Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Texas Tourney AAR: WCW7 Eye of the Tiger

Nick Drinkwater

Texas Tourney AAR: WCW7 Eye of the Tiger

German (SS) Player: Eric Gerstenberg [ELR 3, SAN 2]
Russian Player: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 4, SAN 4]

Scenario Analysis:
Another classic from the WCW pack and this one was a complete blast to play. Eric opted to play the evil jackbooted ones (surprise!) and I was quite happy to take on the challenge of the free-thinking proletariat in this oldie but goodie from the newly released WCW pack (note: a BIG thanks to the publishers for letting these go out into the public domain and a thanks to Mark Pitcavage for hosting these on his Desperation Morale website). There are some great scenarios in this pack and I am looking forward to trying several more of the offerings in here in the future. This scenario has seen a load of playings over the years and has a strong ROAR rating and is thoroughly recommended - a real blast!

OBA Impact:
Victory conditions are nice and simple: at the end of six turns, the Germans must be in control of more stone buildings than the Russians on the dispersed village of Board 42, with the caveat that they must have lost less than 30 CVP at that point. Instant win VP cap scenarios can be quite testing for the attackers and I was pretty happy to take the Russians as a result of this. The big unknown in all of this scenario is the effect of a pre-registered 280mm OBA shot in Turn 1 against the village by the cruiser Prinz Eugen - the hex is pre-regged before the Russian setup, so its important that the Russians disperse their units at least one or preferably two hexes apart during setup to avoid some catastrophic first turn loss of key units from naval gunfire. There will be time for them to regroup and rebuild the defensive line in Turn 2, especially if they have left some speed bumps to impede the Germans in their Turn 1 approach a little.

The other big impact that may happen with the naval OBA is that it may rubble one, or possibly two, of the stone buildings. As we understood it, if this happens, then they are no longer considered valid Victory objectives (the VC state "stone buildings" only and not "Stone Buildings / Rubble"), so it might be that the Germans task gets a little easier as they may only then have to control five instead of six buildings at game end - this may well cause a subtle shift in the game dynamics as well. Again, the Russian needs to think about this and then re-deploy his forces to cover German attack routes and revised building locations, particularly if more than one building gets demolished.

There are all sorts of options available for the placement of the German pre-reg hex - most will probably be at or close to the Board 42 "cross-roads" point of G4/G5 where it is very likely they will tag at least one building and hopefully a nice concealed unit or two, but a crafty German may consider targeting the forward part of the Russian defense line around hexrows two and three on Board 4 and then correct in FFE2 to hurt something else that looks juicy. Neutralising the upfront defenses may also open some interesting attack routes for the Germans too. Note that if the Germans do get lucky with the OBA and rubble a couple of the buildings around the cross-roads, then the Russian will need to think hard about defending some of the more isolated buildings in the far SW corner of Board 42, which could be opened up to to some sweeping "armoured car with rider" probes.

Balance of Forces:
The other thing the OBA can do to the Russians is to cause the Turn 1 armour force (3 x T34 M43s and a SU-85) to delay or swerve around a possible blast area that straddles the Hexrow O entry road - the FFE2 counter is in effect for all of the turn and this heavy payload stuff can put a serious dent in any careless Russian armour. The tanks also need to keep themselves out of harm's way in any German Defensive Fire FFE2 corrections - the Russians really will need the armour to help in this scenario and a loss to OBA will be damaging. As well as the armour, the Russians receive a tasty 11 squad strong infantry company which is lead by a tough 9-1 with HMG assistance. The other key piece in the Russian defense is the hidden 45LL. Russian players may consider putting this on a board-edge position on Board 4 to get some sneaky lateral shots, but be aware that you may be likely to be run over by marauding SS infantry before any juicy opportunities came along. Instead, I opted to put it in a brush hex just south and east of the cross-roads on Board 42 where it could cover the big eastern grain field and its adjacent shell-hole 'field'. In this position, it was also well-placed to mutually assist the HMG and 9-1 which went into a stone building south of the cross-roads, which again was well-placed to assist in the defense and approaches to the main core of the village. I had a couple of squads at the front of the line on the fringe of the Board 4 woods to try and suppress any fast dashes by Hitler's finest across the open approaches to Board 4 and then dispersed the rest of the defense around the village to try and minimize damage from the OBA.


