Overall attendance at the 2019 World Boardgaming Convention (WBC) at western Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs Resort was up but, there seemed to be fewer players than usual at the classic Grognard games. Based on daily observations of this GM and in discussions with many veteran players, the Festival Hall of the main Convention Center was somewhat less crowded. Many of the familiar attendees to the GROGNARDCON either did not attend or made only a fleeting appearance to say hello to old friends. A pleasant revelation awaited as players arrived at the Festival Hall which had undergone significant renovations from last year. The heads (aka restrooms) were greatly improved and there were new tables and chairs. However, last year’s bright lights were replaced with softer lighting. While these new lights probably added great ambiance to dinners, dances, and other social gatherings; they were barely adequate for only those tables near the windows. Some gamers further back in the hall resorted to headlamps and flashlights. All gamers, except the better prepared monster game participants who had their own portable lighting, suffered in the evenings and during storms. This deficiency was reported up the convention chain of command which passed it on to the resort management. The convention director indicated that this issue would be addressed for next year and based on the resort’s excellent resolution of previous issues, lighting should not be a problem in 2020. There were renovations in other parts of the resort too which bodes well for a continued quality gaming experience in the future supported by attentive staff, great facilities, and dedicated convention leadership.
On a personal note, this GM will not be attending next year’s convention due to competing family demands (good ones, not bad ones) which require the prioritization of family finances. One of my assistant Game Masters (GM), Ed Menzel, has agreed to run WATERLOO next year. As Ed also runs the annual Play by EMail (PBEM) WATERLOO tournament, he is eminently qualified for the task.
The game of WATERLOO held its own in 2019 with seventeen “enlightened” competitors. And while the list of players had declined by one from last year, the intensity of play was one level higher than previous years, highlighted by a truly memorable championship game. Also, this GM believes that our first overseas competitor from the United Kingdom locked horns with other eager combatants. This gentleman is a recent addition to Greg Smith’s WATERLOO Ladder and to Ed Menzel’s already mentioned PBEM tournament. More on him in the following semi-final game description. Also, in what is becoming the norm, at least two past WATERLOO players (as teens) made inquiries to this GM and were greatly surprised to see that the game is still played competitively. Hopefully, this GM’s pep talk and the availability of the Ladder and PBEM tournament will generate renewed interest in this mighty classic!
The seventeen dedicated Grognards who vied for the WATERLOO Wood this year played a total of eighteen games. There were 10 Prussian & Anglo-Allied (PAA) victories versus 8 French victories that translated to a victory percentage of 56% (PAA) to 44% (French). This should be tempered by the fact that unlike last year which saw the PAA player prevail in both semi-final games and the championship game, the opposite was true with the French winning all three games in the playoff rounds. Of the eighteen games, three were “teaching” games with no bids and the other fifteen games had bids to play the PAA from 5 (lowest) to 8 (highest). The “average” bid was 5.7. These statistics indicate to this GM that there will be no additional rule modifications/changes next year in the name of play balance. While it continues that almost all WATERLOO players will bid to play the PAA side, there is a greater acceptance to play the French side if the bid increases the French advantage in the early game. In this GM’s view, the overall level of French play is improving among experienced WATERLOO players and this may explain why there were no bids above eight as in previous years.
The four semifinalists that emerged after a week of intense gaming in ranked order were (#1) Ed “The Menzelator” Menzel, (#2) Bert “The Renegade” Schoose, (#3), Meng “The Merciless” Ong, and (#4) Gary “The Devastator” Dickson. Three of the four were returnees from last year’s play-offs with Meng “The Merciless” Ong making his first appearance. Moreover, as previously discussed Meng “The Merciless” was the newcomer from the United Kingdom. Meng literally burst onto the scene this past year with impressive victories against top rated players in the Ladder and the PBEM tournament. It remained to be seen how he would do in face-to-face play. The other three competitors are perennial contenders at this convention and highly ranked in on-line WATERLOO competitions. They are also veteran classics players who have clawed their way up the WATERLOO rankings becoming formidable opponents in this game as well as other GROGNARD classics. However, Ed “The Menzelator” Menzel is the only player who has won a previous WATERLOO crown.
