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Subject: Report from the ASL Bitter Ender Tournament rss

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Pierce Ostrander
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Albuquerque
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If you haven’t been to The ASL Bitter Ender, make time to attend next year.

I just got back into ASL after 20 years off – my first scenario of full ASL was at Winter Offensive a few months ago in January. It’s great to be playing again and especially to be playing in tournaments.

I car pooled down from the D.C. area with Dan Bates a great guy and the ultimate easy roommate. Reason #1 to go to the Bitter Ender: Cheap! The Rooms are $64 a night (divided by two for most of us) with a massive hot breakfast of eggs, breakfast meats, fried potatoes, biscuits and, of course: grits. This is The South, after all (Raleigh, NC).

Dan and I talked ASL all the way down and all the way back. The drive time flew by.

We arrived fairly early on Thursday and were the first to peek into the meeting room. It was a very nice space with decent lighting. Later Thursday night, several scenarios were in play and I had met some really nice folks. Reason #2 for going to the Bitter Ender: great people! Those southerners really know how to treat a friend or guest. As far as I could tell people came in from all over the place – from as far away as Illinois. There were four of us from D.C., the other two were Gary Fortenberry (previous champion) and Jim Bishop. With that line-up we had a better-than-average chance of “brining home the wood” to D.C. yet again.

If you have attended a tournament, you know that no matter how big an event it is, your "personal tournament" boils down to 5 or 6 games played against 5 or 6 players. If they are good, then the tournament is good.

My 5 opponents in round order were Voss Graham, Ed Fritz, Nelson Harris, Jim Bishop and Mika Harviala. I name them all because I have not-a-bad-thing to say about any of them! This was my most pleasant tournament experience in memory and it all came down to that handful of guys who were sitting across the table from me over the course of the weekend. These 5 guys made my weekend an amazingly good experience. If you have ever played against someone not-so-nice then you know how important this is. Thanks guys, you made my tourney.

The scenarios I played were all from recent publications: Out of the Attic 2, Winter Offensive Pack ’11, and Out of the Bunker. The most interesting personal statistic that I came away with was that the "let’s roll for side" selection dice left me with the pleasure of playing five different nationalities in five scenarios: German, Dutch, American, Russian and British. I also had the pleasure of defending three times and attacking twice. Although I didn’t play PTO or Desert or Night or anything too funky, I felt like I got a good variety of situations to play.

ROUND 1 – “Where I find out how to kill a Tiger”

The first round against Voss was a Starter Kit Scenario from Schwerpunkt. Since I had played about a dozen SK scenarios last Summer, I volunteered to be paired up with him – he had come in late and due to my original 1st round opponent needing to leave for 2+ hours right before we started our game (something I didn’t know before we selected and set up our scenario...), I found myself scrambling for a “gap filler” game at 10:30 a.m. with virtually no one else available. I found out later that Voss has played something like 80 games of ASLSK in the last 6 months and all of the available scenarios multiple times. He's also started learning "da big Game" too.

He was good.

We played RPT 14 Keitel and Cox – A city fight with one Tiger Tank and 1st line Germans Defending across a wide front against 1st line Americans supported by two Shermans in Cecina Italy in Summer of 1944.

Voss Critical Hit my (one!) Tiger Tank (front armor) on Turn 2 and killed it. This was not the last time I had one of those “Oh Shit Moments (tm)" over the course of the weekend, but let’s face it guys, it’s one of the reasons we love the game: because crazy-ass stuff can happen. If you don’t like it, play chess.

The Germans ended up hanging on to enough of the victory buildings to pull off the win anyway. Glory to the Reich. Getting a Panzerfaust hit on one of the Shermies helped quite a bit.

ROUND 2 – “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t mutch.”

Shortly after Voss and I finished up, Ed was back from his long lunch with former co-workers and we were ready for the afternoon session. The Scenario was OA 26 Vogt’s Ritterkreuz. I got the 1940 Dutch Defenders: Eight 1st line infantry, well armed with Machine Guns and an Anti-Tank Rifle with my back to a river and an important bridge. Ed had Eleven 4-6-8 SS supported by 3 armored cars with IFE and MGs attacking. Ed had the black SS counters (even for the Armored Cars!) so I was quaking in my boots. zombie Those suckers look scary. Their mission was to pretty much wipe my little orange butts off the map (All I needed was an Line-of-Sight to a hex near the bridge to win).

Oh Shit Moment (tm)#2 occurred when a stack of three non-DM broken Dutch squads who were all in the same hex with a "-1" leader failed to rally (I failed to roll even one “8 or less” in three Dice Rolls!).

I guess the operative color for my Dutch Butts was yellow rather than orange.

After nearly half my force was eliminated for failure to route (and good follow-up play by Ed) I managed to keep a few squads alive and near enough to the bridge to score the win. A Dutch one-to-one ambush/kill/withdrawl in the Close Combat Phase of his turn 6 really helped. Another "event of note" during this scenario was that I killed all three of his armored cars by about turn 5: one by Off-Board Artillery fire, the other with an Anti Tank Rifle and the last by Close Combat. It seems fitting that the free-thinking Dutch are equal-opportunity killers. That was fun.

This was the first time I had played with off-board artillery in over 20 years, so it was fun to bone up on it before the game and then have it actually do something useful.

Ed was an extremely skilled (and pleasant) opponent who made no questionable moves and also some really good ones. Also interesting is that Ed is a second generation ASL player. I’d guess him to be about 25. He was there with his Father (Ed Fritz senior) who had brought him up playing The Game. I guess that’s one way to recruit new players.

