Saturday, January 17, 2009



The third Kalamazoo Area Advanced Squad Leader gathering got started on January 9, 2009. Alas, so did one of the heaviest winter storms to hit the area in quite a while. Doug I and decided to open the doors anyway; we had already had to postpone it from a December date and didn’t want to push back any farther, he lived there, and I’m just a few minutes down the road. We were pretty sure it was going to be just Doug and I playing all weekend – 8-10” of snow and wind doesn’t make the best of travel.

To our surprise though several other brave souls braved the winter roads and joined us so here is a recap of the games and players. By the way, I played more then the past two KAASL’s so the AAR’s are not too detailed as I didn’t get to watch the other games much.

Friday January 09

Doug closed his office at 6:00pm and he and I cleared his office, pulled out tables, and set out ASL gear and snacks. Earlier in the day P.J. Norton of Officefest fame called and said he was on the way from the east side of the state so I know we had at least one other dedicated player headed our way. Shortly after 7:00pm we were joined by Geoff Ferguson, a local who occasionally gets a game in, Darin Scriber from the Battle Creek area, Jason Cameron from up north in Grand Rapids, and PJ who easily won the farthest traveler award this blustery evening.

Rocket’s Red Glare (G6): Darin and I sit down and play this early General classic. I’ve played it a couple times before and like both sides. I think we dice for sides and Darin gets the US. Enjoy the game with Darin – but can’t quite get anything to work for me. The Wirblewind doesn’t seem to be able to find ROF, the StuG manages to malf his gun on his second shot, the ART gun on it’s second shot also, meanwhile, Darin calmly pushes the US kill stacks forward hex by hex and grinds into the Germans. It doesn’t look good for me and gets worse when a sniper takes out the leader in my rear building and the squad with him boxcars the LLMC. With my MMG broken and the HMG trying to hold off Darin’s attack through the center of the village I have no one to prevent Darin from running a squad into the rear building so I resign. Oh well, better luck next time – but Darin had everybody in place to take advantage of opportunities, so kudos to him for a great game.

Edge Of Extinction (SP157): Doug Lynes squared off against Jason in this new Schwerpunkt scenario. Doug, playing the US, has to play a cat-and-mouse game with some light US tanks against Jason’s two Tigers. Doug is hot and gets the dice exactly when he needs them. One hit against a tiger and then a follow-up snakes for the TK roll takes one Tiger out (from the front if I recall) and then a few turns later he takes the other Tiger out from the side with a critical hit. Sounded like they both had fun and you knew when Doug rolled the snakes.

Acts Of Defiance (A68): PJ and Geoff settled down to play this favorite. Now Geoff has only played a few SK games and a few ASL games so I was a bit surprised when Geoff wanted to play this. Lots of toys including two Goliaths and this one is certainly larger then it looks. To win as the Germans you really have to know how to use all the tools and I don’t think Geoff has that experience yet. Needless to say, PJ was able to win handily with the Russians but the game went quite late – I think 3am or some such time! Geoff, however, got a good look at some of the toys that that ASL portrays so well.

That evening PJ stayed overnight at Doug’s and the rest of us made the trek home through the snow.

Saturday January 10

Well, for all the snow Friday, Saturday was worse. Jason wisely decided not to make the trip back down from Grand Rapids, and after his very late game, Geoff doesn’t make it back until the afternoon. So, Saturday morning finds Darin and my self back around 9:30am and PJ and Doug join us for more ASL.

Comrade Klimenkov (RPT15): Doug and PJ face with another Tampa Bay club’s scenario, but this time from the Rally Point series. Doug picks up his second win with this one when his Germans, with two King Tigers, hold off PJ’s Russians escorted by four IS-2m’s. Doug gets a big break when PJ pulls three Stalin’s around to out-gun one of the King Tiger’s, but Doug gets a ROF and takes out two of them before slipping away. I was impressed that both of them just didn’t fall asleep in the middle of the game as both were up after 3am with the game against Geoff.

Chance D’une Affaire (U): With PJ playing Doug, Darin and I squared off again. This time with another classic from the early ASL days. This 9-turn, early war French vs. German classic plays pretty quick because the unit size is small. My Germans have to hold back a combined French armor and infantry attack down the length of board 6. Initially I get two Pz IIF’s, but they start abandoned and have a restricted number of times they can move reflecting them being caught by the French in the middle of refueling. Darin plays well on the first turn and manages to just get enough firepower on one of the PzII’s that I never get it re-manned. Unfortunately, that Pz is also the one that could move the most and had the 9-1 armor leader assigned to it. I’ll never get it in play as his infantry move up to over run it. However, my other PzII tightens it’s belt and makes up for it. It only gets two movement phases – but the first one it uses to do a critical overrun on my left flank eating up about 6-8 shots against it and totally disorganizing Darin’s right flank. It’s second movement will take it through another overrun and into a defensive position in the backfield. Meanwhile, I manage to hold Darin’s infantry from moving too quickly through the terrain and he simply runs out of time before taking the needed buildings. This time I get the win.

Ranger Stronghold (T3): Darin and I have to take off in the afternoon, but Geoff arrives and so he and Doug square off for the last scenario of KAASL III. A small tourney scenario from the General magazine is selected. I’m not there to watch this one, but I know that Doug wins his third in a row defeating Geoff in this one.


Considering the intense snow storm that hit at the same time KAASL III was a great time for those who could show up. While we didn’t have as many players show up as the first two gatherings, I really didn’t think anyone other then Doug and I would be there so when Geoff, PJ, Darin, and Jason also arrived it really made for a great winter weekend. In all six scenarios got played by the six of us. Don’t know when Doug and I will host the next one but we’ll notify everyone on our mailing list as soon as we know. Meanwhile, look for PJ Norton’s Officefest sometime in February.


Friday, October 17, 2008


AAR – ASLOk XXII – 2008

Back to the best of times….

Last year I had one of the most enjoyable times at ASLOk I’ve had – aside from going 0-4. This year I managed to get on the winning side also.

I drove over to ASLOk after teaching my last class at KVCC and found my roommate Ben Richardson. Ben’s one of the Grand Rapids guys and we have roomed together a couple of times for the Chicago Open. The hotel has changed this year – no longer in Middleburg Heights and the new hotel is much improved. We have the 6th floor all to ourselves with a private bar and small lounge equipped with a big screen TV. The hotel staff is great and the cleanliness and natural window lighting is a big plus. The name tags are the same style as the previous year – but features what I think is the Japanese 70mm infantry gun on it. The shirts are the ASL Japanese yellow color with a Japanese tank featured on the front. I use the evening mostly to get settled in, grab a drink and find Glen Housemen. I play-tested for him this past year and he has a couple of ESG Dezign Packs for me. I chat around a bit, look over the new place and then head to bed looking forward to the first mini in the morning.

Friday October 10 – Round One of the ‘Take No Prisoners’ Mini

As the name implies, this mini-tournament features battles where prisoners won’t be taken. This pretty much means Japanese for the most part. This should be intriguing because while I’ve played PTO at home quite a bit, I have never entered a mini that is set in the PTO. Should be interesting to see what happens.

My first round is against Scott Houseman. Glen’s brother and partner in the Detroit area Eastside Gamers crew, he’s already been up here a few days and is pretty tired. We choose a Schwerpunkt scenario “Nunshigum” and dice for sides. I’ll get the attacking Gurhka’s and Scott, the defending Japanese. Small scenario that swirls around a multi level hill in light jungle.

Unlike last year, this first round is all mine. I attack fairly aggressively, wanting to find his dummies and then focus the British firepower on the real units while preventing a small reinforcing group from getting on the victory hill – I need to clear the upper hill levels of all Japanese. I get lucky the first couple turns moving through (and discovering) the dummy stacks he has and then slide two British half-squads into a melee with two Japanese full squads. I’m hoping just to either pin them down or pick up one Japanese squad. The dice gods smile at me and I eliminate both Japanese squads for the loss of only one half squad. Big blow to the Japanese in this size of a scenario. I keep pushing the attack and clear the hill about a turn early. Seeing no possibility of a counter attack, Scott resigns. Only takes a couple hours to play and I’m on to the second round.
1 - 0

Friday October 10 – Round Two of “Take No Prisoners”

I report the win to Brett (the TD) and he tells me that this mini is only two rounds long (not the usual three) because some guys dropped out. Cool, better chance at a plaque. He points out the other first round game and I head over to let them know I’ll be playing the winner. They finish fairly soon also and I meet my next opponent, Jack Daniels from Virginia. Ex military and the winner of a mini the previous day. Looks to be a challenge. This second round won’t be easy.

