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mr. Madison's War (MMW) WBC 2016 Report
Updated Nov. 26, 2016 Icon Key
21 Players Rod Coffey, MD 2016 Status 2017 Status History/Laurels
  2016 Champion   Click box for details. Click box for details.
 

A Fresh Cup of Coffey

2016 saw a new champ crowned and a modest increase in attendance as we continued to refight the War of 1812. Designer Gilbert Collins got things started with another one of his excellent demos at 5 PM Tuesday evening.  Immediately after, 17 players met in the Poolside portion of First Tracks in the Ski Lodge at 6 PM to play the Mulligan round.

Wednesday morning would be a long day as we steadily whittled the field down from 21 to the final pair.  Nine players appeared for the first elimination round, a mixture of new players and returnees who had lost their Mulligan Round game the night before and with it, the chance to sleep in.  That would leave us with nine players again in Round 2 and five in Round 3, after which we had our semifinalists.  We had the Big Board version of Mr. Madison’s War on hand again this year which drew much attention as a random pair in each round got to use the oversized 6’x4’ board.

Some highlights from the preliminary rounds:

  • Several games were won by comfortable margins (+7 VPs) after the Treaty of Ghent was played early in the second half of 1814.
  • In Round 1 William Kelley played the last card of the game in an attempt to wrest control of Lake Champlain from Stephen Scrangella’s British, but lost the naval battle.  This left the British in control and the VPs sitting at “0”, giving the British a marginal victory (i.e., the British retained control of Canada and thus met their goals for the war).
  • Several players resigned when they lost Kingston or Sackets Harbor in 1813.
  • We continue to be encouraged that positions and strategies seemed to vary widely from board to board in each round.  New this year were several contests where the Americans rolled up much of the originally controlled British space to the west of the Niagara front, although those games were split in American versus British wins so that line of play is clearly open to more investigation.

In Round 3 we only had three boards, so one of the losers was forgiven his loss and moved on to the semifinals based on tiebreakers.  The four finalists were defending champion Fred Finkenbinder playing Rod Coffey and Michael Mitchell vs Dave Stiffler.

In the first contest Fred’s Americans cut Rod’s supply lines by crossing the St. Lawrence on several occasions, a strategy that had served him well last year but left the western theater largely untouched. Rod took advantage of that in 1814; he took Lake Erie but only on the fourth attempt as Fred played “contrary winds” three times, sending Rod’s fleet back to port each time!  After that, Rod was able to land astride American supply lines south of Detroit, denying several VPs to Fred (units have to be in supply at game end to get VPs for enemy spaces they occupy). The game came down to almost the last card before Rod was able to play “Treaty of Ghent” to claim a 4-VP win and deny Fred an opportunity to reclaim his title.

In the other bracket Dave Stiffler’s British claimed a narrow 2-VP win over Michael Mitchell in a game that came down to the last card played.  Throughout the second half of 1814 the British had been putting pressure on the Americans and went from trailing to enjoying a small lead.  The Americans had the last card play though, and instead of playing Treaty of Ghent to end the game Michael threw down a campaign card!  The Americans sailed their fleets onto Lakes Erie and Champlain, having to win both battles.  With no battle cards in play, Michael rolled to resolve the battle on Lake Erie as a dead even attack, rolling a “5” and forcing the British off the lake – a four-point swing!.  With the VP margin now +2 for the British, winning the Battle on Lake Champlain would be another four-point swing and give Michael the win, but a “2” was rolled (also a dead even battle), forcing the Americans back into port and sending Dave on to the Final.

Scheduling conflicts delayed the Final until Friday evening at 6 PM in the Festival room where two-time champion Dave Stiffler’s British would square off against Rod Coffey.  Here’s a recap of the action:

Pre-War Phase:  War was declared on Card 4 in this phase but there was an unusual amount of activity before that.  Rod sent Dearborn to Sackets Harbor and the 18th Infantry from Genesee to Oswego (to cover the port and ensure arrival of the schooners slated to arrive there late in 1812).  Dave moved Brock, the A class unit he begins stacked with, and the infantry at York to Kingston.

1812 (First-half): The action was non-stop right from the first card play.  Rod was able to get the 20th Infantry into Cornwall, cutting off British supply all the way west to Ft. Malden!  Despite being out of supply, Dave pushed the 18th across the St. Lawrence in the other direction, taking control of Ogdensburg (to deny Rod the two schooners scheduled to arrive there). Next, the British attacked the 20th in Cornwall, and after receiving the equivalent of a punch in the nose, retreated to St. Regis on their reduced side.  This looked innocuous at first, but a reduced unit is still a threat to re-cross the St. Lawrence and cut the British supply.  Trying to end the threat Dave attacked from Cornwall but a bad die roll flipped his unit and forced a retreat back to Cornwall.  Rod’s flipped unit in St. Regis would withstand multiple attacks as the game progressed and remained a thorn in the British side that couldn’t be ignored.  Dave attacked Sackets Harbor but was repulsed and also suffered the total loss of an A class unit.