ROUND 3 – “Where I have movie music playing in my mind”

That would be the theme from the Band of Brothers DVD.

Round 3 was WO3 Counterattack at Caretan. I got ‘da bros’ (7-4-7 squads) defending in the Bocage with 1 57mm Anti Tank Gun, a couple of ‘zooks and a Medium Machine Gun. This prompted a total re-read and refresher of the wall advantage and Bocage rules for my addled old brain. I forgot how fun it is to defend in Bocage.

Again, I am attacked by the SS. These guys just keep on coming.

He has 4 Assault Guns in support. He fails a critical special ammo (smoke) roll on the second turn and it’s pretty much down-hill for the Reich from there. One of my ‘zooks was eliminated on my first shot (It is surprisingly easy to roll a 10 or better).

On about turn 3 one of his Assault Guns waddles into the Line-of-Sight of my 57L Anti-Tank Gun and "poof" Da Bros have one less thing to worry about. He fails his personal morale check and it’s game over with my entire force intact at my second line of defense. (Cue theme music).

ROUND 4 – “Smoke 'um if you got 'um”

Round 4 was “A Hotly Contested Crossroads” which is a really good 1945 scenario with loads of challenges for both sides. After we pick the scenario, I tell Jim that I have been defending the entire weekend and would like to attack. He’s cool with that.

My attacking force is 14 well-lead Elite Russian Squads (including three 6-2-8 Assault Engineers and 2 Demo Charges), Three SU-85s (85mm Assault Guns) with and Three T34/85s (the premier late-war Russian Medium Tank).

The Defender has Pz III OP tank with a module of 80+ Offboard Artiller, 2 well-armed halftracks, and three Assault Guns (two of them are those little indestructible Hetzer Bastards). He’s also got two “tank hunter” elite half-squads with improved Panzerfaust capability that he gets to set up hidden.

To make a long story short: I used smoke. Lots of it. When my tanks ran out of smoke I ran them forward to the spot where I wanted smoke to be and prayed that they would explode and burn (thus creating smoke) when he killed them with Panzerfausts. In an important case, one did. Using smoke on the Hetzers and totally ignoring them with your infantry is the key to this scenario. (O.K. I did place a DC on one as I was running by, but that's the only time my infantry lost their focus which was: TAKE BUILDINGS VERY FAST).

By using smoke, I made it across the open ground and into the city with my force largely intact. His force was naturally divided in half by the terrain so I pinned him on my weak side (his left) and then I overwhelmed his right flank. It was getting late and we are a couple of old guys who "needs our beauty sleep" so he resigned on about turn 4 of 6.

ROUND 5 – How “not to be seen”

The final round for the championship was against Mika Harviala who had beaten Gary Fortenberry to get there (which takes some doing). We chose OA20 “The Revenge of the Greys” and I got to play the Brittish Attacker.

Mika played what I thought to be a flawless game with one major mistake: He assumed that my two supporting Shermans would enter on his open right flank, so he set up his one StuG IIIG Assault Gun to cover that approach. By SSR the StuG III sets up HIDDEN and acts like a AT Gun for concealment loss purposes, so I didn’t know where he was until a few turns into it.

Instead, my Shermans snuck up behind the woods in direct support of my infantry. On turn 2 they came crashing through the woods. His StuG III was now out of position and he found himself counterattacking rather than getting the jump on my armor defensively.

The infantry part of the game played out pretty much as they all do:

- I move up as cautiously as the game-turn-length allows and try to avoid getting broken or killed with the hope of blasting him with big multi-hex fire groups on turn 2 or later.

- I use smoke.

- I try to avoid getting shot at.

- He rolls THREE SNAKE EYES IN ONE FIRE PHASE!!! (oh shit moment (tm) #3). Some of my dudes die. Some of them break. It takes me an extra turn to get into position.

- In the end the fact that I kill his StuG III without losing either of my smiling Shermies is enough to make the end game a cake-walk for me. Although I hit it with one of my PIATs and then rolled an 11 TK (epic fail), A moment later I hosed his ass with a "4" TK from a Sherman.

Man, I love this game!.

What a great weekend and a great "comeback / welcome home" for me. Thanks to Chuck Payne who runs the event and to The Gamer's Armory who sponsors the prizes for a great tourney. You are wonderful hosts.

Foob

SHAMELESS PLUG:

P.S. for you addicts who have not seen these yet, here are two links to detailed, pictorial Starter Kit After Action Reports that I did last year:

ASLSK Scenario 17 - "A Ridge to Far"

ASLSK Scenario 16 - "Legio Patria Nostra"

Enjoy!

Foob
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Runs with scissors
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Sounds like a great weekend.
 
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Brian Roundhill
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Austin
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Congrats on a tournament of fun.
 
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Eric Storch
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Sounds like a blast!

Someday, when finances allow, I'm gonna attend the Nor'Easeter - being a native New Englander. I hope to have a like experience!
 
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Martí Cabré

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Congrats on being back in the game. arrrh
 
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Waldon
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Pierce,

CONGRATS on the big win! You are no has-been, you are the comeback kid.

It was good to see you again.

Jeff Waldon
 
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Lee Massey
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Welcome to NC! FYI: Raleigh is the correct spelling!
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I should have gone! I live in Greensboro!
 
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Pierce Ostrander
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Jeff Waldon wrote:
Pierce,

CONGRATS on the big win! You are no has-been, you are the comeback kid.

It was good to see you again.

Jeff Waldon


Jeff - thanks.

And thanks for easing me back into the game at the Winter Offensive. My game against you there was my first in a very long time. You outta come up to MD in May!

Best,

Foob
 
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