Gaining Experience ...
Art Lupinacci (right) beats Lembit
Tohver on his large display board but failed for the first time
to make it to the Final of his own design.
Rob Beyma (left) meets Jim Eliason
in the Final. Rob remained unbeaten in the game to rack up his
third straight title.
The number of entrants in the Russia Besieged tournament was
up slightly from last year. There were eight new players this
year including veteran tournament players Jim Eliason, Doug James,
and Michael Mitchell. The addition of a Mulligan Round Wednesday
evening was well received and will be repeated next year. The
seven turn scenario ending in May / June 1942 was played again
but with the 2nd edition rules and charts for the first time
in the tournament.
Sides were determined by bidding Victory Points to determine
who was the Germans. The bids ranged from 14 to 22 with the average
bid being 18.3. The most frequent bid was 19. Play balance improved
this year with the Germans winning 11 of the 17 games played.
In Rounds 2, 3, and 4, the Russians won four of seven games.
In one notable Round 1 game, Doug James, playing the Germans
with a bid of 18, nipped Marty Musella in a hard fought game.
Doug picked up his 18th and 19th points on the last turn and
Marty could only manage to recapture one of them in his turn.
Charles Drozd, Michael Mitchell, Richard Beyma, Jeff Hacker,
Jim Eliason, Doug James, Doug Richards, Lembit Tohver, Art Lupinacci,
and Rob Beyma all advanced to Round 2 Thursday afternoon. Charles
and Michael dropped out to play other games. Richard Beyma's
strong Russian defense bested Jeff Hacker who was playing the
Germans with an aggressive bid of 20. Art Lupinacci, also playing
the Russians, got by Doug Richards (19 bid) with the help of
some early snow in November. Rob Beyma, playing the Germans with
a bid of 19, edged Lembit Tohver in a game that went to Turn
7. Rob ended up actually needing 20 VPs when the Mar/Apr 42 weather
roll increased the weather DRM to +2. In another close game that
went to Turn 7, Jim Eliason, playing the Germans with a 17 bid,
took just enough points on his last turn to edge perennial TRC
champ Doug James.
Four players remained for the semi-finals. Jim Eliason joined
Richard, Art, and Rob who all advanced to the semi-finals for
the second consecutive year. Richard dropped out to play Napoleonic
Wars. Marty Musella was added as an eliminator so that no
one would get a bye in the semi-finals. Art bid 19 to play the
Germans against Jim Eliason. The Germans immediately got off
to a rocky start in the south with a couple of exchanges. Art
dodged a big bullet on Turn 2 when a stack of German panzers
northeast of Kiev escaped from a Russian 1-1 surrounded counterattack
when Jim rolled low. Art rolled average weather in Sep/Oct but
had to wade through strong Russian forces in the south. Despite
rolling the coveted Lt Mud / Mud weather result in Nov/Dec, the
Germans struggled to make progress against Jim's defense. Art
tossed in the towel at the end of 1941. In the other semi-final
game, Rob let a 19 slip out during the bidding when he really
didn't want to play the Germans. This would make Rob's third
game of the day as the Germans with a 19 bid. They got off to
a mixed start against a good Russian defense. Kiev fell on Turn
2 but the Russians were heavily defending Dnepropetrovsk and
the Crimea. Despite Clear / Mud weather in Sep/Oct, the Germans
managed to capture Bryansk and Dnepropetrovsk. Nov/Dec produced
just barely good enough weather (Mud / Snow) to continue the
offensive. With four Stukas and another Impulse to attack, the
Germans eliminated more Russian units and captured Kursk. The
Germans had 18 VPs. Facing a -2 weather DRM with no army and
no counterattack opportunities, Marty conceded at 1:30 AM. Having
played for the last 16 hours, both players were near exhaustion.
In the Final, Jim opened the bidding at 18. Rob, who was tired
of playing the Germans, wisely kept his mouth shut. The Germans
got off to a good start, killing or trapping 18 units. Jim deployed
seven panzer corps north of the swamp and three in the south.
A successful Blitzkrieg attack in the center put a lot of pressure
on the Russian defense. The Russians railed an army to Odessa
and threw everything else in the south into a 3-1 counterattack
versus a lone panzer corps. The panzer corps was eliminated but
an untimely BR on 1st Impulse prevented the Russians from blocking
the Lvov gap. The Germans drove forward in Jul/Aug, eliminating
large numbers of Russian units. The Russian counterattack force
in the south was pocketed and eliminated. The victories were
not without cost as the Germans did take a couple exchanges.
A 2nd Impulse Blitz attack by the Rumanian Mech unit succeeded
in surrounding Odessa. The Russian Jul/Aug move found Rob very
short of units. The Russians fell back to the Luga in the north
and Dnepropetrovsk in the south. One infantry army was left behind
to defend Kiev. The Russians did take a risk in the south, making
a 2-1 versus the Rumanian Mech unit and sea moving an army to
Odessa. Unfortunately, the 5-4 being sea transported to Odessa
arrived flipped but the 2-1 attack succeeded in eliminating the
Rumanian Mech corps and reopening supply to Odessa.
At this point, the game was hanging in the balance. Jim rolled
the first of two big weather rolls and got Clear / Clear. Rob
knew that he was in for a rough Sep/Oct turn but did have a +1
weather DRM for the Nov/Dec weather. The Russians dodged a bullet
when a German invasion to undouble the Luga was aborted. The
Germans set up for an undoubled 2nd Impulse attack on the Luga
and swept into Veliki-Luki, Smolensk, and Bryansk. In the south,
the Germans made a major effort to eliminate the Russians in
and around Odessa. The panzers pocketed Odessa and three infantry
corps were railed up to Odessa for a 2nd Impulse attack. [Art
Lupinacci, who was watching the Final and taking photos of the
map, commented that Odessa was the turning point. Without Kiev
or Odessa, there was no Stuka support for an attack on Dnepropetrovsk.]
The Germans eliminated the Odessa pocket and also captured Kiev
with Stuka support. At this point, Rob took a strategic gamble
with an already weak Russian army. The Russians advanced west
of Dnepropetrovsk and counterattacked a German panzer at 3-1
and eliminated it. But a 1-1 Russian counterattack to regain
the Luga and protect Leningrad was repulsed with losses. The
Russians also advanced in the center towards Veliki-Luki and
We were now ready for the critical Nov/Dec weather roll. Fortunately,
for the Russians, winter arrived early with Snow in November.
The Germans went into their winter positions behind the Luga,
in Veliki-Luki, Smolensk, Bryansk, Kiev, and Odessa. The Russians
eliminated a stack of halved German infantry to unhinge the Luga
in November. In December the Russians hit the German defenders
in front of Veliki-Luki and Smolensk hard. Facing heavy losses
and a rapidly deteriorating position in the north and center,
Jim conceded at the end of Turn 4. Rob had earned his third consecutive
Russia Besieged wood. Interestingly, both semi-final games
and the Final failed to get past 1941. Combat fatigue was overcoming
the players late at night. The tournament only figures to get
more challenging next year.
Besieged Play By Email
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