Designer Denied ...
While most of the hex style
wargames have resorted to Free Form scheduling to survive, Bitter
Woods eschewed that format and drew its largest field ever.
Steve Likevich (at right) with
tweezers in hand on his way to victory and a 5-0 record without
need of a Mulligan or bye in five rounds
26 games were played in this year's tournament, with the German
victorious in 16 of them. The majority of games played used the
default 6-turn tournament scenario. Last year, when the default
was the 8-turn tournament scenario, the Allied players held a
slight edge in wins. However, the greater number of German victories
this year was most likely due to a statistical swing and player
match-ups than to any real advantage in the shorter scenario
since both scenarios have proven to be balanced in years of tournament
play. Sides during the tournament were determined by preference,
or a die roll if necessary.
The tournament was single elimination, but with an opening
mulligan round where the losers got another chance in the first
round and the winners could skip over to the second round. Veterans
Bruno Sinigaglio, Bob Ryan, Forest Pafenberg, John Popiden, and
defending champion Randy Heller won their mulligan round games
over Lance Roberts, Chris Storzillo, Doug James, Steve Brooks,
and Roger Eastep, respectively. Bruno's game against Lance ended
quickly and decisively with the capture of Bastogne on the 17
AM turn, while Randy played a flawless Allied defense to completely
stymie Roger's German assaults. Marty Musella, last year's "rookie"
award winner and fourth place Laurelist, lost a close mulligan
round game to Mike Mitchell where, despite rolling five "6's"
in the German opening attacks and continuing with bad die rolls
until the middle of the game (including three "engaged"
results against Clervaux!), Mike managed to turn the tide, surrounding
several American units and capturing a difficult victory city,
Eupen, to win the game. Bill Morse, a blow-out winner in the
first game of the pbem Bitter Woods campaign game ladder, was
also a winner in the mulligan round with a decisive victory over
Several veterans skipped the mulligan round and began play
in the first round on Wednesday morning. Tom Gregorio, last year's
runnerup, defeated Jeff Hacker, aided by Jeff's failure to cover
a fuel dump. Steve Likevich as the Allied player beat newcomer
Charles Drodz when the Germans were stalled on the opening attacks
and the 7th Army went out of supply because of a failure to set
up garrisons. Not even the successful drop of the Von der Heydte
companies and the subsequent delay of Allied reinforcements were
enough to pull out a German victory. Marty Musella redeemed his
mulligan 0loss by defeating Vic Alonzo's Americans. German progress
against a solid Allied defense was slow initially, but the 17
AM Peiper breakout helped surround the bulk of the 2nd Infantry
Division at Eisenborn, with spearhead units nearing Malmedy.
The real blow to the Americans came in the center and south where
two reserve units captured Bastogne and Martelange. A US counterattack
on Bastogne reduced the German recon unit, but failed to retake
the city. On the 17 PM turn, the Germans cleared the road to
Bastogne and took Noville, at which point Vic conceded. In the
three remaining first round games, Doug James won over John Hasay
in a game ended by time, Lance Roberts defeated Dick Jarvinen
by taking a fuel dump and eliminating an American unit on the
last turn, and Kevin Hacker (Germans) defeated Dan Dolan (Allies).
The second round had Steve Likevich (Germans) matched against
two-time champion Bob Ryan. After a weak German opening with
no kills and only one American unit trapped, the die got hot
for Steve in the next two turns with seven US units eliminated.
A successful bombardment of Bastogne took the town and a coup
by the 12SS took Eupen when the Allies tried to eliminate Peiper,
and victory went to the Germans. Marty Musella's Germans were
only able to make small advances against Tom Gregorio's tenacious
defense, despite four early "D4" die roll results.
Even the Peiper breakout had limited impact. On the last turn,
the Germans fell two kills short of the 12 needed to gain the
victory point and win the game. In his game against Kevin Hacker,
Doug James's Germans had good luck on the opening turn, and one
of the US 2nd Infantry Division units was lost on the second
turn. Kevin's forces attempted to destroy two surrounded 2nd
Panzer division units. The attack failed, but the diverted forces
were missed on both the southern and northern flanks. Eight US
units were cut off on the 17 AM turn. Eupen fell on 17 PM and
with Bastogne obviously to follow, Kevin conceded. In the game
between Bruno Sinigaglio (Germans) and Michael Mitchell, following
successful unit surrounds, bridge building and road blocking
on the first turn, the Germans used two Angriff attacks during
the 16 PM to trap three units. The Americans regrouped, preventing
the Peiper breakout from doing any damage, but the Germans won
a 2 to1 attack that cut a vital reinforcement route to the center.
