Four Rounds to Glory
Toh Thornsen and Wayne Morrison
Bill Alpert and Mike Kaye
Tiebreaker Decision ...
Only one new player attended the Tuesday nite demo and went on
to play. Nevertheless, we did pick up two more "newbies"
Defending champion Bryan Eshleman stopped Rich Phares's Germans.
Although Bastogne fell on 19-1, Rich was unable to make much
Two-time champion Tom Thornsen took on Wayne Morrison, a newcomer
in a teaching game. Things started out pretty average for the
Germans on the 16th. Vianden, Holzhum and Lutzkampen cleared
on 16-2, the US engineer from St. Vith dug in at Burg Reuland,
but both that and Diekirch were cleared on 16-2. Neither of the
bridges were repaired through 16-2, so On 16-3 the Germans settled
for clearing Hoscheid. The US left some tanks in Ettelbruck and
at dawn on the 17th the Germans rolled over the bridges and cleared
that area along with Marnach and Weiswampach in the center, but
both Beho and St. Vith held against 6-step attacks, which blocked
the northern flank.
The usual traffic problems a new player encounters then reared
its ugly head and forward progress was difficult. The front line
at dawn on the 18th was Vielsalm, Houffalize, Noville, Longvilly,
Doncols and Martelange. The arrival of the AB units on the 18th
allowed the US to build strongpoints that held out the rest of
the game. German misfortune in an attack on the 18th allowed
the US to place a pair of 3-step armor units in Eschdorf to secure
that flank, but the German attacked with ten steps and the US
dice went cold! All six US armor steps were eradicated in a single
attack. It happens, but not often and is very unnerving when
it does! The front line at dawn on the 20th was Vielsalm, Baraque
de Fraiture, LaRoche, Bertogne, Bastogne and Martelange. The
Germans were down to a handful of 2- step units by that point
and only the late arrival of the 2SS Pz on the 20th gave him
any firepower. Wayne played on through the 22-1 impulse, but
never did take Bastogne.
4th seed Bob Hamel's German's got off to a good start and
rolled over John Sharp's defenders. It was a pretty interesting
game, looking as though the Germans would breakout to the Meuse
at one point. After much back and forth in terms of who had the
upper hand, we had to adjudicate the game due to time considerations.
The judges opinions wavered for several minutes as to who was
really winning, but as more info became available, it became
clear that John would not be able to hold a line and Bob emerged
Jim Kramer managed to stop Dennis Culhane's Germans cold. Everything
seems to have gone wrong for Dennis, and when the US was able
to build a very solid line in front of Bastogne on the 17th,
Charlie Drozd got out of the blocks quickly as the Germans
against veteran Nick Smith. Nick held Bastogne to the very end,
but lost to a breakout! A very unusual result! Apparently the
Wehrmacht offensive went well in the north, but not so much in
the south, as Neufchateau never fell. However, Baraque was captured
on 18-1 and 2nd SS was released on 18-2. Also, an Ourthe River
bridgehead was secured on 18-1. The latter two events led to
the fall of Marche on 19-1. Nick's line exploded in the center-north
and Charles won with a breakout on the 20th.
The last first round game saw Ladder veteran Mike Kaye defeat
co-developer Bill Alderman by breaking out on the 19th. IIRC,
Bill was doing very well, but over-committed too early on the
18th and was unable to seal a hole that opened late in the turn.
Due to odd numbers on both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning,
your GM had to take a bye.
Bryan continued to roll on by beating Bob Hamel while playing
the Germans. This was one of those games where the Germans were
hot and the Amis not. Bastogne fell on 17-3, resulting in an
automatic German win.
Ray Freeman's first game was as the German against Charles
Drozd. Charlie managed to inflict steady attrition on the German
spearheads, which Ray's dice remained just cold enough to frustrate
his best efforts. In other words, it was a good game! Charlie
made a nice move I'd never seen before, playing the Wiltz engineer
in Ettlebruck on 16-3. The German strategy for the 17th was very
difficult to determine as the variables felt too complex. Ray's
attacks on 18-1 were pretty frustrating, as only Martelange fell.
