Still Growing ...
players fought the battles of the "American Revolutionary
War Series" by GMT Games. This was the largest field of
The single elimination tournament featured Saratoga
in the 1st round. The British took a slight edge in wins, 8:5.
All victories were marginal except for the game between Assistant
GM Rob McCracken and Charles Ellsworth where McCracken's British
won a substantial victory by driving American Army Morale to
13 winners met to fight the battle of Eutaw Springs. GM Mark
Miklos, the most recent past-champion present, took the bye while
the other 12 were seeded according to a point system coming out
of the 1st round. Not surprising for a game as well balanced
as Eutaw Springs, there were two British wins, two American,
and two draws. This time the only marginal victory was Eric Kleist's
British win over Ric Manns. Bruno Sinigaglio's British and Rod
Coffey's Americans won substantial victories as did Dale Long,
whose Americans upset Assistant GM and past champion John Vasilakos,
knocking him out of the competition.
Nine players then met across the frost-covered ground at Guilford
Courthouse for round 3. With Vasilakos out and no other past
champion present, the bye went to Bruno Sinigaglio who advanced
out of round 2 with the highest point total. The British side
won marginal victories in all four matches played. This was quite
a feat since tournament rules stipulated that a draw at Guilford
would be scored as an American marginal victory. Advancing out
of this round were Mark Miklos, William Riggs, Rob McCracken
and Dale Long.
As round 4 was about to begin Rob McCracken had to default
in order to honor a family commitment that took him away from
the convention for the next several hours. We were all sorry
to see him leave but his departure returned the field to an even
number of players for the semi-final round. Miklos faced Sinigaglio
and Dale Long faced William Riggs at the battle of Brandywine
Creek. The "Tournament Scenario" was used which gave
the players the feel of the full campaign game in half the time.
Long's and Miklos' British prevailed with marginal victories
setting up the event final.
The final match was once again the battle of Saratoga and
was played on the GMT demo-set, a 6'x 4' version of the game.
While previous rounds had been limited to three hours, the final
was untimed and lasted from 9 PM Saturday to 1 AM Sunday. The
large version of the game drew a small crowd of spectators giving
the match a real "finals" quality.
bid 0 for the British and Long 0 for the Americans so the match
began with each army at its full at-start Army Morale. There
was moderate fog on the battlefield for the first two game turns
that slowed the British advance. Nevertheless, by the end of
turn 4, the British were fully deployed in line of battle across
Freeman's Farm with their flanks overextending Benedict Arnold's
advanced wing of the American army. Long judiciously pulled back
to avoid being overlapped.
In true 18th century fashion, the two armies maneuvered for
advantage. The Americans at one point attempted to "slide"
past the British line under cover of the heavy forest to thrust
at the British baggage camp on the Hudson River. That objective
hex represents a decisive victory for the Americans if they can
take it. Miklos committed two regiments being held in ready reserve
and sealed off the threat.
Long maneuvered his Americans with good effect, anchoring
their flanks in such a way that if the British attacked there
in force their proximity to the main American positions on Bemis
Heights would trigger the "release" of General Gates
and the remaining two-thirds of the American Army. He also stubbornly
clung to a critical ford over the Middle Branch near the center
of his line. By holding that post, he was able to gain a DRM
to the "Gates Release" die roll. Indeed, Gates did
release on Game Turn 10 (5 PM) at approximately the time he did
Casualties had been moderate to this point with the British
enjoying a slight advantage. Each army had gained and spent Momentum
several times, including using it to influence the "Initiative"
die roll in order to enjoy back-to-back moves. For a time it
felt like two heavy weights pummeling each other with body punches
waiting for the chance to land a knock-out blow.
At one point Long's American Army Morale had fallen into the
middle of the Fatigued scale but through careful maneuver and
judicious attack he was able to climb back into High Morale status
only to slip back again as the British continued to play to win
rather than playing to avoid losing. The final act in the drama
occurred on Turn 11 (the next to last game turn). General Arnold
and Morgan's Rifles had been driven back in the center, the American
right had been locally turned, and on the American left General
Gates, now at the front, was attempting to encircle some over-extended
British regiments. As luck would have it, Gates and the regiment
he was leading became casualties. The loss of Gates triggered
a 3-point drop in American Army Morale that took them down to
the edge of Wavering status. In that condition, and with only
one turn remaining, Long felt he could not overcome the victory
point deficit then in play (British 9, Americans 3). He offered
an honorable surrender that Miklos was glad to accept.
This was Dale Long's first Saratoga tournament. He
is a force to be reckoned with. Congratulations for a well-deserved
second place finish.