Bud Garding and I headed south to our 18th straight Texas Team Tournament. It is a fairly long trip, but it is always worth the drive to get in some ASL, eat some great food, see our old friends and make some new ones. Most years I play some games against people I have known and played before. Not so this year. All four of my opponents were people I have never played, and three of those were against TTT first timers.
Bud and I rolled into Round Rock about 3:30’ish on Wednesday afternoon. I had wanted to find fellow Kansan Chris Brackney as soon as possible. He was riding his Harley to the tourney from Hays Kansas and it was his first trip to this tournament. It’s a long ride and he made it over two days and I wanted to make sure he arrived safe and sound. He and I played at my house a number of years ago and this would be the second time to see him. As we pulled into our parking space, I saw him parking his bike. We arrived at virtually the same time!
That evening, we headed down to the hotel bar and found Chris and Rob Loper chatting, I would talk to Rob a lot over the weekend.
Game 1: Ferocity Fest, ASL C The Streets of Stalingrad vs. Chris Kubick
Ferocity Fest is a mini tourney held on Thursday. It is usually a fairly meaty scenario pitting Allied players vs. each other and Axis players vs. each other. There is a FF point sheet that you fill out as you do various things in game such as X’ing out a flamethrower on the first shot (8 points), killing a tank in CC etc…. When you accomplish an event on the list, you have a phrase to yell out. You are playing your opponent, but you are actually competing against the other players playing your side for points. It’s a lot of fun and I usually participate, actually winning as the Axis side a couple of years ago.
Chris Kubick looked like he needed an opponent, so I volunteered. Chris is from Ft Worth and has been coming to the tourney for a dozen years or so but we had never played. Time to remedy that.
As you can see, and I’m sure most of us are aware, this is a big scenario. It is scenario A and B combined into C. The Russian is strong on one side and the German is strong on the other. Dice gave me the German side. My job was to try to hold the buildings on the left and take the factory on the right. Once that is accomplished, make an attempt to relieve the other side of the board. Three victory conditions are available and this scenario can end in a tie, which seems to me to be the most common result.
Chris had a nice setup on the factory side, and I was looking pretty thin on the building side. After a couple of turns, I thought I would have a shot at holding the buildings, but there is a ready made Human Wave available to the Russian to get the ball rolling. Chris got a couple of results across the street and here they came. I was unable to hold them off and lost two buildings by mid scenario.
On the factory side, I got good results in prep, clearing dummies away and allowing my troopers into the street. After entering the factory, Chris’s 9-2 kill stack in the middle eliminated two half squads and wounded my 10-3 leader. He then broke one of two 838 assault engineers, leaving me with one 838 in the factory. I had two MVP’s on the right side of the map and that 838 was one of them, sweeping away everything standing in front of him. By turn 4, I had taken the factory without armor support. Pretty proud of that. Chris briefly tried to get back into the factory, but my 9-2 kill stack outside the building literally killed anything that took a step towards the factory, he was my other MVP.
Both sides armor came on, Chris had satisfied the Russian terms on his side, I had mine, so it was time to make a decision. I was stubbornly hanging on to a multi-hex and a single hex victory building. I wanted the decisive victory and started moving to my left. But a string of three ‘2’s out of four rolls at my multi-hex building pretty much put paid to that idea and I didn’t want to lose my factory so I backed up and we played to a draw. 0-0-1
Game 2: PBP28 Peninkibaru Push vs. Rob Loper
As noted before, I met Rob on Wednesday night, Friday morning we played PBP28. Japanese and Australians in a small scenario fighting over buildings and a pillbox. We had both played biggies the day before and wanted something a bit smaller and this fit the bill. I got the Japanese and set up first. The Japanese player picks the spot for the pillbox with three known minefield hexes and receives a tunnel. There is an AA gun inside. Non-hut buildings are 1 point each and the pillbox is worth 3. Fifteen points available means chances for a draw are a non issue.
Rob’s ANZACs get a couple of Matildas to help out. The tunnel placement is very important for the Japanese. There are some restrictions to where I could put it, but in hindsight I think I chose poorly. I entered and went up my left in strength, thinking to get to the buildings on his side of the center road before he did. I got close, but not quite all the way. It did however, prevent him from just going in unhindered. I sent one stack up the gut to enter the tunnel and get into the PB.
Rob drove a Matilda up the road, driving through the AP minefield and creating a trail-break. Using smoke, he got the Matilda and a squad to the pillbox first, but was unable to enter. My crew and half-squad popped up in the pillbox and close combat ensued.
