The Father Todd Buzzsaw! That’s the overarching theme of this year’s tournament. Father Todd Carter, a friend of the BoAR series since 2013, has been steadily improving his game and this was his year as you will read.
A total of 24 players competed in this year’s tournament including three players new to the BoAR series; Curtiss Fyock, Joe Chacon and Steve Packwood as well as William Riggs who had lapsed to the inactive list on the AREA rating not having played since 2014. We were happy to welcome them all to our group. This year’s format included a Swiss elimination of 5 heats with the top-8 players advancing to a single elimination quarter final.
The heats and rounds were organized around historical campaign themes this year. Heats 1-3 represented the Saratoga Campaign, heats 4-5 represented the Philadelphia Campaign, the quarter and semi finals represented the Southern Campaign and the final was the Battle of Pensacola.
Sixteen players entered heat 1; the Freeman’s Farm scenario from Saratoga 3rd edition. Here the American’s had a distinct advantage winning 6 of the 8 matches played. Noteworthy was Melvin Casselberry’s decisive win over Father Todd. This netted Father Todd a starting tournament-point position of -2 making his march to the finals all the more impressive. All other victories on both sides in this heat were marginal wins which included the only two British winners, Andy Maly and Bruno Sinigaglio.
Thirteen players entered heat 2, the Battle of Oriskany. Mark Miklos was awarded the bye and the other 12 players square off. The script was flipped with the British players wining the majority of matches in this heat 4:2. Three of the British wins were substantial as was one of the American victories. Bruno Sinigaglio’s Americans, however, won decisively over Derek Pulhamus. Father Todd, playing the British, was a substantial winner over John Vasilakos and thereby converted his tournament point score from -2 to +1. “I’m back in the game” he was heard to say.
Sixteen players met for heat 3; the Saratoga “Next Day” scenario which features American ammunition depletion. British players were able to capitalize on that by winning 5 out of the 8 matches played. Four British wins were substantial including another by Father Todd (net +4 tournament points) while Mark Miklos defeated Roberto Sanchez decisively. American players, meanwhile, notched 2 substantial and 1 marginal victory.
In heat 4 the players left the wilds of the deep north woods to the more civilized environs of the Philadelphia Campaign. First up, the “Howe’s Flank Attack” scenario from Brandywine 2nd ed. which features the new Hessian amusettes. Eleven players came to compete in this heat and the bye was awarded to Bruno Sinigaglio. It was very nearly a British sweep with the lobster backs earning 4 of the 5 wins. The British won three matches substantially and one marginally while Dave Stiffler recorded the only American win with a decisive victory over Chris Storzillo. It was here in Heat 4 that Father Todd lost his only other game, falling substantially to Curtiss Fyock’s British (net tournament points +3.)
The final heat in the Swiss Elimination portion of the tournament was Germantown and 6 players came to compete. British players won twice as Bill Morse defeated Rob McCracken substantially and Father Todd defeated Mark Miklos marginally (net tournament score +5.) The lone American victory was earned by Bruno Sinigaglio with a substantial win over “Young” Rob Doane.
After the heats the top-8 players were:
- Bruno Sinigaglio - 15 Tournament Points; 72 Army Morale; 37 Victory Points
- Melvin Casselberry - 12 Tournament Points; 63 Army Morale; 27 Victory Points
- Dave Stifler - 12 Tournament Points; 56 Army Morale; 15.5 Victory Points
- Mark Miklos - 11 Tournament Points; 70 Army Morale; 33 Victory Points
- Bill Morris - 9 Tournament Points; 51 Army Morale; 45 Victory Points
- Tim Miller - 8 Tournament Points; 33 Army Morale; 18 Victory Points
- Father Todd - 5 Tournament Points; 50 Army Morale; 25 Victory Points
- Andry Maly - 5 Tournament Points; 29 Army Morale; 10.5 Victory Points
Worst luck; Melvin had to drop out because his roommate had a medical emergency in the middle of the night and Melvin was up until 5:00 AM at the hospital. The good news was that his roommate was eventually released with no further incident. We were sorry to see Melvin drop out. We were also sorry to lose Andy Maly whose team game was scheduled directly opposite our quarter final. Everyone understood his sense of obligation to his team and we wished him well.
These situations created opportunities for our 1st and 2nd alternates, Curtiss Fyock and Bob Jamelli respectively, to step up into the bracket. Luckily both were available and willing and the stage was then set for the single elimination quarter final match; the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. American players Tim Miller, Mark Miklos and Bruno Sinigaglio held on for marginal victories while Father Todd scored the only British win, substantially over Bill Morse.