We select the classic “Totsugeki!”. It’s been a round for a long time, has a great track record for being balanced, and features the Japanese attacking through Chinese troops to seize and destroy three Chinese guns. We’ve both played this once before so we dice for sides. I get the attacking Japanese and Jack will set up the defending Chinese. I attack primarily up the center and quite aggressively knowing that time is an issue in this scenario. I send a couple squads on the far right flank but they run into trouble when a nice defensive fire roll K/2’s one of the squads. Meanwhile, my single mortar gets set up, but can’t hit a thing. Regardless, a couple of Banzai’s and some encircling shots break through the strongpoints that Jack sets up and the rest of my forces flow around the defenders and into the gun area. I capture the first gun on turn two, the second on turn three, and the by the end of turn four have broken the crew on the last gun and can advance in on my next turn unopposed. Jack resigns on turn 4 of a 7 turn scenario. Good victory for me. Not only to I win the plaque for the mini (always a personal goal of mine) but the win is against another very solid player who had won a plaque the day before.
2 - 0

Friday October 10 – Open gaming

Since my second round ended fairly early I’ve got the rest of the afternoon and evening to pick up an open game. Phil Pomerantz (Pennsylvania) asks if I’m looking for a game so we hook up for my third scenario of the evening. Phil has been around the ASL circuit for quite a while and I see his postings quite often on the various internet forums. He’s also had success in the tournament level so I’m looking forward to playing someone of his experience. Looking for something new, we select Tanks But No Tanks from the latest Schwerpunkt scenario pack. Dicing for sides I get the defending Polish. Phil gets the attacking Russians and will have to kick me out of 3 of 4 buildings. It’s a classic fighting withdrawal into a last ‘Alamo’ position and I usually have pretty good success with these scenarios as the defender. Phil brings on the Russians somewhat cautiously and I get in a couple good shots and then pull back before his armor can surround me. I get a break when one of his tanks breaks the main gun and then the cmg. Another one will fail its mechanical reliability check and immobilize out of play. Regardless, he pushes me out of two of the buildings fairly easily (although I don’t even try to defend the farthest one out) and focuses on the large center building as the last of the three he needs. In the end, a concealed crew in the steeple wins it for me as what fire he can get on it fails to even cause a PTC and he concedes knowing he won’t be able to physically get to that crew and take the building. Actually, I still have several units in the building on the second to last turn and feel pretty secure the last couple of turns. Win my third game in a row.
3 - 0

Saturday October 11 – Round One of the “Best New Artist” mini

The Saturday mini I’m in features scenarios that are being released at ASLOk so no one outside of the design team has seen them. My first round opponent is Chas Argent (Maryland). Chas is a great player and part of the MMP crew that produces the ASL line. I’ve played Chas before and won by literally one MF when an infantry unit that he had to exit to win a scenario ended up one movement point short of exiting. Doesn’t get much closer then that.

We look over the scenario list and choose an ESG design called “Patton’s Pride”. I get the Italians and Chas is the attacking Americans. He needs to choose (in secret and before I set up) either to capture three buildings or capture two Italian artillery pieces. After he makes his choice, I set up the Italians. While there are several good places to set the Italian defense, it is in a very restricted area and there is not really any chance of falling back and rallying as the US enters from both the front and the rear of the Italian position. With the Italian’s low morale and the heavy firepower of the US, this doesn’t look to be pretty.

The scenario plays out pretty evenly throughout the game. I get enough firepower down to keep Chas from rushing in too quickly, but at the same time, he gradually wears down my Italians as the superior US firepower gradually cracks each of my defense points. Finally, it comes down to the movement phase of the last turn. Chas selected the Gun victory condition and he has already captured one of the guns. On the last turn he is adjacent to the last gun (which its cowardly crew fled from the previous turn). It comes down to a single recovery die roll. Chas makes the roll and captures the gun in the movement phase. Oh well, fun scenario and I enjoy playing Chas. My first lose – but I’ve already got my plaque for the weekend and it was a good playing.
3 - 1

Saturday October 11 – Open Gaming

Well, now I have the rest of the day open to play. I look around for someone else who lost their first round and would be interested in playing a single larger scenario for the rest of the day. I hook up with Ray Wolozyn (North Carolina) who is looking for the same thing. I’ve played Ray once before several years ago. He beat me in a scenario of Clear That Roadblock but I remember really enjoying the play. Ray was also the very first Grofaz winner of ASLOk. I’m really looking forward to playing him again.

We select Shattered Bone & Burning Flesh. One of those colorfully titled ESG scenarios that have just been released at ASLOk. We dice for sides, I get the Germans and Ray the defending Russians. I have to either exit 22 points off the far board edge or capture most of the buildings that the Russians are defending. To do this, I have an attacker’s dream order of battle. Two King Tigers, a flamethrowing halftrack, a Puma armored car and elite troops accompanied by three squads of assault engineers. Three heavy assault guns each with a smoke depletion of 10, and a couple of halftracks to zip around in. In front of me, some 1st line and elite Russian infantry, an AT gun, a heavy artillery piece, and a mean 82mm mortar. On turn two Ray will get two SU-85 TD’s and a SU-122 assault gun.

Just looking it over, I’m a bit suspicious. This looks easy for the German. I’ve got the dream attack force and there just doesn’t look to be enough Russians to hold them off.

Well we start it off. Regardless of whether there are enough Russians or not – it doesn’t matter. I completely dice Ray. Everything I try works. Doesn’t matter what it is – smoke dispensers, smoke grenades, low odds shots etc. Everything Ray tries the dice fail him. He doesn’t just fail morale checks, he box cars them. His .50 cal breaks, his MMG breaks. I send a light screening force off my right flank. Discover his two 6-2-8 squads concealed in the gulley and proceed to break them with low odds advancing fire. I swing everything else down the board side left flank and proceed to blow out every Russian unit in front of me. I run some German half squads to soak up fire from his front MMG nest. He misses his rolls and when I roll up my flame halftrack adjacent to them…I proceed to roll a 3 and we just pick the pieces up off of the board. I slide one of my halftracks up to take advantage of the hole. Oops, I find out I pulled adjacent to the AT gun. Looks like I’ll lose the HT. But wait, not in this game. He hits the ‘track, but then duds the To Kill DR. And on that roll, with almost all his infantry taken out of play and me having lost no units at all he resigns on the first part of turn two even before his armor enters. He really has nothing left to stop my infantry from taking every building by turn three or four. Both my King Tigers are in perfect position to take out his reinforcing armor and I have a strong infantry screen in front of them to prevent any Russian flanking attacks by the armor that gets on board. Doesn’t get any prettier for me – but it’s too bad the dice played such an unbalanced variable in the game. I pick up my fourth win – but it certainly didn’t turn out to be the game that Ray and I were looking for. This one looks heavily in favor of the Germans. I’m not even sure what the Russians can do to hold of the German force.
4 -1

The Coda…

I end ASLOk 2008 with a 4 – 1 record and take home a mini tourney plaque. All of my opponents were great players and a real joy to game against. The hotel is much improved over the past few years and, like always, I game away with a few more insights into the game. After I got home, Todd Wiley came over on Monday and we pulled out Shattered Bone & Burning Flesh. I want to try it as the Russians and see if it really is as unbalanced as it seems to be. We got through the first two turns with my Russians doing much better then Rays did. ‘Course, Todd wasn’t rolling the dice like I was so maybe this will be a more typical playing. Still, it looks tough on the Russians. We’ll see what happens.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Chicago Open 2008

AAR – Chicago Open – 2008

Just got back from the 2008 Chicago Open. I drove over with Ben and Mark again this year. I blogged the AAR from last year on an earlier page so I won’t repeat the description of the Open or how the scoring works; you can check out my earlier blog for that. This one will focus just on the games themselves.

Friday April 04 – Round One & Two

I check in with the tourney director David Goldman when I arrive and then check the seeding for the first round. This is my third time at the Open. In 2006 I was seeded 64th out of 66 and ended up in 37th place. Last year I was seeded 44th out of 56 and ended up in the same standing; 37th. Apparently that is a clue for the tourney director as he seeds me 37th out of 52 this year. Well, slowly moving up and with the higher seeding I have the potential to play stronger players any wins I get should be worth more points.

In the first round I’m matched up against Mike Stubits – a local from the Chicago area. I’ve never played him before and don’t know anything about him. He seems (and will turn out to be) a real nice guy and I enjoy the game. We pick Elephants Unleashed (FrF23) and roll for sides. In this 1943 scenario my defending Russians have to prevent a fairly hefty German force (including 3 PzJg Tigers and supporting Pz III’s and a Pz IV) from exiting units off the far edge of the map or controlling a set of buildings in the Russian set-up area. While my on-board defenders are fairly weak (essentially four squads with some defending stuff) I get a good body of reinforcements in the form of two SU-152 tank destroyers and 5 late model T-34/76’s with some engineers. Briefly, the first two turns go well for Mike. His forces waltz through some minefields in touched – I get worried as I really don’t delay him much. But then after I get my armor on I take out a Jg Tiger with a 152, he Immobilizes and second one on a start-up DR, and the third one malf’s its’ main gun leaving it defense-less. Meanwhile a T-34 takes out a Pz III and a thrown DC from an engineer squad takes out the Pz IV. The second Pz III bogs itself on some wire and is soon targeted by two T-34’s just as he unbogs – but uses too many MP to be able to stop and gets caught in-motion. By the end of turn 3 Mike realizes he isn’t going to achieve either victory condition and gracefully resigns. My winning the armor battle has won me the scenario. Off to a good start. I’m 1-0 and will start the second round seeded in 19th but just as important for me – Mike will go on to win his next three scenarios so his wins count on my total point score. He’ll end the tourney in 32nd place with a 3 – 3 record and 33 points.

Round two finds me matched up with another 1-0 player, Dave McLee from Rockford, Ill. Another player who I don’t know and another very enjoyable person to play. We pick J27 – High Tide At Heiligenbeil. His Russians supported by four SU-76 assault guns have to gain control of a large building on map 45. In this 7 turn scenario, Dave elects to try a strong sweep along my left flank. Unfortunately for him, I had hidden the AA gun on that side. By turn three the crew has shrugged off several MC’s and brings his whole attack to a complete halt. This gives me time to displace my HMG and MMG over to that side and essentially pin almost his whole force against the board edge. Dave sees the writing on the wall and resigns at the end of turn three. He’ll end the tourney in 47th place with 11 points. With the second win and points from both Dave and Mike I move up to 7th (the highest I’ve been in the three years going to the Open) with 22 points. Last year I was 1-1 and holding the 22nd place after two rounds.

For me it is a great start to the tourney and with both scenarios finishing fairly quickly I get to turn in early and get some sleep. Can’t ask for anything better then that.

