The tale of my journey to a foreign land... It is a tale of passion and
woe, of triumph and heartache... A story of the human will... aw, screw
that, here's my aar from the CASLO this past weekend.
The Canadian ASL Open began at 1300 on Friday, Sept 13 in Winnipeg, in
the cozy confines of the Windsor Room at the Viscount Gort Hotel. As I
live in the Minneapolis area, I had to hit the road early in order to
get there in time. I got hung up at the border. The agent asked me to
come into customs to present my id. Who knows why, perhaps male
traveling alone just going up for the weekend. And to play games yet!
*snort* There were a number of hunters passing through, with guns to
register, (note to customs: no hijackings have ever been attempted by
duck hunters with shotguns) so the line moved slowly. Of course this is
the one time I don't bring my passport with me. Silly me. Born and
raised in northern ND, I've been to Canada many times over the years,
and have never once been asked to come into customs, so I thought the
Canadians would be as welcoming again. Well, after dinking around on the
computer for awhile, they did let me pass, but I was behind schedule.
(One of the agents was a bit of a @#%$#@#@. One of the hunters asked if
they needed to carry the permit at all times, agent said yes, hunter
asked if that meant even in the field, and the agent says in a not so
nice tone, 'what does at all times mean?' yeah, well, the heck with you customs guy.)
Anyway, after getting past all that, I arrived at the hotel around 1330
and went straight to the tourney room. There were 14 contestants. I
found myself to be the lone Yank.
#1) vs George Kelln (J43: 3rd RTR in the Rain)
I had the Germans. I was a bit groggy from the early start, the drive,
and the customs thing, so was not clear of mind. George is not someone
you want to play while TI'd, and I didn't do a whole lot to stop the
Brits from rushing the village. George manuevered well, I could only let
slip the cats of war, and in the end I'm 0-1. Always fun to be around
George though.
#2) vs Blair Bellamy (SP79: Mius Trap)
I *love* Schwerpunkt scenarios. Almost without fail, they are well
balanced, and end up being see-saw affairs with unique options, more
than the usual sit-in-buildings-and-shoot-slugfests. Blair is a most
pleasant person, I've seen him at previous CASLOs but hadn't played him
before. I had the Germans. The Russians have foxholes on two separate
hills. The Germans must completely control foxholes/buildings on one
hill, and make sure the Russians don't completely control all
foxholes/buildings on the other hill. Blair set up more to the front on
both hills. I wonder if the Russians need to put one of the foxhole
complexes to the rear on one of the hills, to more or less concede one
hill and heavily guard the other. I attacked on two fronts, through the
woods on my right, and from behind the hill on my left. My tanks proved
to be a factor, in the end destroying most of his tanks. I captured the
hill on my left fairly quickly, and on the right stayed below the hill
for most of the game, to stay away from his fire, chipping away at him
from the hill I controlled, and then in end came up the hill to satisfy
the victory conditions. 1-1
#3) vs Gary Lehner (AP4: L'abbaye blanche)
The Canadians are some of the nicest folks around, (when they aren't
rejoicing over the American experience in the war of 1812 that is :) )
one of the reasons I always try to get up to Winnipeg if I can, and Gary
is another fellow I enjoyed meeting and playing for the first time. I
had the Germans in this one. This scenario is a strange one. The
Americans have almost no troops, but get to set up hidden. The Germans
have to exit off a good chunk of their troops, but the numbers of points
needed to exit goes up with each CVP the Germans lose. So, with each
half-squad or squad the Germans lose, the Germans have to exit more, but
since they did lose the unit(s), there are less units available to make
the exit. So the Germans cannot lose very many troops at all. The
Americans have two AT guns, and very odd for this scenario, I still had
both of my halftracks till late in the end of the game. His guns did not
destroy a single one. (He got one by CC when I moved into his hex to pin
him down) I would've been happy to get off one smoke round before losing
them, but having the halftracks was nice. I lost 1.5 squads in total. I
ran into his minefields on my left, but on my right I sliced through his
setup much easier than I expected. I got one of his guns in CC, and got
a half-squad in CC, and broke another one. So, all of my victory points
came from troops advancing up the far right flank. In the end he did get
a crew and a mg back near my exit point, but on a morale check he 12'd
his own unit off into oblivion, clearing the way for me to go to 2-1.
#4 vs Blake Ball (SP75: Taurus Pursuant)
Another Schwerpunkt gem. This was my fourth game against Blake, and all
our previous games were wall-to-wall-carnage nailbiters. Blake led our
personal series 2-1. I had the Brits, Blake the Germans. Two boards,
countryside and a village on each board, but on opposite ends. So, Brits
must come in and have more CVP in the one village, then get to the other
corner and have more CVP in that village. Several AFVs on both sides. I
think the German Panther is the key to this one though. Early on his
Panther, which gets to set up on a Level 2 hill, "spake death" to my
units, to use Blake's phrase. I concentrated my forces on the first
village to make sure I took it. In a good move he hightailed his tank
from the first village back to the second to beef up his defenses there.
