A Bloodless Revolution ...
Paul Gaberson vs Evan Walter
Gregory Hultgren meets Derek Landel
Andrew Doughan vs Dan Hoffman
Marvin Birnbaum defeats Daniel Leader
GM Keith Wixson became the fourth 3-time champ in the event’s 22 year history making him three for five in WWR Finals. Wixson was undefeated, beating former champ John Poniske, Randy MacInnis and Randy Pippus in the preliminary rounds, John Faella in the quarterfinals, former 2-time champ James Pei in the semifinals and his teammate and another 3-time champ Marvin Birnbaum in the title game. Birnbaum was also undefeated entering the Final game, besting Dick Boyes, Geoff Allbert and Bill Edwards in the preliminary rounds, former 3-time champ Brian Mountford in the quarterfinals and former PBeM champ Dan Leader in the semifinals. The other quarterfinalists were Andrew Doughan and defending champ George Young. Wixson won three games with each side. Wixson and Faella were the only repeating laurelists from last year.
The tournament’s traditional “marathon” format was unchanged. There were four rounds of Swiss play to select eight quarterfinalists to advance to the elimination rounds. The five undefeated players after the first three rounds (Wixson, Birnbaum, Pei, Leader and Mountford) all received a bye in Round 4 and advanced automatically. There were four players with 3-1 records after Round 4 (Young, Faella and Doughan advanced while Derek Landel was eliminated due to weak tiebreakers). Out of 62 games played, the Brits won 32, but in the elimination rounds the Americans won four of seven.
Happily, attendance was up about 25%. Hopefully that means that last year’s dip was an aberration and that attendance in the 40’s will continue to be the norm. But it helped that we had 11 new players, which is an unusually large number. That was in spite of the fact that I missed the demo I was scheduled to give on Thursday night. I apologize to everybody that appeared for it. I realize that everybody’s time is precious during WBC week and I do take the scheduling seriously. I have no excuse for my absence - I should have been there. All I can say is that I am very sorry and that it won’t happen again. At this point I plan to return as GM and to schedule the tournament in its traditional Saturday slot next year at Seven Springs.
A short AAR of the championship game between Wixson (Brits) and Birnbaum (Americans) follows. It was a rematch of the 2009 Final, which was won by Birnbaum. With the semifinal games ending after midnight on Saturday and with Birnbaum having a 0900 Sunday morning Euro Final, the title game was played late Sunday morning.
Neither player drew many OPs cards, so there was not much PC placement on either side. Clinton landed at New Bern, NC but did not move. Towards the end of the turn Wixson played a Minor Campaign to drop a landing party at Wilmington, DE and then ship Howe’s army there from Boston. British troops never returned to New England, as the British adopted a Mid-Atlantic/Southern Strategy. Washington wintered his army at Wyoming Valley.
Howe occupied Philadelphia, dispersing the Continental Congress. While the Americans raised a new army under Arnold in Maryland, Cornwallis arrived with British reinforcements at Wilmington, DE. The British took advantage of the dispersed Congress and the William Pitt card to concentrate on PC placement in North Carolina and Virginia. Arnold launched a surprise counterattack at Philadelphia and drove Howe back into Delaware, where he was displaced. That was to be the only major battle of the game and the only British defeat of the war. Greene occupied Boston. The Congress was reconvened at Newport, RI at the end of the turn.
The British play of PA/NJ Line Mutiny on their first card allowed them to continue to build an edge in PCs in SC, NC, VA (pushing inland from the coast) and PA (pushing east from the mountains and south from the Great Lakes). Howe returned to Virginia with additional British reinforcements. The Americans were hard pressed to respond but created two small armies in the South to try to hold the onslaught back. At the end of the turn the Brits played Lord North to remove four American PCs including New York City.
The British position in the South and Mid-Atlantic continued to improve. Burgoyne landed in NC with additional reinforcements and armies under Clinton and Howe pushed inland to disperse small American armies. A British PC was placed at New York City, forcing the relocation of Washington’s army there. Washington never moved again and never fought a battle in the game with the Americans focusing on a guerilla strategy. Cornwallis retook Philadelphia. At the end of the turn the Brits had a strong lead, controlling SC, NC, VA, MD, PA, DE and CA and threatening GA and NJ.
The tide began to turn when the Brits drew a weak hand. Clinton’s small army of three CUs had wandered into the interior of SC and was cut off. There was a back and forth of PC removals and placements as the Americans tried unsuccessfully to set up an attack which would destroy the army and cancel the Regulars Bonus. The Americans were more successful in MD and PA, where they were able to set up a large PC isolation at the end of the turn. This effort was helped by a PC placement blunder by the Brits that filled in a crucial space at Ft. Cumberland. The Americans also began to take back VA, pushing inland from the mountains. The Americans held a slight lead at turn’s end.
The 1780 War Ends Card was already out at the start of the turn and neither side drew another, so both players assumed that this was to be the last turn. The Brits were down a colony, so needed to gain one and hold on to what they already had. They quickly brought all their remaining reinforcements in at Montreal in order to protect Canada (Carleton had never moved from Quebec). SC, NC and DE were also safe, but the Americans continued to push into VA and were eventually able to gain control. The crucial point was reached when both players had three cards remaining. The Brits played Bancroft and the American discard was Major Campaign! Now having the final card play, the Brits ended it with a Minor Campaign of their own. Carleton marched down unopposed from Canada to grab Albany and take NY; the British PCs in northern NY from the start of the game having never been lost with most of the game’s action taking place in the South. Burgoyne then marched unopposed into Savannah to secure GA. The final count was six British colonies (GA, SC, NC, DE, NY and CA) to seven American (MD was neutral).
This was more of a positional game and a relatively bloodless affair, with all but one of the few battles the result of a large British army stomping on a 1 or 2 strength American force. One of the advantages of a British Mid-Atlantic/Southern Strategy is that Washington can be made irrelevant, and that was certainly the case in this game. There was very little open space for the Americans in the South, and it was just too risky to bring the Continental Army down to fight it out. The Brits built up a considerable PC edge early in this game and it was just too much for the Americans to overcome. Interestingly, both players agreed after the game that the loss of the Major Campaign to Bancroft may not have mattered. With the four core British colonies safe and with the last card play of a Minor Campaign, the Brits probably would have found a way to win in any case.
The Master vs the Master's Apprentice.
This time the Apprentice won.