Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Slow News Day

I held a crisis meeting of this blog's senior management the other day.  Present were myself, my Tasmanian correspondent and my Belarusian tech support who have recently surprised me by revealing they own 64% of my blog and my immortal soul.  It's still better than relying on the NBN.  The reason for the meeting was the sudden lack of material coming in from Tasmania.

"What do you mean there's nothing to report?" I demanded.

"This is Tasmania," she replied.  "Nothing can happen here for years at a time."

"That's true," said my tech support, "our intelligence dossier on Tasmania is written on the back of a postcard.  With plenty of room for the stamp and our address."

"There must be something," I said trying not to let the desperation show.  "I ran out of ideas for this blog three years ago.  It's only after action reports and wacky stories from Tasmania keeping the whole thing afloat."

"I've been bushwalking," said my correspondent under the mistaken impression that she was helping.  "Oh yes, and Hobart hospital is falling down even more."

"Boring," I snorted, "we've done all that before."

"We know Hobart hospital," said my tech support.  "We accidentally released a genetically engineered smallpox virus there a few years ago.  Nobody noticed."

We sat there in silence for several minutes bereft of ideas.  To pass the time my tech support engineered a coup in a small African country.

"Well," said my correspondent hesitantly, "there is the election."

My eyes rolled back so far they almost fell down my throat.

"Oh dear god not the election," I muttered.

This is the thing about Tasmanian elections.  There are three parties in Tasmania.  One purports to be the party of business which basically involves wasting taxpayers money propping up failing enterprises so that their CEOs can still afford to move somewhere else.  The next is the party of the workers which basically involves wasting taxpayers money propping up failing enterprises so they can continue to employ a small handful of not particularly efficient workers.  The final one is an environment party which basically wants to sweep the human plague from the surface of the earth but in the mean time settles for wasting taxpayers money on antisocial programs and national parks.  The people of Tasmania periodically go to the polls to see which pack of clowns is going to mismanage the state's future for the next few years.

"I don't want to hear a single word about your damn election.  The ones I have to vote in are bad enough."

"What's an election?" asked my tech support.

"How about the Tasmanian tiger?" asked my correspondent, suddenly hopeful.

"I thought they were all dead."

"They are but scientists are planning to bring them back."

Excitement gripped me, "Really?  Have they been successful?"

"No," replied my tech support, "and there are packs of eight foot tall, stripy, six legged wolves roaming the streets of Minsk to prove it."

"That's terrible," I said, "are the people worried?"

"No they're grateful for the extra protein."

"So much for that.  No Tasmanian tigers, no exciting events in our southern state and even the mutated wolf issue in Belarus seems to be solving itself.  OK meeting adjourned.  I'll just cobble together some rubbish from the minutes and hope nobody notices."

"So I can go then?" asked my correspondent.

"Yes, yes off you go,"  I signalled my tech support to remove the restraints.

"That's good, I should get home.  One of my daughters got beaten up by a wombat over the weekend."

"Wait, what?"

But she was already gone.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Silly After Action Report

Junior Officer huddled a little further down in his foxhole and peered out through the trees.  Major von Kummerbund dropped into the foxhole next to him.
"Seems quiet enough," said the major as he scanned the countryside with those big binoculars that German tank commanders always have in war movies.
"Perhaps a little too quiet," muttered Junior Officer uneasily.
A blood curdling scream echoed through the forest.
"Von Kummerbund help!  I'm being attacked by a tree!"
"Is that better?" asked von Kummerbund sardonically?  Reluctantly he dragged himself out of the foxhole and went to find his chief.
Junior Officer raised his eyes to heaven and muttered,
"My money's on the tree."
When he lowered his eyes again the ground immediately in front of him was full of Poles.
"Oh shit."

So this is Scenrio BFP 129 - A Bitter Day.  Here a bunch of distinctly second rate Germans attempt to defend a scattering of buildings from what seems to be half the Polish army.  I commanded the defending Germans while Ivan took responsibility for the vengeful Poles.  To win Ivan had to capture all of the buildings on board 7b, some seven in all.  If I could hang on to a single one then Ivan would be denied.  My onboard forces were scanty; seven second line squads, two half squads, a pair of medium machine guns a couple of lights and fourteen concealment counters the lot commanded by two deeply mediocre officers.  On turn 3 I would receive three more second line squads with a couple of lmgs and an 8-1 officer and on turn five I would get six more second liners with a couple more lmgs and a pair of officers.  Set up rules demanded that my troops be forward, reasonably close to the Polish storm.  For the Germans the first few turns would be all about survival.

