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Stories from The WBC 2002-Part 5

Posted By:  Keith Levy, 8/13/2002 10:03:00 PM.
Last Modified By:  name withheld, .
Views:  6849

I just returned from the World Boardgaming Championships (the WBC) just north of Baltimore. This is a huge convention; there were, what 1100 gamers there? I don't know the exact numbers, but there were war games and euros set up everywhere you looked.

I live about 45 minutes south, so some nights I drove home to slop the cats and others I stayed over. I met for the first time some Spielfriekers and Nigglybiters -- Frank Hamrick and Stephen Glenn. Steve was teaching new games in Cafe Jay, and I saw Frank playing Crokinole in the open gaming area. He lugs his beautiful board around in its original carton, and he has yet to figure out a better container. I was GMing an Attila heat when he first introduced himself. I was in a bit of a dither, so I told him to shut up and find a seat before I realized who he was.

If you've got this far, you're probably saying "Gawd, he's fouling Nigglybits with a session report. Begone to spiekfrieks." Hold on a moment. I won't write about that.

The opening day was tuesday, and I had to be there by 6pm to co-GM Mexica. So off I drove a couple hours early in pre-rush-hour traffic. My friend Harold (the Mexica GM) was going to have a steak dinner across the street, so I hoped to meet him there. After a nice dinner, we'd stroll over to the convention center to set up. So I was humming along north on 95 when I realized that I did not know where I was going.

Oh, I knew the general vicinity. You go up 83 and exit east on Shawan Road, but after that, what? I had attended last year, but those memory brain cells had gone off to a different convention. We hold our annual GCOM day in the same area, so as a fallback I used those brain cells and started cruising up and down York Road looking for the Marriott. With one eye on the road, I'm also ruffling through the yearbook and any other paperwork on the seat next to me looking for directions or even an address. You'd think they'd print that in the papers wouldn't you, but noooooooo. I finally stopped to ask for directions. The guy waved me off in the opposite direction. I stopped FIVE times to get directions, and none but the last were worth much. They might as well just said "hot!" or "cold!" and be done with it. In the meantime, time is wasting away, and you can forget dinner. Remember the movie "The Out-of-Towners" with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis? He's flying to NY City for a job interview, so he plans to get there early, have a nice dinner, a good night's sleep, but due to circumstances they end up sleeping under a tree in Central Park? THAT's going through my mind.

Finally those errant brain cells returned ("Reporting for duty sir!") and I found the place about 15 minutes to game time. I rush to the event, and while my heart is still beating fast like a puppydog's, Harold informs me that I'm to teach Mexica to the newbies -- now.

I won't bore you with the details of my Mexica game except to relate one tidbit. Someone on Spielfrieks had pointed out that if you play to TIE in a district that you both get 1st place VPs, and this tends to discourage the 1st-placer fro m returning and pushing you into 2nd. Brilliant, I thought. So I move my Mexica into a fat district and purposely tie the leader there on my left. On my next turn I leave, and HE wastes the turn by returning there to place another temple! I look and him and ask "Why did you do that? You don't get any more points for it." He doesn't say anything and just shrugs his shoulders. I rub my temple trying to ease the pain there.

I play something else, and then I'm at the Princes of Florence heat. We're mobbing around the setup table, and I'm thinking about which strategy I'll use in the heat -- Big Jester? Rope-a-dope? I'm standing next to Harold, and Harold whispers something to me that makes me double-take. To understand what he said, I have to flash back. A couple months ago, I'm playing POF with the usual sharpies. I get a horrible start, so I say what-the-hell, I'll buy 3 builders, fill up my property so it's all buildings, and grab as many prestige cards as I can. I will lose in glorious fashion, but so what. Well, I win. I'm stunned. My mouth and eyes form big O's. Flash forward. Harold: "Remember that goofy builder thing you did? Well, I've been playing POF on BSW, and that strategy has turned out to be a killer! It WINS BIG!" I look at him. "NOW! You're telling me this NOW! You're planting some goofball strategy seed in my head NOW, seconds before the BIG GAME?!" I lost my game, of course, against mostly newbies. I tried to think clearly, but Harold had done it to me. I was doomed.

Stan Hilinski, reporting from the WBC