Tuesday, July 21, 2009

WBC 2008 -> Recap

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
PR Finals

Just a brief rundown of the games I managed to play from Tuesday evening until Sunday at noon:

El Grande – 1
Medici – 1
Vegas Showdown – 1
Ming Dynasty – 1
Titan 2-player – 3
Titan 4-player – 1
Can’t Stop – 2
Nefertiti – 1
Quo Vadis – 1
Race for the Galaxy – 2
Ra – 1
Monsters Ravage America – 1
Queen’s Gambit – 5
Wits & Wagers – 1
Liar’s Dice – 1
Imperial – 1
Puerto Rico – 4
Agricola - 1
Notre Dame – 3

A total of 32 games played, and 19 different games. Two event wins and two other top 6 finishes. Overall, an excellent week and I can’t wait until 2009’s WBC! It turns out I came 3rd in the 'Consul' standings which is basically a way to quantify how well people did in events that year. My goal for next year is to improve on that!

WBC 2008 -> Puerto Rico Finals Recap

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
PR Finals

Hopefully the formatting works out here, stuff in italics will be from the log I was sent, stuff in normal font will be my comments.

Matt bids .5 for seat 3, Chris bids .5 for seat 4

As mentioned in the earlier recaps, Robb had convinced me the best plan was to try to sit to the right of the ‘best’ player. I didn’t recognize any of the people in the finals (well, I knew John as the GM for PR and Vegas, but I didn’t know anything about PR skill) but there was a former champion in the field. I decided to try to sit to Chris’ right if I could, but not to veer too far from my standard strategy of trying to get the best seat for the right cost. I decided to bid 1 for seat 3. (Optimal as if no other bidding happens I sit to Chris’ right and have the best seat cheap.)

John bids 1.5 for seat 3, Matt bids 0 for seat 1

I think seat 3 is better than seat 4, but I don’t think it’s a full point better. I certainly couldn’t risk that John would take seat 2 leaving me paying a point and a half more than Chris was for corn. I bid 1 on seat 4.

Chris bids 1.5 for seat 4

Well, that’s that then. I can now abort to indigo or jump to 2 for either corn seat. I hate indigo, and as a bonus it’s very unlikely anyone is outbidding Chris so I bid 2 on seat 3.

John bids .5 for seat 1, Matt bids 0 for seat 2

Initial plantation draw: corn, sugar, sugar, tobacco, coffee

TURN ONE. John is Governor.
1. John selects Builder. John builds a Construction Hut for 1. Matt builds a Small Market for 1. Nick builds a Small Market for 1. Chris builds a Small Sugar Mill for 2..
2. Matt selects Setter. Matt selects a quarry. Nick selects a corn. Chris selects a sugar. John selects a coffee. Discards: 1 sugar, 1 tobacco.
New plantation draw: 1 corn, 1 indigo, 1 sugar, 1 tobacco, 1 coffee.
3. Nick selects Mayor. Distribution is 2/1/1/1. Nick places colonists on both corn. Chris places on corn. John places on Construction Hut. Matti places on quarry. 4 colonists on Ship.
4. Chris selects Craftsman. Chris produces 1 corn. Nick produces 2 corn. Chris produces 1 corn (extra).

I sent the raw replay file to Sky as soon as I got it and his comment was something along the lines of disbelief at turn 1 chut. I’ve spent some time thinking about it and it seems like it works out only if player 2 mayors for you. I guess he was happy with any of the settler draws but it still seems like it’s setting yourself back to do so. I built the obvious small market on the builder phase because it’s a 1->1 buck to point conversion and tends to return back much more than you spend on it. On the settler I took corn because I think it’s just the best thing for anything but a hardcore selling/building plan. Mayoring on my turn was also obvious, I had 3 good things to turn on so I need guys and it seemed to be worth more than just 1 from prospector. My experience has always had people spite the early trader so I manned both corn. Chris ended up crafting on turn 1 which was great for me, we both ended up with 2 corn but I would get to pick a job first.

END OF TURN ONE: Doubloons on Prospector, Captain, Trader.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 0 1 1 $2
Matt 0 1 1 $2
Nick 0 1 1 $2 2 C
Chris 0 1 1 $1 2 C

Trading House: Empty
Boats: All empty

TURN TWO. Matt is Governor.
1. Matt selects Prospector (1).
2. Nick selects Captain (1). Nick ships 2 corn on 7 ship for 3 VPs. Chris ships 2 corn for 2 VPs.
3. Chris selects Mayor. Distribution is 2/1/1/1. Chris places on sugar and Small Sugar Mill, all circles covered. John places on indigo. Matt places on Small Market. Nick places on Small Market, all circles covered. 4 colonists on ship.
4. John selects Builder. John builds a Small Indigo for 0. Matt builds a Small Indigo for 0. Nick builds a Small Sugar for 2. Chris passes.

After Matt takes his 2 bucks I’m left with the choice of selling a corn with my market unmanned for a total of 2 dollars and 1 point or shipping for 1 dollar and 3 points. I’ll trade 1 buck for 2 VPs any day, so I captained. If I’d known the picks were going to go craft->prospect I may well have manned my market last turn, but then I may have gotten spited anyway and this was a great outcome. Chris then mayored to turn on his sugar so I manned my market. I’m not sure why I built the sugar mill here. The flop was full rainbow so I had a shot at sugar but it was by no means guaranteed. I was sitting before the only sugar player and had only 3 bucks so I had no other good builds and I will eventually want a sugar anyway.

END OF TURN TWO: Doubloons on Craftsman, Settler, Trader (1).
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 0 2 2 $2
Matt 0 2 2 $4
Nick 3 2 5 $1
Chris 2 1 3 $1

Trading House: Empty
Boats: 4 corn on 7 ship.

TURN THREE. Nick is Governor.
1. Nick selects Trader (2). No one can trade..
2. Chris selects Craftsman (1). Chris produces one corn and one sugar. Nick produces 2 corn. Chris produces an extra corn.
3. John selects Prospector.
4. Matt selects Settler (1). Matt takes a tobacco. Nick takes a sugar. Chris takes a corn. John takes a quarry. Discards: one tobacco, one coffee.
New draw: 1 corn, 1 indigo, 2 tobacco, 1 coffee.

I can’t turn down 2 free bucks. Matt settled for tobacco which seems a little out of place but it did get him to 5 bucks so he could buy tobacco next turn and the fact it was the only one in the flop does mean he was going to be solo-bacco for a while. I scooped up the very sugar I was looking for and Chris grabbed corn putting us in very similar board positions but with me being up 2 points and a buck to his sugar.

END OF TURN THREE: Doubloons on Builder, Captain, Mayor.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 0 2 2 $3
Matt 0 2 2 $5
Nick 3 2 5 $3 2 C
Chris 2 1 3 $2 2 C, 1 S

Trading House: Empty
Boats: 4 corn on 7 ship.

TURN FOUR. Chris is Governor.
1. Chris selects Captain (1). Chris ships 2 corn for 3 VP. Nick ships 1 corn for 1 VP (corn boat full). Chris ships 1 sugar on 6 ship for 1 VP. Corn boat clears. Raphael passes.
2. John selects Mayor (1). Distribution is 2/1/1/1. John places colonists on Small Indigo and quarry. Matt places on Small Indigo and indigo, takes off quarry. Nick places on sugar and Small Sugar, takes off corn. Chris places on corn, all circles covered. 4 colonists on ship.
3. Matt selects Builder (1). Matt builds Tobacco Storage for 4. Nick passes. Chris passes. John builds Tobacco Storage for 4.
4. Nick selects Craftsman. Nick produces one corn and one sugar. Chris produces 2 corn and one sugar. John produces one indigo. Matt produces one indigo. Nick selects a sugar (extra). .

