$10.00
The Brosius family attends the 2006 World Boardgaming Championships
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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Several years ago, my friends Donna Balkan and Tom DeMarco convinced me to attend the World Boardgaming Championships. I had such a good time that it's now on my "every year" list. The one downside to this event was the need to spend a week of vacation away from my wife and children. This year my wife and my son joined me in Lancaster PA, and we all had fun.

Did we have enough fun to go back as a family next year? Read on and find out.

And, if you're interested, here are links to my WBC GeekLists for the following years.

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

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/145611

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/161260
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1. Board Game: Nacht der Magier [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1287]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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Although the convention proper starts on Tuesday evening, we drove down from the Boston area to Lancaster on Sunday. It's a 7-hour drive if traffic breaks just right, and we ran into only two small delays, one right after the Tappan Zee Bridge and the other at the north end of the NJ Turnpike. The first benefit of making it a family trip was evident during the drive; my wife and I were able to share the driving duties, greatly reducing the fatigue. My son got his driver's license in July, but as it turns out, he didn't do any of the driving on this trip.

We had no games scheduled for Sunday evening, so we set up our brand-new copy of Die Nacht der Magier, which had arrived in the mail on Wednesday, and played a few games. Englishman Peter Card joined us for the last two games, and all four of us won a game. Die Nacht der Magier is a visually appealing dexterity game that works equally well in the light or in the dark. I'm surprised no U.S. distributor has picked it up; most of the people I've shown it to have wanted to get their own copies, and it's one of those unusual games that are as popular with non-gamers as with gamers.
 
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2. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:46]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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Although the WBC runs from Tuesday evening to Sunday morning, a number of "pre-con" events are scheduled Saturday-Tuesday immediately preceding the main con. The events chosen tend to be longer games with a loyal fan base, though this year's pre-con included a Euro game "sampler" that allowed players to enter a variety of games in an attempt to win an overall title.

I arrived in Lancaster early last year as well, and although I had fun playing in the open gaming area, I decided I wanted to learn one of the pre-con games so I could enter a pre-con tournament this year. The pre-cons I had to choose from were Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, Victory in the Pacific, Advanced Squad Leader and Paths of Glory. I had no interest in Advanced Squad Leader, but I owned copies of the other three and started looking for opponents. Paths of Glory was the top-rated wargame on Boardgamegeek at the time, and my friend Andy Young was willing to learn it with me, so that's the one I chose. Andy and I played two games face-to-face and three more games via Vassal during the year. I also taught Paths of Glory to Andy Latto, who played one game with me earlier in the summer.

I knew that six games worth of experience wouldn't be enough to give me much of a chance for success in the tournament, but it did give me a true love for the game. Paths of Glory is now one of the 10 games I have rated '10' out of almost 600 games rated. There's no way to learn other than to get in there and play, and I knew the WBC pre-con would give me three more chances to play.

In Round 1, the GM thoughtfully allowed tournament newbies to play against other newbies, and I was assigned Scott Moll as my first round opponent. Scott bid 2 VP to play the AP, and it soon became clear that he was a stronger, more experienced player than I am. Even though I made it to Total War two turns before he did, he gained ground in the Near East, held off my thrust into Italy, drove deep into Austria with his Russians, and made me run in circles in the Balkans. By early 1918 we were down to 2 VP and when the GM came up to give us a time warning, I conceded rather than ask for an adjudication.

In Round 2, I was matched against Steve Brooks, who has played in the pre-con before, but who doesn't get to play during the year. Again, I played the CP as Steve bid 2 VP for the AP. This match was much closer, and again I beat Steve to Total War by several turns. I had 2 GE armies and 3 AH armies lined up to pound Italy as soon as it came in, and I made it to Florence, but he managed to beat me back (I clearly need to learn the art of killing Italy in this game!) The Near East was quiet this time, but Steve did force me back to the "defend the Rhine" line in the west and I couldn't get my attack against Russia going. The GM came up to us in Summer, 1918 with another time warning, and although we were only down to 6 VP (which would become 8 once Steve's bid was taken into account,) it was hard to see where I would get the VPs I needed to pull back into a draw. It was after midnight, and I conceded once again rather than force an adjudication.

