Winter Activation Meeting 2006 (WAM IV)
Feb. 14, 2006

Despite one of the mildest winters on record, WAM IV drew an all-time low 33 players to the annual off-season CDW gathering of card sharks vying for BPA laurels. Perhaps it was all the buzz from the highly publicized electronic football superbowl being held across the street in the Embassy Suites whose vibrator giriron outdrew WAM—or the absence of any hint of danger from the unseasonably warm weather—or the bright glow from the casino-like day glow carpeting of the newly refurbished Hunt Valley Inn, but the sparse player fields left BPA officials scratching their heads and pondering the future of WAM. Apparently, there are changes in the offing if WAM is to continue. Many pickup games of the newest CDW Twilight Struggle suggested that it might be added to the field for WAM V. But then the debate began about what events should be dropped to make room for it. In all likelihood, the matter will not be settled before this summer’s big conference at WBC where all eyes will be on the various CDW tournaments to see which should provide the focus for WAM V.

 17 competitors

Tom Drueding, MA

Nick Anner, NY

PATHS OF GLORY: 17 PoGers participated in the annual WAM touney. Six elected to play four games of Barbarossa-to-Berlin (an optional game within the PoG tourney), with the rest of the field getting their semi-annual fill of strong BPA competition. Four former WAM and/or WBC champs participated, with only Hassard (a proud new father) and Reese (bowing out when the field reached 16 in size) not running with the big dogs this year. A number of rookies (with a strong level of play) entered the competition—and we look forward to seeing them at WBC this summer.

The Final matched the current WBC POG champ (Tom Drueding) against Nic Anner (a former WBC champ). On his way to the Final, Tom defeated former WAM champs’’ David Dockter (Round 1 in a 20-turn affair) and Marvin Birnbaum (in the semi’s). Tom played the CP all weekend long, utilizing a modified Rob Hassard (rumored to be inspired by Keith Wixson) Defend-the-Rhine defense (always with an AP bid of 3; with the AP winning ties).

The Final began when the CP (Drueding) took an initial small foray into Belgium,  but returned to the Rhine to dig in. The effort left the CP a turn behind the Allies (Anner, dressed smartly in his usual WWI allied helmet) in getting to Limited War. With the extra turn, the Allies brought in Italy and dug in before the CP could prepare.  So with the West and Italy looking stable, the CP sent two German Armies (originally planned for Italy) to polish off the Serbs.  Once the Serbs were removed, all CP attention focused on Russia and playing events. 

The MEF and Yudenitch came in a little late and were quickly countered.  A quick SR of three corps allowed the CP to take Basra (although, the first attempt with the Trench Buster  failed on a “1” to “5” roll). Allenby was the very last card draw for the Allied deck and then was held for a few turns to keep the War Status below the Fall of Tsar is allowed. 

The Russians tried to prepare for the coming storm by digging and got trenches in K-P, Lublin and Warsaw.  On Turn 8, the Germans made a quick dash for Riga and Kiev around the sides, with at least six German armies (and about seven armies holding the West Front),  forcing the Russian armies in Warsaw and Lublin to pull out or suffer attrition. With Riga, Minsk, Lodz and Vilna, we waited for the War Status to build up.  Although the CP threatened to cut-off Warsaw, it was allowed to stay AP until the Tsar Fell.  The AP was able to bring in Romania just in time, but any threat was short lived. The following turn, the CP played the Revolution and the Treaty catching some Russian armies in Bulgaria and Persia. With Russian lines static, the Germans dug in Trench 2 on the West and Italy defended at the mountains, the only thing to consider was the Near East. It didn’t look like the AP could gain enough in the Near East, so he conceded.

Two interesting notes:  The Treaty was signed on Turn 15 and every available reinforcement was brought into the game (including the Libyans). Although the Treaty was played and the game ended in Turn 15, it was very close and would have ended with 1 or 2 VPs difference.

So, Tom Drueding became the first PoGer to win the triple crown: WBC, PBeM and WAM—and he did it all in the same year. There can be no doubt that Tom is the top dog…until next year!

