twilight struggle [Updated February 2008]  

2007 WBC Report  

 2008 Status: pending 2008 GM commitment

Stefan MeCay, TX

2006-07 Champion

Offsite links:

Laurels ConsimWorld

Event History
2006    Stefan Mecay     70
2007     Stefan Mecay     66

WAM Event History
2007    Keith Wixson     30
2008    Marvin Birnbaum     35


Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Stefan Mecay       TX    07    100
  2.  Marvin Birnbaum    NY    08     60
  3.  Rick Young         NC    07     50
  4.  Keith Wixson       NJ    07     40
  5.  Stuart Tucker      MD    08     31
  6.  Bruce Monnin       OH    08     30
  7.  John Emery         SC    06     30
  8.  James Terry        NJ    07     29
  9.  Steven Brooks      FL    08     20
 10.  Rob Hassard        NJ    07     20
 11.  Chris Withers      CA    07     15
 12.  John Buse          IL    06     15
 13.  Bruce Monnin       OH    07     12
 14.  George Seary       NY    07     10
 15.  Sean McCulloch     OH    08     10
 16.  Doug Austin        VA    07      8
 17.  Michael Sosa       FL    08      5
 18.  Mike Wallschlaeger WI    07      5
 19.  Charles Hickok     PA    07      4

2007 Laurelists

Rick Young, NC

Rob Hassard, NJ

Chris Withers, CA

George Seary, NY

Mike Wallschlaeger, WI

Twilight Struggle remained the most popular CDW event at WBC this year.

Henry Jones (left), a frequent WBC attendee who has been absent for several years, returned with Twilight Struggle high on his list of must-plays.

Standing Room Only ...

The long twilight struggle continued in 2007 with 66 hopefuls. The first two rounds saw a remarkable lack of dropouts, as winning players pressed on to go as far as they could. In general the quality of play was extremely high, with established players from last year and on given all they could handle by players who had been previously unknown to them..

The quarter-finals were a true murderers' row, with four of the eight participants having compiled impressive records in live online play on Of particular note was Rob Hassard's victory over Bruce Wigdor, a game that ended in a draw, and by tournament rule was resolved by a die roll! In that same game, Bruce had exhibited his usual high level of sportsmanship, permitting Rob to take back a move that would have resulted in nuclear war (and a win for Bruce).

The reward for Rob's skillful U.S. play was a semi-final match against defending champion Stefan Mecay (who had just defeated George Seary's Soviets in a masterful quarter-final performance). For a long time it appeared Stefan's title defense hopes were dead, as Rob's Americans put together a +18 lead during the Mid War, but Stefan's methodical, never-say-die play style paid off. To his credit, Rob went for the knockout punch over and over again, only to be foiled by the dice or a clever countermove by Stefan, and in the end Stefan was able to battle all the way back for a dramatic comeback victory in Final Scoring.

Stefan's Final opponent was Rick Young, whom he had beaten in the 2006 semi-finals. The match was almost anticlimactic, as Rick drew persistently awful cards, and Stefan's dice heated up. Rick had suffered from bad luck throughout the tournament, but his consummate skill allowed him to overcome it until now. Stefan's Soviets took an automatic victory, and the 2007 Twilight Struggle championship, in Turn 5.

The 2007 tournament used bidding for influence points, in which players bid for the Soviets and gave additional at-start influence points in the amount of the bid to the U.S. player. The mean bid was 2.08, and this resulted in an overall tournament balance of 31-28 in favor of the USSR. The USSR fared particularly well in Round 2, winning 10 of 15, but the US rallied in most of the other rounds. In general, it appeared that players who bid 3 or more influence points to play the USSR took a great risk in the event if they drew quality opponents.

I would like to thank all the players for their participation and sportsmanship during the tournament--in which only one game out of 54 had to be adjudicated--and for their indulgence of a first-time GM's foolhardiness in running a 66-man tournament. Rick Young's service as assistant GM was invaluable, although I am tempted to bad-mouth him so that I can monopolize him for next year. I hope everyone will return in 2008 to try their skill and see if they can unseat Stefan, who proved himself a true master of the game with his succesful defense of the title against such a strong field.

