The first "hit" wargame
The tournament enjoyed its best attendance in either BPA or
Avaloncon history. The demonstration period featured the introduction
of 14 new situations including a special learning scenario for
players to brush up on combat rules. Several players, returning
to the game after decades of absence, made good use of the refresher
course. The first 12 players to finish two games were all awarded
copies of Bill Scott's paratroop variant (including mapboard,
rules, counters, and situation cards)
The multiple heat, unscheduled start times format allowed
50 games to be played in the early rounds. The new scenarios
were quick playing. The average time per game for the first 25
games was 67 minutes each with time per game range from 2 to
200 minutes. The average time per game for the next 25 games
was 87 minutes each with time per game range from 4 to 273 minutes.
The seven final (single elimination) games had a 130 minute average
per game with a range from 40 to 217 minutes. There were several
first time Panzer Blitz players (many new players managed wins)
and many veterans including five past champions.
Saturday Morning six players arrived on time for the deciding
games and they voted to wait an hour to allow two stragglers
to arrive and complete the pairings. All of the final eight players
had lost some preliminary games though Eduardo De Nucci had won
four in a row and Marty Musella had a win five-game win streak.
Bill Scott finished the early rounds with a six-game win streak.
Of special note was Chuck Leonard's finish of those preliminary
games with a five-game losing streak.
In the first quarter final game Bert Schoose (Russian) played
Donald Webster (German) in Situation 51. Both Sides attacked
toward each others rear areas immediately in a wild melee. Germans
lost their AA gun and an armored car as well as their starting
town. However the Russians lost their big howitzer and had Zabvenia
contested by the Germans. The armies maneuvered back and forth
with the Germans retaking one hex of Grabyosh . By turn 12 Russian
losses were minimal and German losses not much worse but by holding
three town hexes (in two different towns) the German player earned
the win. German mobility proved decisive in this game.
In game 2 Eduardo De Nucci had the Russians versus Chuck Leonard's
Germans in situation 51. This game also featured an early German
attack on Zabvenia and a more deliberate Russian push against
Grabyosh. The Germans managed to eliminate the Russian CP but
lost all three of their SMG units to a counterattack by the remaining
Zabvenia garrison with one Russian cavalry arriving too late
to grab any glory. The German armored cars fled from Zabvenia
but managed to regroup in time to overrun and eliminate the other
Russian cavalry on the road to Grabyosh. The Russians had placed
their howitzer on W9 which did not allow it to attack Grabyosh.
So even though Russian SMGs finally reached their objective by
turn 9 they were unable to take the town as the Germans had regrouped
enough to withstand the Russian infantry who were unsupported
by artillery. The Russian engineer tried to come to the support
of the Grabyosh attack but was delayed by distance and a screening
force of light German units. So in spite of the failure at Zabvenia
the Germans won the point count by a wide margin.
Game 3 used situation 52 with Tom Cooper's Russians assaulting
Marty Musella's Germans. The German set up was reported to be
a bit weak and the Russian initial assault was massive and directed
correctly at the German CP in the town although some Russian
guns were held back which somewhat weakened the first strike.
However imperfect the German set up was, his attack rolls compensated
by scoring a solid streak of1's followed by the few surviving
Russians rolling poorly with all his attacks missing. On turn
2 the luck continued for both players leaving all seven Russian
tanks as smoking wrecks and the demoralized Russian infantry
rolled only 6's. The German Battlegroup Arvold was immune to
loss at this point so the Russians resigned with a firm resolution
to bring some luckier dice next time.
Game 4 had Alan Arvold taking the Russians versus Bill Scott
defending with the Germans in situation 52 (which is informally
named for Alan in honor of all the work he does to promote Panzerblitz
and for which he rarely receives notice). The Russians attacked
correctly from the north and west (the CP was at V 6) but the
Germans avoided any bad luck and managed to strip off most of
the Russian tanks before the infantry could spot effectively.