Ivan's onboard force consisted of five elite squads, nine first line squads and four green squads making up the numbers.  These were bolstered by four machine guns, two medium and two light and commanded by four officers led by a doughty 9-1.  On the second turn Ivan would receive three more first line squads with an lmg commanded by an 8-0.

I had a plan, it was a good plan.  I would even go so far as to say it was a cunning plan.  The buildings Ivan needed to grab came in three distinct clumps; a trio forward on the right, a second trio in the rear, also on the right and one solitary building in splendid isolation on the left rear.  I spread my force out to look as though I was trying to cover the entire board but actually my plan was to race troops back to the rear buildings left and right to garrison them while the rest of my force fought a delaying action in the forest and around the forward buildings.  When my reinforcements arrived they would reinforce these rear positions and hopefully prevent Ivan from taking those buildings (the forward ones I wrote off as lost).  The whole point was to build up a powerful force to defend the left hand building while forcing Ivan to lose a decent amount of time taking the others.  Hopefully by the time he turned to the left hand building it would be impregnable.

I positioned an mmg team where he would be well placed to rush to the rear right hand buildings and a squad on the left to do a similar run towards the building on the left.  In the forest on the left hand side I set up a cordon of squads and dummies to hopefully slow Ivan down.  Over on the right I garrisoned the forward buildings largely with dummies but also placed a couple of squads to give some genuine teeth to the defence.  My other mmg team and a squad with an lmg I set up to cover the road through the forest in case Ivan was crazy enough to just try running along it.  In response Ivan set up the bulk of his force on the right looking to swiftly snatch the forward buildings and build himself a platform for victory.  His reinforcements would push for the forest on the left.

Set up
Things went well for Ivan initially as he pushed his right hand force towards the forward buildings and I found it difficult to stop him.  Not wanting the forward buildings to fall that easily I moved an mmg team and a squad in to support my scanty defenders while my designated retreaters fled for the rear.  Over on the left nothing much happened as Ivan cautiously pushed a secondary force towards my defenders.  I soon got an indication of how the dice were going to treat both of us as I proved to be incapable of passing a morale check.  On Ivan's side he managed to kill an entire squad of his own troops (more than I achieved) by boxcarring first a morale check and then the rally attempt on the surviving half squad.  Spreading death and misery with charming evenhandedness Ivan fired into a melee between a squad of mine and a CXed half squad of his (I hadn't managed to kill it in CC natch) and broke both of them.  Soon Ivan would be almost embarrassed by the number of German prisoners he was lugging around.

End of German turn 1.  My rear guards are heading to their destination but Ivan is monstering me on the right.

The right hand buildings, now guarded by precisely one squad and a bunch of concealment counters, were threatened but my relief force (a squad with a lmg) arrived just in time to prolong the death agony a little longer.  The mmg team didn't turn up in time to help but instead climbed the hill behind the buildings to deny Ivan an easy path forward.  Over on the left Ivan moved up to challenge my defenders using his patented "moving in the open under heavy fire without consequences" tactic which infuriates me.  His reinforcements came on and he directed them to the left as well.  I was gnawing my fingernails waiting for my reinforcements as it looked as though Ivan might blow past my exiguous defences on the right before they arrived.

The forward buildings are almost gone but at least I've got troops in the rear.

As it happened he didn't, instead he blew past my relatively solid defences on the left while he cautiously consolidated on the right.  I tried to maintain a line on the left by retreating back into the forest and pushing forward again.  Ivan just ignored me until I shot at him whereupon he broke me.  The dummies making up the numbers on the left didn't last long and soon Ivan was moving through the forest assisted by the fact that I moved a lmg toting squad in the wrong direction and then had to move it back again for a sum gain over two turns of nothing.  Meanwhile Ivan had filtered troops past the hill on the right and was heading for the rear buildings and my blood pressure rose.  It rose higher as my troops on the left seemed incapable of holding Ivan back and he started pushing up the centre as well.  From now on I would fight two separate battles, on right and left.  The only connection between them would be my reinforcements.

Things aren't looking great, where are my reinforcements?
Finally and not a moment too soon my reinforcements arrived.  I sent most of them to garrison the buildings on the right but also committed a squad and lmg to bolster the building on the left now increasingly firming as the only possible holdout.  On the left Ivan ran past (and occasionally over) my troops but he had a fair bit of distance ahead of him.  I started feeling confident.  Ivan had a lot of troops but I felt I was holding solidly now oh Neil you silly, silly fool.

