Year 4 of the Renaissance
The tournament got off to a good start on Tuesday with several
veteran tournament players getting into the action along with
newcomers Joe Doughan and James McCarthy. Open Swiss rounds continued
through Friday when four players qualified for the single elimination
finals: Bob Ryan, Mike Sincavage, Carl Walling III and yours
truly. Along the way we played 28 games. Twenty-two of those
were the full 15 turn Basic Game, with invasions pretty evenly
split among Salerno, Termoli and Terracina. There were also two
Twelve of the twenty entrants were players who have been with
us for three or more years. These players now have a few years
under their belts using the tournament rules that were introduced
in 2000. It's pretty clear that these folks are now comfortable
with the strategic implications of the tournament scenario and,
as a group, are beginning to explore different approaches. This
year we saw people trying various initial invasion zones as the
Allies, (or denying certain zones as the Germans), with a clearer
sense of how the game would flow from those different starts.
People were also trying out different tactical approaches at
all of the chosen first invasion sites. The resulting games were
quite interesting, and we saw a variety of positions on the Anzio
boards spread over the tournament area.
Along the way, we were happy to see old friend Donald Webster
return after a year or so off, and we welcomed newcomers Vincent
Alonso, Andrew Miller and Bill Riggs. Tom Oleson again played
more games than any other entrant: his game count was eight!
Eight Salerno invasions: the Allies won two
Six Termoli invasions: the Allies won four
Six Terracina invasions: the Allies won three
Two Napoli invasions: the Allies won one
Of course, where you invade is affected by the German set-up,
and any invasion at Terracina or Termoli risks being crushed
due to German air superiority at the start of the game. As a
result, the Allied player's decision of where to come ashore
continues to be a tough one, involving risk-reward tradeoffs.
Do you want to go in at Terracina and get pounded hard for three
or four turns and maybe get tossed right into the sea? Is Termoli
really any better, with the road to the port of Termoli at risk
of counterattack on the first turn, and with the Germans able
to surround you at 1-1 if you stick your nose out too far? This
is why we saw eight Salerno invasions, even though it is a long
and tough slog up the boot to have a chance to win in December.
There were many interesting games, but I will share some details
about two games that had some unusual approaches.
One of those was a game that I happened to be involved in:
the consolation game with Carl Walling III playing the Germans.
Against my Termoli invasion, Carl chose to defend the southern
side of the beachhead, allowing the Germans to retain the Vasto
area with the threat of crossing the always-important Fiume Sangro.
The Allies were forced to drive for Foggia overland from Taranto,
and mud arrived before Foggia fell. During mud the Allies decided
to push north, because the Germans had to devote considerable
stength to holding the southern areas. The Allies gained a bridgehead
over the Sangro and focused their efforts on driving toward Pescara.
However, the resources required for this left the Allies weak
in the south end, and as a result, through November, Foggia remained
in German hands and the Allies only had Salerno and Termoli.
Once the second invasion came in at Anzio, there were three fronts:
The Anzio beachhead, the Termoli beachhead that had stretched
north close to Pescara, and a line from the mountains north of
Salerno across to Foggia. This weird configuration gave the Germans
air superiority for one turn in December before the Allies woke
up and captured Foggia. The last few turns were a battle for
Pescara, which the Allies managed to win by rolling terrific
dice. This game literally could have gone either way on the last
turn. In fact, as the Allies, I was blessed with good die rolls
all game long. All in all, it was one of the most entertaining
games of Anzio I have ever played, due to the interesting
and unusual positions and the way the game hung in the balance.
Credit must go to Carl for his creative approach to defending
the Termoli invasion.
In the final game, Mike Sincavage got the Germans on a -1
bid. Bob Ryan decided to go for the high-risk Terracina invasion
and the slugfest was on. The Allies lost the US 45th Infantry
Division and the US RGR regiment to the German counterattack
the first turn of the game, but managed to hold on to the Beach
and Terracina Port counters.
The Allies dug in as the Germans attacked the next couple
of turns, but could not throw the Allies back into the sea. During
this time, the Allies repeatedly tried a single attack on German
defenders at 1-1 undoubled. The Allies had to retreat three times
before getting a 'stick' on the fourth try.
The German had a nice short perimeter around the Terracina
beachhead that was both constricting and strong. In an attempt
to break the stranglehold, the Allies executed a forward retreat
to place the New Zealand Mechanized and US 3rd Infantry Divisions
behind German lines. These units bounced off a doubled German
position, retreating south toward Naples even though it meant
they were then out of supply. The next turn the Allies managed
to relieve the OOS condition for these units by attacking and
creating an inverted counter near Salerno, which opened a supply
line. At the same time the surrounded units attacked and executed
yet another Retreat Forward which put them on a mountain hex
south of Cassino. The Germans successfully surrounded these units
again on their next turn and the Allied units eventually starved
The Allies conducted their second invasion on November 2 by
landing in the Anzio/Roma zone. They surrounded and eliminated
the German 26th Panzer and managed to link up the Terracina and
Anzio beachheads while also moving into one hex of Roma. The
Germans then counter-attacked in the Roma area, and slowly pushed
the Allies back toward Anzio. The Allied drive up the peninsula
had come to a crawl due to the German defense, and a shortage
of Allied units. As the game drew to a close, the Allies held
Salerno, Foggia, Terracina, and Anzio. A last ditch effort by
the Allies to take Napoli came up short, and the Germans took