My opening gambit was based around playing arguably the two strongest players in the convention. Steve Pleva followed by fellow Grofaz winner, JR Tracy. Winning either of these games would have been a statement - admittedly probably along the lines of "I'm playing with loaded dice", watch out!
We quickly picked another scenario from the latest Schwerpunkt, SP 202 Fiery Finale. Steve has suggested that maybe the Germans needed the balance but I decided losing with the Germans withou Steve's recommended balance would give me a ready made excuse and if I lost with the Russians, well, no-one would ever hear about Steve's crazy suggestions...
Rolling for sides I took the 'un-fancied' Germans (you can tell how this is going to go, can't you) who are essentially defending on two fronts, their front and rear. They have 5 stone building hexes and must hold on to 4 of them with just 5 squads to go around, complimented with 4 Tigers.
With JR set up, I got to set up and move first, and had a great opening turn - essentially destroying his kill-stack and by the second turn 2 of his IS-2 heavy tanks were knocked out. It got worst for JR as he malfunctioned the last tank and continued to break against the tough exterior of the German defence.
By turn 3 it looked as good as over. His reinforcements, 4 more tanks and 3 squads were sent on, and here I got lucky with some critical rate of fire shots with the Tigers to knock out 3 T34/85s. With no Tigers lost and the malf'd IS-2 now recalled it felt good to be on the Blue side.
|JR not yet in his happy place...|
With the Tiger now captured and my panzerschrek also fallen into Russian hands it was now the Eastern forces who were looking stronger. The psk hit a tiger, the capture tiger hit my other tiger and not once, but twice in succession he rolled boxcars! Brutal.
There was still a lot of game left, and JR quickly mopped up the two poor Tigers and the game now came down to the last 4 Close Combat rolls - all of which I was outgunned. The first, a 9-1 leader managed to CR a full squad, locking him in melee so I now only needed to win one of the next 3. It sounds closer than it was, but JR did enough to ensure the win by declining the last CC attack to remain concealed to avoid being locked in melee ensuring good order status required for the victory.
A classy victory by a great player. It was a real pleasure to play both him and Steve. 0-2 for the tournament, but surely they can only get easier...
Oh, and Steve's right - the Germans need that extra squad!