the russian campaign  

Updated 11/26/2008

Grognard Pre-Con
2008 WBC Report  

 2009 Status: pending 2009 GM commitment

Doug James, NC

2008 Champion

Offsite Links

AREA Boardgamegeek
Consimworld GM Site 

Event History
1991    Rob Beyma      31
1992    Alan Frappier      26
1993    Ed O'Connor      20
1994    Jeff Martin      16
1995    Rob Beyma      16
1996    Tom Gregorio      20
1997    Gary Dickson      24
1998    Gary Dickson      27
1999    Gary Dickson     26
2000    Doug James     30
2001    Phil Evans     27
2002    Tom Gregorio     30
2003     Doug James     30
2004    Tom Gregorio     36
2005     Doug James     33
2006     Doug James     23
2007    Bert Schoose     34
2008     Doug James     27

PBeM Event History
1999    Gary Dickson      19
2000    Gary Dickson      22
2001    Doug James      23
2002    Gary Dickson      44
2003    Tom Gregorio     40
2006    Doug James     34
2008     Tom Gregorio     31

Rank  Name              From  Last  Total
  1.  Tom Gregorio       PA    08    290
  2.  Doug James         NC    08    290
  3.  Gary Dickson       CA    08    237
  4.  Rob Beyma          MD    05     76
  5.  Bert Schoose       IL    08     75
  6.  George Karahalios  IL    08     74
  7.  Phil Evans         VA    04     63
  8.  Pat Flory          CT    05     61
  9.  Ed O'Connor        NJ    08     40
 10.  Art Lupinacci      ON    02     40
 11.  Joe Collinson      MD    04     36
 12.  Dave Ketchum       FL    04     36
 13.  Alan Zasada        IL    02     24
 14.  Mike Pacheco       CA    05     20
 15.  Scott Abrams       CA    06     16
 16.  Allen Kaplan       NJ    05     16
 17.  Forrest Pafenberg  VA    06     16
 18.  Jim Eliason        IA    05     14
 19.  John Popiden       CA    07     12
 20.  Michael Mitchell   GA    06     12
 21.  Jeff Martin        CT    05     12
 22.  Roy Walker         UK    08     10
 23.  Jeff Lange         AE    04     10
 24.  Brad Frisby        MD    01      8
 25.  John Bullis        WI    02      6
 26.  Rob McCracken      DE    05      5
 27.  John Ryan          FL    07      4
 28.  Alex Gregorio      PA    08      3
 29.  Larry Hollern      TX    08      3
 30.  Marty Musella      VA    99      3

2008 Laurelists                                        Repeating Laurelists 

Gary Dickson, CA

George Karahalios,IL

Bert Schoose, IL

Tom Gregorio, PA

Alex Gregorio, PA

Past Winners

Rob Beyma, MD
1991, 1995

Alan Frappier, CT

Ed O'Connor, NJ

Jeff Martin, CT

Tom Gregorio, PA
'96, '02, '04

Gary Dickson, CA

Doug James, NC
'00, '03, '05-'06, '08

Phil Evans, VA

Bert Schoose, IL


Defending champ Bert Schoose took his only loss vs Gary Dickson's Russians in the semi-finals as Doug James reclaimed his title after his 2007 absence.

Michael Trobaugh observes the German advance against his Russian defenses. Arriving on Wednesday, Mike was the last player to enter the event.

TRC Champion: There can be only one...

WBC 2008 is now in the rearview mirror; before it passes completely out of sight, let's make sure we celebrate what happened and recognize the winners.  Leading things off, I'll remove any sense of suspense by noting that Doug James took home his FIFTH TRC first place plaque. But he wasn't the only winner, I think several other individuals achieved some remarkable things on the Eastern Front.