Saturday April 05 – Round Three, Four, and Five

Course, the problem with ending Friday in 7th is that I know I’ll be matched up against top caliber players. Wes Vaughn (Fayetteville, Arkansas) is my next match. I played Wes several years ago at ASLOK in the final round of a three round mini. Wes proceeded to enlighten me on how to use early war armor as he easily beat me. One of the few times I’ve learned fundamental concepts that changed how I approach the game by playing another player. Wes is always a tourney contender and I believe he has won a few tourneys. We pick Rostov Redemption (FrF11). The scenario starts off with a pretty good start for me. I take no losses and bloody his nose a couple of times – but I’m also having to pull back a bit faster then I want and I leave a couple squads too far out on my right flank to make it back into the building I’m defending. Regardless, I’m in decent shape by turn 5 (of a 7 turn scenario) with quite a few units and leaders in the building and in a decent position to pull off a win. But during the turn everything collapses at once. When I advance a concealed squad into an unconcealed half-squad next to the building – my hopefully ambush turns on me when I miss the ambush roll, miss the attack on him, and then his half squad eliminates my squad. On his next turn, his prep fire phase shatters my defenses – breaking every single unit in the building on a series of NMC/1MC checks followed by me rolling all 8’s or higher. We go into my turn 5 and when not a single unit rallies (and he will be able to keep every unit DM) I resign as there is no possible way for me to prevent him from moving more units into the building and eliminating my units by failure to rout – he already has one squad blocking the rear stairwell. At the time I was pretty happy with my play but upon reflection I did have three fundamental mistakes: 1. I should have been much more aware of protecting the stairwell hexes. Then broken units could rout up to the upper levels and he would have to dig them out. With only two turns left – he might not have been able to do that; 2. I should have placed the AT gun and crew HIP in one of the victory buildings. Steve Dennis pointed out that this is a no-brainer – but I guess I was over thinking the placement and didn’t see the forest through the trees. I think Steve is right on that finally; 3. I should have pulled back the two flanking squads a turn sooner. We moved in quickly to cut them off from the building. If they could have gotten there the extra two squads would have made a difference. A more subtle mistake was that I used the 5-2-7’s in the delaying screen in the beginning. I think I should have used the 4-4-7’s instead. I needed the 5-2-7’s in the building and not the 4-4-7’s that I had planned on. If it had gone down to some CC’s – the 5-2-7’s would have been in their best environment. But it is a dice game and everything did collapse at once so I take my first lose. Wes will go on to place 5th with a 5-2 record and 70 points. I do gain a point from Mike winning again (giving me more ‘strength of schedule’ points) so I’m at 23 points but drop to 11th as some other players move into the 3-0 category.

In round 4 I’m matched up with Larry Zoet from Grand Rapids. Funny, we travel all this way to play each other and we only live about an hour away back in Michigan. We’ve played a couple times. Last time we met was at Oktoberfest and I came out on top in a mini-tournament. We’re good friends and I enjoy playing and chatting with him. We pick RPT 18 Worker’s Settlement No. 8. Strange beginning. Larry’s first combat roll breaks his primary machine gun and his second roll immobilizes his only armor – an early model T-34. This scenario is too small to win with both those major pieces out of play on the first turn (and the T-34 is gone for the game now) so Larry simply resigns. I don’t really know what to make of it. It is a tourney and these things happen – but we really didn’t play and I don’t want to take a win I didn’t at least get a chance to make a dice roll in. So I offer to just simply play a mulligan and start all over. Weird thing is, on the restart he then stalls the T-34 (almost immobilizing it again). Anyway, his attack (held up a bit by the T-34 stalling) runs into what turns into a pretty strong wall of defense. I get good rolls, he doesn’t get the breaks and by turn 4 it is pretty clear he isn’t going to penetrate through my defenses enough to win. We play it through to pretty much the end but the last few turns were just for fun. I think the scenario is tough on the Russians (Larry’s side) and on top of that I had strong die rolls through out the scenario. I immobilized the T-34 with street-fighting and generated two heroes and a fairly small scenario. Tough break for Larry as he had gotten off to a great start in the tourney. Larry goes on to pick up two more wins and finishes 4-3 with 50 points – exactly 1 point and 1 place behind me at 15th. I move up to 8th place with 36 points with a 3–1 record. Last year I was in 20th after the fourth round. What a difference a win and stronger schedule makes.

Round 5. Well of course back up in 8th means I’m back up with the big guns again. No exception this time. Jason Eickmann (Indianapolis, IN) – always a strong contender and experienced tourney player – is my next match. We square off with The Prelude To Spring – I’m the attacking Russians. I play well. I get through the first several turns with all my armor intact and his armor pinned behind some woods. I’m in good shape to make a rush for the exit VP with all 5 of my tanks (I only need to get three off if I have at least 1 squad riding or the armor leader in one of the tanks). But then fate steps in. His gun crew rallies and hauls but across several hexes of open ground (passing all the checks from three -2 shots). Slides up adjacent to my T-34 with the leader in it – and proceeds to calmly find a panzerfaust and fires a way. Scratch my armor leader option and one fast tank. Ratz… Well, I still have 4 tanks – two with riders. I pull over in front of his PzIV’s with my SU-100 and two JS-II’s. He doesn’t have great shots at me (shooting through a couple orchard hexes and being buttoned up) but his first ‘acquisition’ shot with APCR rolls a three (he needed a 4) and proceeds to toast the SU-100. OK…I’m still OK with a T-34 and two JS w/riders left. Ooops…not so fast. His other PzIV fires HE (he really can’t do much against the front of the JS) at the tank hoping for a hit and collateral damage on the riders and CD crew. Bang – critical hit. OK, well, the CH doesn’t actually hurt the tank and doesn’t inflict more damage to the PRC – but when I roll a 12 for the JS crew that recalls the JS. Leaving me with only two tanks left and no reasonable chance to make up the points from my remaining infantry. Wow – that changed tide quickly. Well, I’m pretty happy with my play and gave Jason a game. However, I really had no reason to have the CE crew on the JS – the benefit probably wasn’t worth the risk and I should have bounding fired the T-34 at the crew before starting with the hope of pinning or even breaking him. I guess I just didn’t think he would both find a PF and get a hit and I wanted to be able to fire in the advancing fire phase at his armor. Jason goes on to finish 12th with a 4-2 record and 52 points – 1 point ahead of me. I drop down to 15th with 37points and a 3-2 record. Game ends at a decent time so I get a drink in the hotel bar, chat with Jason and a couple other guys then turn in for the night.

One win and two losses for the day, but the two loses are both good games against great opponents and the third win ties me with my best record at the Open. I was 3-3 my first year going.

Sunday April 06 – Round Six

Ben, Mark and I decide to just play the morning round (6th) and then head home. Ben and Mark pair up to play buddy matches – but I don’t see a whole lot of value in it and I’d rather just play my normal pairing so I stay within the regular seeding match-up as I think it will be Pete Shelling.

When the adjusted pairings are posted I see I am matched up with Pete. Pete is both the ‘Grofaz slayer’ (having beaten Bob Bendis {the 2006 ASLOK Champ} twice now) and an incredible scenario designer. Oh – he is also quite a good player. I chat with him all the time at ASLOK and we play tested one of his Ponyri scenarios a couple years ago at ASLOK. I’m looking forward to this match.

He suggests AP18 – Village Of The Damned. I mention that I play tested this for Mark Pitcavage (the designer) in an early iteration of it – but that doesn’t bother him. We dice for sides and I get the Russians. He sets up his mixed force of Italians and Germans and we’re off. I know the Russian has to move quickly to cover a lot of ground against a fairly brittle Axis force so I take off running – making good guesses as to what are dummies and what are real units. I play a strong attacking game but am helped by things going my way. I just make my morale checks and he just misses his. I get into good positions early on and get a multitude of encircling shots. His units then break on NMC’s and 1MNC and I swipe in to capture them. By the end of the game I’ve captured about 4-5 squads and 2 leaders. It really simply goes my way and there isn’t much he can do about the dice. On his turn 4 my defensive fire breaks his last units on the board and them game is over. For me it’s a great victory – but a tough one for Pete as nothing he trieded to do paid off and everything I tried worked. Pete will finish 3-4 with 39 points and in 24th place. I get my 4th win, end up with 51 points and the final placing of 14th with a 4-2 record. Fantastic finish for me.

Last Thoughts

Well after a disappointing last year at Chicago this more then made up for it. I was hoping to simply get in the top half – maybe around 25th place or so. The 14th out of 52 was more then I expected. In addition I picked up some more ideas on how to play certain types of scenarios and feel pretty good that I’ll take away some ideas that will make me even more competitive in the future. That’s the benefit of getting to play opponents you don’t normally play and witness different styles of play that you don’t see in your area.

….course at 14th I’ll get seeded a lot higher then 37th next year so I’ll be right in the frying pan from the 1st round….

…but I’ll be there : )


PS: Michigan was well represented. There were six of us there and everyone placed in the upper 22. The highest place was Jeff DeYoung from Grand Rapids who ended with a 4-3 record, but with 56 points to end up in 9th place. He only lost to the eventual 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers. The other achievement was Mark DeVries – who after losing his first two matches on Friday ended up winning one of the mini-tournament plaques by going 3-0 on Saturday.

Monday, October 22, 2007



Over the weekend of October 19-20 the KAASL (Kalamazoo Area Advanced Squad Leader) club got together and hosted the first KAASL gathering. Loosely based on P.J. Norton’s long running Officefest on the east side of the state, Doug and I had been talking about hosting something similar at his chiropractic office on this side of the state. When his tenant moved out this month we realized that this was probably the best window to see if we could pull off a larger gathering then the informal one-day ‘house’ gatherings that we had done in the past. E-mails were sent out right after Oktoberfest and even though it didn’t give everyone much heads-up (something we’ll work to improve on next time) we had a great first-time turn out. What follows is an AAR of the event.

