Winter Activation Meeting 2008 (WAM VI)
Feb. 9, 2008

A solid field of 44 players attended WAM 2008, including eight rookie attendees. The top-drawing “events” this year to earn laurels were Twilight Struggle, 1960, and Paths of Glory. As usual, players kept busy between rounds of the laid back schedule by playing in other ad hoc events, with the average player entering 3.5 events over the course of the weekend. In addition to the top three, players also avidly played their favorites among five other tracks—with Wilderness War, Hannibal, We The People, and For the People holding at numbers similar to last year but unable to break into the wood column, while the March Madness pickup event grew in popularity. A handful of other games graced the tables as well, especially as players were bumped out of their plaque hunts. In the end, Marvin Birnbaum proved the top Laurel scorer with 68 garnered by a first in Twilight Struggle and a second in 1960. He was followed by Chris Byrd who logged 54 with a first in 1960 and a second in POG. Tom Drueding netted 40 for winning POG and Stephen Brooks added 37 by scoring in all three.

1st: Tom Drueding
2nd: Chris Byrd
3rd: Ken Gutermuth
4th: Charlie Hickok
5th: Steve Brooks
6th: Seth Gunar

1st: Marvin Birnbaum
2nd: Bruce Monnin
3rd: Steven Brooks
4th: Stuart Tucker
5th: Sean McCulloch
6th: Michael Sosa

1st: Chris Byrd
2nd: Marvin Birnbaum
3rd: Terry Coleman
4th: Steven Brooks
5th: Roger Taylor
6th: Mark Yoshikawa

1st: Marvin Birnbaum
Keith Wixson
Paul Gaberson
Randall MacInnis
Stuart Tucker
Terry Coleman

1st: Tim Hall
Roderick Lee
Stuart Tucker
Randall MacInnis
Peter Stein
Martin Sample

1st: Sean McCulloch
Bruce Monnin
David Docktor
Bill Edwards
Marvin Birnbaum
Mark Yoshikawa


1st: Michael Mitchell
David Dockter
Travis Bender
4th: Henry Russell

1st: David Dockter
Sean McCulloch
3rd: Paul Gaberson

Paths of Glory

20 meat and potato wargamers, including four former PoG WBC/WAM champions, participated in the cornerstone WAM tourney. At the end of the 2008 PoG-a-thon, one former champion was left standing clutching the gold.

The usual mulligan round started at mid day on Thursday, with four games providing participants with first round byes. On Friday morning, we also continued a WAM tradition, matching up former PoG champs against one another in the first round: resulting in Drueding (AP) defeating Dockter and Byrd (CP) defeating Birnbaum (AP). Finally, we allowed players that prefer Barbarossa to Berlin instead of Paths of Glory to have at it; resulting in one epic match between Austin and Brooks going all 18 turns and being decided on the final die roll of the final card play.

Saturday morning began with semi-final rounds between Byrd and Hickok and Drueding and Gutermuth. While the Byrd-Hickok game ended relatively quickly, Guternmuth (AP) took Drueding’s Defend the Rhine (CP) to the end game with a late threat from an assortment of angry Italians, disgruntled Serbs and opportunistic French Orient forces. That set the stage for a Final involving Chris Byrd (CP) and Tom Drueding (AP bid 2).

The Guns of August event opened the Final. The early game went very fast as each side played mostly event cards. The AP was able to prepare for Italy by sending two French Armies to the Italian border. The CP fortified the Rhine and started moving an Army to Italy. When Italy came in a British Army was SRed down to Venice and the French Armies moved to Bologna the next impulse. Both the British and French were able to entrench on the first roll, effectively ending the CP aspirations for Italy.

Chris Byrd (left) battles Tom Drueding (right)
in the POG Final.
Ken Gutermuth (right) took Tom Drueding
to the final turn.