Early Game:
Eric was very unlucky with his OBA. He went for the crossroads in G4, erred, and ended up doing no damage to anything on FFE1 by its falling between all my units. Things didn't improve in FFE2 when he tried to correct - again he erred, and just missed snagging a T34 with an 11 on the OBA effects DR, but again it dropped optimally by missing all of my infantry units - a huge sigh of relief was breathed on the Russian side. The one thing the OBA did do was to rubble a single stone house so now his requirements were down to 5 buildings from nine. For his main assault, Eric came in on the eastern half of Board 4 with riders and armoured assault - my response shots were a bit limp, but I did manage to ELR two 658s with a long-range 4-2 shot which was a nice bonus, but one of my own guys went down to a measly AFPh 2+2 coaxial shot. Kind of normal for me! Eric's main direction was taking him directly into the grain field and shell-hole 'field' part of Board 42, which of course meant he was coming onto my 45LL AT gun - sweet!

To spice it up a bit, Eric also tried to send an armoured task force toward the central axis of Board 4/42 and the row O road - this was fairly punchy consisting of the Tiger, 50L AC and a MkIV. Seeing the threat this posed, I quickly tasked a T34 to take this on in BFF. After some delay MP and a bit of manoeuvring and targeting the Mk IV which was facing the wrong way behind his AC, I managed to win the Gun Duel and then caught him in the side with a juicy '4'. This was compounded by a bypassed 447 who ran back and managed to immobilise the motion Tiger in an out of the way position, where it could not influence the fight for the village, even though my brave boys were immolated themselves: posthumous "Orders of the Soviet Union" all around there! Finally, the AC came off worse after failing to find its APCR, and was toasted by my cute T34, though the crew jumped out and saved themselves.

Flipping sides, on the main attack route, I manoeuvred another T34 to a position at the back of the grain field where it could spy the other AC between some trees: even though the brave T34 crew could see their nemesis faust-totin' 658 approaching fast, they held tough to the end and atomised the second 50L AC. For the loss of a squad and a T34, I had reduced Eric's armour to a single mobile Mk IV only, a trade off I would eagerly have taken at the beginning. The other key thing was, of course, I had just inflicted 19 CVP on Eric - this was good, because even though I was winning the armour battle, my infantry were still slowly crumbling and I was looking bad for holding onto the buildings at game end.

The mid-game battle see-sawed for a while - both sides fought hard in the woods and shell-holes at the fringes of the village, and I lost my second T34 when a lowly 658 survived a thrown DC (unlike a squad and a leader of his friends), and they, of course, instantly found a Faust and toasted the tank. Seeing instant win fame beckoning I tried to manoeuvre my last two vehicles to roast the stranded Tiger and the last Mk IV for more juicy VP, but Eric outmanoeuvred me with the Mk IV and my T34 went down to a critical hit on an intensive fire shot - OUCH! We were now at parity on the armour, and so it was going to come down to the infantry fight after all.

Having just broken a squad and a 8-0 with some desperate prep fire, I spied an opportunity to sneak a 7-0 behind them and get them for FTR. Eric missed the significance of this and failed to break or destroy my lonely hero, and I was able to scratch 3 more CVP all due to the SS' shocking war record (no surrender to Russians). Even worse for the SS, the 7-0, now wounded, was able to repeat this trick in the next turn with another SS squad, who were forced to rout back towards him as they couldn't see him hidden behind trees when they started their rout: 5VP for me on this one slick move - love it!

On the far east flank, after toasting their T34, the SS pushed in hard across the lateral cross-road, aided by an untimely malfunction of my HMG - amazingly, a measly 6+1 walked behind my hidden gun without discovering it! These cool boys carried on smoking their cigarettes and biding their time until something really juicy appeared in front of them - Eric duly obliged: an 8-1 and two 658s moved up behind a hedge to try and threaten my HMG, but on the ROF spree from hell, my ATG destroyed another squad (2 more CVP) and then broke and ELR'ed the second squad plus their leader. This all left Eric very short of quality infantry on the east.

In the final turn, Eric was able to shock my SU-85 with his MkIV after I'd put two AP shots into the wall in front of it, and set himself up for the death and / or victory assault on the village's core buildings. At this point, Eric's dice let him down a bit and his 8ML troops went rolling backwards to a series of 4-1 and 2-1 shots as they approached their objectives. Ultimately, he was placed to actually make a CC assault on five buildings, but the lack of troops meant of these, one of them would be taken by a hero and a leader only, and that was not enough for him to take control (only MMC can do that). We played it out anyway, and even though I failed to hold any of the buildings (me and ambush again - pah! Don't get me started!!!), I did manage to kill the 9-1, the hero and a half-squad. This pushed him over the edge by a single CVP but he was also left one building short on control too.