The Semifinal was the Battle of Eutaw Springs. Father Todd’s Americans won substantially over Bruno Sinigaglio while Mark Miklos’ Americans won by achieving a battlefield draw with Tim Miller while holding on to superior army morale which was the tie breaker. The stage was now set for what would become one of the epic finals in BoAR tournament history; the Battle of Pensacola between Father Todd and Mark Miklos. And to further illustrate Father Todd’s achievement he defeated the 9th, 7th, 3rd and 2nd ranked AREA rated players on his path to the final…
Finals - Strategic Phase
The competition began before the match even started. After some preliminary conversation and probing it was revealed that each player wanted to play the British and so a bid was required. Mark Miklos won the bid 1:0 and took the British while surrendering one point of at-start Army Morale. It was 9:00am.
As the Spanish fleet rounded the headland to enter Pensacola Bay the guns at Red Cliffs Fort fired salvo after salvo but to no avail. Not a single hit was achieved and one could hear a thousand throats chanting Viva! Viva! Increase Spanish Army Morale by 1.
The Spanish army waded ashore but not before they disembarked Spanish Grenadiers and the Principe Regt under the command of Brigadier Ezpaleta to reduce the British garrison at Red Cliffs.
On game turn 2 the Luisianna Dragoons demonstrated toward Fort George. In response the British launched their first raid which emanated from the fort. It closed some distance with the dragoons and fired a howitzer shot that missed.
The first weather check occurred on turn 3 and the weather continued clear. Clear weather is a friend to the Spanish who must race against time to build Corduroy road in order to get siege artillery within range of the British works. As the Spanish dithered the British raid fell upon the trail head of the Corduroy road emanating from Stockade #2; the southern -most of the two and one of the Spanish sources of supply. The New Orleans militia which had been building the road was overrun and eliminated.
Game turn 4 saw a lot of Spanish action. He played the “Allied Naval Victory” random events card. This allowed him to bring all three units from Santa Rosa Island onto the main map; The Spanish Sappers, the naval infantry and some heavy naval artillery. Getting the Sappers into the game early is very beneficial to the Spanish player since they can double the construction rate for Corduroy Rd and move 2-hexes before building a redoubt. Infantry that wishes to build redoubts must begin in the build-hex and not move. The British player cast a wary eye on this development. The Spanish also attacked the raiding party which resulted in two Indian units electing to withdraw before combat. Finally, Ezpaleta’s expeditionary force attacked the Red Cliff’s Fort and disrupted its garrison in-place. It would later rally.
By turn 5 the primary Corduroy road the Spanish were building had advanced to heights of the ridge that overlooks the British fortified positions. This is not optimum range but it is still suitable range for Spanish siege artillery. At the Red Cliffs, the British garrison was compelled to attack out of its fort as a result of a “pin” and that attack, going in at 1:3 with -4 modifiers was a forlorn hope at best. The garrison was eliminated and Spanish Army Morale now stood at 19:16. Card play on turn 5 saw the French Frigate L’Andromaque run aground, the effect of which was the removal of French marines from the counter mix. Another card revealed that both sides had troops indiscriminately scalped by roaming war parties which caused a -1 drop in Army Morale for both payers.
On Turn 6 the Spanish began construction of their first redoubt. Generalissimo De Galvez exposed himself to fire but the British howitzer missed on two attempts.
Turn 7 is a turning point of sorts in this game because it’s here that the second Spanish fleet arrives with copious reinforcements including several crack units, Irish mercenaries (if you’re an enemy of the British you’re a friend to the Irish) and the French contingent; three regiments with artillery. Until turn 7 there is a rough parity of forces. After turn 7 the British inevitably pull their forward units back toward their fixed position. The redoubt that was begun on the previous turn was also completed.
On turn 8 the British player had an Intelligence Coup as directed on a newly-drawn random event card. Mark took the top three cards off the deck, selected one to put in his hand, and reshuffled the deck. He elected to hold the card he drew. The Spanish commenced their siege bombardment but missed causing any breaches. A second British raid was launched again originating from the British fieldworks and this time directed at the newly constructed Spanish redoubt. The Sappers became exposed but British howitzer fire missed again.
The first wet weather of the game occurred on turn 9 when a storm blew up. The is a one-time event which slows the game way down and mandates that the next turn’s weather will be rain. Among its impacts, the storm forced termination of the British raid and prevented a turn of bombardment.
Working in the rain on turn 10 the Sappers began construction of a second redoubt and siege bombardment missed again. By this point in the game most British troops were either back inside their works or nearly so.
