Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 WBC Day 3 Summary

Monday featured three events I really wanted to enter. San Juan started at 10 and would go for likely 6-7 hours. A Few Acres of Snow started at 12 and would likely go for 8-10 hours, but I could skip the first 2 hours because of the mulligan round Sunday night. Through The Ages was at 10 and was the third heat. I already had a first and an incredibly close second (lost by 1 point) so ideally I should have been in a good way to make it to the semis already. Unfortunately the posted tiebreakers cared about your third best result instead of how close your second was and they were treating a last place as being better than not playing at all. This meant I would lose to any first-second-showed up combo. I was musing about this last night with Sceadeau and Randy (the GM) and thought that maybe I should just show up and use the honourable withdrawl rule to concede on turn 1 and get a third place. Randy immediately said he'd just give me a third place in the scoring system if I showed up instead of having me screw over a game. I don't think I would have screwed over a game but the fact that I 'should' have done so is a bit of a problem and letting me just get a third is certainly a good solution. Randy said he's going to change the tiebreakers next year to fix this issue by only counting your top two finishes.

I decided I didn't want to risk a Through The Ages game going more than 4 hours and causing me to miss A Few Acres of Snow which looked to be mine for the taking so I ended up showing up at 10 and getting my third place. I ended up being by far the best 1-2-3 record but that was only good enough for 19th place with top 16 advancing. If I'd gotten up to 1-2-2 I would have been the best of those and finished something like 14th and made the semis. Oh well.

What I did end up doing was playing A Few Acres of Snow at 12. The GM let me know that I could play round 1, lose, and still advance because I won the mulligan round the night before. Great! Maybe I can play someone good for a stupidly high bid and figure out what a reasonable bid is going to be. Not to be. My opponent had played once before. He let me have the British for 3 and then proceeded to never use any of the free actions. I did my only British opener (buy rangers, make 6 and buy governor, governor away Pemaquid and St Mary's, make money and buy guns, attack, win) and blew him up.

Round 2 put me up against someone who didn't understand the bidding system and didn't know the game but had been told a rudimentary British strategy. He thought we were bidding victory points instead of bonus actions and was planning on winning by taking Quebec so points wouldn't matter. This is true and is why points aren't the bidding currency. At any rate I ended up accepting a bid of 7 to play the French. After I accepted the bid he let me know that he had another event in 2 hours so he was going to concede just before he won. I think that's sketchy and would rather he knock me out and then drop. The game went about as expected except he screwed up pretty badly by not realizing he could put his ships cards into the fight. Oddly enough he knew he could buy the ships card for 6 and put it into the fight but never realized he could put Norfolk and New Haven in. He did put Boston and New York in and then either had weak draws or misplayed and consistently made 2 or 3 dollars per turn instead of 6. This let me keep up in military power during our Port Royal fight while disking out most of my board. I screwed up by putting Montreal on the fight before settling Fort Frontenac so I couldn't end the game immediately upon termination of the fight in Port Royal. He wanted to concede because he couldn't see a way the fight would end until I pointed out to him that he could put Norfolk on the pile. He promptly won the fight. He also beiseged and won in Halifax (I raided Port Royal away to slow him down from attacking Louisbourg) and managed to settle and disk up Fort Frontenac and Oswego before he won in Halifax. I then conceded the fight in Halifax and won the game on points.

Round 3 had me face off against Alex Henning. I'd been watching her and her brother (other Nick) play in the first round and saw that they'd both played, and won, as the French by going a hardcore disking strategy against people who didn't go hardcore attacking. She let me have the British for 2 and let me know that she'd only played like 4 games total and only as the French but had been told a good strategy by her brother. This let me know what her plan was, but it didn't matter at all. I have a very specific British strategy that I use every game. I used it this game and it worked as expected but it was actually relatively close to her disking out in time to win. The key was that I managed to siege Port Royal and Halifax before she could disk them up which both gave her two dead cards and which forced her to settle an extra two locations in the west before she could use up all of her disks. A close game, but not one any different than the games on Yucata where I win every time as the British.

Round 4 was against Nick Henning's friend and apparently the only person he ever played against before WBC. They're pretty good at games in general and had worked out a strong French strategy but I don't know that they ever used the full hardcore British attack. People kept referring to the British attack plan as the 'Halifax Hammer' because everyone seems to think you should take Halifax first. I ignore Halifax and kill Port Royal and it works just fine, thanks! I believe he let me be the British for 5 this game. He opened the game with a very fast siege of Pemaquid on turn 2. I managed to keep that fit going while I worked to governor away my bad cards and starting buying stuff. I did this by buying my siege artillery early on and throwing it into the fight. After I'd stabilized he ended up buying his siege artillery and throwing it and coureurs de bois into the Pemaquid fight to put me down by 4. I couldn't stop the fight but I could attack Port Royal with my regular infantry and my rangers! He won Pemaquid, I won Port Royal. He couldn't settle since Quebec was in the fight. I could settle and now had Port Royal. I started a quick siege of Louisbourg but hadn't quite realized I was behind in military strength (I lost a regular when Pemaquid resolved but he lost nothing when Port Royal resolved) and ended up losing the fight in Louisbourg. I bought a couple more regulars and went right back in and won this time. From there it was an easy trek to Quebec.