Semifinal #1 featured Ed “The Menzelator” Menzel pitted against the hungry contender Gary “The Devastator” Dickson. While the importance of bidding has gained prominence over the last few years as most players strive to secure command of the PAA armies, The Menzelator managed to secure the PAA side with a “normal” bid of six factors (6 factors removed from the PAA At-Start forces). Having played both competitors before, this GM theorized that while Ed has displayed a strong desire to play the PAA, his bid of six was sufficiently high for Gary to continue his WATERLOO “education” for more opportunities to play the French. (GM note: Even if a player desires to play the French, every effort must be made to force a higher bid on the player desiring the PAA side. Statistics have shown that a meaningful PAA bid increases the probability of a French victory by on average about 6%). Gary’s French deployed across the width of the board in the opening turns with two corps(+) [+ means reinforced] with twelve supporting cavalry/horse artillery units marching toward Nivelles on the western flank and a corps (-) reinforced with ten supporting cavalry/horse artillery units, pushing northward on the road to Wavre in the east. Ed’s Prussian defense was more robust in the east with two reinforced corps (seven infantry divisions, three cavalry brigades, and four horse artillery battalions) arrayed along the southern Thil and eastern Dyle rivers. The heights directly south of Quatre Bras were adequately defend by several large Prussian infantry divisions while the British Army handled the defense of Nivelles. Ed’s Prussians maintained a central reserve of a corps (-) near the hilltop halfway between Nivelles and Quatre Bras able to respond to French threats in either the eastern or western sectors. The French western wing, foregoing any threat toward the far western river bordering the Braine le Comte road, pressed their advance northward on the primary road toward Nivelles, while Gary’s eastern wing continued their measured advance toward Wavre in the east. By 7PM (1900 military time), the French had cleared the last PAA delay units from the primary road east of Quatre Bras (aka the Corridor of Death [CoD]) and launched a corps (-) assault against the Prussian main battle line there. This attack was brilliantly executed (French press release) or unbelievably lucky (Prussian press release) as a French 4-4 artillery battalion destroyed the large Prussian infantry division (7-4) even though outnumbered 2-1 in an exchange. The main attack just drove the Prussian defenders back. Simultaneously, Gary attacked the Prussian cavalry defending the extreme eastern part of the PAA battle front and succeeded in driving them back from the river. South of Nivelles, the French advance was limited to a single hex line per turn by the screening Dutch cavalry delay units. The battle in the CoD raged on during the evening of 16 June as Ed’s Prussians, enraged by their initial setback, counterattacked with two 3-1 attacks but only forced two French divisions back. Gary’s French retaliated at 0700, 17 June with two of his own 3-1 attacks and was rewarded with the destruction of a large Prussian infantry division and pushing the other division back two hexes. This result forced the Prussians to slowly retreat from the Quatre Bras heights. In the west, Ed’s British did not expose any major British units to attack. Instead he used Dutch & Belgian delay units to continually stymie large French advances. At 0900 (9AM), Gary’s French executed a short right hook at the Thil/Dyle river junction heading toward Genappe. This forced the Prussian corps (-) defending the secondary road toward Wavre to also march westward to rejoin the bulk of the Prussian Army. By 1300 (1 PM), 17 June, the main PAA battle line ran from the doubled positions just north of Nivelles, along the hilltops in the middle of the board toward Genappe, continuing along the river defending Genappe. The reunited French Army launched two major assaults against the middle board hilltops and French élan and bayonets scored a major victory by destroying both defending infantry divisions. The Prussians and British both counterattacked immediately and stemmed the French advance by destroying several French divisions in turn. Successive French and PAA counterattacks filled the afternoon of 17 June and by the late afternoon, the loss ratio stood at 60 PAA factors out of action versus 39 French factors killed, missing, or wounded. Even with the advantage of factors destroyed, Gary’s French were concerned