bitter woods

Updated Sept. 7, 2016

2015 WBC Report

2016 Status: pending 2016 GM commitment

Tom Gregoio, PA

2015 Champion

WBC Event History
1999 Phil Evans 19
2000 Randy Heller 16
2001 Rich Ogata 14
2002 Tom Gregorio 16
2003 Bob Ryan 17
2004 Bob Ryan 20
2005 Randy Heller 20
2006 Steve Likevich 21
2007 Tom Gregorio 21
2008 Tom Gregorio 22
2009 Tom Gregorio 26
2010 Bruno Sinigaglio 22
2011 Tom Gregorio 21
2012 Tom Gregorio 25
2013 Forrest Pafenberg 21
2014 Bill Morse 21
2015 Tom Gregorio 25

PBeM Event History
2000    Randy Heller     20
2001    Bob Ryan     27
2002    Tom Gregorio     25
2005    Phil Evans     27
2008    Bruno Sinigaglio     32
2011    Bruno Sinigaglio     23
2012    Bruno Sinigaglio     28
2016    Bruno Sinigaglio     34

Laurels

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Tom Gregorio       PA    15    354
  2.  Bruno Sinigaglio   AK    16    232
  3.  Randy Heller       NH    12    227
  4.  Bill Morse         VA    16    205
  5.  Forrest Pafenberg  VA    14    135
  6.  Bob Ryan           MI    09    128
  7.  Phil Evans         fr    05     94
  8.  Marty Musella      NC    16     66
  8.  Steve Likevich     OH    12     65
 10.  Mike Mitchell      GA    15     50
 11.  John Grant Jr      CT    01     35
 12.  Ed Witkowski       VA    14     34
 13.  Rich Ogata         VA    01     30
 14.  Jeff Hacker        PA    15     28
 15.  Johnny Hasay       PA    15     25
 16.  Jim Tracy          OH    13     25
 17.  Richard Beyma      VA    14     24
 18.  Mike Pacheco       CA    05     24
 19.  Dan Tierney        CA    16     23
 20.  Steve Lapierre     ME    16     20
 21.  Frank Sinigaglio   NJ    15     18
 22.  Mike Kaye          MD    11     18
 23.  Buddy Sinigaglio   CO    08     18
 24.  Larry Hollern      TX    12     15
 25.  Lance Roberts      AK    11     15
 26.  Doug James         NC    06     15
 27.  Michael Kaye       MD    16     10
 28.  Larry Meyers       AZ    11      9
 29.  Jeff Lange         ae    11      9
 30.  John Popiden       CA    04      9
 31.  Nick Frydas        uk    03      9
 32.  Kevin Hacker       PA    09      8
 33.  Bob Bassin         MD    14      4
 34.  Rob Mull           CO    02      3
 35.  Chris Roginsky     PA    01      3
 36.  Paul Koenig        CA    00      3
 37.  Rob Beyma          MD    02      2
2015 Laurelists Returning Laurelists: 2

Bill Morse, VA
2nd

Jeff Hacker, PA
3rd

Frank Sinigaglio, NJ
4th

Michael Mitchell, GA
5th

Johnny Hasay, PA
6th

Past Winners

Phil Evans, fr
1999

Randy Heller, MD
2000, 2005

Rich Ogata, VA
2001

Tom Gregorio, PA
02, 07-09, 11-12, 15

Bob Ryan, MI
2003-04

Steve Likevich, OH
2006

Bruno Sinigaglio, AK
2010

Forrest Pafenberg, VA
2013

Bill Morse, VA
2014

Anzio grognard Paul Fletcher tries his hand at BWD.

Thr finalists vie for the AHIKS Ironman trophy on the big board.

A Test of Endurance ...

It was the end of an era, with 2015 being the last year that the Bitter Woods tournament would be feted at the Host, but it was also the beginning of an era with yours truly taking over the reins as the GM for the event. From the tight confines of the Heritage to the wide open spaces of Lampeter, over an eight day stretch, the Bitter Woods faithful battled it out in Lancaster.