In the Near East the MEF landed at MEF 4 and Yudenitch came in late. Both arrivals were quickly countered by large stacks of Turks and Bulgars. The Caucasus made one attempt to breakout and was flipped. In the end it was nothing more than a distraction. The AP did not get the Sinai off till very late. The Turk armies arrived quickly and wiped out the MEF and made a move for Cairo before Allenby arrived but were unable to break out of the Sinai. Allenby eventually arrived and was threatening Jerusalem by Turn 17.

With Italy locked and the Rhine fortified the CP started the march on Russia to Grodno on Turn 10. The Russians stopped the German right at Grodno and were able to dig a trench (eventually level 2). Grodno became the Verdun of the East with a trench, a fort and several German attacks (unable to break through). The Russians were able to funnel replacements continuously. It was not until the Austrians and three German Armies moved towards Dubno were they able to get through. Even that it was slow going against several Russians.The CP conceded on Turn 17; the only place the CP had to get VPs was Russia and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was looking very unlikely. The progress in Russia was just too slow, the weather was turning too cold and the trenches were just too deep.


  1. Scott Moll
  2. Ken Gutermuth
  3. Robert Heinzmann
  4. Mark Popofsky
  5. Marvin Birnbuam
  6. Chris Byrd
  7. Randall McInnis
  8. Stever Brooks
  9. Melvin Casselberry
  10. Michael Mitchell
  11. Tim Hall
  12. Jon Hasay
  13. Doug Austin
  14. Henry Russell
  15. Charlie Hickok
  16. Seth Gunar
  17. Jason Roach
  18. Tom Drueding
  19. David Dockter

Twilight Struggle

Twilight Struggle was the most popular event, now in its second year, drawing 35 players playing a total of 53 games. Despite two prevalent bidding systems (VPs or Points of Influence), the Soviets continued to dominate, winning 34 of the 53 games. The average bid for the Soviet side was 2.4. In only four games did the “winning bid” take the Americans (twice at 0). The honorable mention of the weekend goes to Sean McCulloch for bidding 3 to be the Americans and still winning. As for the final round, bids for the Soviet side were usually 3--but in the championship game the bid rose to 4. Among the more interesting pivotal events to games:

  • Facing Defcon 2, Soviet holding only Five-year Plan and Grain Sales.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis allows American to lock up South America for scoring an automatic victory.
  • American late play of Ask Not yields draw of two scoring cards, only one of which could be played.
  • Flower Power racking up a total of 8 VPs for the Soviets, giving them the winning margin in the endgame scoring.
  • Extended Quagmire drawing three US cards beyond American intention.
  • Nixon Plays the China Card to gain an auto victory for the Americans.
  • American play of Kennedy to discard crucial scoring card, then Missile Envy to draw Wargames with an 8-point lead.
  • Olympics and Grain Sales lead to Nuclear War (occurred in two games).
  • Olympics and Duck and Cover played in Headlines phase.
  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying to gain a 3 mil ops advantage to gain auto victory.
  • U.S. play of Missile Envy draws Duck and Cover (because there were no 4-pt cards in the Soviet hand).
  • Six games ended with the play of Wargames.
  • Several games collapsed quickly due to the American drawing too many scoring cards in the first three turns.

The early rounds witnessed last year’s WAM champion, Keith Wixson defeating Melvin Casselberry and Charlie Hickok, before stumbling to Marvin Birnbaum with the coup de grace coming in Turn 5 with the play of the Alliance for Progress. Last year’s runner-up, James Terry, was undefeated when he met Bruce Monnin in Round 4. Monnin prevailed as the Soviets when the Turn 6 headline phase witnessed Olympics and Duck and Cover. Tournament director, Stuart Tucker, went 4-1 overall, but slipped up one hazy morning in Round 3 by forgetting about mil ops on Turn 1 against Michal Sosa, who made him quickly pay with a Turn 3 auto victory. Birnbaum survived a tight 10-turn Round 4 game against Sosa (paying him dearly for bidding 2 for the Americans). With Tucker defeating Michael Mitchell’s attempt to become the third 4-0 player, the Final was set with Monnin against Birnbaum.