with the growing strength of the PAA armies as British reinforcements continued their march towards the battlefield. As the evening of 17 June approached, Gary’s French launched a series of 1-1 and 2-1 attacks along the entire battlefront. (GM note: Gary related that at this stage of the game he was desirous of a resolution in the game – win or lose. This may have been based on his fatigue level since it was Friday afternoon and he faced other playoff games Friday evening and on Saturday). These attacks, along with Ed’s selective counterattacks, were neither disastrous losses nor dramatic victories for Gary, but they did result in significant casualties on both sides and forced Ed’s dwindling PAA forces to withdraw towards Mont St. Jean to await arrival of the Prussian 4th Corps. At 0900, 18 June, Gary’s low odds attack strategy continued but the hoped-for Defender Eliminated or Attacker Eliminated results eluded him. However, all of Ed’s 3-1 “normal” attacks were spectacularly unsuccessful with either Defender Back 2 results or hurtful Exchange results. Moreover, whereas almost all of Gary’s soak-off attackers escaped, almost all of Ed’s soak-off attackers died! Even though Ed’s PAA enjoyed a superiority of factors and units on the board, Gary’s French were in a superior position on the immediate battlefield and he retained the initiative. Throughout most of the 18th, attacks and counterattacks raged around the hilltops near Mont St. Jean. The dominant theme during this phase of the game was that Gary’s attacks enjoyed a very good streak of good luck and Ed’s luck was abysmal. This culminated in two French 1-1 attacks against large PAA stacks which destroyed them both as well as his soak-off units escaping. While this would have destroyed the morale of most WATERLOO players, (Including this GM!) Ed still considered his chances good and soldiered on with a 5-1 attack, thanks to the Prussian 4th Corps, against a large French infantry division. Incredibly, Ed rolled another Defender Back 2 result! Gary counterattacked and one of those attacks was another 1-1 with a successful Defender Eliminated result! (GM note: WOW)! Ed now tried to reciprocate with his own 1-1 assault. However, “Lady Luck” was nowhere to be found by Ed this day, and when he rolled the Attacker Eliminated result, he conceded. Gary was on his way to the WATERLOO championship game for the first time with a renewed sense of energy and anticipation! (GM note: This GM’s accolades are extended to both players. Ed’s resilience and fortitude in the face of adversity was noteworthy in every respect! Lessor players have been seen/known to throw dice, curse, scream, or display other theatrics. Likewise, Gary’s humility and empathy were on full display! Two finer gaming veterans and friends are not to be found!
The unexpected appearance of a United Kingdom resident in Semifinal #2 introduced a new milestone in WATERLOO tournament play. Meng “The Merciless” Ong is the first international gamer to participate in the WBC WATERLOO tournament since this GM assumed his duties over a decade ago. The Merciless had already demonstrated his formidable skills by defeating a few top ranked players in the WATERLOO Ladder and the PBEM tournament heralded by his stunning upset earlier this year over the top ranked player, the iconic Joe Beard. (GM note: What made his appearance in the semi-final even more amazing was that as a brand-new WATERLOO player, he had only played eight(!) previous games in his life! Talk about a quick study!) His semi-final opponent, a proven Grognard veteran, would be Bert “The Renegade” Schoose. Bert was a semi-finalist last year and continues to hone his skills by regular participation at WBC, PREZCON, and in the PBEM tournament. The Renegade anticipated a tough game since he had already lost a game against The Merciless a week earlier on the first day of the convention. In that game, The Renegade bid six for the PAA and Meng accepted. The Merciless then proceeded to overwhelm Bert’s PAA armies and secured a victory before the end of the first day. Was this a harbinger of things to come? For Semifinal #2, Meng aggressively seized control of the PAA armies with a bid of eight, the highest of this convention. Intelligence reports indicated that both players utilized unorthodox tactics and ploys, so an exciting match was foretold. Despite the high bid, Meng’s Prussians employed a “forward” defense near Ligny. The Renegade’s observation of the Prussian at-start dispositions revealed some weak spots and Bert’s French opened the Waterloo campaign