squad leader [Updated October 2002]

SQL  3 prizes Experienced Swiss Elim Continuous 
   9  Round 2 12  Round 3 16   Round 4 20     


Andrew Cummins, UK

2002 Champion

2nd: Bill Thomson, TX

3rd: Pete Pollard, TN

4th: Mike Hennessey, NY

5th: Mike Pacheco, CA

6th: Mike Day, AZ

Event History
1991    Scott Romanowski      12
1992    Jeff Miller      19
1993    Brian Laskey      14
1994    Eric Stranger      15
1995    Kevin Welsh       8
1996    Eric Stranger      10
1997    Kevin Welsh      12
1998    Peter Pollard      17
1999    Peter Pollard      19
2000    Mike Pacheco     18
2001    Peter Pollard     20
2002    Andrew Cummins     22

AREA Ratings

GM: Peter Pollard

Past Winners

1991: Scott Romanowski - MA
1992: Jeff Miller - NY
1993: Brian Laskey - CT
2000: Mike Pacheco - CA

Eric Stranger - OH
1994, 1996

Kevin Welsh - NJ
1995, 1997

Peter Pollard - TN
1998-1999, 2001

Squad Leader celebrates twenty-five years!

The Squad Leader event this year saw the best attendance in the history of our conventions. 22 players fought it out in the
streets of Stalingrad to the sleepy hamlet of Hitdorf. Many of this year's players were returning veterans of the event, but a few, including one surprise from England, added Squad Leader to the events they played at the WBC.

The event's format provided opportunities for players to choose from any level of the series. One scenario was available from each level of play for each round. The opponents would agree upon the level of play, then roll dice to see who would play what side (example: even to play as the German, odd to play as the Allies). This streamlined the process to allow for more gaming
time, however, some games did go past their allotted time schedule and were adjudicated. This will, hopefully, be rectified for next year's event. The majority of the games played were on the Squad Leader level of play. However, one game was played at Cross of Iron level and another at GI: Anvil of Victory level.

The following is the list of the scenarios available during the event:

Tournament Selected Scenarios

Round One "BRICK"
Squad Leader: Scenario 2 "The Tractor Works"
Cross of Iron: Scenario 108: "Block Busting at Bokruisk"
Crescendo of Doom: Scenario TS2: "Pavlov's House"
GI: Scenario 308: "Han-Sur-Neid"

Round Two "WOOD"
Squad Leader: Scenario 7 "Buchholz Station"
Cross of Iron: Scenario I: "Attempt to Relieve Peiper"
Crescendo of Doom: Scenario 22: "The Borders are Burning"
GI: Scenario 300: "Trial by Combat"

Round Three "STRAW"
Squad Leader: On All Fronts Scenario 35.1 "Russia 1941"
Cross of Iron: On All Fronts Scenario 62.2: "Mogilev"
Crescendo of Doom: Scenario TS3: "Land Leviathans"
GI: ASL Annual Scenario A6: "A Meeting of Patrols"

Round Four "WIND"
Squad Leader: Scenario 10 "Hitdorf on the Rhine"
Cross of Iron: Scenario H: "Hunters from the Sky"
Crescendo of Doom: Rogue Scenario R217: "The Whirlwind"
GI: General Scenario O: "Strayer's Stray"

PLC Competition

Concurrent with the games played was a Personal Leader Counter (PLC) competition. Each player would receive a First Sergeant (8-1) from the start of the event and could advance him through the ranks commensurate with valorous deeds performed. The best PLC would receive a special plaque from the Wargame Academy (WGA) for this achievement.

As a side event, the WGA also provided a special plaque for anyone who retired the previous year's PLC winner during the competition. This plaque is called the "Pollard Memorial" plaque, named in honor of Pete Pollard who regularly won the earlier PLC competitions.

Many of the entrants saw their PLC join the ranks of the fallen early in the competition. One of the first to go was Mike Hennessey's PLC, the winner of the PLC competition last year. Since David VanBronkhorst was successful in eliminating Mike's PLC, David was awarded the "Pollard Memorial" plaque. Mike was kind enough to autograph the plaque to add a personal touch to the passing of the torch.