Trevor Bender (left) and Scott Moll
trade missile threats in the Cold War.   
 Ken Gutermuth takes a break from POG
with some “light” gaming.

In the Final, Monnin finally yielded the Soviet side to Birnbaum at a bid of 4. Turn 1 witnessed Asia Scoring and Turn 2 Mideast Scoring, setting up a deadly re-shuffle for Turn 3 in which Birnbaum put the Red Scare on the Americans and then racked up big VPs with scoring of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Birnbaum finally sealed the game in Turn 5 with the SE Asia Scoring Card to earn an auto victory.

Here are the final rankings and records of the top players (tourney points are a measure of a player’s wins plus strength of opposition).

1. Marvin Birnbaum, 5-0, 61 tourney points, 3 US wins, 2 CCCP win
2. Bruce Monnin, 4-1, 53 TPs, 3 CCCP wins, 1 US win
3. Steven Brooks, 4-1, 51 TPs, all Soviet
4. Stuart Tucker, 4-1, 51 TPs, 4 CCCP wins
5. Sean McCulloch, 4-1, 49 TPs, 3 US wins, 1 CCCP win
6. Michael Sosa, 3-2, 45 TPs, 2 CCCP wins, 1 US win
7. James Terry, 3-2, 44 TPs, all American
8. Roderick Lee, 3-2, 43 TPs, 2 CCCP wins, 1 US win
9. Michael Mitchell, 3-1, 36 TPs, 2 CCCP wins, 1 US win

1960: The Making of the President

1960: The Making of the President had its debut at WAM, and despite the game’s recent release, which prevented any promotion of the tournament prior to WAM—it became a hit at the convention. Some 24 campaign managers would vie to see whether Richard M. Nixon or John F. Kennedy would become the 35th president of the United States.

There were 36 games played in all, and in a reversal of history, the Nixon side emerged triumphant in 22 contests, to win just over 61%. Bidding was allowed, but after the first few games, most participants simply agreed upon sides and played straight up, which implies a more balanced game than the relatively small sample of games in the event would imply. The average game time was about 1 hour 45 minutes, with games generally finishing more quickly as players became familiar with the cards and simple mechanics. By Saturday evening, five players had won three or more games: Marvin Birnbaum, Chris Byrd, Terry Coleman, Steven Brooks, and Mark Yoshikawa. As the only two remaining undefeated, Marvin and Chris would play for the title; Terry and Steve for 3rd-4th place; and Mark would play Roger Taylor (who defeated Sean McCulloch in a battle of 2-1s) for 5th-6th place.

In the playoffs, Roger (with Nixon) built up a sizeable lead over Mark early on by playing Momentum in the West on Turn 1, and he was able to bury the Cook County Recount card as well. Mark was unable to catch up, especially since Kennedy lost key Southern states due to the Unpledged Electors card. Meanwhile, Terry squeaked out a win for third place with Kennedy by the narrowest of margins, 269-268, over Steve’s spirited play with Nixon. Ironically, the key was Terry saving a card to flip South Dakota (with its whopping four electoral votes) to the Democrats at the end.

The game for the plaque was a well-played affair, with two WAM vets trading body blows and following with subtle maneuvers. In the end, Chris Byrd was able to finesse most of the anti-Nixon cards into the discard pile, and to withstand a furious comeback by Marvin Birnbaum with Kennedy to emerge triumphant by an electoral vote count of 322-215.

Even though years following won’t be an election year in the real world, it seems likely that 1960 will continue to be a WAM staple for years to come. We’ll see how it does at WBC this summer. In any case, it looks like Jason Matthews (co-designer with Christian Leonhard of 1960) has another hit on his hands worthy of Twilight Struggle’s sequel.

