Dead Heat at Waterloo II: France 6: Coalition 6

Waterloo2 --- The Napoleonic Wars Mini-Con
Multi-Player Tournament, October 22-24, 2004

By Mark G. McLaughlin

What can you say about a multiplayer tournament of The Napoleonic Wars in which out of 12 games France wins six and the other four Powers combined also win six?

You can raise a glass of Napoleon Brandy and say "it's good to be French." .....which is exactly how the mini-con began. It started with everyone raising a glass filled with their choice of a shot of Courvoisier Napoleon Brandy, or, for those who did not wish to imbibe alcohol, some Perrier mineral water or, for those who refuse to put anything French in their mouth, some Strathmore (product of Scotland) spring water.

After the ceremonial toasting, an appropriate number of color-coded dice were tossed into a box and players chose at random their nation and table. The same procedure was used in the second round. Round 3 selection was chosen based on points, and round 4 seating was an arcane system of grouping players into four categories by points, then taking one at random from each group. All of this probably sounds pretty amateurish and ad hoc, but allowed for a widely varied mix that worked out very well.

Round 1: Score Two for Napoleon

The first round saw one of the only two Austrian wins of the con, and two of the three biggest French victories of the weekend.

Scott Moll, who was to end up such a big winner that there was talk of naming the convention after him, scored an amazing seven points as Austria. He bought Turkey on the first turn and kept them the entire game. Scott kept the French out of Austria for almost the entire game, and only then gave up some ground because of a Polish Uprising. He had the die roll for victory on Turn 2 and again on Turn 3, which is when the game ended. Scott says that "the most remarkable thing in this game was the rock-solid coalition (which included Prussia). No one ever thought of changing sides which made for a lonely French player."

Keith Wixson was not so lonely on his table. He led France to a well-earned eight-point victory, with some help from the Prussian who came in on his side in the third turn. Keith's first turn sinking of five English squadrons kept the British occupied with building fleets, which they did, and although Turn 2 ended with Wellington, Moore and a grand army but two spaces from Paris ­ a city they would have seen had not their Russian "ally" played Spithead and Nore to steal one of their last two cards. Keith, however, proved France can be very resilient, and came back from a losing position at the end of Turn 2 to an overwhelming victory on Turn 3. It began by the absolute and utter elimination of the English in France, followed by a sweep east by the French, aided by a Prussian ally who sent Swedes by sea into Russia as Prussian troops fought in Poland.

On table 3, Henry Russel scored six victory points as France (the third highest French score of the weekend). His game was marked by a great northern war that began with Henry playing Bernadotte to break the British hold on Sweden, which was then promptly invaded by Russia, thus giving Sweden to France. Henry used his Swedes not only to hold the country but to take back Christiana for his Danish minions. Russia was also hampered by the Turkish war, which he attempted to end 16 times ­ unsuccessfully. The Turks otherwise remained neutral, and by the end of the game had their entire military on the board.

Round 2: Another Pair to the French

Round 2 ALSO saw one Austrian and two French victories. Jason White took the French to a 4-VP win and handed Scott Moll as Russia his only non-first place finish of the weekend. In Jason's words, he did this by "launching a massive offensive against the Austrians, spending 18 CPs in the first two impulses. Vienna was captured; Austrians retreated to the north and cowered, waiting for the Russians to arrive. More troops moved in for both sides, but all seemed lost for the coalition. The Austrian ruler was heard to mutter 'I'm playing for the surrender at this point.'" Despite such a dim outlook,, an Austro-Russian army under the lowly Ferdinand retook Vienna, killed Napoleon and put Austria back into the hunt. The rest of the game was a very see-saw, close fought affair but, as Jason wrote, "The French, however, received the glory in the end."

Charles Hickock's win as France on another table was marked by the capture of Gibraltar by Marshal Soult and a successful Irish Revolt that required the dispatch of Wellington himself to quell. Napoleon, meanwhile, spent most of the game in France, defending his homeland and fighting Kutuzov for Munich. Despite a neutral Spain, France managed to end the game with enough points for the win.

Brian Collars, who would take the prize for best Britain based on the events at table 3, ruled more than just the seas. At one point, he had an unheard of 10 VPs as England. After he failed a die roll for victory, both Austria and Russia bailed from the Coalition to join the imperial camp of France and Prussia, at which point Prussia took pity on England and switched to his camp, thus turning the game into a replay of the Seven Years War. It should be noted that this decision eventually proved a poor one for Prussia, who wound up in fifth place, but made for a damn fine game, with Blucher reaching Smolensk, Swedes landing by sea in St. Petersburg, an intense Russo-Prussian fight for Poland and an Austrian strike into Berlin, all while English and Swedish armies fought the French in Belgium. Britannia, however, definitely ruled, with an eight-point win.

Round 3: Rule Britannia Twice, Victory for the French But Once

Bill Burch took Britain to a win over Jason White's France, with help from Ken Richard's Austria and Henry Russell's Russia. That the point totals were four for Britain and three for Austria shows how close the three-turn game went.

