WBC, a Memorable Experience
Pony Casts Fire
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New Haven
Connecticut
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This will probably be the last WBC 2006 GeekList of the year, but I figured I just needed to post it. This year was my first trip to WBC and I wasn't sure what to expect. But I had a great time playing in the open gaming area, playing in the competitions and meeting tons of great people. I should add how much fun I had playing with all of the folks from the MD Gamers and thank them for bringing me into so many games. That really made this Con an unforgettable experience for me. If you're on the fence about going, I highly recommend it.
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1. Board Game: Hellas [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:1699]
Pony Casts Fire
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New Haven
Connecticut
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Monday:
My roommate and I drove from CT for about 4.5 hours and we got there around dinner time. After having dinner with my roommate's father, we came back and decided to check out the open gaming area. No competitions had started at this time, so we decided to set up a quick game of Hellas.
 
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2. Board Game: Caylus [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:20]
Pony Casts Fire
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New Haven
Connecticut
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We decided to wander around the open gaming area and see what was going on, and we happened upon a game of Caylus that was just about to start. I decided to try the building strategy, but I didn't build strongly enough. I took second place; the first place player had the residence grey building and both free cube grey buildings. He managed to up me on both cubes and money with these buildings.
 
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3. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:11]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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I decided that since I was thinking about playing in the Power Grid competition that I would try and get a game of Power Grid in. I could only find one other guy interested, and that wasn't really enough so the two of us walked around trying to round up more players. We managed to rope in Norm and Tony, a couple of guys from Ottowa gamers and we started a four player game. Norm and Tony hadn't played before so we explained the rules and got started. It was kind of an unbalanced game since I had played before and the other player happened to be Jim Castonguay, last year's champion! Playing with Jim taught me alot about the game. Things that should be basic, but I hadn't noticed, like why the 4 plant is so valuable, how certain plants can be viable under certain circumstances. Basically, how to best maximize every dollar. As a joke, I made a small sign for Tony and Norm, since they were spending too much on resources, that said "Every Dollar Counts!" A good learning game. I wound up taking third since I was pretty much forced into buying both the 23 and 28 nuke plant without having used the 23 at all.
 
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Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Tuesday:
I decided I wanted to check out the Auction and store on Tuesday morning. I picked up this, the Star Trek Adventure and 221B Baker Street from the Auction Store.

I also grabbed an auction for 'Win, Place & Show', a game I had read about and was interested in competing in.
 
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5. Board Game: Colossal Arena [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:544]
Pony Casts Fire
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New Haven
Connecticut
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After the auction, and grabbing some food, I checked out a few demos. I played a hand of Colossal Arena and saw the new version of History of the World. I noticed that the new version of HotW didn't have specific monuments and had a few other changes. I'm not sure how that would change gameplay, but it might make for a faster game.
 
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6. Board Game: TurfMaster [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:930]
Pony Casts Fire
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New Haven
Connecticut
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After the demos, I wandered back over to the open gaming room. I managed to sneak into a game of Turf Master where I met Dan and Nate. A couple of cool guys that I'd wind up playing with a few times during the Con.
 
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7. Board Game: Win, Place & Show [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1584]
Pony Casts Fire
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New Haven
Connecticut
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This was the first competition game that I played, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I had checked out the demo they had just before the competition, so I knew the rules for the most part. Once the competition starts, I wind up playing opposite Ken Gutermuth and a few other players. I guess I must have learned something since I came in second place with 131k to Ken's 168k. Not a bad showing for my first game. I decidied I was definitely going to show up for the secomd round.

It was late at this point, so I had to go to bed.
 
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8. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:446]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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I had been looking forward to playing Merchant for the entire time I has decided to come to the Con. I arrived early, so I walked over to someone setting up the game to see if I could refresh my memory of the rules before we started. I checked them out for a bit, but Stephen, the guy I was talking to needed a bit of help with his setup. He had counted his chits and noticed he had come up short. Luckily he had a second copy with him, so we went through both sets and figured out what he was missing and got a full set put together.

The tables were randomly assigned, so I didn't get to play with Stephen, but I had a good time with the group I played with. I wound up taking third place.
 
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9. Board Game: Thurn and Taxis [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:258]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Time for more demos. I went downstairs to where they some games set out ready to play, and I sat down with a couple other people to play Thurn and Taxis. The game was a bit rushed, but it was simple enough so that I still got a feel for it. Had a feel of Medieval Merchant, with making sure you concentrated on regions and routes.

