The Song (of the South) Remains
the Same ...
Given its simplicity and suitability for a tournament format,
you would think that A House Divided would be a natural
for WBC. So, rather than dwell on why it hadn't been played there
since 2003, I decided to GM the event. I requested a mid-day
start on Saturday, since AHD seems a nice way to wind down from
a week (or more) of gaming. Fortunately, enough Civil War strategy
enthusiasts agreed with me that we set the all-time WBC AHD record
with 30 players and 29 games played. Part of the reason for the
increased attendance was the mulligan round Thursday evening,
where 12 generals brushed off the dust and warmed up their dice
for the main event on Saturday.
A general theme, in fact, seemed to be how rusty everyone
had become, with lots of comments like, "Man, what a great
game! I haven't played this in (insert # of years here)."
Ironically, this may have helped the overall competitiveness
of the event, because there were a lot of contests which came
down to the last turn - and in some cases, to the last set of
combat dice rolls.
The Confederate side won exactly one more game than the Union
during the tournament, so the results seemed balanced enough.
The Confederate victories on the whole were more spectacular,
with just over half being automatic victories, including two
captures of Washington, D.C. While the players had the option
of using either the 1861 or 1862 scenario (both were played using
Basic Game rules), only one game was contested in 1862 (which
the Union won, in case you are keeping score). One trend I noticed,
however, was that as the event moved into later rounds, most
players wanted to play the Union, despite the slight edge in
Although it had been seven years since the last AHD event
here, there were a lot of familiar names. Bruno Passacatando
won with his favored Union attack against Roderick Lee (who had
finished 5th last time around). Veteran Chris Bauch captured
Richmond way ahead of schedule vs. Adam Meldrom, only to fall
in the next round to perennial contender Ray Freeman, who had
already defeated Larry Sisson in a nail-biter. In other notable
early-round matchups, Andy Maly blitzed through the Union northeast
to best Charlie Hickock, and Robert Woodson beat Kyle Meldrom
before falling to George Seary's positional crush with the Union.
There were some impressive newcomers as well. As the pairings
would have it, Bradley Raszewski ended up playing his dad, Steven,
then moved on with another win over Jack Stalica, in one of the
closest games of the tournament. Scott Sirianna showed a marked
preference for the Union in wins over John Morris and Dewayne
Curry. And to no one's great surprise, Chris Byrd - master of
card-driven wargames - found AHD a good fit for his style, even
if it didn't have cards. Chris marched steadily through his section
of the draw - despite having only learned the game that morning
in the demo!
When the semi-finals were set, however, Chris was the only
new face, joined by three-time champion David Metzger, perennial
runner-up Terry Coleman, and Ray Freeman. Although Chris played
pretty well throughout the event, he underestimated the breakout
potential of the Rebels when played by a great player. David
saw his opening late in the game, went for it, and was rewarded
with a hard-fought victory. In the other semi, the battle of
Bull Run never really happened. As a result, Terry had plenty
of troops free. He was thus able to threaten Ray's positions
all over the board, and maneuvered his way into the Final with
an Army Maximum victory.
This would be the third time that David and Terry had met
in the AHD Final which is saying something when you consider
that the event was last run in 2003, and both previous title
bouts had been nail biters. In a bit of role reversal, Terry
commanded the Union, unlike in their earlier tussles. Early on,
this looked like a good strategy for Terry, as he built a big
lead, and even invaded the Rebel coastline. As he did against
Chris, however, Dave built up an unstoppable attack, which captured
Baltimore, always an important swing city. Terry couldn't muster
enough forces to whittle the Rebel army down to size, and Dave
broke through for an automatic win. A great comeback, which gave
Dave a well-deserved fourth AHD championship.
I was very encouraged with how well the AHD tournament was
received this year. It was great to see a lot of old faces, along
with the new ones, such as Chris, who did so well in their AHD
debut. In addition to the usual wargame crowd, we had a number
of Euro/general strategy gamers give it a try. My bet is that
a lot of them will be back, if we can manage to have this event
again next time around.