Standing Room Only ...
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.
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 Wargameroom.com 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 Wargameroom.com. 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 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
- Facing Defcon 2, Soviet holding only Five-year Plan and Grain
- 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
- 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.
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
1. Marvin Birnbaum, 5-0, 61 tourney points, 3 US wins, 2 CCCP
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