The Paths of Glory tournament increased its participation substantially this year (I think we were up from 34 to nearly 50.) Not as many people showed up at 9am on Monday morning, though, and the person I was slated to play didn't show up. Instead I was matched against Roberto Sanchez. This time I got to play the AP for a change (again paying 2 VP for the privilege.) I focused on hammering Austria with my Russians, and the dice cooperated as Roberto's forces melted away before my onslaught. One might have expected it was a problem with the dice in my set, except that we were using the red die for the attacker and the white die for the defender, and the red die did a lot better for me than for him. Within 90 minutes I had Italy into the game facing a row of CP corps, I was at Total War, and the Austrians were piled up in the Eliminated/Replaceable box. Roberto conceded at this point, leaving me with a 1-2 record, a 50% increase in the amount of my Paths of Glory experience, and the opportunity to attend the Game Auction and rest up after 17 hours of Paths of Glory.

I'd like to add that, as a Euro-gamer taking the plunge into one of the most challenging wargame events at WBC, I received a very friendly welcome from the wargamers who were participating in the Paths of Glory tournament. Thanks!
 
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3. Board Game: Kogge [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:2366]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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One of the treats of the WBC week is the fabulous auction, which takes place during the day on Tuesday, before the main event begins. I wandered over from the Paths of Glory room, paid a $1 deposit for a bidding card, and flopped down into a seat. The auction consists of 550 lots submitted by attendees, and the auctioneering is done in magnificent style by an auctioneering crew of Bruce Reiff, Ken Gutermuth and Keith Hunsinger, who move all 550 lots in about six hours. Bruce showed creativity in moving product when one sorry lot drew no bids whatsover. Bruce threatened "I need a bid of a dollar or I start taking off clothes!" A guy in my row bid a dollar and won the item. As he returned to his seat, he muttered to his buddies "you guys each owe me a quarter..."

I had printed out the auction list from the internet and marked off a number of items I was interested in. You never know what will command a high price and what will go cheaply (I would have been happy to get the copy of Extrablatt that was offered, but Tom DeMarco's $80 bid was above my price range.) A number of items went for over $200, but I was happy to get a copy of JKLM's Kogge for $22. When you buy an item at the WBC auction, you pay nothing for shipping as long as you drove a minivan to Lancaster!
 
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4. Board Game: Bus [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1487]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I didn't stay at the auction all day; I went out to get lunch, and to walk back to the Paths of Glory room to see how the later games were moving along. I also walked over to the auction tables, a new feature this year that allowed lower-priced items to be sold at a fixed price. The seller could mark off one price that was good at 10am, a second (usually lower) price that was good at noon, and a third price that was good at 2pm. I noticed a number of old issues of The General that fit right into the gap in my collection (I let my subscription lapse for about two years,) and I was happy to buy them. The prices were a lot cheaper than the prices paid for issues in Volume 1 of The General in the main auction.

Later in the day, a copy of Bus was offered in the auction. I've enjoyed a number of the Splotter games I've played, though I've stayed away from the monsters, Roads and Boats and Antiquity. I just got a copy of Indonesia and it may be my favorite game of the year so far. I had marked Bus down as an item to bid on, and I got it for $18, which was within my budget.

After the auction, Frank Cunliffe from the Eastern PA Gaming Society came over to let me know that I had outbid him on both the games I purchased. Frank is a guy with good taste, so that was additional confirmation that I made some good buys.
 
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5. Board Game: Perquackey [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:6151]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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One of the earliest gaming memories I have is of Perquackey, a Boggle-like game that my parents used to play with another couple down the street back in the 1960's. I remember begging to be allowed to play, but it was an adult game, not one for kids. My parents both passed away about 5 years ago, so I guess I'm the adult now. The auction table had a copy for sale at a noon price of $3, and I couldn't pass it up, just for the memories' sake.
 