Great game, fun opponent and full of the wild ASL swings we are all used too. I was pretty pleased with my effort in this one, as I handled the armour pretty well and planned for the defense and the ramifications of a bad OBA turn well too. I was also fairly pleased with my Gun placement as that, and the move with the 7-0 to enforce a batch of FTR on the war criminals, were probably the key events in this one that meant the Russians were (just) able to hold on. This is a great scenario as the randomness of the OBA would mean that the scenario will always play differently and their are options for both sides to get cute. Much fun and strongly recommended!

2008 Texas Team Tourney Results

Rick Reinesch

Here are the results and rankings from the tournament. Where folks had the same score, I ranked first based off of W/L percentage and then the W/L percentage of their opponents.  So folks who played stronger opponents would be ranked higher. Going from the basic criteria that you need four games to qualify for the individual awards, here are how folks finished.

1.  James Ferrell 
2.  Randy Shurtz 
3.  Matt Shostak              
4.  Mike Seningen             
5.  Sam Tyson                 
6.  James Martin              
7.  Zeb Doyle                 
8.  Brain Roundhill           
9.  Jerry Simmons             
10. Doyle Motes              
11. Mike Denson               
12. Scott Bell                
13. Ed Beekman               
14. Chas Argent              
15. Chris Kubick             
16. Mike Rose                 
17. Walter Eardley            
18. Arlen Vanek 
19. Eric Gerstenberg         
20. Rick Reinesch            
21. Gregg Parker             
22. Roy Connelly            
23. David Longstreet         
24. John Hyler               
25. Bill Dorre               
26. Patrick Ireland         
Counting everyone regardless of number of games played, here are the final rankings.

Player Scores
Player                    Score    Wins   Losses
------------------------- -------- ------ ------
1.  James Ferrell             5.0      5      0
2.  Randy Shurtz              3.0      4      1 * Runner-up in the Championship game
3.  Matt Shostak              5.0      6      1
4.  Mike Seningen             4.0      5      1
5.  Sam Tyson                 3.0      4      1
6.  James Martin              3.0      4      1
7.  Zeb Doyle                 3.0      4      1
8.  Brain Roundhill           3.0      4      1
9.  Roy Casagranda            2.0      2      0
10. Jerry Simmons             2.0      3      1
11. Doyle Motes               2.0      3      1
12. Mike Denson               2.0      3      1
13. Scott Bell                2.0      3      1
14. Jeff Toreki               1.0      1      0
15. Nick Drinkwater           1.0      2      1
16. Ed Beekman                1.0      3      2
17. Chas Argent               1.0      4      3
18. Chris Kubick              0.0      2      2
19. Matt Schwoebel            0.0      1      1
20. Mike Rose                 0.0      2      2
21. Walter Eardley            0.0      2      2
22. Robert Davila             0.0      2      2
23. Arlen Vanek              -1.0      2      3
24. Allen King               -1.0      1      2
25. Glenn Schools            -1.0      1      2
26. Jack O'Quin              -1.0      1      2
27. Buck Karpowicz           -1.0      1      2
28. Dan Preston              -1.0      1      2
29. John Farris              -1.0      1      2
30. Kevin Klausmeyer         -1.0      0      1
31. Kevin Kenneally          -1.0      0      1
32. Rob Burton               -1.0      0      1
33. Eric Gerstenberg         -2.0      1      3
34. Rick Reinesch            -2.0      1      3
35. Gregg Parker             -2.0      1      3
36. Roy Connelly             -3.0      1      4
37. Jeff Taylor              -3.0      0      3
38. Bud Garding              -3.0      0      3
39. David Longstreet         -4.0      1      5
40. John Hyler               -4.0      0      4
41. Bill Dorre               -4.0      0      4
42. Patrick Ireland          -6.0      0      6

