The Rebirth : ASL Deja Vu
Pete Pollard and
Daniel Leader had a full day on Friday. It started at 9:00AM
when 24 people showed up for the start of the ASL Starter
Kit tournament. The previous night designer Ken Dunn and
I had held a Starter Kit demo on the big board at the MMP demo
booth, and Friday's entrants almost all had a decent grasp of
the mechanics and rules. Basic questions were minimized, especially
after Round 1 saw the most inexperienced players go down. One
player specifically asked to be set up with a more experienced
player in order to better learn the rules, and past ASL champion
Gary Fortenberry volunteered to school our newbie for us. Eight
players were back from last year, although none would progress
to the top six so its back to school. Several players were veteran
Squad Leader fans who would also play in the Squad
Leader tournament the next day, several others would play
in Saturday's Memoir '44 tournament, and only a couple
were real ex-ASL players. (Besides Fort, Bob Runnicles
and Jim Miller spring to mind.) Same set up as last year. Single
elimination, one scenario per round announced at the beginning
of the round, players matched randomly between those who had
a game and those who didn't, and the promise of a strong mocking
to any ringers who tried to slip in amongst the sheep.
The first round scenario was S2 War of the Rats, a popular
Stalingrad scenario (and last year's Round 2 scenario) that split
evenly between German and Russian victories, with only one real
upset. It played a tad longer than I was hoping, however, and
more than a handful of scenarios had to be called before they
were finished. Even so, I only had to make one actual adjudication
despite a number of very close games. Phil Bradley and John
Palm were notable for playing good games despite losing, as was
last year's fourth place laurelist Nathan Hill who fell to Mike
Pacheco. First round comment from Daniel Leader: "I diced
him [Dale Long]."
Jim Miller and Fort both dropped out after Round 1, leaving
us with ten people to play S8 Ad Hoc at Chef du Pont from Operations
magazine. This split 3-2 in favor of the attacking Americans.
Form mostly held again, although last year's fifth place laurelist
Alan Dickson fell to Mark Guttag in this round. Second round
comment from Daniel Leader: "I diced him [Mike Pacheco]."
Round 3 saw the Russians attacking the Germans in S6 Beast
From the East. With five winners going into advancing, I elevated
Alan Dickson as "The Eliminator" and matched him against
Pete Pollard, the Squad Leader GM. This time, the Russians won
all three close matches. Quote of the round from Daniel Leader:
"I diced him [Mark Guttag]."
In Round 4, I was able to bring in (against Pete) "The
Eliminator" I had planned to use last year, Grognard Supreme
Bruno Sinigaglio. Bruno formed his defending Germans up into
big firegroups and was unable to slow down the Americans when
his few but potent fire attacks failed, allowing Pete to get
behind him and gobble up victory buildings. Daniel Leader had
to play a more nuanced attack to take down Bob Runnicles, spreading
the German defense thin and then cracking it in the middle. Quote
of the round from Daniel: yeah ... "I diced him."
Twelve hours after the start of this continuous single elimination
event, the two most experienced Squad Leader players were
paired in the championship round. Luckily, a few of their games
had been finished quickly, allowing them some time to eat and
rest up a bit, but Friday wasn't over yet. Borrowing a tradition
from the ASL event, the two finalists were allowed to choose
from any of the available unplayed scenarios. Since these two
had not previously played any of the ASLSK scenarios, they were
happy to go with the appointed scenario for Round 5, S4 Simple
Equation, the same scenario used in last year's final. When
Daniel's Americans seemed to leave their right flank a bit weak,
Pete sent his Germans on a "student body left" maneuver
that seemed to have him poised for victory after one turn. Pete
didn't press home the advantage as strongly as he might have,
however, and Daniel was able to redeploy his forces to his right
and, with the aid of a few key dice rolls, contain the German
attack. He stayed cool, did what he had to do, and let the dice
help him. Each turn Daniel got the key rolls, and each turn
Pete's chances of victory slipped further and further away.
By the end, all three of us were laughing at the dice.
After it was all over 'round about midnight, Daniel "Mr.
Lucky" Leader couldn't do much other than shake his head
at the good luck that he had seen that Friday. To win five straight
scenarios of ASLSK (or SL or ASL) you have to be both lucky and
good. And to do it all in one day, you have to be strong as well.
Daniel had been all three that Friday.
I thank all 24 of the good sports in this tournament, none
of whom gave me even the whiff of a problem. I thank also Asst.
GM Ken Dunn who (among all the other things he does to help)
hung around all day after his Round 1 loss in Monty's Gamble.