tigers in the mist  

Updated 11/26/2008

2008 WBC Report  

 2009 Status: pending 2009 GM commitment

Bryan Eshleman, NC

2007-08 Champion

Links

 
 

Event History
2000    Ray Freeman     16
2001    Robert Mull     19
2002    Rick Young     14
2003    Ray Freeman     16
2004    Tom Thornesen     17
2005    Tom Thornsen     18
2006    Ray Freeman     17
2007     Bryan Eshleman     18
2008     Bryan Eshleman     19
 Laurels

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Ray Freeman        CA    08    166
  2.  Tom Thornsen       NY    08     82
  3.  Bryan Eshleman     NC    08     80
  4.  Jim Winslow        ME    06     72
  5.  Ric Young          NC    05     61
  6.  Brad Jones         FL    06     57
  7.  Mike Mishler       CA    07     36
  8.  Robert Mull        CO    01     36
  9.  Murray Cowles      UK    02     32
 10.  John Ellsworth     IL    08     30
 11.  Ric Sciacca        FL    08     22
 12.  Jack Morrell       NY    01     15
 13.  Bob Hamel          CT    08     14
 14.  Eduardo DeNucci   ARG    04      9
 15.  Dave Schubert      MD    03      9
 16.  Raymond Hall       IL    00      9
 17.  Nathan Trent       VA    05      6
 18.  Jim Kramer         PA    05      6
 19.  Bill Hodges        VA    03      6
 20.  Larry Hiemenz      MD    04      3
 21.  Aaron Silverman    NY    00      3

2008 Laurelists                                   Repeating Laurelists:

John Ellsworth, IL
2nd

Tom Thornsen, NY
3rd

Ray Freeman, CA
4th

Bob Hamel, CT
5th

Rick Sciacca, FL
6th


Past Winners

Ray Freeman, CA
2000, 2003, 2006

Robert Mull, CO
2001

Rick Young, NC
2002

Tom Thornsen, NY
2004-05

Bryan Eshleman, NC
2007-08

Al Hurda takes on the game's designer in the opening round. Ray Freeman has won his own tournament three times, but not this year.

Peter Perla and Richard Phares battle in the foreground while Bryan Eshleman and Murray Cowles have at it behind them.

Still in the Mist

Once again we had a crop of new players (four in all) who attended the demo at 6 pm. Unlike 2007, there were two upsets in the first round. Perennial contender and AGM Jim Winslow agreed to do a teaching game with newcomer Angus McDonald. Angus learned well, stopping Jim's German forces cold. In the other surprise, 5th seed Brad Jones was crushed by a "Perfect Storm" engineered by Bob Hamel. Bob's Germans not only killed every front line US unit, but also repaired both downed bridges on 16-1. Bastogne fell on 16-2. I never heard of a first impulse this successful previously.

Other winners included defending champ Bryan Eshleman, who survived some early successes by Murray Cowles' Germans. (no bid) Murray cleared Marnach on 16-1, but weas unable to exploit on the 16th because the bridge stayed down. Murray pressed forward on the 17th, attacking Bastogne on 17-2. Three Allied units defended Bastogne and took their lumps, but held. The Germans captured Bastogne on the 18th, but subsequent assaults netted little gain. American reinforcements, coupled with German armor losses, doomed further progress. Murray resigned at the start of the 20th.

Other winners included two-time champ Tom Thornsen, John Ellsworth, Nathan Trent, Rick Sciacca and Peter Perla.

The GM played a teaching game with new player Al Hurda (Germans) who gave me a pretty bad time initially. The Germans were into Lullange on the 16th and I had to abandon St. Vith early due to high US casualties. On the 17th Al vaporized most of the the US front line, and I was forced (on 17-1) to put 4x1 SP units in Bastogne. Al attacked on 17-2 and it was as close to a US disaster as one can get; he killed three of my defenders. However, he held off on attacks elsewhere which gave the US a little breathing room. On 18-1, Bastogne, Rambrouch and Noville fell, but then the US 18-1 reinforcements arrived, Al's dice cooled, and his attacks became a bit too conservative. The front moved very little after that point and the Germans scored no more VPs.

Round 2

Ray Freeman managed a narrow win against Nathan Trent. On the first two impulses, Ray's Germans inflicted serious casualties, and killed both US engineers, assisted by very poor US artillery support. Then on 17-1, the Germans killed every US unit except the 3 SP armor. Ray then made a serious error, forgetting to place the special forces unit to interdict the main N-S road.

