Tuesday, February 28, 2017

PrezCon 2017 Championship Formula Racing Results

[Editor's note: I posted this, but it was written by the tournament steward, Chris Brandt.  Pictures by Chris and Don Tatum. -- Doug]

Danny’s Yellow Porsche Leads the field early in race 1. 
Notice the restored Camaro in second place.
This year’s CFR tournament featured the usual crowd of drivers, including myself, defending Champ Brian DeWitt, legendary Doug Gallulo, relatively-new-to-us Don Tatum, Locals Dave Ingraham and Danny Mallison, and veteran driver Mike Greason.  Missing was John Welage.  We also had some new drivers in Dave Wolf, John Steffey, and Mike Lind.

I try to bring something new each year and this year I brought some new track ideas.  I have long used what I call the “model railroad” modular model, where the end of each piece is the same, although the pieces themselves vary.  This year I was able to purchase some nice Masonite hexes, 11” across, already painted for miniatures gaming, and I added some straight pieces I cut on my trusty table saw.  These pieces added some new variety because I also built an adapter between the RR pieces and these new hexes.

I also picked up two new cars, a late 60’s Camaro and what appeared to be an AMC GTX.  They were in really bad shape when I got them (at a hefty price for what they were) and while I’m not a painter, they looked decent on the track after I fixed them up some.  I’m always on the lookout for 1/87 scale cars, as they are not easy to find at a decent price.

Camaro and GTX “Before” Pictures

Race 1
The first race was on a fairly simple track that used a mix of RR and hex-based pieces.  It featured some long straights and 200 MPH top speeds ruled the day.  Danny Mallison jumped out like a rabbit and the field took off in pursuit.  Danny’s yellow DELL Porsche extended his lead and when Doug started pressing him he picked up the dice and started rolling… and rolling… and rolling, but never failed.

Race 1 track with some long, fast straights
and a tight hairpin.
The track had one flaw.  We had a 40/60 curve, 2 lanes but longer longer than the speed limit.  This turned out to be a choke point, which gave Danny the opportunity for the lead.  That piece of track has since been retired after Don spun in HEAVY traffic.  New driver Dave Wolf finished fourth, behind me in third.

Dave Ingraham picked up 5th followed by Don, John, and Mike Lind.  Mike had a piece of wisdom to share after his first race, “Maybe next time I won’t spend all my wear on the first lap.”  Final results.

  1. Danny Mallison
  2. Doug Gallulo
  3. Chris Brandt
  4. Dave Wolf
  5. Dave Ingraham
  6. Don Tatum
  7. John Steffey
  8. Mike Lind
Race 2
Race two slowed things down a bit and drew our biggest field, nine drivers.  Brian, having missed the first race, showed up for the second and picked up where he left off last year, with the win, sneaking by Don at the very end.  Here’s what separates the champs from the chumps.  Midway through the race I was feeling pretty confident.  Although I had only 40 decel compared to the more popular 60, I had my skill chips in hand for those three braking rolls I’d need.  But wait… I thought I had two left and had none!  I was forced to take a naked brake test and failed it!  However, when I picked up my car design tent… there they were.  What a blunder!!  Later in the race, forced to take a REAL naked brake test, I broke the brakes for good and retired… in last.

Occasional racer Chris Gooch finished third, followed by first time racer Anita Landry, who was coached by Brian, who was sitting next to her.  Both Formula De and McGartlin are more popular than CFR/SC at Prezcon but we often get racers from those game in ours when they do not overlap. John Steffey finished next and actually qualified for the finals based on his first two finishes.

Kerry Duggento beat Doug to the line, as he had his problems in traffic.  Mike Greason joined us but the curve before the final straight was very tight and saw several spins, including Mike’s on the last lap.  My broken car finished ninth.  Final results for race 2.
  1. Brian DeWitt
  2. Don Tatum
  3. Chris Gooch
  4. Anita Landry
  5. John Steffey
  6. Kerry Duggento
  7. Doug Gallulo
  8. Mike Greason
  9. Chris Brandt
Race 3
Don found his true calling – track design.  He brought out all the bling, with the bridge, the banked curve, and a mix of hex and RR sections.  Maybe he knew what he was doing because he cruised to the win, with Brian finishing second, a reversal of race 2.  These two were proving to be the ones to beat.  I finished third, edging Doug, with David I, Mike G, and Mike L rounding out the seven driver race.  Mike L DID save some wear, but not enough and bagged his second last place finish.  Final results:
  1. Don Tatum
  2. Brian DeWitt
  3. Chris Brandt
  4. Doug Gallulo
  5. Dave Ingraham
  6. Mike Greason
  7. Mike Lind
Track from race 4.  Bridge!
Race 4
Race four was the race of the pinulator.  Don designed the track again with help from others, and was able to pinulate the entire thing… although he finished the last details as the race was ending!  This race was one of the more interesting ones.  The track was VERY long, with 13 curves and long straights.  We opted to run just two laps but give three laps of wear and driver skill… because we were going to need it.

