Updated 11/30/2009

Grognard Pre-Con

2009 WBC Report     

  2010 Status: pending December Membership Trial Vote

Richard Beyma, VA

2009 Champion

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Event History
1991    Kevin McCarthy      17
1992    Rob Beyma      16
1993    Larry Lingle      16
1994    Joe Beard      18
1995    Joe Beard      10
1996    Bruno Sinigaglio      10
1997    Phil Evans      18
1998    Rob Beyma      16
1999    Chuch Stapp     17
2000    Rob Beyma     10
2001    John Clarke     18
2002    Rob Beyma     20
2003    Marty Musella     20
2004     Rob Beyma     17
2005    Marty Musella     18
2006    Rob Beyma     18
2007     Marty Musella     22
2008    Joe Beard     21
2009    Richard Beyma     19

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Rob Beyma          MD    08    162
  2.  Marty Musella      VA    07    140
  3.  John Clarke        FL    09     79
  4.  Bruno Sinigaglio   AK    09     49
  5.  Richard Beyma      MD    09     47
  6.  Chuck Stapp        NJ    01     31
  7.  Joe Beard          AZ    08     30
  8.  Mark Gutfreund     KY    08     30
  9.  Pat Mirk           FL    09     27
 10.  Bill Morse         VA    07     24
 11.  Forrest Pafenberg  VA    02     18
 12.  Bill Scott         VA    05     16
 13.  Tim Miller         GA    09     14
 14.  James Tracy        OH    07     12
 15.  Larry Lingle       PA    00     12
 16.  John Ellsworth     IL    99      9
 17.  John Popiden       CA    09      8
 18.  Gary Dickson       CA    05      8
 19.  Johnny Hasay       PA    01      8
 20.  Don Tatum          MD    08      6
 21.  Steve Likevich     OH    05      6
 22.  Ivan Lawson        MD    02      6
 23.  Mike Horn          FL    06      3
 24.  Phil Evans         VA    03      3
 25.  Greg Smith         PA    02      3

2009 Laurelists                                            Repeating Laurelists:

Pat Mirk, FL

John Popiden, CA

John Clarke, FL

Bruno Sinigaglio, AK

Tim Miller, GA

Past Winners

Kevin McCarthy. OH

Rob Beyma, MD
'92, 98, 00, 02, 04, 06

Larry Lingle, PA

Joe Beard, AZ
1994-95, 2008

Bruno Sinigaglio, AK

Phil Evans, VA

Chuck Stapp, PA

John Clarke, FL

Marty Musella, VA
2003, 2005, 2007

Richard Beyma, VA


A Beyma once again is at the top of the heap of Waterloo players - but this time it's Rob's son, Richard. GM Marty Musella and finalist Pat Mirk congratulate him for over all those defeats he endured at his father's tanle in learning his trade.

Thanks to Bruno Sinigaglio's tireless overseeing of the Grognard events and Bill Morse's updated computer printouts, the Grognard Free Form scheduling works to keep these old hex classics alive at WBC.

Another Grognard Classic

Waterloo, a perennial classic characterized by taut, well-balanced games, enjoyed another successful year at the 2009 WBC. Play this year saw a much wider use of attacks below the old "standard" 3 to 1 ratio especially by the French player early in the game using the new 10 sided die Combat Results Table (CRT). This tactic hopes to quickly force the initially outnumbered Prussian Anglo-Allied (PAA) armies out of their forward doubled defensive positions so that the French can reach a decision before the numerous PAA reinforcements arrive. This year, playing time continued to decrease and this allowed participants to play in more of the classic wargames featured during the Grognard Pre-Con. Also, the GM noted a lack of emphasis on bidding to secure a desired side to play as most of the decisions as to which side to play seemed to be reached by a simple role of the die or mutual agreement between the players. About half of the participants began play during the Pre-Con; while the other half still had time to qualify during the regular convention time period. In fact, of the four semi-finalists, only two began play during the Grognard Pre-Con. The GM was delighted to see many former champions in attendance though last year's winner, Joe "The Surgeon" Beard, did not make the long journey to defend his crown. A surprise returning champion, Phil "the Blade" Evans did make the long trek from his retirement home in France, but failed to garner enough victory points in this game to make the semi-finals. That distinction belonged to only one former champion, John "Medicine Man" Clarke who was paired against Pat "the Lucky Irishman" Mirk in semi-final #1 and returning 2008 semi-finalist Richard "Beyma the Younger" versus John "Classic Man" Popiden in semi-final #2.