On 17-2 Eschdorf fell, but an 8-3 on Bastogne failed to get one last hit, and a followup 2-1 on 17-3 also failed. The US counterattacked at 5-6, but took heavy casualties. On 18-1, Bastogne, Noville and Fauvilliers fell and the US fell back slightly to form a defensive line along the Ourthe, Houffalize and Vielsalm. A spoiling 3-5 attack on LaRoche during the evening of the 18th made it across the river with the bridge intact, but was wiped out by US defensive fire.

On 19-1, the Germans tried three river crossings, at Champion, Moircy and La Roche, and all three bridges blew in their face. Elsewhere, not a single hole was opened. At this point, German morale plummeted. Two subsequent 1-1 attacks at Houffalize also failed.

On the 20th, the Germans got new life as Vielsalm, Houffalize and Neufchateau all fell. On 20-2, Baraque and Libramont fell as the Germans continued to try to work around the edges of the main US position. Nathan then missed a hole at St. Hubert, and the Germans poured through weak recon forces and seized Marche with 653 Pzgr. However, it was instantly retaken by elements of the US 82 and 101 Airborne, so no German VP were added. However, the defenders of Moircy were placed OOS and significant territory grabbed on the southern flank.

On 21-1, Wellin fell due to the 3 bridge rule, and Marche was attacked at 9-5. This attack was critical as 4 US SP died, limiting US defensive options. Meanwhile, the Germans got a 1 SP unit into Dinant. In dire straits, Nathan attacked Dinant with the US 551 Bn, who survived, but failed to kill the German occupier. Nathan's 1.5 VP bid meant this was a game winner for the Germans, as he had no other units with which to hit Dinant. A very close game.

Bryan Eshleman's German forces scored with good attrition on the first two turns and seized Bastogne on the 18th against Rick Sciacca. Because Rick had bid 1.5 VP for the US, this meant a certain loss unless Bastogne could be recovered. Realizing this, Bryan held Bastogne with 9 SP and when it became obvious that the town could not be recaptured, Rick resigned.

Tom Thornsen defeated Bob Hamel's Germans. Although Bastogne fell on 19-1, Bob was unable to make sufficient progress to score another 3 VP. Marche did fall on the 21st to get Bob to 10 VP, but that was it.

John Vasilakos defeated Jim Winslow by holding onto Bastogne throughout the game. John Ellsworth defeated Angus McDonald's Germans, holding Bastogne until the 20th. Brad Jones got into the win column playing the US against Al Hurda.

Round 3

Bryan Eshleman (A) beat Tom Thornsen (no bid)
Tom's Germans got off to a fair start with OK combat results, and gained ground in the usual manner. But there weren't any big breakthroughs or big losses on the Allied side. This allows the Allies to manage their losses in both troops and territory, which invariably causes the Germans to make ever more desperate attacks. That usually leads to more German losses, and the cycle repeats itself. So it went in this game. Tom captured Bastogne but could make no further progress, and resigned at the end of 20-3.

John Ellsworth (G) beat Ray Freeman (no bid)
John started off by not attacking Marnach (see comments for the championship game in round 4), but cleared Holzhum and Lutzkampen, and got the bridge repaired at Holzhum. Ray made some inexact moves and managed to lose an engineer at Trois Vierges to isolation. Martelange fell on 17-2. The US fell back to the line Fauvilliers-Bastogne (4 SP), Noville, Houffalize and Vielsalm on 17-3.

Two ill-advised entrenching moves on 19-2 at La Roche and Neufchateau led to disaster as German spearheads were able to isolate them or they were needed elsewhere. After some maneuvering, Champion fell to a 2-1 attack on 19-3! The US line was now Ouffet, Hotton, LaRoche, Bande, Grupont and Libramont.

In an attempt to get desperately needed units back into the fight, the US gambled with an attack at St Hubert on 20-1. This seemed to work at first, freeing a surrounded unit at Neufchateau, but ended up being costly as it reduced the quantity of move-eligible defenders. On 20-2, the Germans seized Mean and Baillonville, and the US miscounted a German threat with the Fuh Gren brigade who seized St. Hubert at 10-3. The final blow on the 20th was a successful 6-2 attack on Wellin. The bridge failed to blow and the defenders were wiped out. This left the US with three holes to plug and only one available unit. Facing a certain breakout, Ray resigned.