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6. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:4520] [Average Rating:5.73 Unranked]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My son had fun at WBC, though he didn't enter any of the tournaments. One game he enjoys is Fluxx, a game with a strong random element that the rest of the family is reluctant to play. He was delighted to find a group of other people who were willing to play Fluxx, and he spent some time on Tuesday afternoon playing it.
 
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7. Board Game: El Grande [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:27]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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The tournament proper started at 6pm on Tuesday. The Tuesday schedule was packed with games I wanted to play, starting with El Grande, another game I rate as a '10'. The GM, Rob Flowers, had the semis scheduled at a convenient time for me on Thursday evening, so I was particularly eager to play. My game included several strong players I knew from prior WBC tournaments, as well as some I didn't know at all. This game was won by one of the unknowns, John Lewis, as I came in second by a fairly wide margin.

I went on to play in all three heats, losing each time. This probably wasn't the optimal strategy if my goal was to maximize overall "wood" (tournament wins,) but it was a great plan if my goal was to have fun playing my favorite games! Even though I didn't win any El Grande games, I did well enough to qualify for the semis, where Eric Freeman raced out to a huge lead in the first three rounds and couldn't be caught despite our efforts.
 
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8. Board Game: Empire Builder [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:664]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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Empire Builder is a family favorite (the three games we play most at home are Empire Builder, Settlers of Catan and McMulti.) My wife Claire loves all three of these games, and she entered the Empire Builder tournament, starting with a game at 6pm. I would have loved to have entered the Empire Builder tournament, but it conflicted horribly with many other tournaments I wanted to enter, and in particular with the Princes of Florence tournament I was GMing. Claire built a northern line, through Canada, and this line was just not central enough to give her a chance to win (the game used the North American map with Mexico included.)

Claire entered three of the four heats, finishing in the middle of the pack each time. She also played several "for fun" games of a prototype in the series [Martian Rails] that's being designed by Robert Stribula, who designed Lunar Rails.

Another Empire Builder aficionado is Rich Meyer, who I play games with most Thursday nights at MVGA, our local gaming club. Rich has been coming to WBC for several years and had not yet won a tournament, even though he has come in 2nd many times and is a strong gamer. Rich broke the jinx this year, winning the Empire Builder tournament (actually the finals were played on the Eurorails map) in a thrilling finish.
 
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9. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:352]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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One of the added attractions at WBC is the Team Tournament, in which groups of four players form teams. Each player in a team names a "team game" in which he or she must do well to score points for the team. It's a bit of a crapshoot, because even if you do well at WBC, you won't necessarily do well at your team game.

I chose Medici as my team game, not because it's the game I'm most likely to win, but because it's my favorite of all the games played at WBC and the heats were at times I knew I could make. Unfortunately, I was blown out in both of the heats I entered, losing any shot at earning team points. Rich Meyer was on my team, and he earned a lot of points for our MVGA team, but I think he was the only one.

In my second heat I lost to Scott Cornett, a strong player who was unfortunately not able to continue in the tournament. Scott's dad Jeff won instead, one of four tournaments Jeff won in 2006.

Medici had been relegated to "Trial" status for 2006, not one of the top 100 tournaments, but I understand that 87 people participated in the 2006 tournament, which should guarantee it a place back in the Century for 2007.
 
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10. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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There were many games I wanted to play on Tuesday evening. There was El Grande at 6pm, Medici at 8pm, Ra at 9pm and Ticket to Ride at 10pm. The problem was that all four were listed as 2-hour games. It seems that a lot of people felt Medici and Ra could be finished in one hour, though, as a pack of us seemed to be racing from one game to the next in an attempt to squeeze 8 hours of gaming into a 6-hour slot. This worked well, as I finished Medici in plenty of time to enter and win my first heat of Ra. I grabbed the early lead in pharaohs and pushed it through for a win in a quick-moving game.

