WBC 2012 - My 17th Visit
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Another year, another WBC. I’ve been coming to this con for about 16-17 years now; and each year, it’s a fairly introspective time. I don’t know if it’s because the con always falls on my birthday (and, as such, that already demands introspection); or, more recently, because my summers have not really been stress-free (two years ago, I was unemployed; last year, we had suffered through a failed adoption and my wife had nearly died earlier in the year).

This year, I was anticipating a clean slate (and, in fact, maybe even a better-than-clean slate, as we HAD adopted a child) … and then, about 6 weeks before the con, my mom passed away suddenly; casting a pallor over the event for me (and, there’d be more, of course). Fortunately, only two meltdowns for me this year - *neither* to do with the WBC, itself; which may be a record for me

What follows is a pretty comprehensive account of my week-plus:
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1. Board Game: Friday [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:245]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Left work earlier than usual. Last year, I left from my job at the end of the day, and suffered through miles of Brooklyn, Staten Island and Jersey traffic (before getting completely pummeled by the single lanes of Pennsylvania, leading to the Host). This year, I took a half-day, so we left around 1pm. It paid off, as we made great time (although we still needed to stop for the dog and the child). Pulled into the Host around 6:20pm.

Made my way to my room and noticed a rollaway cot in the room. “Hmmm …” I thought. “I DID have rollaway cots in other rooms of mine; but not this one.” (Each year, I reserve a bunch of rooms for my group and then, as the date gets closer, I change the names to whomever is going. At the host, at check-out, they credit my stay with the deposits – effectively, I pay for my stay a year in advance). Anyway, I headed to the front desk to inquire and to run through all the rooms. Turns out that the 6 king rooms I *thought* I had, had turned into 1 king room and 5 double beds. Fantastic.

I then lugged all the luggage (and games) up the stairs (feeling every lingering effect from my meniscus surgery this spring), and then we headed to Wal-Mart to stock up on all the stuff we didn’t bring with us (like diapers, etc.). Back around 10pm; completely drenched and soaked – I made my way through the lobby, looking for someone who had a baby toy for me we were looking to borrow; and he commented that I “looked like NEXT Friday, already.” Although I had desires to play something that evening with
Kurt R
United States
Philadelphia
Pennsylvania
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It was my life, like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was to let it be.
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I was too exhausted; and I showered and crashed.

I thought back, longingly, to my ice cuff that I had at home (which reduces swelling in the leg), and tried to rationalize how I could’ve said, “Oh no, let’s leave that behind, so I can bring 2-3 more games.”
 
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2. Board Game: Portobello Market [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1279]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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We like to do a little touristy stuff while we’re there; so we headed into downtown Lancaster to the Central Market (a really nice indoor farmers market, with really good food (albeit slightly higher priced than I’d like)). We had also scoped out a few other places to visit – but we hadn’t done a good job estimating the walking time (so, again, in the late July heat, we walked quite a few city blocks to see some disappointing stores). Had lunch at a small outdoor café on the way back to our car.

We then headed out to Hayloft Candles and Petting Zoo – my son (all of 10 mos. old), gets a big kick out of animals. We could’ve done without the Amish BBQ across the street, however (though it did smell good).
 
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3. Board Game: 1830: Railways & Robber Barons [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:104]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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With that, back to the Host, for the first gaming. By now, my friend
Brian Stone
United States
Calverton
New York
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had showed up, and he and I headed down to play one heat of 18xx.

Each year, I think I’ll play something new – but it never happens. I always end up opting for 1830. In the past, I’ve been lucky to finish last. This year, I set my sights higher. I ended up at a table with Brian (which might be a problem, except neither of us would EVER give each other anything in a game!), and perennial finalist Chris Hancock (and a fourth player whom I can’t remember).

I started out strong, ironically, with the New York & New Haven (and no private companies, sadly). Chris was running the B&O, while Brian had the C&O. The fourth player had the Pennsylvania, and was instantly cut off. I made a strong play to grab some trains, hoping to dump my NY&NH onto Brian, who saw the risk and sold off his shares (which was okay; I kept the NY&NH and the B&M, and ran them in conjunction, making a decent amount of money each turn. Ultimately, I finished second, about $400 behind Chris. I was pleased with my performance, considering I’ve played 18xx games about 20 times, in total.
 