Jim Winslow (A) beat Al Hurda
Brad Jones (G) beat Nathan Trent
Bob Hamel (G) beat Angus McDonald

Round 4

Tom Thornsen (A) beat Brad Jones (no bid)
Rick Sciacca(A) beat Murray Cowles

Ray Freeman (A) beat Bob Hamel (1.2 DRM)
Bob's Germans had an excellent (although not perfect) start as he cleared Vianden, Lutzkampen, and Habscheid and repaired the Marnach bridge. Ray responded by sacrificing both US engineers, entrenching one in St. Vith. Bob then killed the units in St. Vith and Bleialf. Ray realized the situation was critical, and spent 20 minutes trying to figure a way to salvage the position.

On 16-3 the Germans attacked everywhere, but thankfully (for Ray) all four of Bob's low odds attacks failed.

On 17-1, Bob vaporized the US line, killing everything but the 9 CCR and the 70th Tnk, and placing the SF in Baraque to cut the highway. Ray piled everything into Bastogne (3+1+1) and prayed. On 17-2, the Germans raced thru the gaps into Rambouch, Bertogne and Houffalize, and hit Bastogne at 9-5. Two US SP survived. The US built a line Martelange, Sprimont, La Roche, Baraque, Vielsalm.

18-1: Heavy German assaults clear Bastogne (10-2) and La Roche (7-2). Sprimont (6-3) and Martelange (6-2) hold. A 9-6 at Vielsalm, fails to break through, but four US SP die! The US then engineers counterattacks at La Roche (8-6) reducing the Germans to 4x1SP units, but losing three steps, and a 6-1 at Houffalize, which captures the town.

On 18-2, Bob cleared Nives at 6-1, but a 4-3 attack at Sprimont costs the Germans three SP. However, Bob used most of his forward forces, and missed an impending US counterstroke. Ray stripped one of the two 1 SP units from Vielsalm and snuck it into Bertogne, where it could not be attacked. As a result, four Germans in La Roche were placed OOS and surrendered on 18-3, wiping out the deepest German penetration.

On 19-1 Vielsalm and Bertogne both fell, but Sprimont held, despite the fact that two German artillery shots hit. This means the Germans missed with two armor and seven infantry shots.a highly unlikely (3%) disaster. In order to (hopefully) prevent German superiority in Trois Ponts, the US places six SP there, and retreats from Houffalize to Baraque.

On 19-2 a 6-1 on Baraque succeeds when the last German DR is a hit. The US passes out of fear to act. On 19-3, the Germans re-enter La Roche, where Bob and I decide on a clarification to the 3 bridge blowing rule. (A refusal to blow a bridge counts as an attempt) The 8-2 attack clears the area. In addition, the bridge Nives-Moircy does not blow, but the 4-3 attack does little but establish a bridgehead.

On 20-1, Lignieres falls to a 6-1, Moircy holds, but Grandmenil falls to a 5-2. The US falls back to the line Libramont-Moircy-Champion-Marche-Petit Han-Ouffet. I also discover that the units from Trois Ponts cannot get where they are really needed. It's looking tense again. Bob tries a unique backwards bridge repair attempt at La Roche-Samree (Eng in LaRoche). It fails.

On 20-2 Both Moircy and Champion fall, despite entrenchments. However, Petit-Han survives a 1-1 (this is critical). The US retreats to Transinne and Grupont. The main bridge to La Roche stays down.

On 20-3, the Germans try a 1-1 at Transinne. The British HHC and artillery miss both shots, but the German engineer rolls a 4 (to barely miss). The US stack 3+1+1 in Marche. Again the bridge to La Roche stays down.

21-1: Transinne falls to 7-1, Petit Han falls to 5-1, but Grupont holds (10-3) and a 10-5 on Marche leaves two US SP. The US form a line Wellin-Grupont-Marche-Haid-Mean-Ouffet, and use six SP of the 84th to counterattack Marche vs the 2SS Pz there. The existing two SP survivors sit out the attack, and the US is lucky, losing only two SP. Despite a -3 DRM, the La Roche bridge stubbornly refuses to be repaired.

21-2 turns out to be the decisive impulse of the game as the US gets lucky across the board. Both the bridges at Wellin-Transinne and Mean-Petit Han are blown with 20% die rolls! In addition, low odds attacks at Haid and Grupont fail to open holes. The LaRoche bridge stubbornly stays down!

On 21-3, four German bridge repair attempts fail! The 29th Armored counterattacks Marche, losing three SP but adding another defender.

On 22-1, Bob's last attempt to salvage a draw is a 10-7 at Marche. When the US holds, Ray squeeked out the narrow win. It was a great game, with bridge demo and repair playing a decisive role. While Ray could not blow anything on the 17th, and missed important mid-game demo attempts at La Roche and Moircy, he got those back at Wellin and Mean where 20% demo attempts succeeded. In addition, Bob failed a bunch of late repair attempts, with repeated failures on the bridge Samree-LaRoche which cut his lateral move ability severely. The other late bridge repair failures took critical mobile German armor and reserves out of potential attacks at a time when the US defenses on the flanks were paper thin.

