Well, back to the trenches for another day of combat. The guys are all deep in concentration, bent over their tables with the intense focus of a true war gamer. As I introduce myself to more of the punters, it becomes apparent that one of the pre - requisites of coming to this conference is to be called Karsten/Carsten (depending on country).
So I start chatting to ... you guessed it, Karsten. Let's call this guy Karsten the 1st of Hanover.
Now don't be fooled by the friendly easy going smile on Karsten 1's face, because behind that facade lies the shrewd and ruthless mind of the US Commander in Chief.
Karsten 1 of Hanover is by all accounts an extremely good player, and in his spare time he manages to hold down a job as a maths, science and technology teacher, as well as being a family man, married to Ilona and with four beautiful children.
Next, I move on to talk to Carsten. Let's call this one Carsten 2, of Denmark, who currently lives in exile in Sweden.
Carsten 2 tells me that has been playing the game for the last 23 years. (I think to myself he must have started when he was a toddler - surely this guy can't be older than about 25). He loves board games, but WiF is his favourite. He likes it because it has so many strategic and tactical decisions, there's so much planning, fiddling with numbers, and history involved. He's playing Germany, and it's a close game - which is good. He's probably played around 150 games in his life, and reckons he's won around 60 % of them (I'm sure he's modestly rounding down). Favourite drink at the conference - Dunkel Beer.
Moving right along to the next Carsten, this time Carsten 3 of Copenhagen.
Carsten 3 from Copenhagen is playing the Commonwealth, and it's going well for him so far, although he claims the Russians are not doing well, and have left the building. This is his fifth Euro WIFcon, and he usually plays each Sunday at home, on Vassal.
The next Carsten I speak to is from Stockholm, and he claims his name is actually Johan (but I have my doubts). This is his 13th WIFcon, so he knows all the guys
pretty well. He doesn't play regularly at home, because he can't find enough players in Stockholm. So all you guys reading this in Stockholm, please contact Carsten (aka Johan) and start up a group. I ask why he doesn't play on Vassal, and he explains that he prefers the real deal - the counters, maps and dice. I understand that; the game is so impressive all laid out that I'd prefer it this way too.
All this chatting to Carsten's has made me thirsty, so I venture into the kitchen to grab a drink.
Hmm, not so easy to find a clean glass here, maybe I'll leave it for a bit and go find another Carsten to talk to.
Now this is one cool dude. Probably the coolest looking character here, he introduces himself as Christophe from Belgium. No beer swilling from a can for this guy, instead, he's holding an elegant long stemmed glass and sipping fine red wine. This is his 17th WIFcon, and he's playing the US. At this stage he's feeling confident (and he certainly looks it - as he drags on his Cuban cigar). One thing he loves about WIF is that you get to be in a war without killing anyone. Good point, thanks Christophe.
I'm not having much luck finding other Carsten's to talk to for the moment, so I have a peep around at some of the tables
and I admire the beautifully laid out counters on the maps. So neat, clean and precise. A slight contrast to the kitchen ... but never mind, these guys clearly have more important things to concentrate on.
Next up is Björn from Berlin. As well as apparently being an excellent player, Bjorn is a bit of a philosopher. He explains to me how playing WIF has helped to shape his world view.
"In this game you have to make decisions with uncertain outcomes. Therefore I have to think about the possibilities and the risks and then make a decision with the best knowledge I have. Now, afterwards, with a dice roll, that can either turn out to be a good or a bad decision, but I have to accept it because I made it with the best knowledge I had at the time. So I've learned from the game not to blame myself when I make a bad decision in my life, I've learned to accept my decisions more, and gain more self acceptance. And a lot of people feel that they can't make choices in their lives, but we all have choices and I know I can change things in my life, I just have to think about the possible outcomes of my decisions. I just have to take my life into my own hands and say what do I want to do, what are the possibilities? And WIF has helped me to understand this. This is why it's also a great game for young people".
Well said Björn.
