WBC Coverage: Dominion Semifinals

By Brian Durkin

Some say that second place is the first loser. Not in my book. Laura Dewalt doesn’t believe in that saying either. Extremely proud and happy with her accomplishment in the Dominion Tournament at the World Boardgaming Championship, Laura sits down with me to discuss her strategies in the final two rounds of the event. By the way, the finals are stacked: An avid board gamer who’s attended the WBC since the beginning (quite an exclusive club of approximately ten or twenty members), Edward Fu (yeah he’s the guy who runs http://dominionstrategy.com/), and Randy Buehler (Magic: the Gathering Hall of Famer who skipped a finals for another game to keep playing Dominion). Laura had no problem killing most of this tough crowd. She what she had to say about her strategies for playing Dominion in the video below.

 

Additional Information

Interested in the World Boardgaming Championship? Check out the link.
For more information about Dominion check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Or check out Edward Fu’s site: Dominion Strategy
If you live in the tri-state area, consider the following stores to pick up a copy and or play with local players.

WBC Coverage: Race for the Galaxy Semifinals

Forget about the Great Eight. The Race for the Galaxy tournament at the World Boardgaming Championship cuts to a final four from a sweet (and skilled) top sixteen. Arguably the best female Race for the Galaxy player, Pei-Hsin Lin needs to win this game in order to advance to another final table.  Brian sits down with her to discuss how she approaches the game and why she chose to play the cards see did. Check out the interview and highlights of the game below.

 

Would you call Develop and assume another player would call Settle on the last turn? Would you consider calling Settle in hopes that another player allows you to play Galactic Federation?

Let us know what you think.

Additional Information

Interested in the World Boardgaming Championship? Check out the link.
For more information about Race for the Galaxy check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Or check out Robert Renaud’s site: RFTG Stats.com
Interested in purchasing a copy of Race for the Galaxy? Try the following links.
 
If you live in the tri-state area, consider the following stores to pick up a copy and or play with local players.

WBC Coverage: 7 Wonders Finals

By Brian Durkin

And then there was six. One hundred and sixty four dreams crushed. Who will win? Chris Terrell, assistant game master for the event, felt like a good candidate. Check out his draft in the video below. Brian provides commentary to his picks. Afterwords Brian sits down with Chris as they discuss his strategies for playing 7 Wonders and how the game masters managed this new event.

Any picks you disagree with? Do you think Chris’s score came down to where he sat at the table?

Let us know what you think.

Additional Information

Interested in the World Boardgaming Championship? Check out the link.
For more information about 7 Wonders check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of 7 Wonders? Try the following links.
Amazon: 7 Wonders.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. They make up my play test group. We play usually every Monday Night.

WBC Coverage: 7 Wonders Semifinals

by Brian Durkin

Unless you make the final table, you can only hope to at least play to make the final table. Mindy Kyrkos sits in that seat. Although she would not mind smashing face in Puerto Rico, she wants to win the 7 Wonders tournament. On the verge of topping the first ever 7 Wonders tournament at the World Boardgaming Championship, watch as Mindy plays with Halicarnassus and battles against five other tough competitors.

Mindy made a great effort. I feel as though she just sat in the wrong seat. Two players across the table qualified with 68 and 67 points. Regardless of your chances of making the top six, would you have played her position any different? Do you agree with her picks and Brian’s commentary? If you disagree, please elaborate on what you would do different.

Let us know what you think.

Additional Information

Interested in the World Boardgaming Championship? Check out the link below.
For more information about 7 Wonders check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of 7 Wonders? Try the following links.
Amazon: 7 Wonders.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. They make up my play test group. We play usually every Monday Night.

WBC Coverage: 7 Wonders Quarterfinals

By Brian Durkin

In a previous post, Pat Coyle sat down with Brian to discuss 7 Wonders strategy. This time they take a look at one of Pat’s games, but not just any game. Competing in the World Boardgaming Championship, Pat plays side “B” of Babylon and attempts to place into the top 18. Check out his picks in the video below as Pat discusses his strategy for the event.

Do you like to dedicate a lot of picks to scientific structures? When playing Babylon do you try to take all three manufactured goods in order to set up a Chamber of Commerce? Do you agree or disagree with Pat’s picks or any of the commentary?

