History — WBC 2015
Feb. 16, 2016

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2015 was the WBC Lancaster Swan Song. Our tenth year in Lancaster set another attendance record despite, or perhaps due to, all the attendant gnashing of teeth over the coming venue change. Each year of our decade in Dutch Country saw small attendance gains despite infrastructure challenges, and 2015 was no exception—with both fire and flood among the calamities taken in stride. In all, players from 50 states and Canadian provinces plus a record 23 nations attended for one last time in Lancaster. Twenty-four events again drew triple-digit participation—but ten more were knocking on the door with 90–99 entrants. All of the scheduled 164 events achieved tournament status with fields ranging from a minimum of eight to the reigning attendance champ Ticket to Ride and its 302 riders!

Eighteen reigning WBC champions successfully defended their titles, led by the Master, James Pei, who extended his dominance in For The People to seven straight years to maintain his hold on WBC’s longest current winning streak.  Curt Collins II lost his status as the closest pursuer when he failed to win his fifth consecutive Union Pacific  title—finishing third. Peter Gurneau (Combat Commander) and Eric Wrobel (Merchant of Venus) also fell off the pace, failing on their fourth consecutive try for glory in their respective specialties. Perennial 18XX champ Bruce Beard thus became Pei’s closest pursuer with his third straight 8XX title in his second career winning streak.

On the other side of the title spectrum, 37 players claimed their first WBC title of any kind. 110 others earned their first laurels to claim genuine contender bonafides in the years to come. Fourteen gents managed to win two events each, while two managed to claim three: Ewan McNay (Britannia, Ingenious and Robo Rally) and Richard Boyes (Race For the Galaxy, Roll For the Galaxy, and  Small World). The female presence continued to grow, but their market share dropped a third, as only Angela Collinson (Adel Verpflichtet), Kate Fractal (Temporum), Stefany Speck (Pirate’s Cove) and Carol Strock (Star Wars: Queen’s Gambit) were able to win out.

The Team Tournament continued to shed teams as 78 squads (the fewest since 2007) entered the lists. The Harry B’s—the best ringers laurels can buy—made good on their 18-1 odds as favorites to best the Dice Loving Canucks who took second with 22 points—a total that would have won 80% of the races to date. With the favorites having their way, it is perhaps not surprising that the winner of the annual Bracket Busting Contest was none other than 2014’s guest prognosticator Jeff Cornett. His six correct picks tied Mark Love’s all-time record,

“The Master” James Pei continued to amass laurels at a prodigious rate, with 186 more last year to claim his third Caesar title while raising his career laurels total to 2,332. He continued to brandish For the People as his weapon of choice—scoring 100 laurels in that title alone between his latest WBC and PBeM titles. A repeat win in Sekigahara and a pair of thirds in CDWs enabled him to withstand the Euros-fuelled charge of runner-up Sceadeau D’Tela. Ewan McNay claimed Consul over “the Mighty Finn”, Riku Riekkinen, with 120 laurels earned with his three titles in Britannia, Ingenious and Robo Rally.

Relative newcomer Duncan McGregor continued a recent trend of new GMs winning accolades for their organizational skills in short order. The rookie GM rode an impressive wave of 272 entrants for Splendor to impress the voters with the ease with which he and his fellow Canadian assistants managed the generation of 165 games with such apparent ease. 

GM chores also played a role in determining our Sportsmanship winner. As the first alternate for the Here I Stand Final, Justin Rice was offered a seat by first-time qualifiers Ed and Matt Beach. At least one of the father and son duo was needed elsewhere to GM their Junior event that conflicted with the Final. Justin, however, insisted that they BOTH play and instead volunteered to run the Junior event himself to enable them to do so. Both events went off without a hitch, with a record number of junior participants putting Justin to the test.

In the continuing circle of life that marks the evolution of Winners and Losers in WBC events, 18 events set new attendance highs for the past decade while 19 set new lows. Attrition usually causes more losers than winners inasmuch as new events start high and usually lose entrants over time so being close to even was a good showing. The following record attendance highs and lows over the past decade are limited to events with at least a three-year track record. 

Zenith:: Those setting new highwater marks for the last year years were:  Saint Petersburg +27,  Ra: The Dice Game +19,  Castles of Burgundy +18,  Can’t Stop +16,  Facts in Five +11,  Thurn & Taxis +10,  Empire of the Sun +9,  Yspahan +8,  Ace of Aces +6,  Acquire +6,  Alhambra +5, ;  Battles of the American Revolution +5,  Rail Baron +5,  Vegas Showdown +5,  Advanced Civilization +4,  Merchant of Venus +3, Santa Fe Rails +2,  Kremlin +1, Formula Motor Racing +1,  Kremlin +1

Nadir: Those sinking to new lows for the past decade were: Commands & Colors Napoleonics -1,  Titan: The Arena -1,  Victory in the Pacific -1  Euphrates & Tigris -3,  Princes of Florence -3,  Battle Cry -4,  Gangsters -4, Here I Stand -4,  Sekigahara -4,  Gettysburg -5,  Small World -6,  Circus Maximus -7, Union Pacific -7, Manoeuvre -8,  Settlers of Catan -8,  Le Havre -10, Paths of Glory -10,  Leaping Lemmings -11,  Puerto Rico -17.


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