Reinforcements at last.  Check out my guys on the hill, they're about to do something heroic

Yes my reinforcements had arrived in the nick of time but Ivan was still moving relentlessly ahead. climbing the hill he sneered (rightly) at my mmg firepower, moved up close and broke the halfsquad manning the weapon (more prisoners).  Then he advanced an elite squad into CC with the suddenly isolated leader, naturally he killed it.  In return I rolled snake eyes and wiped out the entire squad.  That's right 1-4 odds and I killed the lot.  For once it was Ivan cursing the CC gods while I admit I simply stared at the screen for a moment in disbelief.

Meanwhile on the lighter side of the news in the forest on the left Ivan had left a single squad to deal with my one surviving squad in the centre of the trees where neither could really hurt anyone else.  These two worthies blasted at each other with 8+1 shots for about four fire phases without any result on either side except the occasional pin result.  The battle had passed them by and they seem to have decided to live and let live.  Finally I got sick of this and advanced in to close combat where, glory to god, I rolled another snakes, wiped him out and generated an 8-1 leader into the bargain.  Pity it all happened a long way from where the battle was being decided.

Ivan is advancing but I'm feeling confident.  This lasted about one more turn.

Despite my heroics in CC Ivan was menacing my position on the right and slowly closing the building on the left.  Still I wasn't feeling too bad.  I had two and a half squads with two leaders, a mmg and an lmg on the right.  Surely they could hold for a few turns?  You know how this goes.  My shots all failed to so much as rumple the creases in his uniform and Ivan plunged into CC with my mmg team.  Proving this was my day for CC I promptly ambushed him and withdrew.  My last batch of reinforcements arrived and I felt like the situation was well in hand.  I sent another squad and lmg team to bolster the left while the others came in on the top right to support the building defenders there.   Things seemed to be going well.

Things look good don't they?

Ivan managed to break the 7-0 leader guiding the mmg team and took him prisoner but this turned out to be a dreadful mistake.  My mmg team managed to break the half squad holding him prisoner and he fought his way clear in CC killing the halfsquad along the way.  Ivan responded with maniacal fury and simply shot at the poor, newly liberated 7-0 until he was dead.

Then things went to hell.  Ivan had broken one of my squads in the rear building and rather than retreat it out of harms way I had moved my 8-1 leader and a squad with an lmg in to bolster (and hopefully rally) them.  Ivan fired an 8+1 shot at the lot and my heroes laughed it off.  Then he final fired a 4+1 shot and everything broke.  Suddenly my entire defence on the right consisted of a single halfsquad with an mmg being menaced by about half of Ivan's force but worse was to come.  In his next turn he moved a leader past my mmg team (I didn't dare fire on a miserable 6+1) and in behind my brokies.  Disinclined to take prisoners at this point he massacred the whole lot.  Next he moved up a halfsquad and captured the other hex of the rear building.  Now the only place I still held was the building location my mmg team was sitting in.  I'm pleased to recount that they did break a Polish squad before their inevitable death but suddenly I had only the one building on the left in my possession.

Far back in the woods my CC created 8-1 had rallied two broken squads which meant that he now commanded more firepower than any other part of my force.  I used him to menace the forward buildings which forced Ivan to keep a couple of squads back there to maintain his hold.  When Ivan managed to break a squads worth of my reinforcements on the right as well and lock up another squad in CC for two turns with a half squad I screamed aloud in anguish.  Fortunately my neighbour's baby is teething and I'm pretty sure he got the blame. 

The dice were still doing silly things to us.  Ivan developed an almost compulsive habit of rolling snakeeyes but he only seemed to be able to do it when it caused him to cower off the IFT or at other useless times.  I only got two snipers as a result both of which managed to pin the same halfsquad.  Then just to prove the dice were fair he boxcarred a morale check as he attempted to push a squad past what he thought was a dummy stack on the left.  Meanwhile I kept on with my unimaginative failing of morale checks by just one number and missing with most of my shots by the same amount.

I hadn't given up on the right though.  Diverting some of Ivan's firepower I managed to get a reinforcement squad up to the rear building and went into CC with his solitary 6+1.  No he didn't kill me but I didn't kill him either (seriously, 4-1 odds) and the melee went on to the end of the game.

