Thursday, July 02, 2009

2009 Texas Team Tourney AAR

Zeb Doyle

Every year, the Texas Team Tournament is my favorite ASL event by far, and Rick has never disappointed yet. This year was one of the best in recent memory for me, and I want to say thanks to everyone that managed to come and turn it into such a fantastic event. Congratulations to Mike Seningen and Chris Buehler for taking home the serious trophies, and to Jim Ferrell as well. Making it to the finals four straight years is an amazing feat. Most of all though, thanks so much to Mr. Rick Reinesch, the man who makes it all happen and even manages to make it look easy. I hope everyone knows just how lucky they are to have such a premier tournament right in our own backyard!

One of the best parts this year was just showing up and getting the swag bag. David Longstreet once again delivered some very cool ASL gear, this time in the form of a very cool LOS checker that will be the envy of everyone who missed out. Other highlights for me were seeing (and playing) lots of out-of-staters. Of my six games, four were against fresh faces, something that always adds a bit to the excitement. Another cool occurrence was looking at the leader board late Saturday and seeing a number of new names up there. Congratulations to people like Ed Beekman, Mike Denson, Rob Burton, and especially Hond Nelson! It's a real testament to the strength of our club that we have so many players capable of tearing off multi-win streaks against some tough competition. I could go on all day talking about tournament highlights, but instead let me just say that the unfortunate few who couldn't attend, like Nick Drinkwater and Tom Gillis, were conspicuous by their absence. We really missed you guys. Now, on to a quick account of some of the action:

Going into the tournament, I had harbored some illusions of competing for the Major Johnson, but I got stuck at work Thursday and ended up not making it to Round Rock until Friday morning. There, Rick quickly and efficiently paired me up with Chris Buehler. I felt a shiver run down my spine when I first saw my opponent, but I didn't realize I was actually in the presence of greatness. In fact, we ended up playing the rather smallish scenario A69 Broich Bash. Weighing in at six turns, fourteen total squads and seven vehicles, I can't claim to have been much help to Chris in his quest for the Major Johnson. The dice gave me the defending Germans, and my troops hunkered down to defend the stone buildings as per the VC. Chris brought his Americans in on the west side, which wasn't much of a surprise, and by turn two bullets were flying back and forth. Chris played a good game, but despite numerous attempts, didn't manage to get any smoke down through the first three turns of the game. Given that I had 7ML units in stone buildings and he had 6ML units coming across open ground, that made things very tough. The two big opportunities Chris gave me both involved stacks of Americans moving in the open, and the resulting 6-2 and 8-1 shots were both snake-eyes. That amazing display of skill took a lot of suspense out of the game, and although some late-game smoke finally made an appearance, I managed to comfortably hold enough buildings for the win. Fun tournament scenario, but not a lot of depth to it, so I likely won't play it again.

Next up was Ed Beekman in FrF20 Adolf's Amateurs. This scenario represents an interesting situation, with some early-war SS fighting Russians in far northern Finland. The SS are Green, poorly led, and have only the advantage of numbers, ELR, and increased broken ML over their Soviet counterparts. The Germans are trying to cross a stream and capture buildings and bridges all while killing Russians. Both sides get some tincan tanks, which also feature in the VC and give you a strong incentive to keep them alive. Dicing for sides, I got the Russians and promptly set up a defense along the stream to stuff the Germans. There are some pregame blazes I got to place, and the SSR-induced mild breeze allowed me to drift smoke along the level-zero front lines. This would give me plenty of cover while allowing for point-blank unhindered fire on any SS foolish enough to move into the level -1 stream.

This probably would have worked well, but Ed decided to be aggressive with his tanks. This really caught me off-guard, as the two German vehicles have at best 1AF, and represent two of the eight points they need to win the game. It ended up being a great move though; I had multiple opportunities to take them out with MTR and machine-gun fire, as well as CC, but never managed to make the required TK roll in the 4-6 range, and the panzers ended up completely unhinging my defense. This turned the 'stuff 'em at the riverline' idea into a 'quick, Boris, the commissar's not looking...RUN!' defense. I then compounded my problems by being overly aggressive with two of my squads and trying to make something happen. The odds were probably 60%-75% in my favor, but just falling back would likely have worked just as well, and they ended up dying uselessly. The end result was that on the second to last turn, I had almost nothing left to stop an SS rush.

Ed played it well and only some very good dice (including an IF CH) kept him from winning it instantly. A very timely 1:4 -2 attack killed two of his squads that tried to jump a VBM-frozen Soviet, and in my turn I managed to finally kill off one of his cursed panzers. It burned, and drifted out a wall of smoke, turning the movement cost of a key open ground location from 1MF to 2MF, thereby rendering one of Ed's few remaining squads from reaching a vital VC building! Suddenly things were looking good, and I was in fantastic shape to steal an undeserved win. That lasted until Ed's last turn: he rolled up Gusts to make the smoke vanish, self-rallied another key squad with a 3, and broke an absolutely essential Soviet unit with a 4+2. It was a highly frustrating finish, but Ed did a great job of outplaying me and I had no one to blame but myself. Fun scenario, and one I wouldn't mind taking another crack at. Recommended.

More to come later,


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