Friday October 19

Doug closed his office at 6:00pm and he and I cleared his office, pulled out tables, and set out ASL gear and snacks (including two home-made apple pies courtesy of my wife) and drinks. Shortly after 7:00 Todd Wiley, Geoff Ferguson, and D.J. Florian arrive. All three are locals - Todd and I play weekly and we are in the middle of a KGP campaign game. Geoff is an avid board-gamer, but just recently caught the ASL bug through the starter kits. He and I have played about 5 SK scenarios so far. D.J. is an occasional ASL player and plays when his schedule allows. Todd and Doug pair up to play “T-Patchers” and Geoff and D.J. settled into a SK scenario “Ambitious Assault”. I play host and help coach D.J. and Geoff through rules issues. It also gave me time to set up my defense for the next day’s game against Mark.

T-Patchers (G25): I haven’t played this scenario before so kept looking in to see how it was going. Doug’s US troops, led by his Shermans, pushed straight up the center early in the game. It was looking pretty good for Doug early on, especially when Todd’s AT gun malfunctions. Then a major infantry stack of Doug’s hit a minefield and Todd repaired the AT gun. Some slowed-up infantry and a couple destroyed Shermans later and Todd had bloodied Doug’s nose and blunted his assault. They’ll play until 1:00 in the morning when it will go down to the last turn and Doug pulling out a win by avoiding the CVP cap by 1 CVP.

Ambitious Assault (S9): D.J. gets the Italian defenders in this one. He spreads his defense out through-out the village in the center of the board. He has to defend on both ends as on one flank the US come in and on the other flank the British enter. D.J. will throw a couple of speed bumps up on a hill to slow the US attack down. When Geoff enters on the US side things don’t go quite as planned. D.J.’s speed bump Italian squad, supported by an Italian HMG across the board, hole up in a stone building and decide to earn the Italian medal of valor by stopping cold each US squad that attempts to get past them. That single squad will alone survive 4 turns before finally withdrawing in good order back into the village. On the other flank, Geoff will enter the British reinforcements, but having only 2-3 turns with them on the board, can’t push far enough into the village to make up for the delayed US attack on the other side. Fun game to watch, but D.J.’s experience paid off dividends as Geoff struggled to get the US attack going past the Italian defense. D.J. and Geoff will finish around 10:30 with D.J.’s Italians holding out for a win.

Saturday October 20

Geoff and D.J. had job commitments for Saturday, but Todd, Doug, and I were all back along with a contingent of guys from up north – well, at least as far north as Grand Rapids. Around 10am Mark DeVries, Jim Haller, Ben Richardson, and Larry Zoet pull into the parking lot. We match up for games, pull the grill out, and start day two rolling the dice.

Terrify and Destroy (SP 146): Mark and I had arranged ahead of time to play this one. I had set it up the evening before so it didn’t take long for Mark to settle in and get his off-board US lined up. My Germans get 4 Jagd Tigers and a couple of Flakwagons with supporting infantry, but set up in three different areas that really don’t support each other. The US has three 76L armed M4’s along with two more 75mm M-4’s, a Stuart light tank, and another M4 mounting the 105mm gun supported by a halftrack and 14 elite US squads. The scenario starts off furiously with a pretty aggressive US tank attack from two sides. My defending Germans get a few breaks and by turn 4-5 Mark has lost all the 76L mounted M4’s and his 105. Another M4 75 is staring down the barrel of a Jagd Tiger as is the Stuart. All I’ve lost is a single Jagd Tiger to street fighting and I really haven’t had to give up much ground. Looking over the scenario, Mark concedes that he isn’t going to be able to kick me out of 3 of the 4 buildings needed in the time left and there is still enough time left to get in another scenario. So, we switch sides and play again. The second playing is much more intense. It goes the full distance ending in the CC phase of the last player turn with my US infantry finally taking the third building away from the two 5-4-8 squads defending it. A strange playing as I rolled something like a dozen 12’s and an equal number of 2’s. Definitely not bell-curve rolls on my end. The 12’s were frustrating – but balanced by the 2’s. A key point in the game was Mark’s 9-2 breaking on a NMC caused 6fp +3 shot from a M4’s machine guns. I also got fortunate with DI shots against two of the Jadg Tigers effectively taking them out of the game relatively early on. To his credit, Mark had an outstanding counter-attack by a Jadg Tiger and squad early in the game which bagged about 5 squads and a leader in the first two turns via a melee and then withdrawal behind me to end up eliminating several US units due to FTR.

White Star, Black Cross: Ben Richardson and Todd Wiley went head-to-head in this Scott Holst play test. Ben had brought down one of Jeff DeYoung’s 3-D boards built for this scenario. I didn’t get a chance to watch much of this game – being involved in my own scenario with Mark – but from what I saw Ben got off to a rough start with several malfunctions the first few turns. Eventually though, Ben recovers enough for his German attack to finally defeat Todd’s US defenders. Maybe one (or both of them) will chime in here and add more to this AAR.

Strange Allies: The last three (Larry, Doug, and Jim) joined up to play a three-player scenario by Steve Swann. Not published yet, Strange Allies takes place with in a couple weeks after the end of WWII in Europe. On the island of Crete, communist partisans (Jim Haller) are attacking a unit of British troops (Larry Zoet). The surrounded British send a call out to their recently surrendered German “prisoners” (Doug Lynes) and order them to counter-attack the partisans and ‘rescue’ their British captors. Strange…. Like Ben and Todd’s game, I didn’t get to see much of this one either, but from what I heard Larry and Doug didn’t have a lot of trouble containing the partisans. It sounds like this scenario needs a bit more balancing before it is published as they all thought it was hard on the partisans.


By about 6:00pm all the games had wrapped up. The GR guys had to head back up north so we called it a day. Between my two games I had started the grill and we had burgers and brats available as needed. Lesson learned – don’t try to play a scenario and work a grill. Let’s put it this way – no one could order their burgers medium rare…or for that matter even medium. Well-done was par for the course. Mark DeVries surprisingly finished off the last piece of pie so I didn’t have to bring any back home. It looked like everyone had a great time. We had 9 different guys show up and got in 6 scenarios. Not bad for the very first gathering and on short notice. Doug and I will get together over the next few weeks and start looking at dates for the next gathering. We’ll get the word out much earlier next time. Thanks to everyone who showed up and to all who replied to the original email with support and best wishes. Especially PJ and his phone call on Saturday. Hopefully we’ll see even more folks next time.
Update: Originally this was posted as Officefest West with deferance to PJ's Officefest that he organizes on the East side of the state. At his quite reasonable request I've changed the name of our event to KAASL and have gone back and edited this posting to reflect that change. CG

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

ASLOk 2007

AAR – ASLOk XXI – 2007

It was the best of times – it was the worst of times…

Murphy’s Law…

Well, that pretty much sums up my past weekend at ASLOk XXII. Last year (see my previous blog) I went 4-1 and won a mini-tournament plaque (almost won a second one!) and felt pretty much on top of my game. Didn’t happen that way this year – but that’s OK.

I drove over to ASLOk after teaching my last classes at KVCC and Kalamazoo College. I arranged ahead of time to room with Jim Taylor – we connected up with a couple games this past year and the rooming worked out very conveniently for us. When I got into Middleburg Heights I checked in at the registration table and picked up my shirt and name tag. Same tag style as last year; but with a US ‘Stuart’ tank on it. The olive drab shirt features a crewed HMG amongst some rubble and, although dark, is a nice color. I look around for the Schwerpunkt guys as I need to pick up the next Schwerpunkt pack for the mini tomorrow but it doesn’t look like any are around that evening. I do find Glennbo and he gives me a couple of the Eastside Gamers #3 packs. I play tested several scenarios in the pack for Glen and these were the comps for that. Glen, Scot and Eric have done a great job with the first two packs – and after play testing the 3rd pack I’m sure this will be just as good. I want to play the ‘Destroy All Monsters’ scenario some day – just sounds too cool.

Too late for a game so I chat with a bunch of guys and then head up to the room to watch Boston beat L.A. and go up 2 – 0 in the play-offs and then turn in to get some sleep.

Friday October 5 – Round One of the Schwerpunkt 13 Mini

Last year I won the Schwerpunkt 12 mini so I figured what the heck, lets sign up for that one again. The advantage to this mini is that no one really knows the scenarios as they are all new and first released at ASLOk. The disadvantage is that you really don’t know if they are balanced at all. Last year I was pretty lucky and choose the side that in the end would be slightly favored in tournament play. That certainly didn’t hurt my chances.

I’m matched up with Craig Houliston (Lino Lake, MN) for the first round. I’ve heard Craig’s name around the circuit the last few years and I know he won one of the mini’s last year so I’m guessing we’re probably pretty on par with each other. Looking at the list we select The Legrew Maneuver (SP 150). This scenario features a German withdrawal in front of a faster and more numerous US force. The Germans have to exit ≥ 26 EVP and at least 4 of the EVP have to be infantry MMC’s. The Germans have 2 JgPz IV(L) and 3 PzIVJ’s and 8 squads with a smattering of support weapons. The US has 10 squads and a variety of 6 tanks including one very quick M10 GMC – the little guy is literally twice as fast as anything the Germans have.

