Friday, August 08, 2014

2014 WBC: Day 4

Tuesday is a big day for WBC as a whole with the entire morning and afternoon dedicated solely to a gigantic game auction and auction store. The only tournament allowed to have any games played on Tuesday before 6pm is Through The Ages which has the final during that time. I guess they feel like losing 4 or 5 people from the auction is not a big loss? But if they ran something (ANYTHING) with open entries then that thing would get a ton of players and the auction would lose out. I guess it would also be hard to get volunteers to run the auction and auction store if it required them to not play games that were going on. So I understand the need for this quirk in the schedule but it means Tuesday is pretty much only for open gaming or for sleeping in.

No one scheduled me for any open gaming so I went with operation sleep in. I was still the first one in my room awake and I think I got up around 11am. Then I wandered around for a while, watched a bit of the TTA final, and wandered some more. We had plans to go eat steak at 3pm (10% of the bill from the Texas Roadhouse goes to the open gaming library at WBC) and ended up running into Sara and Duncan and Andrew around 2. We played a game of Splendor to kill time. I won! Then we ate steak. Yeehaa!

A full 17 events get started at 6pm but I didn't really have a strong desire to play any of them. I'd play History of the World but I had Le Havre at 9pm and History would go too long. So I ended up going to El Grande. Not so much because I like the game because I actually tend to dislike political area control games. More because Pounder and Robb really like it so it's worth inflating the attendance numbers for them. Also it's Robb's team game and I wanted a chance to take him out like I did with Jason in TTA. Note that even though I beat Jason in a heat he still came 2nd...

As it would turn out I ended up playing at Robb's table of El Grande. With one of the 'werewolf kids' (Jeff) who is suddenly not really a kid anymore and who is pretty good at the game and Eric who I recognized from Sceadeau's group of gamers. I didn't recognize the 5th guy but I think he was one of the crew of good gamers who come down from Quebec, so probably going to be a rough table? It ended up being rough for other reasons though. It turned out Eric didn't really know how to play... Worse, he kept screwing up the same rule over and over despite being reminded every turn. You can't move into or out of the king's region! He doesn't like that! It's the first rule! He even managed to try to spin the king's region on turn 8 with the GM watching. The official result was supposed to be the card owner got to bone him but the GM decided that was too harsh and just chose the region he should have chosen with a promise to update the rules for next year. No one had ever broken that rule before! Then on turn 9 he managed to do it again! He spun the king's region from the pit! This one was resolved by the rules and his 8 guys died instead of impacting the game. Eric would have lost regardless, but he should have stolen points from SOMEONE.

It was also rougher than it should have been because I can't read. At one point we needed to secretly choose a region to score. Jeff had no cubes at all on the board so I knew he was going to block someone. (If multiple people pick the same region it doesn't score.) I felt like he was going to spite Robb if he could, but Robb had 2 awesome regions and was just going to pick between them. So I decided Jeff was going to skip Robb and go after the next person in line which I figured would be me. So I didn't want to go to my best region. I also didn't really see a good blocking play so I decided to score a region I was tied in for a couple extra points. We flipped the wheels and I'd worked it all out correctly. Jeff scored my good region. What really surprised me was that Robb had come and blocked my second region. So I figured he'd probably gone another level, worked out what I worked out, and then hoped Jeff would score something of Robb's anyway...

It turns out what actually happened was Robb picked between his two regions at random and I had mixed up the words Aragon and Granada. They have a lot of the same letters, right? So my great deductive reasoning and planning got thrown out the window and I ended up taking a 50% chance to spite Robb 6 points by spiting myself and the Quebec guy 4 points each. Oops? At least Robb flipped the coin in my favour... Would have been really bad to score both his regions!

Anyway, I built up a decent point lead and then people started turning on my despite not actually being in a good board position. I didn't have as many guys in play and they were all stacked up in a couple regions. So I was scoring big points a couple of times but other people were scoring smaller points all the time. Robb was getting spited too, including one time where he set up a perfect move for Eric and Eric decided to do something completely random instead. This meant I got to go next, undo Robb's move, and score a bunch of points for myself. Woo!

El Grande is also in a time slot that's a little too short for the game. People who know what they are doing will get done in 2 hours. Eric did not know what he was doing, needed a rules refresher before we started, and played very slowly. So we were in real danger of going way over time. This meant the rest of us had to play really fast on the last couple turns which sucked for me. I threw a ton of points away near the end by taking what looked like a decent move but turned out to do nothing instead of spite drafting the scoring card and not activating it. Lots of people got 8 or 10 points to my nothing and I'm pretty sure it directly determined the winner of the game. But I couldn't take the time to think because of how delayed we were. Bah.

