Monsters Ravage/Menace America has had several influences on WBC. Its initial 167 players in 1998 helped create the new WBC in 1999. The move from Hunt Valle to Lancaster in 2005 coincided with the reissue as Monsters Menace America with a 25% surge in event attendance. The 2016 move to a longer, all inclusive WBC at the Seven Springs Resort coincided with the end of pre-cons and resulted in yet another attendance surge as MMA moved earlier in the week in an effort to bolster its sagging attendance. The move paid off with a 60% bounce, ending a three-year decline and returning the event to Century status in this very unusual year.
Heats were scheduled on the First Sunday and Monday, plus Wednesday and Thursday. With earlier travel home expected, the elimination rounds were advanced from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon. It was thought that this would attract some wargamers on the first two days. Instead, 11 families brought multiple members to play, including seven such families at the first heat alone. They even brought their copies of the game too. Monsters Menace America arguably drew people to the first weekend who otherwise might have shown up later in the week.
In 2016, 46% of the players were under the age of 30, and 45% were over the age of 40. 75% did NOT play in this tournament in 2015 at Lancaster, PA, a testament to holding demos and classifying it as a Coached game. There hasn't been a Monsters Juniors tournament for several years, and the game is out of print. But eight juniors got adult badges to play and one made the Final. 25% of all players were female and 50% of players age 18 to 39 were female. 57% of the ladies won their heat games. The number of players over the age of 50 has tripled from 14 years ago.
For the first time, all games played used the 2005 Monsters Menace America edition now in its 12th year. A copy of the 1998 Monsters Ravage America edition was available but went used.
Menace won in 2016: Megaclaw 12, Tomanagi 5, Zorb 3, Gargantis 2, Toxicor 2, Konk 1.
Menace winners in 2016 controlled: Army 9, Marines 7, Air Force 5, Navy 4.
Megaclaw won 48% of the games in 2016. His special power is get three Infamy tokens (an extra attack against military and/or Monsters in the Challenge), instead of two by other Monsters for stomping Infamy sites. Megaclaw typically starts at its northern lair, and can stomp the large health cities in the northeast. Players were reminded that the written rules limit all Monsters to holding a maximum of 15 Infamy tokens. Toxicor only won two games, but they were in the elimination rounds, and she won the plaque in 2014. The 2005 Menace edition put one of Toxicor's lairs two spaces from New York City. With 60% of the health points in the Northeast corner of the map, the difficulty in blocking Toxicor often transforms the game into “stop Toxicor,” rather than the more balanced 1998 Ravage edition. Determined players act together to place National Guard units in New York City on the first turn deployment phase. By written rule, Toxicor can only have a maximum of 30 points, while the other Monsters can have a maximum of 40 points.
Winners over last 12 years, MONSTERS Menace America:
Megaclaw 52 (25%)
Tomangi 41 (23%)
Zorb 42 (21%)
Toxicor 40 (20%)
Gargantis 17 (8%)
Konk 7 (3%)
Total 204 (100%)
|Verity Hitchings, Anna Rinko, Adam Hurd and Andrew Drummond
|Parick Mirk and Sara Ward
|GM Mark Love and his four scariest monsters.
Gargantis' lairs are all in the West, making it harder for him to escape a determined military, but he's the only Monster who can Fly, so the military cannot block him. Gargantis has won this tournament twice. Konk is rarely chosen because his special power (+1 against fighters) means he really has no special power at all if fighters are not used against him. But he did win a game in 2016 and his lair locations are good. Navy and Air Force players often deploy two cruise missiles, fire them at an opponent, and then deploy two again at the end of the turn.
Military Controlled By Winners over last 12 years, MONSTERS Menace America:
Marines 59 (29%)
Army 54 (26%)
Navy 47 (23%)
Air Force 43 (21%)
National Guard 1 (1%)
Total 179 (100%)
The Marines were designed to be used as a fighting force, with four bases close to each other in the East and in the West. A 5-player house rule has rarely been used, (only to fill boards), with the fifth player being Guard Commander.
