If, as the emperor said, every grenadier has a marshal's baton in his knapsack, then it seemed like every contender at the Waterloo mini-con had a trophy in his box of The Napoleonic Wars. Of the 24 gamers who played in the four rounds of the multi-player tournament, five went home with prizes.
Not The Emperor's Best Day
Much like that June afternoon nearly 200 years ago, this Waterloo was not the little Corsican's best day. As at that fateful Waterloo, fortune abandoned the French at Hunt Valley. The French won only four of the 19 four- and five-player campaign games (as compared to winning seven of the 21 games played in the WBC tourney last August). The French came in second only twice, and third twice more, finishing fourth or fifth in ten of the 19 games. Pennsylvanian Henry Russell won the brightest of the few French triumphs, earning a win with seven victory points. He quickly established himself as the man to beat for that plaque - setting the bar high in the first game to be finished. Henry's score in that first game was tied by Bruce Young in the last game tof the tournament but what took Bruce four turns to accomplish, Henry managed in only one and that was the tie breaker in Henry's favor.
As with June 1815, the Prussians were in most but not all of the engagements. Of the 19 tournament games, all but seven were full five-player contests. The Prussians won only one of the 12 in which they participated fully, but they gained that win with honor. The man who did it, Bruce Young, went home to South Carolina not only with the "Best Prussia" prize (and nearly the "Best French"), but also took home the plaque for overall winner. About a quarter of the games ended at the conclusion of the first turn, which goes against the Prussians who usually play for the longer game. As compensation, anyone who had Prussia had first choice of country on their next round. The Prussians did come in second in four of their 12 showings, however, proving that the diplomatic path has its strengths.
Henry Russell: Best French Player Bruce Young: NW5 Winner and Best Prussian Player
The British won the field of Waterloo in 1815, but what was a "near run thing" back then was a runaway victory for Britain at Hunt Valley. The British won eight of the 19 games (and came in second in four others) - seemingly disproving the theory held in some quarters that Britain is the game's weak sister. Few invasions of Britain succeeded, and in one (and maybe the only) conquest of Britain scored by the French that weekend the game ended not in a French, but an Austrian victory! Of the many players to do well as Great Britain, however, none did that scepter'd isle so proud as did Ken Richards. He racked up an impressive eight victory points in a tight four-turn game in round 3.
Holy Mother Russia
The Russians might have missed the original battle of 1815, but they made an exceptionally strong second place showing at this Waterloo. The green armies won the day three times and came in second in seven other contests. Joseph Burch of Aberdeen, MD did the best as Russia, gaining a victory with six points in the first round.
Ken Richards: Best British Player Bryan Collars: Best Austrian Player
The Austrians had a hard road at this Waterloo. They won only four of the 19 games, with Brian Collars scoring five points to get the best of those wins. He did so, moreover, in an unusual way by gaining Sweden. In what may be a first in the history of the game (or at least in the 200 or so played/run by the designer), Austria was able to take advantage of a rare opportunity to buy Sweden. Knocked down from an almost-British ally to nearly neutral by the French, the Swedes were scooped up by Brian, who immediately hurled them over the mountains to take Christiana. Two Danish attacks over the icy straits to Kalmar fell to attrition and port guns, thus leaving Brian with the Swedish points when peace reared its ugly head. His five-point victory was the best Vienna saw all weekend. Only three other Austrian victories were reported, and no Austrian ever placed second. Seven times Austrians took third, which was more than any other country.
Unusual Actions, Unspoken Awards and the Turkish War of Revenge
In the tradition of "never seen that before" and "no two games are ever alike," the Waterloo gamers reported some amusing and amazing combinations of play and events:
As mentioned previously, the Austrian purchase of Sweden with an ensuing war across the straits may actually be a first ever occurrence in the history of this game.
The Emperor Abdicates Twice
Often have I heard the lament that no one ever uses the "Napoleon Abdicates" event. Fred Schacter may be the first player in the history of the game to abdicate TWICE in the SAME game and he would have done it THREE times had not Napoleon been eliminated in battle before he could play the card. Although hindered by atrocious luck, Fred nevertheless was able to keep France in play through so many disasters by judicious play of the cards, Napoleon Abdicates among them, and his considerable diplomatic and negotiating skills.