Twilight Struggle

Twilight Struggle was the most popular event, now in its second year, drawing 35 players playing a total of 53 games. Despite two prevalent bidding systems (VPs or Points of Influence), the Soviets continued to dominate, winning 34 of the 53 games. The average bid for the Soviet side was 2.4. In only four games did the “winning bid” take the Americans (twice at 0). The honorable mention of the weekend goes to Sean McCulloch for bidding 3 to be the Americans and still winning. As for the final round, bids for the Soviet side were usually 3--but in the championship game the bid rose to 4. Among the more interesting pivotal events to games:

  • Facing Defcon 2, Soviet holding only Five-year Plan and Grain Sales.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis allows American to lock up South America for scoring an automatic victory.
  • American late play of Ask Not yields draw of two scoring cards, only one of which could be played.
  • Flower Power racking up a total of 8 VPs for the Soviets, giving them the winning margin in the endgame scoring.
  • Extended Quagmire drawing three US cards beyond American intention.
  • Nixon Plays the China Card to gain an auto victory for the Americans.
  • American play of Kennedy to discard crucial scoring card, then Missile Envy to draw Wargames with an 8-point lead.
  • Olympics and Grain Sales lead to Nuclear War (occurred in two games).
  • Olympics and Duck and Cover played in Headlines phase.
  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying to gain a 3 mil ops advantage to gain auto victory.
  • U.S. play of Missile Envy draws Duck and Cover (because there were no 4-pt cards in the Soviet hand).
  • Six games ended with the play of Wargames.
  • Several games collapsed quickly due to the American drawing too many scoring cards in the first three turns.

The early rounds witnessed last year’s WAM champion, Keith Wixson defeating Melvin Casselberry and Charlie Hickok, before stumbling to Marvin Birnbaum with the coup de grace coming in Turn 5 with the play of the Alliance for Progress. Last year’s runner-up, James Terry, was undefeated when he met Bruce Monnin in Round 4. Monnin prevailed as the Soviets when the Turn 6 headline phase witnessed Olympics and Duck and Cover. Tournament director, Stuart Tucker, went 4-1 overall, but slipped up one hazy morning in Round 3 by forgetting about mil ops on Turn 1 against Michal Sosa, who made him quickly pay with a Turn 3 auto victory. Birnbaum survived a tight 10-turn Round 4 game against Sosa (paying him dearly for bidding 2 for the Americans). With Tucker defeating Michael Mitchell’s attempt to become the third 4-0 player, the Final was set with Monnin against Birnbaum.

Trevor Bender (left) and Scott Moll
trade missile threats in the Cold War.   
 Ken Gutermuth takes a break from POG
with some “light” gaming.

In the Final, Monnin finally yielded the Soviet side to Birnbaum at a bid of 4. Turn 1 witnessed Asia Scoring and Turn 2 Mideast Scoring, setting up a deadly re-shuffle for Turn 3 in which Birnbaum put the Red Scare on the Americans and then racked up big VPs with scoring of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Birnbaum finally sealed the game in Turn 5 with the SE Asia Scoring Card to earn an auto victory.Here are the final rankings and records of the top players (tourney points are a measure of a player’s wins plus strength of opposition).

1. Marvin Birnbaum, 5-0, 61 tourney points, 3 US wins, 2 CCCP win
2. Bruce Monnin, 4-1, 53 TPs, 3 CCCP wins, 1 US win
3. Steven Brooks, 4-1, 51 TPs, all Soviet
4. Stuart Tucker, 4-1, 51 TPs, 4 CCCP wins
5. Sean McCulloch, 4-1, 49 TPs, 3 US wins, 1 CCCP win
6. Michael Sosa, 3-2, 45 TPs, 2 CCCP wins, 1 US win
7. James Terry, 3-2, 44 TPs, all American
8. Roderick Lee, 3-2, 43 TPs, 2 CCCP wins, 1 US win
9. Michael Mitchell, 3-1, 36 TPs, 2 CCCP wins, 1 US win

 GM      Jason Matthews (1st Year)  NA   NA

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