Standing Room Only ...
When wargames make their debut, the
preliminary games are as much an execcise in learning how to
play as a test of skill.
By the semi-final rounds, players
have a firmer grasp of what they're doing, and even new products
play quicker and truer to form.
The first-ever Here I Stand tournament at WBC was a
resounding success. The week started with the Tuesday evening
demo. 37 people attended this first demo, definitely standing
room only. The upcoming C3i article "Learning Here I Stand
in 20 Minutes or Less" was handed out to all present and
all basic rules were covered. Many people wanted to immediately
give the game a try and joined the tournament heat that followed
directly after. That first night there were 35 entrants; the
GM played also to give us the ideal number of 36. Fortunately
the random distribution of players yielded a playtester at four
of the six tables. Those tables all progressed nicely thanks
to the guidance of Bryan Collars, Ken Richards, Allen and Nathan
Hill, and Matthew Beach. This night required a bit of patience
from everyone, since so many of the players were still new to
the game (there were three players from the current series of
PBeM games, but it was probably the first HIS game for at least
half the field). The tournament scenario went the distance to
Turn 6 at three of these tables; there was a Turn 5 Ottoman win
at 24 VP at the fourth table. The final two tables moved slowest
and decided to declare a winner at 22 VP (instead of the usual
23) so we could all be finished in close to the allotted fivr
Wednesday night was easier all around on the GM: the demo
that night had a very manageable 23 players in attendance, and
we had exactly 36 show up to play in the tournament. 20 of the
players this night had not participated Tuesday, giving us a
total attendance for the event of 56. We also had two more playtesters
join us (Barry Setser and Joel Tamburo), along with a HIS player
from Istanbul (Ahmet Ilpers). With a full night of HIS under
everyone's belts, the games went faster this evening. 4 of 6
games went the full three turns, only one game was ended at 22
VP, and we finished about 45 minutes faster.
When all the blood had been spilled from the preliminaries,
we had twelve different single game winners:
These 12 would join ta dozen at-large players with the highest
total VP accumulation for the Thursday night semis. At this point
the win totals were:
All but four of the 24 were able to attend on Thursday; we
had just enough alternates to fill those missing slots. Players
were able to select their preferred power based on their ranking
this night (instead of by random draft order as in the prelims).
Perhaps based on the above results, the Ottoman was picked first
and the Papacy was picked last three times.
Here in the semis, the level of play increased exponentially..
All four games were finished in just 4.5 hours. Remarkably, France,
which had shown so poorly earlier in the week, won three of the
four. The Hapsburgs were the winner in the Final. HIS experience
was crucial at this point: playtesters Bryan Collars, Ken Richards,
and Allen Hill were all winners. The fourth winner was Charles
Hickok. Chris Striker and John Wetherell were selected to join
them in the Final based on their scores of 24 and 23 VP here
in the semis.
So going into the Final, England was the only power with a
single win. Chris Striker was picking his power last and assumed
he'd be left with England. Therefore it was a surprise when John
Wetherell selected them with the fifth pick. Here was the power
1: Bryan Collars (Protestant)
2: Ken Richards (Ottoman)
3: Charles Hickok (France)
4: Allen Hill (Hapsburgs)
5: John Wetherell (England)
6: Chris Striker (Papacy)
The GM kept notes on every diplomatic action and card play throughout
the Final. Go to the Here I Stand web site for a full
Here are the quick highlights. In the first two turns we had:
-- First turn unholy alliance between Protestants and Ottomans;
Ottomans play Calvin's Institutes in exchange for Protestant
play of Akinji Raiders.
-- At the start of the second turn, England plays Dissolution
of the Monasteries to draw two cards. Copernicus ends up being
one of these card draws.
-- All spaces in England (up to the Scottish border) reform on
Turn 5. In retaliation the Papacy debates Coverdale and Tyndale,
burning them both. By turn's end the reformed faith is nowhere
to be seen in England.
Entering the last turn, VP totals were 21-21-19-21-19-17. Extremely
close. The strong lead held mid-turn by the English and Protestants
had been erased by the debating skills of Cajetan and Pole.
In the last turn, England showed their determination to return
England to the Protestant faith. John played Printing Press as
the event as his first action of the turn. It was a desperate
religious struggle all turn; the Papacy launched four more debates.
The turning point was probably when Ignatius Loyola was defeated
by Nicolas Cop, one of two debate wins for Cop in the turn. By
turn's end, nine English spaces were Protestant.
So when all the blood was spilled at the end of the last turn
with all cards played, England held the lead. But only by one
VP over the Hapsburgs and France, who were each sailing west
to try and conquer the Inca. If either side succeeded, the game
would be theirs. Allen picked Pizarro as his conquistador, meaning
he only needed an 8 on two dice. He rolled a 7. One pip short!
France (needing an 11) failed also. So on these aborted dice
rolls, John Wetherell protected his English lead and was an upset
winner of the tournament. England, the power no one had wanted
at the start of the night, had won.
Final win totals by power were:
Well played by all. It was a joy to watch it unfold.
Question: Which power did people most want to play?
If a power is selected first in a game, I am assigning it a score
of "1". The power picked last gets a "6".
Based on this scoring, for the whole tournament, the results
So the Ottomans were the most sought after power; the Papacy
the least preferred. I did expect players to prefer the military
powers to the religious ones this first year of the tournament
(since the religious struggle is still a new gaming concept for
most players). I am a bit surprised that France was not as highly
preferred as the Protestant, however.
Question: Did choosing early lead to victory?
For the entire tournament, the winning player chose third on
average (the numerical average was 2.9). So getting to play a
power of your choosing was helpful, but not an overwhelming advantage.
Question: Did earning a higher seed and choosing early in the
semis and Final help?
Not this year.
In the first two rounds (when selection order was random), the
numerical choice average of the winners was 2.7. So there was
an even stronger correlation between choosing first and winning
in these games. My take is that this is because many players
had limited experience with the game. If you were stuck with
a power you hadn't tried before, your chances were significantly
Interestingly enough, in the semis and Final, the numerical choice
average of the winners fell to 3.4. Allen Hill's win as France
in a semi (France was his #5 pick) and John Wetherell's win as
England in the Final (again the #5 pick) brought this average
down. Selection order was clearly less of a factor in these later
Question: Did the player choosing last ever win?
Not this year. The breakdown of wins by selection position over
the 17 games were as follows:
First choice: 3
Second choice: 5
Third choice: 3
Fourth choice: 2
Fifth choice: 4
Sixth choice: 0