With British fortunes in the South and Mid-Atlantic so bleak, Clinton retreated by sea to Boston.
1778 – With the Congress moving to Bassettown, the Americans were forced to go first. Not much happened, however, as an indecisive back and forth struggle for New England began. The Brits did attempt to salvage something in the South by landing an army under Burgoyne at St. Mary’s and then taking Savannah. The Franklin card was played, pushing the French entry track to 8.
1779 – The struggle for New England continued, which was conducted in guerilla fashion by the Americans under Greene. Washington spent the entire 78-79 period in Delaware, not willing to risk encirclement in the North. Burgoyne took Charleston and the Americans formed a couple of small armies in the South to contain him.
1780 – A small force under Lincoln took Savannah, securing Georgia for the Americans. The Brits finally secured New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, capturing Greene, but the American delaying strategy had been effective in slowing them down. On the Brits’ final card play an army under Howe took New Haven, threatening to secure Connecticut. Washington finally sprang into action and pushed Howe back with a Winter Offensive. The American victory caused the immediate French entry into the war and Rochambeau landed at New York City. The Continental Army did suffer winter attrition, however.
1781 – The 81 War Ends card was in effect from the previous turn and the 82 and 83 cards were in the discard pile, so the game would end this turn. Cornwallis counterattacked at New Haven, pushing the Continental Army out and securing Connecticut for the Crown. Greene and 3 CUs reinforced the Americans at Savannah, ending any threat of Burgoyne taking Georgia back. The Brits needed one more colony to add to Canada and the 4 New England colonies, but were hampered by mediocre cards. Carleton invaded New York from Canada toward that end, but the British effort came up short when Keith played the Western Offensive event and caused Dan to discard a 3 card. With the last 2 card plays of the game the Americans were easily able to secure New York and Keith won 9 colonies to 5.