A Special Meeting of the U.N. or
Paradise hums with a room full of
M44 players in the early rounds. The event still draws
well after nine years.
The four semifinalists again came
from three countires. The list expanded to five when you included
all six laurelists.
A MARATHON, A SNEAK PREVIEW AND ... PROM DRESSES?
As in previous years, the event was a Friday 6-round single elimination
tournament, preceded by a Mulligan round the night before. Each
round was a 2-game match. The scenarios were taken from Campaign
Book 1's Fall Gelb campaign and were chosen by reigning champion,
Belgian Johan Vanhuyse, because they took place near his home.
As was the case last year, Memoir's creator, Richard Borg,
was on hand.
The Mulligan Round's 50 players was the most we've ever had since
the present format was implemented by the previous GM. In all,
69 players participated -- one less than last year. Once again,
the field included three past champions and numerous high-ranking
laurelists. More than a third of the participants were Memoir
Online players. However, at least six people attended the pre-tournament
Mulligan and Round 1: Battle of Hannut-Merdorp -- The
French are protected by terrain, and well armed, with four tanks
and back-row artillery. The Germans have five armored units,
artillery at closer range, and a numerical advantage in infantry.
The results were perfectly balanced with each side winning 40
games with an average score of 4.51-4.54. As Axis, GM Sam Edelston
notched the tournament's only shutout victory. Dave Blisard,
Eric Buetikofer, Sam Edelston, Ty Hansen, Bart Pisarik, Scott
Sirianna, Jarett Weintraub, and Greg Wilson all scored 6-1 victories,
as well. Special "C'est la Guerre" award recognition
to Rejean Tremblay, of Quebec, who lost two games to Erik Karl
in the Mulligan, and then two games to Lewis Karl in Round 1.
Before Round 2 came a special treat. Days of Wonder had announced
a new Memoir '44 Equipment Pack expansion, but it wouldn't be
available for a couple more weeks. However, DoW had gotten six
advance copies from the factory ... and we had one of them. Richard
Borg and Sam conducted a show-and-tell, explaining what was in
it, including such totally new units as Nebelwerfers ("Screaming
Meemies"), Kubelwagens (Command Cars), and Hobart's Funnies.
Round 2: Valkenburg Airfield -- German elite infantry
forces are concentrated around the center. The Allied forces
-- including an artillery and an armored unit-- lie to their
left and right. The Allies won only 15 games to the Germans 21
(42%-58%), with an average score of 4.36-4.81. There were three
6-1 victories, which were scored by Lewis Karl and former champions
Steve Lollis and John Skiba.
Round 3: Battle of the Lys This was a scenario designed
for nasty infantry fighting. The Allied footsoldiers are all
dug in, in hedgerows and towns. Nearly half of the German materiel
is behind a river, with only a single bridge crossing it. In
total, the Allies won this round, 11-7 (61%-39%), by an average
score of 5.17-4.17. This scenario eliminated two former champions:
2004 champ Steve Lollis lost a 9-8 split match to Eric Caron
of Quebec, and 2010's John Skiba was swept by Gareth Williams
of Morocco. After three rounds, the only two players who had
won all six of their games were Juhana Keskinen of Finland, and
GM Sam Edelston. Remarkably, Juhana had held his opponents to
three or fewer medals in each of his first six games. For the
second consecutive round, Lewis Karl scored a 6-1 victory. Peter
Eldridge, of the UK, avoided paternal revenge by eliminating
the father of the young opponent he had defeated in the previous
Round 4: Resistance in Gembloux This was a tricky
7-medal map, with a big cluster of towns, water hexes, and hedgehogs
in the middle, and a railroad running across the beltline, designed
to be a challenge for tanks. The Allies are dug in, but they
have a mere two armored units, versus the Germans' five. Today,
the Allies suffered mightily, winning only twice and losing eight
(20%-80%), with an average score of 5.20-6.50. We had nine players
in this round, so former champion John Skiba served as an eliminator;
however, he lost a split decision against Peter Eldridge. 2005-2006
champ Joe Harrison and GM Sam Edelston both swept their opponents.
