TRC Champion: There can be only
Grognards at work as Phil Evans meets
Alan Zasada was one of many welcome
new faces in the tournament.
saw the19th rendition of The Russian Campaign tournament
at WBC. As a sign that the event is still healthy, records were
set in both numbers of participants, 39, and total games played,
93. Much of these impressive numbers can be attributed to
the format, featuring membership in the Grognard Con and the
consistent usage of the 5-turn tournament scenario, but there
were also a significant number of new faces in the event. When
the last die was tossed, however, a familiar person would own
the first place wood: Doug James. It will
look nice on his wall next to the five others he already has.
The first six days saw TRC faithful all fighting fiercely for
a slot in the final four. Particularly memorable was
seeing the defending champ, and AREA leader, experience losses
to Gary Dickson , Tom Gregorio, and Jeff Martin in the first
few days. Seemingly discouraged, Doug nonetheless
pushed through with some key wins and made it to the final four. The
semi-finalists were not identified until Friday evening; the
way tournament points were assigned in the Grognard Con ensured
that nobody could secure early wins and then avoid playing without
risking being overtaken. Gary and Bert had strangleholds
on the first two slots as they'd gone undefeated against some
serious competition. Doug James nailed down the third
slot while Tim Nielsen narrowly edged out Jeff Martin and John
Ohlin for the final slot.
The semi's saw James vs. Dickson, and Bert Schoose vs. newcomer
Tim Nielsen. James' Germans prevailed over Dickson in the semi-final
while Bert defeated Tim Nielsen. In both rounds, Doug
saw some early German advantage gained in the KMD after exploiting
some unusual Russian setups there.
In the other semi-final, Bert was the Germans against Tim as
these two recreated their Final match from the 2009 Prezcon tournament.
Unfortunately for Tim, the game was mostly decided on the second
impulse of the first turn when Bert's die rolls averaged 5.0
on eight attacks. This followed a decent first impulse
result for the Germans. The total carnage from the first
turn attack killed or trapped 21 Russian defenders with
only a single Axis unit lost (an EX roll on a 1-1 attack).
Tim gallantly defended for several turns but could never reverse
the advantage that Bert had gained with his initial attacks.
In the Final Bert consistently forced Doug to AV Russian units
on first impulse in order to keep advancing in the south. Particularly
noteworthy was that Bert's KMD setup encouraged the creation
of a LARGE pocket of Russians at Lwow. Bert's pocketed
units counterattacked and he used an AR to get a Russian unit
into Warsaw on Turn 1. Doug used two of
three stukas in July on attacks IN POLAND! Things
really broke open in a clear S/O when the overrun of a 3-7 allowed
German panzers to attack Kharkov at 4:1 surrounded. After Kharkov
fell in September, a 6-7 panzer moved in October to cut the Soviet
rail into Kursk from the east. An invasion by a 4-4 that same
impulse accomplished the same between Stalino and Rostov. This
effectively prevented Soviet reinforcements from threatening
the Axis position in the Ukraine for the rest of the game, and
in spite of a successful Russian surge on Smolensk the Germans
held on to enough points to secure the win.
Players continue to evolve their own styles for the 5-turn scenario. With
a significant number of experienced German players mentally prepared
to go for Moscow, it's particularly important for the Russian
player to prevent the WMD from being overrun on the opening impulse. The
Odessa Military District defenses also are being adjusted to
prevent the Automatic Victory overrun of Odessa on the second
impulse and the subsequent breaching of the Bug River on the
first turn. The July/August 41 Russian move often
featured a positional strategy that was based on a weather 'gamble';
making a correct 50/50 'guess' will allow the Russian to significantly
improve an otherwise losing position.
For the first time, I submitted a sportsmanship nomination. John
Ohlin defeated five-time defending TRC champ Doug James in a
hard-fought match that was decided by ONE victory point. John
consoled Doug with a beer at the bar. During the traditional
post-game recap, they realized that Doug had not been credited
with eliminating a German HQ which would have given Doug the
win. The GM was notified, the outcome was reversed,
and John no longer had the tournament points necessary to advance
to the single elimination portion of the event. Good
sportsmanship, John, that beer turned out to have cost more than
Tim Nielsen's TRC star continues to ascend - after an impressive
showing at Prezcon in February, he continued to rack up the wins
by making it into the WBC final four. The other members
filling out the final quartet included Doug James, Bert Schoose,
and Gary Dickson with nine TRC championships amongst them. Barely
missing the final four were John Ohlin and Tom Gregorio. Alex
Gregorio seems to have picked up some bad habits from Bruno;
no less than three of his wins were derived from the capture
of Moscow. Michael Trobough had a stellar year as
he racked up numerous wins. Joe Collinson continues
to do well in face to face play with numerous wins recorded this
year. (Should he ever decide to give up "History
of the World", he'll be a serious contender!)
As always, it was good to see the TRC faithful but it was also
reassuring to see the pipeline of new TRC players continuingto
be strong. Noteworthy were the performances of Gregory
Smith and Nick Drochak, but seeing the 'younger generation',
including Alex Gregorio, John Schoose, and Vinny Sinigaglio,
also portends well for the future.
Some matchup statistics were collected and reviewed by Gary
Dickson. Raw highlights included:
· German wins: 43%, games where individuals
did not include the weather results: 27%.
· 69% of the German wins featured Light Mud in September/October
1941. (In the tournament scenario, light-mud in Sept/Oct
ensures that there will be light-mud in Nov/Dec.)
· In the 23 games that reported clear weather in Sep/Oct,
the Russians won TWICE as often as the Germans.
· The average game bid had the Russians getting an extra
9.3 replacements over the course of the five turns.
· In German wins, the average bid was 9.5
The key takeaways at this point from this analysis are that
the GM needs to encourage the reporting of complete match data
and that, in general, the Russians have a slight edge but this
advantage does not seem to be driven by the replacement bid.
Given the overall win ratio, logic would seemingly dictate that
bids go lower but this GM believes that German win ratio was
above 50% when experienced Germans were at the helm.
This GM is already looking forward to the 20th incarnation
of TRC at WBC in 2010. With Doug having revealed that
he is vulnerable in the early going, perhaps there is hope that
someone else will take the wood next year. There continues
to be a wide variety of opening defenses so the wise German will
bring a full bag of tricks to Lancaster as the current trend
does seem to favor the Russians.
Bert Schoose with talented newcomer
Tim Nielsen in their semi-final,
Doug James takes his sixth title in
this Final with Bert Schhoose.