Ultimately it all came down to the building on the left.  I had built a wall of troops and cheerfully invited Ivan across the open ground to come and take the building.  With no options left and in his last movement phase he did just that.  I broke one squad and pinned another.  Then he moved a halfsquad forward.  I had a squad an lmg team just waiting to set up a firelane.  I rolled an eleven, broke the lmg and gacked the firelane.  Ivan had a half squad in position but naturally he wanted more.  There was only one unit within range.  He CXed a squad and leader, it took them seven movement points (this is significant) to get them into the hex with the halfsquad where he had to survive a 2-2 residual shot.

Survive it he did.  His leader rolled another snakeeyes and went berserk.  He then caused his squad and the halfsquad to go berserk as well.  But berserk units can't move in the advance phase and he didn't have the movement points left to get into the building.  So a slightly ridiculous victory for me at the last courtesy of an inconvenient snakeeyes for Ivan.  In fairness I had the troops on hand to retake the building even if Ivan had captured it but after the massive buildup the game ended on a slight anticlimax with Ivan's forces staring berserkly at their target building but unable to enter it.

Underneath the 2 residual FP counter is a stack of berserk units and the death of Ivan's hopes
I think I had the right tactics (although as usual the execution was terribly sloppy).  That building on the left should be made as impregnable as possible.  Ivan acknowledged that he made an error in leaving this building for his reinforcements instead of making it a priority for his onboard forces.  Still this was a great game which kept us both in suspense right until the end.

Major von Kummerbund shook his head sadly and closed Junior Officers eyes.  Apparently the young man had been captured and had gone absolutely mad beating his captors to death with his bare hands before catching a stray bullet.  Von Kummerbund looked across at one of the Polish soldiers Junior Officer had dispatched, he bore a curious resemblance to oberst von Kattelrussler but von Kummerbund generously wrote that off as a coincidence.  In the distance he could hear volleys of rifle fire as von Kattelrussler supervised the execution of trees he considered had collaborated with the enemy.  Turning to the gefreiter (yes, there is only one) he gestured to Junior Officer's body.
"Bury him with honours before the chief gets back from tree killing.  He'd probably want to make a sock puppet out of him."

Monday, February 19, 2018

It Would Make Your Hair Curl

Shocking news from the Winter Olympics!!!  A member of the Russian mixed curling team is suspected of being a drug cheat!  The Winter Olympics is tainted, the good name of curling has been trashed forever.  This dreadful scandal certainly raises a lot of questions such as; Why is anyone surprised?  What are Russians doing at the Olympics seeing as how their team was banned? And most important of all, what the hell is curling anyway?

The answers to these questions are, in order; Nobody was surprised, a bunch of supposedly drug clean Russians were permitted to turn up as long as they didn't compete under their national flag or something and your guess is as good as mine.

Perhaps the most significant thing to come out of all of this is the sudden spotlight thrown on the hitherto somewhat obscure sport of curling.  In an attempt to redress my shameful lack of knowledge on the subject I googled "curling" but found that most of the entries referred to the pants worn by the Norwegian team.  The Norwegians might not be drug cheats but it does appear that they try and induce epileptic seizures in their opponents with their sartorial appearance on the ice.  Still in a sport that involves pushing rocks with brooms the Norwegians should be commended for attempting to introduce something of interest.

What with the drugs and the pants it would appear that this is curlings moment on the world stage.  Admittedly none of the publicity actually relates to the sport itself but curling can at least claim to have been standing nearby when all of the drama happened.  The disqualified Russian has blamed a disgruntled former teammate who didn't make the cut for spiking his drink with a banned substance.  If nothing else this gives us an insight into the vicious, cutthroat world of international curling.  No doubt there is a ferocious level of competition bubbling beneath the surface with ancient enmities boiling over as the team from the US Virgin Islands Curling Association takes on traditional rivals, Curling Canada.  Incidentally Curling Canada sounds like something you would do with a roll of wallpaper.

Curling has something to do with lawn bowls, something to do with boche and everything to do with shoving rocks around on ice.  As such it is ideal for the Winter Olympics that home of every sport too esoteric, silly or ice dependent to get a gig at the Summer games.  Curling is sometimes referred to as "Chess on Ice" but probably only by people who play it.  Strangely chess has never been referred to as "tabletop curling".  Curling was developed in Scotland a nation whose other contribution to international sport is golf.  Together these two should dispel any suggestion that the Scots lack a sense of humour. 