I expected Chris to sell sugar here for 3, but he decided to give up 2 bucks for 2 points which is certainly reasonable. Manning my sugar for my corn is a no-brainer. I still only have 3 dollars so I pass the build phase. (I could build indigo I guess, but I can do that later and I might hit harbour money soon.) My choice is to sell corn for 2 or to craft with a guaranteed sugar sell next turn unless someone spite-captains, in which case I still score a bunch of points. Getting the craft in before the tobacco gets manned also seems important, so I went that route.

END OF TURN FOUR: Doubloons on Settler, Trader, Prospector.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 0 5 5 $0 1 I
Matt 0 5 5 $2 1 I
Nick 4 2 6 $3 2 C, 2 S
Chris 6 1 7 $3 2 C, 1 S

Trading House: Empty
Boats: 1 sugar on 6 ship.

TURN FIVE. John is Governor.
1. John selects Trader (1). John trades indigo for 2. Matt cannot trade. Nick trades sugar for 3. Chris passes.
2. Matt selects Settler. Matt selects a quarry. Nick selects a corn. Chris selects a coffee. John selects a tobacco. Discardsa; Indigo, tobacco.
New draw: 2 sugar, 2 tobacco, 1 coffee.
3. Nick selects Prospector (1).
4. Chris selects Craftsman. Chris produces 2 corn and 1 sugar. John produces 1 indigo. Matt produces 1 indigo. Nick produces 1 corn and 1 sugar. Chris produces 1 sugar (extra).

John sells so I scoop up 3 bucks on not my turn which is pretty hot. I was looking like a hardcore shipping strategy at this point so I drafted another corn instead of grabbing a coffee for future bucks. I prospected to get up to the magical 8 for a harbour, and Chris crafted. I really didn’t expect this, I figured he would ship, but he made 4 goods to my 2 so it was pretty ok I think. (Also, tobacco still wasn’t manned!)

END OF TURN FIVE: Doubloons on Builder, Captain and Mayor.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 0 5 5 $3 1 I
Matt 0 5 5 $3 2 I
Nick 4 2 6 $9 3 C, 2 S
Chris 6 1 7 $3 4 C, 3 S

Trading House: 1 sugar, 1 indigo.
Boats: 1 sugar on 6 ship.

TURN SIX. Matt is Governor.
1. Matt selects Mayor (1). Distribution is 2/1/1/1. Matt places on tobacco and Tobacco Storage, moves from Small Market to quarry. Nick places on corn. Chris places on coffee (all circles covered). John moves from Construction Hut, places on tobacco and Tobacco storage. 6 coloncists on ship.
2. Nick selects Captain (1). Nick ships 3 corn on 5 ship for 4 VP. Chris ships 3 sugar for 3 VP. John ships 1 indigo on 7 ship for 1 VP. Matt ships 2 indigop for 1 VP. Nick ships 2 sugar for 2 VP (filling ship). Chris ships 2 corn for 2 VP (filling ship). Warehousing: Chris loses 1 corn. Corn and sugar ships clear..
3. Chris selects Settler. Chris takes a quarry. John takes a sugar. Matt takes a coffee. Nick takes a tobacco. Discards: 1 sugar, 1 tobacco.
New draw: 1corn, 2 indigo, 1 sugar, 1 coffee.
4. John selects Builder (1). John builds Coffee Roaster for 4. Matt builds Office for 4. Nick builds Harbor for 8. Chris builds Small Warehouse for 3.

Matt finally turns on his tobacco. I grab the captain to scoop up the buck on it and extra points. (Chris would ship if I didn’t, so I wasn’t going to get a manned harbour going yet.) I also forced Chris to rot a corn, making him pay for crafting last turn. Chris later said he called the settler this turn because I was mimicking him to his right. I was going to dominate him with the same strategy so he figured he had to switch gears and hope that would work. I took tobacco over a redundant sugar. I considered building tobacco here, but harbour is just that good. (Also, righty has tobacco so it’s not really a money good for me.)

END OF TURN SIX: Doubloons on Craftsman, Trader and Prospector.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 1 8 9 $0
Matt 2 7 9 $0
Nick 10 5 15 $2
Chris 11 2 13 $0 1 C

Trading House: 1 sugar, 1 indigo.
Boats: 3 indigo on 7 ship.

TURN SEVEN. Nick is Governor.
1. Nick selects Prospector (1).
2. Chris selects Settler. Chris takes a quarry. John takes a corn. Matt takes a sugar. Nick takes an indigo. Discards: indigo, coffee.
New draw: 1 corn, 1 indigo, 1 sugar, 2 coffee..
3. John selects Mayor. Distribution is 3/2/1/1. John places colonists on coffee, Coffee Roaster, Construction Hut. Matt places on Small Market, Office. Nick places on Harbor, moves from Small Market to corn. Chris places on quarry, moves from coffee to quarry. 7 colonists on ship.
4. Matt selects Trader (1). Chris passes. No one else can trade.

More free bucks. I couldn’t see myself buying coffee and tobacco but I could well slip in an indigo hut so I snagged an indigo. I man my harbour and dance a little jig.

END OF TURN SEVEN: Doubloons on Craftsman (1), Captain and Builder.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 1 8 9 $0
Matt 2 7 9 $1
Nick 10 5 15 $4
Chris 11 2 13 $0 1 C

Trading House: 1 sugar, 1 indigo.
Boats: 3 indigo on 7 ship.

TURN EIGHT. Chris is Governor.
1. Chris selects Builder (1). Chris builds Large Indigo Plant for 0. John passes. Matt builds Small Sugar Mill for 1. Nick builds Small Indigo Plant for 1.
2. John selects Craftsman (2). John produces 1 indigo, 1 tobacco, 1 coffee. Matt produces 1 indigo, 1 tobacco. Nick produces 3 corn, 1 sugar. Chris produces 2 corn and 1 sugar. John produces 1 indigo (extra).
3. Matt selects Trader. Matt sells tobacco for 5. Nick and Chris pass. John sells coffee for 4. Trading House clears.
4. Nick selects Captain (1). Nick ships 3 corn on 5 ship for 5 VP. Chris ships 2 corn for 2 VP, filling corn boat. John ships 1 tobacco on 6 ship for 1 VP. Matt ships 1 indigo for 1 VP. John ships 2 indigo for 2 VP. Warehousing: Chris discards 1 corn..

I only have 4 bucks but I have use for an indigo hut so I buy one. The captain with a buck on it seems pretty obvious on my turn, I score up 5 vips, and force Chris to rot more goods. I get to keep a sugar for potential selling.

END OF TURN EIGHT: Doubloons on Mayor (1), Settler and Prospector.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 4 8 12 $6
Matt 3 8 11 $5
Nick 15 6 21 $4 1 S
Chris 13 4 17 $1 1 S

Trading House: Empty
Boats: 1 tobacco on 6 ship. 6 indigo on 7 ship.