Let us know what you think.

Additional Information

Interested in the World Boardgaming Championship? Check out the link below.
For more information about 7 Wonders check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of 7 Wonders? Try the following links.
Amazon: 7 Wonders.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. They make up my play test group. We play usually every Monday Night.

WBC Coverage: 7 Wonders Preliminary Round Continued

By Brian Durkin

Lori Miskoff plays several board games. Last Thursday she decided to try her luck in the 7 Wonders tournament at the World Boardgaming Championship. Hope you bet the pass line with Lori as a shooter. She made it to the quarterfinals, beating out 128 other participants. In game one she won the table playing Olympia. Game two she needed to keep her lead with Ephesus. Check out how she did in the video below as Brian reviews her picks and interviews Lori about her play style.

Would you draft Ephesus the same way Lori did? What key picks do you agree or disagree with that Brian points out? Prepare yourself to argue. Lori still placed third  in the game covered, and won overall with a combined score against six other players. Do you think her conservative and diversified strategy will usually win games?

Let us know what you think.

Additional Information

Interested in the World Boardgaming Championship? Check out the link below.
For more information about 7 Wonders check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of 7 Wonders? Try the following links.
Amazon: 7 Wonders.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. They make up my play test group. We play usually every Monday Night.

WBC Coverage: 7 Wonders Preliminary Round

by Brian Durkin

The Boardgaming Players Association (BPA) runs the World Boardgaming Championship (WBC) every year in Lancaster, PA at the Lancaster Host Hotel. Thousands of people come from all over the world to play games against new groups of people, purchase games from vendors, and of course compete for title of world champion in their favorite game. This year the WBC added 7 Wonders to its schedule and 170 attended the event.

The game masters (GM) assigned players to random tables of at least six players. Each table plays two games; the first game players use side “A” and the second game players use side “B.” Between games every player changes seats  to sit next to new people and everyone plays a new wonder. Players combine their scores from each game to determine first and second from each table. The highest scores from these first and second place table finishes move on to the top 42 quarterfinal playoffs. In the first game using side “A” of Lighthouse of Alexandria, Next Level Card Games follows Fred Chang as he navigates his way through the packs. Enjoy.

Do you agree with Fred’s decisions? Do you think Fred did make a mistake in pick three and four of Age III? Would you play his seat a different way?

Let us know what you think.

Additional Information

Interested in the World Boardgaming Championship? Check out the link below.
 
For more information about 7 Wonders check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of 7 Wonders? Try the following links.
Amazon: 7 Wonders.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. They make up my play test group. We play usually every Monday Night.

Dominion Strategy: World Board Gaming Championship – Seaside

By Brian Durkin



Have you mastered the Intrigue only format for Dominion? Expect to survive the first two rounds in the Dominion tournament this year at the World Boardgaming Championship? Good. Hope you took a look at Seaside. Starting with round three the Kingdom will contain only cards from the third set. In case you forgot to study, check out the list below of the most important cards to look out for when playing this format.