Semi-final #1 showcased two experienced players, John Clarke and Pat Mirk who routinely display top quality play. So, while a tense and well fought game was anticipated, the actual result was one of the strangest and most unorthodox games ever witnessed in tournament play. It also explains how Pat earned his moniker of "the Lucky Irishman". Pat's French opened his offensive in a very traditional way with a secondary attack of about two corps reinforced toward Nivelles while the bulk of the French Army moved towards the heights defending Quatre Bras and down the primary road toward the town from the east. John's PAA forces defended Quatre Bras with the well recognized 8-4, 6-4, and 7-4 large Prussian infantry divisions arrayed west to east in doubled defensive positions on the heights and several large stacks on the primary road to the east. In most games, it takes the French most of the 16 June turns to close with the PAA forces occupying their final defensive positions near Nivelles and Quatre Bras and this is what occurred. On the 7 PM turn, Pat's French launched seven separate attacks in the Quatre Bras sector featuring two 1 to 2 attacks against the Prussian doubled 8-4 and 7-4 divisions. He also launched 3 to1 and 4 to1 "normal" attacks down the primary road and three low odds "soak-off" attacks to enable the main attacks. One of these low odds attacks was a 1 to 2 versus a Prussian 6-4 infantry division. Incredibly, Pat rolled "exchange" results in all three 1 to 2 attacks and then proceeded to roll two more exchanges in the normal attacks. The two remaining soak-offs resulted in a single French cavalry division lost! While the French losses were severe, the Prussian Army was decimated losing five large infantry divisions; they had lost their primary doubled defensive position; and there were no significant reserves for John to launch any good counterattacks. Most importantly, John's morale was shattered! Even though the numerical losses were about the same, John had lost the battle in the center and with it the game. Even if his remaining forces on each wing had withdrawn to support the crippled center, there just were not enough PAA units in the center to occupy the remaining defensive positions. John's PAA armies surrendered to avoid further anguish. Both players expressed amazement at the die rolls and the quick resolution resulting from these rolls. It was very easy for Pat to give himself the nom de guerre of "The Lucky Irishman" and it just remained to be seen if his luck would carry over to the championship game.

Semi-final #2 was a match-up between Richard Beyma, a returning semi-finalist from the last two years, and John Popiden, an experienced classics wargamer and last year's Panzergruppe Guderian champion. Richard was in the hunt for the Waterloo wood and was the #1 ranked semi-finalist with the most preliminary wins. He was eager to pick up the legacy of "Beyma the Elder". Side selection was decided by mutual agreement with Richard getting his favored PAA and John's attacker preference showing with selection of the French. John sent only a single corps northwest towards Nivelles while the rest of the French Army, eager for battle, rapidly closed on Quatre Bras. Not one to disappoint, John immediately launched a 1 to 1 attack on the doubled 8-4 in its now familiar position on the heights south of Quatre Bras. The biggest unit in the Prussian Army was totally destroyed and John's victorious French occupied the hilltop. Richard's Prussians immediately counterattacked and exacted revenge by killing a 6-4 infantry division. However, John was not dismayed and launched several large attacks all along the now undoubled heights forcing the Prussians to re-deploy and delay on this part of the battle line. However, all of these now released divisions swung eastward and battered the French units advancing down the primary road slaughtering three 5-4 divisions. In the Nivelles sector, John reinforced his single corps with several units from the Quatre Bras heights and continued to advance on the Quatre Bras road junction. Richard delayed with sacrificial cavalry brigades buying time to assume good defensive positions in and around Genappe and formed a strong central reserve mid-way between Nivelles and Quatre Bras ready to march to the most threatened sector. The Nivelles sector was strangely quiet as the French slowed their advance to a crawl. By 5 PM, John had also positioned a small cavalry force in the far right flank moving toward Wavre but these were screened by an even smaller PAA force using the many rivers with their doubled positions to delay the French advance. Richard had formed a solid defensive front along the Genappe River extending to the heights north of Nivelle 7 AM, 17 June. John attacked on both flanks and forced the Dyle River on the right in spite of a bloody exchange. But he only drove back a British division on the left which promptly counterattacked with other British forces to preserve the river defense at Nivelles. At 11 AM French assaults spanned the entire front as John sought to gain a positional advantage over the PAA by driving them from the last major defensive terrain blocking his advance towards  Waterloo. His point of main effort was against the heights west of Genappe where he killed a Prussian infantry division. However, Richard immediately reinforced the hilltop and counterattacked. This attack was very successful and destroyed three French divisions that were compelled to retreat into a river "death" hex ensuring their destruction. John joined many excellent Waterloo players who have learned the bitter consequences of this rule to their chagrin. Taking advantage of this opportunity is one of the tactics that differentiates the play between very good and outstanding players. By this time in the game, losses favored Richard's PAA. John realizing this, launched his Imperial Guard against the same bloody heights in a desperate 1 to 1 attack, hoping to swing the tide of battle in his favor. But alas, history repeated itself and the Guard was destroyed so John conceded the game to Richard. "Beyma the Younger" was now only one game shy of attaining his legacy.

