Every game has the players pitted against each other for a certain number of turns to accomplish a goal. PanzerBlitz and its expansions and variants offer just that in a wargame. Every experienced gamer understands the concept of balance between initiative and choices, and allows for the chaos of chance!
2018 had a change in location to the Festival room and even though several of the PZB “regulars” were unable to attend WBC this year, 25 players participated. GM Rick Northey received four game sets for use at the con as a gift from former GM Bill Scott, who could not attend. Bill has done so much for the game, running the PZB event at WBC in the 90s and 00s, and in creating many situations that are still used in tournament play at WBC. Bill is very much missed at the con, and his presence continues through his creations. Lots of choices were offered including PanzerZug: Armored Trains and Operation Barbarossa 1941 using PB/PL/AIW updated rules by “Prof” Alan Arvold, assistant GM. The attendance was on the slow side to start, but the pace picked up. By mid-week, some enthusiastic new players shared a custom game set made from wooden scrabble pieces with oversized boards. Several games were enjoyed on this attractive creation. In particular, situation 51, a Bill Scott creation, revised to its fourth version after much playtesting, was the most popular battle played this year. And so it goes as we keep on moving in the 48th year since PanzerBlitz was first introduced by TAHGC. “To keep your balance, you must keep moving” Albert Einstein
The final four, with GM Rick Northey traditionally stepping aside competition in the semis, were Art Dohrman, defending champ Greg Tanner, assistant GM Alan Arvold, and newcomer Daniel Bates. By the second Saturday, the top 5 had played in 33 games.
Art and Daniel decided on situation 45r1 in semifinal game #1; The Russian hordes of armor overrunning retreating German positions in late war 1944. In the opening firefight at Opustoschenia, Daniel’s German forces were able to retreat to some high ground to the southeast. By forming a “hedgehog” cluster of units, Daniel blocked overruns from Art’s advancing armor by using the terrain to buy time. Art charged the position to take up direct firing positions for his tanks and assault guns at point blank range. German 105mm and 155mm SPAs leveled their guns to take out several Russian tanks including a company of SU-152 heavy assault guns. Instead of scattering his forces, which is the usual tactic, Daniel then pulled his forces back to form up yet another box around the town of Zabvenia. Art brought up several companies of infantry in halftracks to follow tanks in a combined arms assault. At this point, turn 3, the midpoint of the battle, it was going to come down to control of the town. Methodical maneuvers by Russian forces began the systematic elimination of the first line of German units exposing the town to infantry assault. Art had 14 kills to Daniel’s 5, a tactical victory if he could take control of one hex in Zabvenia. Russian Guards infantry was crossing the river to enter the town while four companies of tanks opened fire to clear the hex. Art rolled a 6, the only result that would not result in elimination of the defending Germans. Daniel was able to squeeze out a Strategic victory for holding the three town hexes. This was the first time I have seen this tactic of defending Zabvenia at all cost and the game was a nail biter down to the last die roll of the final turn! “Nine-tenths of tactics are certain, and taught in books: but the irrational (or intuitive) tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals.” T. E. Lawrence
Alan and Greg also chose situation 45r1 for their semifinal game. This game proceeded quite differently from game #1 when viewed side by side. Alan’s Russian armor mounted with infantry moved in to surround Opustoschenia. Greg’s German artillery was able to blast several Russian units and open an escape route for platoons of assault guns, self-propelled artillery and infantry riding in halftracks. Greg then separated his units between woods behind the river and the town of Zabvenia, while blocking the ford in the river with a 105mm SPA unit. This ford is the only route to cross the river for vehicles, however Alan had another idea. The Russian armor held in reserve rushed to the banks of the river and unloaded infantry to cross and assault German fixed batteries. The attack was formed in a pincer with one side making the push into Zabvenia, and the other rushing German units concealed in the woods. Alan carefully directed fire on units blocking the ford, entered the town with infantry assault and cleared all German units. However, Greg decided to shift his remaining units, including some powerful SPA platoons to the woods in a hedgehog. So compared to game one, in game two, the closing fight was in the woods as opposed to the town. Alan had two companies of Russian SMG infantry, excellent in assaults, to attack the woods with fire support from his two SU-152 heavy assault gun units and a mix of tanks. When the dice were thrown, Alan did not get the rolls he needed to clear the first hexes in the woods so the infantry could take ground for a second assault. On the last turn, Greg was able to get 9 kills to Alan’s 14, a tactical victory to both sides with the tie going to the defending Germans. ”Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca
There comes a time at every con to decide who is the most resourceful, most clever and in a small part the most lucky. It’s a lot of fun and comraderies unite over the friendly competition. So it goes in the last contest to see Daniel Bates, fresh off a victory as a result of his unusual, and clever tactics, face defending champ Greg Tanner, the ever resourceful contender. Their game choice was situation 14. This is one of the longer battles which features a fast initial strike and evade theme. Daniel had the German side and this time the dice fell out of his favor on the first turn. Greg’s AT guns were able to disperse two platoons of assault guns sitting right outside the town of Bednost. The German initial strike thus stalled, a brawl ensued on Hill 132. The Russian CP and defending security units were eventually all eliminated and Bednost taken by German forces. The reinforcements on the Russian side quickly outnumbered the Germans forcing units to scatter in all directions. In hot pursuit, Russian armor and infantry fanned out to cover escape routes on board 2 and focused on surrounding isolated units there. By turn 6, of 8, the score stood at 39-36 in favor of Daniel. Greg needed 2 more kills with no casualties to his own units to win. By turn 7 Greg was able to eliminate 4 more German units, achieve victory, defend his title, and take home his seventh PanzerBlitz first place wood and diorama. “First gain the victory and then make the best use of it you can” Horatio Nelson
This year all four top finishers received WBC wood in this century event. To add to that, two dioramas were provided by GM Rick Northey to Greg and Daniel for winning first and second place.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca