Ra-ta-tat-tat ... and other assorted
combat sound effects optional
Squad Leader drew 18 players which appears to be the
norm for this event, yet many of the players each year are new
to the event. Granted, there is a core of the die-hard players
who seem to make it here every year, yet it is good to see new
ones making it to the convention.
The event's new format, instead of only having Squad Leader
level scenarios, provided opportunities for players to choose
from any level of the series. Though most of the scenarios chosen
were at the Squad Leader level of play, a few enjoyed
playing at the Cross of Iron level. Those players electing
to play at the higher level of play benefited in the "Knight's
Cross" competition, a side event, sponsored by the Wargame
Academy (WGA), for the player participating in the more difficult
scenarios. Allen Kaplan and Pete Pollard tied for this honor.
Along with the flexibility of choosing various levels of play
for each game, the competition included a Personal Leader Counter
(PLC) competition. Each participant had a leader that continued
his progression of advancement, or demotion, throughout the tournament.
Many of the PLC's were given a 21 gun salute as they joined their
fallen comrades in the storage box. However, a few shining stars
were recognized for their bravery as they attacked the enemy
with ferocity. A special plaque was developed by the Wargame
Academy for the PLC competition. Winning this year's competition
was Paul Risner, whose leader rallied his troops and directed
the fire better than his opposition.
Also in this PLC competition, Bill Thomson, of WGA, included
a plaque for anyone who killed Pete Pollard's PLC, one who has
dominated the PLC competitions in previous years. During the
second round, Allen Kaplan was in the position to secure this
honor, but he kept to the goal of winning the scenario and regretably
spared Pete's PLC for yet another battle. At the end of the tournament,
no one had removed Pete's PLC from the competition, so the plaque
will return next year, challenging a future marksman to the task.
As a side note, the Pollard PLC was held to second place for
the PLC competition so perhaps the "bounty" achieved
its purpose after all.
The first round saw a mix of scenarios from Scenario 2 of
the initial Squad Leader game to an On All Fronts Cross
of Iron scenario "The Workers Strike Back". Round
1 went to the Germans, winning all games except for two. Mike
Pacheco's fanatic Russians overwhelmed the German assault engineers
in a match of scenario 2, "The Tractor Works". The
other Allied win came from David Van Bronkhorst's Americans as
they gave Peter Chessick the "Eviction Notice".
Of note was Francis Spencer's German gun crew who held their
ground during an American advance. In "Eviction Notice",
the Americans are charged with clearing the two-story building
on board 3. Francis' 50mm anti-tank gun was positioned to keep
Joe Abrams' Americans from reaching their objective. However,
the 50mm is only effective against the thin armor of half-tracks
and can only destroy a tank on a 2 or 3 dice roll. Nevertheless,
the valiant crew destroyed numerous armored vehicles, stopping
the GI's in their tracks.
"The Workers Strike Back" was a popular scenario
for the round. In each game, the Russian workers were stopped
from their objective. Pete Pollard's PLC took a commanding lead
in round one. His PLC took up a position in the woods near the
middle of board 4. With support of a PzKw IIIJ and a couple of
squads, the PLC took on most of what the Soviet workers of the
Kolpino tank factory could give them. The heroic actions of his
PLC included immobilizing one KV1, single-handedly destroying
another and winning two close combats.
What victories the Germans gained in Round 1 were quickly
countered in Round two. Of all the second round games, the Germans
managed to win one. The scenarios of choice for the round were
Alan Yngve's "Beta (zero)" and On All Fronts' "Russia
1941". Both of these scenarios center on the Germans trying
to wrest the control of the village (board 3) from the Russians.
In almost all of the cases, the Germans were repulsed. Allen
Kaplan's Russians were so successful they left their defensive
positions and began routing Pete Pollard's hapless Germans from
their hiding places. In a similar situation, Paul Risner's defenders
enjoyed the benefit of poor dice rolls and broken equipment,
as it seemed that David Hooten's Germans should
never have decided to attack that day. As the lone German victor
in round 2, David Van Bronkhorst remains humble. His Russian
opponent, Chuck Stapp, put up a good fight, but the Germans finally
removed the last of the defenders from the objective after some
It had become quickly obvious that this round would find an
overall winner for the tournament. Only four games were played,
since some of the participants left for other events or simply
only hung around to watch the rest of the action. Half of the
fighting for round 3 was found on the streets of Stalingrad.
Brian Van Nortwick's Germans forced out Paul Risner's Russians
in "Stalingrad, 20 October 42". However, this wasn't
accomplished until after a berserk Russian crew had taken out
two squads and a leader in close combat. The Russian crew received
the "Heroes of the Motherland" posthumously. Paul's
PLC stood as the last Russian in the building. He tried to hold
the building on his own, but he soon realized the folly of one
man against the German army and saved his PLC. This move secured
his PLC as the leading point maker in the competition.
David Hooten repelled the German attack in scenario 7, "Buchholz
Station". Eric Philipkowski will think twice next time before
he attacks the Americans during chow. David held out around the
village center of board 3 and prevented Eric from making his
way to the objective.
Pete Pollard's Germans stopped Chuck Leonard's Russians in
"Land Leviathans". In a true tank-vs-tank battle, the
German tankers out-gunned the Soviets. Chuck placed his T34 on
the board 3 hill to overlook the battlefield and provide a good
screen to his mobile forces attempting to run through the thin
German line. Unfortunately, the dice were not on Chuck's side
as most of his tanks were reduced to smoking wrecks.
The deciding game would be Mike Pacheco's Russians against
Allen Kaplan's Germans in "Stalingrad, 20 October 42".
This scenario, similar to ASL's Pavlov's House, has the
Germans attacking a small Russian force holed up in a board 1
building. The fighting was back and forth, but in the end, the
Russian defenders repelled the Germans. Mike finally made it
to the top of the hill and walked away with the plaque.