Bastogne, Bertogne, La Roche, Baraque, and Vielsalm all held
by a single pip at the end of the morning battles. At this point
I felt doomed, (the karma was NOT there) but resolved to play
on. 19-1 resulted in a reprieve, as six 1sp Amis all died and
the Germans were able to move again. However, German losses had
been serious. Bastogne, Baraque, and La Roche fell on 19-1, and
2nd SS panzer came on the map on 19-3. Hopes in Berlin were on
the rise! On 20-1 Neufchateau fell, followed by St. Hubert, Bande
and Ville on 20-2. Marche fell on 21-1, and Germans established
superiority in Ouffet, although again, the single hit was not
quite sufficient to clear the area. The odds still favored the
US, but a German win was still possible. We called the game on
21-3 after several bridge demo attempts succeeded and German
last gasp attacks failed to punch holes. The final US line was
Beauraing, Celles, Haid, Mean and Ouffet and the VP stood at
10. Charlie had five units, totaling 9 SP on the map at the end,
including the just arrived 29th armored brigade.
Tom Thornsen, playing the Germans, blew right through Jim
Kramer's Americans. This was one of 'those games' where very
hot German dice doomed the US. Tom eradicated the defenders in
almost every area attacked on the 16th. Habsched, Lutzkampen,
Marnach, Hoscheid and Vianden were all cleared on 16-1, but no
bridges were repaired. Diekirch and Bleialf were cleared on 16-2.
The Hoscheid bridge repaired on 16-2. The Germans wiped out the
US 3-step armor unit in Berg Reuland and cleared Hoscheid as
well. The only US success was the engineer holding St. Vith against
the attack of the German 2-step mech unit. Jim considered his
options for his half of 16-3 and resigned. He had only three
units left on the board and the one reinforcement, not enough
to plug all the holes. The Germans were set to roll into Bastogne
and breakout into the North.
Rick Young defeated Scott Beall in a teaching game. Scott
took the Germans, and a combination of bad dice and being up
against a very tough opponent doomed his efforts. Further details
So after two rounds, there had already been two dice-outs!
However, each side won one game.
Round 3 started off with new player Mike Rinella taking on former
two-time champ Mike Mishler, who was concentrating his convention
attention on the Russian Campaign. Shockingly, (Mike R IS a good
player) Rinella won the game....which demonstrated a certain
amount of play balance.
Jim Kramer and Bob Hamel faced off in a battle to remain in
contention. Jim took the US with a bid of 0. Bob was unable to
make much progress, taking Bastogne finally on 20-1. Having played
Bob many times before, I conclude that his dice were unkind to
him, as I recall at least one game where he was into LaRoche
on the 17th! Neufachateau fell on 21-2, although no other geographical
points of significance fell and Jim won easily.
Ray Freeman and Tom Thornsen squared off for maybe the 12th
time in the third round. Whereas Bryan got the "easy"
pairing (Charlie), the prerogative of the top seed, things are
never what they seem to be in this game! The following is a great,
detailed report from Tom on the struggle.
US Ammo shortage - US with no bid
Ray was coming off of a hard fought battle as the German against
Charles Drozd, so he gave me either side I wanted with no bid.
I expected an easy game with a mentally exhausted Ray but the
dice favored no one. I have very few notes from this game, but
the overall gist of the game was the failure of the US artillery
calls and scoring very few hits. (GM: Tom's artillery calls consisted
of more 9s and 10s than seemed credible...just amazingly bad,
and the few times he got support, they missed a lot!)
I had six units in play at the start of the 17th, just enough
to form a front line. Every bridge demo attempt by the US failed
through the game. (GM: if you gather that the dice gods have
been really hammering Tom...you'd be correct!) The German attack
at dawn eliminated all US units but one, and the "Special
Forces" were used to restrict movement through Baraque de
Fraiture. I sent the 1-step reinforcement on 17-1 and the engineer
(entrenched) into Bastogne. On 17-2 the Germans rolled in with
nine armor steps and an engineer, but failed to eliminate the
defenders! (GM: REALLY ANNOYING! According to Mircea Pauca's
superb probability battle engine, this attack should clear Bastogne
89% of the time!) Bastogne would hold out through the 17th once
I secured the supply line. The front line at dawn on the 18th
was Martelange, Bastogne, Sprimont, La Roche, Grandmenil and
On 18-1 the bridge demolitions failed at LaRoche and Trois
Ponts. Bastogne and LaRoche were both cleared, and while the
US 2-step mech unit at Trois Ponts held on through the 19th,
German superiority allowed the entry of the 2SS Panzer on 18-2.
