Mulligan Round Helps Increase Attendance
No doubt the addition of a Mulligan round on Thursday evening led to the increase in tourney attendance, as we reached a level not seen since the very first SK tournament in 2004. With the Mulligan following immediately after the Demo, I had to cut the latter short a bit, but Assistant GM Ken Dunn ably continued the instruction efforts, and a couple of participants still had time to make the Mulligan round. As did four past Champions (who for some reason did not attend the Demonstration): Dan Leader, Tom McCorry, Steven Brooks, and Greg Schmittgens (last year’s runner-up). The 12 players in the Mulligan round played scenario S8 Ad Hoc at Chef du Pont, rebalanced a bit to help out the American side. This seems to have worked since the Americans went 4-2 in this round, with only one “upset” when Derek Pulhamus beat past Champ Tom McCorry as Tom misread the entry conditions and bollixed his setup, allowing Derek’s Americans to waltz to victory in record time. The other three past Champs all won, and each winner took advantage of his bye into the second round.
Friday morning kicked off the official Round One with the traditional scenario selection S1 Retaking Vierville contested by 16 players, including three who had lost in the Mulligan. Defending Champion Steve Smith appeared and fought to a draw with Todd Treadway. No adjudication was needed, however, as neither player’s schedule allowed them to advance. Josh Coyle overcame his Mulligan loss to Greg Schmittgens to advance, joining stalwarts John Vasilakos, Mike Masella, and Tripp Killin, along with tourney newcomers Steve Worrel and ex-ASL grognard Scott Romanowski, returning to the fold after an absence of several years. The Americans and Germans were evenly divided in this round, and no real upsets occurred.
Another player had to drop out after Round One, leaving us with an odd number (one of the Mulligan winners also dropped), so Christian Walker volunteered to step up as an Eliminator in Round Two, where we played S2 War of the Rats, with the Russian reinforcements predetermined to arrive on turn four. This scenario broke evenly between Russians and Germans, with some games over early and some coming down to the wire. Derek Pulhamus crushed Tripp Killin’s Russians in record time, and Scott Romanowski took down the Germans of past Champ Dan Leader in a much tighter affair. In a battle of past Champs, the Russians of Greg Schmittgens abandoned the front lines to defend the two side buildings and just held on against a fierce German attack by Steven Brooks.
Those three were joined by John Vasilakos (beating the Eliminator Christian Walker), Josh Coyle (beating Mike Masella), and Steve Worrell (over Trevor Bender) in Round Three’s S5 Clearing Colleville, which saw the Americans winning all three games, although only Derek’s win (again) was lopsided. Of special note was the match featuring two old ASL pros, Scott Romanowski and Greg (“it’s only a game”) Schmittgens. Greg’s Americans were super aggressive, often braving -2 shots without paying the price. Scott could only shake his head at the missed opportunities the dice denied him.
With only three players left, past Champion Greg Schmittgens got a bye into the finals, while Derek Pulhamus and Steve Worrell battled it out in Round Four for the honor of facing Greg. Given the scenario choice of a rebalanced S6 (Released From the East, the GM recommendation), S7, S18, or a rebalanced S29, they chose the latter, No Monumental Acclaim, with a little help for the Germans. Not enough help, however, to overcome Derek’s masterful American attack against a somewhat unconcentrated defense.
Waiting for Derek in the Final was Greg, well-rested after only playing two scenarios this day. Luckily, Derek’s three scenarios had all been over quickly, although earlier in the morning he had suffered a defeat in the quarter finals of Combat Commander. They chose S18 Purple Heart Lane, and Greg’s Americans attacked just as aggressively as they had in Round Three. This time, however, Derek’s German’s made them pay, KIAing a pair of squads running in the open and breaking several more. Undeterred, Greg regrouped and continued to push the attack. In an effort to polish off the American foe, Derek brought two squads and a leader (half his remaining force) up front to deal out some punishment. It was now that the dice deserted Derek, however, and Greg was able to get an American 7-4-7 and leader into Close Combat with Derek’s two 5-4-8s and leader, killing them all off at no cost to himself. You could see Derek kicking himself for not playing it safer, but the Americans still had a long way to go against a strong defense. Greg’s aggressiveness was not to be denied, however, and the German defenders could not stand tall. Greg becomes the first repeat Champion in the nine years of the tournament, well deserved after surviving the murderer’s row of Josh Coyle, Steven Brooks, Scott Romanowski, and Derek Pulhamus.