The first "hit" wargame
John Sharp takes time out from
Victory in the Pacific for another golden oldie.
Bert Schoose successfully defends
his championship against Alan Arvold.
The Panzers Keep Rolling
The 2008 Panzerblitz tournament started once again
during the Grognard Precon with matches under the watchful
eye of the Legend himself, Bruno Sinigaglio. Fortunately
for Bruno, he pretty much only needed to keep an eye on Alan
Arvold, since Alan played seven of the first nine matches against
six different opponents. Alan started with a pair of victories
and a draw. After losing a couple of games, he returned
to his winning ways. Alan won four more matches in the preliminary
rounds and added enough bonus points to secure a coveted spot
in the final four. His total of 11 matches played easily
set the pace for the tournament.
As more players arrived, other Panzerblitz players were
soon joining in on the fun that the Precon affords to the early
arriveals. Defending champion, Bert Schoose, won all three
preliminary matches that he played to earn a spot in the semi-finals
too. The previous two years had seen the exact same quartet
make it to the semi-finals, but this time, Bert was the only
one of the four to repeat the feat.
Bill Thomson lost his first match, but won his next three preliminary
games to secure a spot in the final quartet. The tournament
scoring system granted bonus points for playing against opponents
that rack up wins. Bill defeated both Alan Arvold and Chuck
Leonard, the 4th semi-finalist, to secure most of his 14 bonus
points that earned him the top seed.
Chuck had four wins and a draw to offset his two losses in preliminary
play to secure that last semi-final spot. He barely edged
two former champions, Bill Scott and Marty Musella, who settled
for 5th and 6th place respectively.
Overall, the Panzerblitz tournament, with a little help
from Panzerleader, saw 23 players play 35 different matches
in preliminary play. 11 of the 23 players played at least
three games each. There were several more players that had
expressed an interest to join in (or return to) this old favorite
but just could not find the time to fit it into their schedule.
Most of the preliminary play used the five scenarios that the
GM provided for the Elimination rounds. The scenarios provided
included: 1A, 14, 45, 51 and 52. Players were welcome
to play any scenario and some did just that. There were
two matches involving Panzerleader. An excellent
match between Rick Northey, a semi-finalist from each of the
past two years, and Chuck Leonard included one of the scenarios
from the superb Imaginative Strategist website. This epic
battle lasted more than seven hours of play time before the GM
gstopped following it. Later, the participants relayed that
the match came down to the final die roll with Chuck prevailing.
A few rookies participated and several vowed to practice
on the scenarios provided so that they could come back next year
to vie for the wood. We very much look forward to their
return as well as any others that would be inclined to join the
On Friday evening, with the four semi-finalists determined, the
playoffs commenced. The first match was between Bill Thomson
and Alan Arvold playing scenario 52. This scenario requires
the Russians to assault a German stronghold (Bednost) on the
large hill (132) of board 2 - but to do so quickly. Bill's
Russians began the assault with two separate groups. The
west group's opening took the woods southwest of hill 132 while
the east group moved into the eastern woods on hill 132 and dismounted
their infantry. Alan's defense, which was concentrated within
and adjacent to the city, moved into the adjacent hexes to meet
the coming CAT attacks with a larger combined defense.
The split assault continued over the next couple of turns but
mainly because the separate groups were not coordinated in their
efforts, the clock quickly ticked away from the Russians. Alan
had a series of successful CAT attacks himself and so the assault,
which seemed to come in waves instead of all at once was successfully
thwarted. At the end of Turn 5 Bill, the top seed, conceded
to Alan who was now one step from the championship.
The other semi-final matched defending champ Bert Schoose and
two-time past champ Chuck Leonard in scenario 51. This scenario,
although 12 turns long, usually plays quickly duwe to low piece
density. Chuck's Russians are charged with assaulting the
German held city (Graybosh) while protecting the other two cities
against a somewhat mobile German force.
The Russians got off to a slow start as the Germans threatened
Zabvenia early with the motorized assault guns and loaded infantry. On
Turn 4, the Germans got a little too cute with their threat as
the Russians completely surrounded a loaded Skdkf/234 loaded
with an infantry unit in a gully hex south of Opustoschenia. The
following turn saw these two units killed, which put a little
hurt on the Germans. Chuck's Russians started their assault
towards Graybosh a little later than should happen in this scenario. By
Turn 9, the Russian cavalry units had not yet reached the city. Unfortunately
for the Russians, they lost three of their cavalry units to overrun
attacks, which ended any hopes of taking the needed city. Bert's
victory returned him to the verge of successfully defending his
The Final was plaed using Scenario 45. This was the same
scenario that Bert had played the previous year to win his title. The
opening turn saw the Russians swarm Opustoschenia in the hopes
of trapping the Germans that start in that city. The Germans
killed only four Russian units on the opening shots of Turn 2
but the halftrack (not loaded) did escape the city. Rather
than head towards the other Germans through hex Z9, the halftrack
headed to the slope hex at N2.
The Russians fired back and killed nine units -- all of the remaining
units in the city -- on their second turn. In addition,
the halftrack that had escaped was surrounded at hex N2 and killed
on a subsequent turn.
Alan's Germans had chosen to not defend the gully chokepoint
hex at Z9. Instead, he had most of his troops huddled in
the woods hexes around Y3 through Z5. The scenario, which
is five-action packed turns, required the Russians to quickly
execute their attack against the strong group of guns and infantry
in those woods hexes. The assault had to be done with mostly
tanks because the infantry had unloaded to assault the city in
the center of the map on the initial turn.
Bert had left his two SMG's loaded on the initial assault so
they were in position to be dropped off near the defenders in
the woods by Turn 3. Meanwhile, the Russians cleared out
the big gun at CC6 and the defenders left in Zabvenia. As
the Russian tanks approached the woods, Alan was able to increase
his kill total to eight dead Russians. This meant that going
into the last turn, both players thought that Bert needed to
kill four German units to reach 17 kills for the decisive victory.
The direct fire attacks at 4-1 (+1) once again avoided the dreaded
'6' and Bert was able to kill four German units. As the
two players were discussing the game and what could have been
done differently, they realized that only 16 German units were
dead. Bert still needed to kill one more of Alan's units
to earn the victory that he thought he already had won. As
it turned out, he had set up one additional attack against a
unit in case he had rolled a 6 on one of his direct fire attacks. This
attack, against a dispersed German unit was a 1-1 (-2) CAT attack. Since
the defender was in the woods, it was a +1 modifier but since
the unit was dispersed already, we were back to a 2.
This meant that the final attack came down to a roll of 1-3 and
Bert would win his second consecutive title and a roll of 4-6
would see Alan secure his first championship. Final roll
... 50/50! The die rolled out of the dice tower, seemed to take
an extra turn, and finally settled on a 2-- game over. Both
players quickly shook hands and another very exciting and tense
tournament had ended. One couldn't ask for a more closely
contested Final. It was a classic ending to one of the classic
two-player tactical wargames.