10. Salvager
Buying extra stuff comes in handy. Trashing your original deck will pay dividends sooner. The fact that this card provides money in addition to thinning your deck really gives you a turbo boost. Even Chapel requires you take a turn off from purchasing during effective use. Salvage will not let you trash your hand in one fell swoop, but it does make buying some of the best cards in Seaside a lot easier.
9. Caravan
Besides trashing, extra cards help your deck move up the curve to five and six dollars a turn. Caravan really shines from its duration effect. This part of the card allows you to buy bigger and better things because you will start with a larger hand. The fact that it replaces itself without taking away your action for the turn keeps your theoretical deck size down. Back in trading card game history this type of spell earned the nickname cantrip. I guess eople needed a general term for this effect because these types of cards kept popping up.
8. Haven
Another cantrip, Haven does not add to your theoretical deck size. Caravan’s free card could help, but Haven allows you to plan for the future; it sets aside a card from your hand in the previous turn. This helps players save extra cash for future turns. Haven really shines by allowing players who build decks with lots of terminal actions to smooth out their draw, because it prevents you from discarding a terminal action without using it.
7. Fishing Village
Village effects provide the most obvious way to avoid the problem of too many actions in one hand. Native Village and Bazaar provide similar effects, but Fishing Village beats them for three reasons: It only costs three to buy, its duration effect allows you to use it twice, and it also provides money. Your next hand might not need the extra actions, but almost every hand wants extra cash. Fishing Village can turn a bad turn into a good turn if you draw more victory cards and Curses than money.
6. Sea Hag
What a witch. Not only does she give you a Curse, you need to draw it right away! In most games this will really slow your opponents down; however, you must pay attention to the set up when playing with Seaside only. Several cards can help players overcome this devastating attack card. Sea Hag would rank higher if it were not for all the good trash or trash like effects (Native Village) in this set. Try to “lookout” for ways to deal with Sea Hag so you can protect yourself and also not fall for the trap of building a deck around her.
5. Lookout
Talk about a hack for Sea Hag, this card takes the cake on stopping the best four cost card in the game. You will see this card more often when playing with Seaside only, so the witch’s stock goes down. Lookout ranks high because it self-combos; all the other trash effects come from terminal actions, unlike Lookout which you can keep chaining. Leaving a card on top will either prepare you for a better next turn and or set up a card to trash with another copy of Lookout. Playing several Lookouts will thin your deck fast, but you should try to end the chain with a devastating terminal action.
4. Ghost Ship
Your opponents pray to find the Lighthouse in the fog of their deck before your ghastly pirates start beating them down. Ghost Ship reduces the power level of your opponents’ decks by restricting how many cards they can use to purchase new cards and improve their decks. Also your opponents do not benefit from holding bad cards because they will just have to redraw them next turn. Do not forget this apparition draws you two cards, the highest amount a single action card gives in this set; correction, the most cards a single action allows you to draw and keep.
3. Warehouse
Players cannot deny the power level of Seaside. Almost every board will contain a powerful terminal action (or non terminal action). Whoever starts playing Ghost Ship first will pull ahead. Warehouse allows a player to find these broken cards first and faster than his opponents. If you see your Salvager sooner and draw through your deck faster, then you will trash more cards, which makes your deck thinner quicker, and then … notice the chain yet? Although you do not gain any card advantage, Warehouse improves card quality and ensures you see your best cards more often. Allowing you to draw first before discarding makes this card one of the most superior card cyclers the game offers. Who would not want to play the final two cards on this list as soon as possible, as fast as possible, and as often as possible?
2. Wharf
As mentioned earlier, Seaside offers no action equivalent to Smithy as far as gaining cards in hand. Wharf comes close by drawing four cards over two turns. Easily the best duration effect, Wharf guarantees your next turn will do some damage when you start with five cards. The extra buy does come in handy when the set up really promotes combo decks. Games that include Treasure Maps will really accelerate your ability to buy Provinces, so Wharf enables that you can buy more than one a turn. The only way to make Wharf better depends on how well you can improve the quality of the cards you draw with this impressive action card.
1. Ambassador
No surprises here. One of the best trash cards of all time, Ambassador surpasses all other cards in the set when it comes to exponentially increasing your card quality. It allows you to trash two cards at a time while dumping bad cards into your opponents’ decks. Win-Win. This card will warp more boards than anything else. You need this diplomat when available and you need anything and everything to support him in order to succeed at the table.
Honorable Mentions
Keep an eye out for Lighthouse. Preventing Sea Hag, Ghost Ship, or Ambassador from hurting you will go a long way. It also provides a great effect on its own without depending on your opponents playing attack cards to receive value from the card. After Fishing Village, Native Village provides the best multiple action and combo plan. It also gives the player a pseudo trashing effect, but watch out. You may use it too late in the game and remove a great card from you deck.
Native Village
Island on the other hand allows you to choose what you remove. It provides a great alternative to Provinces as well. Sometimes you must make a switch from purchasing Provinces near the end of the game, so you can score more points in the long run. Island allows you to keep pace with points without hurting the consistency of your deck. Anytime Island appears, consider trying an aggressive strategy that does not rely on Provinces to win. So many cards in Seaside cost players little money and the table will rush to fill their decks with them. This creates a lot of board scenarios where the three pile end of game rule might happen before the Provinces run out, so consider stocking up on Islands and or other victory cards.