The PLC competition, as before, saw many of the players lose their leaders in gallant acts of bravery. One of the best performing leaders was Andrew Cummins' PLC. However, Andrew's leader didn't survive his wounds inflicted during the battle for Hitdorf in the fourth round.

The next leader in line was Pete Pollard's who sat out in the first round due to a bye. Nevertheless, Pete kept his officer in the battle long enough and, more importantly, survived to claim the title this year. Now, the Pollard Memorial plaque will truly live up to its name if someone 'removes' the Pollard PLC in 2003.

Round 1

The first round took place in Stalingrad, as the Germans tried to push the Russians out of the "Tractor Works". As usual for this scenario, the games ended in bloody battles for the factory. The pitched battle has the Germans trying to enter the factory on one side while holding off a large Russian force attempting to reinforce from the other.

David VanBronkhorst's fanatic Russian defenders of the factory held off the German assault teams and opened the door for their relief to arrive. Of course, Mike Hennessey's Germans tried their best to break into the factory. However, after both flamethrowers flamed out, two ineffectual demo charges, and the loss of his PLC, his demoralized troops receded into the ruins of Stalingrad realizing that their objective would not be taken today.

In another game, Jonathan Miller's Russians finally thought they had broken through in order to bolster the waning force in the factory. However, as the Russians entered the building through one hex, well-aimed machine gun fire from Robert Sohn's senior officer, obliterated any Russian hopes for relief. When the smoke cleared one leader and nine Soviet squads had

In an example of the back-and-forth dramatic action of the Tractor Works, Thomas Shaw (German) and Mike Pacheco (Russian) saw both of their forces reduced quickly in fierce fighting for only one building. Thomas obliterated Mike's defenders on one side of the building and rushed into the building, only to be repulsed by devastating point blank fire. Meanwhile, Mike's relief force could not penetrate the German screening force to reinforce the factory.

The Pacheco - Shaw game ended with both side's strengths diminished so much that no further fighting could take place. Thomas resigned after realizing his assault force could not try another attack on the factory. Similar to life, this scenario adequately portrayed the brutal fighting that was seen in Stalingrad.

Round 2

The deadly battle in Stalingrad placed the event pace on a rocky start. Fortunately, the second round made up for some of that when all the players picked "Buchholz Station" as their scenario of choice. Starting with a canned set up, the players jumped straight into a fight.

"Buchholz Station" pits the Germans against the American GIs during the Battle of the Bulge. To win, either force may force a withdrawal of forces or the Germans also can win by exiting a sufficient force. In many instances, the former option - the withdrawal of forces, was the means of securing a victory.

One match up pitted Mike Day (German) against Mike Pacheco (American). Mike Pacheco's American GIs moved quickly to set up interlocking fire lanes to delay the German advance. However, the Germans abandoned their cautious first turn advance and plunged into the streets, determined to achieve their victory conditions. A combination of smoke and bad dice allowed the Germans to get through with only two broken units. After that the Americans were hard pressed, but managed to delay the Germans for quite a while. Unfortunately, the American squads, when broken, seemed to refuse to rally. This made holding their positions a hopeless task. The Germans forced an American withdrawal, but took considerable casualties in the process.

Round 3

The majority of the games played in Round 3 were the On All Fronts scenario "Russia 1941" Squad Leader level of play. However, Bill Thomson (German) defeated Chuck Leonard (American) in the GI: Anvil of Victory scenario "A Meeting of Patrols" and Pete Pollard (German) defeated Jonathan Miller (Russian) in the Cross of Iron level On All Fronts scenario "Mogilev".

In the "A Meeting of Patrols" game, a special commendation goes to Sergeant Leonard, Chuck's PLC, for holding off the superior German advance force for four turns. Although most of the American squads evaporated under withering
German fire, SGT Leonard and two squads resisted bitterly, breaking up several German rushes to force victory. Only after being nearly surrounded and taking pointblank fire by two companies of SS assault troops, did the GIs falter when SGT Leonard was wounded. This delay gave the Americans a chance for victory, which did not materialize due to last minute heroics of the German blocking force.

