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War At Sea (WAS) WBC 2022 Event Report
Updated November 5, 2023
37 Players Vince Meconi Event History
2022 Champion & Laurels
 

Meconi Wins after 12 Year Drought!

After a seemingly interminable 2-year layoff, almost all of the world’s best War At Sea players resumed competition at WBC. The GM, who has competed in all but 3 of the 30 War At Sea world championships, considers this one to have been the most even competition ever. Never has so little separated the players. Never has one extra dot on one die roll, never has one POC, been so decisive. After 3 rounds, only 2 players had won their 3 games. At the end of the 5 Swiss rounds, only 9 of our 37 entrants had managed to win 3 or more games (and 7 of those 9 had won exactly 3). With a few well-placed die rolls, just about anybody who entered this year could have come out on top. The dice may have produced some one-sided individual games, but our room was full of War At Sea experts, no easy opponents. At the end of the day, the GM Vince Meconi (6-1-1) topped Jim Bodenheimer (3-3-1) for the crown. Dice happen, such as, Bruce Reiff and Bruce Monnin hitting the GM’s game-deciding Allied convoys in the Barents for 3 damage points each in consecutive rounds. There are a lot more such examples. Longtime competitor David Rynkowski recorded his highest ever finish in 3rd with a 5-2-0 record, and the aforementioned Bruce Monnin took 4th place with a 5-1-1 tally. For Bruce, still the best of the best, it was his unprecedented 10th straight playoff appearance. He extended his own best-ever streak in doing so.

Other playoff contenders included the only competitor to win all 5 of his Swiss-round games, Andy Gardner in 5th at 5-1-0, Rob Drozd in 6th, Ed Menzel in 7th, and Scott Beall in 8th, the latter 3 all at 3-3-0. Only Andy Gardner and Bruce Monnin repeated as playoff participants from the previous WBC in 2019. In lieu of plaques, the 5th through 8th place finishers received books as prizes, either a World War II naval history volume or a copy of War At Sea competitor Darren Kilfara’s wargaming novel, Do You Want Total War? Rounding out our top 10 were John Pack at 3-2-0 in 9th and John Sharp at 2-2-0 in 10th.

Thirty-two players opened the competition with 5 more joining us during Rounds 2 through 5. For Swiss Round 5, we still had 22 players in the room. Thanks to some late entrants, for the 1st time in the history of the tourney, we had more games going in Round 5 than Round 4. Overall, 16 players were there for all 5 rounds. And as usual, very little was resolved until that last round. Only Andy Gardner at 4-0-0 with 38 Victory Points and the GM (3-0-1) with 35 VPs had clinched playoff spots. Andy’s Axis defeated the GM’s Allies (2.0 bid) by 4 POC in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. 10 other players had a realistic shot at the remaining 6 playoff berths.

On board 2, David Rynkowski squared off against Ed Menzel; each was 3-1-0 with 30 VPs. David’s Axis cruised to victory over Ed’s Allies, bidding 1.5, forcing a turn 5 concession. David made the playoffs, while Ed faced a strength of schedule tiebreaker. On board 3, Scott Beall (3-1-0, 30 VPs) faced Bruce Monnin (3-1-0, 26 VPs). Bruce’s Allies beat Scott’s Axis, but the Allied bid of 2.0 forced the POC margin down to 1.0. Scott’s 32 VPs and Bruce’s 34 qualified them both. Bruce’s 8 VP win was his 3rd narrow win out of his 5 games, something no one previously has managed during the 30 Avaloncons and WBCs. The next game featured Rob Drozd vs. Jim Kramer, both 2-2-0 with 22 VPs. Rob’s Axis won going away vs. Jim’s Allies, bidding 1.5, qualifying Rob and eliminating Jim. On the next board, John Pack played Bruce Reiff, both 2-2-0/22 VPs. John’s Axis edged Bruce’s Allies, with the 1.5 bid turning an Allied win into an Axis win by the smallest of margins: ½ POC. Bruce was eliminated, but John’s narrow win forced him into a strength of schedule tiebreaker for a playoff slot. John’s comment, once he saw that he was facing a strength of schedule tiebreaker, was “I knew I should have gone for the full win.” On the final board, Jim Bodenheimer (1-2-0, 20 VPs) sat across from Randy MacInnis (2-1-0, 20 VPs). Randy was attempting, for the 2nd time in a row, to become one of the few players to make the playoffs while playing only 4 Swiss round games. However, he again came up short as Jim’s Axis prevailed over Randy’s Allies (bidding 1.5). Jim became the 3rd player to face the strength of schedule tie-breaker for the final 2 single-elimination spots. After the schedule strengths were calculated, Ed Menzel and Jim Bodenheimer edged John Pack for the last 2 berths. John has now finished 9th in 3 of the last 4 WBCs he’s entered, and in 2 of those he lost strength of schedule tie-breakers to miss the playoffs. Forget about who had bad dice: John qualifies for unluckiest player ever with that distinction.

