13 Years Later ... Again on Top
Steve Packwood finds new challenges
vs Greg Smith.
Mike Mishler scores 6th place laurels.
No mean feat in TRC.
Alex Gregorio seems more enthused
than Michael Trobaugh.
Gary Dickson puts former champ Bert
Schoose in his rear view mirror.
After 22 years of "World Championship" Russian
Campaign tournaments one would think that setups, openings,
and tactics in tournament play would be well known. Looking at
this year's results, such thinking would be quite wrong. 2012
saw a variety of surprises; nobody got to the final four without
assimilating some key lessons about how the tournament game has
A mix of tournament veterans and newbies went for the wood
in 2012. There were some notable absences, including the defending
champion, but included in the field were four ex-champs with
nine shields between them. This being the sixth year featuring
the 5-turn scenario, a reasonable prediction would have been
that things would play out as they always have with the experienced
players just grinding down opponents simply because they had
more TRC lore and trickery to draw upon. However, based
on the number of upsets, this was not a year in which the sharks
coasted their way through schools of less-experienced players.
the opening moves it was clear that some folks had been doing
some offseason tune up work. Numerous new Russian setups were
unveiled. Many participants were familiar with the Massive Odessa
Overrun, which is distinguished by an Axis second impulse overrun
of Odessa on Turn 1, but Russian players were now prepared to
face this with a tweaked version of the Russian defense of the
Odessa Military District. The consensus opinion now is that the
MOO can be averted, or at least deterred, but the tradeoff often
involves ruinous position and casualties in the Kiev Military
District. Further north, the "Capture Moscow in 1941"
fanatics were all to ready to pounce on any defects in the Western
Military District as evidenced by numerous German attempts to
capture the capital.
From a strategic perspective, it was clear that many players
had thought beyond the turn-to-turn tactical nuances and were
looking at the big picture. There were Russians who were deciding
on Turn 1 whether or not they wanted to defend in such a way
as to prevent a Turn 4 Snow attack against Leningrad just as
there were Germans who were trying to determine during their
OPENING assault how heavily they wanted to threaten the Donets
Basin cities on Turn 3. Richard's decision in the Final to set
up for a potential low odds attack on Moscow on Turn 3, if non-favorable
clear weather occurred, is yet another example of an evolving
approach to strategic planning.
At a more detailed level, many Russian defenders now recognized
that preserving the flexibility of their Turn 3 reinforcement
deployments was critical. Numerous defenses, that appeared sub-optimal
if looking solely at the current turn, were devised to ensure
that the Sep/Oct reinforcements would be able to rail through
or into Kharkov and Stalino. Tactical gaffes were few and far
between. The days of AV's allowing the Germans to run ramshod
over multiple layers of Russian defenses are long gone. Also
apparent was that most players these days know to defend against
attackers retreating forward, guard against VP-stealing paratroops,
and do some minimal factor-counting to avoid giving their opponents
some easy shots. The best example of tactical evolution, however,
was that many folks now recognize a 1-2 attack is quite viable
in this shortened scenario; numerous games were won because a
player knew that taking ENOUGH of these 1-2 attacks was almost
a guarantee that one or more of these battles would be won!
Still, there is no substitute for experience. When it came
down to the elimination portion of the event there were three
former champions still standing in the final four (For the first
time the TRC final four included the son of a former champion
which then begs the question as to whether being skilled in TRC
is inheritable or merely a reflection of environmental exposure
at an early age.) The climate in the Lampeter room presumably
contributed to suppressing the participation and game count earlier
in the week but by Saturday it would take more than failed air
conditioning to deter Gary Dickson from acquiring his fourth
Below are some summary figures that quantitatively assess the
2012 WBC event:
· 81 games played and 31 entrants
· All games featured the 5-turn scenario with bidding
· S/O and N/D 41 weather combinations were clear/snow
and light mud/light mud with 38 of the former and 42 of the latter
· One game saw a concession at the end of Turn 2; 62 of
the games ended on turn 5.
