I made the trip alone this year. Bud was to go with me, but a death in the family the week before made it impossible for him to attend. Naturally my condolences to him and his family. Many people asked about him and all offered their sympathy.
The 9 hour trip down went smoothly, I was able to make the entire run without using my air conditioner, although it got a bit warmer the closer I got to Round Rock. I-35 has been under intense construction for almost the entire 19 years I have attended this tournament, but slow downs were rare this time around, with the non-stopping ride through Fort Worth the icing on the cake, we have always ground to a halt somewhere in Fort Worth, but not this time.
Thursday morning saw me without a game until the arch-nemesis of Kansas and Mike’s favorite opponent Matt Shwoebel walked through the door. Game found. I have played Matt many times and can’t actually say I remember playing him in anything other than PTO. The Japanese would make their appearance for this game also as we picked J69 The Army at the Edge of the World.
J69 The Army at the Edge of the World – Matt Schwoebel
I am on the right. Don’t let the kind face fool you. Matt has had it in for team Kansas for years. We oblige him, smacking him around year after year, he just keeps coming back for more. (Okay, I’m trying to sound tough, Matt is a fantastic person and a great opponent and he wins his fair share against us, don’t tell him I said that).
J69 is a French / Japanese scenario. The French (Matt) set up on two hills flanking a large grain field with a road running lengthwise. My Japanese must clear the road, and / or take the two fortified buildings on top of the big hill. The buildings seem like a tall task, so I chose to try to clear the road, sending a small force for the buildings to keep him honest.
Matt gets an 81mm mortar and some machine guns to rain fire down upon the heads of the Emperor’s troops, but suffers from ammo shortage, so the ranged weapons will eventually fall silent.
My troopers came on, taking a couple of hits, but forming up pretty well. I assembled the Knee Mortars and got them in action. I intended to make a Banzai run against his forward board edge protectors, but my sniper took care of both of them, opening the door for a different Banzai against a leader and MG on the lower section of the hill. That Banzai would eventually end up on top of the hill, where my remaining half squad eliminated himself and the 81 mtr crew in CC!!! Pretty sweet.
Matt’s Frenchmen had come down the hill to get into some buildings on the far side of the grain. I eventually got my troops to them, but didn’t have to do much as three boxcars in 5 minutes indicated that the Frenchmen had no will to live, killing themselves during morale checks. My small force heading for the hill kept the French 9-2 out of the grain, and my sniper (MVP) broke another MG team, bringing me the victory for Kansas over the Texas Scoundrel Matt Schwoebel.
That afternoon, Arlen Vanek was looking for a game, and I picked it up. We chose BFP107 Costly Baptism from the Poland in Flames pack.
BFP107 Costly Baptism – Arlen Vanek
Arlen is another Texan. A teacher if I remember correctly, and one of the most laid back people I’ve ever met.
This small scenario pits early war Germans attacking Poles in a small village. Played on a half board, it is quick and carnage filled. My Landsers had some double small armored cars and Arlen’s Poles set up in the town backed up by some larger armored cars. The biggest difference was mine had radios.
I attacked on two flanks. A small force and a larger one. The armored cars went with the larger group and we moved up using armored assault. My goal was to own three buildings at the end of the game.
Arlen’s dummies were set up forward and I got into the first two buildings without a hitch. My Germans popped two of the Polish armored cars with ATR shots leaving him on the short end of the armor battle. He brought out his hidden HMG with the negative mod leader and made a mess of my forward units, but unfortunately for Arlen, his dice gave up the game. Unable to stop my onslaught I got around behind and ended up with six buildings. He made a last dash to try to get in to close combat, but his troopers were stopped in the streets.
Play Arlen if you can, a great opponent.
Friday brought me to the biggest scenario I’ve ever played at the Texas Tournament. Will Willow and I had agreed prior to the tourney to knock out 66 The Bushmasters.
As mentioned here before, Will and I have played at Texas for many years and it’s always good to see him. From Detroit, he is getting ready to retire and move down to the south Texas area close to his brother.
ASL66 The Bushmasters – Will Willow
Will had the ASL equipment star of the show this year. The wooden play case, built by a fellow in Virginia. It was the talk of the weekend. Another picture.
