Michael does it again - claiming his fourth Paths of Glory Championship in the past five years! (This GM’s WBC campaign ended early when Bill P. squashed his army, and his spirit, in Round 3.) We had an excellent turnout this year, the weather was good, and Elmo’s Pit had some good BBQ going - all contributed to another successful tournament. The tournament format was unchanged and all players were more than familiar with the scenario and the game. There were lots of familiar faces and the games moved briskly with only one adjudication in this year’s event. In recognition of the ‘physical toll’ associated with a game that can go a full seven hours, more than a few players just sat in for a few rounds and exited, regardless of whether they won or not. Cardboard War can indeed be an endurance event.
Opening Action: We had twenty players show for the Saturday afternoon Mulligan in the Foggy Goggle, and then fourteen in the official single-elimination start on Sunday morning. Some flexibility with matchups saw us get to a ‘perfect’ eight players in Round 4. All four of the players making the semifinals this year were in the final six last year, shout-outs to Richard and Fred for ‘breaking through’ this year. Doing well in the WBC event requires both experience and a certain amount of intestinal fortitude - luck has a role but veterans take that into account.
Semifinal Match #1: Koleszar (CP) vs Bleau (AP)
- David bid first and his bid of 0 for the AP was sufficient.
- Opening rounds were very traditional with little risk being taken; both players kept their armies full and got their critical events out.
- Western Action: The AP had some fortuitous combat results with no fewer than five 5-4 wins in the West against defenders consisting of two German armies and a corps. As experienced players know, the line must be held and results like this cost an extra defending army step. Oh, so painful! British reinforcements were late and numerous FR Mutiny results hamstrung the Allied offensive in the West.
- A POG Oddity: Steve never got the SUD event played - usually a sign that the Russians are not making much progress against the AH.
- Near East: Allenby was late, the AP never got a Sinai Campaign going.
- Italy: Nothing but scowls and grimaces, not much action on that front.
- Russia: Steve’s CP methodically locked down the West, secondary fronts were quiet, so naturally the CP fury was felt in the West. On Turn 16, Bolshevik Revolution was played as the event and, with only six Russian armies left on the map, the end was in sight: David’s AP conceded.
Semifinal Match #2 Summary: Dauer (AP) vs Gregorio the Younger (CP)
- Alex and Michael have played dozens of times and are well acquainted with each other’s style. Of interest is that both of them are “CP Specialists” so it should come as no surprise that Alex ended up as the CP, giving 1 VP to Michael’s AP.
- Michael got to Total War on Turn 6.
- Near East: Pretty much snores and yawns. Experienced players know what to do and are often reluctant to try tricks against someone who’s seen them before.
- Balkans: The Austrians clear out Serbia early.
- West: The AP vigorously counterattacks and some good fortune sees the CP driven back from their normal lines; Alex had to shift to a ‘Defend the Rhine’ strategy. Once this happens, the CP needs to get traction on a front other than just Russia.
- Italy: Entered on Turn 4. (Bulgaria did not show up for the CP until turn 5.) On Turn 8, the CP sent some GE armies into the boot and the AP promptly responded with multiple FR and BR armies.
- The game was over on Turn 9 when an aggressive CP advance into Italy was thwarted by a successful AP counterattack into Venice that would lead to the GE11A and an AH army being eliminated OOS. (The AP attack featured combat cards that resulted in a 50-50 battle; such victories will win campaigns and experienced players will win games on such outcomes.)
Finals Summary: Dauer (CP) vs Koleszar (AP)
- Michael and Steve got down to it on Tuesday AM. To no one’s surprise, Michael was the CP again, getting them for a bid of 0 VP.
Both players pushed the War Status hard but Michael ‘won’ that race by getting to it on Turn 5 while the AP didn’t get there until Turn 7.
- The Italian front was a sideshow the whole game, the only thing of note was the AP forgoing an IT MO rather than take a 2A vs 12A against Trent on Turn 9.
- In the Near East, the YLD Turkish Army showed on Turn 5 and got to Erzerum on Turn 6, just as ‘the Yud’ army showed up. The NE was stale after that.
- During Turns 9-12 the CP withstood AP attacks by getting multiple RPs in each turn. The AP had some good results in the West but could never quite break through.
On Turn 12, the Russian position started to collapse. The CP attacked on Round 6 and created an OOS threat that the AP had to react to and, consequently, Steve was not able to get his own RPs in. At this point, the Russians were on their back heels with seemingly no redemption in the West.
- At the end of Turn 13, Steve’s AP conceded and, with that, Michael secured the 2019 POG First Place Championship.
Other tournament Info:
- We had thirty players join us in 2019, a nice tick up from the 23 in 2018. We only had one person who’d never participated in a competitive POG event but John S. acquitted himself well.
- 29 games were played over the course of six rounds. We started Saturday afternoon and were done by early afternoon Tuesday.
- 22 of this year’s players are also in the BPA POG PBEM event so it was great for competitive friendships to be renewed in person.
- The bidding format was unchanged; players conducted an open auction, bidding VPs to play a preferred side. The range of bids was a little broader than last year, -2 to +2 for the AP and the average bid was .5 for the AP. The average bid for a winning AP player was .7 while an average winning CP bid was .5. Overall, the CP won 16 of 29 matches. My general thinking at this point is that bidding doesn’t matter and, if you win the bid, just bid 0 for the side you want. Assuming of course, that you can play both sides equally well!
- Two games featured usage of the optional cards while approximately a third to a half of the games in each round were played on the new map featured in the Deluxe Edition.
- This year, Paths of Glory was a Prize Level 5 tournament so no “Sand Plaque” was awarded - it is hoped that this year’s turnout will help the event reach the next level.
Looking forward to next year:
- Based on this GM’s tour and gaming experience, it is hoped that POG can move to Winterberry next year, assuming the lighting issues are addressed. The Foggy Goggle was a great place to play, especially with the scenic views, but it’s always felt like it’s on the periphery and a few comments were made about the bar top tables.
- Given Michael’s domination of the event, it’s clear that something has to change. Yes, the current players need to up their game, but a concerted effort needs to be made to bring back some champs of yesteryear! Nevertheless, congrats are due to Michael for garnering the win - POG is not any easy game to master and the face-to-face experience is very challenging given the very experienced player base in these tournaments.
Thanks to Michael Dauer and Alex Gregorio for serving as assistant GMs - it’s always a pleasure for a GM to have support from players who know the rules better than he does. No event would succeed without the avid support of the players - thank you for turning out and I hope to see you in 2020. This GM is already looking forward to next year - may all your trench rolls be low and your flank rolls high!
The war to end all wars begins.
The Allies seem happy.
Western Front action.
CP ready for action.
A brief respite in the war for smiles.