still fighting the Bulge ...
While most of us are fighting a different type of "bulge"
problem, WBC remains the place for grognards to meet and vie
over the AH classic Battle of the Bulge, 1981 edition.
A few classic style war games are hanging with the newer games,
as they provide an easy sojourn into some tense competition.
Open Swiss Phase
A total of 25 games were played in the preliminary rounds
by 20 different participants, allowing Battle of the Bulge 1981
to crack the 16-player threshold for the fifth consecutive doncon.
Contributing to this success are two things: The flexible format
pioneered by El Lingle and a bunch of grognards looking for tournament
games to play after they have been waxed elsewhere.
The format consisted of an Open Swiss phase followed by a
Single Elimination phase. The four best players from the Swiss
phase squared off for first through fourth place. The best players
were those who scored the highest based on their three best games
using a formula similar to that used by VIP. A player received
10 points for a win, one point for a loss and two points for
each victory tallied by an opponent that the player defeated.
A running total of all player scores were prominently displayed
at the Bulge 81 kiosk, with updates posted as each game ended.
The key to this format is the record of the opponent that
a player defeats. In past tournaments, many players hoped to
avoid playing the well-known tournament sharks, as play against
them usually ended their chances for a plaque. Not anymore. Players
who rack up wins now find themselves being shadowed by others
who want a chance to score bonus points by beating a front-runner.
Of the 25 games played in the preliminary rounds, 10 were
won by the Germans, while the overall tournament totals were
Germans 11 - Americans 17. Thus an edge to the Americans this
year; however, the eight-turn tournament scenario developed by
Randy Heller has been playing right near 50-50 for almost 15
years. The results from this year serve to swing things back
to normal from doncon 2003, when the Germans won 18 and the Americans
11. The tournament scenario totals for 2004 saw the Germans win
12 and the Americans 14. So the past three events total Germans
41, Americans 42.
Making it to the final four were Bob Ryan, Phil Evans and
two players who have not done so previously - Bill Morse and
Frank Sinigaglio. The number one target of the tournament, three-time
champ Steve Likevich did not make the cut; however, Steve added
spice to the affair by accepting all challenges and knocking
down a few that had a chance to make the play-off rounds. One
of those burnt by Steve was perennial finalist Forest Pafenberg.
Paffy was knocked out by Steve in a last minute prelim by rolling
his routinely expected bad dice; however, Paffy did not approach
his legendary bad dice from 2003, at which time he rolled zero
kills of the Americans on the 16AM turn - a one time event in
802 chances of occurrence. The highest achievers during the Open
Swiss phase were as follows:
|1. Bob Ryan
|2. Phil Evans
|3. Bill Morse
|4. Frank Sinigaglio
|5. Steve Likevich
|6. Chris Withers
#1 Bob Ryan (Allies) vs. #4 Frank Sinigaglio (Germans)
This semifinal was an experience for Frank who rolled poorly
on the 16AM turn. Although the Germans can still win or even
blow out the Allies after a bad 16AM opening, it was not going
to happen this year. The Germans eliminated only three units
on the 16AM and 16PM turns and this allowed Bob to build an almost
impregnable line early in the game. Frank tried a combination
high odds attack and a nearby 4-1 (-2) blitz northwest of St.
Vith on the 17AM turn, but rolled high on both permitting Bob
to strengthen his line further. A good roll on both would have
presented a headache for Bob. Frank's Germans surrendered on
the 18PM turn and Bob progressed to the Final.
#2 Phil Evans (Allies) vs. #3 Bill Morse (Germans)
Phil Evans likes the Germans in Bulge 81, but Bill Morse wanted
to try his hand on offense in this semifinal game and Phil obliged.
Bill probably should have taken the Allies as abysmal die rolling
made it easy for Phil to build a solid Allied line. As in the
other semifinal game, the experienced Allied player easily rode
the inexperienced and unlucky German player into the ground.
With too many OD units piling up in front of his grey tinted
German pieces, Bill threw in the towel. As a result Phil progressed
to the Final with a chance to take home a second championship
in Bulge 81.
Bob Ryan (Germans) vs. Phil Evans (Americans) - This year No
Both of the finalists won games with both sides. Bob entered
the Final with a 5-0 record with two wins as the Germans and
three as the Allies. Phil was also 5-0 with two wins as the Germans
and three as the Allies.
16AM attacks yielded the following results:
#1: 2-1(0) vs 4/12 in Echternacht. Contact - 4/12 escapes. An
#2: 1-1(-1) vs 9CCA. Contact. An Allied +.
#3: 3-1(0) vs 28/109. Engaged. A Mixed result.
#4: 4-1(-1) vs 28/110. Exchange. A German +.
#5: 5-1(-1) vs 28/112. D back 2. An Allied +.
#6: 2-1(0) vs 106/424. Engaged. A German +.
#7: 2-1(-1) vs 106/423. Engaged. Usually Mixed, but this time
a German +.
#8: 2-1(-1) vs 106/422. Contact. Yow - this result causes suicide
attack by 106/422 on the 16AM turn and it also forces the Engaged
106/423 to attack at bad odds on 16AM.
#9: 8-1(-1) vs 14cav. D back 3. An Allied +.
#10: 7-1(-1) vs 99/393. DElim. A German +.
#11: 1-1(-1) vs 99/394. Engaged. A German +.
#12: 2-1(-1) vs 2/9 and 2/38. Engaged. A German +.
#13: 1-1(0) vs 2/9 and 2/38. An Allied +.
On the American half of 16AM turn 106/422 is automatically
eliminated and it also causes the destruction of 106/423. So,
after the first turn Bob is in a very good position in the north
and center with four Amis eliminated and four stuck in Engaged
battles. In the south, 28/109 is tying up the main force of the
German 7th Army and both American units that started south of
the Sauer are back on defense.
On the next three German turns (16PM, 17AM and 17PM), Bob
concentrated mainly on eliminating as many Allied units as possible
while also judiciously using Blitz attacks and infantry infiltration
On the German 18AM turn a key battle unexpectedly occurred
in the south at Martelange when Bob snookered Phil by reinforcing
an Engaged 2-1(0) attack with ranged artillery and the Luftwaffe
- the refought Engaged thus became a 3-1(-2) and the Germans
rolled onto the bridge at Z31 with a four hex advance. In addition,
the Germans advanced cross country with a risky Blitz attack
versus a strong Allied force in Houffalize. The combination of
results for these two attacks left Phil with problems in the
center and on the southern flank, but he was still strongly holding
Bastogne and all the other important victory hexes on the eastern
On the 18PM turn Bob's Germans tied up significant forces
near Bastogne and Parker's Crossroads while other units made
inroads onto the west board via the bridge at Z31. The units
fanning out from the south onto the west board forced the reinforcing
American Airborne units to garrison cities on the west board.
On the 19PM turn, the game came to a close as Bob's Germans
won by capturing two cities on the western board - this is the
first time a game in the single elimination rounds has ended
in this type of automatic victory. Bertrix was captured in a
tricky move by a German infantry unit moving by road, then combining
cross country movement with fractional road movement - this is
more common in Bitter Woods than in Bulge 81. LaRoche was captured
by German units advancing after combat. Thus Bob won his first
Bulge 81 Championship with the unusual automatic victory although
Phil was still holding all the key victory hexes on the east
board. A great game.