 10 competitors

James Pei, VA

David Dockter, MN

FOR THE PEOPLE: Mark Herman was unable to arrive until Friday evening, so perpetual champ James Pei took over as the GM. Only ten competitors vied for the title. Things started slow. but as the weekend rolled on, more people started playing FTP. Henry Russell and Jon Gautier both earned ironman status with the most games played. Bill Pettus played one grueling 8-hour match against David Dockter, going the distance to Turn 12.

14 games were played over the long weekend with victories split down the middle with seven for each side. After nearly eight years, FTP version 2.6 is very balanced. 1st through 5th place respectively went to James Pei, David Dockter, Henry Russell, Chris Byrd and Jon Gautier.

David Dockter as usual, was up for the challenge and met Pei in the Final. He (USA) was very sharp early on, and threatened to finally break Pei’s stranglehold on the FTP crown, drawing consecutive great hands that hammered the CSA so hard that Pei couldn’t do much the first two turns. He also rolled lots of “5” and “6’s” in his battles to attrit the Reb forces so that the CSA was manpower challenged. The tide started to turn on Turn 3 when Pei was able to use a Minor Campaign to induct MO and KY into the CSA.

1862 proved to be a year of maneuver and counter maneuver. Lee arrived just in time to form AoNV in Richmond with AoP staring down from nearby Hanover. Pei used the breather to play a bunch of reinforcement cards and reorganized his far flung forces. When he was satisfied with his defense, he sent AoNV to push AoP back to Manassas. Unfortunately, AoP was able to pull off a EP card play before he was ready to move.

Turn 5 saw Jackson forming an army in Dover, but not much action in the West as Pei was focused on using the Forward to Richmond card to destroy AoP. AoNV succeeded and pushed on to Frederick. But David was able to sense danger early and formed another army under Little Mac in Pittsburgh. When AoP was liquidated, AoC moved into a threatening position in WV that made Pei hesitant to unleash AoNV upon the empty north for fear of getting OOS. But with the last card play, Pei had a good shot at DC. AoNV had +8 attacking, while DC only had +2 for the fort. Only a “6” defense roll would save DC. And wouldn’t you believe that was what got rolled. David went from despair to howling happy.

Next turn saw lots more maneuver as AoNV fought to maintain its foothold in Frederick while trying to keep its LOC open. Union forces were constantly cutting the supply lines in VA. Yet all these times, Jackson’s AoW in Dover was patiently awaiting orders to move north. Pei had steadily built up the KY area, hoping for a chance to unleash AoW. But David put so much pressure on AoNV that every card play was either to re-establish LOC or to play a juicy event. Pei decided to use his last card play to make another shot at DC even though Union AoC under Mac was in a good position to intercept. AoC failed its interception, but AoNV rolled a “2”, needing a “3” or better to win with a Union defense roll of “4”. David was so jubilant that he announced to the whole room that his Big Boy has arrived, and that James still had not gotten a raid off yet!

1863 opened to a gloomy CSA prospect (yes, James was beginning to sweat—finding himself in unfamiliar desperation mode) while the Union was deliriously happy with the arrival of Grant. But when Pei saw his hand, he knew he still had a good chance to pull out a win. He had two reinforcement cards (CSA recog KY and Governor Harris), a Minor and a Major Campaign. Naturally, he played the SP cards to set up AoW in Dover, chomping at the bit. When Grant came crashing thru WV to fight Lee, AoNV intercepted and won a big battle.

Now Pei unleashed AoW (6 sp), picking up SP along the way to boost it to a full 15 sp army and smashed into Bloomington. However, in one of the quirkiest relapses (at least according to Dockter) he forgot that Pei had built a fort in Louisville earlier. AoW then proceeded to convert IN and OH. Grant, smarting from the bloody nose with Lee, received an infusion of SP from DC. He then came charging in from Pittsburgh. But Stonewall intercepted and won another big battle in Cincinnati. Even when David played Railroad Degradation to pull the CSA Major Campaign card out, Pei was not fazed because by then it was too late. He sent Lee thru Pittsburgh to guard his right flank, thus forming two giant pincers around Grant and trapping the Union army in between. David resigned shortly after—unable to prevent James from raiding two states which would give him more than enough SW to double the Union SW. It was a close fight until the end, but Pei retained his perpetual crown.