Top Six:

1st: Chris Byrd
2nd: Marvin Birnbaum
3rd: Terry Coleman
4th: Steven Brooks
5th: Roger Taylor
6th: Mark Yoshikawa

Wilderness War

14 players participated in this year’s tournament, and David Dockter went 4-0 to earn the plaque (and a ceremonial medicine arrow). He defeated Randy MacInnis, Roderick Lee, Paul Gaberson (defending WBC Champ) and Sean McCulloch. The runner-up, McCulloch, defeated Bruce Monnin, Keith Wixson (top rated player) and Jeff Finkeldey to go 3-1. Dockter barely managed to defeat Gaberson’s French forces in Round 3 by winning two battles and taking a stockade on the last two plays, after having a large British army wiped out to the last man—and Wolfe dying for the cause. McCulloch’s French in Round 2 squeaked out an unlikely win over Wixson with his main army under siege at Quebec at the end. Wixson ran out of time due to poor siege rolls and the death of Wolfe at the gates of Montreal on the final turn.
AAR of the Round 4 game between Dockter playing the Brits against McCulloch (bid was 1 for the French):
1757 saw a large number of British reinforcement cards being played. The French were able to hold the Brits at bay, planting a French flag on Hudson CarryNorth and successfully parrying any British activity in the west.

However, in 1758 things changed rapidly for the French cause. First, British forces under Wolfe were able to launch a successful attack on Louisbourg, although the French garrison had been evacuated. Wolfe exploited the victory at Louisbourg by landing in the French rear outside of Quebec. A brutal French counterattack killed twoBritish leaders, including Wolfe, and wiped out the British force to the last redcoat. Victory points at this time stood at 2, with the French favored to win. That’s when the wheels fell off the French victory bus. In the center, the French force was hit both with Small Pox and by being prevented from finding winter quarters (the Lake Schooner Card and a well timed Francois Bigot), suffering miserable attrition.

On the first card play of 1759, Governor Vaudreuil decided to intervene and exiled Montcalm to Ohio Forks. Drucour was left in charge of the main French force. It was at this precise moment that the British struck and destroyed the entire French army. The British forces then pushed hard on Montreal, while attempting to guard their supply lines from pesky raiders, taking it in short order.This set up the final British push on Quebec. One lone reduced British Regular battalion successfully sieged Quebec. However, as the British forces entered Quebec they were eliminated by French sniper fire. Quebec subsequently reverted back to French control, with no surviving British units able to control the local population. To complete the farce, the next card play witnessed two French Regular battalions arriving at Quebec and displacing the incompetent and bewildered British leader. Luckily for the British cause, a relief force had been sent north and was able to again invest Quebec. One last nearly successful raid by Indians on the British supply line almost broke the siege. However, the thin red line stood its ground, Quebec fell and the Brits tipped a pint or two—proving once again it is better to be lucky than good.

We The People

This short-playing filler event for the CDW that started the genre was hampered considerably by the election-year appeal of another short playing-time event this year (1960). Only 10 players played We The People this year, leading to a 10-game, three-round, truncated event to wittle the field down to a final undefeated player. This year, as usual, the Americans held the advantage, winning seven of 10 games. Bidding for sides went all one way—with an average of 3.2 PCs being bid to be the American. In the three games that had the Americans bidding 4 PCs, they still managed to win twice.

In Round 1, highly-ranked Birnbaum and Gaberson matched up to settle scores early. Birnbaum held Gaberson’s Brits to two colonies. Tucker defeated Stein; MacInnis defeated Don Greenwood; Wixson defeated Mark Yoshikawa. In Round 2, Birnbaum scored an American victory over MacInnis’ Brits on a 1781 resignation. Wixson’s Americans survived a tough battle all the way into1783 against Tucker’s British, who managed to chase Washington to the south, but failed to lock up New England. Wixson survived Tucker’s 1783 Major Campaign to win 9-4.

In the Final, Wixson took the American side with a bid of 3 PCs. Despite losing the British Regulars Advantage early, Birnbaum utilized two Major Campaigns to secure a 7-6 victory, ending this WAM weekend with another boatload of honors. The top six were 1) Marvin Birnbaum, 3-0, 33 TPs, 2 American wins, 1 British win; 2) Keith Wixson, 2-1, 24 TPs, all American; 3) Paul Gaberson, 2-1, 23 TPs, 1 American win, 1 British win; 4) Randall MacInnis, 1-1, 12 TPs, 1 British win; 5) Stuart Tucker, 1-1, 12 TPs, 1 American win; and 6) Terry Coleman, 1-1, 12 TPs, 1 American win.

