The tournament continues to thrive in its Wednesday timeslot.
Here are some of this year's highlights:
a. For the second year in a row, there was an increase in
attendance (up to 40 from 35).
b. There were ten new players, including three teenagers (one
of whom was a Laurelist).
c. Only two of last year's Laurelists made it into the top six
this year, and the two finalists were among the four new Laurelists.
d. John Wetherell won the biggest upset of the tournament, defeating
the GM, who was seeded second, in the first round.
e. New champ Ron Fedin eliminated defending Champ James (the
"Master") Pei in the fourth round on the final die
roll of the game.
f. Fedin's semifinal victory against newcomer Philip Burgin-Young
also went down to the final roll.
g. The Sunday Morning Fedin/Wigdor Championship Game was incredibly
exciting, with Fedin's French pulling out the victory from a
seemingly lost position while his sons cheered him on. It was
clearly the most devastating British defeat in WBC history.
h. The Prizes for the Laurelists were a warhawk for the Champ,
a gunstock warclub for the runner-up, "Empires at War"
by William Fowler for third place, a DVD of the PBS Special "George
Washington's First War: The Battles for Fort Duquesne" for
fourth place, Parkman's "Montcalm and Wolfe" for fifth
place and an Osprey history of the 1758 Louisbourg Campaign for
i. New Award - The winner of the first annual Wilderness War
Sportsman's Award was Michael Ussery who was awarded a hand painted
54mm tin French Infantryman. Michael played in all four preliminary
rounds even though he had no chance of advancement after the
third round, when he corrected an opponent's error, which may
have cost him the contest.
Pete Reese and Wigdor (the 2003 Runner-Up) advanced to the semifinals
with perfect scores in the four preliminary rounds. Burgin-Young
advanced with one loss, earning the necessary tiebreakers by
defeating the GM in the fourth round. In the semis, Fedin defeated
Burgin-Young and Wigdor defeated Reese. An AAR of the championship
Pre Game: Both bid one VP to play the French. Fedin
won the roll-off.
Early 57: On its first two card plays, the Brits brought
on four Highlander and three Regular battalions, the bulk of
which went to Halifax under Wolfe. Montcalm took Ft. William
Henry on the second French card play, but was hit with the Massacre
card. The Brits then successfully played Courier Intercept and
stole an Indian Reinforcement card. The end of the turn saw two
British Campaign cards and a successful landing and siege of
Louisbourg by Wolfe.
Late 57: The first Brit card was another three Regular
battalions and Amherst at New York. The second card was Quiberon,
putting the French at seven cards for the rest of the game with
no further reinforcements from Europe. The year ended with an
army under Wolfe force at Louisbourg, an army under Amherst at
Albany and an army under Forbes camped out south of Ohio Forks.
French raiding was light, gaining no VPs.
Early 58: The French Commander admitted later on that
at this point he was on the verge of surrender - the French cause
seemed hopeless. Incredibly, however, the British Commander did
not press home his advantage and began to play hyperconservatively.
After adding Provincials, the last Highlander battalion and Bradstreet,
he passed up an opportunity to land Wolfe in the French rear
to mount a campaign against Quebec and instead returned Wolfe
and half his army to New York, where he was sent to the Mohawk
Valley (a/k/a the "Trail of Tears") to cultivate an
alliance with the Iroquois (all five tribes came in). The other
half of Wolfe's army sat at Louisbourg doing nothing for the
rest of the game. The French, whose total reinforcements to this
point were a couple of Indian war parties and some militia, evacuated
Ohio Forks and torched Ft. Duquesne.
Late 58: The Brits continued to waste precious time
with relatively pointless events. Wolfe built a string of forts
along the Mohawk towards Niagara. Amherst stayed near Albany
the entire year. The French built up their militia, pulled back
everywhere, torching forts and stockades along the way, and husbanded
their resources for 59 - with no hope of reinforcements from
Europe, they were simply happy that they weren't being attrited.
Once again, the French raided lightly, gaining no VPs
Early 59: Forbes finally occupied Ohio Forks, and Amherst
began an advance towards Montreal. Wolfe was poised to strike
at Niagara. VPs now stood at +3 for the British. At the perfect
moment the French struck. With an Indian screen in place to slow
down Amherst, Montcalm boat moved down to Oneida Carry West and
in desperation attacked a small army under Wolfe and defeated
it, taking a point. On the next French card play, the fort there
fell for two more points, bringing the VPs to zero. Bungling,
however, was not limited to the Brits (fatigue was probably a
factor at this point for both sides), as Forbes was able to take
a stockade at Venango which the French had inexplicably neglected
to torch. Importantly, though, Forbes had failed to leave anything
behind at the unfortified Ohio Forks.
Late 59: Early in the turn the French had successfully
raided Deerfield, which meant that VPs stood at zero - the Brits
needed another VP. Amherst fought his way through Indian pickets
to threaten Montreal from the Champlain Valley, forcing Montcalm
to return there, and with Niagara relatively well defended, Wolfe
approached Montreal from the other side. Montcalm holed up in
Montreal to avoid a fight and the French auxiliaries were spread
out across all avenues of approach, causing delays and interdicting
supplies. The British Commander, who failed to see the potential
of a Ranger raid led by Wolfe and didn't notice how bad his supply
situation was, finally ran out of time before Montreal could
be sieged, even though he was up on cards. To add insult to injury,
the French slipped an auxiliary into Ohio Forks on his last card
and won with a VP cushion of 1.
Morale: Never give up as the French. Never take anything for
granted as the Brits.
In order to address French dominance of the tournament in
recent years I gave written and verbal notice to all players
of the imbalance. This appears to have had the desired effect
as the average bid to play the French went up from .27 VPs last
year to 1.11 VPs this year, an increase of over 400%! In the
55 games played the bidding breakdown was as follows: 18 bids
of 2 VPs for the French, 25 bids of 1 for the French and 12 games
without a bid. Nevertheless, the French continue to have an edge,
winning 31 of the games played this year (56%, but down from
71% last year and 62% in 2003). Also, the French winning percentage
was higher in the later rounds, as the better players battled
it out for wood and the less experienced players dropped out.
The combined record of the four semifinalists was 11-0 as the
French (down from 14-0 last year) and 6-4 as the Brits (up from
3-4 last year). The Champ won five games as the French and one
as the Brits. Therefore I think it is safe to say that, although
progress is being made in this area, there is considerable room
for improvement and that the average bid is probably still too
2003 PBeM Tournament
James Pei topped a field of 64 by defeating Pete Reese in
the finals of the very successful (and quickly played) Wilderness
War tournament. Ron Fedin took third, followed by Bill Peeck,
Bari Herman and George Young respectively who all claimed laurels
for their efforts - swelling the ranks of those who have already
scored in the 2004 Caesar race to a total of 118 players.