TURN NINE. John is Governor.
1. John selects Builder. John builds Factory for 5. Matt builds Coffee Roaster for 5. Nick builds Small Warehouse for 3. Chris builds Small Indigo Plant for 0.
2. Matt selects Prospector (1).
3. Nick selects Mayor (1). Distribution is 3/2/2/1. Nick places colonists on Small Indigo Plant, indigo and Small Market, moves off corn onto Small Warehouse. Chris places on Small Warehouse and coffee. John places on Factory and corn. Matt places on quarry, moves off indigo and Small Indigo to coffee and Coffee Roaster. 12 colonists on ship.
4. Chris selects Trader. Chris sells sugar for 3. No one else can trade.

I still have only 4 bucks, and made a questionable buy of a warehouse. I foresaw Chris eventually jamming me on shipping and wanted to protect against that with a warehouse instead of saving up for a wharf, which may have been a mistake. I turn on indigo and the warehouse instead of selling sugar, which may also have been a mistake. If I don’t buy and do sell then I end up at 7 bucks and am in a decent position to wharf it up. Oh well.

END OF TURN NINE: Doubloons on Settler (1), Craftsman and Captain..
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 4 11 15 $1
Matt 3 11 14 $2
Nick 15 7 22 $2 1 S
Chris 13 5 18 $4

Trading House: 1 sugar.
Boats: 1 tobacco on 6 ship. 6 indigo on 7 ship.

TURN TEN. Matt is Governor.
1. Matt selects Settler (2). Matt takes a quarry. Nick takes a corn. Chris takes an indigo. John takes a quarry. Discards: 1 sugar, 2 coffee.
New draw: 1 corn, 2 indigo, 2 sugar.
2. Nick selects Captain (1). Nick ships 1 sugar on 5 ship for 3 VP.
3. Chris selects Builder. Chris builds Office for 2. John builds Small Sugar Mill for 1. Matt builds Large Market for 3. Nick passes.
4. John selects Mayor. 4/3/3/3 dristribution. John places colonists on quarry, sugar, Small Sugar Mill and second spot on Coffee Roaster. Matt places on tobacco and Tobacco Storage, moves off indigo Small Market, places on Large Market and quarry. Nick places on corn, corn and tobacco (all circles full). Chris places on indigo, Small Indigo Plant and office. 10 colonists on ship.

I snag another corn on the settler and ship my one good for 3 VPs. It’s important to point out that I made it so there wouldn’t be a corn boat which is pretty questionable, but at least I am making sugar and indigo and have a warehouse should a boat ever clear. I pass the build with my 3 bucks, and fill up my board with the mayor.

END OF TURN TEN: Doubloons on Craftsman (1), Trader and Prospector.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 4 12 16 $0
Matt 3 13 16 $1
Nick 18 7 25 $3
Chris 13 7 20 $2

Trading House: 1 sugar.
Boats: 1 sugar on 5 ship. 1 tobacco on 6 ship. 6 indigo on 7 ship.

TURN 11. Nick is Governor.
1. Nick selects Prospector (1).
2. Chris selects Builder. Chris builds Large Market for 2. John passes. Matt builds Large Indigo Plant for 1. Nick passes..
3. John selects Craftsman (2). John produces 1 corn, 1 indigo, 1 sugar, 1 tobacco, 1 coffee and receives 5 in Factory income. Matt produces 1 sugar, 1 tobacco and 1 coffee. Nick produces 4 corn, 1 indigo and 1 sugar. Chris produces 2 corn, 1 indigo and 1 sugar. John produces 1 tobacco (extra).
4. Matt selects Trader (1). Matt sells coffee for 7. Nick sells indigo for 2. Chris sells sugar for 2. Trading House is full.

I’m not sure why I passed the build here with 5 bucks, a tobacco seems like a pretty decent build. I’m pretty sure I was trying to build a wharf so I would be able to ship all my potentially warehoused corn. I sold an indigo, throwing away 2 points to pick up 2 bucks, getting closer to a wharf.

END OF TURN 11: Doubloons on Captain, Mayor and Settler..
Ship VP Bldg. VP Total Cash Goods
John 4 12 16 $7 1 C, 1 I, 1 S, 2 T, 1 K
Matt 3 15 18 $8 1 S, 1T
Nick 18 7 25 $7 4 C, 1 I
Chris 13 9 22 $2 2 C, 1 I

Trading House: Empty
Boats: 1 sugar on 5 ship. 1 tobacco on 6 ship. 6 indigo on 7 ship..

TURN 12. Chris is Governor.
1. Chris selects Settler (1). Chris takes a quarry. John takes a corn (no quarries left). Matt takes an indigo. Nick takes an indigo. Discards: 2 sugar.
New draw: 1 corn, 2 indigo, 1 sugar, 1 tobacco.
2. John selects Builder. John builds Guild Hall for 7. Matt builds City Hall for 7. Nick passes. Chris passes.
3. Matt selects Mayor (1). Distribution is 4/3/2/2. Matt places colonists on indigo, City Hall, Small Market and Small Indigo Plant. Nick places on indigo, has 2 colonists in San Juan. Chris places quarry and Large Market. John places on corn and Guild Hall. 11 colonists on ship.
4. Nick selects Captain (1). Nick ships 1 sugar for 3 VP. Chris ships 1 indigo for 1 VP (filling boat). John ships 2 tobacco for 2 VP. Matt ships 1 tobacco for 1 VP. John ships 1 sugar for 1 VP. Matt ships 1 sugar for 1 VP. Warehousing: John discards 1 corn and 1 indigo.

I have 7 bucks and pass the builder, intending on getting a wharf or a customs house. I ship for the 3 VPs, clearing only one boat and setting up with a lot of corn.

END OF TURN 12: Doubloons on Craftsman, Trader and Prospector.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Bonus Total Cash Goods
John 7 16 6 (GH) 23 (29) $0 1 K
Matt 5 19 4 (CH) 24 (28) $2
Nick 21 7 28 $8 4 C
Chris 14 9 23 $3 2 C

Trading house: Empty.
Boats: 4 sugar on 5 ship. 4 tobacco on 6 ship.

TURN 13. John is Governor.
1. John selects Captain. John ships 1 coffee on 7 ship for 2 VP..
2. Matt selects Prospector (1).
3. Nick selects Trader. Nick sells corn for 2. Chris sells corn for 2.
4. Chris selects Builder. Chris builds Tobacco Storage for 1. John passes. Matt builds Factory for 4. Nick builds Customs House for 10.

John now has a choice, with 1 empty boat. He can ship his coffee, screwing me out of a bunch of corn points or he can sell his coffee for huge bucks. (Note he has no money and captain has no bucks on it, so he can’t ramp up his guild hall if he doesn’t sell.) He decided I would win if I got to captain and chose to screw himself to screw me. As a result I got to sell my corn, getting me up to 10 bucks. The game was going to end next turn, so on Chris’ build I went with the customs house over a wharf.

END OF TURN 13: Doubloons on Craftsman (1), Mayor and Settler.
Ship VP Bldg. VP Bonus Total Cash Goods
John 9 16 6 (GH) 25 (31) $0
Matt 5 22 5 (CH) 32 $0
Nick 21 11 5 (Cust.) 32 (37) $0 3 C
Chris 14 12 26 $4 2 C
Trading house: 2 corn.
Boats: 4 sugar on 5 ship. 4 tobacco on 6 ship. 1 coffee on 7 ship.

