Saturday, June 16, 2012

WBC Sand Plaques

Each event at the World Boardgaming Championships gives out a number of plaques as prizes to the top N finishers of an event. N is a number between 1 and 6 and is determined by the number of man-hours spent playing the game at the previous year's event. Trials always give out just 1 plaque while century events always give out at least 2. Each plaque is a different colour and they have different shapes as well. 1st place is a shield and the rest are progressively smaller rectangles. The rarest plaque has to be the 6th place one since it's only ever given out in an event where the other 5 are also given out. That plaque is called the 'sand' plaque although I'd call it pink.

I want a pink plaque! The problem is in addition to being so rare they're also pretty hard to get. In many cases you can't even know what you have to do in order to get one. For example, one year Puerto Rico was big enough to give out 6 prizes. I know what I have to do in order to get 1st place. Win and keep winning! 2nd place? Make it to the finals and barely lose. But what do you have to do in order to come 6th? The way the PR GM at the time handled it was the closest 2nd place finisher in a semi-final game gets 5th and the next closest 2nd place finisher in a semifinal game gets 6th. So if my sole goal was to come 6th I would need to make it to the semifinals and then try to come a close but not too close 2nd place in that game. I'd somehow need one and only one of the other 2nd place semifinalists to come closer than me. That's an unknowable moving target!

Power Grid would be easier. They play a 6 player final. In that case the 6th place prize is 'easy' to earn... Make it to the finals and then play abysmally bad. Woo!

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) for me I'd never be able to do either of those things. Playing a game deliberately to lose is just not the way I roll. Frankly I'd be pretty bitter if someone else in a game was trying to lose (and therefore likely threw the game to whoever happened to be in a good position to capitalize on their ineptitude) and wouldn't want to do that to other people even if I didn't have the strong internal desire to just win, baby.

So what's a man who wants a pink plaque to do? Well, I guess the only real thing to do is to play in events which will grant 6 prizes and just 'hope' I do badly enough to come 6th. I certainly don't win all the games I play! I've been going for five years and only won two things, after all, so even though I say it's easy to know how to get a 1st place I don't mean it's easy to actually do! Ultimately I guess my goal should be to practice 6 prize events enough to become good but not great at them and then just play them and see what happens. Winning would actually be better than coming 6th anyway, since winning an event with over 600 man-hours of playtime in their formula has to be pretty cool regardless!

What are those events this year? From the spreadsheet I built a couple months ago it looks like:

Axis & Allies, B-17, Empire Builder, Hannibal, History of the World, Paths of Glory, Power Grid, Settlers of Catan, Through the Ages, Victory in Pacific, and World at War.

Well, I've played five of those games! I'd even say I like to play three of them. Every single one of those games, except Through the Ages, is an A class event so there isn't even a demo to learn them at the tournament. This list even goes so far as to provide one more reason to play Empire Builder... Maybe I'll have to tweak my schedule a bit to fit it in somewhere... It's also giving me even more desire to play TTA instead of A Few Acres of Snow this year. TTA seems to be such a heavily skill based game where I may be able to make the semis but then really expect to lose. If I can pull out a second place...

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