Monday, July 31, 2017

The 20th Annual St. Louis ASL Tournament - July 28th - July 30th.

St. Louis, MO's Union Station in 1942. Located in the center of the nation, St. Louis saw the passages of tens of thousands of  American Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen as they traveled the nation's rails on the way to foreign battlefields. St. Louis' connection to the Second World War is a deep one and so it is fitting to celebrate that history by playing ASL with old and new friends! 

So off I went this weekend to participate in my first ever St. Louis ASL Tournament. This is even odder as St. Louis is the place where I learned to play Squad Leader and later Advanced Squad Leader. St. Louis (more specifically Webster Groves) was my home from 1978-1996. So St. Louis is a place a a great many memories for me. 

To say I was excited to participate in my first St. Louis Tournament is an understatement. I'd been looking forward to it for many years. And now that I live in Quincy, IL..a mere 120 miles north....I can expect to participate in many more St. Louis Tournaments!

Just as St. Louis was a transportation and manufacturing hub during the war, it was also the sight of the 1944 World Series..."The Street Car" Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns (today's Baltimore Orioles).  President Roosevelt and others encouraged Pro Football and Pro Baseball to stay active during the war years for their value in keeping up the nation's morale.

Naturally, many Professional Ball Players were off fighting in the war, so the Major League Owners utilized players whose draft status was 4-F. These were men, who could not serve in combat roles, but whose participation as ball players served to strengthen home front morale during the long years of war.
 Grand Hall of St. Louis Union Station 1944.

US Servicemen listen to the 1944 World Series.

The 1944 St. Louis Cardinals would go on to win the Fall Classic that year.

The St. Louis Browns would win their one and only American League Pennant in 1944 and would leave St. Louis for good in 1953.
Pete Gray would gain fame playing for the St. Louis Browns as one of only two one-armed men to play in the Major Leagues.

St. Louis has a remarkable history and I was looking forward to becoming a part of St. Louis' rich ASL tradition.

 So off to St. Louis I went for two days of  cardboard carnage, competition and fun!

Highlighted in yellow are the four scenarios that I would play over the 4 Rounds in which I participated. I was not able to stay for Round 5. 

ROUND 1 ITR13 To the Last Bullet vs. Jeff Ital

As the Russians, I was tasked with holding two buildings.  

My strategy was to place all the fortified locations in the right flank building along with my Commissar and the flamethrower.

I placed 3 x 6 AP Mines in front of the entrance vertices for the other building. 

Let's just say I would need a better plan than the one I used!!!
Jeff brings on his Panzer reserve as the game progressed.

While I had some successes, most notably with my flamethrower, Jeff's massed firepower was just too much for me. My inability to make morale checks would cost me concealment and then the lives of my cardboard warriors.

 The end as Jeff's grenadiers take control of both buildings.

Round 1 would go down as a loss for me and a win for Jeff. Despite the loss, it was a great game and I always enjoy the chance to sit across the table from Jeff.

ROUND 2 BFP30 Melee Near the Coast vs. Rob Wirthlin

My second round game would be a PTO scenario against Rob Wirthlin from Washington State. This would be my first time playing against Rob.

 The stars indicate the building locations that Rob's Japanese needed to control To win Rob would need 10 or more. The white arrows show how Rob's forces moved during the scenario.

Rob's Japanese would suffer some early losses against my Chinese, but they would prevail in the end.
 I had some limited success slowing Rob down on the right flank...but then made a critical error. I stacked 3 of 3-3-7's in a depression hex bordering the pond. They held their own for a couple turns...but then broke with no where to rout to. Rob took a great many prisoners in this game.

The end game. I had placed my defense too far forward and one the Japanese got around the edges, I was unable to fall back fast enough to hold them off and allow my reinforcements to get into the fight. Knowing when to fall back is a critical skill set that has thus far eluded me. But I'll keep working on it!

So Round two would be loss #2 for me and a much deserved win for Rob! 

ROUND 3 J127 Messervy's Men vs. Rick Reinesch

After knowing Rick for many years now, I had never gotten the opportunity to actually play against him. So it was great walking into the game room on Saturday and finding that were match up for Round 3. We both liked the look of Messervy's Men and it would prove to be a great scenario choice.
 As the British, I would have the task of securing all the Level 4 Hill Hexes and those hexes adjacent to them. Not an easy task as I would discover.

