Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 WBC: Day 5

Wednesday marks the first real full day at WBC. Robb was GMing Innovation at 9am and Pounder chose it as his team game so they were both going to be there. Having now beaten two of my old team at their team games I had to come on down and try to take Pounder out at his. It was held in a particularly cold room and made me very sad. I almost went back to the hotel room to get my warm blanket. I'm strongly considering tracking down a Snuggie for next year! It's like the Host took our complaints about no AC too far and went way overboard to screw us. Or just to screw me? Other people were complaining about the cold but it didn't seem like anyone was as bothered as I was. I miss being warm.

Anyway, Innovation at 9am. I was matched up with a nice young woman who is working on her phd. My Coke bottle for the morning told me to share it with Jess and my opponent's name was Jessica. Close enough? Maybe if it was later in the day, but at 9am off of not much sleep that Coke was mine and mine alone. Take your sharing advice elsewhere, bottle of Coke! The game itself featured me drawing Mathematics early on and running it over and over. I never flipped up another blue card until I was all the way up to the 10s. I was behind in score so I couldn't just drain the 10s, but I activated Satellites over and over until I pulled something that put out more 10s that happened to be Self Service or something that said I won. Jessica was stuck back in the 4s. I didn't see any of her cards as being capable of stealing my stuff so I'm not sure what outs she might have had. I don't play much Innovation but I have played a fair number of times online and I generally found that a full Math ramp was just game winning and it sure seemed to be this game.

Round 2 had been blanked out of my mind. I assume I lost the brain cells storing that information due to frostbite. I don't remember how we got to the end game situation but I know I ended up with both Software and Robotics in play and had to draw, meld, and activate another 10. If it was AI then I was going to lose the same way Sceadeau lost in the mulligan round. Fortunately it was The Internet instead which instantly won me the game instead of instantly losing me the game. Hurray!

I won round 3 as well, but really don't remember it. At some point Pounder got a bye (as he should since he was last year's winner) but for round 4 we were down to 5 people and now Robb wanted to switch to using an eliminator instead of using byes. Eliminators instead of byes is preferred, but you're supposed to use them the whole time if you use them at all. I voiced this concern but seemed to be the only one with a problem so off we went. I believe every eliminator used ended up losing so it was a lot like awarding byes anyway? Assuming no one got a second one? I ended up losing in the round of 5 against another competitor so it didn't much matter to me!

I am very frustrated about that loss because I was in such a dominating position and had a play to win but missed it. I got out to 5 early achievements but then my opponent's better board finally took over and he was able to start scoring a bunch of special achievements and was about to score the 6 and put things really out of reach. I had a chance to win by running coal and flipping up a card of any of 3 colours. (I had 30+ points but needed a top card that was a 6 to achieve the 6 and win. I had 3 piles with exactly 2 cards in them and the 5 pile was empty so if I pull one of those colours I win. I didn't. I then had to just draw a 6 and hope to move on somehow. The 6 was industrialization which let me start splaying my limited number of cards. I then set up to get monument by tucking 6 cards in a turn but my opponent using lighting twice the turn before I could do it. He was up to 5 achievements and was easily going to get the 8 on his turn (he had a 8 in hand) and win. I was 3 clocks from an achievement and decided to try a random 'meld a card' action in the hopes of getting them. What I should have done is activated industrialization to tuck 3 cards and hope the 3 cards I tucked had clocks on them. This at least had a chance to work out, because I'd seen a bunch of the 8s and knew some clocks were left. My blue wasn't splayed but I had metric system in play and could have easily splayed it as my second action if I'd hit both blue 8s. It turned out they were both on top of the 8 pile and it would have been the win if I'd tried it. But because I tried the other thing first it didn't work and I lost. *sigh*

I hate losing on my own mistakes so I went back to the room to cool down. I think I stayed there until 3 when I left for Agricola. I've been playing a few games online recently with Sceadeau letting me know how I'm terrible so I've been getting better but I'm certainly not good at the game. I ended up at a table with Bill Crenshaw and a couple of people I didn't recognize. I opened the draft with guildmaster, got a second pick basketmaker (which Sceadeau later told me I likely could have wheeled 6th since he's awful for anyone without a guildmaster) and then a third pick social climber. This gave me a course of action to take since as long as I set up to renovate early and build majors I'd get 6 free stone, 4 free wood, 4 free clay, and 6 free reed from 3 occupations. Felt good! Bill ended up building the basketmaker's workshop on me but I got the other two guild buildings and all the renos fairly early. I built a lot of early fences (I think I used sawhorse to get 15 out for 10 wood) and ended up with a ludicrous number of animals. Milking stool and cowherd combined to let me get 8 cows for 4 bonus points. I thought I'd done really well.

