Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Walter and the Unwashed Newbie

Walter Eardley

(... or this is what I get for throwing a newbie a bone.)

The only way to grow our game is to bring in new players. New blood! The future of our hobby! With these new players come new “ideas”. That is the problem with newbies … They think … therefore they are …

Case in point, over the last several weeks, I have been looking forward to the May HHS gathering at Nick’s Super Groovy ITL Pub and Gentleman’s Club. I am scheduled to play Mark “The Newbie” Carter in The Fugitives. The Newbie sends me some email about ROAR and some statistics about the number of Russian wins when played during the month of May in an odd number year when the German player brings three tables to the game day. He seemed to be begging to play the Russians so he would “Have a chance” against my greatness so I figured what the hell, throw him a bone. Sure … You can have the Russians.

The night before the game day, I have some dim recollection that I have to do something before the start of play as the Germans. I scan the scenario card looking for what I remember about the German setup. What strikes me is what I don’t remember about this scenario. Crap … ELR 2 … Conscripts! … Low Ammo? Geez …Whose idea was it to pull this Alsatian Wolf Hound out from under the years of dust. Oh well … If it makes the newbie happy we will continue.

Since he is a “SK Newbie”, I sent him a few notes covering some of the “Newbie Traps” I knew he would fall into. I had hoped this would help eliminate the “Explain to the Newbie Why His Setup Was Not Valid Phase”. A few minutes later, I receive back a dissertation about how the setup he had worked on for the last three weeks needed to be completely changed and a four page write up about the effectiveness of the Russian 57LL shell against late war German steel and something about studying Thermodynamics. I told him he should kick back and drink a beer or twelve. I like my opponents hung over and jet lagged if at all possible even if they are newbies.

The morning of the game day, I pack up my 3 tables and 6 chairs and head to Nick’s Place. In the back of my mind, there is something about 3 tables which I just can’t seem to shake. Oh well … It must just be my brain acting funny. I shake of the thought and hop in my car. About half way to Nick’s a sudden horror washes over me. While thinking about those stupid three tables I have forgotten my backpack! My backpack! My rules … My charts … My dice … My dice cup … My super cool SAN cards from the Austin tournament! Everything left sitting in my study because I could not stop thinking about the significance of three tables! Not a good start …

Taking a few deep breaths, I steady my heart rate and slowly calm down. How bad could it be? Certainly Nick has a glass I can barrow. Certainly someone has dice they will share … Certainly …

Arriving at Nick’s, The Newbie is waiting for me. He has all the eagerness of an 18 year old boy taking “The Friendliest Girl in School” to the Prom. He is hopping from one foot to the other babbling on about studying for the last month and something about Thermodynamics this and statistical equivalencies that and the German player bringing three tables to games days in May … Before I can even shake hands with the Austin guys and welcome them to our fair city even if it is ITL he is dragging me to the table and handing me a tray with my counters already pull. Trying not to get flustered, I take another deep breath and note with thankfulness the Newbie actually seems to have remember to shower before going out into public. Knowing Newbies are … well … Newbies, I start to check the counters. Hmm … “Hey Newbie … You shorted me an LMG and a half tack … WTF?” Knowing newbies are too na├»ve to try to win a game by “Slight of Counter”, I pass if off as … well … just being a newbie.

With an innocent look on his face he hands me his counter storage boxes. I pull the half track and am actually impressed with the nice grid printed out on the box top making it easy to find the piece I am missing. Then I open the “German Infantry Box” …

My eyes go crossed. My hands start to shake. My left eye began to twitch … There are Grey counters mixed in with the German Blue counters. Not just Grey counters in their own compartment but actually sharing the compartment with the blue counters. Of all the counter storage faux pas a person can make, mixing counters of different colors is one of the greatest! Completely frazzled, all I can think is … Newbies … “Good God Newbie … Have you mixed your Italians with your Germans? WTF?”

With much delight The Newbie exclaimed, “Those are Finns! I was reading this article on the internet …”

Obviously, The Newbie had fallen for one of the oldest pranks in the book … “The Counter Storage Hoax of 1994”. Back in the day when Finns were their rightful color of blue, it almost seemed logical to store them at least in the same tray as the Germans but never … ever should they mix. You might end up with Swedes or Danes or something if you don’t watch out! I carefully flick the counters around and pull my missing LMG while taking deep breaths into a paper sack.

Befuddled, I excuse my self. I need to wash my hands and search of a suitable dice cup. Nick offers me three choices. The first makes … well … a fruity sound very fitting of the Montrose area every time I drop the dice. The second is too flat and the dice do not roll. The third is too textured to read the pips on the dice. I guess I was too hard on Nick in the recent ITL v OTL debate and he is paying me back. I decide to go old school and roll in a box top.

Did I mention where I go the dice? Another fatal mistake … I had to ask The Newbie to barrow a pair. I ignored the speech about precision ratios and degrees of randomness and just grabbed a white and a black die.

After three to five hours of trying to decide where to put 6 rubble counters, The Newbie was ready to roll.

During the game, despite being a complete Neanderthal when it comes to Counter Storage, The Newbie plays fairly well. I point to a hex and comment, “That would be a good HIP spot” and where does his stack show up? Right where I pointed … Thinking he would not HIP two stacks close together, I make a move and only some hot dice on my part lets me survive the 8 down 2 shot. I begin to think this newbie is a little salty. With his reinforcing armor, he puts the tank in an excellent spot to interdict both bridges I am trying to cross. He does leave it vulnerable to a Fuast shot and I make him pay. He even giggled at me when I called my sN9 a Shnuggiewoofer. I ignored the three different dialects he pronounced THAT word in.

In the end, I came up about 11 points short which gave The Newbie the victory. Newbies are so cute when they win. You see hope glint in their eyes. They risk a smile. On the inside they are jumping for joy while on the outside they are trying to keep from giggling like a little girl.

Leaning back from the table, I can only think for all his newbieness, this newbie really knows what he is doing. He fooled me several times with dummy counters and making things look like something they were not. He put his HIP units in very nice positions. His AT gun placement was flawless. Even his tank was in a place where I needed a 4 to hit it with a faust. I bet he puts it one hex further away next time. He even bought my slice of pizza for lunch. So much for some easy victories in the future. Next time we play, I guess I will have to take him to that kegger and make sure he spends some quality time with the beer bong if I want a chance to win.


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