In split matches, Gareth Williams won a 13-12 squeaker against
Lewis Karl -- and then had to make a brief trip to the opposite
end of the hotel to do pairings for the Napoleonic Wars tournament,
in which he was the GM. And Eric Caron bested Juhana Keskinen.
Five survivors remained for the semifinals.
Round 5: Assault on the Wattenberg -- The German infantry
has to cross a river in rafts or on bridges, get past a line
of defenses, and capture the Abbey in the middle of Mount Watten.
aking that objective is mandatory for the Germans. Once again,
John Skiba was enlisted as an eliminator, but again he failed
in his mission to shorten the tournament; being swept by Joe
Harrison. Eric Caron took his first sweep of the tournament,
eliminating Peter Eldridge. Sam Edelston was on his way to victory
in his first game against Gareth Williams, with two 4-figure
infantries and an Infantry Assault coming against a 1-figure
French infantry in the Abbey, when Gareth played Their Finest
Hour, rolled one infantry order, close-assaulted one of the full-strength
infantries ... and rolled four hits! However, Sam took the rematch,
6-2, in the only gameof the last three rounds where either side
was held to fewer than three medals. The Allies won four games
out of six, with an average score of 5.00-4.92.
But wait there's more! For the third time in four years,
we had thre players remaining after five rounds, and we needed
to eliminate one before proceeding to a 2-player Final. A "round
robin" was played, repeating the Round 5 scenario. The seedings
were Sam at 9-1, Joe at 8-2, and Eric at 6-4, so Eric and Joe
played first, with Eric's Germans prevailing, 6-5. Next, Joe
took the German side, and Sam managed to stop a late offensive
by the German Right, to win, 6-3, thereby eliminating Joe.
was now time for the Final: Moerdijk Bridges. Because of assorted
short breaks, as well as the "round robin" qualifier
being an unexpectedly long scenario, it was also after 11PM.
This map, similar to Valkenburg, has a mixed Allied force surrounding
a group of German infantries, but here we also have a race against
the clock, because after the Germans kill three Allied units,
they're allowed to bring in a tank as reinforcements. Shortly
after the match began, three young ladies in dresses came into
the room to start decorating for the evening's next event: The
Werewolf Prom. Eric had monster cards, ordering 21 Allied units
on his first five turns (which sufficed to kill two German units),
compared to only 10 units plus an air strike for Sam. Presently,
an Allied Artillery Bombardment killed a 3-figure German infantry
on their right, and then the Allied tank eliminated a sandbagged
infantry on the opposite flank. Eric led the game, 4-1.
There were more well-dressed young adults putting up decorations
and placing candles. One fellow was fighting an unsuccessful
battle against his necktie. The Wehrmacht rescued the Werewolf,
as Sam stepped aside from the battle and tied it for him. Another
German air strike eliminated an infantry in the center, but then
the Allies killed a fifth infantry in the center. Moerdijk is
supposed to be a 5-medal scenario, but both players failed to
realize that the game should have been over. Sam's infantry went
Behind Enemy Lines to kill a third infantry. On the next turn,
he entered a tank on an order from Their Finest Hour, and notched
another kill, bringing his deficit to 5-4. Eric attempted to
blow up a bridge to win the game, but failed. Sam played a Probe
Left, rolled five dice against Allied infantry, and totally whiffed.
Eric converged his infantries toward the middle of the board,
with a Move Out, trying to smother one of the German units. On
the following turn, Eric's 3-unit Close Assault killed another
infantry to gain a 6-4 win.
It was now past midnight. The Werewolves were getting ready for
their party. There were streamers in the doorway. Candles had
been set up. All the furniture had been rearranged, except for
our table. We picked up our table, and portaged it to the room
In the early going of the rematch, Sam's Dutch and Eric's Germans
matched one another, kill for kill. Sam pulled an Ambush on Eric's
second turn, scoring three hits, but not preventing the attack.