 13 competitors

Keith Wixson, NJ

Peter Reese, VA

WILDERNESS WAR Final Standings:
1. Keith Wixson (4 wins)
2. Peter Reese (3 wins)
3. Bill Edwards (2 wins)
4. Doug Mercer (2 wins)
5. Bruce Monnin (2 wins)

There were 17 games played by 13 players. The French Player won 10 times (59%, down from 74% last year). The Champ won twice each as the French and British, defeating Bob Jamelli, Paul Gaberson, Doug Mercer and Peter Reese.
The average bid was 1.3 VPs to play the French (seven bids of 2 VPs, eight bids of 1 VP and two games with no bid), up from an average bid of .6 last year.
In the final, Wixson as the British played the large highlanders card with his first play and drew Wolfe and Amherst. Wolfe was able to besiege and take Louisbourg while Amherst faced down Montcalm at Ft. Edward. The final British card play of the first turn was Quiberon Bay. Demoralized by that crippling blow, Reese resigned after seeing his Turn 2 cards. Ironically, the champ had three very close games up to that point, winning twice on the final card play.

 10 competitors

Jim Heenehan, PA

Keith Wixson, NJ

HANNIBAL Final Standings:

  1. Jim Heenehan, 3-0
  2. Keith Wixson, 3-1
  3. Pete Reese, 2-1
  4. Randall MacInnis, 2-2
  5. Paul Gaberson, 1-1
  6. Stuart Tucker, 1-2
  7. Scott Moll, 0-1
  8. Terry Coleman, 0-2
  9. Mark Yoshikawa, 0-1
  10. Charles Hickok, 0-1
In a substantially reduced field, Jim Heenehan took home his first BPA wood ever by topping past champ Keith Wixson in the last of 12 games played. Heenehan, a colorful fellow who plays in period headress with a mock ancient helmet, topped fellow laurelists Pete Reese, Randall MacInnis, and Paul Gaberson who finished third through fifth respectively.

Once again, WAM brought together the top players in the world. Unfortunately, several former Hannibal champions from past WBC/WAM events remained in the hunt for POG and FTP plaques, making it impossible for them to get in games of Hannibal. This left a small, but highly potent field of ten Hannibal players, which still included three former champions. Stuart Tucker was the first former champion to lose, falling in his Round 1 game against Randy MacInnis, by virtue of three successful Roman interceptions in Gallia Cisalpinia in the last turn. That left Tucker’s fate up to Hasdrubal’s final battle in northern Sardinia, outnumbered 13-20 in battle cards.

Meanwhile, Pete Reese, Keith Wixson, and Jim Heenehan won their first round games. Heenehan, having scraped by in his first round with an 8-8 Carthaginian victory over Scott Moll, advanced to a Round 2 game against Wixson. Jim, as the Roman in this game, managed to kill Hannibal in Turn 6 and scraped by with a 9-8 victory with the help of a Messenger Intecepted in the last turn. Meanwhile, Reese led the Carthaginians against MacInnis, managing to survive after Hannibal’s early death crossing the Alps into Varro’s army. With Syracuse joining him on Turn 8, the alliance survived due to Fleet breaking the siege in game Turn 9, and Rome ending the game with two siege points against the city. Randy’s Scipio Africanus lost a 13-9 battle to Hasdrubal , with the game ending with a 9-9 province count based on the last card play. Unfortunately for Reese he was also doing well in the Wilderness War tourney and was running out of time at WAM to complete his games. His Round 3 game against Heenehan had to be postponed while he vied for the WNW hatchet. The late arrival of Hickok and Coleman to the event gave fresh blood for Paul Gaberson, MacInnis, and Tucker to shed in an attempt to climb back into the standings.