I was in pretty good shape until I got cocky and counted a bit too much on the Japanese ability to take fire. Trying to draw fire from one of his concealed stacks, I passed too close and he rolled a 3…… disaster. The game became very tight after that error on my part. We both thought I had the Aussies in a bad spot, but Rob is a good player, as evidenced by his path up the 10-3 bracket, eventually finishing in second. His ability to get his guys where he needed them saved the Australian day. Taking the pillbox at the end and getting the victory. A nice tight game. 0-1-1
This scenario also had the highlight of the weekend for me. Not because of anything that happened on the board, but because of something Rob said. I told him at the start of turn 3 that I didn’t have any sewer counters to mark my units going into the tunnel so I would use a crest counter. He kind of rolled his eyes and said ” I forgot about that f*cking tunnel.” Too funny and and something I will never forget!
Game 3: SP4 Point 270 vs. Mark Pandori
Mark Pandori flew to the tournament from California. We both had limited equipment with us, but managed to put together the stuff needed to play this German – British fight on a difficult board. Dice gave me the German side and I set up on a cliff at level 4 looking down at Mark’s Coldstream Guards who had the difficult task of crossing relatively open terrain in front of my HMG and MMG with the heavy directed by Mr. 9-2.
Mark started his assault moving forward into the open and grainfields. I got my shots in but was relatively unsuccessful during defensive fire considering the negative mod shots I was taking, but a couple of good results forced him to head to the flanks trying to stay out of the way of my machine guns. Eventually some of my shots started connecting on the units still in the open and it got ugly out there. Mark’s flankers were having a better time of it and started the long slug up the hill. This terrain is horrid. Almost every hex has woods and a crest line and the going was slow.
His light mortars had gotten their smoke earlier in the game but had exhausted it. They did manage to make themselves a pain in my butt though. The game was looking like it was going to be a German victory until I did something stupid (yet again). Even looking at the victory conditions over and over, I glossed over an important part of them. When Mark noticed what I was doing, he questioned why I was doing it. At that point, I realized my error. Fortunately, there was still a solid chance of me salvaging the game even if I couldn’t rectify the blunder, but with a movement phase left I was able to get into position to pull off the victory, even with Mr. 9-2 going down and taking his squad with him at an inopportune time.
This is the kind of thing that makes wargaming such a satisfying experience. The people you play want the game to be a good one even at the cost of a possible victory. Mark saw me making a mistake with the VC and wondered why I was doing what I was doing. He didn’t want to get a win on a reading error. I feel confident that almost every person who I have run into at this tournament over 18 years would have done the same thing, as would I. Thanks to Mark for his graciousness, I hope we get to play again in the future. 1-1-1
Game 4: O9 Behind in the Count vs. Michael Stubits
Mike Stubits and I had said a couple of words to each other over the first two days of the tourney without actually meeting each other. Saturday morning we were both looking for a game and got together to play O9 Behind in the Count. Michael is from Chicago and this was his first visit to Texas. O9 is a German – American affair on board 24 with the GI player needing to take two of three buildings away from the German. American 1st liners are tasked with the job and are supported by three Shermans. I got the German side and had 1st and 2nd line units backed by a StuG IIIG and a MkIV.
Mike knew his business on taking buildings, carefully getting his smoke down and infiltrating to clean out each building. He was however, short on turns so it had to be done efficiently. He got the first building fairly easily but the second one he needed was going to be tougher.
I set up pickets in the forward buildings, with a couple of squads in the first victory building that Mike would be attempting to take. The AFVs went in buildings in the back looking for opportunities to strike or move if needed. Unfortunately for me, luck would abandon me this game, my dice were stone cold for the majority of the game, not even forcing the low morale GI’s to take any kind of checks for the first half of the match. That said, it took Mike ’til the end of the scenario to wrap up the game. Multi-hex, multilevel buildings require a knack to take but he ended up taking the two he needed. One highlight for me was using my reinforcements to try to get the first building back. If I hadn’t failed an NMC with my last good order squad in that building, I might have got the job done. Mike is a good player, and I was unable to overcome my bad fortune. 1-2-1
So there you have it. My 18th edition of the Texas Team Tournament is in the books. Bud and I bugged out Sunday morning, getting me home about 4pm. I met some great new people, played some great ASL, took home a Lone Canuck campaign from the Swag Table and lost to the eventual runner up who, if I had not made a stupid move, might not have made it to the 10-3 bracket. You’re welcome Rob! Mike Stubits sounded as if he was going to start making the TTT a regular part of his circuit. Big time thanks to Rick, and all of the Texas gang, it was great to see you once again. Randy Strader, you were gunning for me this year and we were unable to play. Mark it down for next summer, I’ll keep a spot on my dance card open for you.
Thanks for reading.