You only need one win in your first heat to make the semis, so I filed Ra away until Saturday morning and ran over to Ticket to Ride. On Saturday in the semis, Chris Terrell stepped up early with his '14' sun to take two pharaohs, a civilization and a 'god' tile, and used this start to run away with the game.
 
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11. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Märklin [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:155]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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There were a mass of people at the Ticket to Ride heat. My wife and I both arrived, she with our copy of the game. I enjoy Ticket to Ride, but it isn't one of the games I just had to play. As GM Tom McCorry finished setting up the tables, though, he needed one more player for a game on the Marklin map, and I was happy to agree.

As the game began, I took four long tickets and kept three, all running down the east side of the map. I steadfastly collected red cards to build that long red link. Mark Guttag seemed to take all the green trains as he built the length-1 and length-2 links down the west side; I hadn't thought about the fact that the short-link guy can starve the long-link guys of a specific color until I saw Mark do it. I eventually finished much of the eastern route, connecting all three tickets, and generating much frustration among my fellow players.

Everyone seemed to think I was a runaway winner, but Chris Dole won by 7 VP, connecting a central line, scoring twice as many tickets as I did, and reaping a huge harvest of VPs from passenger runs. At the end, the game dragged on and on as we all tried to get sets to use up our last trains. I greatly prefer the original version of Ticket to Ride on the U.S. map to any of the newer versions.

This was the only game of Ticket to Ride I played during WBC.
 
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12. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:61]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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2006 was my third year as GM for Princes of Florence at WBC. I won the tournament in 2003, my first year at WBC, a year in which the previous GM passed away unexpectedly before the tournament and was replaced by a one-year substitute. Princes of Florence is a "B"-level tournament, which means that people who have never played before may enter as long as they attend the scheduled one-hour demo before the first heat they play. Six or seven people attended the demo, which was held at 9am on Wednesday morning. Some of them were completely new to the game, while others were looking for a refresher.

In the first heat we had enough players for six tables. I played in this heat to convert one 4-player table to 5 players (the ideal number,) but we still had two 4-player tables. The second heat was on Thursday at 1pm, and this time we had six 5-player tables without me. S. Deniz Bucak pulled off a notable feat by fulfilling four Prestige Cards for 27 PP in his game, but Winton Lemoine beat him on the tie-break for the win. Tom Johnston is a big Princes of Florence fan, and he won both of the first two heats to earn the #1 spot on the qualifiers' list.

The third heat suffered from reduced numbers. Perhaps the new rules on qualifying encouraged gamers who had won their first heat of a game to avoid playing in later games (as I did for Ra,) although I had included a special scoring rule for Princes of Florence that ensured you could not hurt your chances by entering additional heats. I played again in this heat and came in third in a game won by David Platnick, another Princes of Florence enthusiast and one of the strongest players I know.

The semis for Princes of Florence were held on Friday evening at 7pm. Ideally there will be 25 qualifiers and alternates on hand for the semis so we can have five 5-player games, but only 21 people showed up. This meant we would play five 4-player games instead. Rob Flowers was the 21st person on the list, but we had only 5 copies of the game on hand and one of them was Rob's. This meant Rob had the right to "bump" the person ahead of him to gain a spot in the semis. Rob showed his good sportsmanship by offering his copy of the game for use, even though he would not be in the tournament. I really appreciated his generosity.

The semis were closely contested in the somewhat unfamiliar 4-player format. Tom Johnston lost by just 1 PP to Legend Dan Hoffman; Tom had saved florins for use in the Round 7 auctions and was left with 1000 at the end of the game; if he had converted more of his Work Value into PP, he may very well have won.

I list "Legend Dan" Hoffman with that name because it's the name written on his WBC badge. The WBC instructions for GMs tells us we should use the name (and badge number) on the badge for consistency. There are two Dan Hoffmans at WBC, and they used to find that their results would be confused with each other. Badge #926 changed his name to "Legend Dan Hoffman" to eliminate confusion. There must be something to it, as "Legend Dan" Hoffman won Liar's Dice in 2005 and "Dan" Hoffman won it in 2006. That's pretty impressive for a tournament that draws over 100 people each year!

