Four Rounds to Glory
Jim Kramer and Bryan Eshleman
Charles Drozd and Mike Mishler
Five people attended the demo at 6 pm, and of those, two played
in the Tuesday night round. In fact, we had four new players
in the tourney. Unfortunately, this was offset by a number of
absent regulars, primarily due to work and economy issues.
Top seed and two-time defending champion Mike Mishler was
immediately upset, losing his first game since 2008. Charlie
Drozd, a relative newcomer to Tigers and our ninth seed,
but a deadly WAS and VIP player (runner-up in both this year)
did the honors. Mike's Germans were unable to take Bastogne until
the 20th, and his offensive never jelled.
Second seed Bryan Eshleman (also a two-time champ) had no
such problems as his Germans rolled over Jim Kramer, taking Bastogne
on the 19th and gaining an early release of the 2SS Panzer division
on the 18th. This deadly combination led to a breakout to the
Third seed, and designer-turned-perennial bridesmaid, Ray
Freeman faced 2002 champion and fourth seed, Rick Young. Ray's
Germans had a poor start on 16-1, clearing only three areas and
not touching the 28th inf defender in Marnach. But three areas
were cleared on 16-2 and a 3-1 on Lutzkampen killed it's defender
on 16-3. The real disaster for the Amis occurred on 17-1, when
three bridges failed to blow, including the one at Wiltz defended
by engineers. During this impulse the entire US front line was
annihilated. On 17-2, the Wehrmacht blew through 1-SP units at
Noville and Rambrouch, seizing Martelange. Rick failed to notice
that the 10th armor on 17-3 would allow him to rebuild a line
behind the Ourthe, and resigned, thinking a breakout was a foregone
Tom Thornsen, the fifth seed and another two-time champ, faced
sixth seed John Sharp. John's Germans never really got any traction.
Bastogne never fell, and the critical crossroads of Baraque was
only finally captured on the 20th.
Rick Sciacca, who spent at least three rounds atop the PBeM
ladder over the past two years won as the Germans, seizing Bastogne
on 17-3 for a relatively rare automatic victory.
Bob Hamel, who has been playing at the WBC and on the ladder
for years, played a teaching game against TIM-newbie (and EOS
champ) Dennis Culhane. Bob, in the role of Generaloberst Manteuffel,
smashed through and grabbed Bastogne on 18-1 and released the
SS on 18-2. Although Dennis was able to prevent a breakout, Bob
took Marche on 20-1, guaranteeing a minimum score of 13 VP, more
than enough to win.
Ray Freeman faced Bob Hamel's Americans (Bob bid 1). The Germans
got off to a horrid start, clearing only Vianden and Habscheid,
and repairing neither bridge. Bob also killed three SP of panzergrenadiers
at Marnach, which would be repaid in full. However, the Germans
caught a break on 16-2, clearing the south and actually killing
the engineer in St. Vith with a 2-1 attack. This compromised
the entire north. The magic bridge at Marnach was repaired, and
with renewed élan, Ray's Panzers overran Marnach with
the help of two artillery barrages!
On the 17-1 every US unit on the map was destroyed except
the rangers. Still, the Germans were only able to clear the approaches
to Bastogne before exhausting their strength. However, Bob's
position was now very shaky, with a hole at Noville/Bertogne.
On 18-1 Ray took Bastogne and La Roche, and although the Germans
were stopped at Houffalize and Vielsalm, a total of four US steps
died defending these key locations. On 18-2, a suspect 7-6 attack,
primarily made to prevent the US from entrenching, was made at
Libramont, and shockingly managed to kill three SP of Americans.
These were the Wehrmacht troops of 1940, not 1944!
On 19-1 Houffalize, Viesalm and Libramont all fell, followed
by Baraque on 19-2. The German spearheads also reached Grupont
and Bande. The 20th saw a quick end. Petit Han and Ouffet both
fell on 20-1 and Marche on 20-2. Despite what sounded like a
rout, the Germans paid with heavy casualties. We counted 21 one-SP
German units on the map at the end.
Tom Thornsen switched to the Germans facing off against Charlie
Drozd. Bastogne fell on 18-1, the SS were released on 19-2, and
Baraque fell on 19-3. In addition, the Wehrmacht gained an uncontested
bridgehead across the Ourthe on 19-3. The Germans continued to
grind forward, taking Neufchateau on 20-1 and Marche on 21-1,
leading to a 12 VP win.
