TRC Champion: There can be only
Defending champ Bert Schoose took
his only loss vs Gary Dickson's Russians in the semi-finals as
Doug James reclaimed his title after his 2007 absence.
Michael Trobaugh observes the German
advance against his Russian defenses. Arriving on Wednesday,
Mike was the last player to enter the event.
WBC 2008 is now in the rearview mirror; before it passes completely
out of sight, let's make sure we celebrate what happened and
recognize the winners. Leading things off, I'll remove
any sense of suspense by noting that Doug James took home his
FIFTH TRC first place plaque. But he wasn't the only winner,
I think several other individuals achieved some remarkable things
on the Eastern Front.
to recap the tournament format, we had a week of unlimited, unscheduled,
play in the Grognard format. The four best record holders
then would play two rounds of single-elimination on Saturday. The
scenario used was the 5-turn match with the SE contestants
having the option of playing the 10-turn match. (In reality,
no one chose to play the 10-turn scenario.) Key things to
recognize in this setup are that German casualties, excluding
HQs, DO NOT matter and that the Russians need to fight like there's
no tomorrow. In terms of metagaming the tournament,
the key to advancing was to rack up a few early wins and then
focus on playing individuals who had wins under their belts. Also
important was scoring wins against people who were likely to
play a lot of matches. Because of the Grognard strength
of schedule point system, players end up truly rooting for prior
defeated opponents to win their other matches. We had 27
players getting 58 matches recorded over the course of the week,
a drop from last years numbers but still a good showing given
the smorgasbord of enticing distractions at WBC.
The most memorable winner, at least to this GM, was Bruno
Sinigaglio. In one of the mid-week matches he defeated Doug
James, the perennial champion, on his patented powerhouse move
of capturing Moscow in 1941. I was in the main hall and
heard the roar of the onlookers from the Grognard salon when
Bruno's Germans rolled an Exchange result at 1-1 to capture the
Russian capital. The retrospective statistical analysis
of the events that led up to Bruno having that 1/3 shot of winning
revealed that the entire pre-planned sequence required a sequence
of dice with a one out of 96 likelihood. The look on Doug's
face was priceless but, of course, ultimately getting the wood
would cure that frown.
The winner of the 'TRC Newbie' award went to Rejean Tremblay. Our
friend from Quebec was clearly not a newbie to the game, merely
to TRC at WBC and his four tournament victories were a testament
to his ability to play with the big names. By the end of
the week, many of the experienced players were seeking to play
him in the mistaken belief that fresh meat was easily cooked. To
the dismay of one player who did eventually qualify for the SE
event, Rejean showed his early wins were no fluke.
Another 'winner' was Murray Cowles who decided to try his
hand at TRC late in the week. We talked a bit about the
tournament format which was new to him. Murray mentioned
having played the game many years ago so I was thinking that
this would be a tutorial game, and I could take a mental break, but
after the first few turns it became clear to me that the rust
was coming off of his weapons pretty readily. His Germans
methodically marched eastwards and it was only a fortuitous combination
of weather and combat results that staved off Nazi Tyranny.
And, I would be remiss in my fatherly duties if I neglected
to mention that my son Alex had a winning year too. He ended
up in sixth, with four victories but, more notable was his accomplishment
of getting 12 matches of TRC completed the first five days in
addition to all the other events he enjoys. His 'wood' for
the tournament was the Bill Morse daily printout of the TRC standings
that showed the young Gregorio at the top of the standings after
the first two days. Of course, that just ensured the bulls-eye
was firmly secured to his shirt as those victories were magnets
for the TRC sharks looking for points later in the week.
Late Friday night the final four players for the SE weekend
play were identified. Gary Dickson led with 74 points (6-1
record), Doug followed with 70 (5-2), Bert Schoose in third with
64 (5-0), and George Karahalios also with 64 points (6-2). Missing
the cut by a substantial margin was yours truly with 50 points
and a 5-2 record. Quality of wins was clearly the key determinant.
The first of the semi-final matches featured Doug bidding
12 replacement points to play the Germans vs George. I will
highlight this match to demonstrate the uniqueness of every TRC
match and the things that can happen between two experienced
· The Russian defended against the Turn 1 overrun
of Odessa but the German initial assault managed to break the
Bug River line. The Russian response eliminated that Panzer
and, even more surprisingly, George sprung a Russian armored
into the German rear and managed to capture Bucharest!