TURN 14. Matt is Governor.
1. Matt selects Builder. Matt builds Hacienda for 0. Nick passes. Chris builds Coffee Roaster for 3. John passes. (NOTE: As Matt has filled all his building spaces, this triggers the end of the game.)
2. Nick selects Mayor (1). 4/3/3/2 distribution. All large buildings are covered. [NOTE: Re-Check for Final replay, not needed for tiebreaks or Fort, however.]
3. Chris selects Trader. Chris sells 1 corn for 3. No one else can trade.
4. John selects Craftsman (2). John produces corn, 1 indigo, 1 sugar, 1 tobacco, 2 coffee and 5 doubloons (Factory). Other players produce. John produces a bonus good (irrelevant which one).

Matt builds to end the game. Notice how John was forced to pass the build last turn and the one this turn because he screwed me. Also note how I got a manned large building out of being ‘screwed’. I mayor to turn on my customs house. (Note if I’d built a wharf I wouldn’t get to ship this turn.)

Ship VP Bldg. VP Bonus Total Cash Goods
John 9 16 6 (GH) 31 $7
Matt 5 23 6 (CH) 34 $0
Nick 21 11 5 (Cust.) 37 $1
Chris 14 15 29 $4
Trading house: 3 corn.
Boats: 4 sugar on 5 ship. 4 tobacco on 6 ship. 1 coffee on 7 ship.

FINAL POSITIONS (taking into account bids for seat position):

1. Nick Page 35 (37 - 2 VP bid)
2. Matt Peterson 34
3. John Weber 30.5 (31 - 0.5 VP bid)
4. Chris Moffa 27.5 (29 - 1.5 VP bid)

Note that I had 8 bucks, so if I get to ship on turn 13 I gain 6 points from shipping and likely build 2 2-point buildings with my 8 bucks for a total of 10 points. The customs house was worth 9. On the flip side John gained 2 points by shipping and lost what I believe is 8 points by not being able to build 2 more production buildings. (He was missing Large Indigo and Large Sugar which cost a total of 3 with his 2 quarries.) So he cost himself 6 points to cost me 1 point, and to hurt Chris. Unless my math is wrong here it looks like I would have come second, except I got ‘screwed’ and therefore won. Overall a pretty low scoring and very close game!

WBC 2008 -> Day 6

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
PR Finals

Puerto Rico – semi-finals – 9am – I end up in a game with Brian Kowal and two people I didn’t recognize. I took Robb’s previous advice to heart and positioned myself to Brian’s right and it ended up paying off. I was able to take a couple of moves which hurt his position while the guy on my left failed to hurt me. I’m pretty sure I paid for 4th chair in this game after Brian and I bid one of the other players up to 2.5 on seat 3.

I ended up winning by a fairly large margin, and I remember at one point Brian looked at me and just shook his head after the guy on my right just kept taking jobs that were awesome for me.

Puerto Rico – finals – 11am – The time here is a bit of a misnomer as we actually had a large delay before the round started. The GM had made it to the finals so he was scrambling trying to find someone else to record the game move for move for posterity. Those of us playing didn’t seem to mind but Pounder was a little bitter as he had an 8 hour drive ahead of him and wanted to get started as soon as he could. Oh well!

The GM (John Weber) sent me the recap and it will be included in the next post along with my comments about the game. Sadly I entered in the comments this week instead of at the time so it’s not as detailed as it could have been but I did what I could given my procrastinationism.

Spoiler alert: I won, collected my plaque and headed home. We ran into a minor issue trying to find a bridge back into the country but eventually we stopped at a knick-knack shop and I used a placemat map to guess our way to the Rainbow Bridge.

WBC 2008 -> Day 5

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
PR Finals

Puerto Rico – 11am – I’m a big fan of sleep and didn’t have any pressing reason to wake up so I didn’t. Eventually I got up and showered and looked at the schedule and decided to run the 11am PR heat. Now, I’d played a lot of PR on BSW back in the day but since it got removed I’ve rarely played the game. (At one point someone asked me how many games I’d played in the last year to prep for the event and I think I said 1.)

At any rate, I end up randomly going first this game which isn’t a position I like. (I love to ship corn!) I don’t have any notes for this game but I know I first turn quarried (something I rarely do) but then audibled into a harbour/wharf shipping position and won.
Amazing Space Venture – demo – 12pm – My PR game ended pretty fast so I wandered by the demo area. This game is a Carcassonne variant with space ships and cards. (As an aside, were you aware that Carcassonne is in the Word spellchecker? It actually suggested it as a revision to Carcassone.) I didn’t play the game and it mostly just looked like it was making Carcassonne more complicated for the sake of making it more complicated and not to make it any better. I certainly wouldn’t buy the game after the demo but I would be willing to try it at some point.

Agricola – 1pm – This wasn’t an actual round, but Robb, Pounder and I decided we had nothing to do for a couple hours. Pounder wanted to play Agricola again after playing a heat and the demo looked interesting enough. I forgot how important people were and ended up spending all my wood on fences and therefore couldn’t expand my house. I lost by a good margin but decided I really liked the game. (It is one of three games I bought shortly after WBC, along with Race for the Galaxy and Twilight Struggle.)

Puerto Rico – quarterfinals – 6pm – There’s a large gap here so I’m assuming we went out for food after Agricola. I’d won my PR round so I figured I should go to the quarters and see if I’d advanced. It turns out 8 people won 2 games and advanced to the semi-finals while everyone who won a game got into the quarters. For the elimination rounds they switch to bidding points for position. I again don’t have any notes for this game so I’m not sure what specifically happened but in generalities I know I was playing against David Platnik (a Titan player who seemed to be pretty good at games in general) and two casual gamers. It very quickly became apparent to both David and I that one of us was going to win the game (he was to my right and was hardcore building while I was hardcore shipping) and it came down to the final turn. The player across from me was governor and had to pick a job. If he goes one way David wins, otherwise I win. He picked a job that made me win.

After the game I was talking to Robb about what happened and he questioned why I’d bid to sit behind David. I knew going in that he was going to be good, so I should try my best to sit on his right, not his left. (This way he can’t spite draft me and its likely random players won’t know when to spite draft. I do know David made a couple unobvious choices that hurt me that other players likely wouldn’t have.)

Notre Dame – 8pm – I get assigned to a table and it turns out three of the players are reasonably new (2 of them had to have rules clarifications to start the game) and the 4th guy seemed to really know what was going on. Sadly he was on my immediate right and if seating position matters in PR it really matters in ND. Righty got passed a C1 Notre Dame, for example, after playing a hardcore money strategy. The guy who passed it to him later lamented that he didn’t get to play a Notre Dame card in round C. Of course you didn’t, you passed it! Anyway, I ended up exactly tied with the guy on my right. We went to the GM and the decision was made that we’d both be treated as winners because it would make the numbers better for the semi-finals. (Pounder later pointed out that this is actually against WBC rules, but what are you going to do?)

Notre Dame – semi-finals – 10pm – It turns out there were exactly 8 games played over the two rounds. Pounder won games in both rounds and two of us won the same game in round 2, so there were 8 people to advance. The GM decided to go with 2 4-player games, with the top 2 advancing from each game. I ended up at a table with Robb, Brian Kowal (a Magic pro back when I sometimes was on tour), and some other dude. I don’t remember much about the game other than that it was very close. The other guy and I advanced in a very well played game.

Notre Dame – finals – 12pm – Pounder and David Platnik advanced from the other semi-final table. I ended up sitting to Pounder’s left which is very bad for me. (I wrote some analysis about the game which is in the archives here, and Pounder is probably the only person who has read it. I know he agreed with a lot of what I had to say and we have very similar strategies. Having him drafting before me puts me in a lot of trouble.)