Just to recap the tournament format, we had a week of unlimited, unscheduled, play in the Grognard format. The four best record holders then would play two rounds of single-elimination on Saturday. The scenario used was the 5-turn match with the SE contestants having the option of playing the 10-turn match. (In reality, no one chose to play the 10-turn scenario.) Key things to recognize in this setup are that German casualties, excluding HQs, DO NOT matter and that the Russians need to fight like there's no tomorrow.  In terms of metagaming the tournament, the key to advancing was to rack up a few early wins and then focus on playing individuals who had wins under their belts.  Also important was scoring wins against people who were likely to play a lot of matches. Because of the Grognard strength of schedule point system, players end up truly rooting for prior defeated opponents to win their other matches. We had 27 players getting 58 matches recorded over the course of the week, a drop from last years numbers but still a good showing given the smorgasbord of enticing distractions at WBC.

The most memorable winner, at least to this GM, was Bruno Sinigaglio. In one of the mid-week matches he defeated Doug James, the perennial champion, on his patented powerhouse move of capturing Moscow in 1941. I was in the main hall and heard the roar of the onlookers from the Grognard salon when Bruno's Germans rolled an Exchange result at 1-1 to capture the Russian capital. The retrospective statistical analysis of the events that led up to Bruno having that 1/3 shot of winning revealed that the entire pre-planned sequence required a sequence of dice with a one out of 96 likelihood. The look on Doug's face was priceless but, of course, ultimately getting the wood would cure that frown.

The winner of the 'TRC Newbie' award went to Rejean Tremblay. Our friend from Quebec was clearly not a newbie to the game, merely to TRC at WBC and his four tournament victories were a testament to his ability to play with the big names. By the end of the week, many of the experienced players were seeking to play him in the mistaken belief that fresh meat was easily cooked. To the dismay of one player who did eventually qualify for the SE event, Rejean showed his early wins were no fluke.

Another 'winner' was Murray Cowles who decided to try his hand at TRC late in the week. We talked a bit about the tournament format which was new to him. Murray mentioned having played the game many years ago so I was thinking that this would be a tutorial game, and I could take a mental break, but after the first few turns it became clear to me that the rust was coming off of his weapons pretty readily. His Germans methodically marched eastwards and it was only a fortuitous combination of weather and combat results that staved off Nazi Tyranny.

And, I would be remiss in my fatherly duties if I neglected to mention that my son Alex had a winning year too. He ended up in sixth, with four victories but, more notable was his accomplishment of getting 12 matches of TRC completed the first five days in addition to all the other events he enjoys. His 'wood' for the tournament was the Bill Morse daily printout of the TRC standings that showed the young Gregorio at the top of the standings after the first two days. Of course, that just ensured the bulls-eye was firmly secured to his shirt as those victories were magnets for the TRC sharks looking for points later in the week.

Late Friday night the final four players for the SE weekend play were identified. Gary Dickson led with 74 points (6-1 record), Doug followed with 70 (5-2), Bert Schoose in third with 64 (5-0), and George Karahalios also with 64 points (6-2). Missing the cut by a substantial margin was yours truly with 50 points and a 5-2 record. Quality of wins was clearly the key determinant.

The first of the semi-final matches featured Doug bidding 12 replacement points to play the Germans vs George. I will highlight this match to demonstrate the uniqueness of every TRC match and the things that can happen between two experienced players.

· The Russian defended against the Turn 1 overrun of Odessa but the German initial assault managed to break the Bug River line. The Russian response eliminated that Panzer and, even more surprisingly, George sprung a Russian armored into the German rear and managed to capture Bucharest! 

· With Rumania out of the war, Doug was clearly on the ropes and seriously contemplated surrendering. But he came to Lancaster to PLAY. The game went on. Turn 2 saw the Germans grinding eastwards and the recapture of Bucharest while, on their half of the turn, the Russians fortified Sevastopol and established a defense on the Dnieper River from the coast to Kiev.

· In September/October 1941, the weather was light mud. Doug's panzers managed to take Leningrad on a second impulse 1-1. Smolensk and Dneopropetrovsk were captured and progress was made towards Bryansk. On their half of Turn 3, the Russians surged out of Stalino and Kharkov and managed to establish some buffer space in front of those cities.

