Monday, December 27, 2010

CombsCon 2010

It all started with an email from Allan, pointing out that some weblog said we hadn't gamed in over six months.  He was right, of course, that blog is meticulously kept by yours truly, and it had been quite some time since we sat down as friends and beat the crapola out of each other.

And so it was decided, we'd meet at the board of battle on August 14, 2010, and make sure no one left without questioning their own game skills after getting at least one sound beating for the day.  It almost worked out that way.  I am a little bit fuzzy on the details of the day, but read on for what I can remember and don't forget to check the comments below for corrections from the aggrieved parties.

It started innocently enough; a game of Smallworld with Allan, Mike, Joshua, and Scott.  We started at 9:30... and at 9:35 Scott said, "I've blown it already."  Luckily for him, we had to undo the first two moves since we misread the rules -- which is our own Classic Blunder.  So we reset the game and started again.

Not that it helped; Scott chose Haflings and then put their hidey holes in places that were already difficult to attack -- leaving his other forces easier to defeat.  To compound his problems, he hammered Mike for a few rounds, convinced that Mike was a close second; only to find out Mike was way behind.  Oh, and Scott also rolled like Allan... er, that is he rolled poorly, all of which sealed his fate as a third-place finish.

Mike put his Elves into a different set of mountains and declined them, and then ate up two races from the southern edge of the board.  But between mediocre payoff from the Elves and the beating he took from Scott, he finished a distant fourth.

Joshua made better use of his restart, moving his first race into the mountains and declining them immediately.  And those guys went on and on; just piling up points the whole game.  He paid dearly for his next race (I think it was Orcs), but it was worth it as they dominated the west side of the board for a long time.

Allan used the classic deflection strategy, continually complaining that he was DFL (dead fucking last) while all the time building on a solid base.  He took a race with 6 bucks on it, used them and then declined them for another race the next round.  It was a solid play, and almost got him there.  But in the end, Joshua eked out a victory over Allan.  The game ended at 11:45:

Joshua = 97
Allan = 93
Scott = 91
Mike = 75

Scott had the quote of the game, when he was trying to figure out which race to take in the mid-game: "It's better to be *bad* at math in this game."

After licking our wounds for 15 minutes, we cranked up a game of Acquire, adding Tom to the mix, and playing with "Lloyd's Rules" (a variant Allan bought online).  We started at noon, and by 12:40, Scott found a rule we'd forgotten was "in old print, in *both* sets of rules!"  It didn't affect play at that time, so we didn't have to undo anything.

Lloyd's Rules allow for selling stock back in if you are cash tight, and as per usual under these rules, all 8 companies were started and active within a few rounds.  No risk in starting a new company, you can always sell out later, so there were companies all over the board, including in all four corners.

America started in the lower-middle, and Scott was the unchallenged king of that stock.  Unfortunately, Joshua had the two tiles that would merge it, and he sat on them almost the entire game.  Most of the action took place up top of the board, with Quantum taking over Hydra, and Saxon looking like it would become too big before Quantum ate it up, too.

Tom was the merge person for several of the early acquisitions, and even though Joshua and Mike benefited from them, he was in the minority position most of the time so he was flush with cash.  Allan and Mike had a strange little back-and-forth for a few rounds, buying mirrored shares of Zeta and Saxon, and in the end being the top two dogs in only Saxon.

It was too late for Scott and Allan by the time they got their first mergers (America and Saxon, respectively), and so they were out of the running.  But oddly, even though Tom wasn't the top stakeholder very often, he rode stock appreciation and some minority stakes to the win.  It wasn't pretty, but in his first game, Tom came out with the victory:

Tom = $39,100
Joshua = $37,000
Mike = $31,600
Allan = $28,400
Scott = $24,600

We followed that up with a game of Smallworld again, given that everyone except Tom was well versed in the rules.  That would also give us a great chance to come back from that lashing Tom gave us in his first game with the group.  Or so we thought.

Scott hopscotched around the central lake, putting his race in positions that were difficult to attack.  Mike went for the southern strategy, putting his Dwarves in the mountains and declining them, only to start another race that didn't quite pan out.  Allan brought out one of the gobbling races and slogged his way through Joshua's minions from northwest to southwest, before chomping through Mike's guys in the south.

Mike changed strategies by bringing in the Wizards and packing away the points in Allan's abandoned northwest.  However, Scott was nearby and decided to take them out, so they didn't last long in decline; though in the end the decision to hammer Mike was another blunder.

In the meantime, Tom brought out the Humans and ran them toward the north, getting double points multiple times along the way.  Scott beat him up pretty good, but even with only three men left, Tom stuck to his guns and didn't decline them.  He scored 5 points a round by double-pointing two of them, and despite advice to decline them, he played them to the bitter end and pulled out the victory.  It also earned him a promise that we wouldn't help him as much in the future; although we all advised him to decline the Humans and he rode them to victory, so what do we know?

The final tally:

Tom = 84
Scott = 79
Mike = 71
Allan = 78
Joshua = 68

Determined to restore our honor, we brought out old standby Taj Mahal, kind of a fun card-and-board interaction game with cool pieces.  Frankly I waited too long to write this update to remember, but I recall it seemed close until the last three rounds, when Tom shot out to a big victory.  He wasted us again:

Tom = 50
Mike = 37
Scott = 36
Allan = 33

Joshua begged out, claiming he had tickets to some concert or something as he whimpered in the corner.  We all knew he just couldn't take the beating; but at least he escaped without having to face Tom the Juggernaut again.

We tried a classic Liars Poker variant, Caribbean.  Allan and Mike fought to a stalemate the first round, and Tom and Scott picked up and delivered one cargo each.  Mike said, "How did we miss that one?"  The second round was the same, except Scott got two cargoes in the southwest quadrant.  Mike repeated, "How did we miss *that* one?"

By that point it was a Scott and Tom battle, with Scott picking up enough rum to take the lead and Tom delivering enough to stay close behind.  But less than a half-hour in, Scott was just inches away, so he picked up two he couldn't deliver to get to 29, and then delivered one next turn to end it.

Scott = 34
Tom = 27
Allan = 20
Mike = 4 (that's right, 4)

And so in the end it was Tom winning 3 of 4 games he played, and emerging as the CombsCon 2010 Grand Champion.  Of course, that left us all licking our wounds and wondering how the hell it happened.  He beat us by flying under the radar, but listening to our advice, and by ignoring our advice.  Maybe he's just good at this board game thing.

Congratulations to Tom and thanks to all for playing.  It was a lot of fun; sorry the update took so long.

- Scott

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