German close assault attacks were particularly lucky eliminating
some of the Russian infantry as well as the Russian guns (which
were not always effectively placed). For the Russians to win
it helps if the Germans make an error in the set up, or the Russians
can get lucky. Since neither happened in this game once more
the Russian commander headed for Siberia.
In the first semi-final game, Donald Webster took the Russians
in situation 52. Marty Musella again defended with the Germans.
The German defensive set up was better prepared (Marty learned
from his previous game) with the CP in the town and a hedge of
units spread out to initially keep the Russians well away from
the soft German core. The Russian chose to attack from the south
with his tanks avoiding exposure by hiding on the slope and just
the Russian infantry hoping to close to the town with close assault
tactics. However the direct fire from the German antitank weapons
and antiair guns (as well as infantry too) was able to eliminate
one Russian infantry and cause the remainder to withdraw back
to the safety of the slope. On turn 5 the Russian shifted his
mobile tanks along with his antitank guns around to attack from
the north. However without the infantry to support, the attack
failed when the German used direct fire, overrun, and close assault
attacks to eliminate five tanks and two antitank guns in one
turn of combat. One more Soviet commander was served with a one
way ticket to Siberia.
In the other semi-final game, play returned to situation 51
with Bill Scott as the Russian and Chuck Leonard as the German.
Anticipating the German initial attack on Zabvenia, the Russians
made a very conservative opening move heavily defending in both
their starting towns and sending cavalry from Opust. not to attack
Grabyosh but instead to support Zabvenia.and also to flank to
the east. Faced with the Russian defence, the German wisely cancelled
his offensive and instead formed a skirmish line across the approach
road to Grabyosh cleverly avoiding long range howitzer fire from
Zabvenia. The Russian then decided to move their lone truck from
Zabvenia to Opust. to prepare to carry a SMG quickly toward Grabyosh.
One calvary made a tentative move from Opust. toward Grabyosh
but it was immediately hit by long range German guns which pinned
it for five consecutive turns. A German armored car and a halftrack
boldly overran the pinned cavalry but rolled 6 two turns in a
row and failed to eliminate it. The lone active Russian reserve
in Opust., a recon infantry, finally was able to pin the German
mobile force (The SMG there refused to unload from the truck
to help) and a wagon was used to bring the howitzer forward to
Opust.where it finally was unloaded and finished off the German
armored car and halftrack at close range. Meanwhile the other
Russian cavalry moved along the east board edge capturing the
woods there and moving to the slope of hill 107. But this flanking
cavalry was afraid to move further without support. Finally on
turn 10, the Russian offensive rolled down the road. But it was
too late as the long range German harassing fire continued to
score dispersals and time ran out on the Russians as they glimpsed
the spires of Grabyosh but failed to enter the town. Another
Russian general headed for the salt mines where he could better
learn the value of boldness.
The final game was situation 52. Players realized situation
51 play balance was in question (it has since been revised
giving the Russian another truck and recon unit in Zabvenia to
start). Chuck took the Russian side and Marty once again played
The Russians probed carefully on turn 1, sending just two
infantry from the west to approach the woods from the slopes
at hex row Y and holding everything else in reserve. The Germans
reduced their perimeter and fell back to the inner defenses around
the CP in the town. On turn 2, the Russian attack struck hard
from the north holding nothing back! (even the guns and trucks
came on). Due to the quantity of the Russian offensive, the German
correctly concluded that two 1:1 and one 2:1 attack must be risked.
The die rolls for all three attacks failed. The Russian had infantry
spotters survive the German CAT attacks too and so the Russian
had devastating return fire on turn 3, eliminating the German
CP and two tank destroyers at 4:1. The Germans were broken. A
few attacks were made on the Russians on turn 4 but then Captain
Arvold was last seen sprinting for the woods while the remainder
of the German army including Colonel Musella were captured and
the next train for Siberia had no Russian passengers for a change.
Chuck Leonard was victorious and his humiliating losing streak
of the preliminary rounds was mostly forgotten to be replaced
by a glorious plaque and cheers from all around as he took home
his second wood - the first in six years. Equally important was
the arrival of three new laurelists among what had been an exclusive