Don nailed down the top seed for the final with a win in the smallest heat, a six player race that moved very swiftly.  I finished second, edging toward the top spot, with Brian right behind me.  Danny returned to the grid but didn’t fare as well this race finishing fourth.  Mike Greason took fifth and Doug who gambled early failed an accel check crippling his car and his chances for a win during a heat.  This set the finals with eight drivers.  Final race 4 results:
  1. Don Tatum
  2. Chris Brandt
  3. Brian DeWitt
  4. Danny Mallison
  5. Mike Greason
  6. Doug Gallulo
Track from Race 4.
Late in race 4 with standings through
3 races visible.  Don leads Doug and
Danny, followed by Brian, Mike G,
and Chris B.
Although we bid for starting position for the heats, the starting grid for the final is based on points earned during the heats.  We had four heats so each driver could count their best three finishes.  Qualifying points in heats are awarded as follows:
  • 3 points for a win
  • 1 point for participating
  • 1 point for each person you beat to the finish line
Don’s two wins clearly put him on the pole, with Brian in second.  I was third, despite not having one a heat because Danny, who DID win a heat only participated in two races.  Doug tied Danny, but withdrew from the race because he was also in the Puerto Rico final, which he WON – Congrats to Doug.

Dave Ingraham moved up a spot becoming the fifth spot on the grid.  Chris G and John Steffey had conflicts with other tournaments, leaving us with only five drivers for the final, the smallest final I can ever remember by at least 3 drivers.

The track didn’t look that fast, but Brian opted for 180 top speed, noticing that the banked curve, which connected two straights, would give him the opportunity to use that top speed 3 times each lap.  I maxed out wear, while Don decided a big start was the answer.  Danny tried the fast start again, but without having to bid for the pole done simply designed a higher start speed and took off as the rabbit.  Dave went with a conservative car and because he was starting at the back of the grid, didn’t see the need to press early.

Don and Brian fought, passing and drafting each other repeatedly over the three laps.  I had all kinds of wear over Danny but could not shake him to get a clear track.  So, while those two battles raged, Dave I sat back and conserved his car.

I finally lost Danny on the curve following the hairpin when I cleared it and took off for the leaders while Danny was stuck in it.  Don and Brian were nip and tuck, heading to the second to the last curve, which was a very tough, uneven curve.  The inner two lanes were each two spaces with an speed line, but the inner lane was only 60 MPH and the middle lane was 80.  Each had one wear left, but with a slower speed, Brian had to roll on the chance table to keep up and spun.  I was right behind, passed Brian and finished two spaces behind Don for second place.

Danny managed to hold off Dave I for fourth, rolling dice like he owned them.
Starting grid for the final:
  • Don Tatum 27 points (2 wins)
  • Brian Dewitt 22 points (1 win)
  • Chris Brandt 16 points
  • Danny Mallison 14 points (1 win)
  • Doug Gallulo 14 points – withdrew
  • Dave Ingraham 9 points
  • Chris Gooch 7 points - withdrew
  • John Steffey 7 points withdrew

Final Results
  1. Don Tatum – Winner, new Prezcon Champion, and receiver of the plaque.
  2. Chris Brandt
  3. Brian DeWitt
  4. Danny Mallison
  5. Dave Ingraham
[Final editor notes.  I awarded tournament places to the 3 drivers that could have participated in the finals, but withdrew.  So Doug was awarded 6th, Chris got 7th, and John got 8th. -- Doug]

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The What-If Champion of 2016 for Championship Formula Racing

... would have been Chris Long... perhaps the best what-if-champion ever.

In last week's Organized Play rankings update I mentioned that I had pretty good data going back to 2013 [1] for Championship Formula Racing results.  What I mean by pretty good data is more than one source.  Prior to 2013 close to all of my data comes from the World Boardgaming Championship tournament (and its predecessors).

From 2013 on, I had at least 2 major tournaments and sometimes some one-off races to draw from.  Below are some stats from those seasons including what I've logged so far in this season.

A race opportunity is the number of total races you could enter that season if you entered everything.  Because most tournaments end up running multiple simultaneous heats in order to accommodate large numbers of drivers, the number of actual races run is always a good bit larger than the number of race opportunities.

This historical data was good to have.  It gave me some reality checks when fine-tuning the rankings process and the 2016 data is used this year to help weight the competition in each race.

It also means that I can go back and run the rankings for each of those years.  These years aren't official Organized Play seasons and none of the what-if-champions from 2013-2016 will get any prize.

But, just for fun, what would have happened if Championship Formula Racing Organized Play had existed in 2016?  Spoiler alert... Chris Long won and racked up the most points by far of any previous what-if-champion.

A quick note about this season... because the results of a tournament and its races do not count until the tournament is over and it took me a long time to finish my F* PBeM, many of those races actually started in the 2015 season but counted in the 2016 season.