It turns out the two guys I didn't recognize were doing the opposite of well and Bill was reaping the rewards better than I was? Or maybe equivalently to me. He also ended up with lots of animals and a stone house and all the things. He won by 2 points, and I had a completely wasted action in the middle where I built the punner after Bill had used his 2-shot plow once and then conspired to block him from using it a second time. Action and a wood for no game effect makes me sad. What really makes me sad is righty had taken start player that round for no discernible reason that I could see which kept me from playing the punner as an add-on action, and prevented me from playing it before Bill plowed. In retrospect I probably should have just plowed myself? That forces Bill to wait at least a turn on plowing and gives me more time to pun it up. Oh well.

At 6pm I played a heat of Ra Dice because it was in the same room as Agricola and why not? I came tied for second at a table where the winner spent the whole game ragging on how I was going to win by pointing at my monuments and making up ludicrous numbers for how many points they were going to be worth. It left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but whatever. It was short at least!

At 8pm I decided to give Galaxy Trucker a spin. Sceadeau and Duncan were both talking about how great the first heat had been so I went to give it a shot. I was put into a 3 player game with a copy of the game that included the first expansion. I was up against last year's 2nd place finisher all the way from Russia (Ashley) and someone I didn't recognize. We decided to play with all the things even though I'd never used some of them before and had to have them explained to me. On top of a normal game we all got a hand of 4 extra events to seed into the event deck one per round. Also before each round (but after seeding an event) we flipped up an extra card that modified the rules of the game. It sure made for extra craziness which is a good thing for Galaxy Trucker. Crazy ho!

The first round had the extra card 'if a laser or meteor doesn't do damage reroll it up to twice' which I took to mean I'd really need to defend my ship well. But it was round 1, so how much defending can you really do? There isn't really space for shields... No open connectors was my primary goal. The event I'd seeded caused two large meteors to attack each ship but instead of rolling they'd hit the two outside ends of your ship. So I knew I had to build lasers on my outside columns. I ended building a pretty mediocre ship since it had nothing battery powered at all (no shields or anything) but I'd included a bunch of batteries on the ship. Also no red cargo space. On the plus side I had lots of guns which worked out pretty well. The random guy at my table was down to 5 pieces on his ship when my event went off... It killed 3 of those! He was eventually lost in open space. Ashley hadn't built guns on the outside ends of her ship so my card blew two of her things up (including some cargo). Woo! My guns were still intact at that point so I escaped unscathed. I ended up scoring fewer points for the round than Ashley did since she had cargo space and I didn't but it was fairly close. The other guy had taken the lawyer card so he didn't lose very much. In retrospect the lawyer had died so I'm pretty sure he shouldn't have been able to use it and should have lost a lot of money.