Randall MacInnis breaks in another “green"horn in
We The People on his way to an easy win as the British.

Hannibal: Rome Versus Carthage

Hannibal fell one player short of tournament status, having only 15 entrants. However, due to playing time constraints imposed by the other popular events, several 1-0 players dropped out of the running, essentially turning it into a three-round non-event. The frequency of dropouts in WAM’s laidback style with players sampling a little bit of everything is why the number of actual tournament status events are limited. A total of 12 games were played, with two-thirds of them won by the Romans. Bids for side were balanced, with half the games involving winning bids of 0.

Leading this year of Roman supremacy, the tournament champion, Tim Hall, rode the Romans to victory three times. His first round win came as a result of a Turn 9 Messenger Intercepted against Scott Moll’s Carthaginians. Perennial contender, Stuart Tucker defeated one-time champion David Dockter in Round1 largely by smashing Roman armies as they tried to retake Sardinia (including killing Scipio Africanus in the wilds of Nuoro). Tucker’s Round 2 game against Hall ran into more trouble with the Sardinia strategy, where despite double-enveloping Africanus (without killing him), his Carthaginians were eventually driven out of Sardinia on Turn 6. The Turn 8 desperation crossing of the Alps by Hannibal led to his death in Insubria and an eventual 10-8 province count win by Hall’s Romans. Meanwhile Roderick Lee survived a tight Round 2 game against Randall MacInnis, in which his Hannibal was thrown out of Cisalpina three times before he benefitted from a Turn 9 Messenger Intercept to steal a campaign card and win the game 9-9.

In the Round 3 Final, Lee’s Carthaginians suffered several early losses to the Messenger Intercepted, and only received Philips help on Turn 7 (losing him on Turn 9). On Turn 6, Hall used two campaign cards and 23 Roman CUs to hammer Hannibal four times in a row, but failed to kill him. Lee’s Mago and 1 CU managed to defeate Nero’s 6 CUs in Spain to preserve a tight finish, but in the end, with Syracuse never coming to Carthage’s aid, and Numidia revolting for Rome on the final turn, Hall prevailed 10-7.

Top Six:

1. Tim Hall, 3-0, 33 TPs, all Roman
2. Roderick Lee, 2-1, 24 TPs, 1 Carthaginian win, 1 Roman win
3. Stuart Tucker, 1-1, 13 TPs, all Carthaginian
4. Randall MacInnis, 1-1, 12 TPs, 1 Carthaginian win
5. Peter Stein, 1-1, 11 TPs, 1 Roman win
6. Martin Sample, 1-0, 11 TPs, 1 Roman win

March Madness

In the wacky, play anything that isn’t nailed down atmosphere of WAM, this annually growing filler saw 14 participants fight it out in 12 games for the coveted winter hoops title in the tournament of perhaps the all-time best card-driven sports game. Sporting a field of 20 teams all with identical ratings of 90, the Madness was on. The early going was highlighted by David Docktor, who had never won a game of March Madness. First his 1997 Minnesota team destroyed Ken Gutermuth’s 2006 Texas. Then in a tighter game he also bested Jeff Finkeldey’s 1970 New Mexico State squad. That led to the birth of the Wall of Shame, where the team cards of teams who had lost to the previously winless Docktor were displayed for all to see and mock.

Meanwhile, a member of the Ohio contingent, Sean McCulloch was also advancing, as his 1966 Kentucky squad defeated Mark Mitchell’s 1984 Georgetown squad and forever woodless Mark Yoshikawa’s 1995 North Carolina Tarheels. In the truncated championship round, it was Sean’s steady play versus David’s hot dice, and the championship came back home to Columbus, Ohio, though the Docktor Wall of Shame remained up all weekend as several unbeatens failed to answer the bell for another round due to other commitments.