Bryan Eshleman (A) beat John Ellsworth ... (Most comments provided by JE) No bid

The final round featured Bryan Eshleman's Allied forces defending against John Ellsworth. John's plan was to limit the number of early attacks, hoping to create a few holes in the Allied line that could be exploited by large numbers of full-strength German units. As a part of this strategy, the German foot soldiers were spared the task of crossing the Our River into Marnach on the first day. The hope was that other forces would cross against the more weakly defended Holzhum, repair that bridge and then turn North.

This plan didn't work properly right from the start. The Holzhum crossing went OK, but still the area was not cleared, and the German engineers failed to repair the bridge. The other factor that helps a lot is if Lutzkampen is cleared, because it tends to "freeze" the US armor at Weiswampach. (BE & GM) Thus none of the three criteria necessary for this gambit to work succeeded (GM). A portion of the German plan went as hoped -- German casualties were very light all down the line, as the Allies consistently received artillery support that then failed to hit any targets (this pattern continued for most of the game). On the other hand, the Germans also failed to inflict much in the way of Allied casualties. Overall, combat luck was pretty poor on both sides for the first three days.

Due to a lack of sufficient attrition, Bryan felt he could afford to move 9 arm CCR from Weiswampach into Marnach on 16-1. The resulting roadblock set back the US attack considerably along the main axis. (BE & GM)

The Allies demonstrated that they knew what to do with dynamite, succeeding on their first five attempts at blowing bridges, including one stupendous effort by a moving infantry formation. Meanwhile, the German engineers proved to be inept at their assigned task. In addition to the failures at Holzhum, they failed four other attempts at bridge repairs over the first two days.

The German drive was not totally without success, as they managed to cross the Our River at the northern end of the battlefield and slowly began to make progress there. However, the extremely light level of losses meant that Bryan was beginning to stack units two and three high at all of the key road junctions. By the second impulse of December 18th, despite having lost only two units, the Germans were clearly bogged down.

This is a classic illustration that while the Germans would like to limit German casualties (especially on their 3 SP units), it is imperative that they press for high attrition of the US. As players like Mircea Pauca and Bryan have illustrated, attacking stacks of US defenders is both expensive and time consuming and time is the American's ally. (GM)

At this point John decided that a change in tactics was in order, and attacks were ordered all up and down the line. The dice cooperated (for both sides) with this new strategy, and suddenly the dead piles began filling up. The Germans began to make progress, but at a tremendous cost. They moved into Bastogne by the end of the 19th, but the city was filled to capacity with Americans and refused to fall.

December 20th saw a major German effort. By now the Americans were no longer able to stack units, but many of the German units had only one or two steps remaining. The Germans reached the Ourthe River and attempted to cross, but more successful bridge demolitions by the Allies prevented any serious breach. Meanwhile, at Bastogne the battle turned extremely bloody, and several units on both sides were wiped out. On the second impulse, the Germans packed six steps into the city, and managed to get two supporting artillery units as well. The Americans had only a single step remaining, left behind as a roadblock so that other positions could be held more strongly. But this group of GIs proved they knew how to keep their heads down, and when the dice were cast all eight German shots missed. At this point an American victory seemed assured.

However, Bryan then made one of his very few errors. He failed to detect a route by which a single German unit could reach Nives, cutting the last supply line to Bastogne. Starvation accomplished what the German guns failed to do, and the city fell on the last impulse of December 20th.

With six points thus in hand, the Germans went looking for more. Bryan was up to the task, though, and by the middle of the 21st it was clear that the Germans had reached their high water mark. When the last casualty was hauled away to its box for another day, Bryan Eshleman had repeated his 2007 championship.

Bryan now becomes the secondnd player to repeat as champion. I appreciate everyone who played, and continued to play for a shot at wood and cotton (tee shirts). The Tees this year went to Bob Hamel and Nathan Trent, continuing my policy of giving shirts to the highest finishing players who do not already have a Tigers tee-shirt.

Statistics:
German Wins: 7
American Wins: 17

Number of Games with Bids: 10
Games with VP bids: 6
VP Bid Range: 1-2
Average VP Bid: 1.5
Games with Artillery DRM Bids: 4
Average DRM Bid: 1.2

Side Score of Games between Top Six Finishers: 5-3 in favor of US

 GM      Ray Freeman  [9th Year]   NA
    Rayfreeman3@comcast.net   NA

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