Still gaining experience ...
Art Lupinacci plays Doug Richards
on his big display board. Us old guys can't handle those little
counters any more.
Marty Musella discovers a talented
first timer in Charles Catania who is attending his first WBC
and more than holding his own.
The number of entrants increased as the event continues to
slowly attract a larger following. There was a crowd at the Demo
and seven new players entered the tournament. The Mulligan Round
again proved popular with eight games being played Wednesday
evening and four more in Round 1 Thursday morning. The seven
turn scenario ending in May / June 1942 was used again. The final
2nd edition rules, charts, and OB Cards were used for the first
time in the tournament.
Sides were determined by mutual agreement or by bidding Victory
Points with replacement points as a tiebreaker. The VP bids ranged
from 16 to 20 with the average bid being 19.2. The most frequent
bid was 19 which was also the default number of VPs required.
Play balance was perfect with each side winning 11 games. After
Round 1, the Russians won six games to the Germans' four. In
one notable Mulligan Round game, Art Lupinacci who was playing
the Germans with a bid of 19 barely got by Charles Catania in
a hard fought contest. Art had slipped some units across the
Kerch straits and grabbed Novorossiysk on his last turn to get
his 19th VP. Charles then lost a 2-1 counterattack versus Kursk
on his last turn to come up a point short in his upset bid.
Charles Drozd, Charles Catania, Richard Beyma, Jim Tracy,
Jim Eliason, Marty Musella, Doug Richards, Lembit Tohver, Art
Lupinacci, and Rob Beyma all advanced to Round 2 Thursday afternoon.
Richard Beyma's blitzkrieg offensive overran Lembit Tohver in
1941. Art Lupinacci, playing the Russians, stopped Doug Richard's
(19 bid) Germans. Rob Beyma, playing the Russians, survived Charles
Drozd's 1941 offensive despite perfect German weather in the
fall. Jim Eliason, playing the Russians, held back Jim Tracy's
aggressive offensive with the help of some Mud and Snow in 1941.
Charles Catania overcame a strong German attack from Marty Musella
that reached Voronezh in October but ran into Mud and Snow on
Five survivors reached the quarter-finals. Charles Catania
joined Richard, Art, Jim, and Rob who had all advanced to Round
3 for the second straight year. In a notable third Round game,
Jim and Chales made identical bids. Jim won the die roll to play
the Russians. Charles got off to a good start but stalled against
Jim's strong defense in the fall. Charles tossed in the towel
after AGC got mauled during the winter around Smolensk. Richard
bid 20 to play the Germans against the game's designer. Art had
not seen many aggressive German blitzkriegs like Richard's. The
Germans captured Minsk on Turn 1 and were attacking Moscow at
5-1 on Turn 3. Art dodged a big bullet when Moscow held and even
eliminated a couple panzer corps on a 1-1 counterattack. Richard
got good weather in Nov / Dec but a 4-1 attack on Moscow also
failed to capture Moscow. While Art was busy saving Moscow, Richard
continued to attack and grab VPs elsewhere. Even with Snow in
March, Art's Russians were unable to recapture enough VPs to
prevent a German win.
In the semi-finals, Richard (confident in his German strategy)
bid 20 to play the Germans versus Jim. Richard pursued a very
aggressive offensive and took numerous gambles. The Germans captured
both Riga and Minsk on Turn 1. However, Richard had left Jim
with a couple of 1-1 surrounded attack opportunities against
panzer corps. However, both attacks failed. The Germans also
sea moved an infantry unit to Helsinki (which flipped) while
the Finns moved east. Seeing an opportunity to knock the Finns
out of the war, Jim made a 2-1 (-1) attack on Helsinki which
also failed. The Germans took full advantage of Clear weather
in Sep / Oct to grab a lot of VPs. The German offensive was slowed
with Mud and Snow in Nov / Dec and Jim began his counteroffensive.
The powerful Russian winter offensive killed lots of German units
and slowly pushed the Germans back. March 1942 found the Germans
clinging to their VPs with a weak army. A Mud / Mud weather roll
proved to be fortuitous for Richard as it slowed Jim's counteroffensive.
Snow in March would have made things very tough for the Germans.