Major Johnson Scores
Player MJ Total
------------------------- --------
Chas Argent              16670.25
Matt Shostak             16537.5
Chris Kubick             14068.25
John Hyler               13789.5
James Martin             11532.5
Jeff Taylor               9757.5
Brain Roundhill           9660.0
Arlen Vanek               9240.0
David Longstreet          8952.0
Mike Rose                 8626.5
Ed Beekman                8418.9
James Ferrell             7845.0
Bud Garding               7704.25
Zeb Doyle                 7614.9
Doyle Motes               7384.5
Roy Connelly              7348.25
Walter Eardley            6538.0
Sam Tyson                 6387.0
Mike Seningen             5686.5
Gregg Parker              5657.5
Mike Denson               5310.0
Allen King                5215.0
Randy Shurtz              4787.5
Glenn Schools             4786.0
Nick Drinkwater           4302.45
Patrick Ireland           4235.0
Jerry Simmons             4226.0
Eric Gerstenberg          4058.75
Matt Schwoebel            4009.5
Rick Reinesch             3706.25
Buck Karpowicz            3408.0
Bill Dorre                3391.0
Jeff Toreki               2317.0
Dan Preston               2247.0
Scott Bell                2077.0
Robert Davila             2003.75
John Farris               1983.75
Jack O'Quin               1520.25
Roy Casagranda             288.0
Kevin Kenneally            282.0
Kevin Klausmeyer           227.25
Rob Burton                   0.0

Team Scores
Team                                            Score                   Wins     Losses
----------------------------------------------- ----------------------- -------- --------
James Martin,Matt Shostak,                      8.0                     10       2
Mike Seningen,Ed Beekman,                       5.0                      8       3
Buck Karpowicz,James Ferrell,                   4.0                      6       2
Jerry Simmons,Scott Bell,                       4.0                      6       2
Sam Tyson,John Farris,                          2.0                      5       3
Glenn Schools,Zeb Doyle,                        2.0                      5       3
Brain Roundhill,Arlen Vanek,                    2.0                      6       4
CENTRAL TEXAS                                   1.2941176470588236      36      25
Jack O'Quin,Chas Argent,                        1.0                      5       4
Nick Drinkwater,Allen King,                     0.0                      3       3
Mike Rose,Norman Harman,                        0.0                      2       2
Doyle Motes,Rick Reinesch,                      0.0                      4       4
Mike Denson,Gregg Parker,                       0.0                      4       4
NORTH TEXAS                                    -0.2222222222222222      18      19
Dan Preston,Robert Davila,                     -1.0                      3       4
HOUSTON                                        -2.0                      7      12
Rob Burton,Kevin Klausmeyer,                   -2.0                      0       2
FOREIGNERS                                     -2.5714285714285716       9      18
Walter Eardley,Roy Connelly,                   -3.0                      3       6
Jeff Toreki,Bill Dorre,                        -3.0                      1       4
David Longstreet,Chris Kubick,                 -4.0                      3       7
Matt Schwoebel,John Hyler,                     -4.0                      1       5
Jeff Taylor,Bud Garding,                       -6.0                      0       6
Eric Gerstenberg,Patrick Ireland,              -8.0                      1       9

Monday, June 23, 2008

AAR: TT12 Signal Hill

Zeb Doyle

Zeb Doyle : Japanese
Matt Schwoebel : Austrailians

In a rare but fun Tuesday night fight, Matt Schwoebel and I squared off in a game of TT12 Signal Hill. This scenario is from HoB's Tropic Thunder pack, which is a set of twelve scenarios featuring some very late war fighting between the Japanese and Australians in Balikpapan. The scenario pack itself has a fair amount of errata (easily accessible on the HoB site), scenarios that range from tiny to medium in size, and some cave fighting, so it's not likely to be a product high on the acquisition list for most people. However, there are some fun and interesting-looking PTO scenarios in the pack, so if that's your cup of tea, it's certainly worth checking it out.

TT12 Signal Hill caught my eye because it was a good size to play on a weeknight (25 total squads, 2 tanks, 6.5 turns) and offered some interesting options for both sides. Despite the scenario name, there isn't actually a hill involved and instead has a force of Australians trying to fight the long way across two deluxe city maps and exit at least 22 CVP off the other edge. Schwoebel decided to lead the attack and got a company of 4-5-8s equipped with LMGs and supported by two Matildas, one of which carries a 32FP FT as an MA. That put me in charge of the Japanese: a company of assorted first and second line squads, a 70mm INF gun, a DC, an HMG, and two MMGs. Overall, the two forces are pretty evenly matched numerically. The Aussies, with the FT and the Stealth, prefer to take the fight close-in while the Japanese are going to try and use their machine guns and ROF to do their damage from a distance. Finally, the Aussies have 49 total CVP in their force so the VC requirement of 22 doesn't seem too steep. It should be noted though that 14 CVP come from the two Matildas, and although they are almost invulnerable to the Japanese 70mm INF gun, a lucky THH or street-fighting attack can make the Australian task extremely difficult.