by launching several dawn assaults against two large Prussian infantry divisions. Sometimes the bold are rewarded for their audacity and this was the case here as both divisions were destroyed! To add insult to injury, Bert’s soak-off attacker escaped unscathed. The “usual” French deployments of heavy infantry divisions westward toward Nivelles was delayed as most of the French II Corps was used to support The Renegade’s initial attacks. Consequently, the French early threat toward Nivelles was predominately cavalry brigades and horse artillery battalions. Meng’s Prussians, obviously reeling from their early morning losses, quickly retired toward Tilly and deep in the Corridor of Death toward Quatre Bras. Perhaps mistaking the Prussian retrograde as a Prussian rout, a single French cavalry brigade (3-6) then launched a gallant, but unsupported, cavalry charge against another large Prussian infantry division in a 1-2 attack near Tilly. While the French cavalry brigade sustained murderous casualties and was no longer combat effective, their thunderous charge completely routed the shaken Prussian infantrymen who fled the battlefield. This exchange of units was the only combat on turn 2 as the Prussians continued their withdrawals. By the start of turn 3 (11 AM) the loss ratio stood at 29 PAA factors (including the bid) out of action versus only 3 French factors lost. By 1300 (1 PM), 16 June, the French had closed on Nivelles and their early afternoon assaults claimed another seven British factors. Seeking to reverse this chain of seemingly never ending PAA defeats based on remarkably good French die rolls, Meng’s British launch a desperate 1-1 attack against a stack directly south of Nivelles. Alas, British discipline was no better than that of the Prussians nor did Meng’s roll replicate Bert’s good fortune. The result was that the British divisions were shattered. This Attacker Eliminated result put the loss ratio at 40 PAA factors to 3 French factors and it also broke Meng’s resolve, so he conceded the game to Bert. Like his opponent, Bert “The Renegade” Schoose was also heading to his first WATERLOO championship game. While a tight and well played final was expected, the titanic and memorable outcome on Saturday could not be anticipated!
Saturday dawned with the prospects of a ferocious struggle involving two of the newest WATERLOO contenders in the world - Bert “The Renegade” Schoose versus Gary “The Devastator” Dickson! While both players are exceedingly familiar with championship games in other Grognard classics, this was the first time for them in the WATERLOO final. Bert secured the PAA armies with a bid of seven. Gary opened with a fairly standard French disposition of a corps (+) (GM note: The (+) designation means that the formation has been reinforced with additional detachments/elements while the (-) designation means that the formation is not at full strength [or T/O – Table of Organization] and some of its elements have been detached for other missions or tasks. It is possible for a formation to be both (+) and (-) in that it may not be at its T/O strength but it has been reinforced with other elements) including 12 cavalry brigades and horse artillery battalions moving toward Nivelles and a similar force marching northward toward Tilly. Bert’s eastern Prussian defense contingent was much smaller, and it contained two Dutch cavalry brigades to act as screening units. Gary dispatched a stack of cavalry brigades and horse artillery battalions in an attempt to infiltrate along the far eastern edge of the board, but Bert’s Prussians reacted strongly and defended the constricted river line there. This mobile force was forced to retire back towards Quatre Bras. The majority of the Prussian Army defended the Quatre Bras heights and the CoD to the east. A single Prussian 6-4 infantry division was dispatched to supplement the British defense of Nivelles. By 1700 (5 PM) 16 June, The French left wing was pushing up the primary road south of Nivelles and the clear hex “corridor” directly east of the road. Meanwhile, the French right wing continued their advance from Tilly toward Wavre slowed by the Dutch delay units. There was no activity in the center in the Quatre Bras sector as the French and Prussians eyed each other warily. As 16 June closed, the loss ratio stood at 24 PAA factors lost versus 6 French factors out of action. The French right was reduced to small advances per turn due to one factor PAA delay units and similarly on the left flank, the French were still several hexes south of