The Easter family took the top two positions as father defeated son to take home his first WBC title. 24 players fought it out on Revolutionary battlefields this year, down more than a third from a record high last year but what we lacked in numbers we made up for in the strength of the field as there was no “easy” win to be had in any round.
The Mulligan and Round 1 had players fighting the full Eutaw Springs campaign game. There were four draws, three marginal, five substantial and one decisive win. Three of the substantial wins came when players failed a personal morale check and resigned (been there, done that). The decisive win went to eventual runner-up Champ Easter’s British versus Chris Storzillo. In a position never seen before, Chris actually had his army split in two, with one force actually in control of the British encampment while the other half of his army faced off against the full weight of the British army just to the east of the perimeter hexes. Champ was able to fix this half of the American force in place, surround and capture Greene and kill the requisite number of American SPs while Chris was unable to force the British to break off and regroup.
Round 2 was the Guilford Courthouse campaign which yielded five marginal and one substantial victory. In tournament play a “draw” result is treated as an American marginal victory, and two of the three American wins were “drawn” games that gave the Americans the win.
That left six players for Round 3 and thus the decision to drop the Monmouth Holding Action scenario from the lineup in favor of the Monmouth Washington’s Stand scenario. With six players left all winners and the best loser (as determined by cumulative Tournament Points, Army Morale, and VPs) would advance to the semifinals. Bruno Sinigaglio’s Americans took a marginal win over Dave Stiffler. Bruno scored an early VP by capturing the 2nd Black Watch after which Dave had to attack repeatedly against an American line anchored firmly on the West Morass, making some headway but not causing many casualties. None of his last turn attacks came through and Bruno easily cruised into the semifinals. The Americans had their way on the next board as well with Chris Easter besting Rob Doane’s British by 3.5 points to secure a marginal win. The only draw was between John Vasilakos and Champ Easter (the only VP the Americans earned was from the doomed Black Watch). Based on Tournament Points, Champ Easter (who led all competitors with eight TPs) and John Vasilakos would move into the semifinals, with Rob Doane taking 5th place and Dave Stiffler 6th place.
The game for the semifinal was Saratoga and would pit Bruno Sinigaglio’s Americans against Chris Easter and John Vasilakos’ Americans versus Champ Easter. The GM rolled for fog on Turn 1 resulting in clear weather which ensured it would also be clear on Turn 2 so both British players could deploy their armies without any delay.
Chris took Freeman’s Farm early in the game with the midgame seeing much maneuvering with both players scoring points and the game still in doubt. The last few turns were wild and wooly as Bruno’s American’s charged into the British lines east of Freeman’s farm and then sent Arnold, Morgan, and Dearborn off the American right flank in an attempt to take the British baggage train. In the ensuing turns, both sides had units surrounded, and the capture of a stack would have tipped the balance but in the end it was Bruno who took the Marginal victory 3.5 to 2 VPs (if the British have more VPs than the Americans they win, otherwise it’s an American Marginal win).
In the other semifinal Champ also took Freeman’s Farm early to secure the 1 VP. Disaster loomed when John left an opening in his lines that allowed Champ to move his light troops through the woods and surround Morgan and Dearborn. In the ensuing combat Champ caused a step loss, the best possible result for John as a Disrupt or Retreat result would have caused at least one and possibly two captures. As the game progressed it proved to be a rather bloodless affair which put more and more pressure on John each turn to find a way to scrounge a VP or two. However, none of his attacks drew blood and he never had a chance at taking the British baggage train or retaking Freeman’s Farm. When it was over Champ had held on for a 1.5 to 0 VP marginal win and a trip to the Final.
And so the Final was set; it would be Grognard and BAR shark Bruno Sinigaglio versus the young Champ Easter who, while not a Grognard is already able to swim in the shark tank on an equal basis, so it looked like a great Final in the making. And then…. life happened. Many of us while at WBC were also tethered to our jobs via phones and laptops and it was just before the Final that Bruno got “the call” from home station; a high priority task with a deadline not compatible with the BAR final. Given Bruno’s other obligations he couldn’t be sure there would be a chance to play the Final before the weekend ended. Thus, Bruno stepped aside to take third place and the semifinalist with the highest Tournament Point total, Chris Easter, would become a finalist. And so it was to be a family affair fought on the full Brandywine campaign. Since father and son had spent time practicing this scenario before WBC each had insight into the other’s tactics so this was going to be a hard fought match for WBC wood and family bragging rights.
The elder Easter would take the defending Americans while Champ assumed the role of attacker with the British. There were no bids for sides, so both players started with their original morale levels (20 at start) and the British would have a momentum chit.
Turn 1: Champ defers Grant’s entry to Turn 2, having decided his force would come into the battlefield at entry hex B.
Turn 2: Americans win the initiative. The Americans beef up their defense of Brinton’s Ford and start to form the force that will eventually move towards the Birmingham Hill and Meeting House while the British move towards Brinton’s Ford with one force while the remaining units pass the Morass with an eye towards positioning on the heights overlooking the Brandywine.
Turn 3: The Americans win the initiative again and the early maneuvering continued, the American reaction force now in place and the British cautiously approaching the heights on the Brandywine and Brinton’s Ford.
Turn 4: The British get the initiative for the first time and move the dangerous Ferguson’s Rifles on their left flank near Brinton’s Ford. In the defensive artillery phase the American guns disrupt the British 5th Infantry (Morale AM: 20/BR: 19). In the bottom half of the turn Sullivan and his force respond to the British at Brinton’s Ford and there are two stout forces staring each other down across the Brandywine.
