Leader off the starboard bow ...
Eric Wrobel and Randy Needham avoid
eye contact with the active shooter.
Michael Mitchell and Randy MacInnis
eye a target of opportunity foolish enough to be in the lead.
NAVAL WAR 2015 drew 36 fleet commanders. Game assignments were made for an initial round of six 6-player games, tables A thru F. The six preliminary winners would then advance to the Final.
TABLE A: Former champion and assistant GM Ben Collinson Sr. had a seat here, but could not revisit past glory. In this 4-round contest, two players exceeded the 75 point threshold, with Alan Arvold victorious. SCORES: Alan 82, Glenn Petroski 79, Ben Collinson Sr. 60, Dale Long 54, Andrew Buccheri 49 and Larry York 48.
TABLE B: During Round 4, Aidan McNay sank both 9-point battleships (YAMATO and MUSASHI) with airstrikes from AKAGI. Dave Cross was last after three rounds, but scored 56 points on the 4th hand to win the table. He sank 11 ships in the round and 18 in the game. SCORES: Dave 90, Stephen Squibb 77, Aidan McNay 61, Matt Evinger 59, Dacey Collinson 50 and Matt Bacho 45.
TABLE C: Ten of the 18 fleets in play suffered elimination during this 3-round game. Randall MacInnis reached the magic number of 75 to win the table in Round 3, even though he had lost his fleet in each of the previous two hands. Admiral Kimmel should have been so blessed. SCORES: Randall 75, Eric Wrobel 67, Wade Fowble 60, Randy Needham 54, Jonathan Lockwood 36 and Michael Mitchell 32.
TABLE D: Two former champions, Frank Mestre and Bryan Eshleman, patrolled these waters. This was the most raucous table of the preliminaries, erupting frequently at some play or action. After four rounds three players had topped the 75-point threshold. Bryan Eshlemen took top honors. The only complaint heard from this table was, “We had to play with John!” That would be WBC veteran and all around good guy John Sharp. SCORES: Bryan 84, Frank 79, John 78, Jeff Lange 68, Tony Newton 55 and Robert Drozd 48.
TABLE E: 2014 finalist David Brooks was here and after three rounds was tied for second behind John Spinela who was five points shy of victory. This is not really where one wants to be in NAVAL WAR and that fact was borne out as John suffered a course correction to 69 points in Round 4. The table winner came from fifth place (27 points after Round 3)in the form of Bob Hamel who incidentally ended Round 1 with a score of -1. SCORES: Bob 80, John 69, Cory Morris 61, Tim Miller 58, Rod Davidson 52 and David 51.
TABLE F: The class of the last table was embodied in multi-year champion Jim Fleckenstein. In Round 1 Rick McGregor sank six ships with a destroyer squadron taking the early lead with 44 points. Brian Goodwin used his two carriers to sink both BISMARK and TIRPITZ (eight points each) in one airstrike play to provide the highlight to Round 2. Later, two more ships would fall to Brian’s CV’s. Michael Ussery managed to sink all three Pocket Battleships (three points each) AKA snacks, as they came into play. Rick was eliminated in Round 2, as expected, reducing his score to 37, and withdrew. At the end of Round 4, Nathan Wagner had 81 points, having repaired his only battleship three times during the round, to stay in the game. Alas, 81 points was not enough. Michael Ussery topped the table with 98 points. SCORES: Michael 98, Nathan 81, Brian 72, Jim Fleckenstein 71, James Kramer Jr. 31.
So the six finalists were set. The players drew cards again to determine seating order for the Final. Table positions were: (1) Bryan Eshleman, (2) Bob Hamel, (3) Randall MacInnis, (4) Mike Ussery, (5) Dave Cross and (6) Alan Arvold. Seat position 1 would deal to start play. The dealer for subsequent rounds would be the leader, per standard game rules.
ROUND 1: Preliminary red card play. Mike uses a PT boat to sink MUSASHI (nine points) and receives a 1-point minefield. Randall, with two carriers, has a 2-point minefield placed on him. Regular play starts slowly. Randall’s carriers draw first blood, sinking MISSOURI for seven points. Alan draws a sub and sinks YAMATO for nine points. Randall’s carrier threat makes him the initial target and he is quickly eliminated. Bob sinks a pocket battleship for a quick three points. Bryan now plays the first destroyer squadron early in the round. Bob draws a 2-point minefield and plays it on Mike eliminating the carrier he had. Bryan gets to use the destroyer sinking a 7- and an 8-point ship. Bob removes an annoying 1-point minefield. Alan draws a PT that misses but later uses a salvo to eliminate Mike. Dave gets the second destroyer late. He uses it before the round ends to sink three ships worth 17 points. SCORES: Bryan 33, Dave 31, Alan 26, Bob 18, Mike 14, Randall (-3).
ROUND 2: Initial red card play, Bryan adds FUSO, Bob receives LITTORIO. Bryan and Dave receive 1-point minefields, Bob gets a 2-pointer. Also four additional damage cards go in the discard pile. Bryan leads off sinking HARUNA (five points). Bob draws a sub and sinks MUSASHI (nine points). Dave now sinks VALIANT (four points). Leader Bryan has an additional 2-point minefield placed on him. His fleet of five 14 inch battleships only lasts once more around the table before elimination. Bob now plays a destroyer squadron. Dave defends with smoke. The other remaining players cooperate to sink the destroyer. Now, the airstrikes begin! Alan, with two carriers, launches strikes against YAMATO that miss. Dave finally getting usable salvo cards, sinks GRAF SPEE (three points) and KING GEORGE V (six points). Alan sends two more airstrikes against YAMATO, missing again. YAMATO continues to dodge carrier strikes, eight in all. In between airstrikes Bob deploys the second destroyer. It survives to sink Dave’s last two ships (14 points). The round ends with Bob drawing an additional ship. SCORES: Bob 46, Dave 44, Alan 37, Mike 35, Bryan 28, Randall 19.