Round 3 witnessed former champions Tucker and Wixson facing off in a well-contested game that dragged into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Tucker’s Carthaginians used Philip and Syracuse on Turn 4 to lock up a strong position on Sicily and Sardinia, then fended off Scipio’s landward invasion of Spain. Wixson’s early grab of Gades became a thorn in Tucker’s side, as the situation left his armies frequently one space too far from ports at the wrong moments, particularly at the end when Syracuse was finally retaken and Western Numidia became the key battleground of Turn 9. The 10-8 victory made Wixson eligible to play Reese in Round 4. In that game, Reese’s Carthaginians killed Africanus on Turn 8 and were favored by the Messenger Intercepts but still lost to a 10-8 count. So, Wixson played the spoiler to Reese in both the WNW and HRC tourneys. Meanwhile, Heenehan played as the Roman against MacInnis. In the most lopsided Hannibal game of the weekend, Randy resigned on Turn 3, having witnessed Longus’ turn 1 invasion of Numidia and Marcellus’ defeat of Hannibal in Samnium and Gaul—Marcellus finally running down Hannibal in Massilia to kill him in Turn 3.

The postponed Reese-Heenehan match would have no bearing on Heenehan’s position at the top of the point standings, so it wasn’t played. Congratulations, Jim. After many years of devotion to Hannibal, you are finally the reigning champ. This year the Romans kicked butt, winning 10 of the 12 games played, though in five of those wins, the Carthaginians had 8 provinces. All five of the lopsided victories (one sacking, one suit, three resignations) were Roman victories. The average bid was 2.1 PCs for Carthage.

 13 competitors

James Pei, VA

Marvin Birnbaum, NY

WE THE PEOPLE Final Standings:

  1. James Pei, 4-0
  2. Marvin Birnbaum, 3-1
  3. Mark Yoshikawa, 3-1
  4. Paul Gaberson, 2-2
  5. Randall MacInnis, 1-1
  6. Keith Wixson, 1-1
  7. Pete Reese, 1-1
  8. Bruce Monnin, 1-2
  9. Ken Gutermuth, 1-2
  10. Chris Byrd, 0-1
  11. Jason White, 0-2
  12. Stuart Tucker, 0-2
  13. Terry Coleman, 0-1

James Pei doubled dipped once again by adding another We the People wood to his collection by outduelling Marvin Birnbaum, a two-time WBC champion in the last of 17 games played. Also garnering laurels were Mark Yoshikawa, Paul Gaberson, Randy MacInnis and Keith Wixson who finished third through sixth respectively.

Thirteen WAM players took a shot at being the last man standing undefeated in the We the People tournament. This popular short game has played a valuable time-filler role between rounds of other tourneys at WAM and has been hotly contested. Last year’s WAM WTP champion, Marvin Birnbaum returned to face all comers, defeating Chris Byrd, Randy MacInnis, and Bruce Monnin to re-enter the final match against uber-card-driver James Pei, who mowed down tough competitors Keith Wixson, Pete Reese, and Paul Gaberson to earn the opportunity.

In a game that is decidedly pro-American (even with draws counting as British victories), the bids for side have escalated to an average of 3 PCs for the American side. Despite this imbalance, though, James earned his Final ticket with three British victories (twice with seven colonies, once capturing George Washington). Marvin had to win once as the British and twice as the Americans (his key victory coming on the play of George Rogers on the final turn against Bruce Monnin’s British for a 9-4 win).

With top players like these two—both comfortable with either side—the bid was only 2, with Pei getting the Americans. The game turned on a critical Birnbaum error that Pei did not miss. Holding a Campaign card in his hand, with Cornwallis’ army bottled up by the French Fleet at Wilmington, Marvin declined to go first, lost the army, and later in the turn used the Campaign card poorly in New Hampshire. In a game where the British see all too few Campaigns, this cost him the game and the championship eventually losing in 1780 with only three colonies.

Boardgame Players Association Last updated 2/14/06 by kae.
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