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4. Board Game: Little Italy [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:6887]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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We headed to Pasquale’s for a giant dinner (seriously, the small Stromboli was the size of four calzones, which – if my friends had gotten a room fridge at the Host larger than a Rubik’s Cube, would’ve been good for leftovers, I suspect).
 
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5. Board Game: Dark Horse [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:2684]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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We headed back to the Host and played a game of Dark Horse, which I’ve compared to Kingsburg meets Settlers. I tried a strategy the player who won the first game I played used (getting gold and using the action that lets you get a free influence point), but I eventually lost the role and then, the dice started rolling awfully. I finished a close second; but not the win.
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6. Board Game: Brunch at the Coliseum [Average Rating:5.93 Unranked]
 
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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We head to the Eden Resort every year, for a fantastic Sunday brunch. It’s expensive, but worth it. You also don’t need to eat for the rest of the day. It’s always fantastic food, and a great amount of variety.

While at brunch, my sister texted me to tell me my grandmother had passed away. This wasn’t entirely unexpected; she’d been sick for a while; but it did necessitate me researching the best ways to get back home and still have a decent time on my vacation.
 
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7. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:65]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Got back and played an open game of Tichu (me & Brian against my wife and his girlfriend). We won pretty convincingly; then, we played an open game of Biblios, where the tables were turned (I finished third and Brian’s GF won the game).
 
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8. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.21 Overall Rank:4]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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We headed to a heat of Through the Ages. Last year, the heat started later, so we were able to play both games; but this year, the first heat started earlier, so we missed it due to brunch. I got into the second heat, and dreaded being stuck at a slow-moving table (all the games online have certainly spoiled me). Despite the fact that I had someone at my table who had only played four times before, we still moved pretty quickly through the game, finishing a 3p game in less than four hours. I ended up winning, due to a pretty efficient engine, a strong military and a pair of conservative bidding opponents (where I was fortunate to land several colonies for lower-than-expected bids).
 
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9. Board Game: Runebound (Second Edition) [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:489]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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I knew I wasn’t going to advance in TtA (for a few reasons), and so I took my win and was happy with it. Four of us (myself, Brian, Allan and Charles) decided to play Runebound (around 11pm), Allan and Charles enjoyed it (enough where they played it the next day) … Brian despised it (despite winning) as it’s far more AT/thematic than he usually likes.
 
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10. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:65]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Finished up the night with a second game of Tichu – me & Charles against Brian and Allan. After leaping out to a lead, Allan and Brian banged out 700 points in the last three rounds, with three 1-2s and a Tichu call, as well. Next thing you know, we’d lost.
 
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11. Board Game: 1st & Goal [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1190]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Surprisingly, for such a non-busy day, there was limited gaming for me. I had the opportunity to play a game of 1st and Goal with Brian, where he promptly smoked me 24-7.
 
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12. Board Game: Die heisse Schlacht am kalten Buffet [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:3036]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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After that, the entire group of LIBO headed to the annual LIBO Dinner/Mini-Golf tournament. We’ve done this every year we’ve been there – we go to a giant dinner, where we eat enough to basically keep us full for the week; then we head into the swampy, humid night air for a far-too-long mini-golf excursion.

We’ve rotated between Miller’s Smorgasbord and Shady Maple the past few years. Typically, Miller’s is slightly better food, but also more expensive; while Shady Maple is lesser quality (but still good) and cheap.

My wife had a serious surgery last year – a complete gastrectomy (I mentioned this last year, as well:). As such, she currently eats slightly less than a baby gnat. We have a doctor’s note on a prescription that states she should be able to order off the children’s menu. Most restaurants, we don’t even bother (she just boxes up what she can’t eat); but buffets are different, because you can’t take food home with you.

I went to the cashier and explained the situation (which, by the way, we HAD done at the Eden Resort the previous day, with no issues). She looks at the prescription and informs me that, since the note is more than a year old (one year and two days, to be precise); she cannot give me the ‘children’s price (50%); she can only give me the senior’s price (10% off). I asked why that is, and she breaks out a gastric bypass policy (which is completely understandable). I said, “well, this is great; but this isn’t what she had – where is your complete gastrectomy policy?”

She replied, “we don’t have one, it is, after all, the same thing.”

I said, “well, no – not even close, in fact. This is like you telling me you have a ‘sore throat’ policy; and me saying, ‘that’s great, I have cancer.’ – it’s not even close.

