Our Diplomacy league is the most active in North America. We average more than two league games per month in addition to Tournament play. We score all of our games using the Sum of Squares scoring system, and each player's best three scores count toward the season standings. We are known for our fierce competition, strong traditions, upstanding character and trustworthiness, and the propensity for Turkey to open to Armenia.
On our march to 100 games, we've paused periodically to recall classic games in Weasels lore. Here's our final look back, this time at Game No. 10, which was played Sept. 9, 2006, at Greg Duenow's home.
Game No. 10 featured founders Jim O'Kelley and Scott Yahne, Greg and Thom Comstock from the class of Game No. 3, Paul Pignotti and Large Small playing in their second games, and a newcomer named Michael Martinez. Enjoy.
Austria: Greg Duenow
England: Paul Pignotti
France: Michael Martinez
Germany: Thom Comstock
Italy: Bill “Large” Small
Russia: Scott Yahne
Turkey: Jim O’Kelley
Michael was new to the group and playing for the first time in 12 or so years. Everyone else had played with us at least once.
From my perspective, the game got off to a great start. Russia and I bounced in the Black Sea, by arrangement, and he and Austria bounced in Galicia, also by arrangement. Germany had positioned himself to bounce the Russians out of Sweden and seemed determined to do so. England had stolen into the English Channel, so the West looked like it was going to be messy. And Italy had set up a convoy to Tunis, but from Naples rather than Apulia, showing his inexperience.
But best of all was Austria’s decision to move Trieste to Venice rather than Albania. (The move failed as the Italian army held.) That meant only A Serbia was standing between me and two builds, as I had opened with Smyrna to Constantinople.
That Fall 1901 turn, my diplomatic mission was clear: Secure two builds!
I suggested to Russia that he take Rumania from the Ukraine, with support from Sevastopol. I also told him that I intended to move to the Black Sea to provide cover for our burgeoning alliance. He wasn’t wild about that idea, but he accepted it.
To Austria, I offered to either support him into Rumania or to move there myself with his support. What I really intended to do was take Greece, but I needed to occupy his Serbian army to eliminate the guesswork.
If I remember correctly, Greg said, “I don’t trust you to move there, so I’ll move to Rumania myself with your support.”
I said, “Fine,” and then wrote A Bul-Gre. Sucker.
Next, I told Italy I wouldn’t build a fleet if he took Tunis with his fleet. I meant it, too. Large was non-committal and evasive, however. He finally offered that he had designs on Greece. I dismissed that as another attempt to obfuscate his intentions.
After a quick round of the Western powers (“What do you mean you’re going to give Belgium to England?!?"), I turned in my orders and sat down, feeling pretty good about myself and thinking about my two new builds.
My smugness evaporated the moment Paul, who as England was reading, announced that Austria’s A Serbia had supported Italy’s F Ionian to Greece. Fortunately, and perhaps intentionally, Austria botched that order, as Italy’s attack came from Naples.
So, I didn’t have Greece, but Italy didn’t have it either, and at least I had one build. Italy was shut out.
Italy’s play for Greece was the only surprise in the East. The West was a little more exciting. England vacated the English Channel, moving to Belgium. France, meanwhile, demonstrated nerves of steel, ignoring the threat to Brest and moving his fleet in the Mid Atlantic to the Channel. Now Brest was open AND he held the Channel. Boy was England pissed!
Also, Russia bypassed Sweden and moved to the Baltic Sea, so the German fleet took Sweden.
I built F Smyrna. Quite a few fleets popped up that Winter, as a matter of fact. France built two, as did England, and Germany built one in Kiel. Even Austria built a fleet, and he only had one build!
Miffed by Austria’s betrayal, I immediately asked him to join me on the porch.
“What are you doing?” I demanded.
“What are you doing?” he shot back.
Okay, that line wasn’t going to work. Neither one of us had honored our agreement. I needed a new tack.
His fleets were in the Adriatic and Trieste. “Why don’t you take Venice?” I suggested.
“Yah, that’s what I was thinking,” he said.
If that were the case, I wondered why he had built a fleet instead of an army, which also could have threatened Rome. Then I remembered a conversation with Greg months ago where he said he had a read an article on Austrian strategy in which the author advocated building fleets as often as possible. And then I also recalled writing in one of these post-game reports that Greg is a lunatic.
I thanked Greg, patted him on the shoulder, and mentioned that I wanted Greece. Then I raced off to find Russia.
“We can sweep this board,” I told Russia, gesticulating emphatically. “Austria is a lunatic. He only has two armies! You support me into Serbia in the Spring, and I’ll support you into Budapest in the Fall.”
Russia acknowledged that the A/I was in horrible position and agreed to my plan. I then went to Italy and told him to stop screwing with Greece. Take your free center in Tunis, and position Naples to support Venice before you lose it, I told him. He just smiled and noted that my voice had risen an octave. He clearly enjoyed my discomfort.
I made another quick tour of the West. (“Leave your army in Portugal so the fleet in Marseilles can move to the South Coast of Spain.”) Then I turned in my moves, and I once again felt really good about my prospects.
