Friday, June 12, 2009

UK Games Expo'09 #3: I eat dirt and die

I'd had a long lie on the Saturday morning, but I had to get up bright and early(ish) to get to the Clarendon Suites for Barry Ingram's Commands and Colours: Ancients tournament, my entry into which readers might remember. I was looking forward to this a lot. Regular readers might remember that C&C:A is my favourite version of Richard Borg's Commands and Colours system; yet, because Badger and I just can't get Combat Commander off the table, I've played C&C:A just once in over a year.

The C&C:A tournament took place upstairs in the Clarendon. I'd wandered round that area on the Saturday afternoon, noting without really seeing the militaristic tone of the cases of medals, flags, paintings and so on which decorated the walls. It wasn't until Sunday that I cottoned on that this was all Masonic memorabilia and regalia; rooms and rooms of it. I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures.

The room in which these pictures were taken was the 'spillover' room for the tournament; only 2 of the 6 C&C:A tables were there, neither of which can be seen in these shots. The games under play in these pictures are all Eurogames, featured in one of several different Eurogames tournaments which ran alongside C&C:A that day. I was amused at the way the tournament GM had just installed himself in the official Masonic High Chair, and I wonder if the Masons would approve.

The first picture (above left) shows Bill, my first opponent of the day, who subjected me to the first of 3 defeats which left me ranked 5th Roman player out of 6. This was a performance sufficiently terrible as to be occasionally painful. You can be sure that I roundly cursed my luck with tragic frequency, though I am glad to say that I forebore from whinging.

Barry was running the tournament using a variation of the WBC format I'd used for the Memoir'44 tournament I'd run at DiceConEast 2005:
  • The players were split into 2 sides; Axis and Allies in M44 back in 2005; Romans and the rest in C&C:A last Sunday.
  • Each player played 3 qualifying games against 3 different players from the other side.
  • There followed a round of 1 matchplay game to decide the best player on each side.
  • These players played a matchplay final.
As I got into my first game against Bill I just felt so rusty. I remembered how things worked, but I'd forgotten how they went about doing it. I'd lost the knack of managing my hand to build and develop my attacks, with the result that my play was reactive at best. I was well beaten.
I grin and bear it as Mike Smith enjoys sweet revenge
 The one positive thing I can say about my first game is that it was my low point. Although I lost both my other qualifying games, they were at least close, in that I'd've had a play for the win the turn after my opponents snatched it out from under me. At least, so I seem to recall; and yet, my game against Mike Smith is the one I remember as being the most painful to endure (Mike played in that 2005 M44 campaign BTW). Perhaps that was because it was so close? I can't remember, and have no records to check.
Tony, my final opponent

My luck had to turn eventually, and it turned out to be sooner, rather than later. Getting three games under my belt helped too, quite a lot I should imagine. The upshot is that Tony and I played 3 games: 1 scenario matchplay, and a single play of another. I won them all, including dishing out a severe pasting. But Tony kept his nerve, and fought his way back into the game. He was particularly unlucky in our final game, where I got a leader kill for the win just as he was about to make his own grab at glory.
The final (background) and the contest for placings rage on
The outcome of the final was:
  • Winner: David Andrew
  • Runner up: Andrew Lawrence
As well as a trophy, the winner also received a gift voucher for one of the traders at the Expo. This was because the C&C:A tournament was a paid event, whose entry fee subsides the prize.
Andrew, Barry, and David

I had a great time. There was banter and ribaldry aplenty as we played, which was a tonic for the troops. The championship aside, the day's big story was elephants. Barry had cleverly made sure that every scenario featured elephants, on both sides IIRC. Anguished cries and gleeful gloats were a regular refrain as the tusked monstrosities of the ancient world rampaged across the battlefields, trampling friend and foe alike.

The weekend over, I quickly realised the paramount contribution the tournaments had made to my enjoyment of the Expo. It was great then that the long day went very smoothly thanks to Barry's organisation. He also had very nice player record sheets, put together by spreadsheet. I'm going to copy this.

Well done Barry, and thanks for all your efforts. ;)

UK Games Expo'09
- #1: Time to kill
- #2: And so to war
- #4: Old friends and new stuff

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