On Eric's third turn, he rolled seven dice, mostly against infantry,
and didn't score a single hit. But on the turn after, Eric scored
his third kill, his armor reinforcements came on, Counterattacking
Sam's "Their Finest Hour." On the same card, on the
opposite flank, Eric's infantry eliminated Sam's 2-figure tank.
Two turns later, the Germans Armor Assaulted, and obliterated
a 3-figure infantry, to take a 5-4 lead. The turn after that,
the Germans Armor Assaulted again. Now ... those of you who obsessively
read these Event Reports will recall that in last year's Final,
Johan Vanhuyse completed his sweep over Sam with an Armor Assault
that ordered one tank. Did history repeat itself this time?
You bet it did. Eric won the rematch, 6-4, too and thereby proved
the truth to his Team name "Not Age of Steam" that
Quebec is the home of more than just railroad gamers.
This was Eric's third year in the tournament. He never made it
out of the second round previously. This year, his first three
matches were all splits decided by one-medal margins but they
got him to the gold. The top six finishers came from five different
countries. Gareth's high finish was notable, because last year,
he learned the game in the demo -- as he commented, "proof
that the demos work." Seventh place was Lewis Karl, followed
by Sam Gatto in eighth and Ty Hansen in ninth.
MULTI-PLAYER OVERLORD GAMES
In addition, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, there were 4 multi-player
Overlord games (including infamous post-tournament Midnight Madness
Overlord). These are always a highlight, because many players
only have a chance to play them at conventions. In three of the
games, we had a full eight players -- a mix of newcomers and
veterans -- while the last and most complex one was three players
to a side.
In some of the Overlords, we tried a special "last licks"
rule that Richard Borg's group has been experimenting with: When
you reach the required number of medals for victory, keep playing
through the end of your turn. If the opponent is within 1/3 of
the required number of medals (for example, within four medals
in a 12-medal scenario), then they get one last turn to try and
win, but they have to win by at least two medals.
· Prokhorovka -- Richard Bliss's Germans scored three
kills on their last turn -- one by each Field General -- to steal
a 12-11 come-from-behind victory over Nick A's Russians on their
· Offensive on Saint-Lo This was a brand-new, pre-release
scenario from the upcoming Equipment Pack, utilizing many of
its special pieces. Field General Jim Dougherty on the Allied
Left ordered a zillion units early in the game, and overran his
German counterpart. Even so, the game was competitive to the
end, and a rollicking good time was had by all. Joe Harrison's
Allies defeated Richard Bliss's Germans, 12-8.
· Roi-Namur Landings This was a Pacific scenario
from Campaign Book 2. Richard Bliss's Marines took a beating
in the center and couldn't mobilize their considerable forces
on their left. Gareth Williams's Japanese got to 10 medals first
to officially win the battle. However, under the last-licks rule,
the Marines came back and tied it, 11-11.
· High Stakes at Bruyeres This was another brand-new
scenario from the Equipment Pack. Lots of special units in this
one, plus Combat cards. John Kirk's Allies opened with a blistering
attack and put Sam Edelston's Germans on the defensive. Commander
Kirk had to leave in mid-game, and was replaced by Richard Bliss.
The tide turned, as the German left's Tiger tank eliminated four
enemy units in two turns (Jim Dougherty strikes again!), their
center's Tank Destroyer and machine gun each rolled a star to
kill a unit, and the damaged artilleries on their right made
a pair of clutch kills for a big 2-turn, 8-kill comeback. The
Germans won, 13-11, in eight turns.
The GM wishes to thank Eric Hautemont of Days of Wonder and Richard
Borg for all their support, with special thanks to Eric for making
the Equipment Pack available. Also, thanks to AGMs Mark Guttag
and Jeff Paull, and to Jim Dougherty and John Skiba, who helped
out as additional AGMs. (Thanks to John, also, for leading the
Midnight Madness Overlord while the GM was still wrapping up
the tournament.) And thanks to Johan Vanhuyse for choosing such
Finalists Sam Edelston and Eric Caron
battle amidst prom decorations.
Six-player demonstration games were
staged frequently at night.