This past Saturday saw another rumble in the cement jungle, with 'Bama well represented at the Atlanta War Room. The Grinch threw a great event, as always, though I do not envy what these games do to that boy's blood pressure. He tried something a little different with this one, running "an experimental escallation tournament." Game 1 was an Encounter at 1000 points, Game 2 was Hold the Line at 1500, and Game 3 was a 2000 point Fighting Withdrawl. I thought it went pretty well -- most folks were able to finish most of their games with at least a little time to spare, and since you could jigger your list to the mission you'd be fighting there was a lot less of that old, "man, but I really wanted to play with toy X..." Another interesting element of the event was the double art competition, one category for pretty toy soldiers, and another for fancy table construction. And you KNOW I fancy a little artistic competition.
You can read a few other folk's comments about the event on the NATO site, and Caesar's always entertaining report on Steel City. Now, on to the pic fest!
First, the Tables:
In general, I was pretty happy with the terrain on display at the event. From what I feel to be a general trend, mostly just my impression from looking at pictures on line, down south we tend to roll anywhere from "moderatly dense" to "sweet jesus, I gotta drive my tanks through THAT!" Which is, I think, as it should be. Hell, some of these boards even had the snow rules in effect! I'm not sure who made and brought what -- some folks obviously carried boards in with them, but I think most of them were laid out with stuff in the store -- apologies to any one I'm slighting with that.
My own giant slab of foam. I should have taken a picture from the other end to show the swamp everyone loves to bitch about...
Caesar's Italy/West Texas table built in his typical barrow-steal-kill style.
Kritikalfailure's brand new Russian winter board. I think this turned out rather well for him, and he sure cranked it out faster than I ever get anything done. I think he was the only other guy there who brought in fully sculpted tiles.
One of the Grinch's cute little villages:
The setting for my Game 3 spanking. I liked the fall colors.
I played Game 1 here, and loved the fancy hedge rows. Of all the flat-mat based tables, I think I liked this one the best.
Again with the hedges... So very French.
I thought I'd taken pictures of all the tables, but alas it looks like I may have missed out a few.
This just occurred to me, looking for specific details to include here -- folks often comment on the sporting conduct of the other players when discussing tournaments, but honestly, it didn't even occur to me. Every one was cool and laid back. Sportsman ship is sort of one of those things that can get taken for granted, at least around here, because it only stands out when it is absent. At the War Room it just wasn't an issue, at least as far as I could tell. Folks down here be cool and stuff.
For the 1000 point Encounter I faced off against a local refugee, Danny (sorry if I'm misspelling your name!). We fought it out in the French hedgerow country, and we both seemed to have the same strategy -- floor it, and shoot anything in your path! As my Panzer IIIs drove up the road towards his objective and artillery...
...his Shermans advanced over an open field, giving my Grenadiers a chance to earn their pay:
On my side of the table, things started like this:
and somehow ended up like this:
Yup, that one little platoon beat down his Shermans (who went for broke and assaulted me in the woods) and killed his CiC. Too bad he still had some Stuarts to take the objective...
At the other end of town, my Panzer IIIs blasted their way through his Priests and parked on his objective:
But at the start of his next turn he took the game with his Stuarts. A 5-2 for Danny...
Or was it? This WAS the outstanding Sportsmanship point of the day: after the post-game handshake, while we were out smoking, I asked what was left in that artillery platoon. I really, honestly, wasn't trying to nit pick -- I just don't remember rules for crap during play, and try to check on stuff after the games. Anyway, my question reminded him (he'd honestly forgotten, too, in the excitement of impending victory) that the artillery platoon was well below half strength. WITH that platoon and the Stuarts, his force was viable, but without it he was below half-strength, and since his CiC was dead, that would be an auto-fail on Company Moral. Anyway, he volunteered to take the test, even though the game was over. He rolled the dice, and took it like a man -- they failed, the platoon broke, his army vanished, and he handed the 5-2 to me. It was a manly way to go. It was also my only victory for the day...
