Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Kansas City ASL Group 2017 March Madness Tournament

March...it can only mean one thing...that's right..the Kansas City ASL Group 2017 March Madness Tournament!!! For the third year in a row, I was able to attend this excellent tournament in Kansas City, MO. I had thoroughly enjoyed my previous tournaments...but 2017 would take things to a much higher level. In the course of three days, I would complete 8 scenarios. For a point of reference, in 2011, I only managed to play 11 scenarios for the entire year. 

I drove up Thursday morning. I drive up the eastern side of Kansas through some beautiful country. It's a drive that I almost always enjoy.  

Yep...looks like I'm in Kansas!!! The rest stop in Cherryvale, KS is a great place to take in the Kansas landscape.

I arrived at the Hollis Renewal Center in time to play a scenario against Dave Mareske. It would be the first of the 8 scenarios I would play over the next three days.

This would also mark the first time that I would stay at the Hollis Renewal Center each night. Dan Best, Rick Reinesch and I would share a four bedroom cabin in the woods. Great place to relax and get off the grid, watch the deer and birds, and just plan recharge.

Now...I will admit to being a little bit unnerved when I went alone to the cabin after Saturday evening's gaming. I got back to the cabin around Midnight, while Dan and Rick remained at the Tournament until 2:00 AM or so.

Trust me when I say it was DARK...and yes I was convinced that Sasquatch was watching me from the surrounding forest as I walked along the path to the cabin. 

You know how your mind can get you spooked out. So...yeah...I was little creeped out...but then I remembered....Sasquatch doesn't play ASL....

Well....at least I don't think he does...

All kidding aside, I really enjoyed my time at the Hollis Renewal Center. And I highly recommend staying there should you ever have the opportunity.

And the new ASL March Madness Hollis Scenario Pack has a map of the Hollis Center which is used in the MM For Fun 1 Rooting Them Out scenario. It was great fun to play that scenario while actually staying in a building represented on the map. That was an ASL first for me!


Once I got settled, Dave and I sat down to play MM41 Final Victory form the March Madness 2017 Hollis Pack. Dave would command the Germans who would be tasked with defending the Telephone Exchange Building in Warsaw. 

Dave would command 11 x 4-4-7's and 2 x 4-6-7's and 4 x 4-3-6's in a building with fortified cellar and ground level. The Hollis pack comes with a handy play aid to allow you to set up squads in the cellar and various other levels of the Telephone Exchange Building.

As the scenario attacker, I would command elements of the Battalion Kilinski, of the Armia Krajowa. I would have 9 x 5-2-7's, and 10 x 3-3-7's with 4 x LMG's, 2 x Flamethrowers, and 6 x DC's.

I had every confidence in my freedom fighters! They would be unstoppable!

The victory conditions were simple. Which ever side controlled a majority of the 23 possible building locations would get the win.

 This was my first opportunity to play against Dave Mareske and I really enjoyed our game!

My attack had 4 elements. First, I planned to send my strongest groups through the sewers and into the cellar. Second, I had two flame-throwers set up to wax Dave's pillbox beside the Exchange Building which would allow a charge through the orchard and into the ground level. Third, I sent a group through the rubble to also get into the ground level. And 4th, I had an LMG kill stack with the 9-2 to suppress Dave's boys in Level 1.

Our cellar fight ended up being pretty exciting as my boys popped up. Dave did manage to KIA my officer leading that assault as he showed his head to the waiting Germans.

I managed to break Dave's MMG squad in the Pillbox...but they would rally the very next turn with snakes and create a hero. DRATSSS!!!
Dave called the snakes before he rolled it. Pretty cool...and way lucky!!!

A good look at the play aid in the Hollis Pack for this scenario. It really helped us during the game.

After a hard fight, my Poles would get the win as the last Germans were overcome in close combat.

After some dinner, Dan and I returned to Hollis and decided to play a scenario before retiring for the evening. We decided to play MM for Fun 1 Rooting them Out from the March Madness 2017 Hollis Pack. Now this would be the first and perhaps only time that I have or will ever play an ASL scenario while actually staying in a building on the game board.

You mean...it's not to play some ASL...???

I drew the SS Grenadiers and promptly launched my attack determined to eliminate the Heroes of Hollis. I did lose my half-track to a perfectly thrown molotov cocktail, but in the end my SS overwhelmed the Hollis Heroes and took control of the Renewal Center.

"Hey Fritz, I've got dibs on the double-bed in the Hideaway Cabin!"

"NOT if I get there first Hans!!!"

The next day would be Friday and the start of the Tournament. Dan got me up early and off we went to the Holiday Inn Express to setup and kickoff the 2017 March Madness.

 Kudos to Dave and Dan for all of their hard work in making the March Madness Tournament such a great success.

My first Round opponent Colman Quill prepares his defense.

My Round 1 Scenario would J191 Rebels without a Pause. Colman would be the defending Germans and I would have the attacking Slovaks.

Colman would concentrate his defense in the area, which just happened to be the Victory Condition Area I have selected of three different options.
 My attack made great early progress, but as I neared the victory locations, my losses mounted and then Colman wiped me out in Close Combats.
At game end, Colman had the win! It was his first Tournament Scenario win in 11 attempts! 

I would learn to fear the beard!!!

My Round Two game would be against Richard Burton. Richard and I had played a great game in last year's March Madness. Richard had won that one. We would take on ASLScenario 93 Tavronitis Bridge.

