Squad Leader celebrates 25 years!
The 2003 tournament engaged 21 entrants comprised of both
veterans and novices of previous Avaloncon/WBC SQL & COI
events. This year's field provided stiff competition due to the
presence of no less than six previous champions (Cummins, Pollard,
Pacheco, Thomson, Welsh, Stranger). Several past participants
made their return to the fold in addition to new players. As
in years past, this is a community of players that welcomes and
assimilates participants to friendly and engaging play despite
how the dice may fall.
Andrew Cummins (Cambridge, UK) crossed the pond again to defend
his title and claim the top seed. The balance were seeded by
AREA rating. The top seed played the bottom similar to tennis
tournaments. The player pools with similar records were reseeded
each round in a similar fashion as all strived to make it to
the finals with a perfect record after four rounds of play.
Round 1 saw a mix of scenarios chosen, including one match
played at Cross of Iron and another at GI: Anvil of
Victory. The most common Squad Leader scenario, however,
was the often bloody scenario 2 "The Tractor Works".
Andrew Cummins, Kevin Welsh, Michael Pacheco and Allen Kaplan
were victorious in their respective matches. And true to its
balanced nature, scenario 2 saw an even split on the Russian
versus German victories.
In Round 2, all of the matches returned to the standard Squad
Leader level of play. Some of the play was in Stalingrad,
split between the "The Tractor Works" and an On All
Fronts scenario "Stalingrad, 20 October 1942". Eric
Dunsmore's Russians were stalwart as they beat back repeated
assaults on their position by Chuck Leonard. In a scenario 7
"Buchholz Station" game, Bill Beswick's Germans were
thrown back by the crafty Kevin Welsh (American).
After the first two rounds, five of the six top seeds possessed
2-0 records resulting in round 3 pivotal matches. Players selected
from a short list of scenarios of an mutually agreeable rules
level ... lacking the ability to play the same scenario twice
during the competition. In all, 38 matches were played broken
down into 21 SQL, five COI and two GIA scenarios.
In Round 3, Pete Pollard (German) was pitted against Eric
Stranger (American) in scenario 7 "Buchholz Station".
From the start, Eric's whithering fire had Pete on the ropes
and demoralized. Determined to at least make his Personal Leader
Counter into a hero, Pete threw his forces at Eric's defenses.
At this point, someone walked in the room who looked like
he was a man of the cloth. Wishing to change his luck (and believing
that this man was dressed for an event at the convention), Pete
asked him if he could bless his dice. A reluctant response finally
came out, "ummm, - it doesn't work that way." Pete
returned to the game, without a blessing, and pressed onward.
The dice did
turn and though Eric had thought he had won the game with another
KIA result, Pete (and soon Eric) realized that Pete had won earlier
(their math skills were not up to par at that time of the initial
Only two players remained unbeaten at the conclusion of the
third round, defining the championship pairing. Bill Thomson
(Austin, TX) earned an appearance in the finals for the second
straight year only to fall short yet again. Pete Pollard (Bartlett,
TN), behind the Russian steamroller in the play of Cross of
Iron (COI) scenario 108 "Blockbusting of Bokruisk"
emerged victorious as the 2003 champion. The win was sealed in
the final turn, however, the turning point occurred two turns
before when the German infantry suffered a widespread morale
failure. Pete, now a four-time SQL champion heads the select
group in multiple SQL/COI wins (Welsh, Stranger, Thomson).
Eric Dunsmore, returning to the Squad Leader event
after a couple of years off, earned recognition as most improved;
finishing 14 places above his seed. Needless to say, he improved
his skills during the time off. Could it have been a coincidence
that Kevin Welsh (a former champion) returned this same year?
The Personal Leader Counter (PLC) competition is a regular
feature of Squad Leader Academy (SQLA) administrated tournaments,
creating incentive to those out of the title hunt for continued
play. PLCs seek glory, promotion, and survival to earn a distinctive
plaque provided by SQLA. This year's crop of PLCs exhibited an
uncharacteristically high survival rate with Sgt Kaplan, Cummins,
and Pollard vying for top honors. SGT Cummins earned the top
spot with a promotion to 10-2 (+24 Elan).
SGT Thomson, arguably exhibiting the greatest heroism, led
his German squad into close combat against the Russian Guards
to wrest building control from the attackers and blunt the Russian
advance. This PLC was cut down after two rounds of Close Combat,
taking the Russians with him. Perhaps his loss triggered the
German collapse in the championship game.
As the 2002 top PLC (SGT Pollard) survived this year's event,
the Pollard Memorial plaque went unclaimed. This award will be
granted to the 2004 player who 'retires' the top 2003 PLC present
(Cummins, Pollard, Kaplan).
Due to the steady increase in player participation, the existing
four round Saturday event format is under review. The SQL tournament
strives to capture players with weekend only restrictions, those
eliminated from other events and the large pool of inactive players
with past SQL experience. A group email address email@example.com
has been created with initial enrollment of past Avaloncon/WBC
SQL & COI tournaments. Those who consider future participation
are welcome to join this group. The focus of this group is to
evaluate format changes of the 2004 SQL tournament.
(Squad Leader, Cross of Iron, Crescendo of Doom and GI
Anvil of Victory) play opportunities are provided by SQLA,
(www.wargameacademy.org/SQLA) and include:
1. SQL 2004 Email Championships (1/2004 start)
2. COI 2004 Email Championships (1/2004 start)
3. COI Orphan Scenario series (9/15/2003)
4. SQL half-bid Masters Tournament
5. COI half-bid Masters Tournament
6. SQL &COI Scenario playtest series
7. COI Campaign for multiplayer team play
8. Invitational SQL AREA tournament.
With the July, 2003 release of the Sun Java VSQL 2.5 module
with full SQL and COI capabilities for both real time internet
and PBeM play, VSQL will be the standard interface for all SQLA
PBeM events. Both Rodney Kinney's Vassal Engine and SQLA Squad
Leader Module are available for download at no charge at www.vassalengine.org.
VASSAL employs the computer platform independence to enable
remote play regardless of the computer operating system employed.
Future versions of VSQL are SQLA active projects to include full
capability for Crescndo of Doom and GI: Anvil of Victory.