For game two, I was up against Larry and his US Armored Rifles. Since we're both Mechanized, it was a dice off to see who would attack and defend. He won, so I'd be defending. Here he setting up his American parking lot:
Now, I thought I had something cool going on when I laid out a mine field right in his way. What I failed to do was extend it all the way to the side of the board -- all he had to do was drive around the edge!
I made him sweat a little when I popped my StuGs from ambush and engaged his Shermans...
...but before they could do anything decisive his infantry snuck up out of the woods and blew them apart with bazookas.
After the loss of my heavy armor, my entire defense started to fall apart. Now, what I SHOULD have done (you learn so much in hindsight...) was feed him one team a turn into the gap beside the mine field and just let the clock play out. Instead I tried to just stay in my fox holes and take it on the chin. This was the result:
It was a good game, and I learned a good bit playing against a skilled and graceful opponent (graceful in-game: by the end of the day, I'd rechristened Treadhead as "Butter Fingers.") but dear lord I just couldn't kill a damned thing. I was over run in Detroit steel, and handed over a tidy 6-1.
I'm very embarrassed to admit this, but I suck with names and can't recall just now who I played against in Game 3, but he was good. I think he could have beat me in his sleep, actually. I heard tell this boy managed to place in the #3 spot at Origins this year, so at least I got my ass kicked by one of the best, right? How bad did I do in this, my final exhausted game? I couldn't even kill 5 Stuarts with 3 Panters, that bad!
First, my as yet unnamed opponent:
EDIT: the identity of this soft-spoken killer of men has been clarified! Good game, Jess.
Early-game action consisted of a toe-to-toe pissing contest between my halftracks and his armored cars:
He won the contest...
Meanwhile on the other flank, my Panthers took pot shots at some of his infantry. Due to the nature of the scenario and general hearsay that one should try and time it just right, not swooping right in for the kill before he's pulled off any units and not waiting until the end when the clock might get ya, I didn't want to rush them in. In the event, I should have played far more agressivly with them.
After taking a few pot shots at his infantry, they turned an attacked some Stuarts he'd rolled forth. I think we was trying to throw me a sympathy kill...
I got most of them, but the last one passed its motivation and ran away, giving him essentially another platoon that could be withdrawn without significant loss from his point of view. Anyway, long story short, he eventually killed my 2iC and both Panzergrenadier platoons. I think his infantry managed to kill my Tiger and two Panzer IIIs that I rushed up the other side in a desperate bid to snatch glory from the jaws of defeat, and my Panthers left the field in shame. Here's a final shot of his armored cars chasing my 2iC back towards his own lines:
What a day! In the end, that's one (technical) 5-2 for me, while I gave up two 6-1s to the other guys. I'm not sure why, but I guess my heart just wasn't really in it. Don't get me wrong, I had a good time and I'm glad I went, but especially by the last game I just wasn't feeling it any more. Maybe that was just the sour, lingering flavor of defeat...
I'll close out this post with a quick look at the other armies that took the field in Atlanta:
Kritikalfailur's massive hoard, stretching from one end of the table to the other:
The forces of Caesar. You can see better pics of these boys here.
And my own army of the day. I picked out my 2000 point list because I thought it was pretty, not because I thought it would win anything on the table.
One last shot, of someone else's game in progress, just because I thought it looked cool:
EDIT: I some how forgot to mention this when I first posted, but there were two (count 'em, 2!) artistic competitions at this tournament, one for prettiest army and the other for fanciest table. Without modesty, I won both categories. Owing, I think in part, to an imbalance in the number of prizes and the number of winners, they lumped both my wins together and gave me one large prize instead of two smaller ones. Which was a total bonus to me, since I won the very box set I'd been debating purchasing all day! I picked up several sets from the Miniature Building Authority that day, and won their Russian Village (link goes to their retail page.) Thanks, War Room!