Next, I went over to the other demo area where a demo of Speed Circuit was starting. It reminded me of Formula De, but the movement mechanic was a bit different. We played a single two turn track segment, which was enough for us to learn the game. It looked interesting, but I didn't think I wanted to compete in it.
 
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10. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:432]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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After the demos I went back to the open gaming area and sat for a game of Ricochet Robots. They were playing with a rule that if someone with fewer tokens called the same number as you they could take the round. It seemed like a good way for people to keep even so that one person doesn't run away with it. I think I won, but it was close.

I then played a few games of Twixt. I hadn't played Twixt since I was little, so I only barely remembered the rules. Fortunately, I was playing against a champ at the game, who taught me the rules, and some strategy (the hard way). This game is a real brain burner, I was concentrating as much as I could, but I just didn't know the strategy well enough. I played two games against him and one more against another rookie, who also beat me ^_^. Well, it was a fun learning experience.

Then, it was back upstairs for a demo of Mystery of the Abbey. The game seemed like it had alot more going on than was really necessary. There were all kinds of cards to be collected and played, different ways to get information from other players, just for something that resembled Clue. I think I prefer simply deduction games like Sleuth of Zendo.
 
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11. Board Game: IGOR: The Mad Scientist's Lament [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:8201]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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And with Igor marks the best thing that happened during the Con. I met up with my first group of people from the Maryland Gamers group. I was brought into the game by Michelle who saw me wandering aimlessly around the open gaming area and sat down with her, Lee, Beth and Rodney for a couple games. I had a great time playing this silly game and I even performed a well received maniacal laugh for them.

After we finished this, we played a game of Boomtown. Which at first, seemed like a light card game, but there was a certain amount of strategy in knowing which mines would be worth more money. It seems pretty important to be able to have a mayor so you can collect cash from other players.

After this, I was going to check out the 'Can't Stop' competition, but there was still time to kill. I was wandering around downstairs and met a group of people playing 'Vegas Showdown'. Sure enough it was more Maryland Gamers. I met Brian, Denise, Josh and I think Steve. I sat with them for a while and learned a bit about the game while they played. I had to leave before they finished to set up for Can't Stop, but I'd see them later.

While I was setting up my home made version of 'Can't Stop' one of the MD folks came over and passed me Josh's cap and told me to hold on to it. I decided to play along and kept the cap with me while I was setting up. I wound up playing the first round of 'Can't Stop' with my friend Chris from my regular Sunday gaming group. I didn't press my luck enough with my sevens so Chris winds up taking the game. Oh well, it was still fun playing. Now, the game is over and I put my set back, but I still have Josh's cap! I look around the room and they're nowhere to be found. I wasn't sure if this was some ploy to get me to find them and play more games, but playing more games was hardly a bad thing so I went off in search of the MD gamers.
 
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12. Board Game: Trans Europa [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:876]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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It wasn't much of a search. I went up to the open gaming area and found them at the first table. I surreptitiously passed Josh's cap to someone and it was hidden for a little while, until Josh mentioned that he couldn't find his cap. I wonder if he was a little suspicious that it showed up shortly after I arrived. Since I was already there I hung out for a while. I had my IceHouse stuff with me so I showed Brian IceTowers, but they were setting up a game of TransEuropa so I sat in. We played two games in quick succession. There was definitely a bit of making sure you weren't the one who dropped the segments to connect routes. It's a fun game where people have to work together just enough. We were tired, but I was showing them my homemade Star Trek werewolf game after Josh had mentioned that he couldn't find his deck. I also showed them my Can't Stop board, so we had to play one more game before bed, right? Four of us played Can't Stop, Denise just couldn't get a break, I think she busted on every turn. Anyway, I was really glad that I had bumped into the MD folks.
 
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13. Board Game: Bumper Car Arena [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:7724]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Thursday:
There was a huge demo set up of this downstairs, so I had to sit and check it out. I didn't have time for a full game, but I did get to play a couple rounds. I really like the game, it has a neat movement mechanic and has a really fun theme. It has just the right mixture of silly and strategy. Too bad I couldn't play a full game, I had to go to my next competition...
 
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14. Board Game: Web of Power [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:315]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Which was Web of Power. I enjoy this game, and it's fairly simple so I thought I'd try out the competition. The setup was a fuor game heat. You score points depending on your position in each game and the highest point winners advance. I sat down for my first game with three other guys and we get started. I lucked out with turn order since it almost always left a region open for me to win or tie majority. I pretty much ignored making connections, but I did grab a few. It was a very close game, but I pulled out the win. One player scored a heap of connection points, and I thought he was going to jump ahead of me, but I just barely made it. The second game didn't go so well. I was spending the entire game competing for connections with another player, who was constantly being set up by another player who was grabbing majorities. It seemed like every time I clinched a region, he would open up space for more advisors to come in. It was a losing battle, and I came in last. I took third place in the final two games, which were fairly uneventful. Still, I had a good time with these very close games.
 