She again says, “Well, this is what we have, and it is the same thing.”

I asked, “Where is your medical degree from?” And, she reddened and said she’d get her manager.

The manager came over; and the cashier explained her thought process, and the manager agreed – 10%. I again asked her, where the complete gastrecomy policy was; and she showed me the gastric bypass policy (by now, by the way, the line to get in has leaked out the door). I reiterated my comments earlier, and she said (again), “Well, it’s all the same thing.” I asked where HER medical degree was from, and – quite condescendingly, she again said, “Well, I don’t have one; but I don’t need one – you can see right from the prescription, it says, clearly, um … gastro … um, er … etymology.”

I shook my head.

I asked for their names; they refused to give them (although, they were both wearing name tags; so I simply wrote down the names when I signed the CC receipt). I asked for their last names and they laughed at me; so I informed them that I was sure my lawyer could secure this information with a subpoena (and, yes, I was quite cognizant that we were effectively arguing over $8.00; but I was also astonished that they were STILL arguing over it, and it wasn’t even their money – but, whatever).

We go in and have a decent dinner. Halfway through, the manager approaches our table and says to me, “We’ve been watching your wife, and she hasn’t eaten a lot.” I said, ‘no kidding; it’s hard to eat when you don’t have a stomach.” She said, “Well, we decided to refund you the difference in the meal.” Great.

She then says, “maybe we need to write a new policy, in case more people have this procedure.” I said, ‘in all honesty, you’ll probably get one customer a year with this procedure; and it’ll be us.” She says, “Well, maybe, but if it becomes more popular, we really like to be informed.” I said, “Okay, well, in the interest of informing; most of the time, when a person gets to the point where this operation is needed, they’ve already died.” Finally – I think she got it.
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13. Board Game: Mini Golf [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Following dinner, we headed to the Village Greens Golf Course – a giant course with 23 holes. It was quite lengthy (nearly three hours) and we were drenched. I did posture that next year, rather than mini-golf, we might be better suited for laser-tag (which is indoors (AC) and shorter).
 
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14. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:292]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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I played in the mulligan for Yspahan at the end of the evening. This had a few impacts. First, my inability to EVER roll camels was simply killer. Second, I learned that we had learned the game wrong (in terms of how/when to score things) but, that had little impact, since we had all played by the same rules.

In the end, I was lapped on the score track, finishing in dead last. I think I had a good strategy; the problem was I needed camels (which I had NONE of on Week 1) to execute my strategy. The other problem was that my strategy was the same as everyone else at the table.
 
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15. Board Game: Auction [Average Rating:4.83 Unranked]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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I visited the auction and auction store (getting up far too early to be “first” in line.) Ran through and got more than I should’ve; and then proceeded to sit in on the auction itself. Won three of the six auctions I wanted (and, one of the lots, I completely missed, when my wife and son came to visit).

 
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16. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:65]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Finished up earlier than usual (normally, I’m at the auction until 3 or 4, today, I was gone by noon). Played another open game of Tichu (with Brian, my wife and my friend
Bill Herbst
United States
Sayville
New York
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– where we came from way behind to win).
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17. Board Game: Texas Glory: 1835-36 [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:2972]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Headed to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner that evening (to benefit the BPA library – more on that later). I really like the BBQ ribs there, and the call-ahead seating worked … this time.
 
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18. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:157]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Returned for the 6pm heat of St. Petersburg, which is one of the games I love to play, and yet, play awfully. Every time. This was no different, although the 1st to 3rd places (where I finished) weren’t separated by all that much. I ended up with the judge, but neither of the mistresses nor the observatories; and as such, I came behind in terms of aristocrats, and that ended that.
 
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19. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:335]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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The game was less than an hour (which is a great joy – playing with people who know the game so well that the game flies by), so I headed back to the room and played two quick 5p games of No Thanks with my friends.
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20. Board Game: Santa Fe Rails [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1238]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Headed to the 8pm showing of Santa Fe Rails. This is a game I’ve typicaly done well at at WBC, making a few finals; and almost always winning a heat. We had a new player with us (who threatened to change the game considerably (at one point, I’d left a monster cash play for him, assuming he’d take it; but then, he bypassed it and the next player (whom I’d decided was my closest competition) was able to score it). Ultimately, though, my large west coast cities and cash were enough for me to win by about 13-15 points.

