The Brosius family attends the 2012 World Boardgaming Championships
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My family and I have been attending the World Boardgaming Championships for a number of years now. I started out coming by myself, but all three of us look forward to it eagerly each year. In fact, my wife is the GM for the Ticket to Ride tournament, which has drawn more than 200 participants every year, so in many ways she is more involved than I am.

If you want to check out my GeekLists from previous years, here are the links:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/15890

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/23759

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/33864

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/45262

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/57698

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/70767

And the following year(s) can be found here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/161260


I always enjoy my visit to WBC, and this year was no exception. This GeekList is a report on what we did.
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26. Board Game: Pro Golf [Average Rating:5.40 Overall Rank:9657]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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There are games you play because you love to play the games, and there are games you play because you love to play with the people you play with. I'm not a fan of Pro Golf (I rate it a lowly '4',) but I try to play it every year at WBC. Our table this year included Rich Meyer, Rich Irving, Bob Cranshaw, Glen Pearce, Claire and me. (If you play fast, you can play in a six-some and still finish within the allotted time.) In past years we've had Bob Menzel at our table, but unfortunately Bob was not able to make it in 2012.

The key to Pro Golf (and you should listen to me because I'm a former WBC champion in the event) is to avoid rolling '1's and to roll a lot of '6's. Also, if you are asked, "do you want to lay up short or go for the green?," you should say, "GO FOR THE GREEN!" If you're trying to win a 4-player game, it may make sense to play it safe sometimes, but if you're trying to finish in the top 4 out of a group of 60, you need to take every chance to get lucky.

We started rolling and, I have to say, I have never seen a table that was so good at rolling '1's. It was not our day (even though Bob got Phil Mickelson, it was either one of his poorer years or he didn't roll well for him.) I think the lowest score among the 6 of us was 1 under par---not nearly low enough to participate in the Skins Game that determines the champ.

Despite our lousy scores, we had a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to next year.
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27. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:63]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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As I lay in bed before going to sleep, I was thinking about how to improve Claire's process for checking people in and assigning them to tables. These are separate processes: first you check people in, and then you assign them to tables. Many tournaments do these two things together, in the same space. It involves a lot of milling around and getting in each other's way, but if you only have 40 people (as I did for The Princes of Florence,) it's not a problem. It's a whole different ballgame when you have 100 people, like Claire usually does. In addition, she tries to let each person have his or her choice among Ticket to Ride, Ticket to Ride: Europe and Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 and still do random table assignments.

Over breakfast, we discussed an approach that would physically separate the people who have not yet checked in from those who have checked in and are waiting for table assignments. We moved the check-in station closer to the entrance to Ballroom B and set up a waiting area between there and Claire's GM station. In the waiting area, we set up three chairs, with signs for the three variants that were available. This allowed the checked-in people to gather in groups by preference, so Claire could see what the demand for each variant was and set games up on tables accordingly. It also reduced the anxiety for the participants, who could see that there was an orderly table assignment process. It worked great, and we're going to use this method in the future. Other GMs for large tournaments might find it useful too; you're welcome to contact us for details.

One result of the new process is that Claire could see she needed a few more players for Ticket to Ride: Europe. It's my least favorite of the three options, because I don't like how the long tickets work, but I volunteered to play it to help make the tables come out even. I drew the Naples - Moscow long ticket together with two other tickets that worked with the east and south edges of the board, and as a result, my game was something like Mark Geary's had been in my previous game: I was under little or no pressure and could calmly collect train cards while my opponents fought frantically for routes in the northwest part of Europe.

Even though I had poor luck with tunnels (my first tunnel required two extra cards and my second required one,) the lack of pressure made it easy for me to build Moscow - Smyrna - Ankara - Naples - Rome - Spain (I'm not listing all the stops, but just the general outline of my route) and take longest train for an easy victory.

One win qualifies you for the quarter-finals in Ticket to Ride except in the somewhat unlikely event that more than 64 winners show up, so I was in and was guaranteed to be able to play a game on Sunday morning at 9am.
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28. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:5]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My second Puerto Rico heat game was an odd one. I got Coffee up and running early, together with several Quarries, and my goal was to Trade and Build. Some of the other players had setups that were better for shipping, but for some reason, no one in this game thought it made sense to take the Craftsman, so there weren't a lot of goods to ship. In fact, the shipping points at the end of the game added up to only 26 among the four players---two opponents and I had 5 points each, while the big shipping person had a whopping 11 shipping points.