The scenario starts with a fun little pre-game sequence where both sides alternately place a bunch of shell-hole counters across the map and can then randomly reposition a few of them. It's amusing trying to alter the battlefield to your advantage and then redeploying your opponent's shell-holes to (hopefully) lame positions, almost like playing a small Euro game as a warm-up to ASL. I tried to erase a bunch of jungle to open up some LOS while Matt rubbled a bunch of buildings to constrict it, but in the end nothing too significant happened. I then set up my troops, over half of whom were HIP due to SSR. Everyone was pretty evenly distributed across the map with a lot of units far forward to try and slow the Aussie assault as soon as possible. The INF gun actually went way up front in a jungle hex where it would be tough to approach. I back-stopped it with a knee-mortar, figuring that if Matt did try to deal with the gun position, I'd get some air-burst shots on his troops. The only other real trap I came up with was to use the DC as a set AT mine. It was the first time I'd ever tried that, but given the constrictive Deluxe terrain and the vast amount of rubble we'd created pre-game to constrict things even more, it seemed like a worthwhile gambit.

The game opened with Matt charging out of his corner and unleashing a flurry of body blows. He trapped a forward 3-4-7 and eliminated it in CC. Elsewhere, my INF gun was also overrun after it gacked several shots at point-blank bore-sighted targets. That was pretty disappointing, and a stack of Aussies ended up in Melee with the gun crew. In my PFPh, things only became more irritating when my knee MTR opened up on the gun position. This was the exact situation I'd envisioned pregame, with shells dropping on my step-reducing emplaced crew and the air-burst exposed Australians, but the MTR team had left their WP at home and was just as inaccurate as the INF gun crew at hitting bore-sighted targets. In the ensuing CCPh, my gun was taken out and my first trap came up empty.

Over the next turn or so, the punching was fast and furious. My 10-1/HMG combo lived up to the pre-match hype and went on some nice rate tears, killing a few Aussie squads with repeated 6-1 shots as they attempted to cross the streets. Meanwhile, Matt landed a pair of close-in hay-makers with his flame-throwing Matilda. I lost a 4-4-7 and a 2-2-8/MMG on rolls that were so low they started fires. This was really the defining sequence of the fight because I couldn't continue to absorb punishment like that for long. However, the fires rapidly blazed up and started to spread, cutting off the middle of the board and sending smoke swirling everywhere. Things rapidly came to a head as the death-dealing Matilda rolled toward its next target and blundered into my set AT mine...

It was now my chance to land a punishing haymaker, but my second trap failed as miserably as the first when the THH botched his TC to trigger the mine. That bit of bad fate knocked me down for a ten-count and I was busy lamenting my fate when Matt reminded me what a crazy game this can be by rolling an 11 on his next FT attack. That ended the Waltzing Matilda threat by X-ing out the weapon, and also Recalled the tank since it was also the MA. Just like that, seven precious VP were eliminated and I was back in the fight. Even worse for Matt, the aftermath of the FT attacks lingered on for the rest of the game, with the spreading fires and smoke severely hampering his ability to maneuver on the already cramped Deluxe boards.

Thanks to the blazes, the Australians were now forced to largely channel their attack down just one map, with a width of five or six hexes. At this point, I had Matt trapped in a corner and was able to make the fight very conservative and really limit his ability to maneuver. The drifting smoke made it very easy to reposition my troops in depth, voluntarily break when he came adjacent, and then quickly rally and move back forward, limiting the Aussie attack to gains of only a hex or two per turn. Matt did a great job given the circumstances and took advantage of every mistake I made, but I got every roll I needed and in the end I was able to tie him up until the bell rang. If memory serves, he ended up getting eleven or so of the required 22 points in what was an interesting but not great game.