In the "Russia 1941" games, the Germans overwhelmed the Russian defenders to take the village. One such game was Allen Kaplan (Russian) against Mike Pacheco (German). Allen's Russians set up in the village to cover all the stone buildings and used long-range fire (especially from the only 2nd level building in the village) to harass Mike Pacheco's German advance. The German combination of extensive Prep Fire and careful advance drew taunts from Allen. After some maneuvering, Mike's assault force was finally in position in a couple of turns.

His subsequent Prep Fire finally chiseled a hole in the Russian defense, into which he threw a couple squads. These units survived Allen's Defensive Fire to establish a toehold in the village. With the Red defenses weakened, Mike gave the signal for the general rush to begin. Germans hit the village center from every direction, overwhelming the Bolshevik defense and
eliminating eight squads in one turn. Commissar Kaplan quickly saw the handwriting on the wall and removed himself from the battle.

Round 4

The final round and the championship match found the opponents fighting in the streets of Hitdorf. This Squad Leader level game, "Hitdorf on the Rhine" pits the US paratroopers against a small German screening force with minefields. Both forces receive reinforcements during the game. The Germans get the majority of their forces in Turn 1 with armor support arriving in
Turn 6. The Americans receive artillery support and receive the remainder of the troops on Turn 3. The Americans must gain control of at least three of the stone buildings while losing six squads or less.

The championship game found the two remaining undefeated players, Andrew Cummins playing the Germans vs Bill Thomson's Americans. Bill has been involved with running the Squad Leader event for many years. Andrew, who came over to get into the fight from Cambridge, England, played in this event for the first time.

Andrew's initial setup slowed down the US advance and allowed his reinforcing company to get a good hold on the core of the village. An initial meeting engagement firefight was a disaster for the Germans. Andrew lost both of his best officers and over half his troops while Bill ended the first contact with no losses. Not only did Andrew lose his senior officer, but also his PLC, who had achieved a rank of First Lieutenant (9-2).

Well-aimed German fire kept the US radio, and thus the American artillery support, unavailable until turn 7. This allowed the German forces to regroup from their initial casualties. The unsung hero of the game was German Sergeant (8-0), who disrupted the central US advance with effective artillery placement. The German artillery rained down salvos from the offboard 81mm Mortar Company. The mortar fire caused some American losses as the disorganized ranks fled into minefields.

The mortar fire and the establishment of a firebase in the village center kept the Americans at bay until the German armor platoon arrived. The tanks were used to strengthen the defenses by covering the roads from the surrounding hills.

Now, with opportunities reducing as the game progressed, the American paratroopers had to reassess their options and capture another stone building in order to win. Andrew believed that his defense would require Bill to make a deadly rush in the open with his paratroopers. However Bill had another trick up his sleeve.

Finally recovering his radio, the Americans called their artillery into action. Instead of firing for effect, the 105mm howitzers brought down a huge smoke barrage over the center of the village and its access road. In the final turn, Bill rushed his paratroops across the road under cover of smoke.

Andrew did eliminate one US squad from his defensive fire, but the paratroopers brushed aside most of his remaining defenders. All that was left in the German center was a lone crew. At the end of Bill's US Turn 10, the crew was locked in close combat with a paratrooper squad.

In the German turn, the panzers advanced in the maelstrom centered on the melee hex with the German crew. At point blank range, the German armor fired on the Americans who were trying to hold on to their last gains. All the shots proved ineffectual save the last. In a desperate effort, the last shot was fired at the melee hex. Andrew knew he wouldn't be so lucky on a second close combat attack against the paratrooper. This shot had to give some results. The point blank shot in the melee hex broke the US squad while leaving the German crew unfazed.

Andrew Cummins won with the last roll of the last turn. It was quite an effort to come from behind, after losing so many of his troops and officers at the start. A special thanks goes out to Bill, who not only helped in running the event (he did practically all of the administrative functions), but routinely helped his opponent in understanding the rules and his options.

 GM      Peter Pollard  [4th Year]   7855 Autumn Hollow Dr. #5, Cordova, TN 38018
    Pete4258@aol.com    (901) 753-4382

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