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15. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:1558]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Next I came back to the open gaming area where Tom Parouda was playtesting his new game "Spy Master". I'm always up for learning a new game, so he went through the rules with us. There was alot to take in, but the game wasn't overly complicated. It had an action point driven system, where you were competing spy agencies trying to meet your objective of spying on your particular city. But you also gained points by discovering your opponents agendas and turning other players into "double agents". With the many ways to gain points, there is definitely a learning curve involved, but the action point system, plus the deduction mechanic made for an interesting game.
 
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16. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:371]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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I wanted to check out the game show that was going on, "Wits and Wagers", but I couldn't stay for the whole thing. I went in and sat down wondering what it was going to be like. Apparently, the entire audience was going to be playing so I though I would just join a team and left them know that I wouldn't be able to stay the whole time. I was sitting a row behind the Drozd family who were nice enough to let me join their team. We played the first "example" round, and the team that won was a little upset that they wouldn't get anything for it. They got over it and the whole crowd had a great time. This game completely lends itself to being played with a large group of silly people. Props to designer, and all around cool guy, Dominic Crapuchettes for setting this up. But, I had to run before we finished.
 
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17. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:446]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Now it was time for the second round of Merchant of Venus. My roommate and I both decided to compete this time around. We came in to find Stephen setting up his game again. He thanked me for my help sorting things out the other day and we got to chatting. By the time we finished setting his game up, it was time to announce where we'd all be playing. We wished each other luck, unless we were playing against each other ^_-. The GM pulled all the names semi-randomly (he tried to keep former champs on separate tables) and sure enough I was sitting down with Stephen for my second game of MoV. Also sitting at the table was Ken Gutermuth again, who brought a really cool set up poker chips that we used for money. Stephen and I wished each other second place and we got down to the game. Right away Ken and player 4 took the lead. Player 4 managed to deliver 2 goods for 3x and 2x demands which gave him a considerable lead. Even with my Auto-Pilot and Mulligan Gear, I couldn't make my connections fast enough. I finished with a little more than $1000. In retrospect, I should have upgraded my ship to a Clipper or gotten a drive early on. It seems very hard to win without getting any upgrades. Well, at least I've learned some stuff for next year. It was pretty late when we finished, so we decided to call it a night.
 
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18. Board Game: Zero [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2531]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Friday:
I didn't have any competitions on Friday until 2 when Power Grid started, so I decided to catch some demos. I checked out the demo for Zero/Down in Flames, which was a card driven dogfighting WWII game. It looked really interesting, but I came in a little late to get all of the details. From what I saw, you used cards to change altitude, perform maneuvers and make attacks on other planes. You have control over two planes, but other squadrons can join in. There are pairs of lead planes and wingmen which have to fight against each other.

I went back up to the open gaming area in hopes of finding a game to play, but there were very few people around. I watched a group of people playing Arkham Horror, something I had wanted to try, and read the rules while they were playing. I think this would be a fun game for a large group of people. It seems to rely more on the theme for being fun, but sometimes dungeon crawler-esque games can be fun if you get into the theme.

The last demo I checked out before my competition was Santa Fe rails. You have a hand of city cards, which you'll play in front of you to gain points. Basically everyone is working on expanding rail lines, in a style similar to Clippers, and you score points by having more trains going through your cities. A neat game, might be worth picking up.
 
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19. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:11]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Now it was time for Power Grid. I didn't expect that I'd have any chance placing in Power Grid, but I wanted to get another game in before the end of the Con. I got there early with my set, so I was given a table and set up the game for the German map. I got four other players and we got started. Jim was there, but he got assigned to another table, but his buddy, Jason, was sitting at mine. It was clear that a couple people really knew the game, and a couple were new at it. I was somewhere in between. It was a close game, many resources were being used up. I think I made a bad initial placement at the beginning, which didn't serve me well the rest of the game. The last round really decided the game. We all knew it was going to end, but we weren't sure about who'd be ablet o power what. I needed a 6 or a 7 plant to get to 15 power, but I was short on funds. I couldn't really afford to bid people up, so I wound up buying last and got the 50 plant. It worked out to be the cheapest since resources were so expensive. It didn't help since I needed a few more bucks to get into my last city. A result I only placed fourth. First place was decided on money, and Jason won by a single dollar. A very intense game, very tight. I'll have to try another competition game next year. PG seems to be much better with shrewd players.
 
