By Scott Beall
Twenty-five people turned out for the inaugural run of 878 Vikings and took the side of either the Viking invaders or the English defending their homes. The tournament was run as a four round Swiss with the four best records advancing to the single-elimination finals.
The preliminary rounds favored the English, who won 15 of the 24 contests. Each side had one auto-victory (Vikings capturing at least fourteen cities at the end of a round, or the English holding all of the cities at the end of a round).
At the conclusion of the Swiss rounds, the four best records were Jeff Miller at 3-1, Chris Trimmer and David Schneider at 3-0, and John Parker, at 2-2. John edged out Gregory Hultgren, also 2-2, by virtue of having better margins of victory (counted by city differential above/below the minimum required for victory for each side). The tournament format gave players a point for playing in a loss, so both John and Gregory were ahead of Rebecca Roppolo, who although going 2-0, only played the final two rounds.
The semifinals featured Jeff against David and Chris vs John. In the semis and finals, players were allowed to bid cities above/below the threshold to play their preferred side. Jeff and Chris, as the respective higher seeds, bid zero for the English, which was accepted in each case.
In the first semifinal, John invaded Northumbria with his initial army. By round 3, he had pushed into Mercia and controlled five cities. At the start of Round 5, the Vikings only controlled four cities, but only one Treaty Card had been played. No more Treaty Cards came out in Round 5 or 6. At the beginning of Round 7, the Jeff played the second Treaty Card, and with both factions moving first, reduced the Vikings to two cities. John had the last two moves but was only able to take four more cities, for a total of six, three shy of what he needed to win.
The second semifinal, saw David’s Vikings take London on the opening play, and then sit tight. In Round 2 he took Winchester and was then up to four cities by Round 3. Starting Round 5, the Vikings held seven cities, and both Treaty Cards for the English had been played earlier, as they had been the only movement cards available to them when played. The Beserkers moved first and captured three cities, followed by the Norsemen who took three more and the Viking total stood at thirteen. Chris had the last two moves but needed to retake five cities to win. The Thegn faction went third and he recaptured two cities to reduce the count to eleven. The Housecarls retook one city by playing the Rebellion card, then managed to battle and capture two more to reduce the Vikings to eight and squeeze out the win for the English.
Jeff bid zero for the English in the Final, and Chris was not willing to bid one, so chose to play the Vikings.
Chris opened aggressively. Halfdan landed at York with his host. Northumbrian Discord was played, which allowed him to take York in one round. He then played Viking Ships and sailed to Canterbury, took it, then continued on to London. The Beserkers cleared a few non-city shires but returned in mass to London.
For his Housecarl move, Jeff consolidated, then with the Thegn, attacked London from four directions. With the help of Improved Training card, he retook London and killed Halfan.
End of Round 1- Vikings held 2 cities.
Round 2 saw both sides mass and consolidate. Bjorn Ironside entered the board, but simply consolidated at Canterbury.
Round 3 started with the Housecarls who barely moved. Ivar the Boneless was the new Viking leader as the Norseman invaded Dunholm in Northumbria and took it and Carlisle (half the English Army fled in the first roll). Ivar continued on in the Berserker turn takings Manchester and Chester.
With the Thegn move, Jeff played his 2nd treaty card, so the game would end after Round 5. He assembled an army to attack Manchester. Chris played both Feigned Retreat and Viking Fort, but the English were still successful.
End of Round 3- Vikings had 5 cities.
Round 4 saw Jeff’s Housecarl go first, but the only reinforcements they have to place are 2 fled units. They simply repositioned forces. All this time, large English forces in London and Selsey continue to hem in Bjorn Ironside in Canterbury.
The Berserker move was next with the Viking Reinforcements. Ivar retook Manchester then attacked Hereford, succeeding, but his army was down to three Norsemen and three Berserkers.
The Thegn went third and retook Chester. Finally, with the Norsemen's turn, Ivar attacked Leicester, but Jeff played the Spy Card and moved units from London to assist in the defense. After a back and forth battle, the English defense prevailed, and Ivar was killed. With his second move, Chris had Bjorn take a weakened London followed by Winchester.
At the End of Round 4, the Vikings held eight cities, needing to net one more the final round.
Round 5 (Final Round)
The Norsemen were drawn first. Ube Ragnarsson was the leader, but Jeff played the Saxon Navy Card and blocked most of Wessex from Viking entry. Ube invaded from the Safern See and took Lichfield. Bjorn took Oxford but returned most of the remainder of his dwindling army to Winchester. The Vikings had 10 cities.
With the Housecarl drawn next, Alfred the Great entered play and attacked Winchester along with the Alfreds Gambit Card (five Fryd assist in the attack). The Vikings played Shield Wall in defense. Alfred took Winchester, but Bjorn was able to escape with his last unit on a Command Decision roll. Other English armies attacked Oxford and London but lost both battles. Vikings were reduced to nine cities.
The Thegn went next and Jeff had Alfred’s army (reinforced by a mass of previously fled units) retake Oxford and attack London. A bloody battle ensued with the English victorious, but once again, Bjorn Ironside escaped. With his second move, Jeff had an army retake Manchester.
The Berserker turn was the last of the game with the Vikings holding six cities. Chris needed to take three to win. The English played the Danegeld Card which removes Viking units before each battle. Ube Ragnarsson was able to take Chester in one roll and go on to take Manchester. With his last move, four Norsemen and a Berserker moved from York to attack Lincoln, defended by a lone Thegn, who was hoping for strong Fryd support. The Berserker was removed due to the Danegeld Card, but Chris played Viking Terror, so no Fryd were drawn…. The Thegn defense rolled a hit leaving three Norseman. Chris rolled and got two Flees and one Hit, removing the Thegn, and leaving a single Norsemen to capture the city and win the game with the 9 city minimum required.
Congratulations to Chris Trimmer, the champion of the inaugural 878 Vikings WBC tourney.
2nd place - Jeff Miller
3rd place - David Schneider
4th place - John Parker
5th place - Gregory Hultgren
6th place - Rebecca Roppolo
Thanks to everyone for playing, and to Uwe Eickert and Academy Games for providing me with several copies to ensure that we had enough games for all who wanted to play.
--We want to say a special thank you to Scott Beall for both organizing and providing coverage of this year's tournament.--
We're thrilled to invite you to an exclusive YouTube livestream event dedicated to our much-anticipated Stellaris Board Game! Mark your calendar for 12/27 at 1PM Eastern Time (ET) for a deep dive into the final stages of building this epic game.