March Madness, held this March 14 - 16, 1997 in Kansas City, was my first real tournament. While I had attended many others, most notably, AggieCon and WarCon both located at Texas A and M University and several years at NanCon in Houston (including running the ASL tourney last year in 1996), this was the first national ASL I attended.
First, let it be said a national event is the place to be. The competition is much more intense than local events. Players of all caliber show up and the games are far more interesting. I had such fun the entire weekend.
I went to play ASL, not to sleep or eat, I do enough of that at home. And played ASL I did. Getting only four hours sleep the entire weekend, I was up both nights till 4:30. Most of the games were close. Two of the games I lost, I lost early on but refused to concede. Anything can happen in ASL and hope is the last to rout. I managed a 3-3 record, losing the Intermediate class in the sixth and last game. A little comfort but no one playing my British in "Tennis anyone?" won either. No time for tears.
The tourney was expertly run by the good folks at Kinetic Energy, the producers of Time on Target (TOT). If you have not check out this publication, by all means do so. It is actually a better publication than The ASL Annual. Mostly because of the articles. They offer in-depth and historical background articles as well as tidbits and obscure information on the battles and weapons used in ASL. The latest issue feature the rare vehicles including the mammoth 'Mouse' a 300R gun with 22 front armor. The issue also includes counters and plenty of scenarios.
The Editor, Mike Reed, did an exceptional job running the show. Rounds started on time, scenario list was well chosen and scores were accurately kept. What more do you want from a tournament? If there were problems, I did not notice them. He offered prizes for just about anything, none of which I managed to get. In addition to the normal prizes for placing, he had a Wittman Lives/Dies award the first player that kills or manages to have Panzer Ace Wittman survive in the scenario "Aces over Eights;" a bridge busting award for using the awkward Pz F1K vehicle to destroy a bridge, holding or capturing the airfield in "Angels of the Airfield," killing the most AFVs during the weekend (34) and I think I won the most shots for a ROF weapon in my mad streak of five with my Russian 45LL in "Pakfronts".
If Mike was the father of the tourney, then Mark Neukom had to be the mother. An excellent organizer, he stayed with the players at all times. He not only answered ASL/play questions but he enjoyed answering questions about scenario design; he designed many of the scenarios played that weekend. Saturday night I stayed up another hour and half just talking to him. While energetic even at that hour, he never did convince me to buy 'Dogs of Wars," something I am beginning to regret now. I heard he even slept on the floor that night when one game went through to morning.
How Did I Do? You Decide.
Scenario's Tournament Win/Lose Scenario Record Opponent Won "Beyond the Pakfronts" Ger: 4 Rus: 4 Jim Burris (MO) Lost "Another Tricky Day" Ger: 3 Brit: 2 4th: Tom Slizewski (CO) 4-2 52 pts Won "Scorched Earth" Ger: 1 Rus: 2 Linden McDonald (MO) 0-2 Lost "The Pride of Lions" Ger: 0 US: 4 9th: Bill Stevens (CO) 3-3 37 pts Won "Panzers to the Rescue" Ger: 4 Rus: 0 Larry Maxwell (KS) 2-3 Lost "Tennis, Anyone?" Jap: 4 Brit: 0 8th: Jason Whitten (KS) 4-2 46 pts (Bold indicates the side I played for that scenario)
A good description was available from Tom Slizewski ("spelled the way it sounds") from Team Colorado:
Game 2: Another Tricky Day against Robert Delwood from
Houston, TX. We again diced for sides with me getting the defending
Brits. This one was basically over on turn 1 when Robert moved his
radio-packing leader into my MMG boresighted hex and took and 8 -5.
The radio managed to only malfunction, so there was still hope for
him. However, after another leader retrieved it and even managed to
repair it, the MMG barked out a "snakes" and eliminated him and the
Six games in two days. I never would have believed it. Am I going to this next year? Who knows, but I mean to.