Scott Moll led Britain to a six-point win over Brian Collars' French (who ended up with -5 points) in a game where Russia scored only one point and Russia came up even. The game ended mercifully on turn 2.

Francis Czawltyko won the only "La Gloire" victory of the convention on table 3. His French conquered England on Turn 1 and ended Turn 2 with seven VPs and England still a Subject Neutral, thus earning the automatic victory. At one point things looked grim; however, as the combined Russo-Prussian-Austrian armies were grinding forward into France in overwhelming force while a flying column under Blucher was in Belgium and on the way to Paris. At that point Napoleon fought the big invading army in a huge battle with equal numbers of dice ­ and annihilated the allies. Those few troops and leaders who escaped were hunted down all the way to and past Vienna, which fell to the French. Blucher also lost in the north, and was in full retreat with Soult close behind, Berlin in his sights.

Round 4: Only Prussia and Britain found wanting

Jason White earned his best Russia plaque here, eeking out a victory over the French (both ended the game with two points, as did Austria, with Russia winning on the tie-breaker when peace unexpectedly broke out).

Scott Moll went on to his third win of the convention, leading Austria in a six-VP victory. The game was marked by a bloody Anglo-French war in which Napoleon landed in England but failed an intercept into London, thus ruining France's chance to conquer England. With both navies all but gone, it was left to the Russians to sail past a neutral Denmark to take the Channel, thus stranding the emperor in England. Austria marched forward, taking Munich and Milan, and brought the Turks in on its side. As the English and French continued their fight in England, the Austrians and Russians came forward, with Austria picking up the greater number of points and with it, the victory.

Designer Mark McLaughlin actually won a game, and as the French, in a final round against Brian Collars' Britain, Henry Russell's Austria and Charles Hickock's Russia. Leaping into Vienna and then moving up Lannes and Davout in support, Mark held off the allied counterattacks and then accepted the Austrian's submission. Prussia gained Turkey and joined the French to make war on Russia ­ a policy which gained Prussia her highest point total and highest victory level (2nd place) of the weekend. That also gave Joseph Burch the plaque for best Prussia.

Wood and Liquor

A number of pick-up games were played between rounds, some of them using the new "2nd edition" cards now being tested. The designer wishes to thank all of those who did so for their input, which involved both very positive suggestions on wording as well as on options for these and other cards. At the conclusion of the con on Sunday, awards were handed out. First place in each category received a wooden plaque. Second place received a liquor miniature from that country (English gin, Russian vodka etc.) as a consolation.

Tournament victory points are based on the total of four rounds of play, with 7 points awarded for a first, 4 for a second, 3 for a third, 2 for a fourth and 1 for a fifth.

Individual "best country" awards are for the player who scored the highest victory points in a single game while playing that country. Thus Keith Wixson, for example, won a game as France in which he scored 8 victory points

Best France: 8 VP
Keith Wixson - NJ

 Best Britain: 8 VP
Brian Collars - SC

 * Best Austria: 7 VP
Scott Moll - VA

 Best Russa: 2 VP
Jason White - VA

Best Prussia: 2 VP
Joseph Burch

Best Country Wood:

Nation   Best (wood)           Runner-Up (liquor miniature)
France	  Keith Wixson   (8 VP)	Frances Czawlytko *
England	 Brian Collars  (8 VP)	Scott Moll  
Austria	 Scott Moll     (7 VP)	Ken Richards
Russia	  Jason White    (2 VP)	Charles Hickock 
Prussia	 Joseph Burch   (2 VP)	Frances Czawlytko

*Honorable Mention and another little bottle of brandy went to Henry Russell, who at 6 points was only one point behind Frances' 7 VP for a French win.

Top Six Overall Places & Laurels Recipients:

Scott Moll		    25 VP
Jason White	   	20 VP
Keith Wixson	  	17 VP
Charles Hickock	16 VP	(a 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 5th)
Brian Collars	 	16 VP (a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) (Best British)
Bill Burch		    16 VP	(a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th)

(Places 4, 5 and 6 all scored 16 VP each: All scored one win, but since Charles Hickok had more 2nd placers than the other two, he breaks that tie for 4th. Brian Collars comes in 5th above Bill Burch due to his "Best British" placement)

Overall Finish By Power:
Based on Four rounds during which there were 12 official games, of which FOUR were full five-player games and EIGHT four-player games

    France	   England	   Austria	   Russia	   Prussia
1st	6	        3	         2	         1	        -
2nd	1	        1	         3	         7	        1
3rd	2	        1	         5	         3	        1
4th	2	        5	         2	         1	        2
5th	1	        1	         -	         1	        1

Final Breakdown
Imperial Victories: 6 out of 12
Coalition Victories: 6 out of 12

---Definitely a "fair and balanced" weekend.