The Germans set up on board first. I pick one side – I’ll withdraw along a side so I only have to protect one flank. However, the US moves first. Craig quickly pushes down my ‘protected’ side along a woods road catching me a bit by surprise. At the end of this first turn he ends up where I anticipated he would be on turn 2 – not good for me. On the other flank he quickly moves the M4A3, M10, and 3 of the 4 M4’s into flanking positions to try and get flank shots on the area I’ll have to withdraw through. That I expect. On my turn 1 I crank up a JgPz to engage the sole M4 on the woods-road. Pull into the mouth of the woods-road and face the M4. Good odds for me. My supporting mmg team gets hot and shreds the only squad that might have a CC chance against the JgPz and the M4’s gun pretty much can’t touch my front armor; and my gun will shred him. Facing that Craig calls for a D.I. (deliberate immobilization) shot. He rolls a snake eyes to hit getting both the hull hit and (after we figure it out) the exact number he needed to hit me. I roll a 10 for my crew immobilization task check – and the crew of fools abandon the much safer JgPz for the open ground and are then promptly KIA’d with a follow-up MG shot from the tank. Murphy’s law… I’ll take this M4 out the next turn with my Psk team, but the real damage is done. This is a serious problem for me as the PzJg and crew are 7 EVP of the 35 EVP I have in vehicles. I’ve only have 28 left now.

The rest of the scenario proceeds OK – I’ll lose a Pz IV to tank fire but exit a second one (that malf’d it’s MA) by turn 4 of 5. That tank gave me only 5 EVP because of the malf’d gun but the remaining Pz IV w/armor leader (8EVP) and the last PzJg (7EVP give me enough points to exit to win (I’ve got another 6 EVP of infantry that can literally advance off the board at my leisure) and two more turns of movement left. I’ve pretty much recovered from the initial loss of the PzJg although getting the last PzJg off will be tough because he’ll have to risk at least one if not 2 shots as he exits – the PzIV can exit easily. Craig slides his armor in behind a flanking hedge to interdict my armor. I’m not worried – his bounding fire or advancing fire shots are pretty low chances and the odds are in my favor as I can spend a defensive fire phase and prep fire phase to take them out and still exit. That is until Craig decides to take a low odds BFF shot on my Pz IV w/armor leader. Boom…I don’t recall if it was a critical hit or simply a ‘3’ that he needed – but he hits the Pz IV and burns it. Gone is 8 more points and that’s game as now I don’t have the points to exit. Bummer. Out in the first round. Regardless – Craig was an excellent opponent and I really enjoyed the game. This one looks tough for the Germans because it is easy for the US to swarm around to the rear and the German tanks are slow and very vulnerable from the sides. As an opponent – the best of times. Taking a first round lose – the worst of times. Murphy’s Law – the snake D.I. and crew bailing and the BFF shot. 0 - 1

Friday October 5 – Open Game

Well, the nice thing about losing in the first round is that you can now play who ever and what ever you want to – and with over 140 fellow ASL’s in attendance getting a game is never a problem. I hook up with Rich Domovic (Chicago, Ill). Rich and I played in St. Louis where he won and went on to place a couple places ahead of me in 9th and has been in town this past week playing in the Euro vs. US tourney. He is 9 – 4 so far and was the most valuable player for the US. However, I had a great time playing him and was excited to see he was out of his first round mini also. We pick another SP scenario called ‘The Zebra Mission’ (SP 147). We dice for sides and I get (again) the defending Germans.

Zebra mission looks cool – a medium small scenario with a bit of everything. A variety of 9 German squads assisted by a PzJgIII/IV and a FlaKPz IV/20 has to survive an onslaught of 9 heavy firepower but lower morale US squads, a M3(MMG) halftrack, 2 M4A3(75)w’s and a Pershing (M-26). Don’t get to see Pershing’s very often so this looks cool. I do OK in the first 3 of 6 turns. Playing cat & mouse I keep the US from pushing into the city too hard but on turn 3 everything collapses. Back-to-back box cars against a probing US squad malfunctions my only strong SW (a HMG) and a supporting LMG. With this suddenly appearing huge hole in my defense Rich floods across the street and pins my guys against a second row of buildings where they can’t rout from. A turn later about a 1/3 of my force is eliminated through breaking and/or melee. To make matters worse – my FlaKPz I moved over to protect their rear is taken out by the Pershing who splits a LOS diagonally across the board through two buildings I was sure blocked the LOS. A nice low roll To Hit and down goes the highest firepower producer I have. Then the PzJg runs out of HE after his first shot. He’ll be swarmed by infantry, immobilized, and then the crew will abandon only to be shot down. Turn 5 finds me with 3 good order MMC’s in a building – but they are encircled and surrounded by US squads and tanks. By the end of the turn they will all be broken/eliminated and that’s game. Enjoyed playing Rich again – and I’ll look for him anytime I have an open spot to play (the good times). The worst of time is I’m now 0-2. Murphy’s law – back to back malf’s on my HMG and LMG opening up my main defense, the ‘I’m sure it’s blocked’ LOS that wasn’t, and the PzJg running out of HE on his second shot. We do a late dinner together at Damon’s and then after socializing some I head upstairs to watch some baseball. 0 - 2

Saturday October 6 – Round One of the ‘Twilight of the Reich’ Mini

Saturday morning I’m up for the next mini. I’m paired with Eric Bongiavanni. One of the very cool things about ASLOk is that it draws a significant off-continent contingent. Guys fly in from England, Sweden, Belgium, France, Australia, and Japan to play. Eric is one of the guys that have come over from France. He is from Marseille (history there!) and speaks very good English – unlike my (as he puts it) “heavily accented” remedial French. Eric is 7-6 so far (having arrived the past weekend) and this looks to be a good game.

We pick another Schwerpunkt scenario “Twilight of the Reich”. This was on my ‘want to play but never have’ list. It’s gotten a lot of play at ASLOk since it was released and is fairly well balanced (a slight edge to the attacking Russians. A typical small tourney scenario, two standard boards (48 & 44) are modified by all the grain fields being treated as sand and two low sand dune overlays are placed on the board. This will make it all but impossible for the tanks to avoid taking at least a few bog checks in and adjacent to the sand hexes.

The Germans have to keep at least one mobile, good order, and functioning MA in a fairly small area by the end of 5 turns. The kicker is that two of the JgPz's have to enter from off board and almost have to risk at least two bog checks to get to the victory area. The Russians get two ISU-152’s and 4 T34/85’s along with 9 infantry squads to combat the three JgPz and 7 low end German squads.

We dice for sides – I get the defending Germans (hmmm…see a pattern here?). I set up and Eric enters the board. Turn one goes well – I take out a T-34 with a PF shot and then a bit later another T-34 with a Psk. Somewhere in there I think I get a 3rd T-34 (maybe my on-board JgPz) – but then things collapse. Three low odds hits with a T-34 and a 152 (needed a ‘3’ each time) flat out KIA 3 of my 7 squads. The PF hit on the first T-34 breaks a 4th squad and he’ll never come back around. My first JgPz will finally fall after malf’ing his MA on an intensive fire shot and being swarmed – but I expected that (the swarm that is – not the malfunction). The two game breakers however were one of my two JgPz reinforcements breaking his MA on his first shot and my last JgPz bogging by rolling a 12 in an adjacent hex to a sand hex. Eric – of course – had passed about a dozen bog checks without breaking a sweat. With the other two PzJg down Eric simply drove the last T-34 around to the JgPz flank and took him out. Ratz…Good time to play, bad time to lose.
Murphy’s Law strikes again. Two MA malfunctions and a game losing ‘12’ on a bog check. 0 -3 sigh…

Saturday October 6 – Open Gaming

On Friday I ran into David Goldman (Chicago, Ill) who does a great job as tourney director for the Chicago Open. We haven’t played before and mentioned that if we were both out in the first round on Saturday he'd be interested in playing me. Not only would I be interested – but I’d be honored! Well, as fate would have it we both lost our first rounds and got together after lunch to play. Looking for a medium sized scenario to finish the rest of Saturday off with we selected another new Schwerpunkt “Nova Buda Butte” (SP 152). Good size at 8 turns with a nice OoB of combined arms. I ask to play the attacking Russians (anything but the defending Germans again) and David is fine with that. He sets up and we start rolling.

I’ve got a mix of 7 T-34/M43’s and 2 T-43’s with 25 supporting squads attacking what will eventually become 17 SS squads, a Pak 40, SPW 251, StuGIIIG and two PzIV H’s defending a flat topped hill with buildings on it (the Butte). The Russians have to cross 4 very open ground hexes twice under the watchful covering fire of a German HMG and MMG. Well, the Russian just has to grin and bear it – there is no way to cross the first turn except in the open so you hope for little to no ROF from the two German MG’s.

Murphy’s Law – David gets something like 7 ROF or more from the HMG and MMG. At the end of turn one I’ve lost 4.5 squads outright KIA’d and there are a couple more squads broken. It was devastating. My T-34’s (who can’t unbutton to fire) need 2’s and 3’s to hit the MG nest in the stone building – and will never get a single hit the whole game. I also make a mistake on my left flank. Not thinking David will take the StuGIIIG off of the butte (who starts on board unlike the PzIV’s) I keep a T-43 in motion with a squad and leader riding moving around the flank. Actually – I think I just plain forgot about the StuG… David does move the StuG and catches my T-43 in motion. Three turns later – that StuG will account for 3 (or maybe 4?) dead T-34’s/T-43’s even though I do get the original T-43 out of harms way. I’ll never destroy the StuG as he ends up destroying his MA on an intensive fire shot and getting recalled. Regardless, between the StuG success (I’ll bounce 3 APCR hits and another 2 or 3 AP hits off of him for no effect) and the HMG (who will continue to have good success on turn 2) My forces are pretty shattered by turn three. At the beginning of turn three though I’ll manage to pin the HMG/MMG nest with some MG fire and – seeing I need to cover open ground take a risk and trigger a human wave attack after freezing some infantry with one of my T-34’s.

