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Mr. Madison's War (MMW) WBC 2018 Event Report
Updated November 12, 2018
18 Players Chris Trimmer 2018 Status 2019 Status Event History
  2017-18 Champion   & Laurels

The Field Gets “Trimmed” Again

A field of seventeen fought the War of 1812 this year and after the final Treaty of Ghent was played Chris Trimmer had defeated Dick Boyes in a close Final to repeat as Champion.

There were two changes of note this year. The first was the possibility of putting players “on the clock” for slow play. While the GM received no complaints of slow play there were several games where players were given time warnings with 30 and 15 minutes remaining. Regardless of why, this was the first year in which there were no games that required adjudication, which was a great result as nobody wants to truncate a game and adjudicate when both players probably have chances at victory. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue next year.

The second change was the requirement for players to bid VPs in order to get their choice of side. As was expected, everyone who won the bidding chose to play the British. As you can see from Table 1 below the Mulligan Round was the closest round for bidding, with five of the eight games being bid for three times (including bids of “0”, “1” and “2”) before going to a die roll to determine who won the bid. Oddly, there were no other bids tied for the rest of the tournament, so perhaps players solidified in their minds what they thought a good bid looked like after that. Also of interest is the fact that winning the bid and getting your side did not necessarily translate into winning the game, with the person winning the bid losing six of thirteen games, or 46% of the time.

Table 1. Mr. Madison's War Bidding and Wins
Round Bids Win Bid Win
Game Y/N
Remarks Wins
  0 1 2 3 4 5 3-Bid tie
w/Die Roll
Yes No   AM BR
Mulligan * *2 * 1 - - 5 1 2 *Tied bids were
0(3), 1(1)
and 2(2)
3 5
Round 1 - 1 2 - - - - 3 0   1 2
Round 2 - - 2 2 - - - 2 2   2 2
SF - - 2 - - - - 1 1   1 1
Final - - - - 1 - - 0 1   1 0
Total 3 4 8 3 1 0 5 7 6 Tied bids
reflected in
8 10


One item of note: This was the first year where there were no victories that ended in a tie, which is treated as a British victory.

We got started in what has become the standard slot for Mr. Madison’s War with the Demo on Tuesday, conducted at 1600 this year. Gilbert Collins does an excellent job of explaining the game to new players; his love for the game he designed, as well as his depth and breadth of knowledge on the topic come shining through during every demo. Shortly after the demo concluded sixteen players found their way to the Festival hall for the Mulligan Round. This year’s Mulligan round seemed to produce games that were either close or big wins. Two of the biggest wins, won by twenty point margins, were from games where the bid was tied (bids of zero and one). Winners in this round were Fred Finkenbinder, Larry Sisson, Bill Kelley, Ron Fedin, Gilbert Collins, Randy Pippus, Dave Stiffler, and Bruno Sinigaglio, all of whom moved on directly to Round Two.

Round One produced three games as several people who had lost in the Mulligan Round returned for a second chance to move on, and eventual winner Chris Trimmer made his official entrance into the tournament. This round was also the only round where all of the players who won their bids also won their games. One game was over in 1812 as the Americans lost Sackets Harbour (not unusual) and Dearborn’s army was surrounded and virtually guaranteed to be annihilated in 1813 (very unusual). Winning through to Round 2 were Chris Trimmer, Michael Mitchell, and Dick Boyes.

Heading into Round Two the field stood at nine players as several winners in the Mulligan and Round One could not continue as they had other commitments. The odd number of players would have produced two byes, including someone getting a bye into the semi-finals and having to carry forward a losing player. In the end the GM (also the highest rated player and two-time past champion) decided it was far easier and cleaner to drop from the tournament, which allowed even pairings in Round 2 followed by the Semi-final and Final. Round Two was very even, with two American and two British wins, and also saw wins split between players who won and lost the bid for sides. The competition was definitely at a high level, with half of the remaining field being past champions or players who reached the Semi-final or Final in past years. Only one of these games ended in the first half of 1814 when Bill Kelley’s Americans conceded to Ron Fedin’s British. This round also saw the most VPs ever scored by a single player, as Dick Boyes played eight event cards for sixteen VPs! Those moving on to the Semi-finals were Gilbert Collins, Dick Boyes, Chris Trimmer, and Ron Fedin.

