"Eat me, Kevin!"
Indeed, holiday cheer was in the air last night at Guthrie’s Tavern, as 14 of us gathered to drink beer and drive each other bonkers playing our favorite game. Three onlookers also stopped by for a total crowd of 17.
Game No. 82 started first, and for reasons that I can only speculate about, players on the board thought it would be a good idea to work with Matt Sundstrom. Predictably, he topped the board and they didn’t.
Seriously, though, I didn’t see much of this game, so we’ll have to hear from some of the players to get the full story. I hope they’ll post their comments below. In the meantime, the game ended by time limit after the Fall 1907 turn in a five-way DIAS draw. The final center counts were:
Game No. 83 started a bit after 7 p.m. In that one, Michael Martinez, John Susoreny and Scott Yahne colluded their way to the top three spots, respectively. The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn in a five-way DIAS draw. The final center counts were:
I’ll share the Italian perspective when I get a chance. In the meantime, let’s hear from the players of both games. Just post comments below.
Check out the supply center charts here.
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It’s possible to have a bad Diplomacy game through no fault of your own. Sometimes it just isn’t in the cards for you. But most of the time, you can look back objectively at a bad game and see the mistakes you made and how they contributed to your poor showing.
Game No. 83 was that type of game for me. I think I only made one mistake, but it was a doozy.
My opening negotiation was with Chris Davis, who was playing Austria. I told him I wanted my plans to be compatible with his. I wanted either to work with him against Turkey (Adam Berey), or to head west while he and Turkey worked against Russia (Michael Martinez).
Chris was more interested in working against Turkey, so we talked about bringing Russia on board. And then I said, “Do you want to try anything interesting? I’m not going to suggest a Key Lepanto, but I’d agree to one if you want to play it.”
Witness the good old non-suggestion suggestion. Chris agreed quickly and emphatically. I then said, “Is this going to be the Greg Duenow variation of the Key Lepanto, where you agree to it and then bounce me out of Trieste?” (That’s what happened to me in Game No. 81, played two weeks earlier.)
“No,” said Chris. “Let’s do it.”
I then talked with both Russia and Turkey and did my part to ensure conflict in the Black Sea. I also talked with Russia about going after Turkey. He seemed interested.
With France, played by novice Jeff Scheur, I agreed to the usual DMZs. With Germany (John Susoreny), I agreed to DMZ Tyrolia. I tried to persuade England (Scott Yahne) to go easy on France. He was already thinking in that direction and said he had encouraged France to bounce him in the Channel.
That’s all I had time for, as we were playing with our customary short Guthrie’s deadlines. By the way, I think it’s even more difficult to play Italy at Guthrie’s because of the short deadlines. Especially at the beginning of the game, when the triangles have their own issues to sort out, and no one really wants to talk to poor Italy.
Anyway, I moved Venice-Trieste, Naples-Ionian, and Rome-Apulia. My intent was to build a second fleet in Rome, use it to deter the French, and pound on Turkey in lockstep with Austria and Russia.
But then I saw everyone else’s moves. I’ll give you the highlights. Guess which one caused me to twitch.
England and France bounced in the Channel, and France and Germany bounced in Burgundy. F Kiel opened to Holland instead of Denmark. Russia and Turkey bounced in the Black Sea, but A Smyrna went to Constantinople, not Armenia.
Austria opened as I expected, with the exception of A Vienna, which went to Budapest. And Warsaw got into Galicia.
So, yah, that last one caused the twitch.
I again met first with Austria.
“What’s the deal with Galicia?” I asked. “Did you know he was moving there?”
“Yah, that’s part of the deal,” Chris said. “He’s going to take Rumania from Galicia. He wanted two supports for the move to Rumania, and it disguises our attack on Turkey.”
“Okay,” I said. “What’s next for us?”
“Well,” Chris said, “I support Serbia-Greece, and you take Serbia.”