· With Rumania out of the war, Doug was clearly
on the ropes and seriously contemplated surrendering. But
he came to Lancaster to PLAY. The game went on. Turn
2 saw the Germans grinding eastwards and the recapture of Bucharest
while, on their half of the turn, the Russians fortified Sevastopol
and established a defense on the Dnieper River from the coast
· In September/October 1941, the weather was light
mud. Doug's panzers managed to take Leningrad on a second
impulse 1-1. Smolensk and Dneopropetrovsk were captured
and progress was made towards Bryansk. On their half of
Turn 3, the Russians surged out of Stalino and Kharkov and managed
to establish some buffer space in front of those cities.
· With Nov/Dec 41 also being light mud, the Germans
pincered Bryansk, captured Stalino, and smothered Kharkov. Experienced
players will know what I'm talking about, neophyte players should
take my word that pincers and smothering are moves that will
capture cities and will win games! To even things up, George
successfully counterattacked with the trapped Kharkov defenders
and ended his turn with the city in his possession. (Bryansk
· In the final Jan/Feb 42 turn, Doug counted
his VP and realized the Germans had the win. He set up a
bullet & bounce proof line, garrisoned Odessa, and secured
his HQs. George pondered the situation and then resigned. Quite
a turn-around from Turn 1 when the Russians had seemingly inflicted
a mortal blow on the Axis cause!
The other semi-final match saw Gary Dickson's Russians handing
defending champ, Bert Schoose his first loss of the tournament.
The Final thus featured Doug vs Gary. Gary bid +16 Russian Replacements
for the dubious honor of facing Doug's Russians.
· Doug's Red Army setup, like many of the
others used by experienced players this year, was aimed at preventing
the Odessa Overrun. Nevertheless, the opening German assault
killed every defender on first impulse. On second impulse,
a few Russian units survived in the BMD and WMD. These
survivors became the foundation of the Russian northern defense
and careful positioning ensured that Gary would have no AVs in
the north on Turn 2 and the Turn 1 Russian replacements could
deploy in the south.
· The July/August turn featured an 'average' German
advance with the Wermacht contained in the north and center.
The Russians continued to resist well in the south with strong
points at Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk.
· The weather was light mud in September/October
and Gary used them to good effect: Sevatopol, Kiev, and
Dnepropetrovsk were all captured. Additionally, the paths
to Kharkov and Stalino, and a German victory, were opened with
hopes of good results in the upcoming light mud of November/December.
The Turn 3 Russian response was to fully defend those cities
to make any frontal attacks utterly painful.
· In November/December, the Germans succeeded
in setting up smother attacks on both cities which saw the Russians
beginning his part of the turn with large German stacks adjacent.
In another clever move, Gary sprang a 5-4 forward from an attacker
retreat result and this captured Kursk which ensured that the
Kharkov defenders would be on their own in the necessary counterattacks.
Much to the Germans surprise, the Russians hit the 1/6 result
and their 1-2 succeeded in saving Kharkov. Stalin maintained
control of Stalino and a Russian AR result saw an armored corps
recapture Minsk from the Nazis!
· The situation on the last turn necessitated
that the Germans capture objectives worth SIX VPs, normally insurmountable,
especially given the snowy weather. Nevertheless, Gary
got some dice and recaptured Minsk, smothered Kharkov again,
and contested Stalino and threatened Leningrad! Doug ably
responded to all of these threats through judicious tactics and
some nifty die-rolling of his own. Kharkov remained Russian
occupied (11% chance) and the armored corps that previously captured
Minsk managed to capture Brest. Stalino was efficiently
saved via a frontal 4-1 assualt on the Germans threatening the
When the dust settled, Doug and his Russians had secured his
fifth TRC championship and more importantly, established to himself
that the 5-turn scenario was not a freak of nature. Gary,
of course, demonstrated that he too was still a contender and
that the West Coast gang could still bring game to Lancaster.
Looking forward through the windshield, to 2009, I see a landscape
with a lot of new players and new roads to success. This
year saw an emphasis on defending against the Turn 1, second
impulse overrun of Odessa but off-season analysis is more than
likely to produce some Wermacht counters to those defenses.