Island

Have you played Seaside only games were smaller point card strategies prevailed? Do you think Native Village, Lighthouse, Island, and or any other card should make the list? Do you think Sea Hag can fight through the hate included in Seaside?
Let us know what you think.
**Special Thanks to Vishu Doshi for his input on this list.


Additional Information

For more information about Seaside check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Seaside? Try the following links.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with just about anyone. Many gamers know how to play this game and enjoy playing with anyone.

Tichu Strategy: How to Play the Dragon

By Brian Durkin
The Dragon
If I had to pick one card I would love to open with I would pick the Phoenix; however, I will never complain if I draw the Dragon instead. His ability to win any single trick creates crucial information knowledge for you and possibly your team. With great power comes great responsibility. Do you keep it for yourself or pass it to your partner? Do you bomb your own Dragon for the points, or do you let the opposing team take the points in the trick? Which opposing player will receive the Dragon trick? Considering these questions will improve your ability to maximize the Dragon when your team controls it.
Who Gets It?
You can answer almost any question about Tichu with just one simple phrase: it depends. In the majority of tricks you win with the Dragon you will pass it to an opposing player. Only someone with an amazing hand or reckless player will bomb their own Dragon for points. Convention suggests passing the Dragon trick to the player on your right. The theory argues that if you go out the lead passes to the left, if each person goes out once they receive the lead then the player to your right will go out last. Follow this convention when in doubt, but you should consider some other factors. Count how many cards each player holds. If the player on your left still holds ten cards while his partner only possesses two cards, then you probably should give the Dragon trick to the player on your left. Try to study each of your opponent’s play styles and skill level. If the player to your left appears new to the game you may benefit from exploiting his or her lack of experience.
Standard American Convention
New players and most seasoned players will follow the most common Tichu convention: pass the Dragon to your partner. The Dragon will benefit the team no matter who holds it, so the theory suggests passing it so your team will know each hand which team holds the Dragon. With such a common convention popping up in almost every partnership, you should learn how to meta game this strategy (using imperfect information and projections about future events as a basis for decision making). Count how many hands you know you can win and afford to lose since your team does not possess the Dragon. If your team does not follow this convention you will need to pick up on tells to figure out who holds the Dragon. If the opposing team follows the convention and knows they control the Dragon, one of the them might play a single Ace with authoritative confidence; confidence you can pick up on and infer that your partner did not keep the Dragon for himself.
You Don’t Follow the Convention?
Do not forget to assess your partner’s ability and play style. When playing with a new partner or new player the information knowledge of the Dragon or passing the Dragon may not benefit the team. Some players do not feel confident to call Tichu or just assume the opposing team always monopolize good cards like the Dragon. Playing with a timid teammate could change your mind on whether or not to pass the Dragon, but building up his or her confidence with the traditional Pass the Dragon convention might benefit that player’s growth. Assuming you allow players on your team to keep the Dragon, you usually want to keep it in any hand if you feel you need it to win a (Grand) Tichu bet. Even without a Tichu call, one player on the team will hold better cards and the other player will end up facilitating their partner’s goal of going out. Keeping the Dragon in a lesser quality hand that contains low single cards or the Dog could help your partner if he or she ends up in trouble. You can steal the lead from the other team and your next play will help pass the lead back to your partner. The Dragon also guarantees that you will interact with the table. Some hands contain all combinations but none that provide a good way to win the more popular types of tricks. The Dragon allows you to enter the game and start playing the types of combinations you need to see in order to empty you hand.
Today’s Challenge
You opened the following fourteen cards after deciding not to call Grand Tichu.
Dog, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 7, 7, 7, Q, Q, Q, Dragon
How would you play the hand above? What do you pass to each player? Would you ever consider calling Tichu under any circumstances with this hand? If an opposing player calls a (Grand) Tichu before the pass, does that change which cards you pass? Do you try to play a supportive role on the team or do you take a position of trying to go out first?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information

For more information about Tichu check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Tichu? Try the following links.
Amazon:Tichu.
The above link provides the first edition. For red card backs, use the Amazon link with the picture to the side of this information.
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with just about anyone. The entire staff and most of the MtG community knows how to play this game and enjoys it.

