Attendance at WBC overall may have been down, but the two year absence must have made everyone’s hearts grow fonder for Battle Line, as a record crowd showed up at the Seasons room to participate in the tournament. Thanks to everyone who continually support this event with your trial votes- maybe this year our attendance was high enough that we will make the Century, and some other game can get those votes instead.
Some rust was evident after our long hiatus, especially among your GM staff. I was asked in a busy moment a question like "You can't traitor environment cards like Fog, right?" The correct answer should be "I deny the premise of your question, you can't traitor ANY tactics card", but my rustiness and the stress of the moment led to us implying that you could traitor other tactics cards like the leaders which led to a bunch of weird follow-up questions that we tried to answer in weird ways. I even remember thinking "Boy, I've run this for years and years, and never had these questions before!" Which, of course, was they were based on a faulty premise.
So, to be clear: YOU CAN NOT TRAITOR ANY TACTICS CARD. I blame the pandemic. And myself. But mostly the pandemic. I am sorry for any confusion that resulted from our mistake. We will do better next year.
Rust was also evident in the actual games as well, with several people being overheard making statements like “I haven’t played this for three years”. Your GM was one of those people, and for the first time in quite a while, failed to advance from his pod, losing both to Barrington Beavis and to Ryan Romanik. Both played very well-especially Ryan who won all three games in the pod via breakthrough- so maybe the rust wasn’t the main factor. Assistant GM Bruce Reiff managed to advance from his pod (beating 2019 runner up Richard Irving along the way), but lost in his first round of the bracket to John Corrado, earning John the “everyone in the Battle Line Tournament thanks you” award.
Other players to advance from their pods were: Joe Mach, Pascale Lafreniere, Nate Heiss, David Schneider, Blair Morgen, Karl Bodenheimer, Chris Kalmbacher, Rob Schneeberger, Jim Bodenheimer, Mark Love, Christopher Yaure, Peter Staab, Adam Hurd, Jeff Cornett, and Zacary Morris. Karl’s pod was particularly interesting, as he was played into a pod of just 3 people with Michael Sosa and Sam Wolff. All three of the players went 1-1, and all of the games in the pod were won by breakthrough. This meant that all of our listed tiebreakers could not resolve the situation and we had to randomly choose Karl as the winner. We are sorry it had to come to that, but it looked to be a very well-fought and evenly matched set of games.
The winners of the pods faced off in our single-elimination bracket. With 18 winners, 4 people who went 2-1 in their pod faced each other in “play-in” games to get the bracket down to 16. Chris Kalmbacher played John Corrado, with John winning, and Karl Bodenheimer played Blair Morgen, with Blair winning.
In the round of 16, John eliminated Bruce, Joe advanced over Rob, David Schneider beat Zacary, Nate won over Mark, Jeff advanced over Adam, Pascale defeated Chris Yaure, and Blair eliminated 2001 champion Pete Staab. None of the remaining eight players had ever won this event before, meaning we would be crowning a new champion at the end of the night.
In our Quarterfinal round, John could not ride the wave of his victory over Bruce, losing to Joe. David prevailed over Zach, Nate beat Jeff, and Blair advanced over Pascale. In the semifinals, both Joe and Blair advanced to play in the championship game.
In the final, Joe took an early tempo lead, creating a straight flush in a column Blair could only get two cards into before the column was claimed. Joe won another flag with a 9-8-7 straight flush in blue against Blair’s 9-8 of orange by drawing and playing both the orange 10 and the orange 7. Blair did come back with some straight flushes of his own, but as the game wound down, Blair found himself forced to play cards he would not want to play in columns where he would have to settle for lower-quality formations, and Joe was able to seal the victory. Congratulations!
An interesting aspect of the final game was that neither player drew tactics cards until very near the end of the game. I’ve seen several schools of thought about tactics cards: some people never draw them, some people like to draw them early to have options, some people only draw them when they are “in trouble”, and some people only draw them in response to an opponent’s draw. I’ve enjoyed seeing the different approaches to this decision in games across the years. I’m not sure which decision is the best, though my advice to players would be whatever your plan is, make sure you have a plan. It’s important to be ready with an idea of how you will approach the game before you start it.
Thanks to everyone for coming, and we will see you next year!