Similary, given the success of some folks in taking Moscow, Soviet
BMD and WMD defensive setups are likely to evolve in sneaky ways
to thwart the Moscow gambit. See you on the Steppes
of Lancaster in 2009!
Campaign 7th BPA PBeM Tournament:
The 7th BPA-sponsored
TRC PBeM Tournament has ended with Tom Gregorio capturing the
crown by defeating Ed O'Connor.
In a separate Novice tournament, Michael Kaye defeated
Paul Koenig to capture the top spot. The Novice bracket attracted
eight entrants. Paul Koenig defeated Alan Heath to make
it to the Final while Michael Kaye defeated Vince Meconi
to for his Final ticket Unfortunately, Paul Koenig at that poinmt
had to withdraw.
The Standard tournament attracted 31 entrants. All seedings
were done by AREA rating. One first round bye was assigned
Doug James, Michael Mitchell, Ed O'Connor, Larry Hollern,
Gary Dickson, John Bullis, Tom Gregorio and Roy Walker made it
into the bracket of eight.
The familiar faces emerged into the final four: Doug James,
Ed O'Connor, Gary Dickson and Tom Gregorio.
Ed pulled off an upset against Doug in a close match while
Tom bested Gary to reach the Final.
The Final between Ed and Tom was posted on the ConsimWorld
forum under Boardgaming, Individual Series or Series Discussion,
Era World War II (Individual Game), Eastern Front, L2 Design
Group The Russian Campaign, posting dates from 12-Dec-2007 to
The German (Tom) pulled off a very aggressive variant of Bert
Schoose's Odessa Overrun which traded kills against units in
the Kiev Military District hinge for a strong position on the
lower Bug River plus a surrender of a small cavalry unit (surrendering
two more in battle on the first turn). The German smothered Dnepropetrovsk
by the end of July/Aug, and captured Smolensk, Kiev and Sevastopol
(smothering Stalino and killing off the worker) end of Sep/Oct
(Lt Mud). He occupied Stalino in Nov/Dec (Snow). The
Russian (Ed) clung to the Lvov (getting two 1:2 Contacts) but
finally lost it in Jan/Feb 1942. After the winter was over,
the Russian had advanced to three hexes out of Leningrad and
a line Valdai Hills - Smolensk - Bryansk - west of Kiev-Kharkov
The German summer offensive got off to a good start despite
Lt Mud Mar/Apr. killing off nine armies in two first impulse
4:1 attacks and the follow-up surround attacks. The Russian
reformed his line back to the rail junction between Bryansk and
Kursk. In May/Jun, the two first impulse 4:1 attacks against
big stacks got lesser results (D1), but carefully planned retreats
allowed the German to kill off 11 armies as he turned to attack
towards Leningrad and smother Rostov. The Russian counterattacked
in the south between Bryansk and Kharkov setting up a second
impulse 1:1 surround attack against a big stack which did not
succeed. The German summer offensive continued with the
capture of Leningrad, Smolensk, Kharkov and the river hex north
of Rostov by the end of Jul/Aug, killing off 53 factors for the
loss of 10. The Russian pulled back his battered forces
to Valdai Hills - east of Smolensk - Bryansk - Kursk - Rostov
The German summer offensive continued into Sep/Oct, killing
off 12 armies as he smothered the Russian defenders in Bryansk
and Kursk and outflanked the Don River defense of Rostov. The
Russian attack out of Bryansk to break the smother succeeded,
but the one out of Kursk failed.as did a Crimean sea invasion.
The Russian set up a weak line Stalingrad - Krasnodar - Maykop
Oil Filed. The final turn, Nov/Dec brought Snow but little
relief as the German killed off the defenders (19 factors, including
big mama) contesting Kursk, captured Tula and Krasnodar sending
the Victory Point count to +7, the German needing +4 to win.
The Russian sea invaded with Big Mama to attack Sevastopol,
counterattacked to contest Krasnodar and set up second impulse
4:1 against Tula. If all three succeeded, the Russian would
win. The attack to contest Krasnodar succeeded, but
the one against Sevastopol failed. The Russian player resigned
More details to be found at: http://www.russiancampaign.net
under Site News