Monday, 3 April 2017

My time at the Nor'Easter ASL Tournament

Well, I have just returned from the Nor'Easter, an Advanced Squad Leader tournament that was held in Boxborough, Massachusetts.  I had a wonderful time and I must at first credit the organizers for hosting a great tournament.
Nor'Easter at Nor'Easter
I arrived on Wednesday evening and settled in for some rest.  The next day, Thursday, was open gaming.  It was a chance for all players to warm up their dice and to get some games in.  Heeding some advice from an old ASL Annual article on how to win a tournament, I ensured that I wouldn't burn myself out, especially in the open gaming.
Pace yourself, lads
I first played my old friend John Wood in a game from Bounding Fire Productions.  "The Commissar's Folly" is a match set in Poland in 1939.  The army of the USSR invaded Poland a few weeks after the Germans did and this represents one of those battles.  For this match I drew the Poles.
Poles ready to Defend
I defended well against John and ended up winning the match.  For the weekend I started on a positive note!
Not this time, Commie rats!
Next in my schedule was for me to heed advice from the article.  I decided to eat well and then up to my room for a nap.  Playing is mentally taxing and I confirmed this once I got to the room: I was asleep within minutes!
Artist's Rendition: me napping between matches
I returned to the playing room later and John wanted a rematch!  This time it was "Among the Dead", a scenario from Journal 11.  This scenario represents a battle between German paratroopers and soldiers from New Zealand.  Set in Crete, the Germans are set to attack the defending New Zealanders, with some Greek troops in the village.  I was able to withstand attacks by German Stukas and in the end emerged with the win.  Not a bad start: 2 and 0 in open gaming and my dice were indeed warmed up!
Ready for the attack!
Next was the Main Tournament.  My plan was to lose in the first round and then enter the mini tournament on Saturday.  That was not to be!  I played Chuck Tewksbury in a match set in 1940 with the Germans attacking the French.  "Go Big or Go Home!" was the title, and in a tight match, I was able to hold off the Germans for the win, actually knocking out one of his attacking tanks and immobilizing the other!  So, 1-0 in the tournament and 3-0 overall!  I had completely shattered my expectations!
I went big and Chuck stayed home.  Ha!
Now I was on to round 2.  So, from 32 who started, I was in the "Sweet 16".  My opponent was Vic Rosso.  We both wanted to play the defending Americans, but he rolled for them, thus giving me the balance for the scenario.  The year for the scenario was 1944, and as the German, I had to flee past French Maquis and US forces.  Also, the bulk of my forces were in horse drawn wagons.  And to add a bit of color, the US had air support to help them in their efforts!
"I'll call you 'human shield'
I started out cautiously with my wagons following my meagre armored force.  With the armored cars racing for the exit, my wagons followed behind in their pathetic column.  Some French resistance fighters did engage, but with little effect.  In an effort to help them out, the US Army Air Force came in and strafed many of my men, sending them scattered into the ditches.  Alas, my armored cars raced off for a total of 15 out of my required 25 Victory Points.
The Escape underway
The US forces were soon on board in force and a duel of sorts rang out.  One of my Marders scored a lucky hit on a US Armored Car, destroying it.  I was now 5 points away from victory!  A failed critical hit by a bazooka later (the dreaded boxcars following the snake eyes!), I was able to force my way past his defenders with a Marder for the win.
The one that got away!
So, after the second round, I was 2-0 in the tournament and 4-0 over all!  I had now completely shattered my expectations.  Now was time for rest and to get ready for round 3.  I was in the final eight!

The next match pitted me up against Ron Duenskie.  For this one, I was set back in Poland in 1939. Not many realize this, but Poland was attacked by Slovakia in conjunction with the Germans.  This scenario, "The Winter City" represents a battle between these two belligerents.  I drew the Poles and by the end of the first turn I had no doubts as to the outcome: his 81mm mortar was on a rate tear and cut my force in half.  The blood bath was over soon and I fell.  This of course knocked me out of the tournament for top 3 (it's a single-elimination style tournament), but still, after starting 4-1, I was quite happy.
Those trenches didn't help...
Fate would see me battling John Wood again. This time we chose Panzer Spirit, a battle set on the Eastern Front in July 1943.  He would be the attacking Soviets and I the defending Waffen SS in a battle near Kursk.  His eight (8!) T 34s were up against my four meagre Marders.  My men were tough, but few in number. And my only AT Gun was a puny PAK 38. I didn't like my chances.
"I can't believe they called us 'puny'"
As the battle progressed, it turned out to be a see saw affair.  I started out hot by knocking out 2 of his tanks as they approached the town.  But then things got messy.  My men started falling and his got closer and closer to town.  The one high point for me was that his tanks avoided my hidden Anti Tank gun.  I unveiled it, knocking out an enemy tank at point blank range.  John made sure the crew paid for it with their lives, over running them, not once, but twice!
In the end, I needed to mount a counter attack to win the game, but that I did.  My men held out and with all but one of my Marders destroyed, I sent the Russians back from whence they came!  I improved to 3 and 1 for the tournament and 5-1 overall.
Victory Smoke
For the last day, I was up against Mike Allexenberg for Zon with the Wind.  I drew the defending Germans against the attacking Americans.  This scenario represented one of the many battles in Operation Market Garden.  The US Paratroopers are trying to take a bridge as the Germans defend it with some 88s.
Defending 88
In the end, I lost, but the key part was near the end when my 88 fired point blank on some US troops. They actually all passed their MC.  I fired again, needing an 11 to hit. Naturally I rolled 12 and that allowed his forces to swarm past me for the win.  I ended up 3 and 2 in the tournament and finished probably 6th or 7th (some of the other participants left early and didn't finish the fifth round).
That bridge is MINE
So, home I went.  I won more games than I lost.  I expected to win a game.  Maybe two.  But to come home with five, I was extremely happy.  Tired, but happy.