WAM VII in Timonium, MD was a rousing success by just about
any measure. Despite the recession, we drew 40 players, down only
slightly from last year. The new, more structured format appeared
to be an improvement over "organized chaos", and
almost everyone expressed a strong desire to return next year.
The renovations to Days Hotel were a minor inconvenience but no
big deal, and the general consensus appears to be that the facility
meets our needs nicely. So if the BPA is willing to continue to
sponsor us, I personally don't see any reason why we wont be back
This year we went with four formal tournaments with scheduled
rounds: Paths of Glory (POG), Wilderness War (WNW); Twilight Struggle (TWS); and 1960: The Making
of the President (1960). There was also the annual informal March Madness Tournament (AARs of each of the tournaments
are linked to their pictures below along with updated Laurels
totals). Attendees were asked to enter each tournament just prior
to the start of the first round and at the start of
each successive round attendance was checked from that list. Each
evening, I prominently displayed a detailed schedule of the next
day's events on an easel, and that nicely addressed one criticism
from last year that the event was confusing. In between tournament
games, there was much open gaming. Games that I noticed people
playing included Combat Commander, We the People, Hannibal
RvC, Empire of the Sun, Unhappy King Charles, Atlantic Storm and many that I did not recognize. Games ran pretty much non-stop
from 0800 in the morning to as late as 0300 at night.
And above and beyond the playing of games, it is always great
to get together and socialize with the Card Shark gang, which
has become a close knit fraternity over the years. There were
the usual trips to Andy Nelson and elsewhere for food, much drinking
of beer and the usual good natured banter and kidding that marks
On Saturday night, we had a short meeting to discuss the future
of WAM, and I will do my best to summarize it here. We have had
meetings such as this in the past but have gotten away from the
practice in recent years. I thought the meeting was very constructive
and believe that it should be a regular feature of WAM (we can
call it "The Airing of Grievances"). The highlights
were as follows:
- I mentioned that the BPA was not yet committed to
having minicons after this one, but that I (Keith Wixson), Dockter and Terry
were committed to running WAM if it continues.
- I explained why we changed formats this year and asked
for comments. One person said that he was not too keen on the
idea when we first announced it but that he was pleasantly surprised
with the end product. That sentiment was echoed by several others.
Nobody really had anything bad to say about the new regime.
- I apologized for this year's selection process for the
"fourth" tournament (WNW), which did not work out very
well, and opened a discussion on how we should best choose new
tournaments in general:
- It was agreed that POG, TWS and 960 were all solid and should
return next year.
- A majority of the POG players voted that the default game for
the POG tournament should be changed to Pursuit of Glory.
- It was agreed that I would conduct a poll of all of this year's
attendees by email this summer to determine the fourth tournament.
- The poll will list several options and each person will vote
for their top choice on the list with the top vote getter getting
- I conducted a straw (unofficial) poll for the fourth tournament
and the following games (in order of interest expressed) were
chosen: Hannibal RvC, Washington's War, Combat Commander and Unhappy King Charles. These four games will be included
on the poll this summer as well as anything new that I, Dockter
and Terry deem worthy of inclusion, with the proviso that any
game on the poll MUST be published before or by WBC (Washington's
War would be excepted if it is to be published by early Autumn
since it is really an update of We the People and not a
completely new game).
- We then moved to a discussion on what might be done to
improve things for next year:
- It was agreed that since Thursday is a travel day and people
cannot necessarily get to the hotel in time for scheduled rounds,
that the day should be devoted to "open" first rounds
and that nothing should be formally scheduled on that day. Upon
arrival, attendees would be allowed to seek out the GMs and have
a Round 1 opponent assigned for any tournament (this would NOT
be a Mulligan). On Friday and Saturday each of the tournaments
would have formal rounds scheduled (including Round 1). Anybody
who played a Round 1 game on Thursday would be exempted from playing
in the scheduled Round 1 for that tournament. This idea should
give people a little more flexibility and allow them to play more
- It was agreed that all Round 5s (if required) should be scheduled
on Sunday morning.
