Waterloo IV — The Napoleonic Wars Mini-Con
Oct. 26, 2006

Yankees Take Greenville!

Well, sorta…Wrong war and all of the finalists were actually from below the Mason-Dixon line, but at least none of those Greenville guys wiped our noses in it this time. On Fri., Oct. 13, 2006, 32 decidedly Napoleonic types marched into the Amerisuites in beautiful Greenville, S.C., with vicarious muskets in hand and toting backsacks full of properly colored dice. They all came to play GMT’s classic The Napoleonic Wars. And play they did!! The lobby echoed to the volleys of cascading dice for the next three days.

The action started shortly after noon on Friday with seven tables engaged—trying hard not to be distracted by the large period flags draped around the battlefield or the well-stocked hospitality room that doubled as respite for the casualties—of which there many. Our southern hosts really knew how to throw a party. As the afternoon wore on, more folks wandered in and found themselves a game. About half were from the Greenville area and the rest made the trek from all over, but not as far as Australia, the home of last year’s winner Dr. Mark Hodgkinson. However, we were fortunate to have both the designer (Mark McLaughlin) and the developer (Don Greenwood) in attendance again this year. The format was all three-player contests; France vs. Britain vs. Austria-Russia. The French ruled the field, winning 46%, to the Austro-Russians, 37%. British wins were hard to come by, the Brits taking just 17%. It was the British, however, who won the game that counted.

With 58 games played, including the Final on Sunday, this year saw more games played than ever before. There were an additional nine games during and after the Final that still counted towards Best Country awards. Players averaged almost six games each for those who stayed for the entire weekend. Many played far more—depending on how many five-turn slugfests they were involved in. Some of our travelers enjoyed five-player games until about 10 p.m. on Sunday night—well after the final standings were set—because they weren't departing until the next day.

The format was designed to encourage more games, and it seemed to work. To make the Final Sunday morning, a player’s best game with each power was counted. Only five players were able to win at least once with each. The rules said no official games could start after midnight Saturday, so at 11:58 A.J. Sudy, his father Kevin, and Francis Czawlytko beat the clock to see if A.J.’s Brits could win. If they did, A.J. and not his dad would have had the last seat at the big game. A.J. fell short at 4 AM, as did so many fine players that weekend, but the spirit was willing. In spite of a win with each nation, Henry Russell and local favorite Bruce Young fell short of the title match on tie-breakers.

Speaking of the Final, it came down to three great players. Rich Shipley was the #1 seed and took the French, as befitting the driver of Armee Group Nord. Ken Gutermuth had the second pick and became the Austro-Russians. Kevin Sudy was left with the Brits, who had not performed up to expectations thus far during the weekend. It appeared that would remain true as the lobster backs were promptly greeted by Spithead and Guerre de Course to start the decisive game. The French fleets did well enough to keep Britain from using Admiralty, but the Austria-Russians made some gains and the French nearly destroyed themselves on an unwise attack. Ken had the roll opportunity for the win on the first turn but could not buy a 6. Rich was able to beat back the Austrian hordes, but the Brits recovered. With the use of Admiralty, Kevin managed the last card play, which—as luck would have it—was Europe Exhausted. Using those six CPs, the British marched from Rome to Marseilles and grabbed enough keys for the roll to end the second turn. There would not be any more chances, as Kevin picked the right time to roll a 6. Our most heartfelt congratulations to the winner of Waterloo IV, Kevin Sudy.

For those of you keeping score, Ken came in second and Rich’s French rounded out the field. All three got plaques, with Kevin, of course, getting the real wood. In other wood related activities, Henry Russell picked up a plaque for the Best French average with a wholloping 17-point game; Ken Gutermuth had the Best British average with 9 VPs; and Fred Schachter had the best average of the Austro-Russian players, with 6.33 VPs. Rounding out the laurelists was Bruce Young in 4th, Henry Russell in 5th and Scott Pfeiffer in 6th. Special thanks go to Mike (Coach) Hazel for the cool period flags; Ben Shanks for the database program used for scoring; Ken Richards, our tireless scorekeeper; Scott Pfeiffer, our all around idea guy who persuaded WBC to have Waterloo in Greenville; and finally, the most popular person at the con, our gopher Micki, who spent her time getting the food, drinks, transportation, and whatever supplies anybody needed.

