Here are the highlights of this year’s tournament:
- Paul Gaberson became the second quadruple champ in the event’s history. The #5 seed, Gaberson, defeated Randy MacInnis, Bill Peeck, Jim Dauphinais and the defending champ and #1 seed Keith Wixson.
- Wixson defeated Tom Thornsen, 2014 champ and #4 seed Grant LaDue and 2013 champ and the #6 seed Michael Ussery.
- There were four new players.
- 12 players appeared for the Tuesday night Mulligan round, and four of the six Mulligan losers returned the following morning to play in the official first round.
- The Mulligan losers included Ussery, who went on to defeat former quadruple champ and reigning Caesar, James “The Master” Pei, in Round 2 before losing to Wixson in Round 3.
- Four of last year’s laurelists returned to the top six again this year.
- The 18 games played were split evenly with each side winning nine (compared to 56% French wins last year, 50% French wins in 2014, 56% French wins in 2013 and 54% French wins in 2012).
- Additional Prizes: Gaberson took home a Pipehawk and Wixson a carved wooden Warclub.
- Attendance decreased in direct proportion to the decline of the convention as a whole. That doesn’t bode well for the future of the event although most tournaments were down this year with the move from Lancaster, but hopefully we will survive. I will return to GM next year if we do.
Here is an AAR of the Championship game between Gaberson and Wixson. This was a rematch of the 2010
Championship game which was also won by Gaberson.
Early 57 - Gaberson, as the French, did not draw a Campaign card so was unwilling to risk an early attack on Ft. William Henry. The French main army set up at Ticonderoga, however, to threaten the fort. Wixson quickly consolidated the main British army under Abercromby at the fort and the rest of the turn was devoted to the French raiding and the Brits adding to their frontier defenses in response. Oddly enough, the French never did try to take William Henry, which is quite unusual because it is generally a relatively safe source of two early VPs for the French.
Late 57 - British reinforcements started to arrive with Wolfe and Amherst both appearing with the large Highlanders card. Wolfe and the Highlanders appeared at Halifax, while Amherst replaced Abercromby as commander of the main army in New York. The French naval squadron at Louisbourg sallied forth to prevent a landing by Wolfe in 57 and made it back to port safely. The French also received reinforcements from Europe and concentrated on raiding, while the Brits built up Wolfe’s army in anticipation of taking Louisbourg in 58. There were four successful raids for the year (VPs to FR5).
Early 58 - The main armies returned from winter quarters to re-establish their standoff at HCN and Ticonderoga, but once again no battles were fought between them. Wolfe’s army landed successfully at Louisbourg and took the fortress after a short siege (VP’s to FR2). Drucour’s garrison was lost, but additional reinforcements from France compensated for that. After securing the fortress, Wolfe’s command was transported to Virginia, where preparations for a western campaign had already started. The French concentrated on raiding once again.
Late 58 - Wolfe’s army, reinforced by the Cherokees, advanced towards Ohio Forks. Ft. Duquesne was abandoned and torched by the French (VP’s to FR1). The Lake Champlain front continued to be quiet. The French concentrated on raiding and there were two successful raids for the year (VPs to FR2).
Early 59 - The French home fleet was destroyed at Quiberon Bay. Wolfe’s army made its way north towards Niagara after securing the Forks (VPs to FR1), building fortifications along the way while being harassed by Indians. The threat to Niagara made the French position in the East untenable. Montcalm destroyed the Lake Champlain forts (VPs to BR1) and relocated his army to Oswego to be able to react to both of the British armies. A flipped British Regular battalion left alone at Venango to build a fortification was eliminated by an Ottawa war party (VPs to 0).
Late 59 - There had been a successful French raid in E59, so the British needed to pick up two VP’s to win. There were plenty of Indians blocking a move on Montreal from the Champlain Valley, so the main British army under Amherst shifted to the Mohawk Valley in order to threaten Niagara from two directions as well as the back door approach to Montreal via the St. Lawrence. After Bigot was played, and with Quiberon in effect, Wixson was going to get the last three card plays of the game. That would turn into the last four card plays when Gaberson held his last card. Before that, Gaberson had Montcalm drop off the bulk of his army at Niagara and then return to his position guarding the back door to Montreal. Wolfe’s army was not large enough to get the job done, so Amherst moved on Niagara at turn’s end to force a battle and hopefully gain a VP. He was delayed by Indians and Foul Weather (the French hold card), but arrived at Niagara on the penultimate Action of the game. Dumas intercepted into the space to take command of the French forces and in the only major battle of the game the British army was defeated and forced to surrender without a viable retreat (VPs to FR1). Had Amherst won the battle, Wixson had planned to raid the Mississauga space with his last card to earn the VP he needed for a British win (there had not been time to establish a supply line, so a siege of Ft. Niagara would not have been possible). Adding the VP from the aforementioned French raid of E59, the final score was FR2.
This game was driven by the French decision to not take Ft. William Henry at the start and to concentrate on raiding. With VPs very close throughout, both players played very conservatively to avoid losing VPs to lost battles. That obviously worked more to Gaberson’s advantage than to Wixson’s. Niagara is always a tough nut to crack in this game, and Gaberson’s skillful defense was the difference. His fourth title was well earned.