- It was agreed that a blank easel should be set up so that
people can express their interest in and arrange for open games
and informal tournaments.
- The meeting was then adjourned and the games continued!
Keith Wixson ... WAM Host
1st: Tom Drueding, MA
2nd: Chris Byrd, CT
3rd: Ken Gutermuth, NC
4th: Charlie Hickok, PA
5th: Tim Hall, UT
6th: Bill Pettus, NJ
Write-up Event Page
1st: Stefan Mecay, TX
2nd: Bill Edwards, VA
3rd: Keith Wixson, NJ
4th: Sean McCulloch, OH
5th: Marvin Birnbaum, NY
6th: John Wetherell, PA
Write-up Event Page
1st: Stefan Mecay, TX
2nd: Terry Coleman, CA
3rd: Bill Pettus, NJ
4th: Steven Brooks, FL
5th: Joe Yaure, PA
6th: Marvin Birnbaum, NY
Write-up Event Page
1st: Sean McCulloch, OH
2nd: Paul Gaberson, PA
3rd: Tom Drueding, MA
4th: Michael Sosa, FL
5th: Doug Mercer, MD
6th: Bruce Monnin, OH
Write-up Event Page
1st: Bill Edwards, VA
2nd: Bruce Monnin, OH
3rd: Ken Gutermuth, NC
4th: Pete Stein
5th: Jeff Finkeldey
6th:Terry Coleman, CA
Paths of Glory
We had only 12 entrants
to the tourney this year. Most conspicuous of the absentees
were Herr DR and Pete "Rain Man" Reese. We had
the usual format of no draws and the AP winning ties, so players
were cautioned to bid accordingly. Again, as usual, the
mean bid was just over 2 to play the AP with one player bidding
4 to keep them from Tom Drueding! As it turned out to no avail
as Tom worked his way through the ladder to meet up with, who
else, Chris Byrd in the Final. Players were allowed to
select either Barbarossa to Berlin (BTB) or Pursuit
of Glory (PUG) as alternate games to POG with the default
being POG. We had one BTB and one PUG game played. The
POG games were very equally split between AP/CP wins. The
most notable POG win was Doug Austin as the AP player putting
the entire CP force out of supply in an early round!!! This
caused attrition for every CP unit on the board, a first for
WAM play. The Semi-finals saw Byrd and Charlie Hickok playing
and Drueding and Ken Gutermuth paired against one another. Ken's
stated goal was to last the entire game!!
As mentioned above we had a repeat of last year's Final with
Tom and Chris. (In fact, the top four Laurelists in 2009 were the same as in 2008.) Tom won the AP with a bid of 3. These
two pachyderms went at it Saturday evening. By Turn 5 it
was looking bleak for Chris. By Turn 10 he realized that
his CP forces were in an untenable position and, being the
sportsman that he is, conceded. This allowed them to test
drive PUG. I did not get any feedback on their experience. Even
given the reduced number of players we all still had a good time
and some BBQ!! Looking forward to next year.
WBC Champ Stefan Mecay made his WAM debut and surprised nobody
in besting a field of 28 to win the five-round Swiss tournament
with a perfect score. He defeated in order Christopher Yaure
(Wargames on Turn 8), Mark Yoshikawa (Autovictory on Turn 8),
Keith Wixson (Wargames on Turn 9), Bill Edwards (Final Scoring)
and John Wetherell (Autovictory on Turn 6). Mecay played the
USSR in all five games, bidding 3 IPs thrice and 4 IPs twice.
Perhaps his biggest scare was in his Round 3 match against Wixson.
On the first turn of Late War in a close game the US played "Chernobyl"
in Europe followed by "Tear Down this Wall" (VPs were
at -9 but the Soviet position was vulnerable in several places).
Mecay's position had all but collapsed by the end of the turn
and Wixson was poised to gain Control of Europe at the start
of the next turn. But Stefan drew Wargames and was able to claim
victory on the second action round of Turn 9. After both players
revealed their remaining cards, Mecay agreed that he probably
would have lost otherwise.
