Return to the Trenches
As the sun rose over the skies of Hunt Valley, the GM proceeded
downstairs to the Valley Ballroom. Where was the French clay,
the entrenchments, the barbed wire? The GM thought to himself,
"That's the last time I pay a contractor in advance."
Although the special presentation of Paths of Glory
did not go as planned, the tournament went very well. It mirrored
the actual event in that not only was superior strategy over
one's opponent necessary, but players also needed to battle personal
attrition and the desire to play in other events.
Fifty-two bright eyed soldiers
enlisted for what they hoped to be a quick end to the war. The
limited war scenario was used due to time constraints and as
a practical matter. This did not deter the enthusiasm for the
event. The primary change in dealing with the short term scenario
is that players needed to recognize that trying to knock Russia
out of the war was a non-factor.
The Allies were the favored side, and bids as high as three
victory points were submitted for the privilege of playing the
"good guys." Whether it was the lack of familiarity
of playing the Central Powers in the Limited War scenario or
that the Allies are easier to play, the Round 1 results showed
18 Allied victories, seven Central Power victories, and one draw.
Although the number of early turn knockouts was lower than last
year, it doesn't ease the pain of losing the French, British,
and Belgian armies, along with Paris on Turn 1 if it happens
to you. In perhaps the most exciting game of the first round,
Ted Raicer, the game's designer came up short as the Central
Powers. Kosta Kalogeropoulos held Ted to a score of 16VP, the
maximum the Allied player could yield and still achieve victory.
Sometimes the planets align just right, and the extraordinary
occurs. Milt Janosky was pitted against a (much) younger and
very enthusiastic opponent. The time for armistice approached,
Milt was in the superior position, and would easily advance on
a decision. As the GM approached, Milt resigned his position
stating, "He (his opponent) just wanted to keep playing.
How could I deny him that?" There were many acts of sportsmanship
throughout the tournament, however, this was deemed of the highest
order. Milt not only was nominated for the sportsmanship award,
but also presented with framed and signed (by Rodger MacGowan,
who deserves a very special public thank you for donating the
prizes) copies of artist's proofs of the game box top and bottom.
Milt's friends were in total shock the rest of the day. Unfortunately
for the young buck, his next opponent wasn't as kind.
Round 2 proceeded swiftly, and had its own share of strange
occurrences, such as those of Peter Reese. Peter blitzed his
opponent in Round 1, and repeated the feat in Round 2, winding
up with about 30 minutes of total game time playing the Central
Powers. Fortunately, Peter kept himself occupied playing demonstration
events at the GMT booth. The play of the Central Powers picked
up for Round 2, as of the 11 games played, four resulted in Central
Power victories, but they still trailed the Allies seven victories
for the round.
Round 3 might have been the most bizarre, as players wore
down after two already long and tough games. Four games were
played. Dave Hiller's personal VP went to 0 when he lost the
"Lutsk Knife Fight" attacking on the 7 Army table versus
a lone Austria-Hungary Army. The resulting outcome was the surrender
of two Russian armies, which was enough for Dave to throw in
the towel. Leave it to gamer extraordinaire John Emery to lose
six armies permanently to being out of supply, and, still manage
to pull out a victory. Spectators were heard muttering something
about, "A deal with the devil," but no firm quotes
could be established. The game between Jim Falling and Steve
Huskey came down to the last card play of the last turn. Steve's
Central Powers troops wanted some vacation time in the south
of France, specifically Marsailles. When the high-command denied
the leave, Jim was able to move his brave Italian troops to reclaim
enough locations to gain an Allied victory at 15VP. Peter Reese
was forced into a longer game, but still managed to emerge victorious.
Round 4, introduced events not present in the "Standard"
edition, and are unlikely to ever see publication. However, to
reader's appetite, the two events were "Royal Wedding"
and "The Paull Conference." Jim Falling and Andy Maly
have a good history and had played each other four times previously.
Jim knew Andy's penchant for the Central Powers, and selected
them as his chosen side. Andy threw Jim a curve as he had selected
the Allies. Jim must have learned a thing or two from their
earlier battles, however, as Jim soon had his troops sunning
themselves on the shores of the English Channel, placing Andy
in 4th. John Emery was rather Up Front with his desires,
but torn between finishing this tournament, or playing his team
game. Sportsman extraordinaire John Emery (thus disproving any
"deals") knowing he couldn't play both at once if the
situation arose, opted out of the Paths of Glory tournament,
but finished 3rd. (Don't feel too sad, go read the Up Front
article. Also, Jim had gotten a bye in an earlier round, so Peter's
resulting bye "evened-out". Don't feel sorry for Andy,
he's the GM.)
The finals thus pitted Peter Reese, who bid three VP for the
privilege of playing the Allies against Jim Falling as the Central
Powers. After seven turns, Jim saw his gains limited to Lodz
and Belgrade while losing Czernowicz and Lemberg. Facing such
grim odds, Jim conceded the title to Peter.
Both Peter and Jim were awarded framed and signed copies of
the artist's proofs for their first and second place finishes.
As a final act of sportsmanship, and a statement of the all the
contestants involved, Peter gave his set of proofs to John Emery.
This was symbolic of the manner in which John handled being faced
with the decision of being forced to drop from one of two tournaments
with class, and never questioning the ruling.
For more details, visit http://members.home.net/anomaly99/pog2000.htm