Over and out from the front,
Dateline: Hofgeismar, Germany, 11 October 2016
Well this trip to Europe has been full of firsts for me. It was my first time in Portugal (which I loved), first time in Barcelona (which I loved), first time in Prague (which I loved), and now, the first time ever at a WIF conference. (Which I ... - hmmm let me think about it. Maybe love isn't the right word here). But it certainly is an eye opener.
So I arrive at the conference which is held - not at a conference centre (as one might expect), but at the local shooting range. So that whilst the WIF gamers are deep in thought and strategising their next brilliant manoeuvre, there is the soothing background noise of rifles going off. OK...
Inside the hall, there are 5 tables set up with the huge WIF maps.
And thousands of pretty little coloured counters which almost look like you could eat them.
I wonder what would happen if I tried, but I decide not to, as I suspect the gamers would object. I'm struck by how neatly they're stacked in little piles, sorted into various sections of numerous plastic boxes, lovingly tended to like precious jewels.
The next thing I notice is a lot of beer bottles. And wine bottles. Most of them empty. These guys are obviously having a good time!
So it's time to meet these chaps and see what makes them tick. First up, I speak to Terry.
Terry lives in Somerset, UK, and in this game he's playing as Germany. He's played WIF hundreds of times, but considering the scale of the game, this means only around 20 complete games. He's won around three of them. He loves the scale of WIF, and the size. So size really DOES matter, I think to myself. He then adds, "Harry's genius is that in a game of this scale it could turn out to be plodding, but this is a bit counter intuitive which makes it more fun. His wife Sue, (happily back home in England) has two views on the game - the first is that she is happy it makes him happy, and the second, well, let's just say she thinks it's basically a whole heap of guys sitting around playing with each other!! I think I'd like to meet this Sue.
Terry has a final comment about WIF before I move on - that the funny thing about it is that someone inevitably makes a terrible mistake at some point in the game - and it's oddly always in their favour!!!
Next I talk to Holger, who allegedly built his entire house around his enormous train set.
Holger is from Berlin, and is playing the Commonwealth in this game. He's completed around 50 WIF games, and although I've heard he is a very good player, he claims the number he has won is not so great, because many of his games have been against the world's best player, Kai. He is less of a beer drinker than most of the other punters and is probably the best dressed person in the room.
Now I move onto Michael, who lives in Hanover and works in banking.
He is also playing the Commonwealth in this game.. He loves WIF and enjoys the element of luck involved with the dice roll, and the way you must use your head to play (like soccer I wonder?) and the logistics involved. "You must always build for the next four or five turns. Although there must be skill - luck is definitely a factor". Favourite drink at the conference - you guessed it - beer!
Chanel lives in Bristol UK ,and claims his wife Caroline is happy for him to come to WIF conferences.
She feigns interest while he explains his strategies, and let's face it, who can blame her? And also, what trouble can he really get up to here in a shooting hall with a whole heap of men in track suits playing board games? He likes the fact that WIF will keep Alzheimers at bay, and that it takes him into an alternate reality, keeps him totally focussed and out of trouble. He loves playing Italy, because you have very few units, so you have to maximise your cusps of decision. This is his first time at a Euro WIFcon, and hopefully not the last.
Tobias is from Sweden, and has been playing WIF for around 16 years.
He loves he size of WIF, and the way that you get to have fun playing whether or not you win or lose. He's also playing the Commonwealth at his table. He loves coming to the conference and playing on the large tables - at home he plays only by Vassal. Favourite conference drink - beer!!! He's anticipating either a win or stalemate in this game.
Well there's heaps more to say from the front, but since it's been a heavy day in the trenches for me, it's time to say Guten Nacht - and I'll be back with more tomorrow.
USWiFcon kicks off again tomorrow, good luck to all competitors.
I believe they will be playing with the Collector's edition maps. To show what a challenge that will be first time up, check out the downloads section, I have added the draft collector's edition maps. They are only at 5% resolution but are good enough to show all the massive changes since WiF7, most particularly the middle east, Africa, Russia, Turkey, Siberia and the pacific (pretty much everywhere really).
If any of the competitors have any battle sitreps they would like to report please go ahead. particularly interested to see how the Russian and Pacific campaigns pan out.
Have your say Posted on 02 Jun 15:00 , 17 comments