The final game was held immediately after the semis. It featured four veterans (Eric Brosius, Davyd Field, Legend Dan Hoffman and Rod Spade,) together with Sam Atabaki, who was attending his first WBC. Prices for valuable items were consistently high, and players often found they needed the same item as others right now, forcing them to bid higher than they wanted to bid. Eric sat back and paid reasonable prices for items others didn't want as badly. He used a Round 1 Forest purchase to put on the only Works in Rounds 2 and 3, earning Best Work points both times. This also gave him enough money to stay in the bidding during the critical middle rounds and was able to win by a fairly comfortable margin. The game was marked by intense but gentlemanly play all around.

For next year, I'm hoping to see better attendance for this wonderful game.

 
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13. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:154]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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St. Petersburg is yet another game I've rated '10'. It wouldn't fit into my schedule in 2005, but I had two chances to enter the heats in 2006. After my second El Grande heat and a break for lunch, I walked down to the Lampeter Room, which is packed end to end with wargamers, and through into a small side room for St. Petersburg. The game was relatively uneventful, with all the players tightly packed on the scoreboard, but I won by a small margin. I think of myself as a strong St. Petersburg player, so I was surprised when I came in 4th out of four players in my second heat later on in the tournament. The WBC tie-breakers for St. Petersburg meant it hurt my chances of making the semis to play another game and lose, but I did want to play as many of my favorite games as I could, so I wasn't upset.

The St. Petersburg semis were held at 9am Saturday morning, at the same time as the Ra semis and the whole length of the hotel away. I knew I was in the Ra semis but wasn't sure about St. Petersburg. As it turns out, I could have entered the St. Petersburg semis as an alternate, but I had no way of knowing that it was possible. Another friend, Anne Norton, won the St. Petersburg tournament after coming to WBC for a number of years without winning a tournament. Anne, like Rich Meyer, is too strong a gamer not to win tournaments, as she proved in 2006 by winning three tournaments: St. Petersburg, Cleopatra and the Society of Architects and a third tournament we'll get to later in this Geek List.
 
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14. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:254]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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It took my son a little while to get involved at WBC, but in the middle of the week he was invited to join a game of Shadows over Camelot. This is a cooperative game in which you work with your fellow players to defeat the forces of evil (represented by cards drawn from a "dark" deck.) The "twist" is the fact that one of the players is a traitor, working secretly to bring victory to the bad guys. The components in Shadows over Camelot are spectacular, and the theme is tighly integrated into the game. My son came back to the room in the evening armed with his story of the game and an explanation of how much fun he had playing it.
 
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15. Board Game: Alhambra [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:309]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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We play Alhambra regularly at MVGA, my local Thursday night club. It's obviously a game of skill, because Rich Meyer wins most of our games. Rich and I both entered the first heat of Alhambra and we both lost our heats. My heat was won by Bill Peeck, a strong player who overpaid at just the right times to sew up majorities in the colors he wanted. Rich and I compared notes afterward and found that we both found it hard to draw money cards with numbers higher than '5' or '6' on them; perhaps snatching up those big cards is a tactic we haven't cottoned on to yet. It's great to have change, but a hand full of '1's will only take you so far.

Neither Rich nor I was able to enter another heat of Alhambra, so it was the end of the story as far as the two of us were concerned.
 
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16. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:255]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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My favorite new "light" game is Thurn und Taxis, a route-completion game by Andreas and Karen Seyfarth. Andreas is famous as the designer of top-rated Puerto Rico. I've played about two dozen games and picked up a few insights, but in this game the cards were so favorable for me that I could have won blindfolded. If you had allowed me to fish through the deck for the exact card I wanted, I could hardly have done better. I closed the game out by upgrading to a "7" carriage and won by 29 VP, compared with 15, 5 and 5 for my opponents.

