Chuck Leonard and Bill Sosnicki
relive old battles.
Still daring to cross that street
Bill Sosnicki, Bill Thomson, Mario
Ales and John Sharp renew old rivalries during the Pre-Con preliminaries.
For 24 years, Bill Thomson and Pete
Pollard have been 1-2 in the Squad Leader tribe. Here
they battle it out for third place.
The 24th year of Squad Leader drew 20 players for 37
games. Over a third of that total was at the Cross of Iron
level, with one game each of Crescendo of Doom
and GI: Anvil of Victory. The remainder were fought at
the original base Squad Leader level. Many of the Cross
of Iron level actions played were recently developed scenarios
chronicling the German attempt to cut off the Allied advances
in Operation Cobra.
Since we moved to the Grognard format, the number of games
played have increased dramatically with the support of Bruno
Sinigaglio and Bill Morse. Bruno takes the event under his wings
for the Pre-Con portion while Bill manages all of the scorekeeping
and player rankings. These two gentlemen have helped the event
become a more enjoyable tourney, allowing more games played throughout
the WBC timeframe.
This year saw some players join our ranks. During the demonstration
on Monday evening, there were five people intently learning the
game. Also, a few old vets have returned to the game, including
Rod Coffey, Tom Shaw and Chuck Leonard. It is good to see both
groups since it shows that this game has an appeal for return
play while still providing opportunities for new players. The
game that took the hobby by storm in the 70s still has appeal
many years later.
of the games throughout the week were hard-fought battles which
ended on the last dice roll. For example:
~ Eric Stranger's Russians tried to wrest a village out of
Chuck Leonard's German hands in 'Russia 1941'. The noose
kept closing in on Chuck's troops as the Germans pressed on.
On the last turn, a desperate attempt was made on the stone
buildings for the victory. Five close combats raged with Chuck
pulling out the win.
~ In 'Mogilev', Bill Sosnicki's Russians were poised
to stop Pete Pollard's German mobile force. Bill's conscripts
held back the German attack with his leader rallying at least
four squads throughout the game. Bill's reinforcements were
crushed as they moved into the battle. Taking advantage of the
reduced infantry threat, Pete moved his tank destroyer onto the
main hill's summit only to have Bill kill it with one shot.
The whirlwind fight continued till the last turn. In a last
ditch effort, the Germans tried to remove Bill's T-26 on the
summit. Racing down the road in a halftrack and unloading a
squad and leader next to the tank, their goal was to close assault
the Russian T-26. After surviving four shots while moving in
the open, the squad entered close combat against the T-26 needing
a 5 or less on two dice to win. Fate delivered a 5 and Bill
loses again on the last dice roll.
~ Andrew Cummins faced off against Scott Bramley in the Avalon
Hill scenario 'Slamming of the Door'. Scott's hedgehog
defense held strong against the Russian onslaught. Though the
dice overall were balanced, the majority of the low rolls went
to Scott while Andrew's Russians failed to extract a deep enough
toll from the Germans to pull out a win.
On Saturday, the two semifinal matches were announced as Pete
Pollard (64 points) against Eric Stranger (45 points) and Bill
Thomson (54 points) against Scott Bramley (48 points). Four
former champions with 11 titles between them would duke it out
Bill and Scott played 'King of the Hills' where Bill's
Germans tried to remove Scott's Russians from one last hill.
It looked like Bill was going to cruise to a win when the tide
turned and his advance slowed. With the Russians now reinforced,
the last attempt to clear the hill became tougher. Like so many
other games, the results were decided on one last dice roll with
Bill needing a 7 or less on two dice to win. Fate delivered
an 8 instead and Scott moved on to the Final.
In the other bracket, Pete's Americans swept onto the board
and positioned in front of the main objective, the only two-story
building on Board 3 as Eric's Germans tried to win 'Eviction
Notice', a Squad Leader Academy scenario. Though the U.S.
has plenty of firepower, many of the shots ended with either
no result or with Eric sloughing off morale checks. Eric's well
placed antitank gun made the crucial kill on a halftrack trying
to slip in from behind the main line of advance. Now, with only
a frontal assault, Pete had to slog through several layers of
defense. Though the Americans had a foothold in the building,
a few Germans held out upstairs so Eric advanced to the last
In the consolation game, Pete's Germans held against Bill's
Russian attack in 'Slamming of the Door'. Bill Thomson's
luck went south as three of his five tanks broke their main guns.
Pete's assault guns eliminated the rest of the Russian T-26's
and the remainder of the Russians disappeared into the woods
from which the attack had started. Pete took third and the latest
chapter in a multi-decade rivalry.
Scott and Eric selected 'Winter War' for the Final.
This is a small scenario with only a few units for each side
and played on only half of Board 4. 'Winter War' pits
a mobile Russian force against freezing Germans in the Napoleonic
winter of 1941. Scott played the Germans. Three German squads
were entrenched and listening to the sound of approaching T34s.
Supplementing their firepower was one PzIV frozen in place,
a 50mm antitank gun and a Demolition Charge. The three approaching
T34s were accompanied by six snowsmock clad Guard squads mounted
and on foot. The Russians must push through the German line and
exit seven squads or their equivalent for a victory.
The Soviets assaulted the defensive line with infantry and
sent the mounted T34s far north of the line. The Germans concentrated
on the mounted infantry, trying to break them with the antitank
gun. The Soviets flanked the line and threatened to exit the
A T34 exchanged fire with the antitank gun and bested it.
Soviet Guards then rushed the defensive line while armor pushed
toward the exit. German defenses were stretched thin. The smoke
settled leaving the Guards mauled, but the tanks were in position
to exit just as soon as they could shift into gear. The Germans
were left with a bleak situation; either stop one T34 with a
headlong charge or watch them drive off the board to victory.
They charged forward pulled by the heroism of LT Falck as much
as pushed by the bitter cold. Into the fire they bravely charge...and
fall soon to be covered by the frigid wind and drifting snow.
The T34s moved off, leaving behind only the dead of winter.
And so the issue was resolved. Through maneuver and firepower,
Eric pushed his Soviets to victory over Scott's Germans. Eric
Stranger wins his fourth Avaloncon/WBC Squad Leader tourney
and ties Pete Pollard for most SQL shields.
Pete Pollard goes down in the semifinals
to Eric Stranger.
A couple former champs: Scott Bramley
and Andrew Cummins.