Usually, one win gets you in; but I realized that the semi-final and final were being held on Thursday – the day of my grandmother’s funeral – so I took my one win and left; and didn’t play any other heats. It turned out okay, as my friend Bill, ultimately, won the whole tournament.
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21. Board Game: Manoeuvre [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:422]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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After Santa Fe Rails, Bill and I headed to open gaming where he found a copy of Manoeuvre, and taught me the game. I’ve owned it, but never played it before, and I enjoyed it – I also won (but the game allows for some mock-up in terms of points you’re able to score – it’s easy to see exactly how you can maximize your points (so, it’s less wargamey, at the end, and more abstract). Still, a decent game, and I’m glad I have a copy in my collection.
 
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22. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:258]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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Thurn and Taxis is another one of the games that I enjoy (and still play poorly). Again, this was no difference. Part of the issue I have with WBC (at this point) is that there really are players out there who come specifically to win (although, the number who will do that at the EXPENSE of having a good time was minimal, this year). Ultimately, the three main Euros I played (Yspahan, T&T and St Petersburg), I was trounced by players who knew *every* card, every strategy, etc. – My approach, especially in earlier heats, is simply to have fun and try new things (which, much like my frustration with the newbie in Santa Fe Rails, I’m sure, is maddening).
 
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23. Board Game: Paydirt [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:2077]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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At 2pm I hopped into the Paydirt tournament. For a number of years, I GM’d the Superstar Baseball tournament, until a series of events occurred last year, and I decided not to do it again. But, sports simulation games are still my all-time favorite, so I’ll try and play them whenever I can.

I ended up with Jacksonville, which I’d researched the evening before. Managed to win my first game, with neither team scoring a touchdown (I think I won 15-6; I was spotted 6 points for the spread, and I kicked three FGs to his two; although I DID block two other attempts by him. I also passed the ball four times all game (twice for interceptions). The second game, however, I wasn’t so lucky; as Miami pounded away with the medium pass, exploiting that extremely weak hole in my defense. It was close, but he came back in the final minute to score and win the game.
 
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24. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:261]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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I headed for the annual Lost Cities tournament (although, again, with the knowledge that one loss will eliminate you from the semi-finals). That wasn’t going to happen this evening; as I triumphed over an equally conservative opponent. I was going to miss Thursday’s heat, due to the funeral; but I would be back Friday (and, potentially Saturday).
 
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25. Board Game: 1st & Goal [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1190]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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My friend Bill wanted to check out 1st and Goal and I wanted to get something to eat. Wednesday was “Chinese Food” night at the Host, so I decided something else would be on the table. Historically, their bar menu has been affordable and good, so I inquired, and was told the bar didn’t serve food. “Anymore?” I asked. “Oh, no – just not this week.” She said. Why? I don’t know. Seems counter-intuitive to *limit* your food options for the week (but, then again, the Host never seems to operate in an intuitive fashion – check out the thread on consimworld if you want to see how hated the Host was this year – for me, personally, while I wasn’t in the sauna that was the 2p wargame room (except for a few minutes Sunday morning, where I felt like I was going to pass out after a few minutes); the wifi was, again, laughable (it connected 50% of the time; and was agonizingly slow when it DID connect). And, I’m only one room from the lobby.

Anyway, we headed to the restaurant, looking for the bar menu (and, specifically, the chicken and bacon sandwich) – also not on THEIR menu. We didn’t really want to play 1st and Goal *in* the restaurant (although I would play it at the bar table), so we entertained the thought of ordering take out from the restaurant, when I decided, “ah, to hell with it; we’ll just go out and get something somewhere else.” The guy at the cash register headed back to the chef, and then came to me and said they’d take care of me; they, too, didn’t see the wisdom in restricting our meal choices, thus forcing me to head out somewhere else to eat.

I was pleased with this line of thinking (again, one of my mantras in life is “Don’t make it hard for me to do business with you.” And, as such, I left a really nice tip for the guys.

The game itself ended in a tie at the first half (all we had time for), and the game is fun; but it’s not at all symbolic of football. It rewards doing things opposite of common sense (3rd and 23? Call a draw play!)

I thought about a variant (which I need to ‘playtest’ a little) that would allow for busted plays and plays guessed right to still be successful; and plays guessed wrong to not be so unstoppable.
 
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