But back to the Olympics.  While the not exactly Russian team is sunk in drug despondent gloom in the men's competition the Swedes and the Swiss have been tearing up the ice (those rocks are heavy) to make the playoffs while South Korea and Japan are jostling for prime position amongst the women.  Despite their spectacular pants the Norwegian men's team is falling behind.  I hope the final is televised because I've been seized with an irrational desire to watch it.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Meanwhile in Pyeongchang

Hey the Winter Olympics are on!  That sporting event that seems to have been designed so that countries who wouldn't stand a chance in the Summer games might have an opportunity to win a medal or two.  They're being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea (or, Artillery Target #2 as it's known north of the DMZ) and representatives from every country that has even heard of snow (or kimchi) have been flocking to the location for a couple of weeks of gruelling competition as the skills, training and chemistry talents of the world's best are put through their paces.

At least I assume that's what happens.  To be honest I'm just taking everything I know about the regular Olympics and adding a sprinkling of snow.  The Winter Olympics, it must be admitted, do not bulk large in my consciousness.  I have the vague impression that skis and ice skates must be involved if only to get the competitors to their accommodation.  Apart from that you could tell me that snowman making was a competitive sport and I'd probably believe you.

But seriously, wouldn't competitive snowman making be amazing?  There could be marks awarded for size, realism and the propensity of the entry to star in heart warming children's Christmas specials.  North Korea would probably win.

But as if Winter sports weren't enough for the long suffering people of Pyeongchang they have also been inflicted with the 2018 Cultural Olympiad.  The cultural Olympiad seems to be an attempt by those who aren't particularly sporty to share some of the limelight that is associated with Olympic games.  Note that they have a Cultural Olympiad, because a mere "Olympic games" is way to plebeian and redolent of shed sweat to be appealing to the more cerebral amongst us.

More cerebral incidentally would be their definition rather than mine.  Among the "events" are a winter music festival, a DMZ peace art festival,  a trout festival (that one's a bit odd) and something called Jazz on the Coffee which I really hope lost something in translation.  Oh, there's also a recreation of a royal funeral.  According to the website they are re-enacting the funeral of some dead monarch as an expression of the wish for a successful Cultural Olympic Games and creation of Olympic Cultural Heritage.  If the sort of people who take part in a Cultural Olympiad wonder why people refuse to take them seriously, this is a pretty good explanation.  It's also an indication that it isn't only the athletes who should be drug tested.

Eventually of course the winter sportspeople and winter cultural thingies will pack up their bags and return home (weather permitting) and Pyeongchang will be left in peace.  Apparently there's a rather decent ski resort you can visit when the place isn't being overrun by skiers. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The All Singing All Dancing Cricket on Ice

I watched ice cricket for the first time over the weekend.  Largely, it must be admitted, out of curiosity.  "What is ice cricket?" I'm pretty sure I don't hear you ask?  Exactly what it sounds like.  Eager to spread the reach of cricket to nations which don't normally play it somebody arranged a game of cricket on ice in the middle of the Swiss Winter.

I'm sure you can see the problems.  Firstly, its Switzerland and its Winter!  Switzerland is famous for having a lot of snow clogged up and down as opposed to the nice green flat that cricket is traditionally played on.  Given the difficulty in procuring a patch of flat ground not already covered by chalets or six feet of snow perhaps it isn't surprising that they decided to play it on a lake.  That must have seemed like a brilliant idea, here the freezing (literally) cold would be an advantage since the water was conveniently solid.  So a chunk of lake was marked out as a cricket field and a pitch made of wood (yes, you heard me) was inserted into the ice so that at least the bowlers and batsmen could move without immediately falling over.

All of this took place in St Moritz.  At least it could have been St Moritz, it might have been St Bernard or St Gotthard or some other Swiss located saint.  Whichever one of them has a wacking big lake located conveniently nearby anyway.  Various cricketers were dragged out of retirement or winding down their careers playing for the Balochistan second XI and dumped in the middle of a snow drift and told to get on with it.  The commentators all appeared to be Indian or Pakistani and the commentary consisted of them agreeing with each other about how freaking cold it was.  Yes, it's Switzerland, in Winter!  They mentioned the cold so much I thought I'd changed to the weather channel by mistake.

We were assured by the commentators in those brief moments when they could be dragged away from their temperature analysis that an incredible amount of effort had been put in to produce a viable cricket ground (lake?) and that everything was working well.  It has to be admitted that I didn't see anyone drown so that's a positive although I think the credit for that goes to the Swiss weather rather than the organisers of the match.  Soon eleven desperately cold and miserable men (mostly from the subcontinent) had been herded on to the ice and, before they could escape, umpires and batsmen somewhat reluctantly joined them.  The match was on!