· With Nov/Dec 41 also being light mud, the Germans pincered Bryansk, captured Stalino, and smothered Kharkov. Experienced players will know what I'm talking about, neophyte players should take my word that pincers and smothering are moves that will capture cities and will win games! To even things up, George successfully counterattacked with the trapped Kharkov defenders and ended his turn with the city in his possession.  (Bryansk was lost.)

·  In the final Jan/Feb 42 turn, Doug counted his VP and realized the Germans had the win. He set up a bullet & bounce proof line, garrisoned Odessa, and secured his HQs. George pondered the situation and then resigned. Quite a turn-around from Turn 1 when the Russians had seemingly inflicted a mortal blow on the Axis cause!

The other semi-final match saw Gary Dickson's Russians handing defending champ, Bert Schoose his first loss of the tournament.  The Final thus featured Doug vs Gary. Gary bid +16 Russian Replacements for the dubious honor of facing Doug's Russians.

·  Doug's Red Army setup, like many of the others used by experienced players this year, was aimed at preventing the Odessa Overrun.  Nevertheless, the opening German assault killed every defender on first impulse.  On second impulse, a few Russian units survived in the BMD and WMD.  These survivors became the foundation of the Russian northern defense and careful positioning ensured that Gary would have no AVs in the north on Turn 2 and the Turn 1 Russian replacements could deploy in the south.

· The July/August turn featured an 'average' German advance with the Wermacht contained in the north and center.  The Russians continued to resist well in the south with strong points at Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk.

· The weather was light mud in September/October and Gary used them to good effect:  Sevatopol, Kiev, and Dnepropetrovsk were all captured.  Additionally, the paths to Kharkov and Stalino, and a German victory, were opened with hopes of good results in the upcoming light mud of November/December.  The Turn 3 Russian response was to fully defend those cities to make any frontal attacks utterly painful.

· In November/December, the Germans succeeded in setting up smother attacks on both cities which saw the Russians beginning his part of the turn with large German stacks adjacent.  In another clever move, Gary sprang a 5-4 forward from an attacker retreat result and this captured Kursk which ensured that the Kharkov defenders would be on their own in the necessary counterattacks.  Much to the Germans surprise, the Russians hit the 1/6 result and their 1-2 succeeded in saving Kharkov.  Stalin maintained control of Stalino and a Russian AR result saw an armored corps recapture Minsk from the Nazis!

· The situation on the last turn necessitated that the Germans capture objectives worth SIX VPs, normally insurmountable, especially given the snowy weather.  Nevertheless, Gary got some dice and recaptured Minsk, smothered Kharkov again, and contested Stalino and threatened Leningrad!  Doug ably responded to all of these threats through judicious tactics and some nifty die-rolling of his own.  Kharkov remained Russian occupied (11% chance) and the armored corps that previously captured Minsk managed to capture Brest.  Stalino was efficiently saved via a frontal 4-1 assualt on the Germans threatening the city.

When the dust settled, Doug and his Russians had secured his fifth TRC championship and more importantly, established to himself that the 5-turn scenario was not a freak of nature. Gary, of course, demonstrated that he too was still a contender and that the West Coast gang could still bring game to Lancaster.

Looking forward through the windshield, to 2009, I see a landscape with a lot of new players and new roads to success. This year saw an emphasis on defending against the Turn 1, second impulse overrun of Odessa but off-season analysis is more than likely to produce some Wermacht counters to those defenses.  Similary, given the success of some folks in taking Moscow, Soviet BMD and WMD defensive setups are likely to evolve in sneaky ways to thwart the Moscow gambit.  See you on the Steppes of Lancaster in 2009!

The Russian Campaign 7th BPA PBeM Tournament:

The 7th BPA-sponsored TRC PBeM Tournament has ended with Tom Gregorio capturing the crown by defeating Ed O'Connor.