Nivelles. Additionally, Gary had not sent any troops to threaten the far western river bordering the Braine le Comte road. Strategically, the French were at a standstill at this point in the game. The battle to control the CoD opened at 0900 (9 AM), 17 June with French assaults down the primary road. Immediately, Bert’s Prussians responded with major counterattacks that destroyed the Imperial Guard artillery (8-4) and pushed back an Imperial Guard infantry division (6-4). The French battled back targeting two Prussian 4-4 infantry divisions suffering an exchange against one of them and driving the other back. At this stage the loss ratio was 36 PAA destroyed against 22 French. The slaughter continued in the CoD with the Prussians destroying eight French factors for the cost of only the one factor soak-off. Time was working against the French at this stage of the game. In the Nivelles sector, the French had only managed to advance five hexes in five turns and many of the CoD assaults had only garnered D back 2 results which preserved the Prussian units to counterattack in turn. In the east, Bert’s skillful use of two Prussian 6-4 infantry divisions, prevented any meaningful French penetrations toward either Wavre or westward toward Genappe and when Gary did get a 3-1 attack against one of them, he rolled an exchange result. The dice gods were not bringing any joy to the French. The French and Prussians remained locked in combat in the CoD as 17 June wore on. Gary’s efforts for the Nivelles wing to threaten the rear of the Prussians by seizing Quatre Bras were denied by Bert’s prolific use of one factor delay units and it remained to be seen if their expenditure would have negative consequences for the PAA later in the game. At 1500 (3 PM), orders came down from the Emperor (Gary) to clear the primary road to Quatre Bras at all costs. And costly it was. Gary rolled his first D eliminated result of the game in a 3-1 attack destroying Steinmetz (8-4) but then rolled an attacker eliminated result in the supporting 1-1 attack which cost the French fifteen factors! Nevertheless, Bert’s Prussians began an orderly retreat to the doubled river and hilltop hexes stretching from directly north of Nivelles eastward to Genappe and beyond. With only one more turn before the arrival of the Prussian IV Corps, Bert looked to be in a commanding position. The loss ratio was 63 PAA factors lost versus 60 French factors our of action. The morning of 18 June unfolded with a series of back and forth battles between the hilltop positions in the center of the board between Nivelles and Genappe. The French succeeded in capturing the hilltop directly west of Genappe and that compelled a partial Prussian withdrawal to directly north of Genappe. However, the British stubbornly held their doubled positions directly north of Nivelles and extended their battle line eastward to remain in contact with the Prussians. The Prussian withdraw though modified the approach march of their IV Corps from southwest, toward Genappe, to directly east toward Mont St. Jean. At 1100 (11 AM), Gary’s French continued their mass assaults in the PAA center and destroyed two British 7-4 infantry divisions. His luck seemed to be turning in his favor. The PAA maintained a slim 15 factor advantage of troops on the board but the 34 factor Prussian IV Corps was still four game turns from the immediate battle area. No to be deterred, the Prussians, perhaps encouraged by the news that their IV Corps brothers-in-arms were fast approaching and seeing French infantry with their backs to the river and unable to retreat, launched an assault that recaptured Genappe. However, this “victory” was a costly exchange and Bert lost both soak-off units. Further west the British slammed into the advancing French and destroyed a 5-4 infantry division. With time running out, The Devastator’s French Army launched a grand assault involving almost every available French unit across the breadth of the battle front. These attacks destroyed 11 PAA factors for the cost of 7 French factors. Moreover, these losses influenced Bert to commence a general retreat toward Mont St. Jean covered by two 2-4 Hanoverian brigades since he was out of one factor delay units. Loss ratio at this time: 116 PAA versus 88 French. (GM note: It seemed to this GM that this was the point where Bert decided to try to win the game by carefully withdrawing northward, preventing the French from making any defections, and winning the game by having PAA factors on board as time expired. Bert was in deep analysis mode at this point of the