ROUND 3: In preliminary red card play, Alan adds two battleships, Bob one. Three additional damage cards again go into the discard pile. Bryan and Randall each begin play with a carrier. Leader Bob starts off with a snack sinking the pocket battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER (three points). Randall uses ARK ROYAL to sink TIRPITZ (eight points). The YAMATO survives three consecutive airstrikes from Bryan and a PT shot from Bob. Mike protects his fleet with smoke. Bryan, drawing the other PT card, misses the shot rolling a 1. Fate equals out the next time around as Bryan’s fourth airstrike at YAMATO succeeds. Randall now draws a sub and sinks the MISSOURI (seven points). After placing a 2-point minefield on Bob, Dave is eliminated. Bryan resumes his carrier assault but misses on three consecutive airstrikes. Randall misses with the second sub. Bob is reduced to one ship by Alan. Mike now deploys the first destroyer squadron of the round. Bob hits the destroyer for a point but Alan, Bryan and Randall all have smoke cards to deploy. Mike now uses the destroyer strike to sink Bob’s last ship KONGO (five points). Bryan tries his eighth airstrike of the round, another miss. Mike gets an additional ship, the LUTZOW (three points). Alan gets to repair the damaged IOWA. Randall gets a new ship the CIAO DUILIO (four points). Fire from Mike sinks the VITTORIO VENETO (six points). Alan now deploys the second destroyer of the round. Bryan hits it first with a 3 damage salvo. Randall applies the additional salvo to finish it off. Bryan returns misses IOWA with the ninth air strike. Randall gets a new ship, the carrier AKAGI, giving him two. While Mike and Alan try to stay out of the line of fire, Bryan and Randall airstrike at will. Bryan has four additional airstrikes before the round ends, primarily at IOWA, but to no effect. Randall uses his two carriers for eight more airstrikes, missing IOWA several times, but sinking NEW JERSEY. The last play goes to Alan who sinks LUTZOW. SCORES: Alan 70, Mike 60, Randall 51, Bob 39, Bryan 37, Dave 34.
ROUND 4: Opening red card play gives additional ships to Randall (LUTZOW) and Dave (KING GEORGE V). Three additional damage cards are discarded. Bryan and Alan each start the round with a carrier. Alan begins play adding IOWA to his fleet. Bryan opens his play with an airstrike against the IOWA. It misses. Randall now draws KONGO in reinforcement. NEVADA (four points) is sunk by Dave. Alan takes out ADMIRAL SCHEER (three points). Bryan now plays the first destroyer card. No shots are taken at the destroyer with two players receiving red cards in the turn. Bryan attacks Alan sinking WASHINGTON, IOWA and WEST VIRGINIA for 18 points. Alan, reduced to MISSISSIPPI and AKAGI, airstrikes TIRPITZ, but misses. The weakened Alan is now eliminated with Randall sinking MISSISSIPPI (five points) and Dave sinking AKAGI (three points). Now in mid-round the carriers come out to play. Bryan’s carrier takes eight airstrikes, sinking ROMA (six points) with the first strike, and after six misses sinking TIRPITZ (eight points). Bob, reinforced with ARK ROYAL, now has two carriers. His two, double shot airstrikes, net no ships sunk. Likewise a PT card for Bob also misses. Randall has been reinforced with WARSPITE but a PT for him misses MISSOURI. Mike has been reduced to a 2-ship fleet while only managing to sink LUTZOW for three points. Mines placed on Mike are quickly swept away, but his 2-ship fleet is shortly sunk with Dave claiming one ship and Bryan, in a rare salvo shot this round, sinking FUSO (five points) ending Mike’s round. Dave, through all this action, had GRAF SPEE added to his fleet. He now deploys the second destroyer card. Bryan puts two damage points on the destroyer, but subsequent minefield cards for Bob (2 points) and Randall (1 point) both placed on Dave, leave the destroyer card in play. Dave now attacks Randall sinking NAGATO, VITTORIO VENETO and WARSPITE for 17 points. Randall has a sub miss MISSOURI. A round of salvos has Bryan, Randall and Dave each sinking a ship. Bryan returns to carrier striking but misses. Bob now attacks Dave sinking a 6-point battleship. Dave only has KING GEORGE V left. Bob is mined for a point. Bryan and Bob both airstrike and miss KING GEORGE V. Randall damages KING GEORGE V but Dave immediately repairs it. Two more consecutive carrier strikes by Bryan and Bob also miss. Dave now sinks VALIANT (five points). Finally Bryan’s carrier sinks KING GEORGE V, knocking out Dave. With three players remaining, the round ends with Bob taking three consecutive double carrier strikes that sink RODNEY and KIRISHIMA (11 points). Randall has a sub card that misses and defensive smoke. Bryan has two ineffective air strikes before drawing the final card to end the round. Coming from fifth place, leaning heavily on his carriers all game, Bryan Eshleman wins his second NAVAL WAR championship. FINAL SCORES: Bryan 84, Randall 73, Dave 69, Bob 66, Alan 63, Mike 53.
In closing, I cannot recall a game of NAVAL WAR with as many carrier strikes. The players were polled on two questions concerning possible tournament changes for 2016. Changes to the fleet elimination rules received little support. Changing to a heat driven tournament was overwhelmingly supported.
GM Jim Kramer with his six finalists. |