TRC Champion: There can be only
The 15th year was a good one for TRC. Despite the turmoil
associated with the move to Lancaster, TRC again crossed the
32-participant mark. If everyone who'd wanted to play TRC had
woken up in time, or gotten on the road earlier, we would have
set a participation record! The following are my impressions,
recollections, and records of the event, interspersed with comments
from others I've received as well as a few Lancaster anecdotes.
As always, TRC things got started with a demo on Thursday
night. We had a half-dozen folks appear and a couple of newbies
listened attentively. At least one of them went on to play in
the Mulligan. Demo conditions were not entirely favorable, the
quarters were cramped and the smell of sauerkraut and overripe
gamers pervaded the downstairs foyer. The mulligan round then
took place with 24 eager participants. One player tried to use
his old TRC3 set but his opponent protested and, after a version
'upgrade', the tournament proceeded apace with only TRC4 sets
to be seen. The event's youngest participant ever put in an
appearance, Alex Gregorio (10), and he enjoyed it enough to make
a vow to return in 2006 and advance into round 2. The tournament
scenario used was the time tested 10-turn scenario with bidding
being used to allow either player to play the side they wanted.
If they wanted to pay enough, in the form of extra Russian replacements.
The updated TRC4 weather charts also help reduce the impact
of this element of the game and the "Automatic Victory"
for the Axis capturing Moscow was also in place. No game saw
this event happening this year.
Friday morning saw 14 players, some of them trying to make
up for losses in the mulligan round, dueling it out in the hall.
Lots of new faces in the first two rounds but, as is to be expected,
the 2 PM round on Friday was made up of the regular grognards.
It's difficult to make a 'sudden splash' in face-to-face tournament
play but there is a lot of TRC experience 'out there' that can
come back. Case in point, Jeff Martin, a prior champion from
ten years ago, reappeared and got all the way to the quarter
finals! A perfect 16 contestents posted for Round 2 and eight
advanced to play their third match of the day at 7PM. Fifteen
hours of TRC in one day is definitely a gruelling event and only
the time clock pressure enabled this kind of pace to be set.
Several matches went to the wire with one being called on account
of clock expiration. Three-time champ Gary Dickson was uncermoniously
dumped by Allan Kaplan; Allan's Germans displayed a remarkable
ability to roll '6's on 3-1s in 1942 that gave Gary nightmares
for the next several nights. As luck would have it, Tom Gregorio
drew Art Lupinacci in a random draw (really!) for Round 2 for
their fourth straight annual battle Art plans to retire from
TRC now that his game "Russia Besieged" is in production;
hopefully that will not be the case!
The final four players got down to it at 10 AM on Saturday.
Doug James drew Rob Beyma and Tom Gregorio played Jeff Martin.
Each had won the event before with EIGHT first place woods among
them. In the Beyma/James match the Germans capitalized on Clear
weather in S/O 41 but in N/D the Russians dealt some damage with
the onset of Snow. Rob mastered the clock the first three turns
but spent 28 minutes in N/D which definitely became a problem
later on. Doug marshalled some impressive counterattacks in
the winter and judicious partisan placement helped to hinder
the recreation of a firm German defensive line. In the Gregorio/Martin
match,Tom kept his casualties low to secure a summer of 42 victory.
Of course, close to optimal weather, Clear/Mud/Light Mud also
was a high hurdle for Jeff's Russians to overcome.
Saturday afternoon saw the Final get underway. Tom took the
Germans with a relatively low bid of +6, meaning the Russians
would get an extra replacement factor for the first six turns.
Weather was not an issue as the Clear/Snow/Light Mud sequence
is generally viewed as very balanced. Despite the clear in S/O
41, Doug was able to hold on to significant territory going into
the winter and did manage to inflict significant casualties via
some daring sea invasions into the German rear in conjunction
with 1-1 and 2-1 frontal assaults. Coming out of winter, the
Russians had a formidable front line army with an advanced front
stretching from Leningrad to Smolensk to Dnepropetrovsk. Combat
dice were relatively even but the risks of 4-1s were quite real
as several '1's' were rolled at critical junctions. The Axis
also had several multi-hex Stuka assaults that failed but the
very fact that these were taking place indicated that all was
not going well for the Wermacht. The Germans conceded in S/O
42 as it was quite apparent that, even though the Red Army had
been dramatically reduced in size by concentric attacks, it still
had the capability to more than adequately defend the victory
Doug James now joins Gary Dickson and Tom Gregorio as the
proud owner of THREE WBC TRC 1st Place woods; Doug is also the
current reigning TRC PBEM Ladder champion and the number one
ranked TRC player in AREA so it's quite clear that he is the
man to beat in 2006!
. The 32-player threshold was crossed when 34 people played 34
games in this, the 14th year of TRC.
. Six prior champions played, with twelve first place TRC woods
on their walls.
. The Germans and russieans each won 17 games, so there is still
some sort of balance to this game.
. One match was decided by the clock expiring.
. Nine matches went to the last game turn.
. Seven matches featured 'upsets', i.e., the lower seeded player
One of the Lancaster highlights for me was an overheard exclamation
by some exasperated nearby gamers: "He got three snakes.
What can you do against three snakes?!" I thought at first
they were talking about a roll of three1's but the continuing
discussion made clear that the discussion was in reference to
SNAKES, i.e., the reptiles. WBC definitely has a wide variety
of games and I really question the complaints of those who decry
the fact that their favorite game isn't being played; my main
complaint is that I need to waste time sleeping during the week!
Playing TRC is a serious time commitment but, in the end, the
THIRTY hours+ that the event winner puts in are hours well spent.
Sunday AM passed quickly, with frantic packing and last minute
gaming. Next year should be even better as I am determined to
plan ahead to have a smooth running event that will ensure TRC-fans
maximize their chances to play. One encouraging sign for me
was that there were many games of TRC being played as pick-up
games - kind of rare for a game that easily goes 6+ hours when
a time clock isn't being used. In the coming year I will be thinking
of ways to encourage younger players to participate as well as
getting former players back into the fold. Increasing participation
counts may entail some format changes; the players may be different,
victory conditions may be adjusted, but, when it comes down to
it, Russian campaign continues to be unpredictable and exciting
down to the last die roll.