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Thursday, June 11, 2009

UK Games Expo'09 #2: And so to war

My plan for our Inaugural Combat Commander tournament was simple: to get as many people as possible to play as many games as possible in the shortest possible time. I'd've been satisfied to scrape the bare minimum 4 people needed for a credible tournament; in the end, 10 players joined in across the 2 evening sessions, playing a total of 19 games.

I did bring printed sheets so that players could record the details of their games, but foolishly too few; and my hopes of easy net access were dashed, so that my backup plan fell through. With neither spares for other players, nor my own copies for duplicates, my record keeping was less than meticulous, amounting in the end to nothing more than the bare list of wins and losses I needed to track players' tournament VP. So 20-20 hindsight proved the sense of my decision to run the simplest possible format.


Robert Lloyd and Toby McLeod get the tournment
rolling in Bonfire of the NKVD
Consequently I must confess can't list the scenarios everyone played, let alone tell you anthing about what went down in those games. My own games themselves are a memory already too vague for anything approaching an AAR. So I'm just going to list my own scenarios, with a few comments about highlights.
Barry Ingram and Mike Smith
#23. No-Man's Land
British, against David Andrew's Italians. I won this game with a platoon charge up the right flank. Funniest moment: the breeze inevitably clearing my smoke when my platoon were just working their way through the Italian minefield. Personal highpoint: getting a unit through the Italian trenches and off for exit VP.
David Andrew readies a game of Fat Lipki
while Mike and Toby lurk stage left
#14. At the Crossroads
Poles, against Robert Lloyd's Germans. One of the scenarios I was keen to revisit during the tournament, I was pleased when Robert gave me the Poles. My end run through the fields on my right flank was something of a fiasco which gave Robert a healthy stream of early VP. I made some good headway in the centre, and was in with a shout to the end in a game which left us the last gamers in the hall, at 2 in the morning. Top gaming which demands a rematch.
A traditional salute from Steve Bishop
#6. Paralysed From the West Down
Germans, against Paul Laverack's American paras. My ill considered position fell apart in the face of the American firepower and my own dumb mistakes in my worst game of the tournament. I had almost pulled together an HMG fire attack on Paul's units exposed in the street, when they just stormed in and wiped out a 3-unit stack in one brutal melee. That was the closest I got to having a grip on the game. Ouch!
Paul Laverack and Lawrence Smith getting ready to Hold the Line
#7. Bessarabian Nights
Russians, against Mike Smith's Germans. I think we'd been chatting about this scenario's balance, prompting me to pick it when choice of scenario fell to me. Again, I was pleased when my opponent took the Germans. My setup was good, although I've had better. Mike put me under some early pressure, but stalled in the face of my units in the centre drawing together and pulling back. In the end I won by holding all 5 objectives on the first SD.
Mark Unitt lost in thought
#1. Fat Lipki
Steve Bishop chose this for the sake of a quick and easy game to round off our tournament. I opted for random selection and the Russians fell to me. I was feeling confident when I was able to grab the orchard house unopposed, then exit 2 Russian squads off that flank.

I wasn't feeling so sanguine after Steve calmly sent half his force in and promptly took it off me. I threw caution to the winds and sent the tattered remnants of my MMG platoon in against Lt. von Karsties in the pond house. Ambushes were played and the Initiative card changed hands, and I lost a melee which proved decisive, leaving me with just 3 squads scattered across the map. I conceded. This win gave Steve a perfect 5/5 record, and the CC@UK Expo'09 title.
Steve Bishop: Champion!
Final placings:
  • Steve Bishop
  • Robert Lloyd
  • Paul Laverack
  • John McLintock (equal w/Paul)
  • Mike Smith
  • David Andrew
  • Lawrence Smith
  • Barry Ingram (equal w/Lawrence)
  • Mark Unitt
  • Toby McLeod (equal w/Mark)
The survivors: Barry, me, Steve,
Robert, Mike, Lawrence (front), Paul
Afterthoughts
The tournament was a great success, as I've already said. We all had a good time, and everyone is keen to see Combat Commander appear on the bill at future UK Expo's and elsewhere. And I met some half dozen others throughout the long weekend who were interested enough to give me their emails for future reference. So there will be more to come.

The simple format proved a wise choice on the day, although I confess I would prefer something a bit more structured. This structure would include pre-selected scenarios, naturally enough. However, one thing I enjoyed on both days was picking a scenario I particularly wanted to revisit, and each time getting to play the side whose situation most interested me. This is a feature I'd like to see retained in future events, eg. a 'joker' scenario: each player can designate a scenario; once per tournament, a player may choose to play their joker, replacing that round's prescribed scenario with their designated scenario. I think that this might prove enjoyable.

Staging the event across the 2 days was also a good call: a CC tournament really needs 4 games to be a proper challenge (although you could get away with 3 if you really had to), and there was no way we were going to get that number of games played in a single UK Expo boardgames session.

There's not much to add right now, other than that you can be sure there will be more of this in the future. :-D

Acknowledgements
I'd like to thank everyone who took part. Your infectious enthusiasm and evident satisfaction made the event the success it was, and was gratifying to yours truly, naturally enough. Thanks again to Rob Bottos, who suggested the format, and provided the sheets I used for records.

A big thank you to the organisers of UK Games Expo for all their hard work; the trophy they provided was a particularly thoughtful touch, for which I was extremely grateful. A special vote of thanks goes to Richard Denning, who was very helpful as I pulled the event together in the past weeks. His efforts helped me maintain my confidence that the tournament would be a success.

Again, my thanks to you all. ;)

Related@RD/KA!
UK Games Expo'09
- #1: Time to kill
- #3: I eat dirt and die
- #4: Old friends and new stuff

Addendum

14/06/09. Robert Lloyd has posted AAR's of his 6 tournament games to CC@CSW; well worth a read. :-)
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