So how was it, this bold attempt to introduce the game of cricket to people who had never played it for the very best of reasons?  It was rubbish.  The bowlers (apart from one brave soul who took most of the wickets) were wearing gloves.  Everybody was wearing enough clothing to make the thing look like a party for michelen man cosplayers (I'll bet there are some).  The first ball came down, the batsman hit it smartly between a couple of the fielders who remained riveted to the spot too afraid to move.  The batsmen then waddled down the astroturf covered, wooden pitch to complete the "run" before one of the fielders moved gingerly to where the ball had come to rest in a mound of snow and retrieved it.

And so it went on.  By the time the first few overs had been completed I was glad of the weather commentary because it was so much more interesting than what was happening on the pitch.  Things did pick up a little as the fielders got a little more confident about moving about on ice (or were simply afraid they would freeze to death if they stayed immobile) wickets fell, sixes were hit there was even a waddle out.  The waddle out incidentally was Michael Hussey who obviously hasn't saved any of the money he made when he was playing cricket for Australia.  The whole thing was rather like cricket with all of the exciting bits removed.  Think about that for a moment.  It was a bold experiment and everybody got a trip to St Anton (or wherever) presumably at the organisers expense but I can't imagine it catching on.  It would be like holding the next Winter Olympics at Lords.

On an unrelated note I see in the news a few days ago that some woman in America flushed her emotional support hamster down a toilet after it was refused permission to go on a plane.  I suppose I'm a deeply unworthy person but I'm laughing even as I type the sentence.  I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the hamster wasn't adequately filling its emotional support duties.  Possibly next time they could furnish the young lady with a responsible behaviour aardvark.  At least it would be more difficult to flush.

Friday, February 9, 2018

CanCon AARs

The preliminaries are over and now the time has come to relate the events of two and a half days of gruelling cardboard warfare.  There would be triumphs, there would be heartbreaks, there would be despair and the occasional Chinese meal.  For convenience and ease of memory this account will be divided up into three days.

Day 1 - All Light Has Been Extinguished From My Life
Choiseul Few
My first opponent was Simon Spinetti who, having moved to Canberra a few years ago, was claiming to be part of the home team for this tournament.  The scenario was RPT85 Choiseul Few which pitted a group of marine paratroops (surely a contradiction in terms rather like airborne submariners) against a group of Japanese who are basically looking for the most convenient route to the exit.  I would command the Japanese who were simultaneously attacking and trying to keep the Americans out of their rear.
The Japanese objectives were to achieve any two of capturing a certain number of buildings, inflicting casualties on the Americans or exiting some of their forces off the board.  This seemed to imply a certain level of indecision in the Japanese high command which I dealt with by not achieving any of them.  I started with an onboard force of about half a dozen squads and was reinforced in the first turn by an equivalent number.  Lest I feel cocky a reinforcing group of Americans turned up immediately in my rear on turn two.
I divided my onboard forces into two roughly equal groups and attacked down both sides of the board (a mistake in retrospect, I should have weighted one side or the other).  My mortars were designated as smoke machines to try and cover my advance.  On my left Simon withdrew skilfully and in his own time.  I was always advancing but not really eating up the miles and I didn't really inflict too much damage on him either.  On my right I headed for the hill (and the buildings it contained) here I met more success but also far more disaster.  I slipped through the palm trees losing only half a squad or so to defensive fire and advanced up the hill to engage a native hero in close combat.  I killed this hero, in return he killed my entire squad.  And that's pretty much how things went.  I seemed incapable of entering a close combat that didn't kill me no matter what the odds.  I bought some territory but at a hideous cost in blood and by dividing my forces I had guaranteed that I never had quite enough force to fully press an attack.
My reinforcements I left to the rear to deal with his reinforcements and for a turn or two they did so.  One of my few bright spots was when I managed to kill a squads worth of paramarines outright as he attempted to push past me.  Push past me he ultimately did though and headed towards the main battlefield where my rapidly dwindling forces had more or less stalled in front of the main building on the hill.  My tendency to get squads killed in close combat only increased as the game went on and I eventually conceded while I had a few men left to surrender.
3rd RTR in the Rain