The 17 PM turn saw another Adv 4 Angriff cutting off the units
guarding the Malmedy crossing. The shortage of units in the center
proved to be the Allied undoing as the Germans rolled a 1D4 for
a major breakthrough, and another victory for Bruno. Bill Morse
ended Lance Roberts' hopes of improving on his 6th place finish
last year with his Germans achieving several early unit surrounds,
and a major breakthrough for Brandenberger and the 5/15 in the
south when the 4/12 was driven from Esch-sur-Sure. With the advance
of the 5/15 and Brandenberger near Bastogne, Lance resigned.
John Popiden's opening attacks against Forest Pafenberg's Allies
produced "Engaged" results for virtually all attacks
north of Clervaux. The Germans recovered enough to surround several
US units with the Peiper breakout and the Skorzeny sneak, but
not enough to prevent the Allies from holding on for a victory.
To prove that his first round victory over Roger Eastep wasn't
a fluke, Randy Heller defeated the Germans handily again as the
Allies when Roger stepped in to play as an eliminator.
Randy Heller received a bye in the quarter finals (third round)
because he was last year's tournament winner. Forest Pafenberg
took on Tom Gregorio's Allies, and despite a great offense, his
Germans were thwarted by the SS atrocities random event and the
use of air interdiction by the US to seal the flanks. But the
Lehr Recon unit caused havoc and ultimately the Germans prevailed.
In one of the tightest contests of the tournament, Doug James's
Germans fell just short of a win, ending the game next to three
victory point locations and with 11 kills of Steve Likevich's
Allied units. Veteran Bruno Sinigaglio found Bill Morse to be
for real in their grueling game which went into the early hours
of the morning and had to be completed later that day. The German
attacks in the north and center completely stalled against Bruno's
Allied defense, but both bridges were built in the south. Bruno
sacrificed several reduced units in the north to solidify the
northern shoulder, thwarting Peiper. In the center, the 2nd Panzer
drove on Bastogne and Noville, taking the latter town. During
the 18 PM turn, the Germans killed four US units, to bring the
total to the 12 needed for a victory point, and with that, a
hard-fought German win.
The semi-final found Randy Heller matched against Bill Morse.
The German (Bill) opening combat results were less than stellar.
However, the bridge in front of Clervaux was built. The Peiper
breakout was thwarted by a retreating Allied armored cavalry
unit, which blocked Peiper from attacking and advancing next
to Trois Ponts. The Skorzeny sneak was successful, resulting
in the destruction of an additional defending unit. 18 AM proved
to be the key turn of the game. The German player set up an Angriff
attack that would have provided an opening for a mechanized unit
in reserve to move through the Allied lines during exploitation
and capture Parker's Crossroads. The odds were 5 out of 6 for
success, but alas Bill rolled the dreaded "6" and the
game ended with an Allied victory. In the Likevich-Gregorio match,
Steve's Germans cut off the 2nd Infantry Division units in Wahlerscheid
in the opening attacks with advances in Hofen and Rocherath Krinkelt,
with further help from a D4 result against the 14th Armored Cavalry.
The Allied resistance stiffened during the 16 PM turn. But Peiper
destroyed the artillery in front of Hofen, also cutting off the
AC and enabling it to be destroyed. It was nip and tuck the rest
of the way. An Angriff into Noville gave the Germans the third
victory point. Tom almost pulled it out by destroying three German
mechanized/armor units, but couldn't bag the fourth.
After a day to ponder their strategies, Randy Heller and Steve
Likevich met for the championship. They agreed to play the 8-turn
tournament scenario, and Randy played the Allies for the fourth
time. The German opening was average, with bridges built in the
south and in front of Clervaux, and a trap of the 106/422. But
there was no push of the 14th Armored Cavalry and no advance
into Rocherath Krinkelt. Randy employed an "anti-Angriff"
defense, but a D4 against Clervaux trapped it, resulting in a
good advance toward Bastogne. Allied luck got worse as the game
continued, with the Germans getting the only die rolls that could
win in attacks against Malmedy for three turns in a row, and
Randy rolling a "6" on a 5 to 1 attack that would have
enabled the US to hold Parker's Crossroads had it been anything
but that result. Randy resigned on the 19 AM turn with 21 losses,
and Bastogne and Neufchateau held by the Germans. With the victory
came Steve's first championship in WBC play of Bitter Woods.
Overall, the tournament was a GM's dream, with no adjudications
necessary and really no disputes, thanks to an outstanding group
of players. Also much appreciated was the assistance of the Assistant
GM's, Bruno Sinigaglio and Doug Porterfield. A special thanks
to all of the participants who completed the reports on their
games. The winner of the random drawing for the door prize for
those who turned in a report was Tom Gregorio. Hopefully his
prize, a new dice tower built by Craig Yope, will bring him luck
in future tournaments!