I didn't need to enter any more heats to qualify for the semis, so I showed up on Saturday evening and won again, this time in a close match. One of my semifinal opponents was Mike Fitzgerald, who's one of my all-time favorite designers (notably for Wyatt Earp.) This put me through to the finals. One of my opponents in the finals was Anne Norton, who had already won two tournaments at WBC this year. Anne was randomly selected as the first player, meaning she would have first shot at the bonus chits, but would be at risk of having an opponent end the game when she was not ready. In the early going, the player on my right (and on Anne's left) scooped up a big collection of bonuses, putting him well ahead on the scoreboard. On the other hand, his carriage was small and he had a lot of houses left unplaced. This gave the rest of us time to catch up. I knew I needed to get the 5 VP chit for completing Bavaria in order to win, and I kept using the Administrator to flush the display in an attempt to get Munich, the one card I needed. Anne kept drawing from the top of the deck to get the cards she needed. It was a race that lasted three or four turns, but finally she got her card, plopping it down to make a route of length 5, and scoring it with the Cartwright to upgrade her carriage to a '7'. On the same turn, I got Munich and used it to score the 5 VP for Bavaria (unfortunately, I could not get a '7' carriage as I had used the Administrator.) We counted points and Anne won by 2 VP for her third WBC 2006 wood.

Congratulations, Anne! I'm sure her husband Tom DeMarco's biggest concern on the way home was making sure the family minivan stayed on the highway; there was a real risk that it might float right up into the air!
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17. Board Game: Zig-Zag [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:7284]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I've written before on Boardgamegeek about this cheery little filler. Claire and I and Rich and his son Jeff all finished our gaming relatively early on Wednesday, so we wandered down to Cafe Jay for a little something before bedtime. Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games maintains an area with about six tables on which he displays the latest from Rio Grande. It's a great way to evaluate your next purchases, or to have a little fun when there's an opening in your schedule.

Zig-zag is a reaction game in which you must collect the right cards to move your little man through the maze to reach the finish line. It's a game in which one player shouts "go" and you all act at once. In Zig-zag the person who is just a little bit faster will win almost every time, and I proved to be the fastest, finishing just ahead of Rich, with Claire and Jeff close behind. I need to remember to pick up a copy of this little filler.
 
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18. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I've played only one previous game of Puerto Rico before at WBC, back in 2003, my first year. It takes a lot of playing to make it into the playoffs (they have quarter finals in this game, which regularly draws more than 150 people.) This year I noticed that three of the Puerto Rico heats fit into my schedule, so I decided to give it a shot.

I've played more than 100 games of Puerto Rico face to face and nearly another 100 on BSW, and I've grown accustomed to certain things happening. In our 4-player game I had the first corn seat and Player 1 built a Hospice as his first action. Player 2 and I built Small Markets and Player 4 (Don Tatum) built a Construction Hut. I rarely see this when I play, and I was surprised to see how effectively the Construction Hut player was able to leech off of the Hospice player's Settler actions to create a building monster. The game ended before I was expecting it to end, and I took 2nd place on the tie-break, with Don winning comfortably.

I won my second heat, which would qualify me for the quarter finals, but I entered a third heat both to get another shot at my favorite game and for the opportunity to skip the quarter finals and get a bye straight into the semis if could win a second game. I was assigned to a table with Arthur Field, one of the legendary personalities of WBC and an outstanding gamer. In past years people have complained about Arthur's play, but in the game I played with him he was a gentleman all the way through. Even though Arthur started in the 2nd seat (the least favored position) he won by 2 VP in a very well played game.

My quarterfinal game included David Platnick, another Puerto Rico legend. David has played 1,890 games of Puerto Rico on BSW and has won more than half of them. This was yet another 1st seat Hospice game, and I stupidly tried the same strategy as I had tried in the first heat. David bought the Construction Hut and won another close game, again by 2 VP. The next time I see first seat Hospice, I'm going to be waiting with my Construction Hut build.