This time, Michael, reading as France, was the bearer of bad news. Austria took Venice, but he also moved Serbia to Bulgaria. And Russia supported that move, while also moving F Sevastopol to Armenia! Fortunately, I had followed up Bulgaria to Serbia with Constantinople to Bulgaria, supported by the Black Sea, so I hadn’t lost anything. Except my confidence!
Elsewhere, Italy convoyed to Greece, Germany took Denmark, and I think Germany and Russia bounced in Silesia.
When the Fall negotiation period opened, I demanded an audience with Russia. Scott attempted to pass his support for Serbia to Bulgaria as a botched order, but the presence of his fleet in Armenia lent little credence to his explanation. He then laid out the options for his fleet.
“I can move to Ankara, Sevastopol or to the Black Sea,” he said. “What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to move to Sevastopol,” I responded.
“And what are you going to do,” he asked.
“I want you to move to Sevastopol,” I repeated.
I wasted little time with Italy this turn, as our previous powwows had been unproductive. Instead, I went to work on Austria.
“You’ve got a build in Venice,” I said. “If you support me into Greece, Italy will have to disband.”
He agreed, and I told him to support F Aegean in. Then I went on my obligatory Western tour. (“So, why don’t you take Norway? Grow to seven.”)
This time, it was my turn to surprise my neighbors. Austria supported my attack on Greece, which gave me a build. I had decided to cover Ankara with my fleet. Russia, meanwhile, ignored my threat to Sevastopol and ordered Armenia to the vacated Black Sea.
Germany captured Norway along with Denmark, to grow to seven. Austria was at five and built a third fleet! England and Italy both had to pull a unit; Italy was at two, and Tunis was still vacant! France and Russia were even.
As 1903 opened, I again met with Russia first. I pointed out that it was foolish for us to fight in the face of such little resistance from Austria and Italy. “Austria only has two armies!” I again asked Scott to support me into Serbia in the Spring and said I would support him into Budapest in the Fall.
“Austria can’t stop us,” I said. “His fleets are useless.”
Russia agreed. And this time, he honored the commitment. We took the two centers as outlined, and I built another fleet in Smyrna. In 1904, we picked up Trieste (me) and Vienna (him). In Fall 1904, I seized the Ionian AND the Tyrrhenian. The Juggernaut was rolling.
We were at seven apiece, and topping the board, along with France and Germany, who had made short work of England, who was now at one. Austria had two, and Italy had finally claimed Tunis and was now at three and working with me.
Trouble was brewing for Russia, however. He was bogged down in a slog with Germany, and their units were becoming intermingled. In the Spring, he had successfully put his fleet in Berlin. He had an army in Silesia but there was a German army in Prussia. He had a guessing game on his hands.
Rather than use Silesia to either support Berlin or cover Warsaw, I suggested that he offer to support the Austrian army in Tyrolia into Munich. That move could cut a potential support against Berlin and would likely succeed with his support. Scott went with that approach, and it may have backfired. Austria took Munich, but Germany seized Warsaw. Germany was down one, but he had armies in Warsaw and, I think, Bohemia.
In Spring 1905, I supported Italy into Venice, which was still owned and occupied by Austria, while walking into Naples and Rome. Russia, meanwhile, continued to struggle with Germany. Neither side gained a center, but Germany convoyed Kiel to Livonia (it pays to read our message board!). Russia had lost all momentum, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for him, as I was building two.
In the West, meanwhile, France finally eliminated England by retaking Brest.
In Spring 1906, Germany finally broke Russia, retaking Berlin and grabbing St. Petersburg. That sealed Scott’s fate, as far as I was concerned.
To help defend his centers from German raiders in the Fall, Russia and I agreed to bounce in Budapest and Rumania. I moved to both centers, but I also supported both moves. Russia had fallen from seven to three.
Italy, meanwhile, was still ticked that I had taken Rom and Naples. I tried to explain that his remaining units were still useful to me and that I would keep him in the game, but he wouldn’t commit to anything I suggested. So, rather than take any chances, I offered his remaining centers, Tunis and Venice, to France. Michael jumped at the offer and seized them with my support.
Austria was hanging on in Munich, but the game was racing toward a three-way draw.
In 1908, France knocked Austria out of the game and also moved on Germany, taking Belgium. I, meanwhile, took Venice from France because I needed it for my stalemate line, and also nabbed Sevastopol and Vienna from Russia.
In the Fall, Russia played the “hang together or hang separately” card with Germany, and it worked. With help from the French units closing in on his coastal centers, Russia was able to convince Germany that they needed to work together to secure a four-way. The two of them outguessed me, supporting Germany into Rumania.
So, I had 13, France was at 11, Germany had eight, and Russia was down to two. At this point, we asked Scott whether he’d vote himself out of a draw. He refused, so after adjustments, the big three went out on the porch to seal a three-way. Germany agreed to make the necessary moves to take Russia’s last two centers, Moscow and Warsaw, and while he did that, I retook Rumania. France, meanwhile, submitted blank orders in 1908.
With Russia dead, there was no one left to veto our draw. It passed unanimously during the Spring 1909 negotiations. The final center counts were:
It was an entertaining game with fluid alliance structures throughout. Perhaps there was more play left when we called the draw, but I was satisfied that France and Germany could make the necessary moves to stop me short of 18, and Michael wasn’t interested in grinding toward a 17-17 two-way.
Hope to see you over a board soon!