Top Players:

1. Sean McCulloch, 3-0
2. Bruce Monnin, 2-0
3. David Docktor, 2-1
4. Bill Edwards, 1-0
5. Marvin Birnbaum, 1-0
6. Mark Yoshikawa, 1-1
7. Bob Jamelli, 1-1

For the People

We had a small For The People field this year—only seven—as many missed their chance to take advantage of the Master’s absence with Champion-for-life Pei at home welcoming a new wargamer to the family. However, it was a fun group as usual including some of the higher ranked FtP players. We tried out the new “cards" and version 3.0 of the rules; all worked well.

One semi round game saw Dockter (CSA) vs Russell ue a deadly card combo on the turns of Lee arriving (USA discards a card + a CSA concentration) and the turn of Jackson & Longstreet (Indians) much sealed the fate of USA..

The other semi almost went the entire distance—with Mitchell’s USA defeating Bender in a hard fought, day long marathon. Early moves saw USA taking WV and KY and the CSA utilizing a western focus . CSA frequently raided with Lee’s army up thru Cairo. USA usually had a blocking army full of SPs on a fort trying to stop the raid. The CSA always won the resulting large battles but suffered heavy losses. CSA would raid and the USA would cut off CSA supply by attacking through Ironton. This back and forth action continued for quite a while.

In the East, the CSA played Road to Ruin in Fall 62 but chose to raid PA thru Pittsburgh rather than attack the AoP which was sitting in Hanover. CSA had superior blockade rolls getting at one point 9 of 12 reinforcements despite a level 3 blockade. Later turns evened out. Spring saw Grant forming an Army and stablizing the east aided by stong addition of SPs from Jackson, Ohio. The next turn saw the Union moving last thanks to one of three cards requiring the CSA to discard. This was the critical turn. Grant in Grafton was able to surround Jackson’s Army and trap him in Gordonsville with an Army in Charlottesville thanks to a failed intercept. AoP sitting in Hanover formed the eastern part of the pocket. The next turn saw the destruction of Jackson’s Army followed by isolation and destruction of Richmond aided by another campaign card ( one of 5) and another failed intercept. The way south was open. Bender’s CSA reformed Jackson’s Army in Saltville diverted Grant over to oppose him. The arrival of Sherman lead to Jackson moving south all the way to Columbus Ga. The south was hampered by previously heavy cavalry losses.

The final turns saw the Union mopping up control of NC, SC and Ga for the victory while Grant chased Jackson who was trying to raid thru Bloomington. The south could not flank Sherman’s army to contest control of GA and SC; Sherman had set up defense in Barnesville, Ga allowing intereception into either Atlanta or Macon where he could not lose a battle due to resource status. The key to the game was good cards (discards and Campaigns) for the Union and two critical failed CSA Army interceptions. The EP and Intervention cards were not played although the USA drew the Intervention card on two consecutive turns.

Henry Russell (left) and Mark Popofsky battle without
the spectre of the Master facing the winner.

The Final between Dockter (CSA) and Mitchell did not start until very late on Saturday evening (due to the long semi-final game). At the end of Turn 4, the CSA SW was at 110 (MO and early Maryland raid), Blockade Level 1 , USA holding Ky & W VA and CSA holding an edge in SPs (having received a net 10 SPs from cards). The Western position included a USA army under Pope at Dover and an Eastern position with the AoMs under Lee—west of Manasas and AoNV north of Richmond vs an AoP at Frederick. Early Sunday morning, we decided to resume the game after a few hours of rest. Unfortunately, the CSA player suffered a worsening bout of the flu, leaving Mitchell in command of the field and the game had to be called on account of sickness.

2009 will hopefully witness a return to a larger and healthier FtP field.

Top Four:

1st: Michael Mitchell
2nd: David Dockter
3rd: Travis Bender
4th: Henry Russell



1: Michael Mitchell
2: David Dockter
3: Travis Bender
4: Henry Russell
5: Mark Popofsky
6. Melvin Casselberry
7. Roger Taylor

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