gut wrenching World War I action
Clash of Giants (COG) was voted into the Century for
2002 and put in a solid showing for a two-player wargame. I had
no illusions that it would pull in 50+ players, especially when
competing against so many other worthy events, many that I wish
I could have entered. Still, I'm happy with the attendance total.
MVP of the tournament has to be Jeff Lange Sr.. He was responsible
for three of the contestants in the event, himself and his two
sons Ian and Ted. It drew rave responses, even from those not
in the tournament, that youngsters were competitively playing
a traditional wargame.
The teaching session for the game went well. Ten players showed
for the teaching session.
Most of the session covered mechanics, and I tried to give
a basic overview of some strategy, which is, admittedly, difficult
to do in an hour. However, most seemed to be there to ensure
they understood the mechanics.
A brief overview, COG is two games in one, on battles from
World War I, Tannenberg and the Marne. It has an alternating
sequence of play, but enough twists to make it different from
"standard" hex-based wargames. First, the die has everything
to do with movement. Each side has two portions of its force,
and a die roll reveals how far a particular unit can move during
its turn. Since this process is sequential both players, but
especially the German, have to play it safe, or gamble on the
movement of the second portion of their force. Second, each unit
is rated for its strength and ability to withstand combat. There
are no sure kills in COG, as any unit survives intact if it rolls
a 1, regardless of the odds. The chrome isn't heavy but what
exists is essential, and it's a very playable system and quick
playing, making it ideal for a tournament setting.
Sixteen players showed for the Mulligan round. I allowed one
pairing to flex their start time, as one individual was going
to be teaching at 8 PM. This seems like a good idea that will
be continued next year. I did have one individual show up much
later, about 9 PM, looking for a game, but there wasn't another
opponent to be found.
Tannenberg was used exclusively throughout the tournament,
nobody wanted to tempt the extra time that would be required
to play the Marne. The games in the Mulligan round weren't under
a time constraint, and about half finished within three hours.
The others took not much longer. The Russians were the preferred
side throughout, as they are a bit more forgiving side to play.
The Russians tallied six victories and the Germans only two.
However, the most exciting match of the night was Tom Meier's
victory as the Germans. It was the flexed game, and the last
to finish. The game came down to the last die roll, as Tom made
a successful counterattack to claim a 7-5 victory.
Six new players, all but one of the Mulligan winners and a
handful of the mulligan losers showed for Round 1 and 2 Wednesday
morning. The official 1st round tallied three German victories
and two Russian victories. While no two games seemed to play
the same, the oddest first round match belonged to Jim Winslow
and Nick Frydas. Neither side lost a unit the entire game. Talk
about playing conservatively.
In the second round, Jeff Lange won a squeaker; George Young,
Andrew Maly, and Dennis Culhane won their matches; and Jonathan
Miller and Terry Coleman forced early concessions from their
opponents. Ian Lange was credited with a bye for the round. The
scales were definitely in the Russians favor, winning five of
the six matches played. Matt Calkins was defeated in the second
round, but walked away with the sportsmanship nomination for
The third round paired George and Andrew; Dennis and Ian;
and Terry and Jeff. Jonathan pulled the bye into the semi-finals.
All three games were tight matches, and Dennis, Terry and Andrew
pulled out victories, netting two Russian and one German victory.
In the semi-finals, Andrew, playing the Russians, beat Dennis
13-10, in a true nail-biter. The other game wasn't close. In
the 22 games that had been played in the first three rounds,
nine had had bids to play the Russian side. The bids were either
two or three victory points. In a bold move Jonathan bid seven
victory points to play the Russians, and forced a concession
out of Terry on Turn 8.
The final was a wild game, with swings of fortune back and
forth. Andrew let Jonathan take the Russians for two victory
points. Deviating from the standard, Andrew sent the German cavalry
south to face the Russian 2nd Army. However, he nearly lost the
game on Turn 2 letting I Corps get pinned and out of supply.
A message arrived from Grünwald at OberWBC, "immer
A tentative response by the Russian 1st Army allowed I Corps
to escape its own trap. The Germans began a slow withdrawal west
to the fortified zones outside of Konigsburg for the next seven
turns, keeping one step ahead of the Russian 1st Army.
The real action took place in the south with the Russian 2nd
Army. The Russians were experiencing some solid gains against
the Germans in the early part of the game. The Germans held and
fought, counterattacking at Tannenberg on Turn 4. The odds and
numbers were in favor of 2nd Army, however.
Then on Turn 7 the Russians extended themselves just a bit
too far. The German commander intercepted the plans of the 2nd
Army for the next day (the Wireless Intercept die roll) and swung
his cavalry around the left flank of the Russian army. Turn 8
resulted in the bulk of 2nd Army being placed out of supply,
and the Germans began to work on destroying 2nd Army.
Jonathan desperately maneuvered his forces to escape the trap,
but it took until turn 11 to do so. By this time, the Germans
had driven 2nd Army south of the three German victory hexes.
However, two Russian units, although out of supply, remained
a threat in the center of the map. Further, 1st Army finally
found the fortitude to attack, and had four movement points to
The cat and mouse game continued in the south, as the Germans
tried to maintain the out of supply status of the two Russian
2nd Army divisions in the north. Andrew also launched his forces
facing 1st Army forward to neutralize the high movement of the
1st Army began a slow
grind forward, but was having trouble making significant gains,
so units began to filter around the flanks of the German lines.
The Russian 2nd Army was, for the most part, destroyed as a formation.
On turn 14, the Russians managed to break the Konigsberg fortified
zone near Libau. Additionally, one of the 2nd Army divisions
had managed to put itself back into supply when the 8th Army
decided to get tentative at an inopportune time. The game came
down to the Wireless Intercept die roll on Turn 14, which would
determine the movement of the Russian 2nd Army on the last turn,
Turn 15. The roll of 1 secured the game for the Germans. (A 2
would also have been a German victory, a 6 would have been a
Russian victory, and a 3-5 would have resulted in a Russian battle
for Libau for the victory.)
Certainly I had a little luck in order to win the event. I
think that's always true, but I was fortunate to play five extremely
tense, close fought games. The designer of COG, Ted Raicer has
been asked to put health warning labels on his designs, as they
provide gut wrenching moments for players.
For complete details, see http://mywebpages.comcast.net/clashofgiants/