The Semi-finals produced one American and one British win. In Semi-final #1, Gilbert Collins’ Americans faced Chris Trimmer’s British. Chris won the bidding at 2 VPs, and by the second half of 1814 had built such a commanding lead that Gilbert saw the writing on the wall and handed his sword to Chris in surrender. In Semi-final #2 Dick Boyes’ Americans battled against Ron Fedin’s British, with Ron also bidding 2 VPs to play the British. Dick had built a significant lead, so much so he could afford the VP losses and played the Treaty of Ghent as his first card play in the last half of 1814 to take a one VP win.

And thus the Final was set, pitting the 2017 Champion Chris Trimmer against Dick Boyes, who is no slouch in his own right. Up to this point Chris held the distinction of never having played the American side in either 2017 or this year’s tournament. This year he had successfully bid for the British in every round (bidding 2 VP in each case). And so the question was, would he win the bid in the final, where he surely would bid for the British again? Dick Boyes came to the Final with three American wins; would he stick with them, or try for the British? The bidding only lasted one round, as Dick bid 4 VPs to Chris’ 3 VPs, and Dick chose to play the British.

Final: 1812, Pre-war Phase:
The Pre-war Phase saw a lot of activity with the British starting things off by moving Prevost and a large force to Long Sault. Knowing this could telegraph a move on Sackets Harbour Chris’ Americans counter by moving Dearborn and his army to Sackets (The Americans are fortunate to have a “3” card this soon). Knowing the biggest threat to the British is their supply line Prevost dropped units at obvious invasion points on the St. Lawrence and instead of stopping in Kingston, runs units half way down Lake Ontario to River Rouge. This turned out to be the rare game where the Declaration of War card was the last card drawn in the Pre-war Phase.

Final: 1812, 1st Half:
The American player began by moving the N.Y. Militia from Plattsburg to Ogdensburg using an Extended March card, as it’s an 8 MP move with a base Movement of 6MPs). Chris likely made this move to make it more difficult for the British to try and take it – if the British control Sackets Harbour, Ogdensburg or Oswego at the end of the 1st half of 1812 the vessels being constructed there (two at each space) are destroyed and can never enter the game. With Dearborn’s army in Sackets Harbour the entire eastern theater is now wide open, with no American forces from Plattsburg all the way south to Albany!

Rottenburg takes advantage of that by first gathering a force at Ile aux Noix and then taking Plattsburg (at 4 VPs the Americans have now recouped their opening bid). The Americans, clearly trying not to be conventional, move Hull’s army from Maumeee Rapids east to Cleveland, possibly heading to the Niagara front.

The British played “Tecumseh Attacks Supply Lines” card for 2 VPs and moves Tecumseh and his Indians to Brownstown. The Indians, when defending alone in a forest space, can be very powerful, especially in the western theater where most of their opponents are C class units. They definitely cannot be taken lightly.

In the first battle of the game Brock Rolls up Lewiston for 2 VP and Chris counters by playing an Event Card for 2 VPs. Unless the British hold the “Death of Brock” card they can never be sure in either hand of 1812 if the American player has it. If so, Brock dies in that combat and is flipped to his reverse side with leader “Sheafe”, who as a +1 leader is not a bad replacement, but Brock’s +2 modifier is really needed as the game goes on.

The British take a few moves to improve their position on the Champlain front, moving south, and also cross the St. Lawrence to take Hamilton’s. The first big battle happens with Hull’s army moves to Lewiston and Chris plays a Battle Card to get a +1 modifier, but the result is “AR1”, retreating the Americans to Buffalo and inflicting a step loss on them, ending the first half of 1812 with the score British 10 VPs / American 6 VPs.

Final: 1812, 2nd Half:
At the beginning of this turn the Americans were in good shape, getting all 6 vessels onto the board at Sackets (also including the Forsyth’s Rifles unit), Ogdensburg, and Oswego.

There was a lot of activity in this turn, including a British move to Ogdensburg that put an American force at Hamilton’s out of supply. The Americans countered by moving to Prescott with a force and their entire fleet, putting all British units to the west out of supply. The British can’t afford to have the bulk of their force out of supply, and counterattack on the next move to clear their lines.

At the end of the turn, and just before winter, the British send one ship each onto Lakes Erie and Ontario, snagging 4 VPs in the process. During the winter turn the British play an event card for 2 VP (you can only play held cards designated as “Winter” events during winter turns). At the end of 1812 the score was British 17 VPs / American 10 VPs.

