clash of giants [Updated October 2002]

COG  3 prizes Beginners Sing Elim w/Mul Continuous 
  18  19    9 Round 2 12 Round 3 15 Round 4 18 Round 5 21 Final

    Salon CD   Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Hunt

Andrew Maly, MD

2002 Champion

2nd: Jonathan Miller, DC

3rd: Dennis Culhane, PA

4th: Terry Coleman, CA

5th: George Young, VT

6th: Ian Lange, AE

Event History
2002    Andrew Maly     22

AREA Ratings

GM: Andrew Maly

gut wrenching World War I action ...

Clash of Giants (COG) was voted into the Century for 2002 and put in a solid showing for a two-player wargame. I had no illusions that it would pull in 50+ players, especially when competing against so many other worthy events, many that I wish I could have entered. Still, I'm happy with the attendance total.

The MVP of the tournament has to be Jeff Lange Sr.. He was responsible for three of the contestants in the event, himself and his two sons Ian and Ted. It drew rave responses, even from those not in the tournament, that youngsters were competitively playing a traditional wargame.

The teaching session for the game went well. Ten players showed for the teaching session.

Most of the session covered mechanics, and I tried to give a basic overview of some strategy, which is, admittedly, difficult to do in an hour. However, most seemed to be there to ensure they understood the mechanics.

A brief overview, COG is two games in one, on battles from World War I, Tannenberg and the Marne. It has an alternating sequence of play, but enough twists to make it different from "standard" hex-based wargames. First, the die has everything to do with movement. Each side has two portions of its force, and a die roll reveals how far a particular unit can move during its turn. Since this process is sequential both players, but especially the German, have to play it safe, or gamble on the movement of the second portion of their force. Second, each unit is rated for its strength and ability to withstand combat. There are no sure kills in COG, as any unit survives intact if it rolls a 1, regardless of the odds. The chrome isn't heavy but what exists is essential, and it's a very playable system and quick playing, making it ideal for a tournament setting.

Sixteen players showed for the Mulligan round. I allowed one pairing to flex their start time, as one individual was going to be teaching at 8 PM. This seems like a good idea that will be continued next year. I did have one individual show up much later, about 9 PM, looking for a game, but there wasn't another opponent to be found.

Tannenberg was used exclusively throughout the tournament, nobody wanted to tempt the extra time that would be required to play the Marne. The games in the Mulligan round weren't under a time constraint, and about half finished within three hours. The others took not much longer. The Russians were the preferred side throughout, as they are a bit more forgiving side to play. The Russians tallied six victories and the Germans only two. However, the most exciting match of the night was Tom Meier's victory as the Germans. It was the flexed game, and the last to finish. The game came down to the last die roll, as Tom made a successful counterattack to claim a 7-5 victory.

Six new players, all but one of the Mulligan winners and a handful of the mulligan losers showed for Round 1 and 2 Wednesday morning. The official 1st round tallied three German victories and two Russian victories. While no two games seemed to play the same, the oddest first round match belonged to Jim Winslow and Nick Frydas. Neither side lost a unit the entire game. Talk about playing conservatively.

In the second round, Jeff Lange won a squeaker; George Young, Andrew Maly, and Dennis Culhane won their matches; and Jonathan Miller and Terry Coleman forced early concessions from their opponents. Ian Lange was credited with a bye for the round. The scales were definitely in the Russians favor, winning five of the six matches played. Matt Calkins was defeated in the second round, but walked away with the sportsmanship nomination for this event.

The third round paired George and Andrew; Dennis and Ian; and Terry and Jeff. Jonathan pulled the bye into the semi-finals. All three games were tight matches, and Dennis, Terry and Andrew pulled out victories, netting two Russian and one German victory.

In the semi-finals, Andrew, playing the Russians, beat Dennis 13-10, in a true nail-biter. The other game wasn't close. In the 22 games that had been played in the first three rounds, nine had had bids to play the Russian side. The bids were either two or three victory points. In a bold move Jonathan bid seven victory points to play the Russians, and forced a concession out of Terry on Turn 8.

The final was a wild game, with swings of fortune back and forth. Andrew let Jonathan take the Russians for two victory points. Deviating from the standard, Andrew sent the German cavalry south to face the Russian 2nd Army. However, he nearly lost the game on Turn 2 letting I Corps get pinned and out of supply. A message arrived from Grünwald at OberWBC, "immer eine Brautjunfer."

A tentative response by the Russian 1st Army allowed I Corps to escape its own trap. The Germans began a slow withdrawal west to the fortified zones outside of Konigsburg for the next seven turns, keeping one step ahead of the Russian 1st Army.

The real action took place in the south with the Russian 2nd Army. The Russians were experiencing some solid gains against the Germans in the early part of the game. The Germans held and fought, counterattacking at Tannenberg on Turn 4. The odds and numbers were in favor of 2nd Army, however.

Then on Turn 7 the Russians extended themselves just a bit too far. The German commander intercepted the plans of the 2nd Army for the next day (the Wireless Intercept die roll) and swung his cavalry around the left flank of the Russian army. Turn 8 resulted in the bulk of 2nd Army being placed out of supply, and the Germans began to work on destroying 2nd Army.

Jonathan desperately maneuvered his forces to escape the trap, but it took until turn 11 to do so. By this time, the Germans had driven 2nd Army south of the three German victory hexes. However, two Russian units, although out of supply, remained a threat in the center of the map. Further, 1st Army finally found the fortitude to attack, and had four movement points to do so.

The cat and mouse game continued in the south, as the Germans tried to maintain the out of supply status of the two Russian 2nd Army divisions in the north. Andrew also launched his forces facing 1st Army forward to neutralize the high movement of the Russians.

1st Army began a slow grind forward, but was having trouble making significant gains, so units began to filter around the flanks of the German lines. The Russian 2nd Army was, for the most part, destroyed as a formation. On turn 14, the Russians managed to break the Konigsberg fortified zone near Libau. Additionally, one of the 2nd Army divisions had managed to put itself back into supply when the 8th Army decided to get tentative at an inopportune time. The game came down to the Wireless Intercept die roll on Turn 14, which would determine the movement of the Russian 2nd Army on the last turn, Turn 15. The roll of 1 secured the game for the Germans. (A 2 would also have been a German victory, a 6 would have been a Russian victory, and a 3-5 would have resulted in a Russian battle for Libau for the victory.)

Certainly I had a little luck in order to win the event. I think that's always true, but I was fortunate to play five extremely tense, close fought games. The designer of COG, Ted Raicer has been asked to put health warning labels on his designs, as they provide gut wrenching moments for players.

For complete details, see

 GM      Andrew Maly [1st Year]   521 Inglewood Rd, Bel Air, MD 21015   NA

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