THE FAMILIAR AND THE UNKNOWN
Jim Bell trades shots with James Dougherty.
Chuck Stapp has the honor of playing
the designer, Richard Borg.
Sharon Bryant and David Glowny
The last five to run the gauntlet
Hard to believe, but Memoir '44 was introduced in 2004,
and it was first contested at WBC that year, making this the10th
annual Memoir '44 tournament.
This year's scenarios were chosen by Magnus Nygaard, of Denmark,
whose 6,200 games of Memoir Online far exceeded anybody else
in the world at the time. (The GM always asks someone else to
choose the scenarios for this tournament.) We used seven scenarios,
including separate ones for the Mulligan and Round 1. Nygaard
chose most of this year's selections from the basic set. 23 of
this year's field of 64 were also Online players, but there was
still plenty of room for beginners, as the pre-tournament demo
session had three people teaching at least six learners.
Mulligan Round: Operation Cobra -- We had 40 players,
down from 50 last year. (The 10PM start time was an hour later
than in the past and may have played a role in the lower numbers.)
Post-D-Day battle where a large Allied force tries to unseat
a German force, much of which is hunkered down in thick hedgerows.
For the Allies, Jarett Weintraub notched a 5-0 shutout, and 5-1
victories were gained by 2004 champ Steve Lollis, Jack Morrell,
Eric Mosso, and David Rennert. The biggest wins by Axis were
a 5-0 by Tim Hitchings and a second 5-1 by Eric Mosso. This scenario
was split evenly between Allies and Axis, 10-10, with an average
score of 4.18-3.60 favoring the Allies.
Round 1: St. Vith -- This time, it was the Germans
attacking entrenched American positions in the late-war Ardennes.
We had 38 players in this round, including 14 re-entries from
the previous evening, switching sides for two games per round.
Even Memoir's creator, Richard Borg, joined in for a match
(in which he was defeated by CCN champion Chuck Stapp).
This battle favored the Germans with 22 wins in 38 games (58%),
with an average score of 4.82-3.97. Biggest Axis wins were a
6-0 shutout by Peter Eldridge, and 6-1 wins by Chuck Stapp and
Doug Landis. The biggest Allied win was a 6-0 by Richard Bliss.
2005-06 champion Joe Harrison was eliminated on figures by Michael
Shea, after losing by one medal in the Mulligan to 2010 champ
Round 2: Foret d'Ecouves -- This scenario was introduced
at the French Open a couple of years ago. The Germans are defending
a big block of forest hexes in the middle of the board, with
a large force of Allies attacking. The Allies claimed 22 victories
in 36 tries (61%), by an average score of 4.94-4.65. Eight of
the 18 matches were sweeps. William Austin scored the round's
only shutout, as Allies. There were 6-1 wins by Jack Morrell
as Allies, and by Tim Hitchings and Jarett Weintraub as Axis.
Former champion Steve Lollis was denied by Canadian Rejean Tremblay.
AGM Gareth Williams of Morocco avenged his loss to GM Sam Edelston
in last year's semifinal by eliminating him here, with the GM
barely salvaging a face-saving split in the second game.
Round 3: Montelimar -- Lively battle between the Americans
and Germans, from August, 1944, near the Rhone River, where the
action tends to be mostly in the center section. More good fortune
for the Allies, 12-8 (60%), with an average score of 5.05-4.25.
Four of the nine matches were sweeps. William Austin, Geoff Heintzelman,
and Rejean Tremblay all won their Allied games by 6-1. The biggest
Axis win was Michael Shea, at 6-2. Gareth Williams was eliminated
by John Skiba. The last player with an undefeated 6-0 record
through three rounds was Tim Hitchings.
Round 4: Saverne Gap -- The three sections of this
map are mostly separated by impassable mountains that even the
German artillery can't fire over, and the Allies can win by sudden-death
if they occupy two distant town hexes (which is rarely accomplished).
