Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Monday, March 5, 2012

PrezCon 2012 - Part Three

Image courtesy
of GMT Games
Down in Flames
While not strictly a wargame in the truest sense, I enjoy the dogfight card game Zero! (designer Dan Verssen; artists Mike Lemick, Rodger B. MacGowan, and Mark Simonitch; publisher GMT) from the Down in Flames series for its atmosphere as well as its quick play.  My friend Keith F. and I played a heat with only the occasional stumble over the rules, which were a bit rusty in my recollection but which the game master Richard Phares was happy to straighten out for us.  Each of us took a turn as an element of two Zeros against two F4F Wildcats, and each came away with one shoot-down apiece for a dead heat draw between us.  I didn't compete in any subsequent heats in the DiF tournament because I had too many conflicts with other events, but I was glad to have this old favorite make an appearance in my PrezCon experience this year.

Settlers of Catan
Image (c) Mayfair Games.  Used
by permission.  All rights reserved
Every year I harbor the fantasy that I will have a shot at winning at Settlers of Catan (designer Klaus Teuber, publisher Mayfair).  The PrezCon SoC tournament is a National Championship Qualifier, but with over 60 people competing every year, it's always a longshot.  This year I won in my first heat with some a very fortuitous initial settlement placement.  I had a nice variety of production with my first two settlements only four road segments apart, and I was able to build to a port as well as gain the Longest Road.  One of my opponents was Virginia C., a very friendly, expertly competitive SoC player.  Also at my table was Jason C., who'd beat me in SoC at PrezCon last year, as well as his father Gary.  Several times over the course of the game, Virginia openly preferred to trade with Gary and Jason before she would consider a trade with me, more out of respect for my board position than anything else.  Fortunately, everything panned out in my favor, and I qualified for the quarter final.

In the quarter final, my opponents were two very experienced players - Mark B. and Martin H. - and one novice, young Niccolo S., who had played and won his very first game of SoC earlier that morning.  What ensued was the wildest game of SoC I had ever played in my life.  Martin ran out to an early commanding lead by building five settlements, the Largest Army, and the Longest Road to gain a quick nine points.  Mark and I each had five or six points, and Niccolo four.  Young Niccolo was in the best position to steal Longest Road from Martin and knock his lead down, so we took every opportunity to trade brick and wood to Niccolo.  Longest Road went back and forth a few times before Niccolo locked it down for good.  Mark and I had each worked our way up to seven points, so the game was even and the competition got fierce.

Actual die roll during PrezCon 2012
Settlers of Catan quarter final
Meanwhile, the game had run so long that we ran through the entire deck of development cards (something I'd never seen happen before).  All trading pretty much stopped as we all got up to eight points each.  The dice rolling got pretty crazy, too.  At one point we'd rolled a "seven" six times in seven consecutive throws.  The craziest die roll was when a die actually landed on its beveled corner and stayed there.  The last three dice rolls of the game were "12," "12," and "two."  And the winner was young Niccolo, who eked out a victory over the three of us veterans who had essentially held each other down from winning.

Crazy game.


  1. What are the probabilities of the die landing on that particular edge?

  2. I don't think there's any reliable way to calculate it theoretically. You'd have to roll it perhaps thousands of times, until you had at least several successful results, on which to base an empirical estimate.

  3. Episode of Twilight Zone used this idea [paraphrase]: Flip a coin in the air. Half the time it lands on heads, half the time it lands on tails. But it can also land on its edge, which adds up to >100%. That's when you're in ..... The Twilight Zone.

    [yes, yes, the real answers are heads = 50% - epsilon.... but let's not ruin the mystery with math... :-) ]