What up Weasels? I wrote an article for Diplomacy World that I figured I'd pass around. Please note that at the time of writing, i was winning the league standings. Dammit, Brandon...
Get Out of the Box: 10 Ways to Take Your Game to the Next Level
First, I should introduce myself. I’m Jake Trotta, a new member of the hobby and the Minister of Public Information (or “Speaky Weasel”) for the Windy City Weasels. Our club goals are to grow the hobby and develop championship caliber players. Both objectives require players to learn and develop their game, so I’d like to share a bit about my own development in the hopes that it may help other future players (and Weasels) with theirs. After winning my first tournament, I went through a very difficult 6-month plateau in the hobby. I wanted to get better and tried to improve at the 3 aspects of the game (negotiation, strategy, tactics). I was reading articles, playing gunboat games, getting a lot of games in. But the results weren’t matching my effort level. I lost the league lead, got slammed at WDC, wasn’t enjoying the game as much, and was certainly less fun to play with. After getting eliminated first in our club title game, the Weasel Royale, I asked another player on the board where I was going wrong. “You’re just not having fun anymore,” he told me. That moment made me realize something—a fourth (and perhaps most important) dimension to the game. Attitude. What mentality am I bringing to the board? How is that impacting my negotiation? Strategy? Tactics? If I don’t establish a defined, constructive relationship between myself and the board, it is, by necessity, going to be very difficult to establish constructive relationships with my boardmates. That realization changed the way I evaluate the board, my game, and myself, sparking a rapid period of growth. The following are a set of 10 insights that helped break me out of that mental box.
Hit the jump for 10 (10!) ways to elevate your game!
THE WEEKLY WEASEL AIN’T DEAD YET
Featured this week: terrible, terrible puns. Yes, they're worse than usual.
A ROARing Finish
Our last game of the Bar Room Brawl is this evening, meaning that this is your last chance to qualify for the BAR ROOM BRAWL TITLE BOUT (and a chance at winning your name on Cockerill’s Orb)! Swing by the Red Lion at 6:30 for the festivities.
A raging election
It’s that time of year, folks. Sneak elections occur at the Pyle. Any paid up members can vote, any paid up members can run. 3 spots are open, we have 1 incumbent and a couple other candidates who have indicated interest. If you are interested in running for the Sneak, send an email to Jake, your Chief of Public Information, by 8/16. Also reach out if you have any questions.
Newsflash: Jim O’Kelley does not suck at Diplomacy
It seems reports of the club founder’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Jim dropped a sizeable German board top at last week’s reunion bar game, where we welcomed back ex-pat Christian MacDonald. After spending the majority of the season outside the Top 7, Jim’s top has secured him a place in the Royale and continues his momentum since winning CODCON. This development is particularly painful to hear because we here at the Weekly Weasel had a joke prepared for Pyle had Jim failed to make the top 7.
“Jim said he needed to take a step back this year for his marriage, and he did an excellent job at that, missing the Weasel Royale for the first time.”
We’ll be here all week, folks. For a recap and other jokes straight from the comedy cemetery, hit up the recap here.
THE WEEKLY WEASEL EMBRACES THE INEVITABLE
Oh hey folks. Been a while. How are things, what’s new? Let me just check the league standings real quick and…
BREAKING NEWS: FOGEL DOMINATES LEAGUE
This month’s bar game had a not-so-friendly reminder that diplomacy is a game where 7 players push blocks around a map of Europe for a few hours and in the end Brandon wins. Except this time it was by 75. Not a score of 75, his margin was 75. This vaults the Biggest Threat on Any Board to 198 points on the year, first in the league by a whopping 30 points. Game recaps incoming here.
Now, we have to give some credit where credit is due. Jim called the game a “batting practice fastball,” but herding cats for four hours is a damn tough job, even if they’re just kittens. Herding kittens to the highest non-solo score in league history is even more impressive. In fact, why don’t we make a list of all the impressive things BTOABrandon has accomplished this year:
June, the start of sundress/ wedding season, is fittingly named after the Roman goddess Juno. Juno was the goddess of marriage, but really, she was the goddess of jealousy. She’d stroll out of her Mount Olympus high rise, see all these nymphs (in the classical sense) in their sundresses holding hands with their boyfriends (or her husband Zeus/ Jupiter), and be filled with envy. That envy inspired her to turn people into cows, start wars, or send literal Furies after her enemies. Really, there are only two kinds of stories in Roman Mythology: ones where Juno aggressively seeks vengeance, and ones where she does not.
Passive Juno allowed the continent we push blocks around to be named after her husband’s slam piece.
Aggressive Juno orchestrated the fall of Troy.
You know what they say about Italians- they learn best from their mothers. This, Weasels, is where we share our wisdom.