In the Quarterfinal, the Axis won 3 of the 4 games and the higher seed prevailed in 3 of 4 as well. In the lone upset, #8 seed Jim Bodenheimer’s Axis took advantage of multiple Allied speed roll fails to eke out a 1 POC victory over #1 seed Andy Gardner. The Allied 1.0 bid turned the raw-POC tie into the narrow Axis win. In another squeaker, #2 Dave Rynkowski’s Axis squeezed by #7 Scott Beall’s Allies. Scott’s 1.5 bid for the Allies converted an Allied raw-POC lead of 1.0 to an Axis 0.5-POC victory. At the other end of the scale, #6 Ed Menzel’s Allies, bidding 2.0, kept disabling the #3 GM’s Axis ships while the Axis was sinking the Allied fleet. At the end of turn 4 the dead piles were 17 on the Allied side to only 5 on the Axis side, leading Ed to throw in the towel on turn 5. In the lone Allied victory, #4 Bruce Monnin, bidding 1.5, defeated Axis specialist #5 Rob Drozd by 6.5 POC. Twice, 20 ASW repulsed 7 U-boats to preserve the Allied blockade.

The 2 Semifinal matches took polar opposite trajectories. Jim Bodenheimer’s Axis used Bruce Monnin’s Allied bid of 1.0 to pull the raw POC into a tie. Under tournament playoff rules, the Axis player advances in case of a tie. The only comment the competitors could offer regarding the drum-tight game was, “Wow!” In the 2nd Semifinal, David Rynkowski’s Axis sailed to the North Atlantic on turn 1 against the GM’s Allies (bid: 1.5) and promptly lost 5 ships and the area. Knowing that he was at a huge disadvantage after just one turn, David attacked aggressively from then on, but Allied gunnery scarcely missed, and the Axis resigned on turn 5.