It has been observed that there seems to be a home-field disadvantage for Waterloo. The guys from Greenville have had much success with Waterloo in Baltimore. However playing on their home turf with half the field they couldn’t grab a seat at the final table or a plaque of any kind. So, in an effort to even the playing field we’ll see what we can do about alternating home sites for Waterloo in the future. Certainly, all those Yankees claim to be up for a return trip of southern hospitality in 2008.

Kevin Sudy, VA

 2nd & Best Britain
Ken Gutermuth, TX

 Best Austria
Fred Schacter, NC

 Best French
Henry Russell, PA

Rich Shipley, MD

Bruce Young, SC

Henry Russell, PA

Scott Pfeiffer, SC

Designer Mark McLaughlin’s Reminiscences of A WEEKEND IN SOUTH CAROLINA

The last time this many Yankees went south to Carolina they burned half the state. This time the guys who came down from Pennsylvania and Maryland (and in my case at least, Connecticut) were better behaved—and better received.  The Greenville Mafia showed us that southern hospitality is more than a cliche—it is a fact. We were welcomed as brothers—at least, until the dice started to roll.

Although I designed The Napoleonic Wars, the three-player version is the version I have played least—I can honestly say that I played that version more times in this one weekend than in the four years since the game hit the shelves—and I only played six of the three-player contests at the convention, while I know of some who played eight or nine (and maybe more) times.   My last game of the con was the five player version (my favorite).  It was also my best game, with me leading the French to the gates of Moscow and victory.

In terms of play, it appeared that the French won about half of the three-player games—and that is good. The French should win about half of the games, regardless of the format.  That is how the game is designed (and why it is called the NAPOLEONIC wars, not ’a bunch of guys carving up Europe’).

The Austro-Russian alliance did predictably well. Being able to go back to back (unless pre-empted) is one of the strong suits of that alliance, but with one player controlling the cards for the pair, the ability to manipulate the diplomatic track is a real killer. In almost all of my games the Austro-Russians were able to grab Turkey, Prussia and, in some cases, one of the Scandanavian powers. I do not think anyone exceeded that hat trick by getting both northern minors, or Spain—but then again, I did not see every game.

I was surprised to see that the English did not fare anywhere near as well as the Holy Alliance (Austria and Russia).  If anything, I thought the French would be so busy fighting the eastern monolith that they would have little to stave off the English key-scooping raids. There were even a few invasions of England, including some that were victorious. (John Emery’s son Kevin’s invasion and conquest of Scott Pfeiffer’s England was a thing of beauty.)

There were a lot of little and great northern wars in the games I played and watched—and not just the usual Got Mitt Uns marching over the mountains to take a Danish key.  There were land and sea invasions of both minors, often by each other.  I saw Danish and Russian and British armies all attack Stockholm (yes, even British, when the Swedes had been bought out to neutral by Austria). I saw Danish and Swedish armies in northern Russia, along with the usual mix of Prussians and even a few Spaniards.  The Turks were almost always involved in the games—and almost always seemed to be sent home to quell the Serbs. 

As with all Waterloo conventions—and just about every other gathering of Napleonic War players—there was a wonderful lack of argument. Sure, we all forget a rule or see something we have not seen happen before, but all such questions were resolved peacefully and, from what I could tell, to the satisfaction of all involved. In addition to Napoleonic Wars, a few of the guys were able to play some of Kutuzov—which GMT wants us to send to their artist, Mark Simonitch, after Christmas.  Hopefully it will be out next summer, or at least in time for the next march to Waterloo…

Boardgame Players Association Last updated 10/27/06 by kae.
© Copyright 2006 by the Boardgame Players Association.
Trademarks are property of their respective holders.