1812 (Second-half):  With their first card the Americans attacked Brock in Cape Vincent and played the “Death of Brock” card, killing the only +2 leader the British have.  The only good news was the Brock counter flips to its “Sheaffe” side, and he is still a +1 leader.  Dave moved Tecumseh and the Indians to Brownstown after which the Rod makes a bold stroke, activating Chauncey and four schooners who transport the 6th Infantry to capture a Kingston that had been denuded of defenders to conduct the attack on Sackets Harbor!  Dave had to respond and put Sheaffe on the attack via the circuitous route of Cape-Vincent-Alexandria-Ogdensburg-Prescott-Gananoque – and finally to attack Kingston (picking up several units along the way). The maneuvering was worth it in the end, as the American A class unit was flipped and had to retreat, putting Kingston back into British hands.  Next, another stroke from Rod; this time Chauncey and the fleet take the 13th to York, again cutting off all British supply to the West.  Not to be outdone, Dave then orders Sheaffe to attack Sackets Harbor at +1, forcing the Americans to retreat to Rome with a flipped A class unit as the turn ends and winter arrives.  What a wild series of events!  At the end of 1812 the British were ahead on VPs 11-6.

1813:  The British build both available ships on Lake Ontario and a Corvette on Lake Erie, and play a campaign card.  The Americans counter by clearing out Ft. Malden, a harbinger of what was to come in the far west.  Dave finally dislodges the American unit in York with Drummond and a small force.  Harrison continues his campaign in the West, killing the Miami Indians and taking Thamesville while the British play a card to remove one American schooner on Lake Ontario.  As their campaign continues, the Americans capture Port Dover and open action on the Niagara front, taking Ft. Erie.  This was a fast paced year with lots of action that found the Americans gaining the upper hand and presenting the British with too many fires to fight with the forces available – a very well played year for Rod.  The winter of 1813 would be a cruel one, as both armies had units flipped during winter attrition (four American units in Albany (which is an indication of the huge force staging there), two British units in Queenston, and four more in Plattsburgh).  Heading into 1814 Rod’s Americans had a large force in Albany and strongly controlled the important areas in the West and along the Niagara front while Dave’s British had a large force in Montreal and strong reinforcements due to arrive in Quebec with the potential to disrupt the Americans and retake the initiative.

1814:  Early in the year Rod took a portion of his big stack in Albany and evicted the British from Sackets Harbor.  On the next card play Dave sent a small infantry unit to take Oswego with Naval support (he was also in control of Lake Ontario); with both of the American naval bases having been occupied it meant there would be no further naval builds for them, locking up control of the lake for the British.  As this half of 1814 unfolded the British moved with a very large force and took control of the West side of Lake Champlain all the way down to Ft. Edward, cutting supply to the American units in Vergennes and Burlington and threatening Albany.  Rod reacted by sending Scott (the Americans +2 leader) and another A class unit (he now had three A class units in the defending stack!) to shore up the defense there.  In the second half of 1814 Rod moved a force from Sackets Harbor towards the Champlain front to threaten the British supply line while Dave took control of Lake Champlain and won a naval battle when Rod tried to knock him off the lake.  Dave’s British took three shots at Albany but was repulsed each time (Scott’s presence and +2 modifier made Albany a very tough nut to crack).  After the halfway point in the year Rod assessed the situation and was able to play the “Treaty of Ghent”, leaving him with a 1 VP edge, 18-17 and crowning a new champion!  This was a great Final which could have gone either way, especially with the British knocking on the door to Albany and it’s 12 VPs. Rod played the Americans to perfection and never missed an opportunity to pressure the British and to fight them on multiple fronts. 

The Americans have now won three of the four Finals but after 80+ tournament plays the British enjoy a 43 - 39 overall lead.

Special thanks to Fred Finkenbinder, who served as an ad hoc AGM during the Final so the GM could partake in the game!

In keeping with established tradition there were additional prizes for 1st through 6th places as follows:

1st: A John Clymer print of American Sloop of War Wasp capturing the British Brig Reindeer, June 1814
2nd: A print of the U.S. Privateer “Chasseur” engaging the British schooner “St. Lawrence
3rd: A Mr. Madison’s War mounted mapboard
4th: Book - Dont Give Up The Ship, by Donald Hickey
5th: Book – Splintering the Wooden Wall, by Wade Dudley
6th: Book – Field of Glory, by Donald Graves

 
2016 Laurelists Repeating Laurelists: 4
Dave Stiffler, VA Fred Finkenbinder, MD Michael Mitchell, GA Gilbert Collins, on Ramdy Pippus, on
2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
 

Larry Sisson vs Michael Webb - one of the preliminary matches in the elimination rounds following the Mulligan start.

This is one of those events whose GM teams go the extra mile by providing extra prizes such as this print for First place.

The second place painting. Randy Pippus vs John Kelley

Steve Scarangella vs William Kelley as defending champ Fred Finkenbinder observes.

Eric Guttag vs Dave Tianen enjoy lake combat at poolside.

Rob Doane vs Ron Fedin

Michael Kunin vs Jim Lawler

Rod Coffey and Dave Stiffler square off in the Final on the big board.
 
GM  David Stiffler [4th Year]  NA
 stiff11949@aol.com  NA