Mike Mishler had to play up against Rick Sciacca, and Rick
put his PBeM experience to good use, taking Bastogne on 17-1
for an automatic victory (Mike bid 1.5).
Jim Kramer's Americans forced an early resignation of Mike
Tracy's Germans, chewing them up over the first three days and
holding all key territory. Apparently American artillery never
experienced any ammo shortages.
Bryan decided to take a bye in Round 2 in order to get in
his annual game of Breakout:Normandy.
Mike Kaye's Germans faced Don Tatum and won, but no details
are available. They did play for at least three hours IIRC.
Tom Thornsen took the Americans for a bid of 1 against Bryan
Eshleman. Bryan's Germans got off to a lackluster start and could
not reach Bastogne until the 17th, but was able to form up a
10 sp attack for 18-1. Unfortunately, Tom had stuffed Bastogne
with seven American sp from 10th Armored and remnants of retreating
units. From the German point of view, the results of the attack
were an absolute disaster. The Bastogne defenders eliminated
seven sp of the attackers, while only suffering one themselves.
Victory was certainly within Tom's grasp at that point. However,
there were a few other battles to fight that impulse.
The American 7th Armored division was strung out protecting
the Allied left flank, with three sp units in Noville and Houffalize.
The 4 sp armor unit (of the 7th) was in Vielsalm. Bryan had gone
"all in" and attacked those three positions with roughly
nine sp each. In every attack, the Allied dice went cold, and
the German dice came through. All three American units went "poof",
and suddenly there was no more Allied left flank. Although the
Allies had both the 82nd and 101st divisions arriving on 18-1,
it still proved difficult for Tom to deal with the gaping hole
since neither of those divisions could reach the troubled area.
Tom did what he could by stripping units out of Bastogne to try
to cover the left. He even counterattacked at Bastogne with the
101st reinforcements and knocked the remaining Germans out. But,
the combination of a strongly defended Bastogne and the scramble
to put up a defensive line to the North, meant that the Allied
right and center were weakly held.
German forces surrounded Bastogne and achieved bridgeheads
across the Ourthe River. 2nd SS Panzer was released on 18-3,
which added to the Allied difficulties. Eventually, the Germans
achieved further breakthroughs on the 19th and 20th that could
not be contained as the Allies receive few reinforcements during
that timespan. Tom fought in desperation mode, trying to extricate
units from surrounded Bastogne to help plug new gaps in the line,
but it proved futile. It became a wargame version of "whack-a-mole"
with way too many moles and nothing to hit them with. Over the
years this pair of former champions had played many times, but
neither could recall such a dramatic shift of fortune within
one impulse as happened here. Tom eventually ran out of defenders
and Bryan scored a breakout win.
Jim Kramer bid 2 to take the US versus Bob Hamel. Jim had
a good week, finishing high in TIM, WAS and VIP. Bastogne never
fell and Jim had enough troops left on 20-1 to form a double
line. Apparently, Hitler forgot to issue ammunition to Bob's
Charlie Drozd faced Bruno Sinagaglio's Americans. Bruno misplayed
the defense and Charlie blew through some unfillable holes and
took Bastogne on the 17th.
Ray's Germans faced Rick's Amis (bid of 1). On 16-1, Vianden,
Holzhum and Habscheid were cleared and the Gemund bridge repaired.
On 16-2, Hoscheid's defenders fought heroically and held, but
Diekirch, Lutzkampen, St. Vith and Bleialf were all smashed.
Marnach stubbornly held out.
17-1 was the usual US bloodbath, with the Germans managing
a 6-3 at Bastogne on 17-3, but killing only 1 SP. On 18-1, Bastogne
fell, but strong attacks at Houffalize and Vielsalm were repulsed.
However the defense in the south was severely compromised by
the fall of Neufchateau and Nives late on the 18th. The US resorted
to a counterattack at Neufchateau on the 19th, which went well
for them. However, in the north, Houffalize and Vielsalm fell
on 19-1, followed by Trois Ponts and Grandmenil on 19-2, releasing
2SS Pz. Sprimont's 3 SP defense also was crushed. The Germans
contested La Roche on 19-3.
