Truly Brother vs Brother ...
Henry Russell moves while the judge
seeks solace in the rules.
Nick Frydas' trip across the pond
is ended by the Master.
Tim Tow appeals for better cards.
The Final is truly brother vs brother
... but Nick can't upset James.
The understated and scarcely needed headline for this years 17th running of the FTP tournament is that James Pei won his 15th title. It was a well attended tournament breaching the 32 contestant threshold which has not happened in several years. It was as always an ironman tournament with players entering into a continuous series of campaign games that are both immersive and exhausting. Stamina matters in this tournament and James is hard to beat if you are not at your best. This year saw several stalwarts like David Dockter as no shows, so the Final became a true brother versus brother affair with Nick Pei (USA) going against his older brother with the CSA. In the champion’s own words here is how it went.
"As I bade farewell to the Host for the last time, there was a pang of nostalgia for a place where WBC and FTP spent the past decade. We had many exciting competitions, memorable tales, and memories of friendships made. But then the dilapidated structure and malfunctioning equipment brought me back to reality. I was told that the AC in Lampeter was down again early in the week, but they were able to band-aid together some cold air into the area and put a giant tarp over the roof right outside Lampeter. Thank goodness that all went well for the rest of the week as nobody wanted to relive the hot and sweaty conditions of 2012 again.
33 players entered the tournament, with 31 games played. Many new players joined in the 1st round. Kudos to Mark Herman for running a demo session, then convincing all the newbies to enter to learn the game faster. This year, there was a predominance of CSA victories due to more experienced players playing the Rebel side. Special mentions to Michael Kunin and Dan Leader for advancing deep into the tourney. Not to take away from their accomplishments, but several top players were missing this year.
The Final was a rematch of the 2010 title game where Nick Pei first burst into the elite circles. The night before, Herman wanted to roll the die to determine the sides. When the die was tossed, the small crowd roared and groaned as I got the Confederates. I was smiling because I know Nick prefers to play the CSA. Half of the battle was already won!
T1: JJ was able to evade AOP’s initial attack and the Union decided to just fortify Frederick. The rest of the turn was spent fort building and PC placement by USA, while CSA took KY.
T2: USA ramped up the blockade to Level 2 and fortified. The Rebels formed AONV, putting pressure on AOP to spend resources on forts and rearranging leaders. CSA ended the turn by taking WV.
T3: Both sides sparred in MO, trying to convert the last border state. Then action shifted back to the East with corps attrition battles by the Union to whittle down AONV strength. I had the EP card, so was very tentative in moving anything. It was not worth the -15 SW hit to risk losing a medium battle. However, on the last action of the turn, AONV broke through the Pittsburgh defense, splitting the Union rail link. But CSA was not able to pull off a raid.
T4: With the arrival of Lee and the cav leaders, the Rebels went on the offensive with the formation of a second Army, AOW. Union maneuvered into WV to cut LOC to AONV. With a good supply of SP from reinforcement cards, AOW engaged AOP in a series of battles. There were lots of suicide attacks to attrit the Rebel armies. Lee was able to dislodge AOP from Frederick and took a shot at DC, but failed. The end of T4 saw the first raid in PA, but timely play of Nathaniel Lyn prevented CSA from converting MO. SW was CSA 117 vs USA 85.
T5: With both of us tired from a long day, I decided to just bludgeon my way to DC. So Lee attacked again and again, failing several times. EP was triggered along the way. Union then played a Minor Campaign, trapping and destroying AONV. Finally, with the arrival of the Carolina Express and Stonewall, AOW won a close battle and broke through to DC. With MD about to be raided and SW being close to doubling, the writing was on the wall. Nick graciously resigned.
I had a fun time showing the ropes to several new faces. My favorite line was when my opponent played a good card, I would say, “That was a good move. But unfortunately, I have a better one!”
I hope to see many of you return to the FTP tourney next year at our new digs in Seven Springs."
After running this tournament for many years and with the release of Churchill which will have its inaugural tournament at Seven Springs I am laying down the FTP GM mantle and passing it to James Pei our perennial champion. I look forward to observing and potentially competing in this tournament as it enters its 18th session. See you in Seven Springs.