At an individual match level, here are some additional figures:
· Germans won 45/81 (56%) games, 23 in light mud, 21 in
· Russians won 36/81 (44%) games, 19 in light mud, 17
· Five games were German autovictories because of Moscow
being captured in 1941.
· 58 of the 81 games were won by the player with the higher
AREA rating at the start of the event.
· The average bid for the Germans was 13.1 with a range
of 7 to 27.
· The average bid for a German win was 13.07.
· The average bid for a Russian win was 13.22.
· The average bid for the Germans in the playoffs was
An analysis of these figures leads to the following conclusions,
some of which are counter-intuitive, especially when you think
back to TRC events from years past:
· Weather doesn't matter; each side won slightly more
light mud games than clear games.
· Average bid of 13 for the German was virtually identical
in both wins and losses.
· Going for Moscow is a viable German strategy regardless
of the weather
Statistical Conclusions: With a German winning percentage
of 56%, and assuming replacement bidding is the balancing mechanism,
the average bid needs to be higher. As noted previously, weather
alone doesn't seem to be a determining factor. The most significant
predictor of match outcome is AREA rating.
Semifinals:The semifinals featured a "Final Four"
matchup of Richard Beyma versus Tom Gregorio, and Gary Dickson
versus Bert Schoose.
Richard got to face Tom again, having already beaten him during
the open portion of the tournament. Both players felt they were
better German Field Marshals than Russian Commissars but after
some intense bidding, Tom deferred and Richard got the privilege
of playing the Germans with a bid of 25. A standard 1-1 AR opportunity
in the south failed but the usage of the anti-MOO defense allowed
the upper Bug to be breached. The Russians fell back in good
order and seemingly remained so at the end of July/August 1941.
The Russians launched no fewer than three assaults on German
HQs but only one succeeded on Turn 2. No Stuka was lost, however,
as the weather was Light Mud in September/October. Richard's
daring was evident on Turn 2 when the reinforcing 40th Panzer
Corps was sent on a sea invasion to attack Sevastopol's 5-3 Soviet
infantry garrison. With a Stuka, the 3-1 resulted in a Contact
result; the subsequent 1-2 on second impulse failed. Turn 3 turned
out to be the fatal turn, however, with Stalino captured, Kharkov
smothered, and the Leningrad defenders retreated. Turn 4 saw
Rostov and Leningrad firmly under German control. With the failure
of the Russian counterattacks in November/December, Tom conceded
and Richard's path to his first TRC Final was cleared!
In the Schoose/Dickson match, Bert had the Russians for a bid
of 21. Gary's Germans got off to a good start, especially in
the south, where he surrounded or destroyed the entire KievMilitary
District. On Turn 2 however, Gary stacked two panzers and HQ
North near Vitebsk, from where they could equally threaten Moscow
and Leningrad. This stack could be surrounded, but only attacked
at 1-2 on second impulse. Sensing an opportunity, three Russian
tank units moved in and Bert rolled a 6, eliminating the stack
and putting Gary in a serious early hole. However, Lady Luck
promptly changed sides: the Sept/Oct weather was light mud and
ended with Gary taking Sevastopol and Stalino, gaining a contact
at Kharkov, and repulsed at Leningrad. Bert lost the ensuing
Kharkov counterattack, and Leningrad eventually fell to a 1-1
snow attack. Suddenly it was Bert who was fighting uphill. The
last turn was a whirlwind of mobility and emotion. Using the
rail line that had never been converted, Bert expertly infiltrated
the central marsh to threaten numerous rear area cities, and
also successfully landed a 6-3 sea invasion at Odessa to attack
an HQ and an Italian at 1-1. Gary's lead stood at a tenuous +1
as Bert started rolling. Odessa yielded a first impulse contact,
Smolensk and Brest held, and Minsk fell to a second impulse Guards
attack. Suddenly the match came down to a final die roll versus
Odessa for its two victory points. Bert needed a 6, threw a 3,
and Gary claimed the hard-fought victory at -1.