The last turn found the Germans expending more troops to hold
onto 20 VPs and get the win.
In the other semi-final, Charles Catania was enlisted as an
eliminator to play Rob. Once again Charles and his opponent had
identical bids. This time Charles won the die roll and got to
play the Germans at 19 VPs. Charles eliminated a lot of Russians
on the first three turns but advanced somewhat cautiously. The
Germans captured Kiev on Turn 3 but the Russians still held Dnepropetrovsk.
Charles was counting on favorable weather in Nov / Dec to assault
Leningrad and Dnepropetrovsk and reach his VP bid. Snow in November
ended Charles's attempt at preventing Rob from reaching his 4th
consecutive Final. Charles really likes Russia Besieged
and gained lots of experience playing the top players this year.
Everyone had better watch out for Professor Catania next year!
The Final saw another Beyma family tree father and son match
(Rob and Richard had met in the Waterloo semi-finals last
year). In a surprise ploy, Richard dropped his bid from 20 to
18. His logic was that Rob usually struggles with the Germans
the first time that he plays them in a tournament. Rob constructed
an opening German attack to eliminate a lot of Russians. The
key attack was a 5-1 versus 2431 to enable an un-doubled and
surrounded attack against 2029 during the 2nd impulse. Four '1'
rolls slowed the German attack and two of the four panzer corps
in the south were flipped during the 2nd impulse. Richard defended
forward in force to both minimize German Turn 2 penetration and
to force Rob to use precious clock time to plan his attacks.
This strategy was successful although, importantly, Russian losses
were high. The Germans did get some additional penetration as
a result of two successful second impulse Blitzkrieg attacks.
The second of these attacks surrounded Kiev. Interestingly, Kiev
would never be assaulted in this game. Richard had railed two
infantry armies into Odessa on Turn 1 to deny this key airbase
to the Germans. The German Rumanian Front, weakened by Turn 1
losses, could only mask Odessa.
Richard's second turn found the Russians faced with many threats
and few units. The Russians defended the Luga, the woods in front
of Moscow, Bryansk, Kharkov, and Dnepropetrovsk. One of the armies
in Odessa was successfully sea moved back to Sevastopol. Importantly,
a 4-6 was moved to 2423 to re-establish supply to Kiev and to
pin one of the two full strength panzers in the south. A 7-4
was deployed in the gap between Bryansk and the swamp to prevent
Rob's AGC panzers from penetrating deep into the south. The Russian
Turn 2 move is one of the most difficult and important in this
Turn 3 yielded Clear weather. With a +1 weather DRM for Nov
/ Dec, Rob figured that he had better go all out on Turn 3. Rob
noticed that Stalino was defended by a lone WEC. The remaining
full strength panzer in the south and one of the flipped panzers
headed straight for Stalino. Rob decided to use 50 factors and
three Stukas in the center to AV the 7-4 and break three panzers
into the Russian rear. One panzer raced straight for an undefended
Voronezh. The other two set up for a second impulse attack on
the 6-4 in Kursk. Three Stukas that were still based in Bucharest
were used to attack Odessa along with the 3-8 cavalry and three
flipped infantry units. Rob decided to surround both Kiev and
Dnepropetrovsk with mostly infantry. In the north, a lone 7-8
panzer corps crossed the Luga and, with the aid of six infantry
corps that had finally reached the Luga, made a second impulse
7-1 attack. Rob scrapped together two infantry corps and a 7-8
panzer plus the last two Stukas to attack two Russian units in
the forest next to Bryansk at 4-1. An unfortunate X2 result flipped
another panzer (which was intended to support the second impulse
attack at Kursk). The attack on Kursk was now only a 4-1 and
another X2 was rolled flipping another panzer and eliminating
the SS unit. Rob also staged Stukas to Bryansk and Voronezh during
second impulse. Ominously, Rob was down to only 45 minutes for
the last four turns of the game.