Open Rounds:

During the Grognard rounds, several things were notable:

  • No bidding occurred, despite much wringing of hands beforehand on this topic. Players chose to randomly roll for scenario and sides or they resorted to the age-old practice of one player choosing the scenario and the other getting to choose the side. When all was said and done, the results spoke for themselves as regards to balance. (“Shark Repellent”, which allowed players more than 1000 AREA below their opponent’s rating to choose their sides, was exercised.)
  • Game length did not seem to be an issue. Many six-turn games lasted over five hours while some of the eight-turn matches approached eight hours in duration.
  • Only one match was observed to have been played using the Compass Games edition of the game. (This was the first year that the Compass Games edition of the game was the default version of the game to be used. )
  • Three different big-board versions of the game were set up at one point leading to no small amount of consternation. In future years, some additional planning will need to occur to ensure usage of these doesn’t negatively impact the ability of others to get their games set up in the designated area.
  • As always, Kevin Hacker was creative—he successfully shocked 28/109 on his German opening which increases the chance of that unit taking a step loss from 16.7% to 67%.
  • Everybody seems to know to use the VdH paratrooper 18AM random event to disrupt US artillery usage on 18AM. Equally, everyone, including this GM, forgets to plan for that possibility by dispersing their US artillery on 17PM!
  • Numerous sharp openings seem to be in vogue these days—attacking 14AC with 20 or 28 factors on the opening turn can create some very unique opportunities for the Germans in the 5th Panzer Armee area.

On Friday night, after seven days of cardboard combat, the traditional Grognard evening challenge round was held with four players participating. Despite having gone 4-0 during the preliminary rounds, Michael Mitchell chose not to challenge since he wouldn’t be able to participate in the weekend semifinals, thus ensuring he left the Bitter Woods competition undefeated. The top two seeds, Bill Morse and Tom Gregorio, were spared this process as several potential challengers were exhausted and the prospect of having to play, and win, in the wee hours proved less than sufficiently enticing. Bill and Tom were joined in the semifinals by Forrest Pafenberg and Jeff Hacker.

Semifinals Match #1: Morse vs Pafenberg
This match proved to be anticlimactic as circumstances dictated an early concession from Forrest.

Semifinals Match #2: Gregorio vs Hacker
This was the second WBC encounter for Tom and Jeff who had played in the preliminaries. Tom, again, was the Germans in an eight-turn scenario. Some early highlights included a weaker form of the Hacker’s gambit with an infantry and Middleton garrisoning Clervaux. (The intent of this gambit is to slow down the German advance in the south but the standard response these days is to trap the Allied units in that town and bypass it on both flanks.) At the end of the day, Tom won a 2-1(-1), a fifty-fifty shot at forcing an Allied retreat, at Eupen which secured the VP and match for his Germans.

Shortly after 5PM on Saturday, Tom Gregorio and Bill Morse got down to determining a champion. Bill was the defending champion while Tom had six prior BTW titles giving him ample street cred. Tom chose the eight-turn scenario, and Bill opted to be the Americans.

  • The opening went well for Tom’s Germans. He used his normal, and possibly outdated, opening but that proved sufficient to build the bridges in front of Clervaux and Vianden. In an ominous sign, two things were noted at the end of the turn: No US units were lost, or damaged, and, more critically, Bill confiscated Tom’s "little white die that could”. The Americans counterattacked on 16AM and killed the German infantry that had the temerity to advance into the position that the US 99/395 had been evicted from earlier. On the next turn, 16PM, the Germans were hamstrung by a series of engagements. After his turn, Tom realized that his good luck die from Turn 1 was nowhere to be found. On the US half of 16PM, Bill still had a full complement of units so he threw out three units as speed bumps for the next German turn. Such a provocative deployment is usually not feasible but the US position was, indeed, that strong.
  • Over the next three turns, 17AM through 18AM, the Germans didn’t get much done. Peiper was ineffectual, Skorzeny wasn’t able to sneak through an Allied ZOC and Tom’s pleading for the usage of the die that brought him good fortune on the first turn was steadfastly denied. Tom was just going to have to deal with the fact that Bill knew how to play the game and was not going to make any tactical mistakes. With the ‘special’ die securely tucked in Bill’s pocket it seemed as if all hope was lost. One fortuitous D4 result in front of the German 7th Army did ensure that the US 10th Armored would be delayed in front of Bastogne but neither player was overly impressed. The German 6th Panzer Army tried to bull their way across the Ambleve but was stymied in front of Stavelot for four turns. The 18AM random event was the Commandos—they had a 2/3 chance of negatively impacting individual Allied units traversing the space these Ubermensh occupied. Unfortunately, they turned out to be Unmensch and numerous US units rolled through with impunity. In the center and south, German units infiltrated forward; a few surrounded US units were marched off into captivity but, for the most part, the US had the game well in hand. Both players enjoyed their last sampling of Lancaster Host’s pulled pork and, apparently, this is Tom’s new “good luck” dish.
  • The turning point occurred on the US half of the 18PM turn: Bill launched a high-odds US counterattack to secure his flank north of Malady, an advance allowing him to hold on to the Ambleve River line another turn. Unfortunately, Bill neglected to account for the availability of German artillery and then, hoping to borrow some Tommy luck, his usage of the little white die was rewarded with a six which meant his US units were thrown back. This resulted in his secondary defensive line now being exposed on the next German turn; Tom wasted no time in sending a probe forward that resulted in the capture of the Francorchamps dump! Dietrich, an SS Mech Regiment, and another infantry surged forward to garrison that hex. The Germans broke through at Parker’s crossroads and sent Lehr Recon on a fruitless hunt for the Samree dump. Bill’s response was to eliminate the Lehr Recon with elements of the 82nd airborne.
  • Both players were now groggy—it was after midnight. The AC was cranking, the bystanders were in full kibitzing mode, and both players were exhibiting the tunnel vision that is associated with gaming exhaustion. Neither noticed that they didn’t roll the 19AM random event. Bill defended in the south in such a manner that ensured he’d be losing a few units each turn and both players were taken aback on 19PM when it became clear that the Axis were going to garner a VP from killing 18+ Allied units. The Germans locked in additional VPs by securing an Ourthe bridge crossing, Parker’s Crossroads, the Francorchamp dump, and losing only one German mech. Trois Pont may have also been German but both players could barely remember their own names, let alone properly account for the VP space control. Shortly after 1:15AM, Bill returned the little white die and conceded.