He picked off one of my tanks in the first village with a deadly PSK
shot. Otherwise, I survived relatively intact. I halftracked a mtr to a
woods location looking down the road to the second village, and in one
fire phase got three smokes on that road. That crew really loaded up
with the smoke shells apparently. They ended up getting a couple more
smokes down. (And would end up in the village contributing to my win.) I
could feel it slipping away though. Getting across that open ground to
the second village is tough. But, he gave me what I considered to be a
gift. I was moving a squad/PIAT up my left flank, trying to get near his
vehicles guarding the second village. He brought his Panther down off
the hill to chase it. I moved adjacent to him, and he took the bait. He
fired at the squad, and I passed a tough mc. So, I then brought one of
my tanks right around behind him, next to him, and ended up destroying
the Panther with some good rolls. That eliminated the single biggest
threat to my vehicles and their victory points. Then, on to the village.
A scrappy fight, but it hinged on two of the most incredible events I've
ever seen. I should have lost this game. I tried to get behind one of
his other tanks, he had a low TH against me but got the roll and
destroyed me. I had a Firefly (I believe), a decent tank, he moved a PSK
and half-squad within two hexes. He decided to eat the backblast to get
a better TH number, which was fairly low anyway. He rolls a three, but a
one on the colored die. Nasty German unit is gone. But, what the heck,
right, my tank and its mondo CVP are gone. Well, no, he rolls a 12! A
dud! There is much rejoicing in Whitehall. But wait, there is more. He
attacks another of my tanks, with a PSK-armed half-squad. Same
situation, low TH number so he eats the backblast. Another 3, but a one
on the colored die. Both unit and PSK are destroyed. But what the heck,
my tank and its CVP are gone. Well, no, he rolls another 12! Another
dud! Unbelievable. The game turns on two duds. With those two
blessed-by-the-gods tanks helping, I get enough points into the village to win.
Wow. 3-1.
#5) vs Tom Weniger (J1: Urban Guerillas)
First time I've played Tom, although I knew him from previous tournies.
A fun comrade to play. This scenario is Red Barricades moved to Vienna.
I have the Russians, trying to take a cathedral and two buildings on the
far side of a canal from the Germans. Lots of toys to play with. It was
a cage match. Tom ended up with 7 snakeeyes, and 7 boxcars. His dice
were all over the place. Early on, on my right flank, I toss a DC onto a
full squad and leader. His decides to use FPF, but ends up breaking both
his units. So DC detonates. I'm doing fine, right. Wrong. On the
resulting MC, his broken squad rolls snakeeyes and goes berserk. Fark. I
had captured that broken leader, but his berserkie destroys my squad in
close combat. Fark again. However, my flsmethrower is right there, and
ends up roasting those farking nazis. Onward. I bring my reinforcements
on my right flank, thinking if I were him, I'd put the AA gun on the
other side (he did.) I bring a 122L gun around the corner, where his two
tanks are guarding the cathedral. The AA appears and takes something
like a 9 +8 shot. That 122L is a moving wall of steel. Nothing can harm
it. Except an 88L gun that rolls farking snakeeyes! My tank goes up in
flames. I pull myself together and keep advancing slowly. He ends up
disabling the guns on both of his tanks, and they are recalled, which
was a key moment in the game. Another key moment came on my left flank.
I was bringing two full squads up my left flank, to give him something
to think about over there. Those two squads took a 6 +2 shot at his
crew, and the crew broke on the mc. The gun never came back, (I kept the
crew DM'd) and with that threat gone, I had a whole lot more freedom to
maneuver. I got into the cathedral, and the fight ended up in melees in
two hexes. (With a brief pause to sing Hymn #423). In the end I won
both, giving me that building, though it was not a sure thing. I had a 2-1,
-1 cc and I rolled a 10, giving him a chance to totally eliminate me, but
luckily I survived. Now, just had to get across the canal. I didn't get
very many Partisans, so they weren't a factor. My sniper though did break
a couple of key units. He had one full squad in each of the two buildings.
I broke one with some good fire from a 9-2 directed mg next. The other one,
I used armored assault to get next to him with a 6-2-8. He did fire at me,
putting 2 resid on the bridge exit hex, meaning everyone else coming across
would have to run the gauntlet. So, everyone puts on their track shoes, and
charges. Lots of results, one is pinned, one is KIAd, etc... but one squad
manages to get back to the far building and I control it. That was pretty much
the game. I was going to take the third building too. My armored assaulting unit
ended up winning the resulting close combat, and his remaining units in the building
(the ones my sniper got) ended up broke too. So, I have my best tourney ever
and finish 4-1.
I was tied for the best record with two other guys, but the resulting
tiebreakers said Jim McLeod took first (congrats! you da man, eh!) and
Tim Thomas was second. I finished third.
The club up there does just a fantastic job of putting together the
tourney. Thanks guys for your work. One of my favorite touches is the
VCR playing war movies, to add to the atmosphere. Bill Bird had brought
in his tapes of Band of Brothers and played those. Then, in a nice act
of generosity, he made the tapes available as a prize, so I took those
as my third place prize. Thanks Bill! Not having HBO, I haven't seen the
series, and from what I saw there, it is a tremendous series.
a great time, a long drive back, (US Customs was easy to get through,
although they did look at the car and wondered what all those cardboard
pieces were), and am looking forward to the next one!