THE WISE OLD WEASEL: ITALY
A disappointed, passive Juno surveying her four center Italy, about to be squeezed in 1908.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME- YOUR ITALIAN OVERVIEW
Now like Juno, Italy doesn’t have to be constantly aggressive, but it must be jealous. Italy’s great challenge is getting stuck on 4 centers, home and Tunis, until the end of time. In fact, Italy only gets out of the gate, which our stats department defines as reaching 7 centers, in 33% of games, worst of the seven powers. But a strong Italy, with its variety of weapons and targets, brings havoc across Europe.
Italy is uniquely positioned between the theatres and at the edge of the stalemate line, if you count Tunis. Early game involves a fun variety of openings and establishment in one theatre, midgame requires a strategic maintenance of tempo and unit mix, the end game a vast kaleidoscope of solo possibilities.
THE SECTION WHERE WE PUBLICLY ASK FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS, AT TIMES BY NAME
Drop a comment for how you best (or least best) play Italy. Brandon and Jim both had some solid results last year they could perhaps speak to. I find that Chris Kelly often does well on the boot, consistently hitting 7+ as the Italian. Perhaps Bull Weasel and Turkey superfan Matt “the Sundstrom” Sundstrom could share some thoughts on how Italy can best annoy Turkey, its biggest threat? Not to forget subprime Weasel John Gramila soloed with Italy at the 2016 WDC.
Hit the jump for stats department report on Italy, best club results, and Jake’s most recommended Italian articles.
Moot is two weeks away from today at DIVERSEY BOWL #themootabides. But before that, we here at the Weekly Weasel need your help!
IS THIS YOUR HOMEWORK, LARRY?
I need your help, folks, to help me help you. One of our goals here as Weasels is developing championship players. I am working on developing some worksheets/ tools to help players self-evaluate their games. Ideally, I’ll post these right after Moot, when all but one of us is wondering why we didn’t win the tournament / why we suck at diplomacy.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts and recos.
OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE NOT A GOLFER
Because you’ll be playing diplomacy at Weasel Moot two weeks from RIGHT NOW! 4 rounds with one drop round, so it’s okay if the bar eats you and you have to mark it zero, dude. The moot will abide starting 6/23---sign up here.
THE WEEKLY WEASEL GETS THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Miley Cyrus week here at the Weekly Weasel. It's our party- we can do what we want.
I CAME IN LIKE A RUSSIAN BALL
Russia is blasting to a comparatively excellent season, with the second highest average score and tied for the second highest number of board tops. Game 341 was no exception, as Bryan Pravel pushed the Russian Resurgence at last week’s bar game, securing a 9 center board top and moving himself into the top 7 on the year. Following his best Russia performance at CODCON, Pravel has now topped 3 of his last four boards as Mother Russia (shout out to the research department here at the Weekly Weasel, who pulled that stat.) Ali Adib also picked up points in a second place performance. Game results here.
THE SEVEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
Tuesday night brings a bonus bar game, with seven players set to play at the aptly named Seven, a restaurant in Brian Shelden’s apartment building. Should be a fascinating board- three vets, two Trottas (Papa and Ian), and two rookies. Your writer was going to play, but got scheduled for focus groups Tuesday evening, and will thus be arriving late to help coach and yell at the Golden State Warriors. We’ll have to settle for A Tale of Two Trottas instead of the Trotta, Trotta, Trotta sequel. Hint hint at what the game headline will be.
Festivities kick off at 630. Coin flip whether there will be post game karaoke. If history is any indication, that coin flip turns to a certainty should the Prime Weasel hear anything by Sugarland.
THERE’S ALWAYS GONNA BE ANOTHER MOUNTAIN…
Speaking of Seven and feminine karaoke ballads about life's journey, “The Climb” for Weasel Royale is remarkably competitive this year. Following Pravel’s board top, the top 7 all have scores exceeding 100 points, with four veterans close behind. While the top 3 spots are likely secure, we have 8 players competing for the final four spots in our club’s championship. With three months remaining, there is plenty of time for additional challengers to stake their claim in what should be a bloodbath of a home stretch.
WE CAN’T STOP. AND WE WON’T STOP.
The final year brought red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere, but Game 340 ended with Jake Trotta extending his personal league topping streak to 3. The nine center effort brings him one short of Brandon Fogel’s presumed record streak of 4 consecutive tops (research department is working round the clock on this, folks.) Check out some fine AARs, where Trotta did presciently predict the result of game 341.
PARTY IN THE USA
The Wise Old Weasel is back with a patriotic vengeance. The WOW: France appeared last week, and your writer could not bring himself to say nice things about France, so it was rewritten as the WOW: America. Brandon posited that this may be due to some Italian inferiority complex; your writer has no defense in that regard. Share your best baguette battle strategies here.
THE WISE OLD WEASEL: FRANCE
I’m supposed to say nice things about French culture here. But here’s the truth: Napoleon was a goddamn Italian, and France lost both World Wars. They invented the word “surrender.”