Anyway, I end up making a very dangerous play. I play a Notre Dame card in round A and only pick up one dollar which results in my having no money going into B1. I have 4 cards in 9 that I can draw to give me a dollar, or Pounder can pass me one and I’m ok. I have an 82% chance of drawing a card I need, but fail to, and Pounder doesn’t pass me one. It turns out Pounder drafted a guesthouse instead of passing it to me and didn’t play it, blowing me out. I missed my bribe in B1 and then had to scramble to try to get back into a playable position. This forced me to pass extra VP-house cards to my left, which David gladly scooped up on his way to the victory.

Pounder ended up 3rd, I came 4th, and Robb came 5th. Go Waterloo!

I had a 9am PR semi-final to attend the next morning, so I bowed out of potential open gaming after our midnight final finished. I suspect we went to the Waffle House anyway, and then Robb went searching for a werewolf game while Pounder and I crashed. (Pounder had a long drive in the morning so he wanted to sleep too.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

WBC 2008 -> Day 4

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
PR Finals

So many nights in a row staying up late to play games is eventually going to catch up with you. The Queen's Gambit 'finals' were starting at noon and I wanted to play in that and nothing earlier really caught my eye so I decided to just sleep in until 11ish so I could shower and then Gambit it up.

Queen's Gambit - round of 16 - 12pm - I didn't make the cut to top 16 because for some reason the GM had me down in the 'doesn't own the game' pile so my win in my first round played wasn't good enough. Apparently several other people were in the wrong piles as well and after a little complaining the GM redid the standings. He was not happy about having to do this, especially since he obviously thought some of us were cheating. (Robb could have used my game in the first round, for example, and 'owned' a copy of the game.) I actually own a copy of the game and was the only one to use it so I didn't feel too bad about standing up for myself and getting into the top 16. I don't really agree with that rule as a tiebreaker but since it exists it should be used. (Especially since I’d bought a copy of the game partially because of the rule and certainly had only played one preliminary round because it was going to be good enough because of the rule.)

At any rate, they finally get things sorted out and I’m into the top 16. The really sad thing is we didn’t even use my copy of the game this round because they had enough copies already set up during the kerfuffle. I was matched up against Rob Flowers, the El Grande GM who is an all around nice guy. I bid 1 droid to play as the dark side and won the bidding. Rob took to the tactic of running everyone upstairs with window ledge movement and cleared out all my stuff up top. He eventually managed to get about 12 guards and Captain Panaka into the throne room, with Panaka in the door so I’d have to kill him to get at the guards. Both queens also made it up to the top floor. Unfortunately for Rob I won the Jedi battle handily and Darth Maul came a knocking. Maul eventually killed both queens and Panaka, opening the door for my destroyer droids to finally pour into the throne room and mop up the rest of the guards.

Queen’s Gambit – quarter-finals – 2pm – This time I played Dark Side for no cost, I think. This was an incredible close game, where I lost the Jedi battle but managed to kill an awful lot of guards in the early game. The game was winding down and my opponent got into a situation where he had Obi Wan, the fake queen, and a few guards alive. Obi Wan was running back and forth killing what few droids I was managing to get close to his guards, but due to card stacking (playing no cards one turn and then 4 the next to move droids) I was slowly able to kill them off. On the final turn of the game he only had 1 guard left and positioned Obi Wan in the wrong hex. One spot over and I wouldn’t have had a shot, but as it was if I’d played a move 8 spaces card I could just get into range for a shot. It was my next card, I ran up and took my 50% shot at the win and hit. Woo! It turns out his next card had the potential to win him the game. He rolled it out ‘just to see’ and would have won. (Of course, butterflies in Africa would have changed the roll so that proves nothing! Nothing I say!)

Queen’s Gambit – semi-finals – 4pm – For a change of pace I think I bid 1 guard to play light side this game. Why? I don’t know! At any rate, I managed to barely win the Jedi battle and ended up killing every single droid in the palace. I clogged up the entrance so my opponent could no longer move more droids in, so my palace setup was a guaranteed win. As soon as Anakin made it to the end of the track I would win and there was nothing my opponent could do to stop it. My opponent recognized this and conceded. A spectator (Larry Lingle, a previous champion) pointed out that he shouldn’t concede because I might just miss on every Anakin card I would play. My opponent couldn’t win, but maybe I’d get fantastically unlucky and I couldn’t win either.

Now, to make sure games end in 2 hours they put in a rule such that the dark side wins if time runs out. (Supposedly the light side is the better side, and also they’re the ones who can just stall out by not playing Anakin cards to try to get an advantage elsewhere.) It’s not the greatest rule but you need some way to make games end fast so I can’t really complain. The issue here is that if we keep playing and I whiff on every Anakin my opponent would win. Larry was strongly advocating my opponent take actions that couldn’t change the game position to waste time, and called over a GM to force my opponent to unconcede. The GM came over and ruled that the game could keep going if my opponent wanted it to. He seemed unsure but Larry kept badgering and the GM wasn’t trying to dissuade him so he gave in. We set the board back up and continued the game.

I should point out that when he conceded the first time there was over an hour left in the round and I basically just needed to win 4 coin flips in that hour. Of course in the time it took to decide to keep playing we’d wasted 20 minutes. It quickly became apparent, however, that my opponent had no interest in stalling out and was just trying to appease Larry. (My opponent was like 14 years old and didn’t look too happy to have adults and authority figures telling him he was wrong to have conceded. I honestly just stayed out of it for the most part because I knew I would win if we kept playing, no matter what Larry had to say about potentially getting unlucky.) He took no actions on his turn, basically just letting me cycle through my deck playing Anakin cards as fast as humanly possible. I won 5 minutes later.

It turns out my opponent had beaten Larry in the previous round, and therefore if he’d advanced Larry would have had a higher finish. Robb also pointed out when I told him what happened that this was Larry’s team game so he had a lot to gain by changing the outcome of my match. At the time I was a little annoyed that a random spectator was getting involved in the match but I was even more annoyed when I found out he had something to gain. (Especially since this wasn’t even something that could conceivably have mattered.) If there was 5 minutes left in the round, sure, advocate we keep playing. But we had more than half the round and I had a hard lock on the board and my opponent knew it. Oh well.

As a result of this incident I decided to never play light side again. You see, I play fast. I will sometimes pause to consider a rough choice but I tend to get a pretty good idea of the right plan and can follow it very quickly. It doesn’t matter how fast I play as light side if I get paired against a slow dark side opponent, or if they intentionally stall. Initially I didn’t think this would be a problem but since a former champion and the GM both strongly advocated intentionally stalling I decided I had no choice in the matter. I refuse to put myself in a situation where I need to call the GM over because my opponent is playing slow, and I refuse to lose as a result of not calling one. Therefore I will play dark side (despite it being the worst side) and I will play fast and the games will end. The only way a game won’t end if I play dark side is if my opponent is incredibly slow, and in that case I don’t mind that he loses.

Queen’s Gambit – finals – 6pm – I bid 1 to play dark side and win the bidding. (The fact I have to pay to play the weaker side is aggravating, but thems the breaks.) This game featured both of us rolling abysmally in the Jedi battle. Fortunately for me my droids in the palace were on complete fire. They should hit 50% of the time but were running over 90%. Eventually I generated enough bonus cards to win the Jedi battle and Darth Maul came out and cleaned out the palace. I’m pretty sure with my droids doing as much early as they did that I would have won easily even if I’d lost the Jedi battle. The fact I won it made it a foregone conclusion. It was probably my most lopsided match of the whole event. (Don’t get me wrong, my opponent played very well, the dice just came out strongly in my favour.)

