One of the highlights of the WBC schedule has always been Thursday’s Up Front marathon. This game has had a loyal following since the inception of the con and those players continue to show up year after year to vie for the title of best of the best. This year was no exception. We had a few regulars go missing and a couple of new players to round out the field.
The initial five rounds of Swiss gaming featured very few real upsets. While some are considered better than others, the old saying that anyone can beat anyone else on a given day was applicable as always.
After the dust settled, the only man standing with a perfect 4-0 record was George Young. Joining George in the elimination rounds with one loss were regulars Ed Kendrick, the 2015 winner, Bruce Young, and John Emery, the defending champion. The eight man field was rounded out by two loss finishers Ralph Gleaton, Jeremy Billones, Hawkeye Aylward, and Alan Arvold. Two other strong players, Andrew Maly and Richard Irving also finished with two losses, but were eliminated due to poorer strength of schedules over the Swiss Rounds. Andy was actually tied with Alan and the decision for the final spot was determined by a random card draw by these two fine gentlemen. The elimination field of eight featured three former champions with a total of fourteen plaques.
The round of eight began with George Young versus Alan Arvold in The Infantry’s Iron Fist scenario. George’s Germans had malfunction problems and Alan’s Americans took out the AFV with a Bazooka to ensure the win. Ed Kendrick’s Russians rushed forward early in the Patrol scenario and overwhelmed Hawkeye Aylward’s Germans in a deck and a half. Bruce Young as the Russian attacker in the Outpost Line scenario got three good artillery strikes against Jeremy Billones’ Japanese defenders and took out the squad leader and MMG for a win. John Emery had a long grinding game as the American in another The Infantry’s Iron Fist game against Ralph Gleaton’s Japanese.
John Emery met Alan Arvold in the first semifinal game. Alan chose the Germans in Outpost Line against John’s Russians. The German AFV gun malfunctioned and put Alan at a disadvantage. John continues to put on the pressure and two good fire cards at the right time broke Alan’s squad.
The second semifinal pitted Ed Kendrick’s German defenders against Bruce Young’s American attackers once again in Outpost Line. The Germans were caught in the open by a mortar round and they just ran out of firepower and manpower to give Bruce a win.
Alan and Ed elected to play for the third place as we knew they would. They elected to play Patrol with Alan as the Russians and Ed as the Germans. Alan shot well early but Ed countered with a flank. Alan kept up the good fire cards and reduced Ed to six men. Even though Ed was able to drop Alan into a Gully, the Russian superiority in numbers took its toll and getting behind a wall secured the victory for third place by Alan.
The final was the game they could have played by just crossing the street 9 hours away. WBC and Seven Springs was, however, the locale and the prize much greater than neighborhood bragging rights. It was John’s eight previous wins versus Bruce’s three. Outpost Line was the scenario selected with Bruce as the Japanese and John the British. The first deck was mostly sparring. The British crept up and both sides had some effective fire. Late in the deck, the Japanese killed the British machine gunner. The MG had to be abandoned and the Japanese got to a Hill, providing a good fire position. The British AFV gun malfunctioned and by the time it was repaired, the Japanese had killed two more Brits from the Hill. The British moved forward with the newly functional AFV and got a Commander killed for his efforts. The third deck finally got some OBA against the Japanese before both sides started to fire heavily. John elected to have the AFV try an overrun as his casualties were mounting. Japanese fire from their other group was finally effective enough to break the British squad and secure the win for Bruce.
This was his fourth WBC victory and brings him into sole possession of second place in the quest to challenge John’s eight.
A special vote of thanks goes to Ken Whitesell. He hosted a demo of the game that got some good attention from WBC attendees including two who had played the game years ago. Ray Stakenas and Ed Kendrick played an open handed game while Ken gave the commentary explaining what was going on. Several other regulars were also on hand to add comments. In the GM’s opinion, this is the best way to learn Up Front and appreciate some of its nuances.
| Jim Burnett [12th Year]