Monday, 14 August 2017

Tussle at the Tundra

This past weekend, from 10 to 13 August, I participated in another Advanced Squad Leader tournament in New England.  This one was the Tussle in the Tundra, run by Chuck Tewksbury.  He had asked my help in coming up with a scenario list and I jumped at the challenge.
Chuck guided me and gave me some pointers and in the end, this is the list decided upon:

Round 1:

ASL 188 Zon with the Wind
A 104 In Front of the Storm
J 106 Marders not Martyrs (Challenge)
FrF 72 The Mubo Decision (PTO)
J 193Raff's Rules (New Blood)

Round 2:

ASL 195 Rocket’s Red Glare
J 103 Lenin's Sons
AP 8 A Bloody Harvest (challenge)
AP 86 Milling About (PTO)
J 183 A Real Barn Burner (New Blood)

Round 3 (Western Front):

ASL 77 le hérisson
ASL 11 Defiance on Hill 30
ASL 27 The Liberation of Tulle (Challenge)
ASL 89 Rescue Attempt
J 182 Belgian Blitzkrieg (New Blood)

Round 4 (Eastern Front):

ASL 1 Fighting Withdrawal
ASL 126 Commando Schenke
J 157 Rage Against the Machine
AP 41 The Meat Grinder (Challenge)
J 188 Grab and Go (New Blood)

Round 5 (Italian Front):

WP 6 Ils ne passeront pas
A 19 Cat and Mouse
A 89 First Day of Diadem
ASL 178 The Niscemi-Biscari Highway (Challenge)
J 190 Trial Run (New Blood)

As you maybe could tell, there was a bit of a theme.  Each round had a "challenge" scenario that was around 60 to 65% rates in favor of one side, according to the Remote On-Line Automated Record, or ROAR.  Each round also had a "New Blood" scenario out of the latest ASL Journal.  Finally, Rounds 3, 4 and 5 rotated from the Western to the Eastern and then finally the Italian Fronts, where the previous 2 also had at least one PTO scenario in the mix.  Most of the scenarios were official products, going all the way back to ASL 1 (Fighting Withdrawal) to a few third Party Products.
ASL 01 Fighting Withdrawal.  Golden oldie!
So, I got to Manchester around noon or so on Thursday before the tournament started, and already Chuck and Brian were into a warm up match.  Hill 621!
Chuck and Brian cleaning up.  Brian's Soviets cleared the hill of Chuck's Germans
I too was able to get a game in:  Rocket's Red Glare vs Jeff.  I was going to play a match against Carl, but unfortunately he and his lovely wife were stuck in traffic from Boston.  So Jeff and I faced off in a match that I won thanks to some very hot dice on my part.   Key moment was knocking out his Wirbelwind with a very good shot during bounding fire.  In spite of this, Jeff put up a very spirited defense and made me work for my win.

Blast from the Past - Updated for the new Yanks
A side note about Jeff.  He's in his early 20s and a very new player.  Just last year was his first tournament.  In spite of his youth and his experience, he's a very good player and it was a treat to play him.  He's embraced the hobby and I'm sure he's going to have years of enjoyment in it.

My Round 1

For Round 1, I was matched up against Michael, who is also from Canada.  We were to play "In front of the Storm", with me as the hapless French.  Michael is a great player and a gentleman.  His defense was well laid-out and after about 4 turns, it was clear that I was not going to cause any damage.

In Front of the Storm.  Attacking with French Tanks

Michael's defenses laid out for me
 My Round 2

For round 2, I was up against Mark in Lenin's Sons.  This was a to and fro affair that saw my Russians pull off an almost perfect fighting withdrawal to the main defensive area.  Then he broke my back with a great attack (I was probably asking for it.  Ha!), and in the end got to my objective area.  The key attack?  Him firing into a melee where his odds were low to win.  He broke my two elite engineer squads as his own elite squad shrugged off the 1 Morale Check, guaranteeing the win.  

Mid way in the game and my fall back defense is working

My Round 3

So, 0-2 I headed into Saturday.  This time I was to play my old pal Mark in the classic Defiance on Hill 30.  I had won and lost this previously as Germans, so I had a go as the Americans.  Turns out that I needed more sleep or something.  My attack never really got off the ground and I never got close to the objective area.  My casualties stacked up and Mark really did well with his allotment of forces.  So, I went into Round 4 at 0-3

My Round 4

Now I was up against Gary in Rage against the Machine.  
My initial defense against his initial layout

Plenty of residual fire, showing the intensity of the combat.
This was an epic battle and probably my favorite match of the weekend.  This scenario saw it all, I think.  My HIP PAK 40 was able to pop one of his ISU 152s, but then promptly malfunctioned after going on a rate tear.  I fixed it, but then was torn apart by his return fire.  I had a great shot on a T 34/85 that blundered into my field of view of my Panzerschreck, setting it ablaze.  But then my Panzerfausts failed to do any damage to his forces at all.  I shocked a crew of his with MG fire, then saw a breaking unit go berserk and die in close combat to Gary's attacking forces.  In the end, Gary won, but it was a nail-biter that saw both of our armored forces end up as so much scrap.

My Round 5

For round 5 I was matched up against Jeff.  He and I decided to go with something off the official list (since we were both out of the contention).  We ended up going back in the archives to ASL 93 Tavronitis Bridge, formerly known as A 01.  That's right, the first scenario published in the ASL Annual way back in 1989.  It was Jeff's first go at using gliders, so a small tutorial later we were off to battle!

The Scenario

My Initial Set up.
Poor Jeff.  My initial AA fire actually, by happenstance, hit the glider with his 9-2.  This would hurt him, as in the end I was able to finally get a win in the main tournament.  It was close, though. As I said, Jeff may be a new player, but he has skill and he's learning.  Fast!

Why I play

I'm often asked why I bother playing this game and why I go to such lengths to play it.  These photos help explain a big part of it: the people.  These guys are all great players and I learn so much from them.

Carl (left) and Frank (right).  Frank lives in Colombia, but came all the way from his hometown in Germany.

Eventual Champions! Rob (left) would go on to win the main tournament, and Keith (right) would win the mini!

Mark (left) plays Jeff (right).  Jeff was betrayed by his malfunctioning 88s!

Kedge (left) up against Carl (right)

Sean (left) playing the role of spoiler against Dave (right), who was in from the Cleveland area

The legend himself: Wild Bill up against Keith.
There are so many reasons to play this game, but one thing must be said again and again: Chuck runs a great tournament and it's always a great time.  This paired with the Nor'Easter hosted by Carl make New England the place for me to play my ASL tournaments.  Thanks again, everyone!

The Trophy

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