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Great Western Trail (GWT) WBC 2019 Event Report
Updated November 11, 2019.
 
89 Players Eugene Yee 2019 Status 2020 Status Event History
  2019 Champion   & Laurels
 

Giddy-Up! Saccenti Family Leads The Way West

July 2019 saw the return of Great Western Trail at the World Boardgaming Championships in Seven Springs, PA after its big debut the previous year. Eighty-nine unique players competed over the course of a week in a total of 42 games.

We had again a good mix of experience in the tourney, as any successful event at WBC ought to. I had about a dozen players attend the Demo early in the week, and many of those who learned the game there had a go in the competition. The game continues to get good play in the open gaming area as well. There were a good number of our 89 players who were more on the casual level, and then I would say a couple dozen players who really had a lot of plays logged in the game.

I continue to collect data on games, with special attention paid to whether, and how much, there is any advantage to turn order in the game. For now, we will continue on with playing by the original rules for the heats, but permitting bidding for turn order in the semis and final, to accommodate players who feel there is an imbalance.

I'm also interested in the data with regard to winning strategies. This year more than last, we saw more attempts at the Builder strategy, since that was doing so well. With more attempts came more success, and so Builder had a mild but measurable lead in the "heat wins." Train nudged out Cowboys for second-best this year, which surprised me. I may have to rethink some of my own assumptions!

We cut to the Top 16 players for the Semifinal, leading into a four-player Final. There was bidding for turn order (in both the Semifinals and the Final). I'll mention that one of the Semifinal games came down to a tie, with a single leftover dollar deciding the game. Dalton Versack had the narrow loss in that one, but the good news for him was that Great Western had five plaques this year, so he got one of those pretty-rare white trophies for his wall. Ask him next year whether he'd rather have just had the extra leftover dollar.

We recorded the video of the Final with an overhead camera, and then supplied a voice-over commentary for the entire game. Here is the direct link to it on YouTube if you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLdT5SXoiW4.

Some additional notes on the Final; the competitors were Brandon Buchanan, Dan Smith, Eugene Yee and Randy Buehler. Dan bid six points to go first, and played Builder. Eugene went second for just one point (the table really hosed Dan on the bid!), and played a hybrid Builder/Train game. Brandon and Randy went third/fourth for no points, and both played Cows.

It was a very high-toll, low-money game, a real grind--especially at the start of the rondel, where again and again, Randy and Brandon were drained of money by their opponents taxers and/or the hazards. Eugene played a very unusual game, spending more than the first half of the game making defensive plays to thwart his opponents. It was quite a thing, and I encourage you do watch the video if you are interested, because his play was certainly non-traditional, at least early-on.

And it worked. By mid-game, with his opponents hamstrung at key early moments, Eugene was able to concentrate on his own play, and shifted masterfully from a Builder game into Trains. He managed to ring the bell despite a slow start on the track, and the absence of 8b/10b (which is the usual path for a Builder to the bell). Dan Smith recovered from his slow start and made a real run at the very end, including some really quite brilliant final moves...but the game ended just a bit before he could get on top. Randy and Brandon struggled since they were fighting each other over the Cow path, and the game just wasn't lending itself to two players pursuing that strategy.

 
2019 Laurelists Repeating Laurelists: 2

Daniel Smith Randy Buehler Brandon Buchanan Dalton Versak Scott Saccenti
2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
 
Matt Calkins heading west. Making her way to Kansas City.
Erik Engelmann exploring the trail west. Great Western Trail.

 

 

 
GM   Scott Saccenti [2nd Year]   NA
    NA   NA