Espana Rules the Waves Briefly, But Just Long Enough
The one reported conquest of England in the multi-player tourney was made possible by the Spanish Navy. Three times during the first turn the Spanish fleet in Galicia attempted to sortie. Three times it was found, and three times it fought an inconclusive battle with no losses to either side. On the fourth try, however, it sneaked through, avoided detection, entered the channel, FOUND the British squadron there, sunk it and escorted Marshal Soult over the water to reinforce Napoleon (who had been a virtual prisoner of war trapped in an unconquerable England until then). The Spanish were sunk immediately thereafter, but the survivors washed up on the beaches just in time to hear the bands play La Marseillaise during Napoleon's triumphal procession through Whitehall.
The Sultan Strikes
Another entry in the "Strange but True" category
is the Russian victory in which all three points it scored came
from Turkey. This occurred just after Joseph Burch was dubbed
winner of the First Annual Metternich-Talleyrand Silk Stocking
Award. An honor that was about to go to his father until the
son tipped the scale with a double betrayal.
This occurred when young Joseph and his father drew or selected Austria as their countries on their respective boards for round 4 At almost the same time, they both stabbed their Russian allies in the back, changing camps in an interphase, forcing their allies to take attrition and fight or go back to Regroup.
Joseph had the cheek to do it when not only Russian but also Russian-controlled Turkish troops were mixed in with his Austrians. Joseph turned the knife once more at the start of the next turn by breaking Russia's pact with non-player Prussia, getting the French to buy Prussia down to neutral and then using his other Austrian cards to buy it up to Austrian control. Thus ensued the historic, silly and altogether satisfyingly amusing Turkish War of Revenge, by which the Sultan's troops defeated not one, but two large Austrian armies and marched on both Venice and Vienna (after taking Budapest from Charles).
The Turks were such a threat that Joseph had to bring down his newly purchased Blucher from Berlin to unflag parts of Austria and to contain the Turks, while the Emperor himself had to march to defend the capital of his new Austrian ally from the Turks. (Another French army sent to help Austria and to regain Rome from the Turks met disaster on the road to Tuscany). The Russians won that game and all three points it had came from the Turks! This turn of events was accompanied by much mirth and the bantering of comical phrases delivered in a wide assortment of bad, politically incorrect accents.
Other unseemly events included Poniatowski's ride to St. Petersburg, a Russian conquest of Turkey and a continental alliance of four major powers against Britain.
Gentlemen, One and All
Most impressive of all, however, was that despite a long weekend of hard gaming, there were no arguments, harsh words, hot tempers or uncalled for remarks. It remained a gentlemen's club from start to finish. One gamer even brought boxes of donuts for everyone one morning a true sign of a good upbringing.
A Toast To The Winners
In the finest tradition of the time, at the start of Saturday night's round the players of both tourneys paused to raise a complimentary glass of brandy to toast the Emperor (Perrier water was provided for those unable or unwilling to imbibe in spirits). Since a tin of grog or a tipple of wine or other alcoholic beverage was part of the daily ration (and inducement to sign up) in the Napoleonic era, it seemed only fitting that the players should compete for more than just the traditional block of "wood."
In addition to gaining a plaque for best country, each victor took home a miniature souvenir bottle from which to pour a celebratory toast. Henry got a tiny Grand Marnier with his French trophy. Ken was presented with a wee Beefeater gin for the British. Brian Collars got a little bottle of the tasty liqueur they make in Trieste, once the home of the Austrian navy, and Joseph Burch got Smirnov's vodka to celebrate the Russian victory in style. (His dad says Joe will have to wait a year until turning 21 to enjoy it). Bruce Young got a little Jaegermeister to toast his Prussian victory, as well as a half-size bottle of Courvoisier (The Brandy of Napoleon) with which to celebrate his best of convention trophy.
Top Ten Rankings
Players gained five points for a win, four points for second, three for third, four for fourth and, where applicable, one for fifth place. Victory points scored IN the game were carried over as tie breaker points and to assess "best" country honors. Thus winning a game in which you scored three points gave you five tournament points and three points toward tiebreakers. Negative VP scored in a game also carried over for tie breakers, so if you lost as France with 4 vp, your in-game points were reduced accordingly.
