Saturday, August 6, 2016

The numbers

I am back from WBC and I was curious to look at how my numbers shook out for the week.  I played a bunch of different games competitively, but it turns out my results don't look much like I would have thought.  Heck, I can't imagine anyone would have picked how it would go.  Mainly the strange thing is that the game I was best in I lost in the semis, and two games I only learned right before the heats I did very well in, one of which gave me a 2nd place plaque.

Games that I was really prepping for:

Puerto Rico
1st   1st   SemiFinal  3rd

2 1st
1 3rd

Games I thought I was competent but not great at:

Vegas Showdown
1st   1st   SemiFinal 1st *Final 2nd*
1st 1st 2nd   (Skipped SemiFinal due to conflict)
2nd 1st 2nd  (Missed SemiFinal due to tiebreakers)
7 Wonders
1st 1st SemiFinal 2nd
Lords of Waterdeep
1st  (Skipped SemiFinal due to conflict)

9 1st
5 2nd

Games I didn't know the rules to, or barely so:
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
1st 1st Semifinal 1st *Final 2nd*
Thurns and Taxis
1st 1st Semifinal 3rd
Galaxy Trucker

6 1st
1 2nd
1 3rd
1 5th

Super Random Dice Games
Can't Stop
1st 4th
Ra Dice
1st 2nd 3rd  SemiFinal 3rd

2 1st
1 2nd
2 3rd
1 4th

Grand Total:

19 1st
7 2nd
4 3rd
1 4th
1 5th

The pattern is consistent - I win a lot, but my wins have nothing at all to do with my preparation.  I did just as well in each category in the skill based games, winning the majority of my matches no matter whether I had logged hundreds of games, a few dozen games, or zero games before playing at WBC.  The super random dice games I was barely better than average, which really is about what you would expect.

I only missed advancing in two games, both of which I only played one match in.  Galaxy Trucker I legitimately suck at, and Ra I took a big risk trying to place well and it blew me out.  I am not *good* at that game, but I could totally win it.

If I really want to have a massive win percentage I think I would approach it by skipping all semifinal games and just focusing on playing as many heats in games I am competent in as possible.  Far better to be in a heat in a game I am okay at than a semifinal in a game I am excellent at, I think.

Not that I am trying to maximize my win percentage that way, but that is how I would do it if I was aiming for that.

I definitely need to learn some more games before next year though.  There were lots of gaps where I could have fit in more heats but I didn't know how to play the games at all.  Lots of games at WBC were absolutely boring to me, either because they were extremely random or because they took a really long time to play.  However, I am sure there are a bunch of games that fit in the 1 or 2 hour time slots that I would greatly enjoy so I need to get cracking so I have more options for next year.

I think it is happy circumstance that my best tactic for winning a lot of plaques happens to be the same as my best tactic for having a blast - learn to be pretty good at lots of games and play them all.  I am really good at Puerto Rico and I lost.  I think I was the strongest overall player at my semi final table, but I got beat.  I watched the finals and I think I am as good as any of those players, but I didn't make it.  Playing one game one hundred times makes you better... but I don't think it wins you nearly as many plaques as playing ten games ten times each, presuming you are good at games in general.  And like I said, I will have a blast playing ten games ten times each and going in feeling good about each of them, because I have a good chance to get to the final table at something, even if I don't know what that something is.  Also it means that I don't have to fuss about scheduling - I will just go to whatever heats I want and attend the semis of any game where I make the cut.  Nice and relaxed.

I have a plan.  It involves playing a lot of board games.  Do it!


  1. "Competent but not great at" Lords of Waterdeep after one game? :-)

    1. Yep. I think it is an easy to understand game where you can't actually build a long term strategy. It is all tactics, and I think after a single play I was plenty good enough to be considered competent at the game. This is not true of many other games. For example, I had one play of Galaxy Trucker under my belt and I was *horrible* at that game.

  2. I endorse the "play lots of games" plan. It seems good.

    Also, some of what makes WBC random is the quality of players you're up against. In many tournaments, the heats are against people who play the game occasionally, and so being a good gamer means you'll usually make the semis because you're on the same 'don't remember the rules and strategies well' footing as them. Other tournaments - especially the smaller ones - are shark-infested waters and you can end up at a table as strong as any finals table (except you don't get a plaque if you do well).

    1. Yeah, I ended up at Agricola heats against some formidable opponents, one per table. I played against Rob, who was the GM, Sceadeau, who is a multiple time winner, and you! Many of my other opponents weren't that strong, but I had some real competition at every table for sure.