Riku Wargames the Field ...
Eli Persky draws the Finnish POG
Keith Wixson vs Randy Pippus
Anthony Raimo escapes the Showroom.
Chris Byrd vs Derek Landel
Notwithstanding the heat and humidity of Lampeter, Twilight
Struggle posted a nice attendance increase. In addition,
more total games (78) were played than in recent years as many
took advantage of the new swiss format to play more rounds, including
the 4th place finisher, Matthieu Pare-Paquin, who missed the
first round but won his next four games. Cold Warriors appear
to be heartier than other wargamers as we did not see the attendance
falloff suffered by most tournaments in Lampeter.
The tournament used two adjustments to dampen the early war VP
swings that often favor the Russians. The main option was the
use of the Chinese Civil War variant, which prevents early Russian
play of Red Scare and has other balancing effects. In addition,
players bid for sides; typical bids gave the US 2-3 additional
influence at start.
After four rounds of play, only three unbeatens remained: Riku
Riekkinen, Chris Withers, and Paul Sampson. Philip Burgin-Young
was randomly selected among those with one loss to complete the
final four. Riku was paired with Paul, and accepted the Americans
for a bid of 3. The USSR took an early edge with some good coup
rolls and early play of Destalinization. Riku nonetheless controlled
the tempo for significant periods, neutralizing areas immediately
prior to scoring and using final action rounds to disrupt the
position at the end of the turn. The game ended on Turn 10 when
Riku played Wargames. In the other match, the Russians got off
to a poor start and Chris's Americans never let Philip recoup.
Riku took the Soviets in the Final with a bid of 3. Early Destalinization
enabled the Russians to gain a favorable position in Asia, which
the Americans partially offset by taking Europe. Still, Early
War ended with the Russians up 7 VPs. In Mid War, the battle
shifted to Central America, then South America; by the end of
Turn 5, the Americans had pulled back to -1 VPs, but the Russians
gained a more favorable board position. This produced a -6 lead
at the end of Mid War, with a strong Russian position in the
Mideast giving the Russians an edge. Riku increased the VPs by
one more, then dropped Wargames for the win on Turn 9.
Game play, as usual, favored the Russians, even with the Chinese
Civil War and bidding. The Russians won 49 games; US 29. This
is a fairly large edge so balance provisions will be reexamined
before next year's tournament.
Paul Sampson vs Ted Lyng
Chris Withers is denied by Riku in
With WAM attendance down from its strong showing in 2012,
it was inevitable that attendance for TWS would take a
hit as well. After all, TWS has been one of the top draws
for WAM for several years. Its showing of 20 players this year
was nearly three-fourths of the WAM field. Certainly, there was
no lack of passion among the participants, with a number of games
making it to the Final War deck, and a handful being decided
by final scoring after Turn 10. The intensity was fueled by the
fact that both the previous WAM TWS champs, Chris Byrd
and Stefan Mecay, were absent—which meant that with the right
amount of guile and luck, one big upset could potentially put
you in the Final. The smaller field also meant that one mistake
could knock you right out of the running, as we needed only four
rounds to crown a champion.
The first round got off to a rousing start when Marvin Birnbaum
forced Mark Yoshikawa to blow up the world on Turn 5. Charlie
Hickok steered his Soviets to a similar victory vs George Galuschak
on the very same turn, but gained a few more style points, since
his victory was punctuated by Kruschchev banging his shoe on
a table. Not to be outdone, Randy MacInnis managed an auto-victory
with the USSR on Turn 3. Responding with US automatic wins were
Keith Wixson over Bruce Monnin and David Amidon over Roderick
Lee. And in true WAM tradition, there were a number of games
that came down to the last turns. Derek Landel built up an 18-point
lead over Terry Coleman, only to see Terry charge back within
7 by Turn 9. A timely play of the Wargames card allowed
Derek to escape with a narrow victory that both players called
their most exciting game of the event. Michael Sosa repeated
this ploy almost exactly in defeating Kirk Harris. Two games
came down to Final Scoring, with Doug Austin and Michael Mitchell
defeating Bill Edwards and Larry Fryer, respectively.
Doug would continue his excellent play with a win over another
good player, Jeff Finkeldey, in Round 2. That, however, was the
end of Mr. Austin's WAM adventure, as he left for home before
the last rounds. Also improving to 2-0 were Keith Wixson, Marvin
Birnbaum, Randy MacInnis, and Michael Mitchell, whose Final Scoring
victory over Charlie was one of the tenser contests of the tournament.
The marquee matchups had Marvin bulldozing again to a Soviet
auto win, this time versus Randy, and Michael pulling out a Final
Scoring victory against Keith. They would meet for the title.
Meanwhile, several early-round losers had gone on a winning streak
to put them in striking distance of laurels. Jeff had the perfect
combo to force Mark Yoshikawa to DEFCON 1 and a loss, enticed
Derek into his own mushroom cloud, and might have done the same
to Greg Ottoman, had not the latter resigned on Turn 7. Similarly,
Keith forced a resignation from Randy in the last round—a consolation
of sorts for not making the championship game. Bill bounced back
from his opening-round loss with three straight wins over Terry
Coleman, Bruce Monnin and Roderick Lee (who finished 2nd at WAM
2011). All of these results would seem to point to a thrilling
Final but it was not to be. Marvin jumped out to a huge lead.
All of his early coups were successful, and for Michael, just
the opposite was true. Marvin sprinted to an automatic victory
on Turn 3, and achieved his second WAM TWS crown, and
the first since 2008.
We played with 2nd edition TWS rules, but also included
the two additional influence in Canada for the US from the Deluxe
version. Also, the holder of the China Card at the end of the
game was awarded only 1/2 victory point, to avoid any chance
of a draw. Only seven games used the optional cards from the
Deluxe set, and no one played with Chinese Civil War rules -
the consensus at WAM seems to be that with seasoned players,
the main effect of these rules is to keep the China Card out
of the game altogether.
Unlike last year, when the US held a slight edge, the Soviets
won going away, by a margin of 20-12. Much of the blame for this
can be laid at the feet of our champ, Marvin Birnbaum, who led
the Russian blitz with a perfect 4-0 Soviet slate. His counterpart,
Jeff Finkeldey played the US in all four games, finishing with
the best American record at 3-1.
Michael Mitchell, GA 3-1
Jeff Finkeldey, OH 3-1
Keith Wixson, NJ 3-1
Bill Edwards, VA 3-1
Randy MacInnis, NJ 2-2