Interesting but not great also sums up my thoughts on the scenario as well. The Matildas are vital for the Aussies as exit points, but the tight terrain, the set AT mine, and the THHs are almost certain to claim at least one. Matt wasn't too aggressive with his non-FT Matilda and it still had to survive several THH/CC attempts to get off-map. Meanwhile, the auto-death attacks from the FT tank are also vital to clear out the step-reducing Japanese, but the X11 MA makes it very scary to use since a single poor roll effectively kills the tank. Although there's a lot to like about the scenario, like the pre-game shellhole placement and the PTO city-fight, too much depends on the Matildas, especially the FT one. If I were to play it again, I think a good fix would be to SSR that the loss of the FT doesn't cause Recall. That would have put Matt around 17 of the required 22 EVP and made for a much better game. The Aussie player will still have to be very careful with his armor, but should even things up a lot. The official balance is to lower the required EVP total to 19, which obviously helps but doesn't fix the current gaminess with the FT. At the moment, TT12 Signal Hill is 6 Australian wins to 12 Japanese wins on ROAR, so either way a bit of help probably isn't amiss.

Thanks to Matt for a very enjoyable Tuesday and for great sportsmanship even after getting stuck with the tougher side, and thanks to you for reading!


Texas Tourney AAR: WCW10 Stand and Die

Nick Drinkwater

Chinese Player: Zeb Doyle [ELR 3, SAN 4]
Japanese Player: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 4, SAN 4]

A company of first line Japanese has to cause more CVP on a very well-armed company of 1st Line Chinese defending the Board 24 village, with every building location held at game end counting as extra VP. Simple eh? Well, yes and no. The huge rice paddy overlay is in play (drained, so they are nice and simple) and a long stream protects access to the village from the west - also the Japanese have only seven turns to achieve this and there is about a board width of approach to be made before they get to the village proper and there is a lot of ground for the Chinese to spread out. The Japanese, despite being the attackers, are numerically at a disadvantage in this (11 squads vs 12), but they do have the better armour with two Type 97A, two Type 95 Ha-Go and a Chi-Ro (with a 57* mm gun) competing against some rusting relic Axis cast-offs in the form of two 221 ACs, three Mark 1s and two L3s. These all have red MP numbers and are mainly hampered by Platoon Movement, but then, so are the Japanese! The Chinese also receive a 75mm field gun, two MMG and an all important 9-2 (over and above the 9-1 and 7-0). This is a very tough Chinese force and they are helped by having all huts and buildings treated as Level one wooden buildings. Light PTO is in effect so we will be hacking through the kunai at some point.

Looking at the board configurations, due to timing issues, it became clear that there were really only two approach routes into the village: the obvious frontal assault up the central 'corridor' lightly speckled with a bit of kunai and palms with some scattered buildings, or the eastern board-edge approach that by-passes the paddies but pushes you through the big jungle and bamboo thicket east of the village on Board 24. Zeb had outlier "?" on the central approach corridor and some more guarding the jungle/bamboo thicket. The SE quadrant of Board 35 is dominated by the huge rice plantation and it became clear that this was not a viable approach route due to the huge number of MP involved or the risk from hazardous movement when moving from Bank to Bank. Similarly, in the SW corner of the board, the two parallel belts of banzai backed by the stream were seriously going to impede all movement from there, so I decided to play it simple and go with a fairly large big push up the middle, supported by an engineer-led flank attack from the east.

Nice plan. Crap execution.

We were both pretty tired when we kicked this one off after some intense afternoon match-ups and it showed in our general ring-rustiness, and for me, less than optimum pre-game board analysis and setup. Of course, playing Zeb you really need to bring your "A" game along, but to be honest, I only really got into third gear at best in this one, and it showed from the beginning. I mis-balanced my start-up forces a little bit too much and a bit more time on setup could have easily worked this back into my favour. The hard part of the central assault is when you emerge from the "corridor" into an open ground turkey shoot on the Board 24 seam, due south of the village, covered by every matchlock and catapult muzzle the Chinese can dig up. Even Banzais get badly chopped up in open ground and so it is imperative that both knee mortars were ready in place to cover this assault with as much WP and Smoke as they can pump in as there are two or three nasty empty approach hexes that the Japs just have to cross, in the face of murderous withering fire from MGs and the field gun. Unfortunately one of my mortars was with my engineers and hence out of place and the other was destroyed by a KIA from Zebs' now revealed field gun which was in a really nice place with a great covered arc. All of my sudden my frontal Japanese tough boys were having to inch along in tortuous assault movement and they started to go down like flies. Some fairly average dice on my part didn't help my cause and things began to crumble quickly. I only managed to take a single building in this attack, and even this was quickly counter-attacked and my guys went down in a hail of bullets.