The US established a thin line of 1-step units in front of 3-step
defenders in Libramont and St. Hubert, which would be able to
entrench on 19-1. Two 3-step units were deployed to Marche, and
another 3-step AB unit to Hotton. Grandmenil and Trois Ponts
continued to hold out for the time being.
At this point the failure of the US to get enough hits on
the 16th came home to roost, as the Germans were able to roll
over the front line screening units with 6-step attacks, then
slam into the entrenched line behind them on 19-2 with 9- and
10-step stacks. Ray commented on how he felt like he was managing
a Russian offensive with infinite manpower. Libramont (with 3
SP of entrenched defenders) and Grandmenil were cleared on 19-2
and we both knew that the meager US reinforcements arriving through
the rest of the 19th and 20th would not be enough to prevent
a breakout or the fall of Marche before time expired, so I resigned.
In the other game, Bryan took the Allies with a bid of 0.5.
Charlie was quite successful on his early attacks, and when Bastogne
fell on the 17th, it was all over.
At this point, Charlie was clearly the leader of the Pack at
3-0. With Bryan, Ray, Tom and Jim sitting at 2-1. Bryan dropped
out, so the pairings for Round 4 were Tom vs Charlie and Ray
vs Jim, with Bob getting the bye. Jim bid 1.5 to play the US,
so I happily obliged him. Things went very well out of the Gate
for my Germans and Bastogne, Baraque, Trois Ponts and Neufchateau
all fell on 18-1. The Germans secured a bridgehead over the Ourthe
on the next impulse. Jim's bid doomed him as I was guaranteed
the win by taking Bastogne on the 18th. Otherwise, he could have
Tom Thornsen vs Charles Drodz Everyone has ammo. Tom
was German with no bid. This was a brutal game through the 16th,
where both sides scored many hits. The usual opening attack cleared
Vianden, Lutzkampen and Habscheid, while both Holzhum and Marnach
held out. The 3-step armor moved to block at Berg Reuland. When
neither bridge repaired, the Germans attacked Berg Reuland in
strength and eliminated the armor, while Panzer Lehr cleared
out Bleialf. The Germans sent six steps into Hosheid, and neither
side scored a single hit in the 6 v 1 battle. (GM Note: Mixed.
I HATE getting the armor killed on 16-2...it portends really
bad things for the US, but holding Hoscheid is REALLY nice) On
16-2 both bridges repaired.
The Germans sent six armor steps over the bridge into Marnach,
but they were beaten back by the entrenched US unit there that
held on. Three armor and two mech steps cleared Holzhum. The
front line looked pretty standard at dawn of the 17th, Recht,
Beho, Trois Vierges, Marnach, Wiltz, Hosheid and Ettelbruck.
German infantry attempted to enter Ettelbruck, but the bridge
blew. With Lullange blocked, there was no way for the Germans
to threaten Bastogne along the main road, so the "Special
Forces" were called upon to seize the bridge into Wiltz.
When they were successful, nine steps were sent in to clear out
the engineer. The only other attacks made on 17-1 were six steps
that cleared out Trois Vierges and six steps that failed to clear
Recht. The rest of the units engaged at Marnach and Hosheid did
not attack, so they would be available for follow up attacks
toward Bastogne. The US set up single step defenders in Longvilly
and Doncols to block the way to Bastogne.
On 17-2 the Germans took inventory and found they had no 3
-step armor units remaining and only one 3-step mech unit. There
were a few 3-step infantry units in the north, too far away to
help at Bastogne. The big mech unit led a 9-step attack on Longvilly,
while six steps in the south were able to clear Eschdorf on the
left flank. With Lullange and Weiswampach vacant, the German
was in position to have his 8 steps that had cleared Berg Reuland
on 16-2 move along the highway to Bastogne.
