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2018 Dixiecon Report
Here we are again, time for another Dixiecon report - this time from the 32nd annual tournament held May 2018 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This year's event started with a bang, as we had nine players for open gaming on the Thursday night before the Con. In addition to the four, count em, FOUR boards of Terraforming Mars played that evening, the fellas also broke in a new game (Space Empires) and broke out a pretty old one (San Juan). Glorious time was had by all.
Which only the set the stage for an epic amount of open gaming which took place all day on Friday before the Diplomacy tournament began with the 6pm Round One Lewis Pulsipher joined us again this year to get playtesters for some of his new game designs, including a Chinese civil war game called Mandate of Heaven that Robert Koehler and I tried out. Other titles seeing play before the official Dixiecon start that evening included Doom Fleets, Space Empires, Terraforming, Concordia, and the triumphant return of on old Dixie classic title - Titan!
We also had the first of many games throughout the weekend of Stratomatic Baseball. Apparently Yankees (not just the New York kind) actually care a lot about pro baseball. Who knew?
I knew the Diplomacy tournament was going to be large this year, but frankly the numbers continued to grow throughout the month of May and even after I arrived on Thursday night. One fellow, Emmanuel Brown, literally heard about the tournament while walking through Granville on Friday and, already knowing how to play Dip, joined us for Round One on the spot! He was joined by 10 other first-time Dixiecon attendees, most of whom were playing in their first Dip tournament of any kind.
No question the Hobby is seeing a bit of a resurgence in new players entering tournament play, which is obviously outstanding. Many folk are responsible for this, starting with Chris Martin. Eric Grinnell brought three new Kentuckians to go along with himself and his son Dan. Two of my friends from Hickory made the trip this year, Eric Erikson for Dip and Bill Morgan for non-Dip play. If you are reading this and know of some folk who need to learn Diplomacy, come jump on this bandwagon with us and start that recruiting!
Anyway, back to the story. After giving out leftover awards from past Dixiecons (and giving Steve Koehler his Here I Stand pbem tournament trophy for WDC because, you gotta remember, WDC is now run out of Hickory NC just like Dixiecon is so I gotta do my part) the five boards of Dip started in earnest. Online variant master Alex Ronke's Austria took a three-way draw in board 1A with the FG of Pitkisser Jeff Ladd and grizzled Dixie veteran Edwin Turnage making his return to the tournament. There were a couple of 4-way draws and the like as well - but I found Game 1E's result interesting - Tom Kobrin's 4-center England managed to get into a 3-way with Tim Jaxon's 13-center Italy and David Miller's 11-center Russia. That sounds like an interesting story - though I doubt Tom will come clean about it.
Friday night also saw the start of our Iron Man tournament, which amalgamates a player's scores from all his non-Dip gaming during the tournament. As usual, we had a fair amount of folk who came just to play in the Iron Man. Games hitting the tables that night included Robo Rally (of course, with Mathiases hanging around this was going to happen), Vying for Power, Terraforming Mars, Gin, Blood of the Englishmen, Nations, Codenames, Tichu, Scythe, Cash N Guns, and some Texas Hold Em.
The Saturday morning Dip round also doubles as our team tournament, as teams of three add their scores from the round together to see who did the best job of picking teammates. Game 2A was a fun one, as hobby veterans Chris Martin and Jim Yerkey shared a three-way draw with new player Emily Turnage. Doug Moore took his shot in 2C with an Italian position at 9 centers in 1903, 13 by 1906, but stopped at 17 centers when the FGI was voted in at the end of 1908. Kudos to Clem Jayne and Jeff Ladd for stopping that freight train - Doug has rode that to victory many times before at Dixiecons past. Another important result was in 2D, where Andy Bartalone and Eric Grinnell garnered a 2-way draw with Austria and France - could one of them parlay that into a Dixiecon championship? Stay tuned folks.
Saturday during the daytime in the Iron Man event was also a strenuous affair, as players were knocked out of Dip and thus knocked in to non-Dip play. After the BBQ event, most everyone dove into their Iron Man nighttime gaming as well, so the total list of titles played Saturday is pretty long: Kolejka, Chess, Isle of Skye, Mai Jong, Game of Thrones, The Great Heartland Trading Co, Outpost, Railroad Tycoon, St Petersburg, Small World, Mint Works, Nations, Stratomatic Baseball, and multiple boards of Terraforming, Viticulture, Roll for the Galaxy and Power Grid. Whew!
I thought I was going to be short of five boards of Dip for the Sunday morning round, but lucky for me my old buddy from many a Dixiecon past - Todd Craig - was able to make it over to fill out that last board. The last round is the only one with a time limit - it ends sometime between 3:30 and 5:30 which the players do not know. This year, as is often the case, the mere fact that a time limit may be looming was enough to get the games over without time actually having to be called. Probably the most important result here is the GT two-way in Game 3C between David Miller and Tom Kobrin, helping the former to win his first Dixiecon title, and the latter to nail down fourth place overall. Thus was Bartalone robbed of his chance to repeat his championship performance from 2017, taking second this year instead. Perennial contender Doug Moore took third. I was very pleased to see longtime Dip hobbyist for first-time Dixie attendee Tim Jaxon do well at fifth place. Hudson Defoe and Chris Martin tied for the last two spots on the Top Board.
The Iron Man continued on Sunday as well, with Roll for the Galaxy getting a lot of play, along with more Nations. After the awards ceremony and post-Tournament dinner together at a local eatery, it was back to Granville for many of us for open gaming until dawn. Unlike last year, it was actually NOT all Terraforming Mars. Indeed, the "Game of the Con" this year was probably Stratomatic Baseball, with Race for the Galaxy as a close second.
Thanks to Michael Lowrey for all his hard work in scoring the Con, as usual. Thanks to those who helped with airport runs and other crucial assistance throughout the weekend. And thanks to the 40 Dippers and 15 other gamers who joined us this year for Dixiecon 32. See y'all next time!