Although one might think I was unfortunate to face two masters in my last two games, it would be more accurate to observe that I had the chance to face two of the best players around. What better way could there be to enjoy the game and learn more about it?

My loss in the quarter finals knocked me out of the tournament, but Puerto Rico GM John Weber went on to win this year in what John considered to be an upset (though I consider John to be an excellent player.) John puts an enormous amount of work into GMing Puerto Rico and it was great to see him win the tournament!
 
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19. Board Game: Pro Golf [Average Rating:5.40 Overall Rank:9549]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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If you've never been to WBC, you may have an image of a large group of serious-minded, somewhat overweight gamers hunched in silent concentration around the game board while they perform complex mental calculations. I'm here to tell you that the "serious minded" and "silent" parts are not completely true. (There are even a few people who are in good shape!)

WBC features a set of 11pm tournaments that emphasize the fun part of the hobby. One of these tournaments is Pro Golf on Thursday night. Pro Golf is a "C"-rated tournament, meaning you can just show up and play, even if you don't know the game. The rules as they were explained to me go as follows: "Roll the dice and we'll tell you what happens. Every so often you'll have a choice about whether to lay up or go for the green. When that happens, you say 'go for the green!' Got that?" So I entered in a big group with Rich Meyer and Claire and Luke Koleszar and Rich Irving and one other player whose name I can't remember (we had a 6-some but we played fast!)

We all finished Augusta National at or under par, with Rich turning in the best score at 5 under. This qualified him for a sudden-death attempt to enter the finals, a skins game on the Lancaster course right outside our hotel. In this game of (mostly all) luck, WBC titan Bruce Reiff won the skins game, which was played with huge foam dice the size of Dunkin' Donuts "Box o' Joe" boxes. Bruce'll take that wood any way he can get it.
 
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20. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:482]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I wasn't able to get in the Wednesday late night game, Can't Stop, because my Thurn und Taxis heat was still going on. My wife was on hand, though, with our copy under her arm. She played her position like a pro, running her tower all the way up the '6' column to score it while an opponent's marker was left stranded one space from the top (don't let this happen to you!) Claire was first to gain two columns and was one from the top of the '3's, but she just couldn't roll a '3' when she needed one and was marooned as a player passed her to win the game and proceed to the semis.

I wasn't sure how much Claire was enjoying WBC, but she came back to the room on Wednesday night liking it a lot better. She knew she was good enough to have won if only the dice had cooperated! (I'm sure a lot of us find ourselves in that situation from time to time.)
 
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21. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:1]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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The WBC schedule is funny---some days there are so many events you want to enter that you can't take advantage of them all, but on other days there are strange gaps. This year I had a gap on Friday morning, with nothing until the Taj Mahal heat at 1pm. This was a great opportunity to fit in one game of Twilight Struggle, the new card-driven wargame from Jason Matthews and Ananda Gupta. Actually, Twilight Struggle isn't a wargame so much as a cold war game. You don't move markers representing military units around the board like you do for Paths of Glory. Rather, the markers represent political influence, and you place and remove them as the result of political action, realignments, coups and events.

I've played four or five games of Twilight Struggle and enjoyed them all. It's a game that one can reliably finish in no more than three hours. The only downside is that it was a single elimination tournament and I couldn't play more than one round, but at least I was able to get one game in. My opponent was Fred Schachter, a more experienced player than I was, and he ran into the coldest set of dice I've seen for a long while in a game. We bid for sides and I took the USSR for 1 VP. I jetted ahead on the Space Race track as Fred blew up rocket after rocket on the launch pad. By mid-game I had the right to space two cards a turn, the right to see his headline first, and the right to discard a card at the end of my turn while he had moved only one space. Fred also had terrible luck with coups, and though he grabbed dominance of the Middle East, I was gradually taking over Europe and Asia.