Meanwhile, I was building away like a madman. My left-hand opponent built a Guild Hall, and I got a City Hall. No one took Mayor, so they remained unmanned. Late in the game, I was the last player to choose a role. I had two empty spaces left in my building area, and I had enough money for a large building. I took Builder and built a second large building, ending the game. My left-hand opponent, who already had the Guild Hall, also bought a second large building, but the other two could not afford the last one and bought smaller buildings instead.

As a result, the game ended with four large buildings bought---two each by me and my left-hand opponent---and none of them manned. (I sure didn't want them manned, because the Guild Hall was a lot better than any of mine.) The made for a low scoring game. I finished with 29 VP, a full 5 VP ahead of my nearest rival, who had 24 VP. The others were at 22 and 19. You might think 29 is a low score in Puerto Rico, but it was more than any of my opponents, and that's what counts!
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29. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:62]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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Friday evening was the time for the second heat of The Princes of Florence at 5pm and then, starting at 8pm, the semis and finals. I already had a win in the first heat, so when Eric Freeman offered to take over running the second heat to allow me to play in the Race for the Galaxy quarter-finals, I was greatly appreciative. I got Eric started, and he finished setting up the tables (with help from Assistant GMs.) Eric also coordinates a Euro game WBC cooperative scheduling effort, which is invaluable in helping reduce overlaps among the various tournaments, allowing more people to pay more games they love.

As mentioned above, I came to grief in the Race for the Galaxy semis, so I was back in plenty of time to finish GMing the second heat and collect the score sheets. It was time for the third heat of Lost Cities, but I needed every minute to type the second heat results for The Princes of Florence into my spreadsheet to determine the standings for the semis.

When we arrived at the semis, which were scheduled to be in the Paradise room, the room was already full, and it was a steam bath (the air conditioning for parts of the hotel had been struck by lightning earlier in the week.) One of the semi-finalists suggested that we move to Ballroom B, where it was cooler and there was plenty of room. We had to watch out for the Liar's Dice tournament, a huge, noisy affair that would start at 11pm, but we certainly had time for the semis. I was delighted to see that 24 of the 25 qualifiers had shown up, so I needed only the first alternate, Bruce DuBoff, to make up five full 5-player tables.

I assigned tables using the results from the heats. Anne Norton was the #1 seed, as she was the only player who won in both of the heats. Anne played at a table with the #10, #11, #20 and #21 seeds. The #2 seed, Jason Long, played with the #9, #12, #19 and #22 seeds, and so forth. I was assigned to a table with Jay Fox, Tom Johnston (whom I narrowly defeated for the 2003 championship,) Roger Budz and Eric Freeman (who had helped with the second heat.) There were some strong players at this table, but the competition is generally strong for The Princes of Florence, so there were strong players at every table.

We bid for seating order, giving up florins at the start of the game (if we chose to do so) in order to get our choice of seats. Roger bid $300 to get Seat 2, and Eric Freeman and I bid $100 each to get Seats 1 and 3, respectively. Tom and Jay took Seats 4 and 5 at no cost. For the six games in which seats were bid for (including the final,) the average bids were $100 for Seat 1, $283 for Seat 2 (Tom Browne got a deal,) $83 for Seat 3 (Jason Levine got a deal,) and $0 for Seats 4 and 5.

We rearranged ourselves in accordance with the bidding and paid the bidding costs where applicable. We then began play. It was a relatively typical game, and I played a relaxed game, taking what came to me rather than bidding everything up high. I should perhaps have been more aggressive, as I bought just one Jester and one Recruiter and as a result did not stand out in any way. I did get two Prestige Cards, which are often useful, but they were small ones, and I could see that my score would not be high. In the end, Tom scored 63 PP, an excellent total, to win. I was far behind in 2nd with 54 and Jay was right behind me with 53. My 2nd place was not nearly close enough to vie for 6th place laurels---6th place went to Peter Walsh, who lost by just 1 PP to Rod Spade, 61-60.
 