This is the highlight of my weekend. The human wave works to near perfection. I cross 4 open ground hexes and get into the buildings at the edge of the butte only losing 1 squad. David tells me it is the best executed human wave he has ever seen. Two turns later I’ve done some damage to him in melee – but a couple of flanking squads (after taking out his SPW) are pushed out of breaking the game open for me by a CH from one of his MkIV’s and all of his turn 4 reinforcements are in place. Counting squads on turn 6 of 8 turns, I realize I’m only up by one ½ squad and have only captured 3 of the required 10 stone buildings. There is no way I’ll capture 7 more buildings in two turns given the distance and the terrain so I resign as there is little play left in this scenario. Had a great time playing David and I hope I’ll get another opportunity in the future. Worst of time – I’m now 0 -4 and that is pretty much it for me this weekend. Murphy’s Law – David’s ROF from H*ll HMG/MMG and the StuG that wouldn’t die. Regardless, this one looks tough for the Russians. Later that evening I saw Bret Hildebrand setting this one up and playing the first couple turns as the Russians. I didn’t watch the whole game – but it didn’t look like his was going much better then mine was. 0 -4… : (

The Coda…

It really was the best of times and the worst of times mixed in with Murphy’s Law. While record wise this was the opposite of last year (4-1) I really enjoyed every game and each of my opponents. I got to play all new opponents (except for Rich) and there is just always something very cool about playing the Euro’s (thanks Eric). I also got to play a scenario I was hoping to play (Twilight) and an opponent I was hoping to play again (Thanks Rich). The games with Craig and David were great and many of my ASL friends did win mini’s (Ben Richardson, Jeff DeYoung, and Jim Taylor). This was Ben’s first time down and he won the ‘monster’ mini, Jeff won his first mini ever, and Jim continues to tear up his opponents and take home the wood. Well back to my two campaign games against Todd and Doug. Better luck next time I hope – that probably will be the Chicago Open next April.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

St. Louis Tournament 2007

AAR – 10th Annual St. Louis Tournament – July 2007

Earlier in the year, Mark DeVries talked me into going down to Missouri with him in order to attend the St. Louis Tournament. Not having anything else scheduled that weekend and said I’d go. Unfortunately things didn’t work out for Mark and he couldn’t go down – but Jeff DeYoung could so Jeff and I drove down on Friday to spend the weekend playing ASL.

This was my first time down for this tourney and found out that it’s quite a drive down there. About 9 hours with breaks. Fortunately Jeff is a great passenger and, although long, the drive really wasn’t too bad. Getting into St. Louis was another issue. We tried coming in from the East but there was too much over-stacking on the bridge hex and we bounced out and took a bypass around the north side of the city to sneak in from the west. We made it there about 30 minutes before the official start time of 5:00pm due to the time change between Michigan and Missouri.

The St. Louis tourney is very similar to the Chicago Open (see my previous blog) with the only exceptions being that it is a 5 round tournament and the first round is not structured; you find your own opponent as soon as you get there. This actually works well since it means that some of the players can get there early and pair up instead of waiting for their opponent to show up. I think Jim Burris (the TD) does seed everyone for the tournament software – but that initial seeding doesn’t affect the 1st round pairings.

Friday July 27 – The beginning

Jeff and I check in the pretty decent hotel and pick up the tournament scenario pack/rules and T-shirt. Love the shirt. It has the St. Louis ASL club logo on the front – but the real catch is the back. A single panel drawing copied from Bill Mauldin’s book Up-Front. My Dad gave me an original printing of the book decades ago and I’ve always loved it.

Right after I check in I run into Doug Kirk (St. Louis, MO). He’s looking for a game and we’ve never played so I’m game. Doug placed 2nd last year and two years prior to that and has also done well at the Chicago Open so I’m looking forward to a strong game. We pick CH149 Final Embrace. Rolling for sides I get the British (who have to attack against a strong German force anchored by two Panthers) and Doug is the Germans. In a nutshell, Doug was able to stop me cold. Nothing I tried really worked (although I did get a Panther with a bounding fire shot with APDS) and everything he tried did work. That included a HIP flamethrower/838 ambush that I walked into leaving me minus a 9-2 and company deleted from my plans on turn two. The general consensus on the floor (there were 5+ playings of it) seemed to be that this was a tough one for the British and I agree. Regardless, I really enjoyed the game and Doug was a classy opponent. Doug will go on to earn a 3-2 record and place right ahead of me in 10th. End of round one and I’m 0–1.

Saturday April 14 – Success at last

Round Two
Saturday morning finds me seeded 18th out of 29 and matched up against … (drum-roll) Jeff DeYoung (Grand Rapids, MI). Yes, we drove 9 hours to play each other!! He also had lost his first round (against Bob Bendis who will go undefeated to win the Tourney) and the pairings matched us up. Well, this is actually a good thing. We’ve never played each other even though we’ve known each other for years and I’ve even been to his house to play ASL – just not against him. We’re both looking forward to the game and get a bit of a laugh out of it. We sit down and select HP31 Operation Eisbar, roll for sides (I get the Brits) and start to play. This scenario finds an elite German infantry force attempting to push through some British light infantry (elites) reinforced by two AA guns and a heavy mortar. The brits also get a ‘rat-patrol’ style reinforcement in the shape of a 2-4-8 half squad and 9-1 leader on an aamg armed jeep. He either has to exit 10EVP or destroy all the AA/MTR ordnance. I set up an AA gun and Mortar on a 2nd level hill and run the last AA gun toward the back in a reverse slope position. On my first WP shot with the Mortar it box-cars out. A turn later it will be eliminated on the repair attempt but that is about the only thing that goes wrong for me. Jeff manages to turn several of my MC’s on him into damage as he rolls several 12’s on the MC’s and my mortar crew stoutly defends the end of a gully with their pistols breaking his lead assault group when a good IFT roll and bad MC rolls for Jeff leave the stack broken and shattered. While Jeff makes a great recovery and (after realizing the exit VC is not reasonable) makes a strong push over the hill and towards the last AA gun. A fortunate rally of a DM broken half-squad that adds a hero to my OoB suddenly anchors a crumbling center and Jeff falls just a hex short of taking out the AA gun. My first win of the tourney and a great game with a fellow Michigander. Jeff will go on to end with a 2 – 3 record and place 20th. End of round two and I’m 1–1.

Round Three

With my win in round two I move up 4 places in the seeding to 14th. This round finds me paired with another local and fellow 1-1 record holder Dale Holmstrom (St. Louis, MO). I played Dale’s brother (Bob) last year in Chicago and lost to him, but have never played Dale and don’t really know anything about his playing style. We pick FrF16 Last Orders and dice for sides. I’ll get the defending Germans in this rather small scenario with variable victory conditions. This scenario favors the Russians and the tourney list has it recommended being played with the German balance of adding a Psk to the OoB. Dale will command 3 T-34/85’s, a SU-85, and 5 elite squads with a FT and LMG led by a 8-1. I’m defending with two PzJg Tigers and a captured T-35 ‘land-battleship”. The T-35 isn’t much worth against the T-35/SU-85 – but with a plethora of MG’s and a 75mm howitzer can keep the Russian infantry off of the Pz Jg Tigers. A card draw gives me the VC of killing 28CVP. I’m not real thrilled about that because that means I have to take out all the T-34’s and the SU-85 (and their crews) or almost all the infantry and three of the tanks. Dale enters with the lead T-34’s and finds out that the PzJg Tiger can’t be penetrated from the front when I move toward him and zero in on the lead T-34. Soon the Tiger and a fortunate PF hit from a conscript squad have taken out the 3 T-34’s – although the Tiger will be taken out in close combat. That leaves the SU-85. I run the T-35 into the SU-85’s hex to prevent him from firing out (without this the SU-85 would have a side shot on the PzJg Tiger as I cross a bridge) and then roll up two hexes away with the 2nd JgPz Tiger and finish off the SU. Game over as none of the crews survived the elimination of the tanks. Good game but I had good fortune with To Hit’s and the maneuver game. Dale will go on to a 2-3 record and place 21st. I’m now 2-1.

Round Four

The middle of the seeding is tightly packed and the win only moves me up one position to 13th. The final round of the day finds me paired up with Rich Domovic from Chicago. Rich is one of the well known tournament participants and I’ve seen him at the Chicago Open and ASLOK but have never played him. Everyone speaks will of him and I’m really looking forward to this game. He placed 17th out of 56 this year at Chicago with a 4-3 record so he clearly has the playing chops for a great game. We pick Morning Traffic. My Germans have to cross a set of bridges and cross a board to capture 3 buildings or 4 buildings if I lose my 4 tanks. The French have a fairly robust force of 9 1st line infantry squads led by a 9-1 and 8-0 with an infantry gun, MMG, ATR and a couple of LMG’s. Supporting them are 5 FT tanks of various models. This scenario just didn’t click in for me. While I got across the bridge on the first turn I took a lot of casualties. A cmg shot from a FT-17 shattered a whole stack of mine right off the top. Later the 75mm armed FT-17 critical hits my one smoke generating MkIVC. Meanwhile I contribute by doing a “Jeff DeYoung” and throw enough Fate MC’s to eliminate the equivalent of three of my 13 squads. I finally get enough troops across a grain field and attack the buildings – but without the smoke from the Mk IV I can’t suppress the 9-1 lead mmg until the very end of the game and after 6 turns of chipping away at my troops – I only have a few ½ squads at the end and not near enough to push him out of the buildings. Enjoyed the game – but a bit frustrated as nothing was really working for me. Rich goes on to a 3-2 record and a 9th place finish. I’m even at 2-2. After the game Rich brings down some Rum and Coke and we have a drink while David Goldman is looking at a scenario called Road Kill. He has it set up and believes that it’s almost impossible for the US to win. Doug Kirk comes by and thinks just the opposite – and he’s played it before and explains why. Interesting discussion which will come into play for me tomorrow.

