Convention AARs and Centurions
Event Reports

1991 Centurions  

The gaming convention which would eventually evolve into the present WBC got its start in 1991 as Avaloncon when years of campaigning for it by Don Greenwood finally convinced Avalon Hill management that a “return to basics” gaming convention emphasizing competitive play of the games was the best way for The Avalon Hill Game Company to reverse its flagging fortunes. Having started the Origins gaming convention two decades earlier—with all of 13 tournaments—Avalon Hill had freely relinquished control of that annual gaming fest to the fledgling Game Manufacturer’s Association to concentrate on the production of its own games.

Disillusioned by the ever-growing number of events and the ever-declining role of boardgames in that national convention, Greenwood yearned for a return to the “focus” of bygone days when boardgame tournaments drew impressive fields and yielded more of a sense of challenge and accomplishment for their winners.

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Backed by a steady “call to arms” in the pages of its house magazine, The General, the inaugural Avaloncon took place in Camp Hill, PA in 1991 with over 500 diehard Avalon Hill fans in attendance. ASL led the way with a 91-player field and its GM, Russ Gifford, claimed the inaugural GM of the Year Award. Jim Fuqua was the first double winner, taking firsts in both Attack Suband Kremlin, while Bruce Reiff started his current win streak—still going strong as of this writing 13 years later—with perhaps his most impressive plaque in the 56-player Diplomacy event. The team tournament got off to a rousing, if small, start when Ghostbusters claimed their name after the fact and the title by edging the Ghosts team on the thinnest of tiebreakers for the intial team championship over a field of 30 teams. There were only 50 events and the fields for many were small—but the fuse was lit. There wouild be an Avaloncon II and the traditions for what many would consider the world’s pre-eminent gaming conference had started.