Richard would draw the New Zealanders and he would be the scenario defender. Richard would setup on either end of the bridge.

As the Germans, I would be the attacker arriving in 10 gliders.

My attack plan was to send half the gliders past the bridge and half the gliders before the bridge. My paras would then storm up out of the river bed and attack both ends of the bridge.

All but one of my gliders landed safely. One of my gliders actually crashed onto the bridge. A half-squad would survive and emerge to crossfire from New Zealand rifleman at either end of the bridge. Incredibly, the squad would go fanatic and create a hero. The Hero would survive the battle having crossed over the bridge at least one time under fire.

Richard's dice would confound his efforts to push back my paras. He had some successes, but not enough to stop my Fallschirmjaegers from getting up close and personal.

This scenario gave us an opportunity to use the cloaking card. 

 Richard's boys watched my boys glide in.

 A good look at Richard's defensive setup.

 My miracle half-squad emerges from their crash.

Richard and I completed a great game. My Fallschirmjaeger succeeded in eliminating the New Zealanders and secured my one and only tournament round victory.

 This game would be my favorite of the tournament. 

Saturday morning...Rick Reinesch, Dave Mareske and Dan Best already  hard at work preparing for the day's battles!

My Round 3 opponent would be Francis Biss. I knew immediately that I was in trouble...facing another long beard!!!

Dan Best had teased me that I was playing against the long beards. But I think Colman and Francis might not have been who they said they were...

That's right...there I was at March Madness playing ASL against the Soggy Bottom Boys!!!!

All kidding aside, Colman and Francis would both prove to be very good ASL players and both would defeat me in battle. So...respect the beard...respect the beard!

Francis and I would square off in a playing of Totsugeki.  I would be the Japanese trying to destroy three Chinese artillery pieces deep in the jungle.

I would Banzai Charge early and often with good initial results. But as the game wore on, Francis' defense would prove to much for me.

By the end of the game, I had reached one gun, but could only threaten the other two as Francis' Chinese surrounded my remaining Japanese and eliminated them in close combat. It was a fun game, but once again, I learned that Banzai Charges should be used more judiciously. Francis did a great job of creating a defense in depth that gained in strength, the deeper my Japanese penetrated into the jungle.

I took a brief break for lunch and had a stack of pancakes at IHOP. I also sat outside in the sun and read through emails until noticing that I had been ambushed by my first Panther of the Tournament. Fortunately...it allowed me to go on my way!

Everything is better with pancakes!

With some time to kill before Round 4 began, Dave Mareske and I decided to play ASL Scenario J185 - The Haunted Castle.

 Dave would be the Russians and assume the defense. I would draw the Germans and once again be the attacker. I would play a total of 8 scenarios over the three days and would be the attacker in every case.

While I enjoyed this scenario, I badly misplayed it. I was far too cautious on Turn 1 and missed a golden opportunity to maybe get closer to the victory buildings.
Dave would ambush me in the orchard with a HIP 4-4-7. That 4-4-7 would stop my Turn 2 assault and would cause me grief throughout the game. They would be Dave's recipients of the Order of Lenin. Dave managed to reinforce the buildings and once he did, it was clear that my Germans were done. So it was a great win for Dave's Russians!

Great win for Dave and can't wait for our next opportunity to play one another!

After playing Dave, it was time to begin my Round 4 Scenario and my final game of the tournament.

My final game would be Scenario WO22 - The Cost of Non-Compliance. Jeff Ital would be my final opponent.

Jeff would draw the Germans and be the scenario defender. In this scenario, the German player sets up first, writes down the locations of his forces, and then removes them from the board. The Russian Player (Me) then sets up the attacking force. And then finally, the Germans are replaced onto the board. It's a great way to create some great fog of war.

 I set up my Russians with the intention of moving up the left center. I would use my KV-1 with infantry to armor assault towards the first group of buildings.

My initial moves forward were fairly unsuccessful. I ran into some of Jeff's Grenadiers in the small building complex. Jeff rolled a snake eyes against them and melted an entire stack of my Russians with a KV-1. Then Jeff revealed his 105 Arty on the hill to the left. It barked out another snake eyes...and yep scratch one KV-1...

 Oh yeah...and it boomed big!!!

 The 105 would succeed in destroying both of my KV-1's...

I continued to move forward and in doing so ran into a crossfire of Jeff's 2 x 37L AT Guns. They would do some damage to me...

 Lots of Russian tanks were burning by the time Jeff's reinforcing Panzers entered the battle.

 Despite a few early setbacks, my Russians did manage to get into position to assault the town and try to secure at least 5 stone buildings. 

I would finish the game with control of 4 buildings as Jeff's Grenadiers counter-attacked and took back a fifth building. Despite controlling some buildings, I had lost too many tanks to meet the other half of the Russian victory condition requirement to have more functioning AFV's than the Germans. 

Jeff got the win in a hard fought game. And for me, I was ready to hit the sack. 8 scenarios in 3 days was a record amount of ASL for me...and I was tired...

Jeff's 37L AT Gun crew on the left and his MMG squad would receive well-deserved decorations.

So that was March Madness 2017.

My thanks to my opponents for some great ASL! Thank you Dave Mareske, Dan Best, Colman Quill, Francis Biss, Richard Burton and Jeff Ital. I look forward to seeing you all again next year!

See you next March Kansas City!

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