Sunday July 29 – Final Round

Round Five

Sunday morning finds my loss sending me back to 18th. This will be the day that determines if I leave with a winning record or not. I’m paired up with Shawn Ettleman (Columbia, MO). Shawn placed 3rd last year so this will be a tough game. We pick Road Kill from the East Side Gamers pack. As we roll for sides I recall the discussions from last night about how this is tough for the Germans. Shawn has also played this before and won as the US – but I still wanted to play it as it looked fun and we could finish it at a decent time for me to get home. I end up with the Germans off the dice roll. Hmmm…not really what I wanted as I think this will be a steep climb. This scenario features a weak German force defending a town against a superior US force of elite and 1st line infantry with a lot of armor. The US wins by essentially destroying all the Germans and the village. I play a fairly up-front defense thinking that his relatively low morale may give my 2, 4, & 6 point down 2 shots a decent chance of slowing him up (he only has 6 turns to defeat me). I get some help from a hot AA gun on a hill outside of the village that ends up destroying two halftracks (including his M3 (MMG)) and the accompanying 2 squads. A companion mortar does nothing – missing its first shot and then the crew breaking on a cheesy 1 +2 shot. A duo of PzAII manage to only hit once out of about 8 shots – and that was against a lonely ½ squad before their taken out by a Bazooka shot and a BFF M8 HMG HEAT shot. My Marder does play tag with his M24 manned by a 10-2 AL and escapes that to kill the other M24 on an intensive fire shot – but he too will fall eventually to the 10-2. Meanwhile I’m focusing on breaking, pinning, and slowing up the US infantry while desperately trying to keep my infantry away from the massive US firepower the 6-6-6’s and 6-6-7’s can put out. I lose 2-3 squads as I withdraw but still have about 7 left by turn 4 (although my lone MMG broke and then eliminated itself early on).

During our turn three I glance around to the game behind me. It is Bob Bendis and Doug Bennett playing for the championship – they also have selected Road Kill. They are a turn behind us, but Bob’s Americans are already where Shawn’s forces are currently. Noting that I’m feeling a bit better as apparently my delay tactics are working better then Doug’s. By turn 5 I have no armor left and Shawn has flooded the town with his remaining armor and troops. I’m just about ready to concede as this looks like it can only be won by me rolling snakes and Shawn rolling box-cars a bunch of times; but I still have units where I need them to be. By the end of turn 6 he has whittled me down to about 5 locations which he has basically surround and, in many places has me in vehicle by-pass freeze/CC. By the end of his turn 6 Advance Phase I’m left with only 4 low odds chances of winning: 1) a 7-0 leader and 447 squad is in a victory building in CC with a 9-1 ldr, 667 squad and in-motion halftrack, 2) a broken conscript half squad in a steeple location that would have to self rally with a snake-eyes and then survive defensive fire, 3) a 9-1 leader, 447lmg squad that is encircled in the upper level of a two-story single hex house, and finally 4) the crew of a MMG that started outside the village who is one move away from a victory building – but would have to run through a least two US half-squad shots at him in open ground.

Meanwhile, Bob Bendis has handily defeated Doug Bennett’s Germans on turn 5.

By now a small crowd has gathered around our game since we were playing the same one as the champion match and my defending Germans are still in play.

USA CC Phase. I’m struck by an inspiration. Looking at the board I realize that if I can withdraw form the one melee I’m in – I can withdraw into a location he can’t shoot at and then advance into a VC location after his defensive fire for a win regardless of the other three options. I declare the squad to withdraw from the melee with the 7-0 leader as covering unit. I won’t get to attack Shawn’s units with the squad – but that doesn’t matter if the withdrawal is successful. With my covering unit (the sacrificial 7-0 leader) he needs a 7 or less to eliminate my squad as it withdraws (an 8 will only half-squad it and the half-squad would still win for me).

I really haven’t had a great roll all weekend. No critical hits or leader creations and only 1 hero in 5 games. Shawn has rolled low enough and often enough in this game so many times that my sniper was active enough to totally eliminate his sniper! I’m hoping all my luck has been saved up for this moment.

He rolls an 11. I withdraw into an adjacent location that no one has LOS to (his melee units are still in melee with the leader and can’t shoot out) and he resigns. I’m stunned as I thought this game was lost two turns ago and none of my last 4 options seemed very viable. Teaches the lesson to never give up in this game. I end with a victory and a great game from a very skilled opponent. Shawn will place 16th with a 2-3 record while I’ll end the weekend 3-2 and place a respectable 11th.

Last Thoughts

Well, the unexpected win in round five really capped off a great weekend over all. Doug and I actually shared the same number of tourney points (with 36 each), but his win over me gave him the 10th spot and me the 11th. Regardless, I feel I did stronger in this tourney then in Chicago and placing in the upper 40% reflects that. All my opponents were first rate gentlemen and a joy to game against. The trip down to St. Louis, while uneventful, is a long travel and Jeff and I discussed what the feasibility of doing this year after year is. Maybe catching Amtrack down or even flying down would be more viable. It is right on the end range of how far I want to drive for events like this. Regardless, I was much happier with my level of play here then in Chicago as my wins were solid played games and my losses were against the two gentlemen who placed in the 9th and 10th spots ahead of me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Chicago Open 2007 AAR

AAR – Chicago Open – 2007

Ben Richardson, Mark DeVries and I drove over to Chicago to participate in the Chicago Open. The Open is run by tournament director David Goldman and this will be the second time I’ve made it over there. Mark talked me into going last year for the first time and I really enjoyed it. It is a much difference atmosphere then ASLOK because the format is much stricter instead of the open gaming that ASLOK is based on. There are time limits for each round and a specific set of scenarios that has to be selected from for each round. After each round everyone is re-seeded according to the results and then the next round begins. For the first round, seeding is done based on past tourney results and then the #1 plays #2, #3 plays #4 and so on. After the first round – everyone is re-seeded according to the results, and the new #1 plays the new #2 and so on. Everyone gets 10 points for a win, plus an additional point(s) for each opponent that a person you defeated has beaten. This way you might have several players whose records are 3 wins and 2 losses – but they will have different scores depending on how the successful the players they defeated are. As the weekend progress – your score may increase if your defeated opponents continue to win against others.

Friday April 13 – Round One & Two

After we check in I check the seeding for the first round. Last year I was seeded 64th out of 66 – I hadn’t been to Chicago before so I had no prior record. All the new players are seeded at the bottom. I ended up finishing 37th out of 66 with a 3-4 record. This year I’m seeded 44th out of 56 based on last year’s results.

My first round is against Corey Edwards from Wisconsin. We pick Orczy Square from the Schwerepunkt series. I’m the defending Russians trying to hold off his attacking Hungarians. Corey’s Hungarians need to clear three of five buildings of Good Order Russian MMC by the game end. I set up my defense to prevent him from coming down the center of the square where he has access to all five buildings. I also forget about the set-up restrictions and set-up my one AT gun illegally – so it never gets used in the scenario. Corey does a wide flanking end run which worries me because it catches me by surprise – and turns out to be a very effective attack. Fortunately I can recover and manage to prevent him from taking enough buildings. He takes two buildings fairly easily, but when my reinforcing T-34’s come in, they quickly take out several Zrinyi II’s (Hungarian Assault Guns) and prevent him from crossing the road into two of the other buildings. I win by holding him off in the center building. My win for me and fortunately Corey will go on to pick up several more wins on his own, adding points to my score, and getting him a final result of 19th with a 4-3 record. Fun game and Corey handles the loss well so it’s a good start for me. After the first round I’m 1 – 0 but forgot to check my seeding. I’m guessing I’m probably in the upper 20’s – maybe 28th or so.

Round two is against Todd Jones from Iowa. Like Corey, Todd is another very personable opponent and we have a great game. We pick Borodino Train Station from Journal 7. I play tested this for MMP but that was several years ago. I’ve won it as the Russians – but it has tended to favor the Germans over time. We dice for sides and I get the Russians and Todd gets the defending Germans. My first two turns go great. I make it across the road and take the Train Station losing only one ½ squad. However, Todd does a great defense and manages to escape the building with all of his troops (albeit broken), but more importantly, manages to get a blocking forces across the street which prevents me from putting on the coup-de-grace on the broken units. I overlook an opportunity to street fight his open top AC with an assault engineer squad and that will come back to haunt me. Meanwhile, Todd plays a great defense game assisted by two leader creations in CC (meaning I also lost those CC’s), a hero creations, and a string of a ½ dozen snake-eyes at key times. In the end I can’t punch the hole in his defense and achieve the second requirement of crossing the far road with 3 squads. Great game by Todd and a well earned win on his part. Todd goes on to earn a 4-3 record and place 18th, one place above Corey. I’m now 1-1 and end round two seeded at 22nd.