Will had the Japanese and had his set up pre-made to save time. This is a larger scenario, American and the aforementioned Japanese duking it out in the PTO. My Americans have their work cut out for them: clear the hut village, get 35 points across the stream, and take 4 hexes on the other side behind the only bridge. I definitely had the guys for the job. Two OBA modules, six Shermans and a large infantry group. The Japanese have an 18 squad perpetual Banzai that forms up halfway through the game creating more issues for the GIs.
My first group enters at the huts, and they moved up nicely, they took some hits from Japanese knee mortars, but overall everything went fairly well. Will had three units on my right flank that simply would not go down, and his dice, while not blistering hot, were getting checks on my troops with every shot and I couldn’t seem to pass the morale checks. One squad kept me busy over there for eight turns. Shrugging off shots, and playing whack a mole, dodging everything I threw at him, before finally killing himself on a boxcars morale check.
The center board was making good progress, when I realized that I should probably be beating the jungle hexes to my left where the Banzai would originate. It couldn’t set up in any hexes that had been entered by American troops. I wanted to ensure it wouldn’t start behind me. Mission accomplished. Will rolled low on his first Banzai activation check and here they came!
We are pretty sure we messed up the Banzai, as Will was paying penalties for overstacking a lot. I had finally cleared the huts and needed to turn left, not looking forward to the encounter with the Japanese Banzai, as I was now outnumbered. But the American firepower really began to shine as the Japanese were crushed beneath 20fp+ shots on every attempt. Within a couple of turns the Banzai was effectively neutralized.
I started the exit across the stream, but still needed to take the four hexes on the other side of the bridge. Will’s only AT gun revealed itself and immobilized a Sherman, then the wooden bridge collapsed beneath the weight of another tank, eliminating it. With only two Shermans remaining, it was going to have to be infantry, and I still hadn’t found the two remaning pillboxes or the HMG. I knew where they were, it’s a bit of a no brainer. With two turns left, I found them the hard way. Not enough time left to reduce them or smoke them with the Shermans. I didn’t get the job done, and Will got the win.
I didn’t utilize my time effectively. Taking too long to make the turn to the left, leading to a rush to get across the river.
Saturday, I was slated to play Randy Strader, another regular Texas opponent of mine. He has had some health issues, somewhat more serious than my own, and needed time to recuperate from the previous day. I wanted to play him so waited until lunch time for him to arrive. I tell people now that I used to go to Texas to play Squad Leader and see my friends, but now I go to see my friends and play Squad Leader. We wouldn’t have a tourney down there without the game, but it is now a distant second to getting to see all of the people who have become my friends over the last 19 years. After this report of my game with Randy, there will be a long string of pictures of myself with the great people I have met from all over the country. Some of them, you will know their names, but if you have never met them, now you can put a face to the name.
J146 Ragnarok – Randy Strader.
Randy and I chose J146 Ragnarok. German units at the end of the war trying to exit the bottom of the map while making their way through Russians and being pursued by the same. The Russians get some “?” counters of a different color to place in their setup area. If the German attacks one, or moves adjacent to one, it has the potential to become another Russian unit. Randy had the Germans, getting some infantry and a MTR halftrack to start. My Russians would get some reinforcements coming in behind the Germans, having to cross a bridge to close with them. Randy would then get another half track from the rear after a group of SU76m tank destroyers had entered.
Randy’s patience was extraordinary, threading the needle between my troops and the possible Russian units. I was only able to force him into moving adjacent once before the end of the game, resulting in a 527 squad with a shot to stop the MTR halftrack. But they failed. To win, Randy had to exit three mmc off my board edge, with each vehicle and negative modifier leader exited reducing the number by 1. The halftrack got away and exited.
Randy made his move with 2.5 turns left, running the gauntlet of units and residual firepower to get a stack of troops to the board edge, able to move off in his next turn.
I was unable to stop them, I conceded when my turn ended and with his stack still standing, able to move off the board in his next movement phase.
2 wins and 2 losses for the tournament.
Now for the pictures:
There you have it. I needed to get pictures of my people because this is likely to be my last trip to the TTT for a while. Life is interfering, as it sometimes does. I hope to get back there someday and see all the people I have become friends with over the years, but who knows.
If you ever get a chance to go to an ASL tournament, I hope you would consider the one in Round Rock, Texas in June every year. It’s a great experience and like all of the ASL community, it is filled with fantastic folks.
Thanks for reading.