Bill Edwards won the book "From the Shadows"
by Robert Gates, a history of the Cold War, for finishing in
second. The Best Soviet Player award went to Mecay (no additional
prize since he won the plaque)and the Best American Player award
(Robert Kennedy's "Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban
Missile Crisis") went to Sean McCulloch. The tiebreakers
used to determine the final standingswere (i) strength of
schedule, (ii) head to head results, (iii) most US wins and (iv)
most WAM t-shirts bought from the GM. The first criteria proved
sufficient in all cases.
There were a total of 59 games played with the USSR winning
32. The Soviet wins broke down as follows: 15 autovictories (20+
VPs), five by nuclear war, seven by Wargames and five at Final
Scoring. The American wins were 12 autovictories, four by nuclear
war, five by Wargames and six at Final Scoring. Players bid influence
points to be added to the US setup before the start of play for
the right to be the USSR. There were four bids of 4 IPs (two
of these by the champ), forty bids of 3 IPs, fourteen bids of
2 IPs and one bid of 1 IP.
1960: The Making of the President
After a strong debut last year, it was reasonable
to wonder whether 1960: The Making of the President would
continue to draw at WAM, now that the historic real-world election
of 2008 had passed. Attendance did drop slightly, but there were
plenty of newcomers among the 17 campaign managers, a trend which
bodes well for the future.
The early rounds on Saturday showed the tension
this game can produce among well-matched opponents, with several
games going down to the last contested state. Veteran James Terry
had a chance to turn New York for Nixon, but failed three support
checks, allowing a relieved Jeff Finkeldey to escape with a 289-248
electoral victory. Bill Pettus, on the other hand, won a similarly
close game with Nixon over Marvin Birnbaum due to Nixon's superior
Chris Yaure held off Don Chappell, 274-234, as
the long-time We the People GM couldn't find an answer
to Nixon's Momentum cards in the West, South and East. Don would
play an even more memorable game in the following round. After
all the states had been counted, he and Bob Jamelli had tied,
sending the election to Congress! Nixon had won more states,
so Don emerged triumphant, in the only game to go "overtime"
in the history of the event.
Terry Coleman defeated Chris Yaure in a rare game
that had no debate or electoral events played (another first
for the tournament). Meanwhile, Sean McCulloch squeaked past
Mike Mitchell in a contest which saw a number of states change
hands late, 273-246.
In what turned out to be probably the event's wildest
game, Bill Pettus had built up a huge lead early on versus Steven
Brooks. Steve had a strong debate performance with Kennedy (sound
familiar?) to get back into the game late, and managed to eke
out almost all of the big states at the end for a very hard-fought
victory. It turned out to be a big loss for Bill, as he finished
just behind the 4-0 records of Texan Stefan Mecay and Terry Coleman,
who would play for the title.
After the excitement of the prelims, however, the
Final unfortunately couldn't live up to the hype. Terry's strategy
of shutting down his opponent's mobility failed miserably when
Stefan was able to utilize both the Kenn-Air and Bobby Kennedy
card for bonuses and free movement on the critical late turns.
As a result, Terry's considerable endorsements over most of the
board made little difference, and Stefan won going away, 394-114.
After Chris Byrd last year, Stefan becomes the second 1960 winner to win multiple WAM titles in the same year (also winning Twilight Struggle this year).
26 games were played in all, and overall, the Nixon
side bucked history, emerging victorious 16-10. This 61% margin
of victory was almost identical to last year's WAM results. Yet
the bidding for sides was slightly higher for playing from the
Kennedy side, at about 58%. The average bid for playing Kennedy
was 1, while the typical bid for Nixon was less than 1 (players
were allowed to start bidding at zero). Similar to last year,
about a third of the games were played with no preference shown
by either player (and thus no bids).
It should be noted that the overall edge for Nixon
was offset by a sweep of four Kennedy victories at the end of
the event, including the Final. The average game time was about
1 hour 45 minutes, with only one game going over 2 hours. The
Final was played as a virtual sprint, finishing in 1 hour and
8 minutes. The best Kennedy player was-no surprise-tournament
winner Stefan Mecay at 4-0, followed by Terry Coleman at 2-0.