Final: Richard Beyma made his TRC Final debut against
former three-time champion Gary Dickson. Both players wanted
the Germans but Richard's gutsy bid of 27 earned him the honor.
His opening dice were unfavorable but he did succeed in cutting
off numerous Russians in the south. On his half of the opening
turn Gary saved these units via successful counterattacks. The
Russians had an abundance of units but Gary inexplicably failed
to garrison Rostov; this triggered Richard's sea invasion attempt
using a panzer unit but the die roll of '6' sent those invasion
barges to the bottom of the Black Sea. Richard's second turn
saw the cleanup of the rear areas and featured several 1-1 bounce
off attacks to get his army into more favorable attack positions.
The Sept/Oct weather roll was clear and both players and the
numerous onlookers agreed that things looked very grim for the
Germans. Young Beyma had one more bullet in his gun, however,
and he used it to create an opportunity for a most memorable
victory that he alone foresaw.
Richard started September by cracking the Russian southern
front via an overrun through which two panzer units raced to
then assault the Russian defender in Kursk. Further north, three
armored units attacked the Russians defending the bend of the
Dneiper River near Smolensk. The objective was much more important
then either city: Richard was aiming his tanks at the spires
of the Kremlin! The German lowered the odds of both attacks to
1-1, seeking the 50% chance of an outcome that would result in
the tanks retreating FORWARD towards Moscow. Several calculations
later, it was determined that the maneuver had a 22% chance of
winning the game.
Fortune favored the Russians, however, and Richard actually
'won' his low odds attacks -- actually preventing his second
impulse assault on the Soviet capital. Richard extended his hand,
and once Gary regained consciousness, he took a deep breath to
celebrate his fourth WBC Russian Campaign crown after
a 13-year hiatus. The Champ was back and atop the laurels list
too. I'm not sure which was more impressive -- that he completed
his 13-year comeback or that he could still wear that same Avaloncon
shirt he wore in 1998 when he won the first title.
Beyma the Younger puts away three-time
champ Tom Gregorio on his way to the Final.
Finalists Richard Beyma and Gary Dickson
get to play on the BIG board for all to see.
By Email 2012
The 9th Annual TRC PBeM Tournament was completed in
five rounds with a field of 24 players. The Final matched defending,
four-time champion Gary Dickson against two-time champion Doug
James in the 10-turn scenario, with bidding determining extra
replacement points given to the Russian. The two had also combined
for nine WBC titles in addition to their email resumes. Doug
got the Russians at +16. The "Schoose Option" was employed
for weather, giving the Germans a maximum of three stukas in
Sept/Oct and Nov/Dec combined, with up to two in light mud and
0 in mud.
Gary's Germans got off to a great start with some really hot
initial dice followed by a successful sea invasion of a vacant
Sevastopol, a 2-1 attack vs. Kiev, and 3-1 attack vs. Leningrad.
The advance slowed when the weather turned light mud followed
by snow. Doug's armor failed a key October 2-1 attack against
a 5-4 in Bryansk, and in a rare mistake, Doug botched his retreat,
allowing Gary to leave and then re-enter the City. Ultimately
the Russians killed the 5-4 and took Bryansk, but lost several
armor units in an unequal exchange. Gary withdrew out of winter
range but remained in good position to take advantage when the
March/April 1942 weather roll came up clear. Gary's hot combat
dice continued, but Doug's remained cold throughout the match,
including a key surrounded 3-1 against a German stack near Smolensk
in June, 1942, that failed with a "contact". Gary's
July/August turn featured more of the same and Doug threw in
the towel early.
Also earning laurels were Michael Kaye, John Ohlin, Ari Kogut
and Ed O'Connor who finished third through sixth respectively.