Players were assigned at random on round 1, but from round 2 forward were matched by scores. Not all 24 gamers played in all rounds (one was called away to work, two others could not return on Sunday and others chose to play in key rounds of the two-player tourney). A number - aided or hindered by one one-turn conclusions, managed to play in both tourneys, and a few played pick-up games just for fun, or played the Wellington prototype on display.
Eighteen people played in all four rounds, however, and the top 10 scores for those are as follows:
|1. Brian Young||
|2. Brian Collars||
|3. Scott Mull||
|4. James Eaton||
|5. William Burch||
|6. Charles Hickock||
|7. Rich Shipley||
|8. James Kayer||
|9. Keith Wixson||
|10. Don Willis||
--Until next time: Vive L'Empereur
Something's gotta be done about organized crime in this country. The Greenville Mafia is getting out of hand and monopolizing the wood and fun markets. The South Carolina gaming club, long known for its gaming prowess at WBC, sent a four-man contingent north to Hunt Valley and returned with six of the nine awards earned at the inaugural Waterloo including firsts in both tournaments.
John Emery (shown at right with a grin on his face - and who wouldn't be grinning after having his way with the rest of us) captured the two-player tournament with an undefeated 4-0 slate, winning twice with each side. What's more, he did it without breaking a sweat - taking three of the four in one-turn victories. Only fellow Mafia member Bruce Young managed to take him beyond the first turn. Thus chastised, Bruce turned to the 5-player tournament for easier pickings and won that to complete the Mafia sweep of top honors.
John tasted defeat only once during the weekend - getting trounced in the five-player version before returning to the light and knocking down a couple more pickup wins in the two-player game for good measure. As a certain baseball team faltered in the World Series, it was a sure omen of things to come. Surely, the Mafia was snickering about the easy pickin's amongst those yankees all the way home to Carolina.
The vaunted Last Stand team of Don Grenwood, Ben Knight and Roy Gibson that had dominated WAM only six months previously went only 5-7 to fall among the has-beens.
The French fared much better in the two-player tournament than they did in the five-player version - splitting 26 games while the Coalition could muster only 10 wins against 15 losses. The discrepancy in win-loss totals is due to the use of three-player games when an odd number of players was present for a round - thus ensuring that the Allies could do no better than a split when playing a three-player. Winners of the three-player games were given a tie-breaker advantage in terms of the final standings and awards. All in all, it was far preferable to issuing byes and forcing an extra player to sit out for a round. I wish other two-player events had this option.
All told, 14 of the 34 attendees participated in the two-player event, with some players managing to play in both as well as some pickup games due to early resolution of their scheduled games. As anticipated, the varying game durations played havoc with scheduled rounds as many contests ended early and some dragged on long into the night. But this merely allowed the opportunity for lots of "fun" pickup games with many players getting in as many as seven or eight games during the weekend. Adjudications in the form of imposed successful Peace rolls at the end of Rounds 2 and 4 were relatively few and free of controversy.
There were 19 player starts in one-turn games, nine in two-turn games, ten in three-turn games, and nine in four-turn games. Discounting numerous extra games played between rounds, there were 103 player-turns recorded in the two-player tournament for a total of 206 player-hours which earned John Emery 40 laurels in his headstart towards the 2004 Caesar race. Other laurel winners were:
2nd: Kevin Sudy of VA; 3-1
3rd: Rob Beyma of MD; 3-1
4th: Don Greenwood of MD; 2-2
5th: Roy Gibson of MD; 2-2
6th: Marvin Birnbaum of NY; 2-2
John Emery added best Coalition player to his haul with a 2-0 record while Kevin Sudy earned best French player with a 3-0 slate. The latter was won in his round 4 game with Don Greenwood who was vying for best Coalition player honors in the battle for secondary wood. Don got off to a huge lead in turn 1 but failed a 4+ roll for victory at the end of the turn only to see his position crumble in turn 2 to Keith's superior play.
John Emory: NW2 Winner and Best Coalition Player Kevin Sudy: Best Imperial Player