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Friday, August 3, 2012

Another monster day in at the WBC yesterday, and once again I am awake way too early for no reason! Apparently I've been an Uwe Rosenberg super-fan lately, as it seems like most of what I play at WBC is Agricola and Le Havre.

Thursday launched with the third and final heat of Power Grid, and to quote Randy, I was "playing the schedule game." Since I already have won a heat and came in second in another, I showed up early to play a fast-paced game. That would let me squeeze in a game of Stone Age if we could finish within two hours. I ended up with Jason (from Through the Ages heat 1) at my table and we were playing the USA map with the alternative power plant deck. I decided to play this map instead of the Japan map to get some experience with the new deck, which I haven't really played all that many times. We chose to not play with New England, and had a fascinating game where the player on the West Coast decided to let the game stall at 6 cities. After a few turns of saving up money, Jason bust out and built all the remaining open spaces in one turn. Unfortunately for him, Eric on my right as well as myself were able to get a plant to get more capacity, so I managed another 2nd place in a Power Grid game.

I ran over to Stone Age, where Steph and Patrick were ready to play a second heat. I didn't get to write about their arrival the day before, but Steph is a veteran WBCer like us (6 years running now!) and was able to bring her man with her this year. He's learning games the hard way by jumping into the deep end at WBC! They ended up playing a heat of Puerto Rico later in the day as well, so I'm glad he learned that excellent game as well. They are planning to play Steph's favorite event of the WBC tomorrow: Circus Maximus. I got paired against a very nice player named Cindy and two teenage boys who all played very well. Once again the starvation strategy paid off well for me, and I won with a reasonably large lead.

The second and final heat of Le Havre was next. I'm at the point now that I can play a good overall game, but I still keep seeing new combinations and lines of play just from the variance and seeing good players play the game. One of the players at my game was obviously an experienced Le Havre player, Rob, and I got to see him play the ship-a-ton-of-steel strategy perfectly. On the last turn of the game, I stupidly forgot that I was going to have to pay 2 food entry for the Shipping Line, so I sent some bread off the Bridge Over the Seine that I could have ended up shipping. Since those bread got me 2 points on the bridge, and I was able to ship one less good and one iron instead of a bread, I shipped for 3 less points. So I lost a point over that deal, and I realized it as soon as I had to pay the entry fee. Amazingly, the game ended in a 191-191 tie with me and Rob, and I was kicking myself! The tiebreaker is franc value of remaining goods, and we both had 1 franc worth of goods!! The second tiebreaker was reverse turn order, so Rob took it down. Ouch.

The good news was that often at WBC, in small tournaments you can get in with a second place finish. This turned out to be the case for Le Havre, so I was in the semis, as was Bronwen, who had somehow convinced the GM to let her table play their game on her iPad. The semis was going to be tough since I had two finalists from last year at my table, Daniel and Nick, and a hilarious 4th player who I hadn't met before named Rodney. Almost any sentence you uttered could send Rodney into a humming or singing interlude. I had a strong start with lots of good resource grabs early, then building the Joinery, selling a wood for 5, and buying the 6-cost Building Firm. I was able to build the Hardware Store and buy the Clay Mound, which gave me 3 hammer symbols, making the Clay Mound worth 5 clay for me. From there, I was able to build the Colliery and some other building, and start taking Coal over and over. I had a bit more food trouble compared to Daniel and Nick, because they both bought ships with money. In the end, I came in second to Nick by only two points, with Daniel 8 points behind me. I had accomplished my goal of playing well against the better players. It turns out they did three tables of 4 players, and the finals would be the three winners, and the best second placer: which should turn out to be me!

The bad news is that the Le Havre final is at the same time as the Power Grid semifinal, and Power Grid is my team game. I hope my teammates understand how badly I want to have a chance to win a tournament at the WBC, because I think I have to play Le Havre. I emailed one of my teammates, Eric, to see what he thinks, and hopefully he finds me before 9 am today.

The end of the night was Agricola's second heat, which was going to be interesting since I know the I deck a LOT less than I know the E deck. I drew Derek and two players I played with online only LAST WEEK, Merissa and John. I went for a pretty clay heavy strategy. I played the Clay Digger who adds the 1-accumulation clay space to the game with 3 clay on it to start, and if any other player wants to use it, they pay you 3 Food, which noone did over the course of the game. I took RSF again at some point and played Pottery in round 3. I also got the Church Warden for 4 food, the Juggler, who lets you double Traveling Players, where I got 6 food from twice, and the guy who makes clay stuff cost 1 less, and clay rooms 2 less. Even though I was the third person to add a room and a baby, I used the Improvement that comes with the baby to play the second Fireplace, and I made 4 stables along with my room. I got the Goose Pond out mid-game to enhance my food as well, a minor that gets me 2 wood when I take wood, and a minor that lets me get a breeding pair of sheep when I fenced in 4 or more spaces. So the mid-late game was saving up a huge amount of wood, taking 2 boar into the stables, saving up to do a huge fencing, and getting the 2 free sheep. I won comfortably with 49 points, with Derek on 42.

I was pretty exhausted but wound up after that, so hopefully my tiredness won't keep me from being able to focus today.

Coming up today:
   9 am Le Havre Final
  12 pm Agricola Heat 3: K deck
   3 pm Puerto Rico
   5 pm Agricola Semifinal
   8 pm Princes of Florence Semifinal

The sad news is that I'm going to miss the last heat of Brass, so I only got one game of that in. I guess you can't play everything!


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