After a seventeen year hiatus, Tom Drueding claims his second WBC POG Championship. (His third counting his BPA PBEM win from 2006.) Just as important to the broader POG community, it was with great relief that the POG faithful reassembled in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania to compete in Paths of Glory after a two-year pandemic pause. There's been a lot of Online POG played in the past few years but in-person play adds a whole new level of excitement and pressure.
Turnout was lighter than in previous years with seventeen participants emerging from their Covid bunkers to man the front lines at WBC. (Perhaps a reflection of the overall WBC turnout, something to keep an eye on next year.) We had a few 'new' players but a closer inspection revealed they were new to the POG tournament at WBC, not POG itself. (Yes, that's you, Jim F., you've been playing this game for more than two decades!). As always, we had an international contingent in attendance, thanks for crossing the border, Erin, BB, and Peter!
One significant change from prior years was holding the POG event in the Winterberry venue, this was a large-capacity event room being used for the "Grognard Wargames"; POG seemed to be a natural fit. (The area in Foggy Goggle was no longer viable as it was turned into a boisterous "Ax Throwing" bar!) While the views may not have been as relaxing as the slopes seen from the Goggle, the accessibility and gaming environment was much more conducive to relaxing play.
The POG historical tournament scenario continues to be used with most bids being in the -1 to +1 range with the main determinant for bid being a cool-eyed assessment of your own strength as a particular side supplemented by what you think is your opponents favored side. Sixteen total games were played with the CP winning eight and the AP winning eight.
Opening Weekend Action: The schedule was the same as in previous years - a Saturday afternoon Mulligan round and then an official first round on Sunday morning. When we started our third round Sunday PM, we had a perfect eight participants for the single elimination portion of the event which meant we were able to have the Final on Tuesday. A cursory glance of the participants revealed a very thick concentration of sharks so, as might be expected, the competition was high.
The Money Rounds: In the first Semifinal, Tom Drueding advanced past Richard Beyma with a strategy based on pounding the Austria-Hungarians. In the other Semifinal, Alex Gregorio muscled his way past perennial champion Michael Dauer with some cleverness on turn 1; Alex ignored the OOS threat to Brussels when a German corps was deployed to Sedan. Because the CP didn't have Race to the Sea, the AP was able to reopen the supply routes a few rounds later and the CP was subsequently denied Brussels and, ultimately, a win.
It's been a long time since Alex beat Michael. One amusing anecdote fondly remembered was Michael, in the presence of Alex's mom, proclaimed he was going to "CRUSH" her young son. Noticing the mortified look on her face, he quickly clarified that he'd do it "gently". That only somewhat soothed her concerns. War is hell but a riled up mom is worse.
Final Summary: Tom Drueding (AP) vs Alex Gregorio (CP)
In the Final, Alex's CP used Entrench to buttress the AH by placing the trench in Budapest. He then drove into northern Russia, seemingly a clear path to take out Russia early. Unfortunately, Tom was able to keep the other fronts active and Alex was always forced to respond. Serbia was never cleared out and the French Army of the Orient was brought in at Salonika and led the AP drive into Constantinople and took out the Turks. The CP then had to struggle to finish off the Russians and clear the Balkans with endgame battles over Ploesti, Bucharest, and Odessa. When the dust settled, Tom's AP took the win on Turn 20.
Post Tourney Musings
The final six placings, in order, were: Tom Drueding, Alex Gregorio, Richard Beyma, Michael Dauer, Nick Benedict, and David Bleau. (Welcome to the Sand Man club, David!). Someone asked me how POG seems to be so consistently a "Prize Level 6" event. While the intricacies of the formula are beyond my ken, at the end of the day a huge factor is the sheer number of hours players put into the game. In a typical year, the finalists can expect to have put in 30+ hours into the event, sometimes more if they lose their mulligan. There is no doubt the event can be somewhat of a marathon; losing early is sometimes a blessing as that mid-week POG 'hangover' after the multiday-POG-party can be a bruiser!
In addition to playing in the Final, Alex and Michael also ably served as GMs - thank you! We look forward to seeing you again in 2023: Please don't hesitate to drop this GM a note in the off-season if you have any thoughts regarding the event, I'm always open to changes that will enhance the event with a key focus on making it more 'accessible' to newer players.
|Can the AP figure how to turn the tide of the war?.
|Alex Gregorio making his way to the Final.
|Barrington Beavis tries his hand as the Allies.
|Finalists Tom Drueding and Alex Gregorio.