The Final matched 2 relative newcomers to the championship match; it was Jim’s 1st and the GM’s 2nd such contest. The GM took the Allies for a 1.5 bid. The Allies deployed using a standard Barents on 1 setup. One British battlecruiser failed its speed roll, but the Axis opted for an extremely high risk/extremely high reward opener by sending all 7 German surface ships to the North Sea, facing one carrier and 5x444. The U-boats did not sail. Although only 3 ships were sunk combined in the North Sea (225 and 127 Axis, 444 Allied), the Allies controlled the area and were able to go up +2 before the bid. Allied LBA also sank one Italian cruiser. Turn 2 saw the Allies pass all their Barents speed rolls, so the German surface fleet repaired. The only action of note occurred in the South Atlantic, where British ASW sank one and disabled 2 U-boats, not enough to avoid decontrol. POC was even for the turn and remained +2 for the Allies overall. On turn 3 again the US did well with their speed rolls, passing 5 of 6, and so the Axis limited their forays to sending 4 U-boats to the South Atlantic. The ‘boats decontrolled the area, keeping POC unchanged, but at the cost of 2 sunk. Matters did not improve for the Axis on turn 4. 3 Americans sailed and, with the blockade firmly in place, 4 U-boats decontrolled the South Atlantic once again. However, Axis LBA whiffed in the Barents and landing Convoy 1A gained the Allies 3 POC to go up 5 before the bid. Turn 5 was more of the same: 2 more Americans joined the war effort and the Allies had almost impregnable fleets in the Barents and North Sea. U-boats decontrolled the North Atlantic, and although Axis LBA sank the Ark Royal, Convoy 2B dodged stukas in the Barents and the Allies added another 3 POC. Turn 6 finally featured an end to the blockade with all 7 U-boats surviving 16 ASW handily. German surface ships creamed the Marat in the Baltic. However, Convoy 3C chose to put into England and the Allies now led by 8 POC pre-bid. The dice gods continued to favor the Allies on turn 7. The Okt. Revolutia survived 2 U-boats to disable a German 225 in the Baltic (and was sunk in return). 17 ASW in the North Sea dispatched the 5 U-boats there. The remainder of the Axis fleet sailed to the South Atlantic, but a 496 and a 225 failed speed rolls, returning to Germany. The Axis won the area but the 6xBB Allied fleet sank 3 more Axis and disabled 4 to the Neutral Port. The 5-3 POC win for the Axis put them within 6 of the Allies before the bid. However, the remaining U-boats could not decontrol an area on turn 8, and the weakened Axis fleet could not win the South Atlantic a 2nd time. The Allies added 2 POC for a raw 8-POC, adjusted 6.5 POC win. Jim played gamely after suffering a tough blow on turn 1 but could never get the big die roll, he needed to equalize matters.

Our 2022 field of 37 entrants played 68 total games. John Pack’s 3-1-0 mark earned him Best Axis Player honors, edging out David Rynkowski and Andy Gardner. Bruce Monnin repeated as Best Allied Player with a 4-0-1 log, outpacing Andy Gardner and the GM. Our 2 new competitors played a combined 3 games, so there was no Rookie of the Year designated.

Play balance tilted in favor of the Allies this year, with the Allies taking 39 games and the Axis’ 26, plus 3 ties. The Allied dominance can at least partially be explained by looking at the final standings: a quick count shows that 11 players combined for a 1-15 record as the Axis while finishing 9-0 as the Allies. Overall, 1 game featured an Axis bid, 11 games had no bid or a bid of zero, and the remaining 56 showed Allied bids of 1.0, 1.5, or 2.0. The average Allied bid this year was 1.27 for all games and 1.57 for games that had a bid, both the lowest totals in some years.

It was notable that the Allies won a majority of games with each bid amount up through 1.5, while the Axis won the majority of games with a bid of 2.0. Said data suggests that the ideal bid lies somewhere between 1.5 and 2.0 — except that there is no such thing. Bidding did exercise considerable influence over the final outcome of games. Bids altered the final result 16 times, almost a quarter of all games played. 3 Allied wins shifted to Axis wins, and 3 ties became Axis wins. 3 Allied wins became ties, 6 Allied full wins downshifted to narrow Allied wins (tied for the most ever), and one Axis narrow win turned into an Axis full win. Bidding continues to do its job!

As always, thanks to all those ready, willing, and able to help out with tournament mechanics. The all-star Assistant Gamemaster duo of John Sharp and Rob Drozd was back in action, too. The quintet of Glenn Petroski, Ted Drozd, John Sharp, Bob Hamel, and Jim Eliason tag-teamed the delivery, set-up, pack-up, and return of all the chess clocks. Gentlemen, you’re the best.

 
2022 Laurelists Repeating Laurelists: 2
Jim Bodenheimer David Rynkowski Bruce Monnin Andy Gardner Robert Drozd
2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
 
War at Sea begins in Maple. Axis planning their attacks.
Bruce Monnin in action on way to another Playoff Round. Finalists including GM Vince Meconi.
GM  Vince Meconi [21st Year]