Event Wrap-Up:

  • A special shout-out is extended to Jeremy Osteen for letting so many folks use his custom Bitter Woods big-board set. The envious slobberings were easily wiped down between matches and it made play sooooo much easier for those of us with failing eyesight and fumble-prone fingers.
  • AHIKS was running an “Iron Man” competition linked to this WBC event and, in return with putting up with a statue of the hulk wearing a grass hula skirt on the map, Randy bestowed upon the Bitter Woods tournament winner a wide variety of prizes. (Sadly, the statue was not one of them.) Thank you, AHIKS!
  • As always, thank you, Bruno and Bill, for running the Grognard event and ensuring that all us cardboard pushers had ample opportunity to game our brains out.
  • Participation was up in 2015, from 21 to 25, while the game count slipped slightly from 45 to 42. Thank you Bitter Woods fans!
  • While Bill’s mom was allegedly made happy by his big BWD wood plaque in 2014, Tom’s mom was oblivious and still thinks of wargaming as guys in war paint running around the Amish countryside. Tom’s coworkers are under the belief that this event is some form of adult “Rumspringa” in Lancaster and he doesn’t have the patience to try to correct them. In any case, the 2015 champ thanks the 2014 champ for a very memorable DBW match!

Defending champ Forrest Pafenberg vs Kevin Hacker.

Play By Email 2016

The eighth BPA Bitterwoods PBeM Tournament ended recently after 34 games with Bruno Sinigaglio's Americans defeating Bill Morse in the six-turn scenario as the last two survivors of the 24-player field vied for the title.

This was the fourth consecutive BPA PBeM Championship for Bruno. In three of those, including the latest, Bruno survived to win against Morse on the last die roll of the game. Statistically, Bill should have won both the earlier contests, as Bruno only had a 16% probability of victory in each of the final battles. 

In thus latest championship, on 18PM, Bruno needed to eliminate one more German mech or take back a victory hex. He chose to go after a mech kill. In the attached graphicd, the red dot units attacked the 2/2 mech at 7-1(+2) hoping for a retreat of two that would surround 2/304 mech and prevent Von Manteuffel issuing a Standfast order to either unit; then Bruno could attack the surrounded 2/304 at 2-1(+0) with the blue dot units. A result of 1D1 or D1 on the 7-1(+2) would only allow a 2-1(+1) by the blue dot units guaranteeing Bill the win. The overall chance of success for Bruno was 10 of 36. Fate favored the grognard again, yielding a D4 vs 2/2 and a D1 kill of 2/304. As a result, Bill lost by a hair, again, demonstrating further that he is "snakebitten" in close games vs Bruno.

GM Tom Gregorio [3rd Year] 1650 Chadwyck Place, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Gregorit@yahoo.com 484-744-1086

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