The wet weather didn’t last long because it was once again clear on turn 11. Construction of the second redoubt was completed. Spanish siege artillery finally achieved a breach of hexside 2523-2524 on the Prince of Wales redoubt. The defending garrison artillery also took a step loss. In general, the entire Spanish army was inching closer and positioning for Coup d’ Main. Random event cards were drawn but none were played.
On turns 11-12 there was skirmishing behind Spanish lines with the former raiders that were still on the map. In this affair the unsupported Spanish 2nd Brigade artillery was captured but at a high price. Mark lost the Creeks, chief Franchimastabe and (say it ain’t so) the King’s Florida Rangers; a devastating blow. Army Morale 21:14 in favor of the Spanish.
On turn 12 the Spanish mortar achieved a hit but caused no damage. Somewhere along in here the players decided to take a 30-minute break for lunch. It was 2:00 PM, (elapsed time 5-hours.)
Rain returned on turn 13. An assessment of the situation revealed the Spanish with superior morale and holding momentum while the British had failed to receive the POW unit which is a potential reinforcement. Together with the loss of his Red Cliff Fort garrison and several raiders, Mark’s only hope now rested with a sound deployment of his remaining units within the works and in accurate defensive artillery fire whenever the Spanish decided to launch Coup d’ Main.
The wait wasn’t a long one as Father Todd declared his assault on Turn 14.
Final - Coup d’ Main
There is a small amount of admin required when the game transitions from Strategic to Tactical phases. The weather marker is moved to the Coup d’ Main turn track and that weather continues for the rest of play, in this case rain which would handicap all British defensive artillery fire by -1 DRM. The Spanish, having declared Coup d’ Main early (meaning prior to turn 16) were entitled to draw any remaining random event cards called for on the turn track as an early-assault incentive. In this case Father Todd was entitled to one extra random event card while the British were not. Finally, the players review the number of breaches on the board. Having achieved only one breach the Spanish were penalized -1 army morale and the track was re-set to 20:14 in favor of the Spanish as Coup d’ Main began.
Father Todd wasted no time in attacking. De Galvez led an attack through the breach against the Prince of Wales redoubt. The attack was supported by the play of the “Yo Solo!” random event card which gave the Spanish an additional +3 DRM to his attack die roll in addition to standard modifiers. The odds, however, were only 1:3 and even with the good modifiers the result was an attacker disruption. Elsewhere Don Giron attacked Queen Anne’s redoubt at 3:2 but with -3 net DRMs. This attack resulted in a mutual retreat.
The British counter attack at the breach managed to pin the Spanish Sappers. This unit was subsequently eliminated due to a British back-to-back move on the top half of turn 2. Losing the Sappers during the strategic phase of the game is more serious than losing them during Coup d’ Main because as engineers they have limited combat capacity. Nevertheless, Father Todd regretted his careless play in exposing the Sappers at the front line.
During the bottom half of turn 2 de Galvez battled the Pennsylvania Loyalists and would have been captured had it not been for Father Todd spending momentum to re-roll the die. The loss of de Galvez could have been catastrophic so this was certainly a good use of momentum. In the re-roll it was the Loyalists who became captured; turn-about being fair play.
The British moved first on the top of turn 3 and the action swirled around the Prince of Wales redoubt where the British had concentrated their available mobile forces. There was pushing and shoving as when two Sumo wrestlers lock horns.
In the bottom half of the turn the Soria Regiment suffered a step loss from British defensive artillery fire that adjusted army morale to 19:15 in favor of the Spanish. Father Todd also played the “Spanish Navy Raids” random event card that lowered British morale by -1. The Spanish also attacked three times in the turn. At Queen Anne’s redoubt they went in at 3:1 with -2 DRM and caused a disruption. At Prince of Wales redoubt, they went in at 3:2 with -1 DRM and again achieved a disruption. The third attack occurred in hex 2724 at 2:1 even and caused the defender to retreat however the hex was held by artillery and there was no Spanish advance. After the turn the morale was 20:12 in favor of the Spanish.
Turn 4 was relatively quiet. Father Todd spent momentum (he seemed to have a limitless supply) to influence the initiative die roll and failed; a moral victory for Mark’s Brits who successfully rallied two units on their half of the turn bringing morale back to 20:14 in favor of the Spanish. On their half of the turn the Spanish danced.
Determined to win the initiative on turn 5 and exploit Mark’s weakened position Father Todd spent two momentum chits. When added to his bonus for high morale he would be adding +5 to the die roll…and it succeeded. But wait! The card that Mark drew during his earlier intelligence coup was now played; the dreaded “Initiative Shift.” A giddy Father Todd who mere seconds earlier saw victory with in his grasp was now crest-fallen when Mark threw down the card and took initiative for the turn. Three momentum chits spent in two turns to influence initiative and all to no avail. There was an audible groan from among the spectators around the 4’ x 6’ Big Board Games copy of Pensacola that was being used for the final match. And Mark smiled!