But...the German failure to attack Beho allowed the Americans
to move an engineer unit through there and into Weiswampach to
block the road! I had to scrounge around to find a single 2-step
unit and three 1-step units to attack the single 1-step unit
defending Bastogne. At this point the US dice went cold and the
Germans were able to clear Bastogne with no losses. An attack
on Vielsalm in the north did only one hit on the US 4-step armor
there while the belated German attack on Beho with seven steps
(the units that were supposed to go to Bastogne) cleared that
area. (GM Comment: This was very cool... both sides playing opportunistically
with wild dice swings)
The US faced a difficult decision, as there were four units
defending Bastogne and only three arriving as reinforcements.
They needed all three to have any chance to clear Bastogne (any
two of them only gave the US one artillery call), but there were
no units left in the south to cover that flank. The US opted
to send all three into Bastogne and leave the flank open. Both
sides rolled poorly, as the Germans missed with all five shots,
while the US with one artillery support unit and eight total
shots scored only a single hit. (GM Comment: What happened to
all that ammo??!!) At the end of the turn there are US units
in Doncols and Weiswampach that are OOS and lost to attrition.
Now the "Hole in the US Line" rule comes into play,
as the German is able to trace supply into the areas behind the
US front line along the South edge of the playing area. Units
on that flank advance as far as Libramont, while the three units
in Bastogne advance into St. Hubert, Marnach and LaRoche. Attacking
Houffalize puts the US defenders in Bastogne OOS, so eight German
steps attack them there, with six or seven of the German steps
surviving. Houffalize and Vielsalm are cleared.
The US could probably break through and open supply to Bastogne,
but precious time and ground would be lost in the attacks to
eliminate the German single step units blocking the roads. Even
three attacking steps is not assured of eliminating the defenders,
and since the US must actually clear Bastogne at some point to
prevent the Germans from getting at least 12 VPs the odds are
long. Charles resigned and I had to agree that the situation
was an almost certain German win.
There was one last game, as Bob and Charlie were interested
in getting in more practice, so they faced off in an impromptu
Round 5 with Bob taking the Germans for a zero bid. Bob's Germans
were practically unstoppable. Although Bastogne did not fall,
Bob took Baraque on 17-3, established an Ourthe river bridgehead
and seized Marche on 18-1 (WOW!) and generally shredded the defense.
Reports from the front indicated the imminent fall of Antwerp
and a negotiated peace with the Western Allies.
For the first time ever, we ended with a three-way tie for first.
In addition, the three players at 3-1 had played ring around
the rosie with the other two, having beaten one and lost to the
other. Don G insisted on a clear winner, but after applying the
pre-tourney tie breaks, it was still a three-way tie! Therefore,
the GM was forced to go to the internet to research standard
tie breaking schemes used in swiss formats. It took two more
tries to determine that Charlie was first, Ray second and Tom
third. For 2012, I will have four tiebreaking systems in place
to make sure I don't have to spend half the night figuring this
stuff out again! Jim Kramer was 4th, Bob Hamel 5th and Bryan
Congratulations to Charlie on his fine win. Beating both myself
and Bryan in the same event is a real accomplishment. I also
want to thank assistant GMs Tom Thornsen and Bryan Eshleman for
their able assistance! Finally, a special thanks to Tom for keeping
very detailed notes on all of his games, which were reproduced
in this report.
Also, thanks to Wayne Morrison, Scott Beall and Mike Rinella
for joining in the fun.
German Wins: 10
American Wins: 6
Unknown Winning Side: 1
This is easily the most lop-sided German result in the history
of the tournament. Perhaps German play has dramatically improved
since last year! There was very little bidding, all for the US.
Only four games featured bids, with two at 0.5 and two at 1.5.
The Germans won three of these four games. We played with an
experimental rule that limited US stacking in most areas to two
areas. It turns out to have had virtually no effect on play,
so that idea will be reassessed after I poll the WBC and Ladder
players for feedback.