MON-STAR of the Silver Screen
Dacey Collinson won the 2016 Best Actress award while Noah Drummond won the 2016 Best Actor award. Both played Megaclaw, who was sent to Hollywood with zero health. Noah won a subsequent heat, and played in the semifinal.
The Heats – You don't need to attend a demo!
The event remained Coached, but three demos were held. Strategy tips have been taught at demos for years. The First Sunday demo had the highest attendance for any Monsters demo in the last 18 years.
Players were reminded that the Menace written rules restrict the maximum health to the left side of the Monster card: 30 for Toxicor and 40 for all other Monsters (except after the Challenge fights begin). They can still pursue mutations and extra attacks from Infamy sites. There is a Maximum of 15 Infamy allowed.
Christopher Yaure's Megaclaw was the biggest Monster with a score of 57.
First Family of MONSTERS
Someone might have thought a game of Werewolf started on the First Sunday evening, but that was the Wolff family. All three won their game: 9-year-old Sam, 11-year-old Jack, who went on to play in the Final, and their mother, Tricia, who took top seed in the tournament, as the only player to win two heats.
The Semifinals - Always Check for Alternate Status!
11 of the 20 qualifying winners appeared for the semifinal. Half of them were under the age of 20. It was decided to advance one alternate, play three games, and advance the non-winner with the highest score to the Final. That way, nobody could be sure that playing for second place would suffice for advancement. The alternate was Luca Castronova, leaving 2015 finalist James McKibbon, age 12, one slot short of playing.
Verity Hitchings won her semifinal game with the highest score with Megaclaw, defeating Adam Hurd, Zarabeth Goddard, and Luca Castronova. Verity was a finalist in the first tournament in 1998. She has been an assistant GM fever since.
Jack Wolff won with Tomanagi, beating repeat finalist Anna Rinko, Amy Powers, and Sara Ward. At age 11, the young ladykiller tied 2015's James McGibbon as the youngest player to reach the Final.
Four-time champion Marvin Birnbaum advanced to his seventh Final, defeating top seed Tricia Wolff, Jordan Shea, and 11-year-old Noah Drummond.
Adam Hurd of Canada, who had to be convinced to fill the last board in Heat 2 had the top score among the semifinal runners-up and also advanced to fill the fourth seat.
All semifinalists took home Halloween oriented prizes.
Dice rolls were made for who would get the first choice of Monster. The starting positions:
1. Marvin Birnbaum: Toxicor and Air Force.
2. Adam Hurd: Megaclaw and Army.
3. Jack Wolf: Zorb and Navy.
4. Verity Hitchings: Tomanagi and Marines.
Turn 1: Marvin's Toxicor starts in the lair outside New York City. Adam's Megaclaw starts in the northern lair. Jack's Zorb starts in the West near Los Angeles and places a National Guard in his own target, Los Angeles. Verity's Tomanagi starts in her lair in the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles. National Guard or other units are placed in the deployment phase by each player.
Turn 2: Marvin attacks the Guard in NYC with Toxicor, using the yellow color-coded dice for his Air Force. He misses on the first attack. Marvin insists that the “chicken-colored dice are not acceptable.” He switches to white dice, but is retreated to Three Mile Island, getting no mutation. Adam's Megaclaw stomps Minneapolis for one health; builds Army tanks. Jack's Zorb attacks and stomps San Diego for three health, two infamy and two toys/trophies. Verity's Tomanagi attacks Los Angeles, which is defended by three National Guard tanks and a Navy submarine. She knocks out all but one Guard tank and is retreated.
Turn 3: With the military growing and getting lucky, Marvin passes on NYC and has Toxicor stomp the undefended DC/Baltimore. He grabs ten health, one infamy and a toy for a total of 19 health. Adam's Megaclaw stomps Mount Rushmore, Jack's Zorb stomps the OK Corral, passing on the five units defending Los Angeles. He moves his own Navy sub. Verity's Tomanagi stomps the undefended San Francisco and raises her health to 18.
Turn 4: Marvin attacks a Marine fighter in Philadelphia with Toxicor, raises his health to 20. He gets the powerful Guard Commander military research, and now controls and can move the National Guard. Adam's Megaclaw mutates at Experimental Breeder Reactor for Atomic Breath. Jack's Zorb mutates at Nevada Test Site, gets Radiation Field. Verity's Tomanagi stomps Portland for one health. New York City is now loaded with Army and National Guard tanks.