The Two-Player Wars

Reduced numbers did not decrease the fun in the two-player tournament as the bare minimum of eight players nevessary to generate Laurels took part. Despite that, the result was a carbon copy of 2003 as defending champ John Emery went undefeated again to claim top honors. The reduced head count seemed to have no effect on either the result or its credibility as each round matched players for the first time. Indeed, the runner-up never even got a chance to play the winner!

Round 1: Even

Deja vu arrived early as John Emery started the weekend by getting hammered early in Round 1 of the 5-player event. Thus chastised, he repeated his strategy of the preceding year, and played a quick makeup game vs Ken Richards wherein his French were triumphant to qualify for the 2-player event. It would not be the last time he would play several games while others were completing a single round. In truth, he played more pick-up games than tournament games during the weekend and won all but one of those as well.

Don Greenwood rode a terrific hand to a Turn 1 Coalition upset of Rob Beyma which reversed roles and results on their last encounter in the Prez Con Final.

Scott Fenn's Coalition outlasted Alan Sudy in a bizarre affair as each occupied the other's capital simultaneously. Ultimately, Scott was able to oust Napoleon from London and prevail in a very close contest.

But the wwerdest result ever witnessed happened in game 4 where Ben Knight went to bed a winner and awoke a loser. His depleted British fleet seemingly pulled a silly maneuver - destroying the remnants of Kevin Sudy's Spanish Fleet at considerable risk by braving the port guns of Galicia to trap the Spanish in port. The questionable maneuver was soon seen in another light when a Corn Riots die roll forced the depleted Spanish to submit - returning Lisbon to Britain and gaining a swing of 6 VPs. When the end of game die roll yielded a 6 it appeared to be a clear Coalition victory. However, when matches were assigned the next morning it was discovered to everyone's surprise that both players thought they had won the night before. A recreation of the situation revealed that the French were indeed in the lead at game end. Ben graciously accepted the shocking turn of events and the assignments for Round 2 were quickly revised.

Round 2: A French Sweep

Round 2 dropped us to seven players as Ken Richards opted for the 5-player event. Fortunately, the game handles an odd number of players well without resorting to byes by using the three-player version and giving the winner of such games extra credit in the tie-breaking process. Rob Beyma took advantage of this as his French won the three-cornered contest with Alan Sudy and Ben Knight at the "loser's" table to draw even at 1.5-1.

At Table 2, Kevin Sudy's French had little trouble dispatching Don Greenwood whose great hand of the previous night migrated to the French side of the channel for Round 2. The Coalition had a total of two 6's in their three sub-average hands and both were stolen by the French who, as a result, enjoyed an overwhelming CP advantage.

John Emery's French had a far harder time of it against Scott Fenn at Table 3. John, who won every game he played in 2003 in the first turn, needed three turns to tame Scott's Coalition. It would be the only time John needed more than a turn to claim a win in the tournament.

Round 3: Coalition 2-1

Kevin Sudy's French met John Emery in a battle of the last unbeatens and it proved to be no contest - with the Coalition triumphant on Turn 1. The two used the time created by the quick TKO to play a pair of pickup games, splitting those and giving Kevin the consolation of being the only person to top John in a two-player game in two years of Waterloo - tournament or otherwise.

Rob Beyma climbed into the championship game with a French win vs Scott Fenn's Coalition.

Alan Sudy's Austro-Russians won the three-player over Ben Knight's British and Don Greenwood's French on Turn 3 after the latter failed two end-game dice rolls for the win. This game was played with the new 2nd edition event deck and saw the French rout and eliminate five allied armies but finally succumb to overall attrition.

Round 4: Another French Sweep

At 2.5-1, and being the only player with a winning record yet to face John Emery, Rob Beyma won the right to face the undefeated leader for the second straight year in the championship game. But the results were the same as the Carolinian's French rolled to a one-turn victory to remain unbeaten in eight rounds over two years at WBC. It also won him Best Imperial Player Honors for his 3-0 slate as the French.

Now down to five players overall, a three-player between Don Greenwood's French and the Sudys' Coalition wrapped up the competition. Things looked bleak for the French who lost seven squadons to the British before rolling a 6. However, Alan's Russians got sidetracked attacking Sweden and that gave the French the opportunity to concentrate against Kevin's British. The French spent a card in each of the first two turns foir the end of game roll and the second one paid off, vaunting Don into second place on tie-breakers due to his head-to-head win over Rob Beyma and extra weight for winning a three-player game.

 * Best Imperial
John Emery - SC

 Best Coalition
Scott Fenn - MD

Laurels:

1st. John Emery 4-0
2nd. Don Greenwood 2.5-2
3rd. Rob Beyma 2.5-2
4th. Kevin Sudy 2-2
5th. Scott Fenn 1-2
6th. Alan Sudy 1.5-3

As no one won more than one game as the Coalition, best Coalition honors were awarded to Scott Fenn for being the only player to extend John Emery past Turn 1 in two years. Overall, The French won eight of 12 tournament games.