The game ended up with the guy from Quebec silently scoring tons of points in all the regions, getting all his guys in play, and winning pretty handily. Jeff came second. Robb and I tied for 3rd, but I had him on tiebreakers. If I don't punt the spin a wheel and if I take the time to think through my last couple turns I think I might have won, but what are you going to do? At least I finished ahead of Robb in a heat of his team game!

El Grande took more than 2 hours so I couldn't go play Lost Cities. So I screwed around for 40 minutes or so and headed to Le Havre. The format for Le Havre changed this year to be preferentially 3 player games which is great for me since I seem to do much better in 3 player games than in 4 player games. It fits my play style better I guess? Anyway, this heat had 20 people show up which resulted in 4 3-player games and 2 4-player games. This meant if you brought a copy of the game (and arrived early enough to set it up) you had a 66% chance of playing a 3er and if you didn't you had a 57% chance of playing a 3er. I guess that means you should bring a copy if you wanted to play a 3er with this number of people showing up? I didn't bring a copy, and I got unlucky, so I was at a 4 player table. With Nick Vayn who made the finals the last two years and two people who learned a lot from our game. Guy on my right went first and opened with taking money and buying the marketplace. I bought the 4 cost building firm and gave him my last dollar to take clay+iron+coal which I parlayed into the sawmill and then a wooden ship after a trip to (I think?) the joinery. Nick manipulated the board well and built the colliery so I was really worried about my ability to win this game, especially since I couldn't use it at my first opportunity after he built it since I was flat broke and didn't think it was worth trading my action and my only hammer to get 3 coal. But then rather than move out of the colliery once he got in Nick decided to just sit there and pick up offers. He seemed really happy to do it too, since it was preventing me from getting more coal and I was clearly getting thrown off 'my game' by not being able to scoop up extra coal. Nick did get some pretty good offers with something like 5 cows, 5 grain, 8 wood, 8 clay, and 2 iron being taken by him. Eventually I decided we weren't going to get to play a standard game and snapped first. I built both wharves. (Well, I think the town built one and I bought it, but I did end up with both in front of me.) I picked up some wood, turned it into charcoal, and used 8 charcoal to make 5 steel at the steel mill. I picked up an extra steel at the business office and made steel a second time for 4 more I think. I made 4 only coke in the cokery, but I was the first one to do so and it put me ahead of the curve. I think I built 2 steel ships, 2 luxury liners, and shipped a few times. It wasn't my best score ever, but it was enough to barely win the game over Nick with scores somewhere around 189-182-120-103. The 4th player was the GMs mother in law and she clearly knew what some of the key things were in the game but not really how to string them together. She vendored a bunch of stuff to buy the shipping line, which is strong. But then she'd use it with one boat to make 9 dollars. Maybe if you own it that is actually a good use of 3 cows and a coal? At least if you can leverage that bump in cash into something good... (I certainly used the first two special buildings in this game to turn 4 grain and 4 wood into 12 dollars and to turn 6 bread into 18 dollars.) She ended up using the cash to buy an iron ship and then going back to ship with 2 boats! Which she used to buy an iron ship! One more round of shipping and she was completely out of resources and was sitting on 3 iron ships, a shipping line, and nothing left. She knew to hit the marketplace early, and to pound the colliery whenever she could. But something went off the rails a little and she just ran out of stuff. She certainly seemed to be having fun though, so everything is good!

Nick complained a bit after the game about not having enough energy himself to do what he wanted to do. I told him that's because he blocked his own colliery! He needed to skip an offer take to go somewhere, ANYWHERE, to accelerate his next turn in the colliery. Especially when you're the one who owns it... If other people come in you get stuff. If they don't you get coal. The worst thing for the colliery owner is to have someone sit in it. So don't sit in it yourself! I'll pass up some very good offers just to move out of my own colliery. The corollary to that is I'll also consider taking slightly suboptimal offers to sit in someone else's colliery. I'd rather someone else squat in it, to be honest, but I'll do it myself if I have to. So I feel like Nick made plays to screw me but ended up screwing himself since I adapted to the game with less energy in it better than he did.

Pretty sure we went to Waffle House again, this time with fewer people. I had the same thing and it was good. Sceadeau's meal got boned (they threw in extra ham for funsies) and he had to send it back. They again didn't want to throw out the food so they gave it to us anyway so Robb got two meals. Hurray?

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