Turn 5: Marvin sends Toxicor to Three Mile Island, gets It's a Robot, one of the best mutations in the deck. Whenever his opponents roll a miss in the Monster Challenge, they take a point of damage to themselves. All of Marvin's opponents groan in unison. Marvin then sends five National Guard units plus six Air Force fighters to attack Jack's Zorb at Nevada Test Site. Incredibly, Zorb survives with one health. Marvin gets Molecular Cannon miltary research for retreating him on a military attack. Adam's Megaclaw stomps the undefended Seattle for one die of health, raising his health to 15. Looking for a free military research card, Adam then attacks the near-dead Zorb with three Army tanks. Zorb uses four of his Infamy markers against the tanks, since he would lose them anyway, if he's reduced to zero and sent to Hollywood. Zorb survives again! Adam then cleverly uses his Stabilizer Ray to take away the “It's A Robot” mutation from Marvin's Toxicor at Three Mile Island. Adam retreats Toxicor and gets second Generation research (letting him deploy one extra unit per turn.) Zorb disappears from the map and by rule, is restored to his 11 starting health. Jack then sends two Navy cruise missiles to attack Adam's Megaclaw. Marvin says, “It's very important in this game to get style points, as he places the missiles in Megaclaw's claws. Jack rolls a 1 and mutates Megaclaw with Laser Beam Eyes. Verity notes the irony, in that Zorb's eyeball picture is on that mutation card. Jack gets the “Blonde Lure” research. Verity's Tomanagi stomps the Grand Coulee Dam infamy site. She picks up Mecha-Monster from military research.
Turn 6: Marvin has Toxicor stomp undefended Chicago and rolls two dice for five more health, raising him to 22. He then moves two Air Force and four National Guard units to Nevada Test Site as Marvin proclaims “Thou shalt not mutate.” Verity adds, “I took the infamy site to keep Megaclaw from getting it.” Adam's Megaclaw stomps Vancouver for one die of health. Adam picks up the Captain Colossal military research. Marvin observes,”The military has swept people off this board.” Jack's Zorb reappears in his Florida lair and he grabs “Fusion Cells” from research. Verity's Tomanagi mutates at Experimental Breeder Reactor, getting “Rampage”. She then picks up the “X-Fighters” research. Marvin says, “Wow, everyone is looking so buff!”
Turn 7: Marvin's Toxicor disappears off the map. Marvin sends all ten of his units (five National Guard and five Air Force fighters) to attack Verity's Tomanagi. They beat her down to 11 health. Verity exclaims, “I'm back to my starting health!” Marvin then fires Defense Satellites at his opponents, a common tactic after disappearing. Megaclaw loses four, Zorb loses three, and Tomanagi loses one. Megaclaw now has 18 health, Zorb has eight, and Tomanagi has ten. Adam's Megaclaw stomps the Navy base in the upper northwest for infamy and a toy. Jack's Zorb stomps Atlanta for four more health and gets the Antimutagen research. Verity has Tomanagi disappear, restoring her to starting health. She deploys her X-fighters and Marines.
Turn 8: Marvin's Toxicor reappears in his northwest lair, smelling the three mutation sites nearby. He picks up Scientific Analysis research. Megaclaw disappears off the map, when Adam realizes that he can't walk through Toxicor's lair. (Two Monsters cannot be in the same space.). He gets the “Chopper Lift” research. Jack’s Zorb continues north to stomp Cleveland rolling a 6 for more health. Marvin comments, “Wow, Zorb, a Monster roll! That needs a slap! You can go to the Gulf Coast, which is beautiful this time of year!” Verity's Tomanagi reappears at her southern lair, where she uses “Rampage” to move immediately and stomp the Alamo infamy site with an Air Force base. She then attacks Zorb in Cleveland with three Marines and her X-Fighters. Marvin observes, “I think this is going to be painful.” But Zorb only loses three health and still has 15. Marvin: “The answer is 'He kicked ass!' He's going to be a real threat now”, as everyone sees that the health-rich northeast is now undefended, including New York City. Adam adds, “We'll have to block him.”