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30. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:62]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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The semifinal winners for The Princes of Florence were Tom Johnston, John Corrado (who won with a Builder strategy,) Bruce DuBoff, Jason Levine and Rod Spade. Although the finals were scheduled for immediately after the semis, Jason had a problem. He is the GM for Liar's Dice, a tournament that was scheduled for 11pm in Ballroom B, and that usually draws more than 200 people. As I mentioned in my comments on Ticket to Ride, it's a major undertaking to GM a tournament like that (and, not to say anything against the Liar's Dice players, they are a bit more unruly than those for Ticket to Ride!) Jason asked whether we could modify the starting time for the final so as to allow him to play.

We considered several options and finally agreed to start the final at midnight in Ballroom B. By that time, Jason's tournament would be winding down, with only a few tables left, and he could collect the score sheets and answer any questions while playing in the The Princes of Florence finals. I want to thank all the The Princes of Florence finalists for being flexible about this; taking on a GMing job like the one Jason does is a big sacrifice and I'm glad people made an accommodation for his schedule.

We bid for seats, just as we had done in the semis, and we started off. In the first round, Jason paid a whopping $900 for the first Builder. If you can get cheap Builders, you can consider the Builder strategy, but I don't think anyone considers $900 to be cheap. Jason built a University and played a work for 7 WV in Round 1, gaining 3 PP for Best Work. Before he built his University, he spent 5 minutes or so thinking about how he wanted to arrange his board. One person complained about the delay, but Jason made up for it by taking no more than 5 minutes in total for his other 12 actions through Round 2 through 6.

Jason's second Builder cost only $500 in Round 2, a relative bargain, but the price for his third one went up to $700.

Of course, the prices for other items (especially Jesters and Recruiters) were sky-high as well, and high auction prices mean low scores, so perhaps Jason's Builder strategy had a chance. Rod was playing a different game in Seat 2, adding to his 5 profession cards a pair of Recruiters and a pair of Jesters so that he could play works for 21 WV without the help of Bonus Cards. The other players played more mixed strategies, though John won Best Work an impressive four times, in Rounds 3, 4, 5 and 7, for a total of 12 PP.

I've written up a detailed Session Report for the final, as I have done for a number of years. I encourage you to follow along so you can see how it went:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/839548

After 7 rounds, Rod and John were ahead on the score track with 57 PP and 56 PP, respectively. However, neither of them had purchased a Prestige Card, so those were their final scores. Jason had two Prestige Cards, which he turned over to reveal Most Builders for 6 PP and Fewest Empty Spaces for 8, giving him a total of 59 PP and putting him into the lead. Tom scored 8 for All 3 Freedoms, but was only tied for Most Lakes, earning 3, leaving him at 54 PP. Bruce scored 7 PP for 1 Builder, 1 Jester and 2 Landscapes, but his Most Landscapes card did not score, and as a result, he finished in 5th place with 46 PP. As I mentioned above, Peter Walsh took 6th place for the closest 2nd place in a semi.

Jason did a great job winning the final using a pure Builder strategy. This strategy has been pursued in the final before (I know that Scott Nicholson used it in 2005,) but this is the first time anyone has won with it. And, as I mentioned, Jason did this while finishing up GMing the Liar's Dice tournament.

Here's a picture of Jason's principality at the end of the game:



Over the next year, I suspect The Princes of Florence fans will be studying the Builder strategy---both how to win with it and how to defeat it. Maybe we'll even see games in which two players try it (I doubt that will end well for either.)

As the The Princes of Florence GM, I'd like to encourage WBC attendees to practice this wonderful game and join us in 2013. You'll learn something, and you'll have a lot of fun doing it!
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31. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: USA 1910 [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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On Saturday morning Claire and I got up for the third and final heat of Ticket to Ride. We were in the Heritage room this time, and fortunately, it was another room where the air conditioning was working fine. Attendance was a bit smaller than in the first two heats (perhaps as a result of over-participation in Liar's Dice? Or it may have been the conflict with the start of the Catan tournament.) This time I was assigned to a table for Ticket to Ride: USA 1910, and Sarah Beach, an Assistant GM, was at my table. I had a hand that was similar to the one Mark Geary got in the first heat, so I kept grabbing cards and preparing for a blitz. Sarah, however, seemed to be drawing better tickets than I had in my first game. When an opponent draws tickets and keeps more than 1, it's never a good sign!