Among the best Nixon players was teenager Joe Yaure—who finished
fifth overall—along with Bill Pettus, Terry Coleman, and Marvin
Birnbaum, all 2-1 with Tricky Dick.
Although quick to play, it seems that the WAM crowd
hasn't discovered all of the electoral mysteries of 1960:
The Making of the President quite yet. So, even though the
next couple of years won't tie in to an election year in the
real world, it seems likely that 1960 will continue to
be a WAM staple for years to come.
The WNW tournament
was a disappointment as 14 players (not bad) played only 12 games
(sad). I called it after three rounds in favor of Ohio's Cabbie
Sean McCulloch, who was the only unbeaten player. Despite the paucity of games played, his title has some merit atached to it because he defeated
two former WBC champs, Paul Gaberson and Keith Wixson.
It was obvious during the general meeting on Saturday that
this game was a poor choice for the last tournament. The interest
was just not there and our methodology for choosing this was
flawed. So this was the final year for WNW at WAM. It had a good
run and it should live on at WBC for another year or two at least.
Next year's WAM will have a new fourth tournament.
On the bright side I was able to test a new rule for WBC that
I hope will address the play balance issue. Instead of having
the players bid VPs to play the French, sides were determined
randomly and the British player, starting with the Late Season
1757 turn, was given the option to retrieve one British Regulars
or Highlanders card from the discard pile (at the beginning
of EVERY turn—after the cards had been dealt and examined but
before the first Action Phase) and place it in his hand after
RANDOMLY discarding one card from his hand. Despite the usual
lopsided win totals for the French, which I ascribe for
the most part to several brand new players and rustiness by a
few vets, I was pleased with how the test went and expect to
adopt the new rule for WBC this year.
The annual unofficial Saturday night hoops-a-thon saw
11 participants fight it out for the coveted winter hoops
title in the tournament of perhaps the all-time best card-driven
sports game: March Madness. The field consisted of 16 teams
all with identical 92 ratings to choose from, plus one 90 ranked
team, David Dockter's beloved 1997 Minnesota squad. Alas,
a repeat of the Gopher's run to the Final in 2008 was not repeated
when Dockter failed to show and his designated replacement was
so wrapped up in his Pursuit Of Glory game that the Golden
Gophers never reached the court.
As one of the first round victors also fell victim to the joys
of Pursuit of Glory, only two players emerged from second
round play with undefeated records. Bill Edward's top-seeded
1956 San Francisco squad defeated Mark Yoshikawa's 1981 Indiana
Hoosiers and Pete Stein's 1966 Texas Western squad. Meanwhile,
Bruce Monnin chose his favorite 1959 Cincinnati team and defeated
Paul Gaberson's 1984 Georgetown Hoyas and Jeff Finkeldey's 1999
Bill and Bruce became deeply involved in an Atlantic Storm game late Saturday night and in Twilight Struggle games
early Sunday morning, so the championship game was delayed and completed over the
Internet using ACTS. Bill jumped out to the early first
half lead, which grew to 21 points midway through the second half.
Bill slapped down the Four Corner Stall in an attempt to ice the
game, but Bruce countered with the Run and Gun to keep things
moving. The game came down to Bill having a 20-point lead, while Bruce
had AA Oscar Robertson left to score. On the resolutions,
Oscar outscored Bill's player 25-4, for a 1-point victory.
But Edwards had wisely saved a Timeout and the dice had to be rerolled.
The next results were better for Bill, as his player held Robertson
to just 10 points and secured the 105-85 victory and the unofficial
(for fun only—no Laurels) WAM Championship.
1. Bill Edwards, 3-0
2. Bruce Monnin, 2-1
3. Ken Gutermuth, 1-0
4. Pete Stein, 1-1
5. Jeff Finkeldey, 1-1
6. Terry Coleman, 1-1