game and each turn thereafter counting units and hexes to achieve his goal. Bert is well known for his unorthodox tactics and this delay strategy seemed to be achievable in this GM’s view.) Gary immediately discerned Bert’s intentions and moved the French units in hot pursuit. On the next turn Gary destroyed 15 PAA factors at the cost of only 3 French ones and now enjoyed numerical superiority over Bert’s PAA forces. Moreover, Bert’s stacked, or ladder dispositions northward made any PAA counterattacks much more difficult reducing this threat to the French. Throughout 19 June, Bert continued to withdraw using the minimum number of PAA to impede Gary’s advancing French. Bert eschewed almost all attacks and at Waterloo divided his remaining units to defend each defection road bordering the Forest de Soignes. At the beginning of the 1700 (5 PM) 19 June turn (next to last turn) Bert had three 5-4s, which were five hexes from the defection hex on the secondary road east of the forest. On the primary road on the western side of the forest there was a 6-4 and a 7-4 immediately behind him. Gary was able to destroy all the units on the secondary road, but he was 5 hexes from the exit hex and did not have any cavalry on that side to exit the board on his last turn. On the primary road, he destroyed the 6-4 but the 7-4 blocked the exit road from his defensive position on the last playable row of hexes on the north board edge. On the last turn of the game Gary made a 3-1 attack against the last remaining British 7-4 infantry division. If he rolled an exchange or a defender eliminated, the championship was his. However, if he rolled a defender back two (30% chance), the 7-4 could retreat westward and Bert would win. Gary’s reversal of bad luck earlier in the game continued and he rolled a DE result and captured his first WATERLOO championship!! Congratulations to both players for such an outstanding final, for the quality play, as well as the fortitude and determination to see it through to the bitter end (for Bert) and happy end (for Gary)!
(GM note: This was the most memorable and exciting WATERLOO final during the tenure of this GM! Other Grognards may have knowledge of finals that were as exciting as this one in previous Origins, AvalonCons, etc., but this GM doubts that they were recorded in such detail. This write-up does not do justice to the tension and excitement during play. Gary Dickson’s performance was magical as he overcame many obstacles in the early game and was able to establish a superior position in the end game. Moreover, his tenacity and determination during the middle game should inspire every gamer no matter what game is being played. You are a credit to this hobby and a sterling example to follow for any other gamer!
Bert Schoose is also to be commended for his performance during this final. His audacity to execute an unorthodox strategy which brought him ever so close to victory marks him as a player at a level above the field of other WATERLOO players. It was utterly intriguing to observe Bert’s play during the end game and it should make all players realize that the path to victory can take many forms. You too are a credit to this hobby and an inspiration for other gamers to emulate! Bert’s post-game report is presented in his own words as follows and it gives an excellent explanation of Bert’s strategy:
I actually started to execute the withdrawal strategy on the 0700 turn of the 18th. My thought was that at that point, I had 44 units left to play with, 14 turns to go and figured that I should be able to block Gary with a maximum of 3 units lost per turn. I calculated that this level of attrition would be hard for him to achieve if he didn't understand what I was doing initially and when he got to the point of attacking the bigger units, I'd get some DB2 results that would slow the pace of my lost units per turn. I also had 2 units to spare in case something went wrong or he had stretched the front out wider than I would have wanted. I knew that I had numerical superiority, but I had calculated that I'd be able to lock up a victory and avoid the variable outcome from a barrage of low odds attacks versus my stacks that I felt would have eventually come. In addition, I planned to hold the forward line (Doubled defense positions & easier to funnel his forces the direction I wanted them to go) as long as I could so that if he somehow exceeded the unit pace, he'd be far enough out of range of exiting the board the last turn or two. I thought that this would give me even more leeway with this strategy.