I duly blitzed through my trains (leaving off a connection for my Chicago - New York ticket, worth 5, in order to finish sooner) and we scored. Sarah and I were exactly tied on the scoreboard, but she had more completed tickets (of course) and won, with me coming in 2nd (my rush had cost Sarah a ticket worth 6, so it turned out that giving up Chicago - New York was marginally a good decision on my part.) She was delighted to win such an exciting game, and was looking forward (like me) to the quarter-finals on Sunday morning.
 
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32. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:5]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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At 11am the third heat of Puerto Rico was scheduled. Although my win in the second heat guaranteed I'd advance, a second win would give me a bye into the semis, allowing me to skip the quarter-final. To make it a bit harder to get two wins, the GM, Mindy Kyrkos, matched people who had already won games with each other in this heat. To gain a bye into the semis, you would have to beat three other heat winners. My table had four closely-matched contestants, including Barry Barnes, who I think is the GM's father. We played a careful game, but Barry was victorious, edging me out by a 53-51 margin. This was the closest game I had played so far, and it gave Barry a bye into the semis, but I would have to play the quarter-finals.

After playing my Lost Cities heat against Alyssa Mills, I sat down for my quarter-final game. One of the players at my table was David Platnick, an outstanding player who had beaten me in Thurn and Taxis and who won the Puerto Rico tournament in 2011. We bid for seats, and I bid 1.5 VP for the 4th seat. David bid 1.5 VP for the 3rd seat, and I realized that, though 4th seat is good, being to David's left isn't so good. It was another interesting game, and I thought I had a chance, but my building strategy fell short by just 2 VPs to David's 38 shipping VPs.

It was not a problem; while I would not be able to play in the Puerto Rico semis on Sunday morning, I would be able to play in the Ticket to Ride quarter-finals.
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33. Board Game: Facts in Five [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:3032]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I'm not usually a trivia game buff (my downfall in Trivial Pursuit was always the pink wedges,) but I always try to make the WBC Facts in Five tournament. It's a one-hour tournament in which you try to come up with as many correct answers to 125 question as you can (e.g., name a constellation that starts with 'E'.) I've played every year since 2006 with the exception of one year in which I had a conflict, and I generally score in the top 6 (my brain seems to be stuffed with useless information---the question is whether I can find it when I need it in only 5 minutes!) In fact, I had chosen Facts in Five as my WBC team game, since I thought I had a pretty good chance of scoring at least a few points.

The GM has a tough job in this tournament. First, he or she must come up with good, unambiguous categories and appropriate letters (each set of letters needs to go with five categories.) The categories must be of the right difficulty. Last year's winner had 66 correct answers, and I was just back in 3rd place with 64. This year we had a new GM, John Corrado (who came in 3rd in The Princes of Florence,) so we didn't know whether his questions would be easier or harder than the ones from 2012. Also, the GM must recruit enough people to help him score all the answers by the next morning. It's a real commitment, and I want to thank John or doing a great job with one of my favorite tournaments!

We packed into the Hopewell auditorium (I think they'd better get a bigger venue for 2013, because the tournament seems to be growing) and wrote answers madly for an hour. One answer I had (a constellation starting with 'A') was right (Auriga) and I scratched it out to give a better answer, but forgot to write the better answer, so I lost a point there. And the constellation starting with 'E'? Any Race for the Galaxy player should be able to tell you it's Eridanus, the constellation in which Epsilon Eridani is located. *Sigh* I am always happy to hear people groan on categories like Beatles songs, because I don't know any of them anyway.

Well, on Sunday morning John published the results. The winner was longtime Facts in Five powerhouse Paul Bean, with 66 points (the same as Matthew Beach's winning score last year)! My score was 64 points (the same as I scored last year) but this time it was only good for 4th as two players finished with 65. I guess John did a pretty good job keeping the question difficulty constant with last year!

I scored 4 points for my team, and Rich Meyer scored 1 point for taking 5th in Empire Builder. Our other two teammates had conflicts and were not able to play in the semis for their team games (as I told Chris Senhouse, "never skip a final to play in a semi, even if it is your team game!")

I look forward to Facts in Five every year. Maybe one year I'll even win it. But it's a lot of fun, win or lose.
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34. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:84]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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Claire and I got up early on Sunday morning to attend the Christian service organized by Keith Hunsinger. Claire plays the flute and I play the piano to help people sing. We've been steady attenders every year, and it's good to see many of the same people (including John Poniske, Steve Packwood, John Pack, Tim Hitchings and many others.)

