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How I learned to Love WBC
Peter Walsh
United States
Bethlehem
Pennsylvania
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Way back in the forgotten deeps of time (1997) I attended that supreme conclave of gaming goodness known as Avaloncon. Alas, I returned from my pilgrimage wounded and unsatisfied by the experience and concluded that although I love boardgames the gaming con was not for me. Some years later, as the monkey on my back called board gaming matured into a chest-pounding, silver-backed gorilla with a penchant for dumping the contents of my wallet on the counter of every FLGS in a 50 mile radius, I decided to try the new and improved Avaloncon, now styled the (not-at-all-intimidating) World Boardgaming Championships.
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1. Board Game: Pax Britannica [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1822]
Peter Walsh
United States
Bethlehem
Pennsylvania
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1997: What's the matter little gamer?

Things started off well enough. I played one of my then favorite games taking the US at a 5-player table. I didn't play well, but still had an OK time. In sum though the experience came off as flat. There wasn't the kind of diplomacy I was familiar with and expected to be a part of the game. Still one mediocre experience is not the end of the world.
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2. Board Game: Advanced Civilization [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.01 Unranked]
Peter Walsh
United States
Bethlehem
Pennsylvania
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1997: Dude, they serve decaf too OK?

I didn't play Advanced Civ. that year, but I was witness to the loudest public hissy fit I've seen outside of a Toys-R-Us or a Red Sox game. The Pax Britannica tourney either shared a room with Adv. Civ. or there was someone of official importance in our vicinity, but either way we got an earful.

The tumblers were starting to click into place: I don't think this is the place for me...
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3. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:357]
Peter Walsh
United States
Bethlehem
Pennsylvania
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1997: Glutton for Punishment?

OK so I didn't have much fun in the Diplomacy tournament either. But, not perhaps for the reason a reader might suspect. I love Diplomacy and I'm a big boy - I can take getting the knife in my back. Heck, I love a good stab. In my game I caught it from a former Dip. champion (what an honor!) who steered his Germany to the win over the corpse of my Russia. It was cool* to be rubbing elbows with someone who played that well. No, the downer was the whiny guy playing Austria, who's Diplomatic strategy was to complain, often and loudly, about the unfairness of his situation. I do have pretty thick skin, but I play games more to have fun than to endure someone's inability to cope with a losing position.

"This isn't for me," I decided. For the next 14 years, it wasn't.

*I use the term loosely and knowing I'm in company that might actually think this is cool. I am aware that in society-at-large in terms of "coolness" I probably make Professor Frink look like George Clooney. There, I said it.
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4. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:31]
Peter Walsh
United States
Bethlehem
Pennsylvania
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2011: The Year I (Re)Make Contact.

Between 1997 and 2005 I lived up in New England and even though WBC was now based in my old hometown of Lancaster, PA it was not the sort of thing I could just go to on a whim. The Boston area was a good place to satisfy my need for a gaming fix anyway, so there was just no need to go to a con where I'd find whiny, unsportsman-like gamers and a tepid gaming experience right?

The thing was, I had no outlet for the kind of epic gaming experience like TI3. When my wife and I moved back to PA my brain began its campaign to send me to WBC.

Brain: You WILL go to WBC. Pre-Register RIGHT NOW.
Me: Nah. It's not worth it. No fun. Hissy fits and whining.
Brain: How do you know it's always like that? Shape up soldier and register...NOW!
Me: Too busy. Yard work. Kids.
Brain: Shut up and authorize this paypal transfer. You will go and you will play TI3 and it will be #@&*ing epic.

Briefly put, I did go and it was pretty #@&*ing epic. No hissy fits, no whining - exceptionally friendly people in open gaming. Brain, you were totally right on that one. (Brain: Shut up, baby. I know it.)
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5. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:59]
Peter Walsh
United States
Bethlehem
Pennsylvania
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2012: Yaay! I'm Gaming!

This year's WBC was another great experience, though not without some shades of my 1997 experience. I started off going into the belly of the beast playing the first heat of Advanced Civilization: No hissy fits, but I did see someone called out for unsportsmanlike play. Even so it wasn't a bad time and I'll take a little questionable play over an outright tantrum any day.

TI3 was many hours of awesomeness the only downside being my 51 week wait until next year. The final table saw 8 players vying to become Emperor of the Galaxy. I had a look at winning the whole enchilada with the L1Z1X sitting pretty on Mecatol Rex, but made a miscalculation that left me sucking the dust of Peter Putnam's Xxcha. Well if I had to watch first place slip away at least it went to a great player running my favorite TI3 race: The Unstoppable Turtles of Doom.

The Princes of Florence, a spur of the moment thing for me, turned out to be one of the best times I've had at WBC despite the fact that by the semi-finals I was a sleep-deprived wreck. I also sat in on a heat of Kremlin which was worth it for the bad Russian accents alone. Open gaming did not disappoint for a second year.

Way to go WBC.
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