Final: 1813, 1st Half:
Again, a lot going on here and not enough details to do it justice. Here are some highlights from 1813:

  • The Americans take Lake Ontario and also invade York.
  • The British use the Laura Secord card to reinforce Ft. Erie and play an Inspired Leadership card to repulse an American attack!
  • The Americans take Prescott and the British counterattack to re-open supply lines. American attacks on the British supply line get more worrisome for the British as the game goes on, especially if units are not close by to repel American forces.
  • At the end of the first half of the year the Americans have three card plays unopposed!
  • They attack Kingston at +1, but get a modified “9” for the dreaded “Defender Retreats (unless in Fort space); end Combat” result! Could this be a turning point in the game?
  • At the end of the first half of 1813 the score was British 21 VPs / American 12 VPs.

Final: 1813, 2nd Half:

  • The Americans attack Kingston at 1:2 odds with negative modifiers and win the combat!
  • The Americans also attack Ft. Erie at +1, but roll a net “4”, retreating and taking a step loss.
  • Hull was busy, liberating Lewiston, capturing Queenston, and taking Ft. Erie on a second attempt.
  • Apparently at this point there was a wave of smallpox sweeping through the ranks of the reporters, as the points above were the only reports to get off the field and into the papers.
  • There were several Depots (at least one on each side) placed before winter, but nobody can remember exactly how many or where they were placed (Depots can only be created in spaces in friendly territory, and cannot be created in spaces that have been captured).
  • Speaking of Depots, the Americans rolled back many of the British gains in the west, eventually winding up in Detroit for the winter.
  • At the end of the year the score was tied at British 22 VPs / American 22 VPs!

Final: 1814, 1st Half:

  • The British retake Kingston on a “10” result, causing the Americans to retreat and take a step loss.
  • In this half of 1814 the Americans get Gen Scott as a reinforcement. Scott is a +2 leader, and really gives the American army some much needed punching power for the last year of the war.
  • The Americans put Scott to work immediately, moving on and taking Ft. George.
  • Brock then moves from the Niagara front, heading east, and after gathering a force moves south to attack Sackets Harbour. The British flag is raised over Sackets, but not until after five rounds of combat are fought – this was a long and bloody affair on both sides! With both Sackets Harbour and Kingston changing hand there are several big swings in VPs (both locations are 8 VPs each), so the action is wild and wooly.
  • At the end of this half of 1813 another bold move against British supply lines as Scott embarks with Chauncey and the fleet, invading and taking the fort at Prescott again!
  • At the end of the first half of 1813 it’s neck and neck with British 30 VPs / American 28 VPs.

Final: 1814, 2nd Half:

  • The action shifts to the Champlain front, with Prevost moving down the lake until he suffers an “AR” (Attacker Retreat) at Ticonderoga.
  • Another daring American attack as Scott and the fleet depart Prescott (leaving only a small force behind), make an amphibious assault on Sackets Harbour, and retake it! Scott and his +2 along with A class units are having a great affect for the Americans.
  • While things had been quiet on the lakes themselves suddenly there were two decisive actions on the lakes within a few card plays of each other, both favoring the American player, causing another huge swing in VPs (a 4 point swing for each lake, for a net 8 VP change after these battles!):
    • In what was described by the finalists as an “Epic” battle on Lake Huron the entire British fleet struck its colors!
    • Not to be outdone, Chauncey then led the American fleet to glory on Lake Ontario, destroying the British fleet there after Yeo had taken a small fleet onto the lake to temporarily control it.
  • Brock re-takes Prescott.
  • With Brock on the move the Americans play the Treaty of Ghent to end the game before the British can take the lead back.

The final score, British 26 VPs / American 28 VPs, and Chris Trimmer is the 2018 Champion, and the second person to get back-to-back titles!

This was yet another fantastic Final, and a great end to the tournament. I’d like to thank everyone who decided to dedicate a portion of their WBC to playing in the Mr. Madison’s War Tournament – it is a real pleasure running this event!

This year we again game out some awesome additional prizes. Gilbert Collins donated two beautiful War of 1812 paintings for 1st and 2nd place, 3rd place got a MMW mounted map, and we gave 4th - 8th book prizes.

2018 Laurelists Repeating Laurelists: 3
Dick Boyes Gilbert Collins Ron Fedin Fred Finkenbinder Michael Mitchell
2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th

Enjoying a game of Mr. Madison's War.

The British on the move.

Finalists with GM David Stiffler.
GM  David Stiffler [6th Year]  NA
 stiff11949@aol.com  NA