I was pitching USSR events back into the discard pile, so the deck got better for me as the game went on. Fred had the score up to +12 (e.g., 12 VP in his favor) by Turn 2 or 3, but I pushed it steadily in the other direction. At the start of Turn 9, I was back to -7 or -8 when Fred drew a complete fistful of USSR events and I was able to headline Aldrich Ames, the US-killer event. This was the last straw and Fred resigned in a game where more even luck would have given him a much better chance.

Despite the lopsided luck, Fred was a pleasure to play with. It isn't easy to keep a positive attitude when a weaker opponent is dicing you to death.
 
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22. Board Game: Taj Mahal [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:187]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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Taj Mahal is another game I rate as a '10', and next on my schedule was a heat of this classic. One of the best things about WBC is the opportunity to play game after game in titles you love against opponents who care about the game as much as you do. This year's Taj Mahal tournament featured 4-player games. In the 4-player game it's typical for 2 players to emphasize elephants and for the other 2 to emphasize connections. In last year's Taj Mahal tournament my elephants were narrowly defeated by Nick Anner's connections (Nick is a whale of a Taj Mahal player,) but in this game I was one of the connection players. Unfortunately, Greg Thatcher used elephants to gain such an edge on the other elephant player that he virtually forced him out of contention, and Greg took 9 elephant tiles to win by a mile. Greg's score marker was halfway down the second long edge of the map for a prodigious score.
 
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23. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:88] [Average Rating:7.53 Unranked]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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Claire and I saw Sam only every so often during the day, though he was usually in bed when we got up in the morning. During the week, Sam was invited to try Memoir '44, a member of the game system that also includes Battle Cry and Command and Colors: Ancients. Sam didn't enter the tournament for this game, but he did get to play several games of it. He enjoyed this game quite a bit, so we're going to break open our copy and try it at home.
 
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24. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:130]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I mentioned above that I was delighted to have my family with me at WBC this year. I've also been trying to talk some of my friends into coming. One friend I just knew would enjoy WBC is Andy Latto, an excellent gamer who has been successful in other tournaments. Andy's schedule is so full that he's never been able to come, but this year a last-minute cancellation opened up a slot in his schedule and he rode the Amtrak train down on Wednesday for the remainder of the tournament. The Amtrak station is just 5 minutes from the hotel, and there's a free shuttle bus service. You definitely do not need a car to come to WBC; public transportation works just fine!

The experiment worked. Andy had a great time at WBC. On Friday he entered the Battle Line tournament and finished 4th. He also had a chance to play Dune, a favorite of his that he hasn't played for a long time, and to learn Twilight Struggle and Manifest Destiny by attending the demos, making it into the semis of Manifest Destiny.
 
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25. Board Game: Facts in Five [Average Rating:6.05 Overall Rank:3000]
Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I had a free hour in my schedule on Saturday afternoon, and I saw that Arthur Field was GMing Facts in Five. Rich Meyer has entered the Facts in Five tournament in the past and placed, so I was generally familiar with the game. My family often accuses me of being a fountain of useless trivia, so one would think I'd be a natural at this game. I entered the room with its theater-style seating and listened to the instructions. I have to say that this game was a blast. Part of the fun was watching and listening to Arthur as he tried to deal with all our stupid questions (I don't know any other game that's as much of a trial for the GM!) Arthur is in some ways a caricature of himself, and he had us rolling in the aisles at times, but he ran a good tournament.

There were a number of categories I knew well, and some I was hopeless on. I couldn't name a single cruise line, and I couldn't recognize a Van Damme movie if it slapped me in the face. After the 4 qualifying rounds, I somehow found myself in first place by a narrow margin, 62 right answers to 60. The top five qualifiers went on to one final, with the best score in the last round winning the tournament. Rich was also in the final round, and the two of us scratched our heads at the categories. I don't know Rolling Stones albums, though for "R" I did write down "Rolling Stones" which was a correct answer.

My lousy showing in the final round relegated me to a 4th place finish, but my friend Rich won the tournament. It may not be as prestigious a wood as the one he won in Empire Builder, but it's a wood nevertheless. Congratulations, Rich!
 
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