Nine players were still alive at this point, so Gareth was reincarnated
as an eliminator. All five matches were nano-close: Skiba barely
got past Tremblay, 8-8 medals, 36-33 figures, with a come-from-behind
victory in the second game. Hitchings downed David Rennert, 9-9
medals, 39-38 figures. David J. Glowny similarly got past Geoff
Heintzelman, 8-8 medals, 35-34 figures. William Austin eliminated
the eliminator, 8-7 medals, 30-29 figures, including a sudden
death victory in his Allied game. The remaining match consisted
of two 1-medal games, but they both went in the same direction,
as Jarett Weintraub used superior cards and dice to sweep Michael
Shea by scores of 5-4 and 5-4, with a combined figure count of
44-38 in a relative rout. (His +6 figures equaled the other four
victors, combined.) Since Hitchings had split his match, Tim
and Jarett were now tied with 7-1 records.
Going into the semifinals, we still had five players. Eliminators
had now failed in five consecutive attempts to even the brackets,
dating back to 2011. In fact, in eight attempts since 2009, eliminators
had succeeded only once. The GM decided to take matters into
his own hands. "When life hands you a lemon, make elimin-ade."
Round 5: Invasion of Amoy -- Scenario by Magnus Nygaard,
based on a 1938 battle in the Sino-Japanese War. Amphibious landing
by the Japanese infantry against entrenched Chinese. The defenders
have two 1-figure artilleries, and there are four objective hexes
available to the invaders. Weintraub knocked out Austin, 6-2,
5-6. Skiba swept Hitchings, winning 6-5 as Axis and 6-1 as Allies.
The GM, as eliminator, won 6-3 as Allies against Glowny, and
then David's dice apparently fell victim to a Confundus charm
for virtually the entire rematch, giving the eliminator a 6-0
win. For the first time since 2010, we would have only two players
remaining for Round 6.
Round 6 Final: Ponyri -- 7-medal battle with tanks
against tanks on the left side of the board, Russian defenders
in sandbags all the way across the map, with artillery in the
rear, and the 5-hex city in the middle is worth two medals to
whichever side holds more hexes. It was the Battle of New York,
with Weintraub representing Long Island and Skiba bearing the
It wasn't surprising to see John in the Final. He's one of
the best players around. Memoir '44 is why he comes to WBC, people
know him from his five previous appearances in this tournament,
and he's won this event before. This year, John had to oust three
of the toughest opponents in the tournament --Joe Harrison, Eric
Mosso, and Gareth Williams -- in his first three matches. But
who was Jarett, and where did he come from? A virtual unknown
in this event, but it turns out that he's won other flavors of
WBC wood in previous years, including firsts at Lost Cities and
Neuroshima Hex. Last year was his first Memoir tournament, and
he got "smoked in the third round" by Joe Harrison.
Since then, he'd played the online version of Memoir a few dozen
times, and it was in one of those games that he recognized some
changes he needed to make in his approach to the game; coincidentally,
though he didn't realize it until this weekend because of the
unfamiliar screen name, his opponent in that fateful battle had
been none other than Joe.
In Game 1, as Allies, Jarett liked his initial hand so much
that he snapped a photo of it. (Firefight, Armor Assault, Move
Out, and Probe Right.) John's Germans came on heavily against
the Russian armor, but the Russians punched back with a Firefight.
Then, a German tank tried a mine field, and it turned out to
be the 4d mine. Much carnage ensued, and eventually all of the
Russian armor was gone. Ultimately, the last kill came from a
Russian Artillery Bombard against a 1-figure infantry. A close
game, with Jarett prevailing, 7-6 medals, 25-25 figures. If John
had gotten another turn, he was all set to Barrage a 1-figure
In the rematch, one of Jarett's Panzers double-flagged an
infantry on the Russian Right out of its sandbags. Then, the
Panzer moved into the hole, to attack further, and John responded
with a General Advance card, but he was unable to eliminate that
Panzer -- and that pesky Panzer subsequently eliminated the artillery
and an infantry. This was part of a German onslaught that included
two consecutive Armor Assaults, followed by a Counter-Attack
Assault Center. John was stuck trying to defend his center (and
the town) for three turns, without any Center cards. Jarett got
two units into the town, depriving John of the two objective
medals, and then he added a third unit, to win the game, 7-3,
sweep the match, and win the championship.
