Here are the highlights of this year’s tournament:
- GM Keith Wixson became the third four time champion in the event’s history, joining James “The Master” Pei and Paul Gaberson with that distinction. The #2 Seed Wixson defeated Eric Alexopoulos, Randall MacInnis, #4 seed Grant LaDue in the semifinals and the top seeded Gaberson in the Championship.
- Gaberson defeated Jim Dauphinais, Geoff Allbert and Bill Peeck (who was playing as an Eliminator) in the semifinals to earn his berth in the finals.
- We drew two new players this year, but several regulars from past years were missing.
- Only 2 of last year’s laurelists made it into the top 6 again this year.
- The French won 9 of the 13 games played (69%), compared to 55% French wins last year, an even split in 2016, 56% French wins in 2015, and an even split in 2014.
- Eric Alexopoulos attempted 36 raids in his game against the Champ (succeeding on only 8). That may be a record for WBC.
- In their semifinal match LaDue engaged in a risky “dance of death” with Wixson when he had the main British army under Wolfe intercept the main French army under Levis as it attempted to slide past the Brits to return to winter quarters in late 58. Neither army had a viable retreat and, despite having about an 80% chance of winning the battle, Wolfe was defeated and his army destroyed. This was the decisive moment of the game. A victory by Wolfe would have led to a resignation by Wixson, but by winning the battle Wixson was able to eventually win a game that he appeared to be losing pretty badly before the battle. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than to be good!
- Additional Prizes: Wixson won a Pipehawk and Gaberson took home a carved wooden Warclub.
- We were back in the packed Wed slot this year and did poorly in attendance and in games played. Things are looking pretty bleak for the future and we will at best be on the Century bubble again for next year. I will return as GM if we do survive, but the Tue/Wed slot is just too crowded with events that draw away WNW players. Now that Twilight Struggle has moved from Friday to earlier in the week, I will likely schedule it that day with the Mulligan on Thursday night if we do get a reprieve.
Here is an AAR of the Championship game between Keith Wixson (French) and Paul Gaberson (Brits). This was the third time that they had met in the Championship.
Montcalm attempted to move on Ft. William Henry on the first French card play but was stopped by Lake Schooners. Loudoun consolidated the main British army at the fort and attacked the consolidated main French army at Ticonderoga, losing after an Ambush (VP’s to FR4). Despite the victory, the French destroyed Ft. Carillon and pulled back to Crown Point (VP’s to FR3). Loudoun restored his losses with a Provincials card. The Mohawks were activated with Johnson. The Brits played a second Militia in the South. The Brits failed a Courier Intercepted roll. The French were 0/4 on raids, taking heavy losses (a modified 4 was rolled 4 times).
This was an uneventful turn, as the Champlain Valley was quiet. The Brits built forts at Canajoharie and Raystown as well as playing 2 Militia cards in the North. With all four British Militia now in place, the French would attempt very few raids for the remainder of the game. Once again the Brits drew no Regulars reinforcements. The French added Western Indians and played Small Pox on Loudoun (rolling a 1). Both main armies made it back to winters quarters without a problem. French raids were 1/3 for the turn and 1/7 for the year (VP’s to FR4).
After a relatively sedate first year, things got interesting! The French started out with a successful Courier Intercepted and drew Northern Indians from the British hand. The Brits finally drew a Regulars card and Wolfe arrived with them at New York. I, realizing how weak my position was with Wolfe now on the scene and the VP’s so low, sent Montcalm and the main army down to siege Ft. William Henry even though Ft. Carillon was no longer in place to provide a retreat. Loudoun attempted a relief attack but was defeated by an Ambush and Fieldworks (VP’s to FR5). After defeating Loudoun Montcalm then took the fort (VP’s to FR7). Wolfe brought up the reinforcements from New York, took command of the main British army and chased Montcalm back up the Champlain Valley in a dance of death set of moves where both armies risked annihilation. The main French army finally made it back to Winooski, destroying Ft. St. Frederic along the way (VP’s to FR6). My gamble had paid off! The Brits played Bigot and brought the Halifax garrison to the mainland to start a Western Campaign. The French were reinforced with much needed Regulars, as losses had started to mount. There were no raids attempted this turn.
Ministerial Crisis was the first card played, costing the Brits a Regulars card. Forbes arrived with Light Infantry and took command in the West, pushing towards Ohio Forks. The Brits built stockades at HCN and Ticonderoga and forts at Crown Point and Laurel Ridge North. The French torched Ft. Duquesne and pulled its garrison back to Ft. Niagara (VP’s to FR5). The Brits restored its flipped Northern Provincials, as a lack of reinforcements was starting to become a concern. Drucour and the Louisbourg garrison were pulled back to the mainland. Both main armies made it back to winters quarters without a problem. French raids were 0/2 for the turn and for the year.
Forbes started the year off by taking Ohio Forks with a small army (VP’s to FR4), while Wolfe started an offensive aimed at Montreal. The French won a large battle at Ile-aux-Noix with both sides losing 8 steps (VP’s to FR5). After Wolfe was reinforced by Johnson, Montcalm pulled the main French army back to Montreal for a last stand. The Brits built a stockade at IaN. The French spent most of the turn evacuating its western garrisons eastwards and also played two Militia cards. There were no raids attempted this turn or for the rest of the year.
The French played their second Regulars card while the Brits finally drew and played the Large Highlanders card. The Mohawks deserted the Brits. With both main armies bulked up with reinforcements the stage was set for a series of three battles at Montreal. While the French were winning the first two battles for Montreal (VP’s to FR7), Levis and a small force of Marines and Indians was sent into the mountains to threaten the British supply line. The French main army was finally defeated at the Third Battle of Montreal and retreated into the fortress (VP’s to FR6), leaving a screen at Sorel just in case, while Levis descended on and cut Wolfe’s supply line. With time running out, the Brits dispatched a small force under Johnson which caught Levis and reestablished Wolfe’s link to Albany (VP’s to FR5).
With both sides down to two cards each, I played Courier Intercepted but missed the roll. With his final two cards Paul activated Wolfe and played Surrender to take Montreal (VP’s to FR2)! With the main French army withdrawn to Quebec as a result of Surrender, I was in shock and thought for a moment that the game was over even though I had the final card play. As I sat there in disbelief Paul remarked that “the game was not over yet.” It was then that I realized that I could win on VP’s by putting Montreal under siege, which would deny “control” to the Brits. Using the final card to activate Montcalm, and taking advantage of the screen at Sorel, I was able to force a Fourth Battle of Montreal. Both main armies were decimated by losses at this point, but the French were slightly stronger and won this final battle, forcing Wolfe and what was left of his army into the fortress. With Montreal now under siege, my French won with a final score of FR3.
Paul was under no obligation to provide that hint. It was late in the week, and if he hadn’t nudged me there is a good chance in my fatigued state that I would have conceded the game. That gesture may have cost Paul his fifth WNW title. But Paul Gaberson is one of the true gentlemen of our hobby, and it is not surprising at all that he did that. I have therefore nominated him for the Sportsman of the Year Award. He would be a worthy recipient.