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Germany tops the undercard

On a beautiful 60 degree+ day on November 7 of us converged at Dan’s house to play the Undercard game at the Weasel Championship.  I was really pumped up because Ted and Greg cleaned off the back deck so we could play outdoors.  Wonderful decision!  We randomly drew sides and then Greg and May? I think switched sides.   

Austria:  John Ritz

England:  Scotty Cheever

France:  May Ling Chong

Germany:  Pete McNamara

Italy:  Greg Duenow

Russia:  Amanda Baumgardner

Turkey:  Ted McClelland

I had never played with John, Scotty or Amanda before.  I quickly learned that Amanda was a part of the board with Adam when Adam solo’d and she was his ally until it was too late.   She indicated she had learned from her mistake.  Scotty had played some with the group before, but just not with me. 

In my initial negotiations with England, Scotty me that he’d be interested in going North against Russia.  We both agreed that France would be fodder for us later in the game and to focus elsewhere for now.  I had told France that I did not like a strong England as Germany because it’s so much work to defend the backdoor.  I was hoping that I could convince France to go after England and tie him up for a while.  May (France) was mostly interested in getting her 2 builds in 1901 and seemed interested in working together.  Italy told me two things:  1)  That he and I should bounce in Tyrolia and 2) he was going after France because May was a boring player.  I told him don’t you dare go to Tyrolean, but I’d be game to eat up France once things got going.   May and I later talked again and she told me she was concerned about Italy.  I suggested a move to Piedmont.  Russia and I discussed Sweden, but I was non-committal.  I told Austria that as Germany I like a strong Austria (mainly to keep him from thinking about moving North). 

In the first turn, I move to Kiel, Ruhr and Denmark.  I like to have a say in Sweden and also a say in Belgium.  Italy opened moved Venice to Trieste.  Russia held in Warsaw.  France moved to Piedmont.  (Greg, do you still think May plays boring?).  Germany immediately approached me and basically asked why I was coming after him, to which I replied I moved exactly as I told him I would and that my opening was pretty standard for Germany. 

In the fall move I took Holland and bounced Russia out of Sweden as I was concerned about a fleet I had heard about from Austria.  I did not take Belgium as I was concerned about being an early target and I knew I could take it in 1902 as I’d have 2 units against it.  England moved to Denmark.  What Scotty was trying to accomplish, I am not sure.   I believe the Austrian fleet moved to Ionian and the Italian fleet was in the Eastern Med.   

Being the novices we were, there were 4 neutrals left on the board – Belgium, Sweden, Tunis and Greece. 

I built Army Munich and Fleet Kiel as I was growing distrustful of England early on.  Russia built an army in Warsaw. 

1902 saw me take Belgium and Sweden while the English took St. Pete and Russia made headway in the Balkans or into Austria to stay even.  I also think we saw the Italian army Lepanto over to Syria and end up in Armenia of all places as Ted must have done some fast talking to avoid Italy taking a center (that may have been 1903).  Austria took Tunis.

England didn’t really follow what he told me he was going to do in 1902 either.

In 1903, I did something that England didn’t like and he came right to me and said "You lied to me".  I found it humorous.  1903 saw me take Warsaw and I guess England didn’t trust me either so he supported Russia into Sweden so I stayed even. 

1904 was a critical year.  Austria had moved his fleet to the MAO and for a minute, it looked like he may attack Portugal.  But, we (me and I am not sure who) convinced him to move to Irish Sea.  What was also nice was that May moved to the Channel!  At this point May had managed to take both Tunis and Venice and was at 7 and looking pretty strong.  Russia was losing home centers but picking up centers in Austria and Turkey was growing very slowly, but I could tell with the way things were developing in the South preparing for a big breakout.

The fall turn in 1904 saw France convoy an army to Liverpool via the French and Austrian fleets.  This was because Austria had told England he would not attack England in support for help against Russia in the South.  While this was a cool move, it pretty much sealed Austria’s fate because by this time Austria was nearly out of armies and home centers. 

I was able to retake Sweden as England had to go back to cover the motherland and Russia did not have support in Sweden. 

1905 saw me take Moscow, but again lose Sweden!  Everytime I lost Sweden I was faced with the decision to destroy the fleet and build an army or to retreat the fleet.  Each time I chose to retreat the fleet – either to Baltic or to Skaggarek.  I think the 2nd fleet for Germany is pretty helpful if you want to have a say in Scandinavia so I kept retreating instead of building new.  In 1905 I also helped Russia (I think) take Trieste from France.  I told France that this was for her own good as she was too strong and this shortened her defense lines and I would help her get it back the next year.  Mainly, I was scared that France would get too many builds where she would start coming after my centers. 

In 1906 Ted and I agreed to stab Russia who had maybe one home center left, but 3 in Austria and was actually short a build for 2 game years.  I also told Ted that we should work towards a 3 way between Germany, Turkey and France.  I wasn’t sure who would be board top at this point, but I felt like I had a good opportunity to grow more.  At the end of 1906 I was in Norway and Vienna.  I had a crucial decision as Russia was all over Austrian home centers and I had the choice of helping her or helping Turkey.  At the last second I changed my order to help Turkey instead of Russia.  This pretty much sealed Russia’s fate.  By 1908, I had finally secured Scandinavia and owned St. Pete, Moscow and Warsaw plus I had gotten myself to the North Sea.  May had Edinburgh but had to vacate it to eliminate the last English unit in London.  Her loss was my gain. 

As we got to 1908, I felt I may have a chance at a solo.   Unfortunately, I missed a great play by Russia which made it impossible for me to solo when she moved from Livonia to Prussia and walked into a wide-open Berlin.  So, I finished as a 14 center Germany, even though I held only 2 home centers.  I could have possibly gained 1-2 more centers, but I would have had to use 4 units to eliminate Russia and my line in the South against a combined Ted/May wasn’t a sure thing.   At this point, we were all pretty tired and it was dark out so we had moved inside. By the time I eliminated Russia, France would have had her fleets in the North so we agreed that Russia deserved to be in the final draw. 

Final comments:

Even though we were the “kids table” this was a fun game.  Everyone played very well and I did not see any major tactical errors or misorders.  How often does Austria get fleets to England or Italy armies in Sevastopol via Syria?   May played a fantastic game as France and made some good, if not surprising moves (certainly not boring!).  Greg, of course, was a wild card.  I was scared to death of the Tyrolia bounce talk.  This was a weird game for me as I had no allies that I worked with consistently and also no enemies consistently who could work against me.  I was thankful that May moved to Piedmont early on as it meant he had no time for me up North.  I also loved it when May and John both moved against England at the same time.  Given that I was able to eventually pick up St. Pete, Norway and Edinburgh, plus eliminate a small thorn in my side, this was of great benefit to me with little cost.  Ted played a patient game as Turkey and showed how Turkey can be dangerous, even with just a few centers.  Amanda’s play for Berlin vs. trying to get one of her home centers at the end game was the play that stole the show and put to end any thoughts of a German solo.   I would welcome comments and perspectives from other players

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