Sunday, August 11, 2013

WBC 2013 Part 3

Alright...we come to Part 3 of my WBC recap, in which I talk about Conquest of Paradise, and then talk about Conquest of Paradise, and finally I'll talk a little about Conquest of Paradise.

I may have played a little CoP on Saturday

As I mentioned in Part 2 of this recap, I won my CoP game during the "mulligan" round on Friday.  So, I didn't really need to get up for the 9:00 AM round on Saturday.  But, I typically only get to play CoP at conventions anymore, so I rolled myself out of bed and made it over.  About 14 people showed up for the morning round, which meant 2 games of 4, and 2 games of 3.

Just thought I'd throw this in to break up the wall o' text.
I was in one of the 3 player games, along with Phil (I really have to write down these last names) - who is a CoP regular, and Guy, who I hadn't met before, but was familiar with CoP with a little bit of refreshing.  By random draw I was Samoa, Guy was Tonga and Phil had Hiva.  The game went well enough for Guy and I, but Phil had bad luck discovering islands.  Guy did some unusual exploring, sending his boat all the way out east, when he still had unexplored areas only 2 or 3 hexes to his southwest, but it seemed to work for him.  It quickly became apparent that Phil was falling far behind, and as sometimes happens in 3 player games (any game, not just CoP), he had the unenviable task of becoming somewhat of a kingmaker.  We got to the final turn (or so we thought) - Phil attacked both of us, his attack on me was unsuccessful, but he did break Guy's canoe chain.  Still, Guy - who had levied just about all his military chits at this point - was able to connect around that.  We flipped cards, counted points and Guy was the winner by a point or so.  At that point, we called Jerry over for the official score tally, and as we were counting, he suddenly said "Wait a guys are playing a 3 player're supposed to go to 25 points!"  Oops...we were all so used to the 4-player 22 VP condition, that this slipped right past us.  Now, things got a little uncomfortable, as Guy got a little irritated about having to play on.  I said something to the effect of "Well, we all made the same mistake", and his response was "NO - You two made the told me it was the end of the game!"  Nevermind that the victory conditions are printed right there on the map.  I think Phil may have taken a little offense at this, because in the next round, he went full bore after Guy and left me alone.  This didn't help Guy's mood.  Still, Guy had enough military to reclaim his losses.  That left me last to go.  I'm not going to say I threw the match...because Guy had a lot of points, and I don't know for a fact that I could have caught him.  But I'll say this - having already qualified for the semi-finals, and feeling somewhat guilty that I may have inadvertently led Guy to believe the game was over before it was - I didn't put a lot of thought into my last turn.  I picked up a few more points, but in the end, Guy won officially.  Funny thing is, he didn't even come back for the semi finals.

Pic from BGG - perhaps the reprint will come with wooden huts
At noon, the semi-finals started, with two games.  The two winners, and the two players who finished closest to their winner would qualify for the final (which mean if 3rd place in game A finished closer than 2nd place in Game B, that 3rd place guy was in.  In my game, I had CoP regular Dave, and Andy from GMT games.  I embarrassed to admit that I don't remember our 4th players name.  As a top seed (by virtue of my mulligan win), I got to choose my starting territory, and I chose Samoa.  Dave had Tonga, Andy was Hiva, and the 4th player was Raiatea.  As I recall, I had decent exploration finds, but not great.  At one point, I was exploring to my north, and I decided to check out 2 islands that Andy had discovered, but kept hidden beneath his "discovered" markers.  The first was an atoll, which I revealed.  At that point, Andy said "are you sure you want to waste your movement on the other one?"  I actually paused, considering moving to an adjacent unexplored hex, but then decided to stick with the plan, and checked our what he had found already...which turned out to be Hawaii.  Ah...Andy with the mind games.  To be honest, I don't remember a lot of the rest of the details of this game, with the exception that near the end of the game, Player #4 moved in a war canoe to where Andy had sent a transport and some colonists.  Not having any war chits, Andy had to immediately retreat those pieces.  This turned out to be crucial, as Andy had an "Arioi" card had forgotten about, which could have cancelled that "combat" (even though he didn't have any war pieces, that counted as combat).  If he had done so, he could have colonized, and won the game.  With an extra turn, I was able to rebuild my canoe chain (which had been earlier broken by Andy), and pick up some points by attacking the pre-printed "NPC" islands on the map.  This was enough to secure victory, and Dave came in 2nd at our table. 