Turn 5: British get the initiative again and have to be mindful of a possible American double move. During the American half of the turn they elect to release Sullivan early, ceding 1 VP to the British. With the British attack across the ford having been repulsed the British have a 1-0 VP lead and both armies are at 19 morale. One danger point for the British is that the 40th infantry is still on the American side of the Brandywine in hex 0413 and at risk if the Americans get to move first on Turn 6.
Turn 6: The Americans get the initiative! Chris can’t pass up the chance to take a shot at the 40th, and hits them at 4:1 odds and a +2 modifier. A modified roll of 11 results in two step losses, killing the 40th and giving the Americans momentum! That is, until the British uses the momentum chit he had at start to force a re-roll of the combat. The modified re-roll is a 7, which is still a step loss but the 40th will live to fight on and the Americans are denied a momentum chit of their own – a good use of the momentum here by Champ. The score is now 1 - .5 VP in the British favor with morale at AM: 18/BR: 17. In the bottom half of Turn 6 the British rescue the 40th, moving them back onto the British side of the Brandywine and also move a long line of British and German infantry adjacent to the Brandywine with their right flank anchored on Chad’s Ford. Morale is now BR: 19/AM: 17
Turn 7: British have the initiative. The British main force on the flank is now on the battlefield but the Americans have made it to the formidable defenses in the Meeting House and Birmingham hill area and are likely to put up a stiff fight. American defensive fire pounds the hapless 40th Infantry, killing it’s second step and eliminating it. Those vaunted Chris Easter laser guided cannons were in full effect! On the “Proctor’s Battery” front the British finally cross the Brandywine at the minor ford on their left flank making a 4:1 attack, but British woes on the offense continue and Champ rolls a 2, pinning both forces. In the American half of the turn Chris pays the -1 morale hit to break the pin and Champs guns come to life with his arty causing a step loss to the American 10th VA. At the end of the turn the Americans now have a slim lead 2 - 1.5 VPs with morale at AM: 19/BR: 18
Turn 8: The British get the initiative yet again. The American guns draw blood again during defensive fire, eliminating the Hessian Light Artillery unit. In their half of the turn the Americans abandon the Birmingham hill line and fall back to the Battle Hill area. VPs are now 3 – 1.5 in favor of the Americans with morale at AM: 18/BR: 16. Champ would have his work cut out for him to try to make up the VP deficit.
Turn 9: British win the initiative. At this point Champ would probably have gladly given up the initiative for some hot dice on the attack (little did he know he would get just that shortly). The British attack in force on their left flank, where they are still on the American side of the Brandywine. Several good results for the British on this turn:
- Stirn, Leib, and “Combined” attack and capture the Pennsylvania State Foot on Roundalay Hill and also disrupt the Jones Artillery and Pennsylvania State Rifles.
- Mirbach, the 55th and 5th conducted a flanking attack on the fieldworks atop Roundalay Hill, disrupting Hartley.
- Grant, with Enniskillens, attacked and captured the 1st Maryland, gaining a momentum chit.
- A great set of attacks for the British! At the conclusion of the British half of the turn the American morale was in “Fatigued” status. Had the tables turned?
During the American half of Turn 9, Champs guns scored another success when the 2nd NJ Volunteer Artillery killed the 3rd PA Artillery. And then, fate turned it’s back on Champ during the rifle fire phase as the Nelson Rifles shot at Stirn and Leib forcing them to retreat. The Germans, being surrounded at the time, gave up their schnitzel and walked into the American Lines, hoping to be paroled (you can’t make this stuff up folks!).
Turn 10: There is no record of Turn 10. Rumor has it a British spy burned those pages and they are lost to history. Battlefield paintings from that era show the Americans with a strong line still in place around Battle Hill and the Edgewood farm with the British positioned for attack, while the British attack across the Brandywine looked like it might have shot it’s bolt. Army morale was AM: 16/BR: 15, with the British only one morale point from being back in Fatigued status.
Turn 11: The British had the initiative again this turn. Chris had the laser range finders turned on again as his defensive artillery (NJ A firing) causes a step loss to the German Grenadiers and kills Grey (a “9, 9” shot)! As noted above, this pushed the British morale into the Fatigued zone. On the attack Champ took vengeance as he captured Congress’ Own (a +2 unit) and the New York B artillery unit when they were forced to retreat. At the end of the turn the VPs were now 6.5 – 5.5 in favor of the Americans with morale at AM: 17/BR: 10. A tight game going into the last turn!
Turn 12: The British spend two momentum chits on the initiative roll and win it. They make an all out assault on the American right on Battle Hill. The American defensive artillery fire would decide the game here as the 2nd MA artillery causes a step loss to the 1st Foot Guards and kills Cornwallis! A second shot also scores a step loss and American rifle fire causes an army morale loss, which leaves British morale in Wavering status. On his half of the turn Chris announced his intention to avoid further combat and with that he became the 2016 champion!
This was a well played game with no obvious gaffes on either side … just timely combat, artillery, and rifle fire results that in the end took too large of a toll on Champ’s British for him to overcome.
Chris Easter donated two games as prizes. All players eligible to play in Round 2 were eligible for a copy of Germantown, which went to Bruno Sinigaglio and a copy of Saratoga was given to the player finishing in 4th place, John Vasilakos.