First of all the venue. Cottingham is a nice place. A bit poncey for me with a large concentration of coffee shops. We did go out for a point or two at the Fair Maid, but if I go back next year I'll look at a couple of other boozers to try.
The Lawns was not that bad - we had a last minute switch for the gaming, as the main building had works ongoing that had not finished as promised, and ended up using kitchen areas in the building we were staying in (Ferens Hall). In return they gave us a refund and free meals. Rooms were ok for student accommodation - I never had an en-suite in my day.
The tournament set-up was pretty relaxed. Having got there and found my room, we had a relaxed Friday afternoon as people turned up and we started up the banter over a beer or two. There had been hopes of 14 people coming but a few drop outs meant we had a total of 11 (one of whom fell ill after the first day). The TD had decided to stage 5 rounds so that everyone could get at least 3 games in if they wanted to, and most of us did 4. The scoring was C-Diplo in each game, with the top three games counting in a ratio of 1:1:0.5
The inaugural YorkCon was on.
Round 1 - Friday night
I got drawn as England, a power I don't really like that much, but seem to play a lot. Germany was a player I know well, who likes to throw curve-balls (and is keen on advising wacky moves to others), France was tournament first-timer. I thought I was doing ok at first, but France decided to stab me early, while Germany allowed Russia to take Sweden. I was stuck on 4 for a couple of years as I tried to fend off the French, but then there was a sudden turn as Germany decided to work with me and France [bizarrely] offered to vacate Liverpool. I pushed France back, and as Austria was demolishing Russia after they took Turkey down to a poor position I piled in and hoovered up the builds. Germany was just sitting there while Austria was going for the lead, so I stabbed him as hard as I could and ended up on 9, in second place.
I accepted a draw 1 year early because I could not see a way to gain any more centres than Austria, and felt Germany should be allowed to get something out of the game.
My best game of the weekend, not just in that it was my best score and easily highest dot-count and position, but also the satisfaction of dealing with what looked like a losing position.
Round 2 - Saturday morning
I skipped this one as I went for a 5k run at 9am, and got back in time for the game to start at 10 sweaty and frazzled. David Wigglesworth, who had topped the first board as Russia went on to win as France, and so was clearly the favourite to win. I played Caylus, for the first and probably last time.
Round 3 - Saturday afternoon
I pulled Germany. Wigglesworth was Russia. Dave Simpson had England and Brian O'Farrell France. EF offered me a Western Triple straight off, and I agreed on the basis that we all wanted to stop the Wiggle having a third good game, pretty much killing off the tournament. So we got to a pretty good position, and I was some way into Austria when the inevitable stab came. I had sensed it, and stymied them in the East for a while, but was facing a crumble in the West once France joined in.
We carried on for a while, and Turkey made a quick run at the end. It looked like being a three way tie on 10 each EFT, but Russia and I worked a way to nick a centre off England (my repayment for the stab) and allow Turkey in. I got a lot of flack for that, but also this earned me the 'Midsummer Madness' award for crazy move of the weekend. 3 centres was the second best performance for Germany over the weekend, and I was in the running for the country award until the last game. Turkey took the win, having come second in Round 2, and so there was some competition opening up (part of the reasoning for my move)
Round 4 - Saturday night
We started an hour later than planned to have a curry dinner, so the game was slated for a 1am finish. Some the guys were playing their third game in 15 hours, and we were pretty frazzled.
I was drawn in Italy, with the guys who had Tripled me in Austria and Russia. They were taking on Turkey and asked me to help, but I had decided to move for France instead. I sent a fleet back and was about to help when Austria (Brian O'Farrell) misordered. It was not the only one of the game, I had one and so did Russia, but it was really bad timing. It allowed Russia to switch to working with Turkey, and me to pile in on Austria. We did, and then I was going for France, but could not quite break through when England came to his rescue - France had build only one fleet all game, so the Med was mine, with Turkish help. I anticipated a Turkish stab - mainly because he'd just stabbed Russia for Rumania, and pulled back to turn turtle. In the vacuum England (played by the TD Graeme Murphy) easily topped the board and I combined with Russia and France to try and stop Turkey.
I ended on 4 when France nipped into Venice instead of helping me keep Trieste, but it was a fun and chaotic late night game
Round 5 - Sunday lunchtime
The TD stood aside, even though he'd only played two games, and a win would have put him in contention. Excluding those who'd played four games already meant everyone else got to play, so I was in and hoping for a better game to improve my score.
When I was drawn France, with the leader Wigglesworth as Germany and the second placed player Jeremy Tullett as England. I went to them openly and said I was not going to try and play games with them, if they wanted to use me against the other I would be fine, but I'd rather not get involved in that and help them both. I did kind of expect it when they both came for me, and spent the whole game telling them I would fight to keep going and not fold in front of one or the other. In the meantime a Juggernaut appeared to be forming which at least kept Italy off my back. As I had predicted, Russia merely turned on Russia as soon as Austria was out of it (and Austria had played some fantastic spoiling play to provoke it). Italy had already decided to be the point of the spear and headed for me, and EF asked me to do the same thing in return for me keeping Iberia as the English navy went into the Med to work with my two remaining fleets. That kept me alive, while some very quiet scheming with Italy to allow us both to correctly guess the moves in the Med kept the game on a balance. We agreed a draw with Russia top (O'Farrell coming third in the tournament), England second (Tullett in second overall) and Germany third (Wiggle extending he lead to win YDC by nearly 40 points)
I had two centres, so it being my worst game counted for nought. Due to my good first game I was in 6th place out of 11. Dead middle again (I was 8/15 at MidCon, and ended up 7/16 in the Tour of Britain in 2013), but it was good fun and I would do it again.
Also the two new guys who turned up are studying down the road in the same city where my main gaming group are based, and we spent Sunday night learning how to play Firefly.