Saturday April 14 – Round Three, Four, and Five

Saturday morning finds me matched up against Bernie Howell from Texas. We pick Hamburg On The Lovat; a Dispatches from the Bunker scenario. Using the modified boards created by Jeff DeYoung (great job on those Jeff!). Dice give me the Germans defending against the attacking Russians. He gets a T-34/76 early model and a nasty flamethrowing OT-34. It’s an early 1942 scenario so no panzerfaust for me but I do get two fanatic tank hunting ½ squads that can start HIP. The first three turns Bernie crushes me. Methodically using the FT tank and very sound tactics, he blows through my first line of defense and almost cuts me off from getting by troops into the victory building; almost but not quite. By the end of turn 3 I’m thinking I can’t win this as the FT tank is devastating me and he’s lost almost no squads. But then starting on turn four things turn around for me. His T-34 immobilizes in an out of the way position due to a mech reliability failure taking him out of the attack. Then he gets ansy with the FT tank and tries to outflank me to get to the back of the building; right past one of my HIP tank hunting ½ squads I put there just in case he tried something like that. I miss the ATMM roll and he is moving, but the -1 for street fighting saves the day as my DR of 3 leaves a wrecked FT tank in the road. The biggest thorn in my side has just been pulled out. I luckily manage to get several units into the building. He finds out a turn too late that I have a fortified location in the only stairwell leading to the upper floors (he had rubbled the other one at pre-game set up) and by turn 5 realizes that he can’t possibly get to my upper floor units to take the building. I win by doing what I do best – not throwing in the towel early, and playing a strong fighting withdrawal. I finish round three 2-1 and, with 23 points find myself seeded 9th because Bernie had an earlier win and Corey ends up winning his next two games after losing to me. Bernie will go on to a 3-2 record with a 26th place finish.

SPLAT – this is the sound of me hitting the wall at this point. Strong opponents, fatigue, poor decisions, and dice that turn south on me help me slide downhill from this point on.

Round four is against Doug Bennett from Illinois. Doug wants to choose A104 “In Front Of The Storm”. Lots of people warn against it saying it’s too heavily balanced in favor of the Germans (the French have to cross a very exposed bridge so after some hesitation on my part, we agree that Doug will play the French and be given the French balance; exchanging a French 8-1 leader for a 9-2 leader. My hesitation is that I think that is a pretty extreme balance, but I weight the fact that he has to cross two hexes of open bridge terrain to win – no small feat in itself. Most of the game goes well for me and my game plan. Not great die rolls – but enough to do what I want to do. A mechanical reliability failure immobilizes 1 of his 3 AFV’s. Another one I Immobilize in CC. The third one has to now roll a task check every time he moves as he is radio-less. I slow him up the first few turns and withdraw my best troops across the bridge to the far side. A fortunate HOB roll gains me a hero – which I immediately pull back to the other side of the bridge. I leave a small blocking force of 4 squads and an ATR to delay him as long as possible. I know they are simply sacrificial lambs as they won’t be able to retreat across the bridge once they break – but with their 8 morale they should be able to hold him off.

Now I hit the wall….

He manages to get MC’s on everyone of my blocking force’s units. They all manage to fail their MC’s. In one turn my whole delaying force is gone. Should not have happened with 8 morale troops – but it does. I’m really not too worried though – I’m in great position with the hero & my own 9-2 leader with a 548 squad and MMG sitting behind a roadblock at the end of the bridge and that means he has to cross 3 open ground hexes with a minimum of a -4 DRM (-2 leader, -1 hero, -1 open ground). It could be as bad as -5 adding in the -1 for bridge and -1 for non-assault movement. He has only two turns left. I even ask him how in the world he thinks he can do this. I’m sure I’ve got this won.

Me and my big mouth….

First thing he does is take about 3-4 little 2 & 4FP +2 shots from various units across the canal. Nothing really happens so I’m thinking this is good because those units aren’t moving. Next he manages to roll his TC for the last tank – no problem, my AT gun has the first hex on to the bridge bore sited and LOS to the whole bridge. The tank rolls up and parks adjacent to the roadblock. My AT gun takes 1 shot – bounces the round, 2nd shot on ROF, bounces the shot, 3rd shot intensive firing; rolls a 12 and is eliminated.. He bounding first fires his CMG. He’s looking at 2fp +2 for roadblock. Rolling low he gets is PTC. No big deal – I think. Well, that is until I fail the ptc with my 9-2 and then my squad. Ratz – now I can’t lay a fire lane and I just lost the -2 modifier. Still, I’ve got the hero’s -1 and the bridge and open ground -1’s. Now he CX’s a French green squad down the road. OK, I take my shots as I get to lay residual. 1st hex my covering squad fires and lays 1 residual. I roll a 9 for NE. Now he goes to the first bridge hex – I fire my hero, pinned squad and mmg. 6pts with a -3 DRM Now he gets his 9-2 leader (the one he got from me courtesy of the balance) and two French squads – and arms them with Kevlar armor. Move out “Vite, vite!” shouts the French demi-god. These three units now proceed to waltz through three residuals. All at -2 or more. I manage to roll a 9, 10, 11. He passes any MC’s easily with his 9-2 leader and is now sitting under the tank adjacent to me. Hey, these guys should be dead – especially after the 2fp -3 shot in the second hex; the one I rolled a 10 on for NE. Anyway – it doesn’t get any better. He survive my final fire easily (I roll an 11), advanced into my hex and then proceeds to eliminate all my units with a “3” DR. I totally miss mine – rolling another 10 (I think). So there – he strolls through 3 negative residual shots and a final fire shot and then takes my guys out in CC. All against what should have been untouchable – a 9-2 ldr, hero, and 548 squad manning a MMG.


The game finishes only about 15 minutes from the start of the 5th round and I’m exhausted and still in shock. I’m now 2-2 and drop down to 20th place. Doug continues with his unbelievable fortune doing the same thing to my friend Ben and ends up 5-2 taking 6th place overall.

It doesn’t get any better

Round 5 matches me up with Tom Mueller from Wisconsin. We pick Lacking Coordination from Schwerepunkt. I’m the attacking Germans and Bob is defending buildings with Brits. I never seem to play these attacking scenarios well – and this one is no exception. Bob plays a great defense assisted by a razor thin Los check that reveals one of my 3 Tigers 19 hexes away and out of his covered arc through 2 orchard hindrances and a gap in two wood hexes. Spins, shoot APCR, rolls a 3 and hits. Scratch one Tiger. Later I slide a Tiger through a 1 hex wide gap and he nails that one on 1 MP in his LOS. Scratch Tiger 2. I’ve still got a plan. My 3rd Tiger is in position to take out enough CVP to win me the game (instead of taking buildings) – until he slides his spotting round over and directly converts to FFE: 1. First round critical hits the last Tiger. Well, after the last scenario I’m pretty numb to this. Earlier I gained a hero only to have him and another 548 squad get adjacent to a first fired 237 half squad who final fires with a 4 flat shot, rolls a 6 for a MC. My hero fails it and wounds – and then dies on the severity check of a 6. The squad of course rolls a 12 and ELR’s/Breaks/and reduces. They were supposed to take that building easily. This was pretty much how the whole scenario went. Game over. I’m 2-3 and drop a few more spots. Up to my room to catch some sleep. Tom will go 3-3 and end up in 25th place.

Sunday April 15 – Buddy Matches

Since round 7 goes pretty late and many of us travel quite a ways to get here – David Goldman uses buddy matches on Sunday. If you can’t stay all 7 rounds – two pairs of players partner up into two teams. One team plays the other and one person from each side plays the attacker and the other the defender using the same scenario. Your result counts for your buddy. So, if you win and your buddy wins – you get the points for both wins effectively giving you 7 rounds of playing – but the 7th round is your buddy. Ben and I are supposed to buddy up and play Mark DeVries and Gary Trezza – but because of the seeding, Mark and Gary can’t buddy up. So, Ben and Gary buddy up and Mark and I buddy up. Ben crushes Mark in less then an hour. Gary succeeds in every single attempt at everything – including 3 successful moving sD6 rolls in a row (rolled three 3’s in a row). I fail every single attempt at anything – MC, PTC, To Hit, Rally, anything under the sun that I need to roll for. I don’t even notice it – Gary notices it and, apologizing, points out that he’s never played a game like this before. He exits or kills enough VP in his first 3 player turns that he wins before my turn 3. I don’t even get my reinforcing T-34’s on the board – the game ends before then. Par for the course. I pick up two losses (mine and Mark’s) and then pack up for the drive home. Gary ends up 5-2 and in 8th place.

Last Thoughts

Well, clearly the competitive part was a disappointment. I ended up placing 37th – same as last year but with 1 less win. I was really hoping to at least get the 3 wins of last year and move up into the 20’s – but that didn’t happen. Regardless – I did have a great time getting to see a lot of ASL friends I only see at tourneys like this and got to play 6 other people I’ve never played before. It was a great time regardless of the results and I’m sure I’ll be back next year to avenge this year. I can also take some consolation that my two winds were against players who finished 26th and 19th and my losses were against players who finished 6th, 19th, and 25th. So all the games were at played in the upper ½ of the standings. The previous year I had a lot of games played at with the lower ½ of the standings – that’s why I could place higher this year even though I had one less win. The two games I won were worth more points in the end.

How much does chance affect the game? Well, in the alternate world – when Doug ran the bridge, even average dice rolls (7 or less) would have broken him if not even outright KIA’ing the French supermen. I win the scenario easily and pick up 14 pts for Doug. Ben and I do pair up and I pick up 13 points for Ben’s win over Mark (even if I still lost to Gary). Those 27 points are added to my now 4-3 record and 27 points from my other 2 wins (for a total of 54pts) and instead of placing 37th, I now place a very respectable 12th. So close – and much for fate.

Well there you have it. I’m planning on heading off to PJ Norton’s Officefest May 18 & 19 – so expect another blog around that time. Thanks to Mark DeVries and Ben Richardson – two great players and my roommates for the weekend. Mark ended up 3-4 and in 27th while Ben did the strongest of the West Michigan crew going 5-2 and placing 9th.

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