The 20-1 was somewhat of a mixed bag with Libramont, Hotton
and La Roche all falling to the Germans. Mean held against an
opportunistic 1-1, and a promising 7-2 at Ouffet failed to carry
the position. Lignieres fell on 20-3. The end came on 21-1 as
a powerful attack carried Marche.
The final round was a busy one, with four games played! Ray
Freeman and Bryan Eshleman faced off for the championship, but
no less than four other players had a shot at second if Ray won.
Bob Hamel took the Germans for no bid against Nick Smith.
The Germans got all the dice that deserted Bob in Round 3, and
he seized Bastogne on 17-3 for a knockout win.
Jim Kramer took the US for 1.5 against Charlie Drozd. Jim
held onto Bastogne until 20-1, but gave up Baraque on 18-2 and
Big Black was released on 19-1. Charlie was able to keep pressure
on, taking Marche on 21.1, but came up just short as Jim held
enough territory to score a 12 VP win.
Tom Thornsen took the Germans for no bid versus Rick Sciacca.
Apparently the miracle weapons program actually came through
on the 16th and Rick could not hold Bastogne, which fell on 17-1;
an almost unheard of event in this scenario. In fact, I'm not
sure it's ever happened before. Both Rick and Tom are excellent
players, so the dice gods must have intervened with real vigor.
Ray made a serious mistake, giving Bryan the US for 0. Never
again. He should have known better as Bryan is a brilliant defender
as he has proven many times in the past. The Germans got off
on the right foot clearing Vianden, Holzhum and Lutzkampen, but
Habscheid held. This would prove to be critical later. The bridges
stayed down such that a follow up attack on Marnach was not possible.
However, Diekirch, Hoschied and Burg Reuland also fell. However,
the 106th in Bleialf survived. Both units of the 106th retreated
to St. Vith and Recht.
On 17-1, St. Vith, Beho, Marnach, Wiltz and Goesdorf all fell,
but frustratingly, an 8-1 at Ettelbruck failed. The special forces
went to Baraque to interdict traffic. Bryan pulled the surviving
battalion of the 106th from Recht into Bertogne, sealing off
a potential breakout move. On 17-2 Eschdorf fell but Bryan's
Bastogne defenders held (a 3+1 stack ... 1 SP survived). On 17-3,
a German engineer recon seized Martelange.
18-1 was a disaster for the Germans. Bertogne and Bastogne
both fell to high odds attacks, but every other area held (four
other attacks) with heavy German and very light US casualties.
The Germans were unable to attack on 18-2 and 18-3. Bryan started
stacking the defenses.
On 19-1 Ray attacked at Neufchateau, Vielsalm and La Roche,
killing two steps while losing eight. The attrition rate, which
had seen heavy early German losses, suddenly became a huge factor,
as the Germans had nearly no 3's left on the map. 19-2 saw three
more attacks, at Champion, Lignieres and Baraque, with the Germans
losing nine steps to three. Baraque fell on 20-1, but Lignieres
again held as did Champion.
By the end of 20-3, the US line was still Neufchateau, Moircy,
Champion, Lignieres, and Grandmenil. Ray made a series of desperation
attacks on 21-1, but all of them failed and there was nothing
left to do but resign.
Bryan played his usual extremely precise game and got favorable
attrition to claim his third title. Ray was able to take Bastogne
on the 18th, but could not make any significant progress after
that against Bryan's fierce defense and had his bid for an event-leading
fourth title denied again.
Jim Kramer and Charlie Drozd picked up Tigers tee shirts
for scoring at least two wins to become the newest members of
the Tigers elite club.
The final order of finish was: 1. Bryan Eshleman 3-0 2. Ray
Freeman 3-1 3. Tom Thornsen 3-1 4. Jim Kramer 3-1 5. Charlie
Drozd 2-2 6. Rick Sciacca 2-2, and 7. Bob Hamel 2-2. 11 games
had no bid, four games had an Allied bid of 1.0, two 1.5, and
three 2.0. No one bid for the Germans. In a significant departure
from past events, the Germans dominated dramatically, winning
14 of 20 games! Stubbornness awards go to Jim Kramer, 3-1 as
the US and Ray Freeman 3-1 as the Germans.