On the flank, things progressed pretty well before I ran into Zeb's 9-2 and hidden 8-1, both with MMGs. I got lucky and dodged any serious casualties here, (especially my FT guy who survived the -4 shot from the hidden 8-1 / MMG), but again poor initial setup and brainless moving meant by 10-1 had become detached from his accompanying squads, and hence was a little isolated with only a HS and crew for company with their SW. This was compounded by the orientation of the bamboo thicket which was a complete obstacle to progress, which funnelled the leader away from his platoon. The problems became even more compounded by the way I'd split my armour forces - the really threatening tank for the Japanese here is the big gunned 57*mm version, but this is also the slowest. I had stupidly assigned this behemoth to the flanking attack which had the longest distance to go, in a Platoon, and which also got sidetracked by the 9-2 on its way (dumb, dumb, dumb). This beast should have been with the central force where its FP was desperately needed and it had the least straight-line distance to travel, but of course it was stuck out on the flanks, toiling in the afternoon sun. Sigh.

Luckily, Zeb wasn't quite playing his "A" game either and, despite realising from the off the complete uselessness of his armour and their easy VP potential for me, insisted on sending his L3 platoon over to my flank on some kind of magical mystery tour (think Beatles), where they wandered directly into the path of my 37 and 57* mm armed tanks. Scenting the blood lust of easy VP, I fired off my acquisition shots (yes Zeb, I like them!), confident of breeding some Swiss cheesed, corned-beef cans in the next turn. At that point of course, I entered one of my notorious horror rolling streaks and missed with the tanks (ten), and then missed with a nine from the Flame Thrower needing an 8 to toast them, plus a batch of other grim shots which malfunction more support weapons. Sigh. Two tanks and 10VP that should have been mine, all gacked. Sigh.

To try and remedy the situation, the survivors of the central attack, re-directed eastward slightly and banzaied an outlying squad to death and a couple of other Chinese went down in MADCC (mutually assured destruction CC), but I was being attrited very hard, especially when I box-carred two 447s on simple 1MC. I kept pushing on and even managed to despatch a Mk 1 tin can and recalled another due to a broken MA, and my sniper shot a 7-0 and a dummy, but I was still on a losing curve for overall VP as 75% of the buildings were still in Zeb's Nationalistist hands. Also, I just could not damage his 9-2, who was making all my finest Imperialistic street-crossing assaults in the village perilous. I was still just about in the game, helped by collecting some prisoners who willingly wanted to become a full part of the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, but I knew in the last two turns I was going to need to have about 70% of it go my way to have any chance of a very fortuitous win. Of course, the very next shot was a boxcars from my FT and a complete turn's worth of acquired defensive fire and other shots that did nothing whatsoever. In total desperation on my last turn, I lined up the tanks for a batch of VBM in a vain attempt to at least capture the big factory building and the two wood-yards, fully accepting the risks of CVP damage, but as was typical all game, Zeb pulls out snakes on his very first reaction fire and my hopes went up in smoke, much as my tank crew did.

Its not a bad scenario, but I definitely preferred its newer cousin in the "Into the Rubble" pack with which it shows some similarities, A more competently handled attack would have been a lot closer result, but the 9-2 was a massive force in this and I think the Japanese are a little undercooked to achieve their aim: their main tanks have no ROF so they are 4FP one-shot wonders or have 2FP MG's, but the Chinese are all going to be hunkered down in wooden buildings and so are tough to damage. Only some mutually assured destruction CC achieved any CVP for me in this game and Zeb failed his first MC in Turn 6 (who then promptly surrendered!) as I just couldn't get co-ordinated to inflict enough damage for him to worry about. I was even at risk of having a Chinese squad steal back into the backfield and regain the huts and so I was definitely going to come up short. We did wonder however if it was really the intent to have all the Chinese armour effectively hide in out of the way positions due to the risk of handing the Japanese 35VP off the bat?


Texas Team Tourney Report

Nick Drinkwater
Echoing Walter, I'd like to say thanks to Rick and also to his family for sacrificing him to us for the whole weekend - I was completely stunned when he said he'd been upto 4am on Friday, and yet at 12.45am on Saturday night was quite happy for Zeb and myself to go the extra half hour or so to finish off our last match. A total Trojan if ever there was one - and a great tournament again - awesome job dude!