Following movement and combat on the top half of the turn morale was readjusted to 18:15 in favor of the Spanish. Is it possible the British were flipping the script?
During the bottom half of turn 5 the 2nd Cataluña regiment was captured (morale 17:16 in favor of Spain.) Brigadier Ezpaleta was killed by defensive artillery fire (morale 17:16, advantage British.) Spanish seamen were disrupted by the Chickasaw (morale 17:15 British.) The British light infantry took a step loss (Morale 16:16) and another Spanish unit was disrupted (army morale at the end of the turn 16:15 in favor of the British. Could Mark actually prevail in the game having trailed throughout? Inquiring minds around the table wanted to know.
The British moved first on turn 6. They rallied a unit and disrupted two Spaniards during combat. (Morale 17:13 British.) On the bottom half of the turn the Spanish captured a British artillery unit and forced a disruption result (morale 15:14 advantage British.) The capture of a British garrison artillery unit moved morale to 15:14 advantage Spain and a final British disruption in the turn left morale at 15:13 advantage Spain. Turns 5 and 6 certainly caused a stir and gave each player cause for both hope and concern. The math seemed to suggest that it was still anybody’s game but the tactical situation on the map indicated otherwise. Queen Anne’s redoubt was severely pressed, the Prince of Wales redoubt was breached and all available British reserves had been committed.
Father Todd finally got his long-awaited double move on the top of turn 7. A Spanish unit rallied but then another received a step loss during British defensive fire. (morale 15:14 Spain.) Then the British position collapsed!
Queen Anne’s redoubt was finally captured and after multiple combat results in the effort the morale stood at 17:12 Spain. The turn saw a lot of combat and after more captures and a British step loss the turn ended with army morale at 21-9 in favor of Father Todd’s Spanish troops including morale gains for having captured the redoubt and burning the Indian village which motivated the final two Indian units still on the board to exit the map. Mark would never come close again. From this pint on it both played like and felt like a mop-up operation.
On their half of turn 7 the British failed every rally attempt and out of desperation, spiked the artillery in the prince of Wales redoubt and withdrew its embattled garrison to the safer confines of Fort George. (Morale 20:8.)
Father Todd was having dizzying success now. He carried the works at Prince of Wales and caused more casualties in the process to readjust morale to 21:6. On the bottom half of turn 8 Mark managed a rally within the walls of Fort George (Morale 21:7.)
Getting a back to back move felt like a Pyrrhic victory for the British forces who used the extra time to set up a final defense in and around Fort George and do some stack management in anticipation of a final do-or-die Spanish attack. Father Todd could certainly have disengaged because he more than had the requirements fulfilled for a marginal victory, as several bystanders pointed out, but his army was led by de Galvez after all and de Galvez would hear nothing of it. On came the Spaniards in an all-out assault on Fort George during the bottom half of turn 9. Praying for a lucky artillery shot that might eliminate de Galvez, Mark was ultimately disappointed in that no Spanish leaders were lost and no casualties were suffered among the attacking troops; just some retreats. The Fort held but the Spanish marginal victory seemed assured in any event.
Mark’s initiative dice remained hot and once again the British got the back to back move. Mark re-set his defense on last time, looking for ways to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. On the Spanish half of the last game turn three attacks hit the walls of the fort. It was daring of Father Todd to take the risk of exposing de Galvez when the game was already won but he wanted a last try for decisive victory. In retrospect it was a noble way to seek glory and worthy of a good player.
The Fort held, de Galvez survived and Father Todd won a marginal victory with final army morale resting on 21:6. The time was 8:40 PM! It had been an eleven-hour and forty-minute match with one thirty-minute meal break; epic in its length, epic in its play and epic in its outcome.
A round of well-deserved applause resonated across the gallery. The protagonists shook hands and hugged and Father Todd, his smile beaming, notched the win after an impressive and dominating display of generalship throughout the week-long tournament.
Many thanks to AGM’s Dave Stiffler and Rob “Cappy” McCracken who helped in all phases of the tournament throughout the week. Rob, in particular, was parked table-side during the final and took the majority of notes from which this AAR is compiled.
CONGRATULATIONS Father Todd Carter; 2019 BoAR WBC CHAMPION.
Postscript: Father Todd improved his AREA rating by 57 places, climbing from 74th to 17th by his virtuosity at this year’s WBC BoAR tournament. An unprecedented achievement!!