Monday 10 October 2011

Homeward bound

It's Sunday, the final day.  The Grofaz (the main competition) is coming to a close. It currently sees a battle of the ASL titans, Gary Fortenberry against Bob Bendis in one of Gary's own designs, Shouting into the Storm.  Gary has the defending Russians - with the balance as I understand.

The Grofaz pairings
Back to the games between mere mortals I came down to see who was around for one last game.  Step up Ed Fritz Jnr, a softly spoken, fresh faced engineer from (I think) Carolina. He had a slow soothing voice one that you could imagine in a late night radio show, easing the listeners to sleep, and his politeness and easy going play style meant, again, the game was a pleasure.

We picked BB Gun at the Baby Parade (is there a better scenario title around?) from the latest Design Pack - defending Germans against the might of the early war Polish armed forces!  The Poles have 3 TKS tanks, worse tanks you'll be hard pressed to find in the entire war, with next to no armour and a mighty 2 FP BMG these radioless beasts were still a challenge for this ill equipped German holding force.

The Germans have a 20L AT gun, (6 TK) and one ATR so their anti tank options are limited.  The Poles have to cross some murderous open ground to get either off the board or to clear the road path.

The Poles (Ed) were clearly going to go for the exit conditions.  Needing 16 points to win, the tanks, fully functional would be worth 15 of these.  How hard would it be to get one of 12 squads or 3 leaders off the board edge?

Quickly the AT gun opened up, bounced a shot of the lead tank and promptly malfunctioned (B11).  The tanks fired back but suddenly found themselves breaking their machine guns, too.  Crucially this would reduce their off board points down to a total of 13.

Ed, smiling throughout the dicing I dished out
My ATR squad broke and was killed for failure to rout and my 'kill stack', a 467, lmg and 9-1 leader, were suddenly surrounded, with 5 squads around them in each of the 4 hexes adjacent to a sm (they were on the right hand board edge).  The Germans needed a miracle to escape, and it came from a crazy prep fire step, first the lmg taking two shots breaking 3 squads, then the IFE of the squad breaking another.  Finally an adjacent squad to the Polish HMG broke the leader and MG squad, enabling the Germans to capture this precious asset.

The game came down to a mad last turn rush.  The perfectly placed fire lane (from the German point of view) meant that every Polish squad that wanted to try to exit would have to face a 4-2, with the 9-1 and lmg squad also having an input.  With the captured weapon breaking on a 10, Ed's valid tactic was to encourage the firelane shots by running squads who couldn't make the exit across the firelane to try to break the MG.  It wasn't to be, with all but one squad breaking at the last minute.  It was left to the 8-0 leader to try to make a run for it.  He jumped over the hedge, an exact distance away to just be able to make it.  He took a 1MC from the firelane - and passed!  Suddenly the 9-1 and squad+lmg were the only ones able to make a stand.   They fired.  Another MC - but the leader passed.  I'm about to concede the game to Ed, when he reminds me he has moved 2 points into the hex. What a gentleman. I have a final shot.

Once more my dice are kind and I force another morale check on the poor 8-0 leader.  Needing a 7 or less to avoid breaking or pinning, Ed rolls a 10 and the game is mine.

Andy, left, with Chuck and his best
(unintentional) zombie impression
I can't say I deserved it.  The key AT gun breaking was huge - but that prep fire phase turned the game on its head.  Ed was a fantastically gracious opponent and with this being his first ASLOK he had a winning record behind him too.

I'd finished the week with 3 wins and if I'm being generous, I should have won another 3 (the ones against Wes, Mark and with a little more luck, JR)

My aim had been to win a couple of games and to enjoy myself.  I'd managed both.

To my left, Andy Smith, my fellow UK traveller, had paired up with Chuck, who suddenly had forgotten all talk yesterday of a rematch (I was pretty happy about that - my loss column didn't need more padding) - they played something with Ghurkas and Japanese and I watch the ending as Andy seemed to be on the wrong side of a number of close combats that could have given him an impressive win.  With all the talk of zombie movies it was with a sense of irony that I looked at this photo and Chuck's expression!

Gary Fortenberry (left) against Bob Bendis for the title

With a 4pm flight to catch, it was pretty much time to go, so Andy and I made our way out, leaving the Grofaz final on a knife edge.

Both players were deep in concentration in an almost empty ballroom so we left as quietly as we could, saying our thanks and goodbyes as we went.

I'll wrap up formally in the next post, with some overall thoughts - but I've just got home and need to start saving up some wife points again for a trip out there again, one day!

Thanks for reading this, the feedback's always appreciated and I hope you've enjoyed it half as much as I enjoyed the trip.


  1. What a terrific running commentary on ASLOK. It was a pleasure to meet and play you Dave. It was even more of a pleasure to read your intimate reflections on the Oktoberfest experience. Helen has likewise enjoyed your musings. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Please give our regards to your family with whom we briefly interacted on Skype during ASLOK!

    Kindest regards,

    Helen and Chris

  2. Helen, Chris - I should be thanking you - for both a great game and the opportunity to have a chat - and of course for the great welcome I was given.

    Hope we get to play again soon. I also forgot to pick up some dice from you, so there's a good reason to come back to ASLOK again soon!


  3. Dave, I hope you continue to blog as your sooooooo very funny with your style. I half expected Vicki to appear with a cup of tea and some cakes with you some how convincing her your opponent made her make the trip and you had nothing to do with it ;-)

    Been fun following so great fun for all.


  4. Great ASLOK AAR. If you are able to make it back for 2013, I'd love to arrange a game (I'm only able to make it in odd numbered years and had to miss this year due to other commitments).

  5. Thanks for the blog Dave. I have thoroughly enjoyed the story of your trip.