Normally, I have good luck with British 4-5-7's, but against Rick's Italians, they would break at critical moments and sap the momentum of forward progress that was so important to winning this scenario.

 Rick and I traded mortar rounds throughout the battle. Rick's were a bit more successful in inflicting losses on my British. The Black Circles show the Italian strong points that bedeviled me throughout the scenario. Rick's Italians simply refused to break. Rick's morale dice were very hot and kept his Italians in the fight.

 Or maybe it was that crazy Mandolin player....whatever the reason...Rick's Italians were total bad asses for the entire game!
 It was an absolute blast to play against Rick. I hope to do so again soon.

The blue arrows show the path of Dan's reinforcements and the red arrows show my final assaults, which would meet with failure. The Italians would hold the hill.

So Round 3 would bring my 3rd defeat and give Rick a well-earned win.

Yes...after dropping 3 games in a row...I was channeling my inner Tony Romo (I'm a life-long Cowboys it's ok...)

Between Rounds 3 and 4, Rick and I took a break and played a few rounds of the classic WW1 Dogfight Game - BLUE MAX.  

Rick was a quick study and sent my planes spinning to earth in the first two matches.

 If you are looking for a quick, easy to learn wargame that even non-wargamers can enjoy...BLUE MAX should do the trick.

My version of the game, purchased way back in 1983. Still going strong 34 years later.

 The game is still available today!

ROUND 4 Z19 The Trap at Targul Frumos vs. Dan Best

Going into Round 4, I was a bit depressed...I won't lie. 3 losses in a row weighed heavy on me...but when I found out that Dan and I had been matched up...well I was back and ready to roll some dice. Dan and I have played many a game by Cardboard via Skype...but this would only be our 3rd time in actual face to face.

We both love a big East Front Battle and The Trap at Targul Frumos more than fit the bill! We rolled to see who would get the Grossdeutschland. The higher roll would reward the roller with commmand of the famed division. We both rolled ...."11"...and "11". We rolled again. "10"...and "11"...ahhh my famous for rolling 11's finally found their worth!!! I would command the Grossdeutschland Grenadiers and Panzer Men of the 24th Panzer Division. Life is good!!!!

Did you say..."Targul Frumos?!?"


was that...

"Rolo Tomassi...??"
 "ahhh...Rolo say..."
My Germans would have to maintain control of every building in the circled area. The loss of just one of them would give Dan's Russians the win.

 Dan attacked across a broad front with his armor and focused his armor on the flanks and center. My AT Guns would cause heavy losses as would my Panzerschreks.

My Panzerschrecks would account for 2 of the 8 Russian Tanks destroyed.
 I really enjoyed this scenario and highly recommend it!

  My forces had inflicted some heavy losses on Dan's armor and infantry as the 24th Panzer Division reinforcements stormed on the scene. Dan had 2 x T-34/85's ready to repulse. I charged one with my Panther and survived three hits before coming in from the rear and destroying the T-34/85 with bounding fire. The second T-34/85 held its ground and took down my Tiger I...but my Panzerschreck Panzerknacker Team took down the T-34/85 in Advancing Fire.

 With Midnight fast approaching and down to just 2 tanks, Dan offered the concession. I hated to accept as both Dan I were winless going into Round 4. I had teased Dan...that no matter of us would finally notch a win. But Dan pointed out that his forces had suffered too many losses to be successful against the large number of German reinforcements. So we shook hands and called it a night.

The best part of any tournament is getting to sit across from your friends and rolling some dice.

Here are some other pics of the 2017 St. Louis ASL Tournament!

 My thanks to my opponents: Jeff Ital, Rob Wirthlin, Rick Reinesch and Dan Best for some awesome games! And thanks to Jim Burris and the St. Louis ASL Club for a great event! I can't wait for 2018!

Top 10 from the tournament (as noted on Gamesquad Forum)
1 Rich Domovic 5-0
2 Toby Pilling 4-1
3 Scott Martin 4-1
4 Dave Ginnard 4-1
5 Robert Wirthlin 4-1
6 Peter Ward 4-1
7 Wes Vaughn 3-2
8 Rich Spilky 3-2
9 Bob Zinselmeyer 3-2
10 Craig Walters 3-2

Time to savor the memories!

1 comment:

  1. Sigh...sounds like a blast...when I win the lottery...