The second round had the extra card 'you can build engines pointing forwards and backwards and after resolving open space you need to rotate your ship 180 degrees'. I seeded an event that caused people to lose 7 flight days or run a gauntlet of meteors. Before flipping a single tile both Ashley and I looked at 75% of the cards in the round to scout for open space. There was one such card... Which meant we would be flipping at least once and if the remaining 25% had an open space in it we'd die if we didn't build some forward pointing engines. This meant our ships ended up being really awkward looking since we had to have guns and engines pointing both ways. Super awkward for me since I'd seeded an event with a big meteor from the side so I wanted guns on the sides of my ship too. In retrospect I should have put a big priority on getting aliens for my ship since they provide +2 to guns or engines regardless of which way the ship is pointing. I ended up with no aliens at all but lots of guns pointing all sorts of ways. I'd included a bunch of ways to spend batteries this time (some shields and a lot of those guns were double guns) but only 4 or 5 batteries total on the ship. Lots of the cards were attack cards and my batteries were quickly drained holding them off. I kept exactly tying the enemies power and not spending the battery to kill them to conserve batteries but it was for naught. I ended up running out of batteries and then getting into trouble because I couldn't power my guns. On the plus side pushing the enemies down the line ended up hurting both other players too, so that was nice. Someone had seeded a card stealing money for aliens. Clearly they'd thought ahead more than I had! Safe due to no aliens! I think I ended up making the most points this round because I picked up a fair amount of cargo and didn't take too much damage. At one point an event resolved that let the person in the back shoot the person ahead of them and then the person in second shoot the leader. But you could name a bribe to not take the damage... I was in the middle and feel like I played it wrong since I ended up paying to keep bits that later got blown off while Ashley didn't pay my bribe for her bits that later got blown off.

The third round was going to be for all the marbles and had the extra card 'pay a dollar for each crew member at the end of the run' which didn't feel like it was going to hurt all that much but really made me want to put a priority on aliens and luxury cabins for crew instead of regular crew. My event was a battery testing thing where you had to pay a battery for every 2 pieces of your ship that could use batteries or have them blow off your ship. I knew that meant I wanted to limit my battery usage and went with just 2 shields and a shield booster along with a fair number of shields. Not having any way to make large amounts of weapon power or battery power (by skipping all the battery stuff) meant I really, really wanted aliens. I ended up with all 3 aliens and took the manager blue alien to make my other aliens better. I screwed up building my ship (we were using the Enterprise and my first placement made it so I couldn't make a circle for the saucer section) but my ship ended up being really, really good. Some cargo space, some batteries, all the aliens, all the shields, a few engines, and a TON of weapons. The round started off brutally for Ashley as the first couple cards were combat zones where she lost two categories and the other guy lost one. Ashley lost a bunch of bits from laser fire and spent a bunch of batteries. Then some pirates or something came that were going to steal cargo. I was able to exactly tie them so I was fine, but the other two couldn't fight them off and had no cargo to steal so they lost batteries. Then we did something that set me back a day to collect a reward which put Ashley back out in front. More pirates, these ones with guns, and weak enough that I killed them for bucks after they shot her up. She was flat out of batteries by now... Which meant it was prime time for my seeded card to come up. She couldn't pay for any of her things that used batteries since she had none left so all those bits exploded. Since we were using the Enterprise ship and since she'd lost a fair number of pieces already this meant a lot of the load bearing pieces left on her ship were battery related... She lost something like 7 battery related pieces and probably 5 others. Not too long after a meteor swarm took her out for good. And the other guy too, for that matter. I got to play the last 4 or 5 cards by myself.

Final scores were 81-2-(-3). The guy took lawyer twice and used him after he died so I have a feeling the scores probably should have been 81-(-3)-(-40). I don't know that I played super well, and I certainly don't think I played that much better than Ashley did, but she got pummeled early in age 3 and couldn't recover. She also built a ship that lost to my event... But maybe that's by design? If I'm aggressively taking batteries and spurning pieces that don't use batteries then it feels like the pieces left for the other players are likely to cost batteries to use without having extra batteries to go around? So maybe the disaster in the last round was a result of good play after all?

At any rate, I had fun in this game and decided I really wanted to play it again at WBC if I could. But since the semis were at the same time as my team game's semis that wasn't actually going to happen. Maybe next year will be different? I'd like to play more with all the crazy cards...

11pm was Can't Stop (Looking Fabulous) so I put on my watermelon getup (green shirt, pink tie, black pants) and went to roll dice. Andrew had been talking all week about how he was going to prove that Can't Stop is a heavy skill game by winning it. I lost in the first round. So did he. He got one turn. Someone at his table capped the 6s, 7s, and 8s all in one turn thanks to some goading from Andrew. Whatever high skill game. Whatever.

I don't think I'd eaten all day so Waffle House featured Papa Joe's pork chops, meat lovers size. It's a little surprising but Waffle House actually makes a pretty good pork chop. 3 pork chops and some hash browns is a pretty good meal.

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