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Sunday, March 16, 2014

PrezCon 2014 Part 2: Friday

(c) Rio Grande Games
Used by permission
Continuing my recap of PrezCon from a couple of weeks ago, Friday turned out to be a long and eventful day.  I started with Saint Petersburg (designer Michael Tummelhofer alias Bernd Brunnhofer, artist Doris Matthaus, publisher Rio Grande), a game that I never get to play as much as I would like.  I finished third in a heat of four players - not surprising given the level of competition I typically find at PrezCon for this game.

Friday was the first day that vendors set up, and I got to chat with Grant and Mike Wylie of Worthington Publishing (originally Worthington Games) about the future of Trains Planes and Automobiles.  Based on the fact that it is no longer available on the Blue Square Boardgames website and not mentioned at all on the revamped Worthington Publishing site, I fully expected that they would say that they were no longer in the business of family and casual games but were focusing strictly on growing their core wargaming business.  (Their other casual family games - Bloodlust, Arctic Survival, and Tech Bubble - have vanished from their catalog as well.)  But Mike surprised me by saying that they still intend to develop a line of family games and are still interested in TPA.  We'll see what the future holds.

Thach Weave
I played Zero!: Down in Flames (designer Dan Verssen; artists Mike Lemick, Rodger B. MacGowan, and Mark Simonitch; publisher GMT) against Gordon Clay.  The GM, Rich Phares, introduced a new rule called the "Thach Weave" to represent an American tactic that baffled the Japanese for a period of time during the war.  If a Japanese plane without a wingman is tailing an American plane with a wingman, then the American player can choose to execute a "Thach Weave" as follows:  In lieu of any other action, the American player discards his entire hand, swaps the damage status of his wingman and lead planes (so that in effect the old wingman is the new lead and vice versa), and draws a new hand up to the size of the hand that he discarded.  By so doing, the tactical situation reverses, so that now the American ends his turn tailing the Japanese.

In our heat, I actually got to execute a "Thach Weave" one time, and it really got me out of a jam.  Nevertheless, it was a Japanese day at our table.  When I played American, Gordon won 9 to 0 by damaging three of my four aircraft.  We switched sides, and as the Japanese, I won 15 to 5 by shooting down three of his aircraft while losing one of my own.  So I ended the heat with a net score of +1.

I managed to get in a game of Settlers of Catan (designer Klaus Teuber, publisher Mayfair) but finished third out of four at my table.  Finishing third really was a consistent theme at PrezCon this year.

James and Eyal in Acquire -
old school
I was very happy to get to play one of my favorite games, Acquire (designer Sid Sackson, artist Kurt Miller, publisher Wizards of the Coast).  This is another game where the PrezCon competition is pretty fierce, and my table included the very skilled Mark Beckman, Eyal Mozes, and two others.  The copy of the game that we played was an old 3M edition that Eyal had received at his Bar Mitzvah many, many years ago.  I finished fourth out of the five of us with only $25,800.

The second heat of the Pillars of the Earth tournament saw Tom Snyder win a commanding 52-point victory over Peter and Angel Adams, while Jeff Thornsen took a respectable 48-point win against Alan Neidermayer and Dave Rohde.  So after two heats, I had five winners for a four-seat final.  Normally that would mean I'd have to run a semifinal round, but Tom S. (who won the 2013 PrezCon Pillars tournament) graciously offered to sit out the final if the other four winners showed up.  So I recorded him as an "alternate" for the final.

(c) GMT Games
Used by permission
At this point I had some time before the Pillars final, so I went to see Fred Schachter's demo of Rebel Raiders on the High Seas (designer Mark MacLaughlin, publisher GMT).  I had actually seen Fred demonstrate this same game, for which he is credited as the Game Developer, a few years ago when it was still a prototype.  This asymmetric wargame pits the U.S. Navy of the Civil War against Confederate blockade runners, warships, riverine craft, and coastal batteries - a unique topic among wargames.

Next post:  The Pillars of the Earth final

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