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20. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:371]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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I had so much fun at the first 'Wits and Wagers' game show, that I decided to get my roommate to go in hopes of winning fabulous prizes. The Drozd family was there again, so we went up and sat with them and talked for a while. The sons had just gotten back from making some purchases at the vendors and were checking out a new wargame they had bought. This is when I learned the term 'Tactical Donut', describing how Caesar had been sieging a hilltop city and was then surrounded by an opposing army. He won the battle, so obviously donuts are quick dangerous. The game show was alot of fun again, with all the teams being extra silly this time. People thought up some "creative" names, which I probably can't post here. We had a great time and managed to take second place and won a bunch of funny money.
 
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21. Board Game: Formula Dé [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:410]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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My roommate decided to call it a night, but I wanted to play some more so I went to the open gaming area. Nate was there playing a game of Formula De with some people so I hung out and watched for a while. They finished the first lap and we all decdied to get a bigger game going. While we were setting up a bunch of MD gamers came by and they were dragged into playing. After we got set up, we had ten players playing on the Oregon #24 map with the chicane. Nate with his Mickey D's colored car was doing well until after the second turn when he spun out. Seth Guner was gunning for people and was always trying to cause damage. "That's rubbin' son! And rubbin' is racin'!" Beth, superwoman, was taking the course nice and steady. Also with us was Skip Maloney, Rodney from the other day, Cybil, and Tomato Man Dan. In the middle of the chicane Skip led myself and Guner on a three part harmony rendition of the Beatle's "Paperback Writer" which fit nicely in with the game's theme. The long straightaway was my downfall, when I decided to come into the turn in sixth gear, I had to catch up! I almost made it out of the turn alive, but I spun out just at the end and Nate putt-putted by me and beat me. I finished in 7th place. We only played one lap, but it took us until 1-2am so I had to call it quits after that. But what a great game!
 
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22. Board Game: PanzerBlitz [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1602]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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Saturday:
I was a little tired from yesterday, so I slept in a bit. When I went to the open gaming area, which was almost empty, I found Dan playing Panzer Blitz. I hadn't played any wargames, so I sat down to see what I could learn. The mechanics seemed pretty straightforward. You could move your units, and then attack. Attacks were handled with a lookup table, and depending on how much stronger your forces were you could either render them inactive for a turn or destroy them. A neat game that I might want to try out sometime.
 
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23. Board Game: Rum & Pirates [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1454]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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I decided to head down to the open area for a while before my next competition and I met Steve from, you guessed it, the Maryland Gamers. We decided to play a two player game of Rum and Pirates, while learning the rules. This was a neat game; it had sort of an auction point system, but it used money which you needed to constantly replenish. Bascially, you're moving the captain of a pirate ship around a city and where he walks to determines what happens. You can pick up treasure maps, recruit pirates, get money, fight mobs, raid bars and many other piratey things. At the end of each day, you need to go back to your ship and fight for bunk space which gets you more VPs. This is a fun game that seems like it might be a bit better with three or four. There was a just bit too much back and forth with two players.

After Pirates, we decided to move on to Masons. We quickly got two other people to sit down, but it was close to my next competition, so I said I'd have to leave early so I could eat. They didn't have a problem, so we played a few rounds. I couldn't get a great feel for the game, but it looked like something I'd try again.
 
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24. Board Game: Win, Place & Show [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1584]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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After grabbing some food from the vendor I rushed over to where the second round of Win, Place & Show was going on. We all sat down and played an interesting game. in the fifth round, it seemed like one player might have been trying to purposely keep Cockroach back, so another called a foul on him. At first this seemed bad to me, since I had put all my money on the Roach, and he wound up not even finishing. It didn't matter, though, since I had written down the wrong horse number on my betting sheet! Too bad the number I wrote down was the number of the other horse that didn't finish! Oh well, it was still alot of fun.
 
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25. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:371]
Pony Casts Fire
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
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After meeting up with my roommate and his father, we decided to play in the last round of 'Wits and Wagers'. This was, by far, the most enjoyable of the three tourneys. It got somewhat raucus with teams changing their names around and people running up and down the stairs. Lots of jokes and silliness kept the game interesting. We wound up winning third place this time, and we took home the game 'Wench', which was all that was left as our prize, as well as two mugs. We gave our funny money to our last teammate so he could buy a game, bu I think by this time, they had sold out!
 
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