In a separate Novice tournament,  Michael Kaye defeated Paul Koenig to capture the top spot. The Novice bracket attracted eight entrants.  Paul Koenig defeated Alan Heath to make it to the Final while Michael Kaye defeated Vince Meconi to for his Final ticket Unfortunately, Paul Koenig at that poinmt had to withdraw.

The Standard tournament attracted 31 entrants.  All seedings were done by AREA rating.  One first round bye was assigned randomly.

Doug James, Michael Mitchell, Ed O'Connor, Larry Hollern, Gary Dickson, John Bullis, Tom Gregorio and Roy Walker made it into the bracket of eight.

The familiar faces emerged into the final four: Doug James,  Ed O'Connor, Gary Dickson and  Tom Gregorio.

Ed pulled off an upset against Doug in a close match while Tom bested Gary to reach the Final.

The Final between Ed and Tom was posted on the  ConsimWorld forum under Boardgaming, Individual Series or Series Discussion, Era World War II (Individual Game), Eastern Front, L2 Design Group The Russian Campaign, posting dates from 12-Dec-2007 to 21-Apr-2008.

The German (Tom) pulled off a very aggressive variant of Bert Schoose's Odessa Overrun which traded kills against units in the Kiev Military District hinge for a strong position on the lower Bug River plus a surrender of a small cavalry unit (surrendering two more in battle on the first turn). The German smothered Dnepropetrovsk by the end of July/Aug, and captured Smolensk, Kiev and Sevastopol (smothering Stalino and killing off the worker) end of Sep/Oct (Lt Mud).  He occupied Stalino in Nov/Dec (Snow).  The Russian (Ed) clung to the Lvov (getting two 1:2 Contacts) but finally lost it in Jan/Feb 1942.  After the winter was over, the Russian had advanced to three hexes out of Leningrad and a line Valdai Hills - Smolensk - Bryansk - west of Kiev-Kharkov - Rostov.

The German summer offensive got off to a good start despite Lt Mud Mar/Apr.  killing off nine armies in two first impulse 4:1 attacks and the follow-up surround attacks.  The Russian reformed his line back to the rail junction between Bryansk and Kursk. In May/Jun, the two first impulse 4:1 attacks against big stacks got lesser results (D1), but carefully planned retreats allowed the German to kill off 11 armies as he turned to attack towards Leningrad and smother Rostov.  The Russian counterattacked in the south between Bryansk and Kharkov setting up a second impulse 1:1 surround attack against a big stack which did not succeed.  The German summer offensive continued with the capture of Leningrad, Smolensk, Kharkov and the river hex north of Rostov by the end of Jul/Aug, killing off 53 factors for the loss of 10.   The Russian pulled back his battered forces to Valdai Hills - east of Smolensk - Bryansk - Kursk - Rostov - Krasnodar.

The German summer offensive continued into Sep/Oct, killing off 12 armies as he smothered the Russian defenders in Bryansk and Kursk and outflanked the Don River defense of Rostov.  The Russian attack out of Bryansk to break the smother succeeded, but the one out of Kursk did a Crimean sea invasion. The Russian set up a weak line Stalingrad - Krasnodar - Maykop Oil Filed.  The final turn, Nov/Dec brought Snow but little relief as the German killed off the defenders (19 factors, including big mama) contesting Kursk, captured Tula and Krasnodar sending the Victory Point count to +7, the German needing +4 to win.  The Russian sea invaded with Big Mama to attack Sevastopol, counterattacked to contest Krasnodar and set up second impulse 4:1 against Tula.  If all three succeeded, the Russian would win.  The attack  to contest Krasnodar succeeded, but the one against Sevastopol failed.  The Russian player resigned

More details to be found at: under Site News

 GM      Tom Gregorio  [9th Year]   1650 Chadwyck Place, Blue Bell, PA 19422    484-744-1086

2008 Preview Page | View the Icon Key | Return to main BPA page