For me, it was 2-1 this time around: got heavily drawn into two awesome games with Matt Schwoebel and Eric which both went the distance for me to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat from previously snatching defeat from the jaws of victory from pretty much the last die-rolls of the games. However from these exhausting highs, I was soon in a emotional low, eventually getting crushed by Mr. Doyle in the aforementioned late nighter. Unfortunately, I did live upto my mid game expectations Walter and it didn't end pretty! As always though, it was fun. It was a shame that the H-town contingent was down a bit on last year's impressive turnout and I think we all missed the "I HATE THIS GAME!!!" cries from Mr. Gillis. I do believe I tried to emulate him at one or two points in the big game with Matt, but imitation is a poor form of flattery - Tom, you were missed dude!

One instant memory - about 11.45pm on Saturday night, watching my flame thrower roll cars, after missing make an instant "boil in the bag meal" of one of Zeb's small Chinese tanks on it's only other shot...some 'foetal-position assuming' was observed by dispassionate observers!!

It was great to meet all the old faces and some new ones too! I hope the young man (Robert) who was playing a lot of SK stuff had a great weekend and will come again - nice to see! Very pleased that our visitors from the NE were able to make it down to us and I hope they took back good memories and experiences as well as some of the prizes - it was great to meet (briefly) Chas and see how normal he really is: oh my gosh, "MMP are not the antichrist and are actually human" shock echoes around the internet! What will all the naysayers do now? Really hope you are able to come and visit us again in the future.

I would also like to acknowledge the generosity of all the groups who tipped in for Door Prizes for the weekend. MMP (among many others) threw in a couple of hundred bucks worth of goodies that will help to fill in people's collections, and there were great prizes from (among others and apologies to any I have missed out), SoCal, Bounding Fire, HOB, LFT, Mark Pitcavage, Mike Dorosh, Paul Kenny, East Side Gamers and Osprey Publishing. Everyone went home with something and there was enough stuff left over for some people to get two. I was angling for any of the beautifully produced LFT magazines, but others had their eagle eyes on these, so I was really happy to pick up a history of one of the US infantry divisions experiences in Normandy. Very nice!

Chas had brought a few copies of AP4 and there were several games of that being played when I was there. Didn't get my hands on any at the time, but I'm confident that my pre-order will show up soon. Would be interested to see AARs or first impressions of tthese from anyone who did get to play them!

OK. Need to run and do gainful employment stuff for a while. AARs to follow over the next few days, and perhaps a scenario analysis in a future Banzai too...watch this space!!

Hope everyone got home safely and see you all in February in Houston if not sooner!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Texas Team Tourney Report - Houston Contingent

Walter Eardley
First of all, thanks to Rick Reinesch for putting this all together. I know it is a lot of work and is truly a labor of love. We salute you for your efforts!

I went 2-3 this year. I don’t really know how the rest of the contingent faired.

John Hyler was working on Major Johnson but was having trouble keeping up with folks who played 8 scenarios between Thursday and Saturday night. I think the worm has turned on size over quantity in the quest for the MJ.

Bill Dorre was having a blast. The great thing about Bill is he could be winning or he could be losing and you never really know because he is having so much fun. He provided some GREAT commemorative koozie to the Goodie Bag.

Doyle Motes was also cranking out the scenarios but I don’t know how he finished.

Nick Drinkwater and Zeb Doyle were locked in a heated matchup in Stand and Die when I left them about 1am on Sunday morning. While Nick thought he was behind, I think he was still in a very good position to win. I played this same scenario against Bud Garding from Kansas and had a lot of fun. It was interesting to see how Nick and Zeb played it.

Tom Gillis received numerous harassing text messages over the weekend.

Everyone else was missed as well.

I don’t know who won any of the awards since I left early this morning. I am sure Rick will post something. Thanks again Rick for putting this all together!

Zeb’s mini-tournament was a lot of fun. It featured a German Russian battle with some nice Fog of War. Very well done Zeb!

As mentioned above we had some really cool Scooby Snacks in our registration package. The koozie was very cool with the orange base matching the Squad Leader Orange VERY closely. The t-shirt was excellent this year as well. We also received a custom deck of playing cards which included some charts, OBA cards for the Allied and Axis sides and SAN number cards. Very cool stuff! The Prize Lottery featured a wide variety of items from MMP, various third party publishers, some books and gift certificates. I took home a GI Dozen which I did not previous own and a nifty book about the Code Talkers from WW II. Thanks to all the sponsors who donated.

I will do a write up of the scenarios I played a little later.

It was great seeing everyone and meeting all the new folks.