France is so laughably overpowered on the diplomacy board, with their embarrassment of neutrals, difficult to play neighbors, arguably second best defensive position in the game, and natural resting state along the stalemate line. In diplomacy, France is unquestionably the best. They practically always win. It's almost like the game was created for them to dominate. Wait a minute...
Folks… France is the AMERICA of diplomacy.
So fuck your cake. It’s 1917, and the real freaking heroes are finally here. Grab your bacon and apple pie, because Operation: Dip Freedom is coming through.
This Wise Old Weasel is all about TEAM FREEDOM.
THE WISE OLD WEASEL: AMERICA
Team Freedom, World's Greatest Nation and normally the strongest nation on the board, is having a great year, winning 13 of 30 boards so far. This nearly doubles the second place nation, but still does not match our dominance in World Series Championships. You're freaking welcome, every other country.
Perhaps the most difficult challenge in playing America is the same challenge as being an American- what do I do with all this FREEDOM?
We thank France for the Statue of Liberty, democratic revolutions, and pissing off England. The greatest country in the world perfected all 3.
All right, Weasels. Uncle Sam needs you. How do you play France America?
Hit the jump for some great American history, ballads of bald eagle resurgences, how we have the best allies, and more.
THE WISE OLD WEASEL CELEBRATES SIXO DE MAYO
Well, that was a little delay with a lot of Diplomacy in it.
A FIERY FIESTA FEATURING PITBULL AT PRAVEL’S
You’ve heard of Cinco, but the Weasels will be celebrating on the 6th this year at Bryan Pravel’s river north apartment. Since Bryan is moving, it will be the last game at the venue, but there will be plenty of SIXO DE MAYO CELEBRATION with a spicy board of veteran players. In true Latin style, we will Mexican food in at least the form of tortilla chips, Pitbull playing nonstop in the background, and one drawn out discussion from Jake about how Dos Equis Amber is the superior Mexican import. Yes, that means I'll bring some.
Sign up for the Siesta here.
DAD’S GOT GAME (AND NOW A TROPHY)
In case anyone hasn’t heard yet, club founder Jim O’Kelley won CODCON (his first Chicago tournament title) with a rousing Turkish solo, in addition to a quality English board top. It was one hell of an event for the Witches- to such a degree that Best France was only 12 points (congrats Prime Weasel Shelden!) Your writer got both second place and the Icarus fish for biggest flop, while world’s nicest Weasel Bryan Pravel put down the hair gel, took the gloves off, and earned both Best Stab and Third Place honors. Commentary and game recaps are coming in, check them all out here.
GIVE EM THE RINGER, DUDE
The Weasels had a great game over at Diversey Bowl a couple weeks back. In a mad rush of a final year, Jake Trotta landed an 8 center board top. Brandon Fogel did a wonderful job coaching rookie player Randi Miller, as well as ensuring no one treated objects like women, man. Read about all the action here. We also had a bar game, topped by newcomer Jocie Nelson, which you can read about here.
THE WEEKLIER WEASEL IS ON A MISSION FROM COD
Before we get into CODCON HYPE, let us first point out that two of the top five Austria performances of club history, including the biggest ever, happened last week. Which happened to be the week after the publishing of Wise Old Weasel: Austria. Coincidence? Sister Margaretta thinks not.
Now, back to the news at hand.
LIE TELLIN’ IN GLEN ELLYN. TOPPING BOARDS IN STUDENT RESOURCE. STABS AND RAGE AT COLLEGE OF DUPAGE.
That’s right folks, CODCON, the Outback Bowl of the Diplomacy hobby, is coming up this weekend. Grab your notebooks and bloomin’ onions- it’s about to get HYPEEEEEE! The madness kicks off at 9am on Saturday at, you guessed it, the student resource center at College of Dupage in lovely Glen Ellyn, Illinois. If you haven’t already, sign up here. Bonus- if you pay your dues, then you save money on the fee. That’s like saving two puppies at once.
THE WISE OLD WEASEL STABS THE DAY
Weasels, it is the Ides of March, the date of the most famous stab in human history.
Julius Caesar, renowned politician, general, diplomatic, lover and Protector of Rome took Italy all the way to 17 centers in 44 BC, with all of France, Belgium, Iberia, all of Italy, Tunis, Trieste, Serbia, Greece, Bul, and all of Turkey. (Yes, we here at the Wise Old Weasel counted the dots.)
But just before he could call himself Julius Solo, Caesar’s senate compatriots formed a grand alliance to stop him. Antony, Caesar’s most loyal ally, gave a moving eulogy… and summarily pardoned the assassins.
Today is a day we celebrate the stab, the crux of this great game we call diplomacy. Whether you are Casca, rushing into the shoulder blade first, Cassius, who swung for the face and missed, or Brutus, the beloved brother who stuck a sword in his side, we all have our memorable stabs.
On this Ides of March, do not merely beware, but relish in the thrill of stabbing and, yes, being stabbed.
So, Weasels, let us stab the day and share our great war stories and sage stab advice below.