Wits & Wagers – 8pm – This is a fun team trivia game run as a seminar so there’s no real prizes. It’s just an excuse to spend a couple hours having good times with good people. The trivia answers are also solely numbers, which I appreciate. Last year I teamed with Pounder, Robb, Lin, Rich Atwater (the Titan 2 GM) and some guy Lin met. This year Robb, Pounder and I resumed our coalition with Rich and two random dudes joined in. (There is a limited number of teams who can play but no limit to the number of people on each team!) Sorry I don’t remember your names, random dudes, but it was fun having you on our team!

We mostly picked out answers democratically, which unfortunately means that when the two random guys knew the answer and the rest of us thought we did but didn’t we ended up submitting the wrong answer. We had great success last year at this event, this year not so much. We got completely blown out, but we had fun and that’s all that matters!

Steak – 10pm – You may notice I very rarely mention food in this report. Sometimes I managed to sneak away between rounds and grab a hot dog or something, but for the most part games > food and we all know it. Pounder tries to make Robb and I eat when he can for our own good, but we all too often ignore him. At any rate, I’d played 8 straight hours of Queen’s Gambit and followed it up with the trivia game so I was starved. Someone had told Robb about a good actual restaurant that was likely still open downtown, so off we went. I had a nice steak; it was much needed and much appreciated. Of course the downside to this is Liar’s Dice started at 11 and there was no way we’d be back in time to play in it. I’ve always stated that I _will_ be the Liar’s Dice World Champion, but it seemed it would have to wait another year.

Liar’s Dice – 11:10pm – It turns out when hundreds of people show up to play an event it’s tricky to get them all going right at the start time. Games were in progress when we popped in to see what was up but the GM waved us over and said we could still join. The only downside is we’d have to play at the same table as each other, which is ok because clearly I’m better than Robb and Pounder at Liar’s Dice. Unfortunately it turns out the GM is better than all three of us and took us (and two other people) down rather quickly. Doh!

Imperial – 11:40pm – It’s not healthy to go to sleep so soon after eating (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) so we had to find something else to do before going to bed. Pounder expressed interest in learning Imperial and while I’d read the rules and had watched a game on BSW I’d never played so I was in for learning as well. This turned out to be a game in the ‘Rondel’ series. In this game there are 6 European countries vying for military and industrial power. The twist is the players don’t play the countries; instead they play investors who are backing the countries. Whoever has invested the most money in a country controls the actions they take on the country’s turn. Those actions can make the country better or make the investor’s in the country money. (This often worsens the country’s position.) It was an interesting game, but Pounder ended up having his initial countries bought up by Robb and me so he only got to make choices once every six turns. He turned out to have a winning strategy though, as he won by a fair margin. Having only played once I can’t say if that was an aberration or not, but any game where the winning strategy isn’t fun has problems.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

WBC 2008 -> Day 3

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
PR Finals

Titan 2-player - 9 am - I spent a fair amount of time yesterday watching my opponent play in his 8 hour game. The reason it took so long is both players were timid about attacking and always fought when there was a fight instead of fleeing. I knew I could put those two facts to my advantage since I could likely score up big points by making many attacks as he was likely to fight them all.

As it turns out, I ended up killing every single unit he recruited in the game. My Titan stack had 3 warlocks and 2 angels in it, and just went around murdering everything. Woo!

My game took a little less than 3 hours and I went to ask about my next opponent. They were still playing and he said he had an event to play at 1 but would be ready to play me after that. I looked at the schedule and noticed there was a demo for his event starting very shortly and figured I'd go give it a go.

Race for the Galaxy demo - 12pm - I feel the GM did an excellent job with this demo. It turns out the game is very similar to San Juan so I didn't need as detailed a demo as he gave but it seemed to me like he had planned out what he wanted to say in advance and had really worked out a good order to introduce rules to make sure everyone knew what was going on.

Race for the Galaxy - 1pm - Hey, I really like San Juan so a redesign of the game was worth playing in my books. I misunderstood a rule to start the game and ended up building the wrong card entirely which probably sunk my game. It turns out we had a three way tie for first place and after tie breakers I ended up second. It was quite fun and I'm looking forward to really doing better next year now that I have some experience with the game.

Titan 2-player - 2:10pm - I opened this game by rolling a 5 in a tower that only gets one recruit on a 5. I mulliganed it and rolled another 5. My opponent rolled very well for his recruitment early (and I did not) so I made a very questionable attack. Questionable in the sense that it was likely to cause me to lose but I felt I already had lost and needed to do something risky to turn the game around. Certainly if the fight had worked out in my favour I was in a much better way than if I hadn't attacked. (I also didn't know if I was hitting his Titan stack or his Angel stack. If it was his Titan stack then it was a way to win immediately.) Turns out it was his Angel stack (expected, since it did move above me in the tundra) but it was still a good attack. I rolled below average on an attack and didn't kill a unit I needed to kill and thusly lost the game.

After the game my opponent said he thought my attack was too risky and I actually had better odds of winning the game if I'd just run away. I'm not convinced, my only way to win there is to hope I can reverse the massive recruiting disadvantage I was in which means I need to both roll better recruiting numbers than he did and I needed to do so in positions that wouldn't involve me getting attacked and killed by his better stacks. I needed to get a fight in with an angel summon ASAP and especially in a 2 player game if I take out one of his lords when I do that's great for me. It also has the upside that if it fails I lose immediately so I can go do something else!

This game was quite short (it also ended on the first fight, like my first round) so I went and joined a Ra game.

Ra - 3pm – I get assigned to a table with a fairly attractive young lady setting up a board. She mentions in passing to the guy sitting beside her that she’s looking forward to starting high school soon. Yikes! That would make her less than half my age which pretty much means I have no idea how old people are or I’m turning into a dirty old man. Note that that or is not exclusive.

Anyway, the actual game went as Ra normally does. I lost, horribly. I swear I have no idea how to play this game in the slightest.

Monsters Ravage America demo - 5pm - This is a game where you control a monster and a branch of the military and spend most of the game just gearing up your monster to try to win the final battle. I thought this game sounded awesome in the write-ups online so I really wanted to give it a try. This demo was pretty much the polar opposite of the Race demo. The GM didn't even know the rules for the game at this demo, which was a little sad. (Hasbro reprinted the game with an easier rule set. The GM knew the older rules but not exactly what had changed in the easier game.) I left the demo with a rough idea of how things would work but was sure I would screw up the game itself. But whatever, you get to be a giant monster and destroy cities in the US, so I went for it anyway.

Monsters Ravage America - 6pm - I managed to get into a game of the easier version (yay!) and my game had two women in it. The girl setting up the game was rather pretty, and it turns out she’s 17. Double yikes! The other girl was 23 and I’d swear she was the younger of the two, which pretty much just confirms that the previously mentioned or is not exclusive.

It turns out the game has a lot of spiteful strategy that can be employed with your military. (I was the air force, and could just surround monsters with planes preventing them from getting somewhere good to power up. This made my opponents very bitter, as I gather most people just try to defend the best squares instead of preventing you from getting to any squares.) Anyway, there are a couple of different ways to power up and one of the ways is one-shot attacks. You get tokens to burn for extra dice and when you use them they're gone. I ended up being the guy who ended the game which meant I had to kill all my opponents sequentially to win. I chose the girl with the most one-shot items to attack first (probably a mistake) and she ended up blowing her stack to kill me. (Unsurprisingly!) I believe she ended up winning the game.