After the service, we rushed over to Ballroom B to do some setting up, and then back to the Showroom for the "After Action Report" at 8am. At this event, awards are given out for the prior year and Don Greenwood, the Convention Director, answers questions from the audience.

The awards included the Caesar Award, which went to Randy Buehler for gaining the most laurels in the previous year, to Larry Lingle for Sportsman of the Year, to the team Go Flank Yourself for scoring the most team points last year, and to my wife Claire for being GM of the Year. It's a great honor (and one of the only awards that includes a tangible gift---the Boardgame Player's Association paid for one of our rooms this year during the main part of the con in appreciation for Claire's work! Thank you!) Claire got a big plaque and had her picture taken. I don't know anyone who deserved this honor more than Claire---when she takes on a job, whether it's running the AWANA club at our church, Countryside Bible Chapel in Lexington MA, or running the Ticket to Ride tournament at WBC, she gives it everything she has. Her next job is to figure out where she wants to hang the plaque on the wall at home.
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35. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:84]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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People were already starting to line up when we made it back to Ballroom B to start checking people in for the Ticket to Ride quarters. It's a tricky job, since we take all the winners and use byes and 3-player games to make up tables. We ended up with 48 winners showing up, which meant there were 5 byes (the top 5 winners,) 10 tables of 4 and 1 table of 3. This would give us 11 table winners to go with the 5 byes to make 16 semi-finalists.

As I was helping Claire with the logistics, someone came over from the Puerto Rico area to tell me that one semi-final qualifier (I believe it was Barb Flaxington) would not be playing, so they needed an alternate. My close 2nd to David Platnick made me the 2nd alternate, and since the 1st alternate was not around, I could play in the Puerto Rico semis. An extension to the rule, "never skip a final for a semi" is, "never skip a semi for a quarter-final" and I gave Claire my apologies and headed over. The Ticket to Ride tables were well in hand by this point, so she didn't need my help.

There were some interesting games in the quarters and semis for Ticket to Ride. Steve Shambeda took 13 tickets in his semi and scored them all to win his table, and Vien Bounma was 11 for 11 to win his. How would you feel if you made 11 of 11 tickets in your semi only to be told that someone at another table made 13? The closest 2nd in the semis went to Sarah Beach, who was awarded the 5th place plaque (and was thrilled to have made it so far.) Sixth place went to Bryan Berkenstock, who would have earned a sand plaque if not for the fact that Ticket to Ride dropped to a 5-plaque event in 2012 (so close!)

The final game went quickly, and was won by Henry Allen, the guy who won my third Race for the Galaxy heat. Henry seemed to have half the train card deck in his hand, and was in the coveted driver's seat as his opponents dueled over routes while he sat back and prepared to play 6-length routes. He finished with 144 to win the tournament. Rich Meyer, my teammate, came in second with 121 with help from the Globetrotter bonus, and Vien and Steve came in 3rd and 4th, respectively. Claire handed out the plaques and we headed for home.
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36. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:5]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My final game of WBC 2012 wasn't Ticket to Ride, as I had expected, or TransAmerica, as I had feared (anyone with nothing else to play can enter the TransAmerica tournament starting at 10am on Sunday.) Instead, as I mentioned above, I was in the Puerto Rico semis for the second consecutive year, even though I had won only one game. The "big name" at this table was Sceadeau D'Tela (try spelling that without looking it up!) I tried to bid more thoughtfully, so as not to wind up to Sceadeau's left, and in fact I took the less-favored 2nd seat, to his right, as everyone else bid for the more valuable seats.

I thought I had a good thing going, with Tobacco, both Markets and an Office, but I was just short of the money I needed to buy the Harbor when it was available, and just short of the money I needed to buy a Coffee Roaster and Large Sugar Mill to fully power my Guild Hall at the end. I came in 3rd, losing a tie break for 2nd, with Sceadeau winning the game on the strength of excellent shipping. One of my other opponents was James Freeman, and I would list the name the fourth, but I didn't write it down, so I'll have to wait until the information is posted.

Mindy Kyrkos did fine job running this tournament, which is an organizational challenge. I had a lot of fun playing in five Puerto Rico games during WBC. Thanks, Mindy!
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