My next opponent was Ivan Kent.  Yes, my old enemy from Poland in Flames.  Now would be my opportunity to take revenge for my recent defeat.  I gleefully took the Germans and set up a defence which I thought was rather good.  Holding the centre buildings with most of my force.  Placing the 37mm in the woods where it could cover most of the approach routes for his armour and putting a squad and atr over on the right.  Ivan promptly showed me what an idiot I am but setting up most of his force to sweep through the woods on my right thus endangering my 37mm from the start.
I'm not a complete fool, I did give the gun some support but not enough to hold off virtually all of Ivan's infantry OB.  He only sent two squads across the out of season wheatfields on the right.  Somehow (luck) my 37mm wasn't overrun in the first turn and when Ivan rolled a tank across its line of sight I decided it was now or never as I probably wouldn't get another shot (correct).  I destroyed the tank and promptly saw the gun submerged under a khaki sea.  I got my own armoured support tangled up in the woods (see idiot comment above) but did manage to roll the PzIV up behind the stone wall on the left to dominate the approaches to the target buildings.  Ivan dealt with that by getting a critical hit with his first shot and burning the damn thing.
The rain poured down and, apparently, made it virtually impossible for the Germans to hit anything.  Sadly the British were obviously culturally much more used to rain and over the next few turns systematically broke virtually the entire German OB without suffering terribly much in return.  With most of the objective buildings empty of defenders and a single good order squad remaining to me I  risked close combat with a British halfsquad.  Victory would recover a building for me and put me in a slightly better position.  Ivan rolled a three in the close combat and I conceded.  The one bright spot was my slaughter of the British armour.  The 37mm got one, an atr got another and a PzIII got two more.  Sadly it didn't do any good in the long run.
Day Two - I Am An ASL God!!!

Coal in Their Stocking

After my dismal performance on the first day of CanCon I approached the second day with gloomy trepidation.  The very food tasted like ashes in my mouth.  No wait, that was the actual food.  Rinsing out my throat I sat down with Joe Moro to play Coal in Their Stocking which pits a smallish German recon force backed by a decent array of vehicles against a larger American force also overendowed with motorised death.  Joe wound up with the Germans while I took the American attackers.  The Americans got points for each stone building held.  The Germans had to deny the Americans but were also awarded points for anything they managed to exit off the board.

Joe's set up implied that he was going to hold the village with the bulk of his force while a sizeable minority seemed positioned to make a dash for the exit on my left.  I positioned what I hoped would be enough of a token force to deny any exit while I threw most of my forces at the village.  Strangely this sort of worked.  I sent forward token infantry forces backed by huge killer stacks lurking in the rear to gain territory while I sent my armour (and a bazooka toting halfsquad in a jeep) down the right hand side of the board to get into the rear of the village buildings.

The jewel in Joe's armoured crown was a PzJgIV with a 75mm gun and armour that could laugh at anything apart from a bazooka.  I rightly guessed that this monster was nestled in the village to back up his defenders while the bulk of his (much lighter) armour waited for an opportunity to leave.  I seized the first stone building easily while my light armour and halftracks trailed their coats in front of the PzJg.  Soon I was rewarded with a couple of burning wrecks to give cover to my flanking jeep and such of my armour as had survived.

Then things calmed down for a couple of turns.  Setting up kill stacks with the bulk of my infantry had given me the firepower to blow away his upfront defenders but left them poorly positioned to exploit.  I made aggressive noises with my armour as my infantry trotted forward hiding behind trees wherever possible.  Over on the left things were very quiet as both sides seemed prepared to live and let live but as I pushed towards the buildings on the right Joe had to pull his armour across to help his forces in the village.  The PzJg was virtually untouchable (and remained so until the end of the game) but he was short of infantry and soon his hold on the buildings was looking a little threadbare.  Then I got a stroke of luck.  I had rolled a tank onto the village road in the hopes of helping my infantry cross it.  One of Joe's (few remaining) squads went berserk and charged into close combat with this tank.  This close combat would endure for the rest of the game and deprive Joe of a much needed squad.  He immobilised my tank early on but just couldn't kill it.

Joe rushed his left handed armour up from the other side of the board but I had a strong foothold in the village and met them with bazooka (and captured panzerschrek) fire and smashed up a decent amount of his force.  The PzJg ruled the hex it stood in but had too many targets and not enough time.  Firepower allowed me to blast his remaining infantry defenders out of the required stone buildings and Joe conceded once the victory point total became insuperable.