MRA was definitely a fun game and I'd be willing to play again but it didn't really excite me as much as I was hoping. I think part of the problem is it felt mean to make optimal use of my military. Oh well.

Twilight Struggle demo - 8pm - Twilight Struggle is a 2 player card driven war-game simulating the Cold War which I'd seen played once and was intrigued by. I decided to go to the demo and see what it was actually about. This was the third demo I attended this day and I wasn't a big fan of the format of this one. My main issue was one of the people at the demo kept interrupting the demoer to go into more detail on specific rules. Now it could be that the GM was doing a terrible job or it could be that he had a plan to reveal more information later on in the demo but we never got a chance to find out because of the constant interruptions. I actually got up and left partway into the demo because of how annoying I found the interruptions to be. I explain new games to people around here a fair bit (because I like to buy and play new games) and I always get annoyed when other people 'help' teach. I 'help' as well, its human nature, but since this demo I've started to try to restrain myself until the end and point out oversights then. It's better than jumbling up someone's explanation that just isn't in the same order yours might have been!

Queen's Gambit - 9pm - This is a game I learned last year at WBC by reading the rules 5 minutes before the round started. It's actually a Star Wars miniature war-game simulating the end of Episode 1. I liked it so much I bought a copy on eBay despite it being rather pricy (it's been out of print for some time and is pretty rare). The WBC events actually uses 'owns the game' as the primary tiebreaker so I was happy to have brought my copy down. I was given a 'owns the game' index card to write my name on and set up my board while waiting for an opponent. (The game has more than a hundred miniatures that go into preset locations, so it takes some time to set up.)

The game itself was long and hard fought. I played the 'good' guys and eventually won with only 1 Gungan alive on the battlefield. I think my opponent probably focused too much on killing Gungans and not enough time actually winning the game and might have won if he'd focused entirely on Darth Maul. (Though to be fair, my Anakin had a lot of trouble and that was at least partially caused by his focus on the battlefield, so maybe I'm just way off base here.)

Vegas Showdown - semi-finals - 11pm - It turned out none of Pounder, Robb, or I won our Vegas Showdown games and none of us made the semi-finals. One guy didn't show up though, so they were letting one alternate advance. The alternate rankings? Pounder, then Robb, then myself. Pounder was off playing something else (Agricola maybe?) so Robb advanced. They were short a copy of the game so I went off to get mine. Robb suggested he'd bow out so I could advance since I'd brought a copy and had been talking about wanting to win that event but I wouldn't have any of that. If I deserved to make it to the semis than I would have and that's that!

I didn't have anything else to do so I played the part of the banker in Robb's game. Robb ended up with his income numbers in the wrong spot for a couple of turns (CHEATER!) and called the GM on himself. They decided to ding him the money he likely shouldn't have earned and no other penalty which made sense. I think the game _might_ have gone differently if his opponents had had an accurate count on his money for the couple turns this happened during but I suspect not. At any rate Robb ended up winning by a good margin anyway.

Race for the Galaxy - later - We likely went out to the Waffle House and then came back to play a game at some ungodly hour. Pounder wanted something reasonable short and I saw that the open gaming library had a copy of Race for the Galaxy, a game I'd played for the first time in an event earlier that day and wanted to play again. As we were setting up a random nice lady asked if she could join in and not being completely antisocial we said yes. Robb and I ended up tying for first, Pounder and Cally tied for 3rd. Pounder was a little sceptical heading in since he likes San Juan so much and thought this was just going to be a more random version of that. I think he's probably right, but it's still a lot of fun. So much so that Pounder and I both bought the game and the expansion, as did our friend Duncan. It's cheap, short, relatively easy to learn, and lots of fun. (Relatively easy for gamers to learn anyway...)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WBC 2008 -> Day 2

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
PR Finals

Last year we stayed at the hotel across the street which came with 2 free breakfast buffets, which we made full use of. We decided to hit the breakfast buffet at the event site this year, even though it wasn't free. Despite it not being free it was actually much worse. The selection was smaller, the cereal was stale, and they didn't have an omelette guy. We were not impressed, and I for one didn't go back.

Titan 2-player - 10 am - Titan 2 player is run as a single elimination event with rounds scheduled haphazardly. The goal is to be done by the end, and you're supposed to arrange to play your next match with your next opponent as soon as is feasible without screwing your week. Unfortunately I didn't take this to heart, as we will see...

Anyway, they set things up with seeding such that all previous winners are spread apart on the single elimination bracket. I was matched up with a former winner. I don't remember much about the game but my notes say I won in 35 minutes during the first battle of the game. Short and sweet! What I should have done is looked at the schedule and found something else to do. What I actually did was wait around for the match containing my next opponent to finish. They didn't finish for over 7 hours...

Now I was really annoyed at this at the time, but the problem is really my own. I should have found something to do and let the guys playing know that I'd be back in a couple hours to check in on them. For no good reason I stuck around skipping events I wanted to play in so I could be available as soon as they finished.

The kicker here is they finished and the winner decided he'd rather play the next morning anyway as he'd played enough Titan. *sigh* At this point they were trying to put together some 4 player Titan games and were short some players. I always want to play at least one game of multiplayer Titan each year to boost their attendance numbers. (If you're trying to make the semi-finals you want to play 6 games ideally, less if you win a couple.) After sitting around for 7 hours to play Titan I figured I should get my 4 player Titan game in. The really frustrating part is the ended up with 7 people interested in playing multiplayer Titan and my 2-player Titan opponent stepped in to fill out the games. So, my opponent who didn't want to play more 2-player Titan put it off so he could play 4-player Titan. *sigh*

If I was a more assertive fellow I'd have pushed to play 2-player then and there but because I'm not I didn't.

In the middle of waiting I went to watch the Agricola demo. I should have then played in the Agricola round and I'd probably have been a lot happier with the day. Oh well.

Titan 4-player - 6 pm - I ended up in a game with Robb and there were things on the schedule I really wanted to do at 9 (Queen's Gambit), 10 (Vegas Showdown), and 11 (Can't Stop). I came second in Can't Stop last year and really wanted to improve on that so my plan was QG at 9 and CS at 11. So, of course, I end up in a fight for my life in Titan with Robb around 8. That one fight took 45 minutes. I managed to win the fight but ended up in a position where I was forced to attack a couple of turns later. I was eliminated and it was past 9. *sigh*

I could have aborted to Vegas Showdown but I really wanted to play Can't Stop. So I stuck around watching things until 11.

Can't Stop - 11pm - Last year I made it to the finals and the GM commented that he thought the game was incredibly random and he didn't expect to ever see the same people make it to the finals year after year. Now, I think Can't Stop has a lot of skill to it, and I think most people are very bad, so I really wanted to prove him wrong and make it back to the finals. I started off by winning the first round, but that incredible random part bit me in the butt for the second round. The guy who ended up winning stopped literally every 5 rolls. That gives your opponents so many turns to win its ridiculous. I, on the other hand, kept getting really terrible rolls, things like trips and quads only a couple of rolls in. I'm convinced my opponent's plan actually only gave him a really small chance to win as he needed both me and the third guy to consistently fail with good odds to succeed. Oh well! I'll be back next year!