The beginning of the Russian third turn found German panzers
in Kursk (actually on both sides of Kursk), Voronezh, and Stalino
and few Russian units on the board. However, the Russians were
getting a huge influx of reinforcements and replacements this
turn. Richard deployed heavy infantry to hold Leningrad and deployed
in strength between Rostov and Stalino. Richard made a well conceived
counterattack at Bryansk. With only a 4-5 and a 5-8
in Bryansk, Richard was able to get a 2-1 (-1) attack. If the
attack produced any German casualties (a 70% chance), the Russians
could get a 3-1 or better attack during the second impulse and
possibly could advance two units into Bryansk. Rob, recognizing
the danger to his center position from this critical attack,
committed the last German Field Marshal to make it a 2-1 (-2)
attack. A '2' was rolled and Bryansk was saved.
Rob was fortunate to roll Mud / Mud in Nov / Dec. The Germans
began retreating from the Leningrad front and killed a few units
in the center and the south. A supply path to Voronezh was reopened.
Richard deployed the Russians en masse for the winter offensive.
Both Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk surrendered at the end of the Russian
turn. The German VP total had reached 22. The Russian winter
offensive came at the Germans hard in Jan / Feb. Richard made
key 1-1 attacks versus Veliki-Luki and Kursk and additional attacks
against German stacks next to these cities. Despite Rob adding
a Field Marshal to each attack, Richard rolled a 10 on both attacks
and got two D1 results. The German stacks adjacent to Veliki-Luki
and Kursk were now un-doubled since the Germans no longer controlled
these cities. Rob could have made Kursk 1-1 proof but failed
to notice that the ZOC of a 3-6 that had slipped into the German
rear was blocking the rail to Kursk until it was too late to
march an infantry unit from Bryansk to Kursk. A D2 was achieved
on the second German stack at Veliki-Luki. The German player
was unlucky to "win" the 2-1 against his other stack
next to Kursk; the Russians picked up the whole stack during
second impulse on a 4-1 surrounded attack. The momentum was shifting
to the Russians and Richard's confidence was growing. It was
now Rob's turn to be concerned.
The next "roll of the game" would be the Mar / Apr
weather roll. Rob's woes were compounded by the fact that he
had only 12 minutes remaining for the last two turns. Rob was
considering conceding on a Snow roll (a 50% chance) but probably
would have gone one more turn, especially with Lt Mud during
second impulse. Rob was really hoping for Mud / Mud to enable
a quick move and to limit Russian attacks and advances. Ironically,
that was the result that Richard had gotten in his semi-final
game with Jim Eliason. Rob reached for the green die (that had
rolled a lot of 1s in 1941) but Art suggested that Rob should
use the same die that he had been using for the last two turns.
Another spectator pointed out that the chances were the same
regardless of which die was used. So, Rob picked up the black
die and tossed it into the dice tower. All eyes were glued to
the black die as it settled at the bottom of the tower. It was
a '1' (Lt Mud / Clear). It was like Edward G. Robinson flipping
over the Jack of Diamonds in the movie The Cincinnati Kid.
The Germans stabilized the line all along the front and once
again reopened a supply path to Voronezh. A 2-1 attack on Kharkov,
raised to 4-1 by two Stukas, captured the city. A lone 3-8
cavalry unit advanced towards Sevastopol, defended only by the
WEC. A German 5-5 infantry corps railed to Odessa to make a 2nd
impulse invasion. The German infantry unit landed successfully
with the help of the DRM for the Rumanian port of Constanta.
The 2-1 attack, raised to 4-1 by two Stukas, cleared the city
on a D1 but no advance was possible. But, alas, the Russians
had used both of their Black Sea invasions and could not sea
transport to a German controlled Sevastopol. Richard counterattacked
vigorously but the Germans had too many "safe" points
(major cities that are defended by two to three corps are very
difficult to recapture in one turn in 1942). The last turn was
anti-climatic as the Germans ended their turn with 27 VPs and
no time. Rob had won his fourth Russia Besieged wood.
The game was much closer than the final VP tally would indicate.
In fact, the Russians would have had the edge going into Mar
/ Apr had Snow been rolled. A Mud / Mud weather roll would have
resulted in a very close ending. No one, especially Art, Jim,
or Rob, will be surprised if Richard wins it all next year -
but that would still keep it all in the family. The apple doesn't
fall far from the tree - especially when the apple grows up playing
wargames against father tree.
Jim Eliason runs into Beyma the younger
in the semi-finals.
The father-son Final. Dad still rules
the roost but the time is coming.