Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Stone Age. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stone Age. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WBC 2014 Thursday: TPA and a day of not winning

Last week I conducted my fourth annual pilgrimage to the World Boardgaming Championships in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the summer highlight of my gaming year.  I had a fairly loose schedule in mind, with only a few key tournaments that I specifically wanted to hit.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Second day at World Boardgaming Championships

Friday morning, I ran a session of Trains Planes and Automobiles for several kids in the Juniors Room between tournaments.  Laurie W. of the Junior Events staff at WBC had played it with me yesterday, and she talked up the game among the kids to help spur interest.  The kids that joined me at the table had a good time learning and playing TPA and really liked it.  Later in the day, I played TPA with my friends Brian G. and Keith F., each of whom had already bought a copy.

I had some free time to try another round of Wooden Ships and Iron Men, and was surprised to learn that I was in the running for the quarterfinals.  I took the opportunity to play another session to try to boost my chances of qualifying.  In our scenario, I had two British 74-gun ships-of-the-line (SOLs), and my opponent had equivalent ships.  From the first turn, I could tell this was going to be an unusual game.  My opponent opened with an innovative tactic; he sent one of his vessels upwind and the other downwind as I approached in order to attempt a rake on one end or the other of my line.  I am rather traditional in my tactics and refused to separate my ships but maintained a close order line in an attempt to overlap fields of fire and concentrate on a single target (as I had against Robert yesterday).  

I focused my fire on one ship's rigging to reduce his maneuverability and render him unable to tack upwind and rake the rear of my line.  Suddenly he turned toward me, rammed my rear ship, and attempted to board it - something I really did not expect.  What followed was a bloody melee over several turns in which my crew barely prevailed.  He fought to the last man in a the battle that left my rear ship with only an eighth of its original crew standing.  Meanwhile my lead ship was engaged in a pounding point-blank exchange of broadsides that left both his downwind ship and my lead ship in danger of striking.  My rear ship freed itself of the grapples from the now-empty, drifting enemy vessel, and re-joined my lead ship.  I was able to engage his remaining vessel from both sides and deliver the decisive blow that force her to strike her colors.  At the end, we both agreed that it was one of the most exciting WS&IM battles either of us had played in a long time.  Unlike the previous day's victories, which seemed to some degree products of dice luck, I felt as though I won Friday's battle largely through tactical discipline.    

I entered the Alhambra tournament, which was very well attended.  I had a strong second-place finish among the six very friendly players at our table (including Laurie W. of the Juniors Room).  As it turned out, only first-place finishers would qualify for the semi-finals, so I was out of the running for Alhambra.  

A little later in the day, Joel Tamburo hosted a seminar on ethics in gaming, an engaging discussion on a rich topic that I will explore in more detail in a later blog post.

That evening, I saw a demonstration of GMT's Washington's War, which looks like an interesting game that explores the efforts of Great Britain vs. the Continental Congress to win the hearts and minds of the colonists during the American Revolution.

Keith F. had seen a demonstration last year of a game called Wartime, an as-yet unpublished real-time board wargame.  Josh Tempkin of Tall Tower Games has it for demo here at WBC again this year, so Brian G. and I had the opportunity to try it out.  The game involves perhaps the most innovative mechanism I can remember seeing in a long time - a set of multiple egg timers for tracking when pieces may move.  All play is simultaneous and open, and the game involves no luck at all.  Players simply move and attack as fast as the egg timers allow them to.  The gameplay gives new meaning to the phrase "fast and furious."  We finished our first game in nine minutes.  It felt very much like a real-time video game, but in the format of a boardgame.  We learned subsequently that later that very evening, Josh sold the design to a publisher.  We look forward to seeing the production version when it comes out.

The three of us got together for a late-night session of Stone Age and were joined by Debbie, whom we had not met before but who saw us setting up and asked to join us.  Stone Age falls into the worker-placement category of Agricola or Pillars of the Earth, but it has some novel scoring mechanisms that take some getting used to.  I really enjoy the game but am reluctant to buy it only because it is another bird of that feather, so to speak.

On our way out, we ran across a game of Lifeboat that was being played by Chris and Cherilyn, the creators of the Dice Hate Me blog and podcast.  It was great to meet them in person.  They plan to have playtest sessions of two of their games on Saturday, so I hope to try them out, time permitting.

My Saturday plan currently consists of joining the WS&IM fleet action, a multi-player event in which each player controls two ships in a large naval battle.  There are several demos I want to see during the day, and the WS&IM semifinal and final will be later that afternoon.  If I take leave of my senses, I may participate in the midnight Wartime tournament, just because that game looks like so much fun.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An old favorite and a new discovery

(c) Queen Games
Used by permission
My first victory at PrezCon last week came Wednesday afternoon in the first heat of Alhambra (designer Dirk Henn, publisher Queen Games), a favorite of mine.  It was a very friendly game, despite the propensity for Elisabeth P., a PrezCon newcomer, to continually buy the very tile I was looking for.  (How dare she?) 

Winning in the first heat qualified me for the semifinal the next day.  Somehow in the semifinal I had a hard time waiting my turn.  Three times I tried to skip Tedd Mullally on his turn.  He was a good sport about it; he didn't even break the skin when trying to bite my hand off.  ;-)  Despite what I thought was reasonably strong play, I came in second in the Alhambra semifinal.  Losing semifinals would be a recurring theme for me in PrezCon this year.

Later that afternoon, my friends Brian Greer, Keith Ferguson, Glenn Weeks, and I got together for my first full game of Stone Age (designer Michael Tummelhofer [pen name for Bernd Brunnhofer], publisher Rio Grande), a worker placement game that reminds me of both Pillars of the Earth and Agricola.  As such, the game continually poses a variety of options for limited resources, all the more challenging when only one player can grow the family, upgrade a tool, or develop agriculture in a turn.  The rest are left to claim victory point options and collect resources to pay for them - not to mention gathering food for the family.  In my case, I thought I played a relatively solid game, though not good enough to place better than third of four.  I like this game, although I'm not eager to buy my own copy, given its similarity to Pillars and Agricola.  Nevertheless, it's a very fun game in its own right.

Next, bringing power to Germany and transportation to America...