Nefertiti - 12pmish - Robb also lost in round 2 and I don't think Pounder played at all. We headed back to Cafe Jay and looked for a new demo to play. We ended up playing Nefertiti which is an odd little auction/collection game. I set out to collect the rare stuff worth the most and got almost all of them. It was an interesting game, the costs of the auctions changed as time went on so it had a bit more variance than something like Ra and I'd consider playing it again.

Quo Vadis - later - We headed back to the room but for some insane reason decided to play Quo Vadis instead of going to bed. We ended up losing a piece but found it under the bed 3 days later. (Doesn't say much for the cleaning staff!)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

WBC 2008 -> Day 1

Day 0
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
PR Finals

Events started at 6pm, so our goal was to get to Lancaster around 4:30-5 so we'd have time to check into the hotel before games started. It's an 8 hour trip, and we like to eat so factor in an hour for lunch and you're looking at needing to leave (or at least wake up) around 7am. It's the worst part of the week, I assure you. At any rate, I get roused to run into the first snag of the week... My deodorant remained in Toronto. So we got to take a detour via the 24 hr Sobeys (everything else was closed since they're run by sane people) on the way out.

I brought my laptop with me, and had downloaded a spreadsheet from the WBC website with the schedule so I could make plans I wouldn't follow on the ride down. Pounder had printed out directions from either Google Maps or MapQuest and I was in charge of keeping us from getting lost. (A sketchy proposition at best, but without a license it's not like I could do anything else!) We hadn't even reached the border when we were forced to deviate from the plan as a gas tanker had fallen over or something on the highway and they closed it down. Pounder has a map of southern Ontario in his car and we decided to try to find another route instead of waiting for the highway to reopen.

I came up with a crazy plan that involved driving through sidestreets in a residential area, but it ended up working and we eventually got to the border much faster than if we'd waited on the highway listlessly. I'd like to see a GPS do that! (Machines will never replace me! MWAHAHA!)

Anyway, we stopped at Arby's for lunch on the other side of the border and then continued on for an uneventful rest of the trip. We arrived at the hotel with plenty of time to spare before events started and tried to get in touch with Robb to no avail. Pounder and I both have the cheapest cell phones we could find, and they just don't work in the US it seems. Pounder managed to get his to send text messages, but we couldn't receive them back, so while we told Robb we were around we didn't get his message back about where he was. Stupid technology.

I said earlier that events started at 6pm, but that's not entirely accurate. You see, there is a type of event called a demo which is an hour long period of time where the GM (game master?) teaches the rules for a game. Frequently these take place immediately before a round for the game, so you can go to the demo and then play a game. Demos can be a great way to learn a game and get a chance to try something new, but not all events have them.

Events are run with one of three classifications. 'A' events are for experienced players, they don't run a demo and they expect everyone who shows up to know the rules. Very few events are run as 'A' events in my experience, it seems to mostly be used for the 6+ hour wargames. 'B' events allow beginners. These events have to run a demo and the players expect newbies to exist in some of their opening round games. 'C' events are coached, these are events where they're willing to teach the game during the round itself. These events tend to be for games with simpler rulesets, things like Liar's Dice and Can't Stop. It's trivial to get into a game in a 'C' event and there's always a demo at some point for the 'B' events, so all events which are 'B' or 'C' are free to be learned at the event if you're into playing new games.

At any rate, 5 games had demos at 5pm but we had no interest in attending any of them. (I own 2 of the games and the other 3 were wargames.) 6pm brought 8 more demos and 23 actual events with a pretty good mix of war games and euros. Now, on the ride down I'd identified that I really wanted to play something at 10pm, so I couldn't try to get into a long game at 6 or I'd miss it. Both Robb and Pounder wanted to play El Grande and I find the game interesting so I went along.

El Grande - 6pm - This is an interesting game where you want to control territory on specific scoring rounds, and you bid for turn order within each round with benefits for going early or late in a round. It also has a ton of player interaction, with one player a round basically getting to choose someone to screw over. My notes for this game simply say that I was winning until I was 'randomly spited' but I'll be damned if I remember what that means. I expect it hurt the person who did it since it wouldn't have been random otherwise!

The round took 2 hours, which brought us to 8pm. There were 2 demos at 8 (both of which I've played) and 5 events (none of which I'd played) so I didn't really have a lot of options. One of the games was class 'C' and listed to only take an hour, so it seemed like something to do.

Medici - 8pm - This round left a really bad taste in my mouth. It's a class 'C' game, so I should be able to learn the game as we go. The GM imposed a strict time limit of an hour, though, and the game probably takes 50 minutes if everyone knows what they're doing. There were also 3 of us who didn't know how to play and they assigned all 3 of us to the same table. (And the 3 of us knew each other, and generally at WBC they try to split friends up so you play events with newer people.) The quick rules explanation also failed to explain the distribution of the deck so we didn't know what a certain card did when it came up.

At any rate, we obviously didn't finish in time (Robb + rules explanation + new game = long time) but we also pretended not to hear the end of the round and kept playing. Or rather, I wasn't sure what was going on and the guy who gave us our demo said to keep playing. In retrospect I'm pretty sure we cheated to do so. I ended up coming 2nd, and probably would have won if we'd ended on time. (Not by design, but because I'd finished the round and other players hadn't, so they got to score more points than they legitimately should have had if the round had had enough time.)

The game itself was actually reasonably interesting. It didn't have many rules, and it had some good decisions to be made. The problem is it's really not long enough to justify a 2 hour round, but it's too long for a 'C' 1 hour round. If it was an 'A' event, fine. A 'B' event with a demo before the first round probably would have worked too, but there's no way it should have been a 'C' event with such a harsh time limit as there's no way to realistically expect someone to get taught the game and play it in less than an hour. This coming year it will also use 1 hour rounds but it will be a class 'B' event which really is enough to make me content. Robb will still have to make an effort to play quickly, though. 8P

Because we cheated and went over time to score we couldn't get into anything at 9. Fortunately we wanted to play Vegas Showdown at 10 so that wasn't much of a problem!

Vegas Showdown - 10pm - I play games with some pretty good gamers at home and my record in this game against them was something like 24-1 going into WBC so I had high hopes about being able to win this event. They were running two preliminary heats but both of them conflicted with other things I wanted to do. I decided my plan was to play in one of the heats of Vegas and then one of the other game and just win both of them. Alas...

I was winning until the last turn of the game, when the random event awarded 3 points for every restaurant, giving one of my opponents a 9 point gain on me. He ended up barely winning, but he played a good game so I'm not too bitter. Due to my previous plan of only playing one round my dreams of becoming Vegas Showdown world champion looked to be dashed. Oh well!

After the round ended we decided to hit up the demo tables and try out a new game...

Ming Dynasty - After midnight - This is a game where you draft face-up cards which you will then play to move around a map with a bunch of movement restrictions and goals to achieve. Because you're drafting face-up you can plot out what your opponents are going to do. Because one of the rules prevents you from moving into a square occupied by an opponent you can block them. Because of the very weird movement it's quite possible to blow someone out if you manage to block them. As such, the feeling we came away from the game was that it would take too long to play once we knew what we were doing. You'd need to make sure you were drafting enough cards to come up with alternate routes in case someone else blocked you accidentally or on purpose. I didn't like it very much and I think even if people weren't trying to screw you eventually someone would which would make the game not great for casual gamers either.

Titan starts in the morning and Robb hadn't slept in a day and a half so we went to bed at the sane hour of 2. We had to be at Titan for 10 and wanted to eat/shower first, so I think we started waking up at 8:15... Ugh.