In the championship game, Richard "Beyma the Younger" and Pat "The Lucky Irishman" Mirk by mutual consent agreed to sides with Richard once again playing the PAA and Pat taking the French. The French commenced their usual advance at 7 AM on 16 June. However, Richard's PAA reacted with a markedly different defense, featuring six large Prussian infantry divisions defending the three hex heights in front of Quatre Bras. The impenetrable defense would prevent Pat from attempting his low odds attacks if he hoped to repeat his opening from the last game. Obviously Richard's intelligence services had reviewed Pat's previous play and he was taking no chances in regard to Pat's luck. The French advance continued and by 11 AM, the disposition of the French Army was evident with two reinforced corps heading toward their Nivelles objective, three corps threatening Quatre Bras from the east and a corps minus heading down the right flank toward Wavre, all-in-all a fairly standard French opening. Richard expanded his defensive frontage and concentrated six large infantry divisions into a central reserve position on the strategic hilltop half way between Nivelles and Quatre Bras. This redeployment did require him to reduce the defenders on the Quatre Bras heights to the "normal" three infantry divisions. This thinning of the height's defenses at 1 PM enabled Pat to try a repeat of his low odds attacks east and south of Quatre Bras. However, none of these were successful as the French were repulsed at the cost of a cavalry and infantry division. Richard reacted by moving two large 6-4 infantry divisions to block the two clear axis of advance south of Nivelles and counterattacked east of Quatre Bras to hold his main line of defense killing two French 6-4s and losing a Prussian 6-4 in an exchange. Pat's French continued their advance on the far right toward Wavre and immediately counterattacked into the "cauldron of death" along the primary road east of Quatre Bras. He also advanced his troops to their line of departure in the Nivelles sector ready to attack the next turn. Losses were severe in the cauldron east of Quatre bras with the French losing four divisions to three of the Prussians. Pat's attack had required his units to deeply penetrate the forests on the right flank of his battle line. His forward units were now vulnerable to elimination on any Defender back 2 combat results. Whether this was an oversight on Pat's part or a calculated risk was not ascertained by the GM. (GM note: This is a risky tactic used by many experienced players, especially the French, to infiltrate gaps between defended positions. If this tactic is employed in coordination with other maneuvers to ensure that the infiltrating units cannot be hit at 3 to 1 odds, then it usually increases pressure on the defending player to maintain his defense.)  Nevertheless, Richard seized this golden opportunity with a ferocious counterattack in which he not only committed his entire "central reserve" but also evacuated the heights south of Quatre Bras for a maximum effort by the PAA armies. This large assault assured the destruction of three French divisions with minimal PAA losses. On the other sectors, PAA forces remained in defensive positions.

As the evening of 16 June approached, the crescendo of battle roared along the entire front from Nivelles, through the Quatre Bras cauldron, all the way to the Dyle River. Sensing the game slipping away to excessive losses, Pat's offensive featured a number of low odds attacks hoping for a flash of the luck that fuelled his earlier victory. Unfortunately for him, the hoped for Defender Eliminated result was not to be seen and instead only the dreaded Attacker Eliminated verdict was realized. At this point in the game, French losses outnumbered PAA losses 69 to 36. Richard, now seized the initiative, and using his growing numerical superiority, launched a series of attacks in the main sectors of Quatre Bras and Nivelles. Several Defender Eliminated results in these attacks further increased the loss ratio in favor of Richard's PAA armies. Desperation now replaced apprehension in Pat's mind as he threw his now depleted and weary French divisions into several low odds attacks hoping for near miraculous die rolls. It was obvious that Pat's luck had deserted him along with many of his French conscripts as not one of these attacks was even partially successful. As the smoke cleared, Pat offered his hand in defeat and Richard had earned the accolade as the Champion Waterloo player for 2009.  

The GM would like to note to all former and new Waterloo players that the marathon playing times usually associated with this fine classic have all but disappeared in current tournament play. Most games this year were resolved in less than three hours! Undoubtedly some of this is due to the conscious efforts by players to play quickly to enable more gaming opportunities each day; and the GM believes that the new CRT helps too. Whatever the reason, the GM invites former and new players alike to stop bye next year and give this exciting classic a try. Waterloo is easy to learn, full of action, and fun to play.

 GM      Marty Musella  [5th Year]  14520 Oak Cluster Dr., Centreville, VA 20120 
    Martin.l.musella@boeing.com   703-266-0353

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