Round 5, the finals, was against Nick Henning himself. He bid me up a little more than the other two did but not by much. I got the British for 6 and pretty much knew he was going to use the same strategy I'd just beaten the previous two rounds. He again sieged Pemaquid on turn 2 but I had a better hand setup to deal with it this time. I had both Norfolk and New Haven on hand! Right into the pile they went! Good-bye mediocre cards! I governored away the really terrible cards and went to work making money. Pemaquid was tied up with 4 strength apiece and I had a fresh regular in hand (my deck at this point being rangers, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and maybe a regular) and he thought I was going to put the regular into Pemaquid to win the fight. Nope! I attacked Port Royal with it instead. I really like this plan since it ties up some of my bad cards and some of his good cards for the rest of the game or until he withdraws from the fight. Every single turn from here on was some combination of make 6 dollars, buy a regular, or put a regular into the Port Royal fight. Nick was doing a good job of ambushing my regulars with his 4 ambush cards but I really don't care. I think it's actually a new positive for the British to lose a regular in an ambush as long as they have a rangers to block and can make 6 a turn. Eventually I won in Port Royal and moved on to Louisbourg. He got me into a tricky position where I was going to lose the fight in Louisbourg unless I put one of my 4 good cards into the fight. I chose to put New York in and bought a ships card instead of a regular which surprised Nick and all the spectators. I then proceeded to keep making 6 a turn using the ships instead of New York and eventually was able to start buying regulars to put into the fight. He'd been working on expanding a little to the west and was trying to use Quebec and intendant to get all his disks into play before I could hit Quebec. Ultimately I won in Louisbourg and reserved my ships card. I actually like buying a ships because a siege of Quebec is hard to set up while digging for Louisbourg but being able to reserver ships (and not locations) lowers the constraints on the specific hand you can build. Louisbourg ended up being the last card in my deck after the reshuffle which was really unfortunate and let Nick get all but 2 of his disks in play before I could start a siege. He'd pulled off a couple ambushes while I was waiting for Louisbourg and I didn't think I had the stuff to take Quebec just yet. Fortunately for me the one starting location he had yet to disk was Trois Rivieres. So I started a siege there instead! I won that fight in relatively short order and settled it. By this point I'd cycled back into the Louisbourg card and launched an attack on Tadoussac. Nick had run out of money ambushing by this point and tried to trader with a bunch of western furs. I pointed out that he couldn't actually use those cards anymore since they had no support from Quebec once he lost the fight in Trois Rivieres. He finished the turn, thought a bit more as I won the fight in Tadoussac, and conceded. I was up on points and he had 2 functional location cards left (Quebec itself and Gaspe) and no real way to actually take actions anymore. Victory!

I'd been worried that there was a degenerate French strategy with a medium bid value which involved cycling into newly bought military cards for a quick win in Boston. I don't think anyone had tested such a thing (i only thought of it in the shower before the event) and I don't feel anyone really used their free actions to the fullest extent (by cycling extra times to force a key reshuffle). The entire event I kept hearing people talking strategy and everyone seemed to think there was an appropriate counter to any strategy and the game was therefore well balanced and there isn't a British problem. I think they're all crazy and maybe after the event people will believe me more? Though I guess really all I proved was that I can beat new players and the Henning strategy so maybe there really is a counter to my plan out there. All I know is no one has ever used it against me.

After the event Pounder thought I should go eat so went to Olive and Jasmin's Asian Bistro. It turns out it shut down in the last year since the doors were locked and the tables removed. Frowns. I ended up wating at Fuddrucker's again. I had a burger this time and it was ok. The bun was terrible so I just ate it with a knife and fork.

After food Pounder and I played two games of Innovation. He won the first one by getting into age 6 while I was still in age 1 thanks to a good combo of cards. I won the second one because Pounder ramped into age 10 while I was still in age 7 but I was able to trade my lowest card in hand for his 2 highest cards (both 10s) and both of those cards had winning clauses which won the game for me. Woo!

The night brought either Ra or Vegas Showdown. I decided I really didn't want to play a thinking game after a day of A Few Acres of Snow so I went to play Ra. I ended up at a table with Alex Henning again. Fortunately for her I'm terrible at Ra so I wasn't going to manhandle her in Ra the way I did in A Few Acres of Snow. The game went like most Ra games do where I call Ra super-aggressively and then lose when I'm forced to buy bad things by people who want to punish me for being aggressive. Round 2 I had the sun combo of 1-2-8 and actually got the best buys I think since the age ended with most people still having suns to go. Ultimately the scores ended up 40-38-36-26-24 with me being the 36 after having lost 5 points for lowest suns. Grr! Alex was the 38 and Dominic from Quebec was the 40.

Open gaming featured a 5 player game of Agricola with Robb, Pounder, Daniel E, and Winton. We borrowed the pimpest of pimped Agricola sets I've ever seen with ludicrous clay meeple things for all the resourced and families. I played the green player whose families was entirely redheads. Woo! I rarely play Agricola and we drafted the cards and I feel like I didn't know what was good or not. I ended up drafting 3 different cards that scored bonus points for eating pigs so I went that route. I managed to get 12 wood onto the basin maker! I ended up coming last thanks to tiebreakers with Robb but since Daniel gave Robb 2 points on the last turn in order to spite Pounder from getting 1 food I'm going to take a moral 4th place.

Off to Waffle House where I had an All-Star. Then sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep.


Andrew said...


Though I totally would have bid you up higher in AFAoS. Maybe to 10-11.

(At which point you probably take France and crush me)

Tim said...

Congrats on the AFAoS win. I was curious how people were going to approach the bidding, but it appears that you didn't have sufficient competition there to come to a firm conclusion. Too bad I couldn't make it! :-)

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Page said...

I wish you'd been there. It would have been nice to have a second person in the field who thought the French can't win the standard game. Everyone else seemed to think there were counters to any British strategy at no bid.

Tim said...

We should play our Yucata games with the WBC rules, just for giggles.

Nick Page said...

I don't think any of the options implemented can approximate the bidding system?