This was Jarett's only second try at this tournament. John
was the only 2013 Laurelist to hold any M44 Laurels from previous
Y'all come back next year, for the 70th anniversary of D-Day
and the 10th anniversary of Memoir. The GM is hoping to
get brand-new scenarios. Watch for the Event Preview in the spring!
MULTI-PLAYER OVERLORD GAMES
In addition, as usual, we had several multi-player Overlord
games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. These are always a highlight,
because many players only have a chance to play them at conventions.
They also tend to be a source of great battle stories.
All of these Overlords had eight players, except for the "bonus"
Market Garden battle.
Tigers in the Snow -- David Rennert's Russians killed
two Tiger tanks on consecutive rolls en route to a 13-8 victory
over David A. Glowny's German forces. A highlight for the Germans
was their successful destruction of a pontoon bridge that was
holding a 4-figure Russian tank.
Operation Market Garden -- This one really lived up
to its initials: OMG! "Tigers" went so fast that we
were able to play the flip side, too. Daniel Heintzelman's Allies
sliced through Eric Mosso's Germans by a score of 13-4, in a
mere five turns. Lots of cards that had words like "Assault"
printed on them, along with a second-turn Their Finest Hour that
ordered nine units. For the Germans, who managed only two kills
in the entire battle, the highlight was in knowing that the casualties
were not real.
Stalingrad: Perdition -- Scenario composed by Eric
Mosso. Sam Edelston commanded the Russian defenders against Geoff
Heintzelman's wave of German invaders. Ferocious attacks by the
Germans in all sections -- especially on their Right flank. The
Russians won the game in the nick of time, 20-15, just before
their opponents could sneak into multiple objectives and steal
Twin Battles of Warnach and Bigonville -- An "everything
but the kitchen sink" scenario, with lots of special units,
from the Equipment Pack (which was introduced at WBC last year).
The Germans were successful in holding off the Allied attackers,
with a final score of 15-12, as the Allies took 2-medal town
Warnach, in the center of the board, on their last turn, but
the Germans were able to take it back and then slammed the door
shut on their victory. Nick Avtges commanded the Germans, with
his sons facing each other at Axis Right and Allied Left. Richard
Bliss commanded the Allies, relieved in mid-battle by Sam Edelston.
El Alamein "Overthrough" scenario -- This
super-sized combination Overlord-Breakthrough map was given to
participants in the 2013 French Open, and Gareth Williams brought
his copy to WBC. Beginning such a large battle at 11:30PM on
Friday, after a long day of gaming, was not sustainable. However,
we tried again Saturday evening, starting at 7PM, and this time
Gareth led the Allied attack against William Austin's German-Italian
defenders. At 11PM, we lost William and three other players to
Slapshot or other forms of repose, so Sam Edelston took over
the Axis defenses, and the two sides continued their fight to
the death. Both sides hit each other relentlessly, until their
cards were reduced nearly to the minimum, whereupon they started
rebuilding. As they reached the bottom of the deck with no Finest
Hour having been played, Gareth realized that Sam must be holding
both copies of that card, and started retreating units. By the
time the sand had settled on this four-hour marathon, the Axis
defenders had prevailed, 24-10.
The GM wishes to thank AGMs Mark Guttag and Gareth Williams
for all their help ... Geoff and Daniel Heintzelman, and Eric
Mosso for their tireless help at setting up Overlords ... Magnus
Nygaard for choosing the tournament scenarios ... Jacques "jdrommel"
David for the English version of the briefing for his El Alamein
scenario ... Days of Wonder for its support ... and Richard Borg
for creating such a wonderful game and continuing to support
it in so many ways.
GM Sam Edelston with his finalists:
Jarett Weintraub and John Skiba.
Designer Richard Borg presents a special
prize to the champ.
El Alamein, one of four multi-player
games for up to six players held after the tournament.