There is a comic strip from Knights of the Dinner Table I remember well. In it, a group of players are around a table, playing a roleplaying game. Their characters are captured by the king’s guards and beaten within an inch of their lives (one hit point apiece!). Afterwards, they are thrown into a ditch. One of the player remarks, “Gee, I can tell I was being beaten by the best of the best. That was a quality thrashing.” I know most of my friends back home are snickering right now because they all get to rib me for not being nearly as good as I think I am at various games. I promise them I shall return to Minnesota a more humble man. However, remember this, people–we came to game with the best. And getting beaten by the best means…well, nothing really. But I can pretend, right?
8:30 AM: I showed up early for the Wilderness War, despite being dog-tired. We were quickly paired up, the best ranked players against the unranked players (more on my thoughts about that at another time). Before we began play, I shook hands with Jason from the Point 2 Point podcast and thanked him for getting me to come to the WBC. I was matched up with Paul, a two-time world champion. We rolled off to see who got what side; I headed for the English side of the table. In the tournament scenario, the English need to be really aggressive because the French start at four victory points. I was hamstrung early on by a hand of low-value cards that didn’t allow me to move my principal leaders. My one good leader (Wolfe!) quickly invaded Louisbourg and laid siege to it. This was horribly thwarted, however, when the ever-sneaky Paul left one measly French fur trapper outside the fort while the rest of his force retreated inside. He got to fire, rolled a six. No big deal, right? Wrong. This meant one of my units was injured (no biggie) but it also meant I had to roll to see if my leader got killed. I rolled the die (this is now a 1 in 36 chance, mind you) and that was that. Wolfe got a musketball through the heart and my hopes for Louisbourg were over for the first turn.
Play continued, and I learned a lot about the game in the process (remember, this is my second play ever). The French essentially raid with Indian units and keep an eye on the lumbering British forces. The moment the British get ideas and start heading north, the French burn down their forts to deny them to the enemy and head north. As this was my second game, I expected to get beaten, and I’m happy to report that eventually Louisbourg fell, though the French won, having only gained one more VP than they started with. Thanks to Paul for his kindness and patience.
11:30 AM: I stopped for lunch. Play of Wilderness War was to continue throughout the day, but there were other things to do. I met up with Nathan from last night’s Here I Stand game and ran him through a turn or two of Hammer of the Scots (rather poorly; I was running on six hours of sleep, a waffle, a bologna sandwich, and a can of Mountain Dew…disgusting, I know).
2:30 PM: The Hammer tourney got started a bit late. I was paired up with Lyman, a champion from a few years back [edit: Lyman later won the tournament]. Holy cow; we were done in 90 minutes. My Scots were begging for mercy pretty quick. I learned some new tricks, though
4:30 PM: Russ and I headed downstairs for a little pizza. We had a good conversation with Keith, founder and president of the Games Club of Maryland and a member of the WBC board of directors. Very nice guy. Russ and I were a bit surly at this point; we’d been getting beaten all day and it took a toll. Keith’s pleasant company and the food restored us.
5:45: I sat down to play Joe, the oft-mentioned “friend of the show” from Point 2 Point. I managed to last seven of nine turns. I made a pretty good run early on with the English, taking back a lot of early losses and making it to Buchan, but just fell asleep on the subsequent turn, made some stupid moves, and lost it.
Today was what I’ll call a learning day; in the future, I’ll have a lot more on what I learned! For now, I’m going to crack open Carcassonne (purchased yesterday) and see what’s what. Tomorrow morning will be some open gaming, Power Grid, and then Here I Stand in the evening. Wish us luck; we need it!