Mile Peg 61

After a very long scenario Dave Wilson and I sat down for this one hoping it would be somewhat shorter.  Shorter it was but full of events.  The Australians were trying to hold a road in Malaya while a force of Japanese, backed by some of their dinky little tanks, were trying to roll over them.  For tank killing the Australians had two 2 pounder anti tank guns although virtually any automatic weapon in their armour stood a chance of getting an armour kill.  I was the Japanese attacker (the second of three times I would be Japanese in this competition) and Dave would take the Australians.  The victory conditions were simple, the Australians had to have a support weapon capable of firing on the road at game end.  What this meant for me was I had to virtually annihilate Dave's force to ensure they couldn't snatch an lmg at the end and deny me victory.

I divided my force into two with a pair of tanks for each.  One force would attack down the right side of the board winkling through the jungle to the rear of the village Dave was holding.  The other would strike down the centre.  Again I was hoping the disinclination of the Japanese to break would give me the opportunity to get in close.

Things started well; Dave had a lone half squad doing sentry duty on a hill on the right and my tanks rolled up and overran him killing him to death.  Then my right hand infantry poured down into the jungle simultaneously moving forward and hoping to blunder into an AT gun before the tanks did (unsuccessfully).  In the centre I moved more circumspectly circling a little to the left and managing to beat up on an outlying squad before I reached the bulk of his defences.  Naturally he had an AT gun set up to fire down the road and naturally I rolled a tank directly into his sights which he cheerfully killed.

Despite this my infantry pushed forward (I took some chances here but they largely paid off and I got into the jungle adjacent to the buildings which were his main line of defence.  I took some casualties here but managed to capture the buildings and even take a squads worth of prisoners (Dave was outraged but automatic no quarter was still a few months away).  Over on the right where I still had two functioning tanks I had found his hmg team nestled in a building it promptly hosed down a pair of my squads with a maniacal rate tear that didn't leave too many survivors but I thought I had a clever way of dealing with it.  I rolled a tank into bypass and then sent a pair of squads and my best leader into CC with the hmg team.  I had forgotten that when there's a tank in the hex the defender automatically attacks first.  Dave wiped out my entire force suddenly my right flank was looking a little destitute of troops.

Fortunately over on the left he had broken his AT gun and my remaining tank assisted in beating up on his surviving defenders.  Then I sent the remainder of my troops into close combat.  To give myself a better chance I abandoned the prisoners.  The close combats went well and I was anticipating success.  Imagine my surprise when Dave used one of the prisoners to occupy a building I'd left and snatch an lmg I'd left behind.  I didn't actually realise you could do this.  Despite being lightly shellshocked I had enough troops nearby to beat up the recalcitrant prisoners and this time there were no survivors.

The last couple of turns consisted of me chasing down the remnants of Dave's force and trying to beat up anything still possessing a support weapon.  I did manage to take out his hmg team and on the last turn I took out his mortar team in CC which was his sole remaining support weapon.  To spare Dave's blushes I won't tell you what he did with the other AT gun.  I was cockahoop.  I had gone from 0-2 to 2-2 with one game to go next day.  Could I possibly come out with a positive result?  Spoiler alert!  No.

Day 3 - And We're Back to Light Extinguishment Again
OK, I have to confess I can't remember the name of the last scenario I played.  I do know I played Paul Haseler and I know that once again I was the Japanese, this time defending a jungle covered hill against Paul's US marines with a bunch of first and second line Japanese squads and a 75mm gun.  I had high hopes of the gun, particularly when Paul moved a mortar team into its line of sight.  I fired and gained an acquisition.  In return Paul's mortar went on an eleven shot rate tear which striped and broke my gun crew and sent it fleeing into the jungle.  That was pretty much the story of my game.

With brutal amounts of firepower Paul moved slowly through the jungle dismantling my defence as he did so.  I attempted a fall back defence but it more closely resembled a fall apart defence.  I could never muster the firepower to do him much harm and even with concealment Paul managed to unleash so much death in return that my troops just fell apart.  Forget morale checks, I don't think I actually managed to fail by less than my ELR more than once.  My supposedly tough Japanese melted away as Paul's forces ground remorselessly through the jungle.  Even the miraculous recovery of my gun crew (and the subsequent breaking of a pair of US squads by 75mm fire) couldn't slow the olive green tide.

Eventually with fewer and fewer troops surviving to get in his way and with the turn marker still a disturbingly long way from scenarios end I brought the agony to an end.

So that was CanCon.  I managed to win a couple of scenarios and good times were had with familiar faces and the occasional new one.  Much thanks to Andy Rogers who always puts on a good competition and finds great places for us to eat.