Turn 9: As Marvin sees Mecha-Monster and Captain Colossal moving towards him, he says, “Meanwhile back at the ranch, everyone is coming after me!” So Marvin uses the “Cutbacks” research to remove Adam's Captain Colossal from the game. Toxicor mutates at the Experimental Breeder Reactor, picking up “Berserk”, which is worth five extra attacks, the highest rated mutation. Adam's Megaclaw reappears in his southern lair. Adam's Army attacks Zorb and he uses “Chopper Lift” to move Toxicor to the hex at the corner of the board in northwest Canada, where there is nothing left to stomp. Adam, a Canadian, says, “There's great scenery out there!” Jack's Zorb stomps the Pittsburgh grid for one die of health. He attacks Adam's Megaclaw with three cruise missiles, but rolls a 1 and again mutates Megaclaw, this time with “Armored Scales”. Since he now moves 3 instead of 4, Adam says, “The good news is it keeps me from stomping Tampa now.” He now has 14 health and four infamy. Marvin: “There's almost nothing we can do to improve our chances [with only three stomps left]. That's huge, getting “Armored Scales”...” Verity's Tomanagi stomps Graceland for infamy. She has 11 health and seven infamy.
Turn 10: Marvin: “You know, we may have a new plan here called 'Make the Monsters disappear.' This is very frustrating... I have all this military, but nothing to shoot at.” Toxicor walks southeast into a vacant space. Adam completely surrounds Zorb with Army units. Megaclaw stomps Dallas, raising his health to 20. Zorb attacks the military in Three Mile Island, but he is retreated and reduced to 12 health. Jack uses the “Blonde Lure” to force Megaclaw to go to a vacant space on his next move. There is no military waiting there to attack him. It just prevents Megaclaw from stomping anything, a clever move. Verity takes the 20th stomp as Tomanagi stomps Cape Canaveral, She temporarily controls the Monster Challenge.
Turn 11: Marvin's Toxicor can be blocked from a Challenge site, so he and Adam agree that it would be better if Jack steals control of the Challenge. Marvin uses his Molecular Cannon on Verity, sending Tomanagi to her lair in the Atlantic Ocean. He leaves one National Guard at the Challenge site near Three Mile Island. Marvin's Air Force attacks Megaclaw at the Blonde Lure site, but they are defeated. Zorb takes three damage from “Scientific Analysis” and almost fails to knock out the National Guard unit. He swipes control of the Challenge, and attacks Tomanagi with a Navy cruise and fighter, reducing her to five health.
MONSTER Challenge: Jack's Zorb, with nine health and two Infamy extra attacks, picks Verity's Tomanagi and dispatches her, denying her the chance to fire off her ten infamy markers. He rolls up her five to give himself 14. He then attacks Adam's Megaclaw, who has Armored Scales, Atomic Breath, 13 health, and five Infamy extra attacks. Adam wins the battle, only losing three health and now has 23 health to face Marvin's Toxicor. Marvin has 22 health, 0 Infamy, and Berserk, (worth five extra attacks.) Marvin loses six health and is down to 16. He misses with all three attacks, but chooses not to use his Berserk at first. Adam rolls poorly and Marvin wins with 13 health remaining. He rolls up 23 health and has 36 health to dispatch Verity's Mecha-Monster military unit. Marvin becomes King of the Monsters for the fifth time, tying him with Nick Henning for overall mastery.
Post Mortem: Verity sighed: “I got third place in 1998 and 18 years later, I’m still third”. Even at the Monster Challenge, all four had a reasonable chance to win. In most games like this, Adam's Armored Scales would have won the day. But Marvin Birnbaum said it best years ago: “This is a game about rolling 5's and 6's.”
The players were reminded frequently that Marvin Birnbaum's four Monsters championships were all won in odd numbered years. Marvin said his success in even-numbered 2016 was due to The Trump Factor, citing the improbability of the reality show star and real estate magnate to win the presidential nomination a week earlier. Marvin took home the plaque and a set of Halloween hand towels while other finalists took military books or Halloween oriented prizes.