44 Years & Counting ...
Art Dohrman and Marty Musella relive
Greg Tanner and newcomer Thomas Campbell
in semifinal action.
A Game of Objectives
Each year I am heartened by gamers returning to play PanzerBlitz
and PanzerLeader. With all the new games coming out each
year, these still have a great game mechanic that is easy to
play and offers a challenge to even the most sophisticated gamer.
This year GM Rick Northey paired up more games in the pre-con
than in past years. Rick was busy answering rules questions
and pulling out old scenarios for a first time play at WBC.
Alan Arvold, is probably the most knowledgeable "PanzerBlitz
professor", having written many articles for the General
in the golden years of wargaming at Avalon Hill. Alan provided
three new battle situations of his own creation for play. Newcomer
Thomas Campbell who had not played the game since the 1970s was
one of the most enthusiastic players. He persevered and made
the semis with increasingly sharp play as he refreshed his memory
with each additional game played.
As the fog of war intensified through the week of the con,
the final four; Greg Tanner, Chuck Leonard, Marty Musella, and
fighting Thomas Campbell emerged. Situations for both games
were picked, #14 being the favorite in each case. Battle plans
were being decided and a quote from Gen. George S. Patton Jr.
captures the moment: "A good plan, vigorously executed
now, is better than a perfect plan next week."
the first semifinal, both players chose the German side. Greg
won the dice roll and got the Germans. Thomas deployed his Russian
forces in Bednost and Golod on board 2. Out of the fog Greg's
German armor came rumbling up the hill straight into the assault
of Bednost. The Russian HQ was captured on Turn 2. Meanwhile,
the main Russian reinforcement group motored up to the South
of Hill 132. German tanks and AT guns took up positions on higher
ground. In a game of feint and maneuver Thomas' armor pursued
Greg's smaller German force. The Germans retreated to board
1 using cover to block the Russian advance. German forces storm
Bednost with heavy casualties to Russian forces. In a final
counterattack, Thomas charged Greg's positions with his armor,
trying to surround them. Time ran out with Turn 8 complete
and tGreg victorious in his defense. Old blood and guts reminds
us that; "War is the supreme test of man in which he rises
to heights never approached in any other activity".
In the other bracket, both players selected the Russians,
and Chuck won the diceroll. Chuck put his Russian HQ in Bednost
surrounded by AT guns. The German strike force blitzed up the
hill and took out the HQ on Turn 2. Chuck rolled a 6 with his
AT guns missing their mark in an attempt to cripple the German
armor company. Chuck's Russian armored column moved in high
gear up the road only to be hindered by Marty's nimble German
armored cars darting in and out of the woods copses. Chuck ordered
his T34s to use their wide tracks off road to make an encircling
move on the armored cars, destroying several platoons in the
process. The Russian force retook the hill on Turn 3, and started
the hunt for isolated German forces. Remaining German forces
fought for control of Bednost. Marty prepared for a battle on
the South side of Hill 132 defending the town. Gen Patton would
say; "Never let the enemy pick the battle site. Instead,
attack rapidly, ruthlessly, viciously, without rest." So
Chuck brought up the heavy tanks, Su100s and Su152s, to blast
away Marty's dug in infantry on the hillside and in the town.
After a bloody final battle, Chuck emerged with the victory,
28 victory points to Marty's 27. It was an exciting game all
the way to the last die roll.
As Saturday evening approached, the two finalists, discussed
the last game of the con. Situation 45r1 was chosen. Both players
wanted the German side, so dice were rolled. Greg won the option
to play Germans, which entailed a fighting withdrawal from a
superior Russian armored force. Chuck proceeded to assemble
his attacking force in the greater Grabyosh area on the North
side of board 3. Greg formed up his defense as the first recon
sighted the enemy moving South toward his position. German self-propelled
artillery units opened fire from the town of Opustoschenia on
the advancing Russian tanks. Chuck decided to mass his force
on the NW side of the town out of range of the enemy AT guns
hiding in the woods on the South side of the river. After firing
their first barrage, the German SPA units pulled out of the town
and fled toward the safety of Zabrenia. Russian tankodesantniki
infantry companies jumped off their tanks into close assaults
of the town. Chuck yelled out argggggggggh! having rolled 6s
twice, missing targets allowing them to escape across open ground.
Return fire from Greg's fixed batteries took out a company of
Su152 assault guns. Advancing Russian armor overran the German
advanced position, and the infantry went into Opustoschenia to
mop up. At this halfway point in the game, Turn 3 complete,
a few words from Gen Patton sums up the likely thoughts in the
players' minds; "Good tactics can save even the worst strategy.
Bad tactics will destroy even the best strategy". Then
there is the unpredictable fog of war, the dice! In the next
two turns players will roll four more 6s making the casualties
for this battle unusually low. Chuck advanced what was left
of his battle group to the ford in the river to Zabrenia. Volleys
from both sides littered both open ground and the town with
wrecked tanks. Opustoschenia was finally cleared at the end
of Turn 5. Greg's AT fire takes out three of Chuck's tank companies
as they poured through the ford, maneuvering to encircle the
remaining German positions. The final push came too late though.
The game ended with neither side achieving victory conditions.
A tie gave the defending Germans the victory and Greg the 2014
title,, his fourth shield and the cool diorama special prize.
Adopting a quote from Napoleon used in the final scene of the
movie Patton; "Glory is fleeting and obscurity is forever".
Of course, until WBC 2015!
John Sharp opposes Chuck Leonard during