That set us up for the final, which consisted of me, Dave, my buddy (and Prezcon champ) Brian, and a fellow named Charles.  Quite simply, this turned out to be one of the best games of CoP that I've ever played.  I took Samoa as my homeland, Prezcon champion Brian took Tonga, a fellow by the name of Charles took Hiva, and Conquest of Paradise regular Dave ended up with Raiatea. The rest of us got a little nervous when Dave found 3 islands with his first 3 moves, but he had some atolls in there. The rest of us slowly revealed island groups, and after a few turns, Samoa, Tonga and Hiva all revealed one of the 4-village islands. Raiatea was not to be left behind however, as he eventually revealed 2 3-village islands. It was becoming apparent that we all had done roughly equally as well in island discovery, and no one was going to run away with a "lucky" victory.

As I am wont to do whenever I play Samoa or Tonga, I grabbed the island of Niue before my neighbor could. When it was becoming obvious that this was going to be a roughly equal game in terms of discoveries, Tonga decided to beat the war drums early and launched an attack on Niue. I struggled with the decision to use my Arioi card to stop the combat, but I decided to wait until a more crucial moment later. My  Samoans attempted to retake Niue a short time later, but to no avail.

To the east, Hiva and Raiatea quietly expanded their empires. The Hivans expanded via the atoll at Flint Island, and eventually launched their own attack on Niue, capturing it. In Samoa, I decided discretion was the better part of valor, and did not want to get into a 3-way tug of war over Niue. So, I used the "safety valve" and attacked the "NPC" island of Kiribati, and colonized it.

By this point, the drums of war were pounding across the entirety of the South Pacific, with War Canoes and Warbands seemingly multiplying overnight...well, all except in the southeast, where not much was heard from the Raiateans. After seeing the Samoans take Kiribati, the Tongans reasoned that many Samoan warriors were away from home, and launched a direct attack on the Samoan homeland. This is what the Arioi card was saved for! The Hivans continued to be a threat on the island of Niue, though it looked like they might turn their eyes to the fertile islands of the Raiateans.
Pic from BGG, but closely resembling our situation.

Sensing he might not have a better opportunity, Dave - as Raiatea, revealed his Arts & Culture cards to show 22 points - enough for victory. That is, until the dastardly Tongans revealed the Severe Deforestation card, causing the rest of the empires to lose a village, and dropping poor Raiatea back to 21 VPs.

There's nothing like revealing a possible victory to make yourself the target, and all eyes turned towards Raiatea. Or did they? The Tongans, still reeling from being thwarted earlier, launched a 2nd attack on Samoa itself. The extra turn had given Samoa enough time to build and reposition various warriors however, and the Tongans (with the "help" of some atrocious dice luck) were beat back. Samoa was looking further to the west, and was choosing between the Marshall Islands and Pohnpei to attack. With Hiva still left to go, Samoa thought they were eyeing Raiatea, but dared not take all his warriors, in case Hiva decided to strike west instead. Judging it safe to take only 3 war units to conquer a western island, Samoa chose to attack the more lightly defended Pohnpei, easily conquering it and adding it to the empire. Hiva did indeed launch an attack on the Raiatean homeland itself, successfully wresting it from it's original owners.

When all cards were revealed, Samoa and Hiva were tied at 24 VPs each. Samoa earned the victory based on the tiebreaker of number of controlled island groups in his empire. Critically, on the last build phase of the game, Hiva chose to build a 3rd village on the captured island of Raiatea, rather than building a transport canoe and chaining it to his empire. If he had done so, the score would have remained the same, but we would have had to go to the 2nd tiebreaker, which was Arts&Culture cards - where Hiva would have won.

I think this means I get WBC "Laurels".  I'm not sure I know what those are...but I think I get some.

 So...WHEW!!!  Before Brian dethroned me this year, I had won the CoP tournament at Prezcon for three years in a row.   But success at WBC had eluded me.  I had only made the final once, and that one time I came in a distant 4th place.  It feels good to have won at WBC...and in addition to a plaque, I got a $10 coupon to spend at the GMT booth, which I immediately used on Battle Line (with some "encouragement" from Paul). 

Thanks go again to Kevin for running another fine tournament...and let me also take this opportunity to mention the Conquest of Paradise reprint that is currently on GMT's P500.  Kevin tells me that the reprint will fix some of the color issues, include wooden tokens of some sort for the villages, include the expansion random event cards, and maybe a few extras (including a card that makes it tempting to attack Fiji...interesting indeed).

Brian, Paul and I did some more open gaming on Saturday night and Sunday morning...but I'll leave that for Part 4 of my WBC recap....

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