Ascension Strategy: How to Win Solo Games

By Brian Durkin

Snapshot of Today’s Challenge

“The bickering that came in war’s wake must end. A Godslayer must take up arms a second time. The Fallen has returned.” – Ascension: Return of the Fallen Rulebook
Are you ready to fight once again? Are you prepared to do this journey alone? In order to tank a god you will need to know what support cards will allow you to slay the mighty Samael. Before entering the ring with The Fallen, draw upon your experience for guidance.

Arbiter of the Precipice
If It Works Then Don’t Fix It
Minimizing your deck size still pays off during solo play. Samael can acquire points fast, so banishing alone will not make your deck degenerate; however, you still need to see your best cards as often as possible to keep pace with The Fallen. If banishers do not present appear try acquiring constructs or heroes that draw cards. This strategy at least keeps your deck from theoretically growing. Building your deck this way will exploit a powerful hero and allow you to defeat a god.
Find the Achilles Heel
In order to defeat any enemy you must know his weaknesses. In solo play, Samael suffers from his inability to choose which cards to defeat or acquire. Take advantage of his tunnel vision by planning on cards to come back to you on future turns. For example you may need to prioritize acquiring Arbiter of the Precipice in a game with other humans, but Samael cannot take Arbiter until it finds its way to the end of the center row. You might find it difficult to break your normal habits of play at first, but remember that taking on a god requires some new ways of thinking. You need to exploit every advantage, especially anything that involves the center row and what Samael will defeat and acquire.
God Complex
Askara of Fate

If you can manipulate what cards Samael will take at the end of your turns you put yourself in a great position to win the game. Prioritize cards like Seer of the Forked Path and Askara of Fate. Effects that banish cards from the center row allow you to control everything in solo play: what cards Samael acquires, what monsters Samael defeats, how long the game will take to play. Assuming you do not defeat monsters yourself, preventing Samael from defeating monster through banish effects extends how long the game will last. This puts you in a great position to acquire better cards than Samael and ultimately score more honor tokens.
When to Let Samael Tap Out
Combining all the fore mentioned strategies can create degenerate scenarios. If you banish your entire starting deck, acquire only constructs and heroes that draw cards, manipulate the center row so no one defeats monsters, and earn more honor than Samael through acquiring cards you could theoretically continue the punishment forever. Of course eventually the deck or center row will consist of only monsters. You might find yourself in a situation where the last honor tokens must go to someone; however, that does not mean the game will end. Hopefully through your expert control of the board and deck building you assembled a deck that can take infinite turns. Do not know about this combo? Check it out.
Infinite Turn Combo
  • Banish Tablet of Time’s Dawn
  • Hedron Link Device or play Dimension Diver
  • Use Reclamax’s effect
  • Replay Tablet of Time’s Dawn
  • Repeat


You can insure the combo works on a consistent basis with other support cards. Rocket Courier X-99 makes it so you do not need to draw Tablet of Time’s Dawn and replay it because it will start in play again. Any player able to take infinite turns will usually pilot a deck that draws itself every turn as well. Lucky for you the almighty Samael just consumes and does not understand which cards he should take away from you. Punish his ignorance by taking the banish effect cards. With a deck that decreases size over time and controlling the board you will end up in a position where you might score infinite honor tokens. Be the better god and mercy rule Samael. You need to finish up that game somehow so you go tell your friends about it.
Today’s Challenge
You start a solo game. You open with the five Apprentices and the center row contains the following cards in order from their distance from the center row.
  • Arbiter of the Precipice
  • Askara of Fate
  • Wolf Shaman
  • Snap Dragon
  • Hectic Scribe
  • Tablet of Time’s Dawn


What would you acquire first? How do the cards Samael will acquire affect your decisions? What do you acquire on your second turn? Do you play in a way that attempts to prevent Samael from acquiring Tablet of Time’s Dawn?
Let us know what you think.
Additional Information:
For more information about Ascension: Return of the Fallen, check the product page on BoardGameGeek.com.
Interested in purchasing a copy of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer? Try the following links.
You can purchase Ascension: Return of the Fallen from here:
If you live in the tri-state area, consider stopping by AU to pick up a copy and play with the staff. Almost every staff member knows how to play, and most of the MTG community that hangs out in the store enjoys playing pick up games as well.

Alternate Universes – Ascension