The first couple of turns of the 18th, I had lost only 2 units instead of the planned 3 and the forward line was holding across the entire front, so things were going really well with what was ultimately the ill-fated strategy. I planned to avoid any counterattacks unless it was such that I could do so in a manner of not offer soak offs nor leave my infantry stacks exposed to low odds attacks.
There was a key turn (I don't recall exactly which one but I think it might have been 1300 of the 18th), where Gary had crossed the river in the board center with an exposed stack that could not retreat if I attacked it. I took a 4-1 attack against the stack along with two reasonable soak-offs. I think they were at 1-3 but I'm not certain of that. This attack would have allowed me to hold the western line a bit longer, which made it appealing. I also liked that it would continue to mask my strategy. I figured that if successful, I'd squeeze another turn or two of offering up only 2 blocking units per turn. Basically, I got greedy.
Going against my strategy ended up being very costly as I not only lost both units on the soak-off attacks, but I also lost two more units on the 4-1 Exchange that I rolled. Losing 4 of my pieces while on the attack was not part of the plan! These losses were combined with 3 screening units lost on Gary's portion of that same turn and meant that I lost 7 units on a single turn. Not good! At this point, I thought I still might be OK on the pace because I had those couple of turns where I had lost only 2 units.
The next turn, I decided to defend forward with some of my bigger units figuring that if Gary would roll some DB2 results on those units and this would get me back to a favorable count. He did roll some, but it seemed like he started rolling mostly Exchange and DE results at this point. Gary realized my strategy in those next couple of turns after my poor decision to counterattack when I withdrew rather than go toe to toe with him and take advantage of my numerical advantage.
I then made another series of critical mistakes that went against my strategy and in my opinion, ultimately cost me the game. Multiple times early on the last day through mid-day, I tried to protect a single hex from a screener by putting a big infantry unit in a hex adjacent to a screener that could only be attacked at 2-1 odds or lower from a single hex. Gary had long since realized what I was doing by this point, so he correctly hit those exposed units with low odds attacks. I seem to recall, but I might not have this perfect, that at least one was a 1-2 Exchange result, another was a 1-1 DElim and a third was a 2-1 Exchange. to be clear, the luck was pretty even throughout as he lost some of his low odds attacks with AB2 or AElim - I only point out the attrition that it caused my side ended up being a killer. In hindsight, saving that extra hex didn't really buy me any advantage compared to losing those units. It was a huge mistake to expose those units to attacks when they could have just hidden behind the screening line and that attrition gave Gary what he needed to finish me off. I still lasted to the last die roll as you pointed out! :-)
On the second to last turn, Gary missed an opportunity to run a Cav unit around behind my lines in the west to cut off the last unit to guarantee that it couldn't retreat. I briefly thought (hoped?) that I might get lucky on his last roll because of his 'mistake' but alas it was not to be.
Gary played awesome from the mid-game onward and he well deserved his championship! Other than blocking off that last retreat, I don't recall a single mistake that he made from the middle of the 18th through the end of the game. I lacked the proper discipline to stay true to my strategy and one never knows what other mistakes I might have made if it had played out differently. It was an honor to play in such a fun and tense game and I am honestly very happy for Gary winning because he is a true gentleman as noted.
This GM salutes each participant during the 2019 convention and all the other Waterloo players unable to attend!
My thanks as always goes out to Bruno Sinigaglio and Bill Morse for their unending support to this game and the other classic games that we Grognards play. Being a GM and preparing the required paperwork would not be possible without their assistance. They are great opponents and outstanding friends! Also, I extend my gratitude to all the players who take the time to play my favorite game, WATERLOO, as their friendship and comradery keeps me coming back to this convention.)