Chris won two races that season but also had two second place finishes that counted for more than many wins do based on the competition.  His best race was a win in the top tier of the F* PBeM which had a field rating of 1.55.  He placed second in another race in that series.  He also won a qualifying heat at WBC that year and placed second in a top tier race in the Redscape PBeM.

Chris' main competition in 2016 came from Randy Needham and Fabio Pellegrino.  Both won 3 races to Chris' 2 but while their top-2 races scored them more points Chris' 3rd and 4th best races closed the gap for him leaving him with a slight edge in points from his top-4 races that season.

Chris really pulled away in the rankings due to his tournament results.  Chris not only won F*, he finished 3rd in Redscape's tournament that season.  Combined he received 52.54 points from those two tournaments -- more than double anyone else in 2016.

Bruce Rae was Chris' closest competition based on tournament results after winning WBC that year.  But Bruce labored in lower tiers of F* that season and ended up 15th.  Michael Polcen won the Redscape tournament but finished 19th in F* and 26th at WBC.

One of the reasons that Chris' total score of 161.73 was so much higher than previous what-if-champions is because the 2016 what-if-season was the largest to that point in every metric except total numbers of tournaments.  But Chris drove the hell out of that season and gaped a great field of competitors.

[ 1 ] I name seasons based on the year they end.  So the current 2017 season started Septemberish 2016 but will end after WBC 2017.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cthulhu Wars Unboxing

Michael opens his new copy of this game and we discuss our impressions from our previous and only game play to that point.  We show off our lack of knowledge about the game and I show off my bad camera skills.

We've played the game again since.  I still like it and still feel like I don't know how to play it well.  Or maybe I just need to stop trying to play with Yellow Sign.

Many thanks to Steve Schillinger and Braddock Station Garrison for allow us to use their music.  Check them out.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Championship Formula Racing Organized Play Rankings Update

A couple of weeks ago I announced CFR's organized play series.  What I did not mention at the time is that the premiere season of CFR OP is already underway.  The 2017 season will end with this summer's World Boardgaming Championships at the end of July.  Which means we are already months into that season.

So far 64 different drivers have participated in 19 different races.  Although many of those races occurred simultaneously so there have been 7 unique race opportunities so far this season.  Most of the races so far stem from the 3 rounds of my play by mail which ended in January.  There have also been 4, one-off races held this year: 2 PBeMs run under Redscape's banner and two run by me at small conventions in the Washington, DC area.

Enough talk. The PDF of the complete rankings this season so far and the current top-5 below.

Before we talk about how Doug G is leading the 2017 season so far, I'll explain what each column means.
  • Next to the rank is an indication of the change from last seasons rank (yes, I know what each driver's rank would have been last season, I'll talk more about the past in another post).
  • Total points is how each driver is ranked and is the sum of the top 4 adjusted races and top 2 adjusted tourneys.
  • Top 4 adjusted races is the sum of their top 4 race scores, adjusted for competition.  In fact, the next 4 columns enumerate those 4 races.
  • Top 2 adjusted tourneys is the sum of their top 2 tournament scores adjusted for competition.  Like races, those two scores are listed in the next 2 columns.
  • The last 4 fields do not directly count towards the total points but provide some context on the season: races run, races won, avg field rating of races participated in, tournaments participated in, and tournaments won.
If you want to know more about where these numbers come from, I've documented the methodology.

Now lets break down Doug's lead.  So far this season, Doug has participated in only 3 races -- all in my PBeM.  But he won 2 races at the highest level of that PBeM, against stiff competition, and won that tournament.  If you look at Doug's average field rating, you'll see that the competition in those 3 races was 50% tougher then the average race and that is why his 2 race wins garnered him 35 points each -- compare to my 2 race wins which were against more average competition and so generated me 23 and 20 points.  Another big key to Doug's top ranking are the points he got for winning my PBeM.  Otherwise, Gio might be the current top driver as Gio has more points from his top 4 races right now.

There is a lot of racing left to go in this season though.  By the time we wrap this up after WBC, there will have been at least 2 more in-person tournaments as well as the end of Redscape's current PBeM series.  (Note that Redscape's tournament is 2 races in but none of the results appear in the current rankings yet.  They will when the entire tournament comes to an end.)

Stay tuned, I'll update these rankings after every major event.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Championship Formula Racing Tournament at PrezCon in Charlottesville, VA

Two weeks from today one of the oldest Championship Formula Racing tournaments gets started in Charlottesville, VA at the PrezCon Winter Nationals.  

Chris Brandt has run that event for a long time and does a great job with it.  He brings a fully modular set-up for building tracks so you end up with a different track every time and you have little idea what you will be racing on before you sit down to race.

After four qualifying heats and a final race, a PrezCon champion will be crowned.  This is also the first in-person qualified Organized Play tournament of the current season.  So the winner of the event will likely make a move in the OP rankings.  

I sadly will not be able to make it to PrezCon this winter but enjoyed my past visit and highly recommend Chris' event and the con in general.