Now, that’s a headline that will grab some attention! However, while true it is a tad misleading. As the WBC FTP tournament entered its 18th year, we rejoiced in our new digs at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. The new convention site is gorgeous and scenic with wonderful amenities and plenty of space. Best of all, it is not moldy. The staff is courteous and responsive to our needs. The isolated location probably contributed to a decline in overall attendance with many wargame tournaments adversely affected. However, others thrived—so perhaps they are just tired of getting schooled by The Master. Quite a number of our regulars did not attend. Among them was the much ballyhooed Minnesota contingent, led by the missing Herr Dr. The trash talking earlier in the week spoke of practice sessions this past year to take me down. They were ready to compete. But alas, they got stuck playing in Breakout Normandy and advancing deep into that tourney. Bob Malcomson indeed won it for the second year in a row. From what Dr and others have told me, Bob is very sharp and a player to watch for in the future. [Yeah, those of us who play BKN would prefer you watch him instead of us mere mortals on the beaches. Let’s hear it for a challenge match in FTP on Wednesday!]
The good news is that the demo session on Thursday morning went well, with several new players participating afterwards. 20 games were played with both sides winning ten. This year’s breakthrough player was Michael Day who advanced to the semifinal round by downing Michael Mitchell, a two-time runner-up.
As befitting the ACW, the 2016 Final was another brother against brother affair: a rematch of the 2015 Final, and the third time that Nick Pei advanced to the Final. Maybe now you understand the headline; sort of a “Heads I win, Tails you lose” situation. Is there no one outside my family sparring partner who can give me a challenge? A Random die roll gave Nick the Union.
As the CSA, I usually like to reorganize and reposition my forces on Turn 1 to conserve manpower. But the dealt hand was good, with a “Concentration” card. So I decided to change things up a bit and went in strong. Rebel forces were able to use concentration and cut off the DC rail. CSA also managed to get off a raid. Nick said that he did the same thing to Jeff Donald in their earlier match. It puts the Union immediately behind.
The USA regrouped on Turn 2 and successfully repelled the invaders from northern soil. Both sides placed PC in border states with the Union able to prevent KY joining the CSA.
The CSA drew another good hand on Turn 3 with the “Forward to Richmond” card and a “Minor Campaign”. But Nick is a top player now and he was able to fortify the Union defense. He covered his flanks well, such that I failed to trap and destroy AOP. Both sides sparred a bit more in WVA and KY, but with the last move, I used the “Campaign” to persuade both KY and MO border states to join the Confederacy.
I drew a very bad hand on Turn 4 with lots of 1-Op cards and the EP card. So I was very tentative in initiating any battle during the turn. In fact, I used a “Quaker Gun” to stop AOP from attacking, thus minimizing my downside risk. CSA formed an army under Lee to bluff and hold fast in northern VA. USA got the last move and with it managed to gain control of WVA.
With the arrival of Stonewall Jackson on Turn 5, I formed a third army (AOM) and pumped in more reinforcements via the “Carolina Express”. Then I went on the offense. In a series of flanking maneuvers with Union forces in WVA, Stonewall was able to smash into Grafton. Nick played the “3-Cigar” to trap and cut supply to AOM. In the ensuing critical battle, the Union rolled badly and AOM was able to reestablish supply. There were several follow up corps attacks by the Union to attrit AOM, but the dice were not kind to Nick. With the last two cards played, Stonewall broke through the Pittsburgh defense and managed two more raids. With his SW being so close to being doubled by the CSA, the writing was on the wall. Nick graciously resigned.
Thanks to all who played. I had a great time at 7S; especially the view of ski lifts and mountain backdrops from the competition area in Foggie Goggle. I was able to relax in a comfy chair and meditate a little during the long week of competition. I hope to see more of you return to the FTP tourney next year.
Speaking of trash talk, the editor may be guilty of inflating some of the above. Our usual Caesar is more humble than his record and some of these comments would suggest, but when you win an event 16 times in 18 years, you’ve got to expect a few provocative statements to raise the multitude to put forth more of a challenge. Knowing James, I’m sure he would say: “bring it on!”.
Michael Mitchell and Michael Day meet at Poolside.