“Here’s the part I don’t get about the Key Lepanto,” I responded. “Why is it better to have an army in Greece than a fleet in Greece?”
“That’s a good point,” Chris said. “So, do you want to stay in Trieste?”
“Or I could walk out.” See, at this point, I was still committed to working with Chris, despite the twitching. “What about Galicia? Are you sure it will move to Rumania?”
“Well, we could bounce in Vienna,” I suggested. “Then you get your build no matter what he does, and we’re set.”
“Okay, let’s to that.”
And that’s what I planned to do…until I started talking with Russia.
“So, you’re in Galicia.” Twitch. “That gives you opportunities. Are you planning to take Rumania from there?”
“Well, that’s what Austria and I talked about.”
“It would be nice if you could stay in Galicia,” I said. Twitch. Twitch.
“What about Vienna?” Michael asked.
“Right now, Austria and I are bouncing there.” Twitch.
“You could support me in.”
“Or I could not move there while you moved to Budapest.” Twitch. Twitch.
“Okay, but you can’t move to Budapest then.”
“No,” I said, “I’d do something else with Trieste.”
“Why don’t you just support me in?” Michael asked.
“Because I want to look like the good guy,” I answered. “Maybe I’ll just misorder.”
“I’m getting the sense that you don’t want to do this,” Michael said. “If you don’t want to do this, I’ll do something else.”
“Well, it [i]would[/i] give you three builds,” I said.
“What’s wrong with me having three builds?”
Excellent point. I used to love playing Russia, but the Weasels ruined that for me, and it still pisses me off to see Russia consistently battered in our games. Three builds would strengthen Russia’s position, of course, but it might also draw some attention from England and Germany, both of whom fled from Russia with their openings. That wouldn’t be bad, either.
Although I generally don’t love attacking Austria out of the gate, it [i]would[/i] allow me to grow quickly, and in the post-Austrian world, I was pretty certain that I could get Russia to work with me against Turkey.
“Seriously,” he said. “It’s okay if you don’t want to do this. I don’t think you do. Just tell me.”
I like to maintain flexibility, and I hate being painted into factual corners. I also hate to say No. So, with time winding down, I said, “Okay, let’s do it.” And then the buzzer sounded.
I convoyed to Tunis, and instead of ordering Trieste to Vienna, I moved it to Serbia. I hadn’t gotten a chance to coordinate with Turkey, but if he moved to Greece, we’d force Austria to disband.
And that’s what happened.
In addition, Turkey moved his fleet to Constantinople. Not a good sign. There were bounces again in the Channel and Burgundy, and England took Norway with a fleet while moving his army from Yorkshire to Wales. Another bad sign.
I had made a colossal mistake, and I realized it immediately. Turkey had to build F Smyrna to counter my Lepanto threat. Russia was getting a free pass from his friends in England (wives are from Northwest Indiana’s Turkish community) and Germany (college friend and co-worker), as well. Plus, his fleet was still in Sev, so at least two of his three builds were going to be armies, and they surely were destined for the Balkans.
I built F Naples and A Venice, and went immediately to Chris as Spring 1902 negotiations opened.
“I’ve made a terrible mistake, and I’m sorry,” I said. “What can we do?”
“I can help you take Budapest,” he said.
“I was thinking I’d put you in,” I countered. “We need to keep you viable, and we need to get Turkey on board. We’re facing an E/G/R, and Russia is about to explode.”
I then went to Turkey. “Austria will support you to Rumania. If you do that while I support him to Budapest, we can cut Russia down to size,” I said. “Otherwise, he’s going to get huge.”
“Maybe we can get England and Germany to help,” Adam said.
“They’re not going to help,” I countered, cynically (but correctly). “They’re friends, they came together, they’re not going to help us. We have to cut him down on our own.”
“What about Greece?” He asked.
“I’m going to convoy Tunis there.”
“I need Greece,” he said.
“You’re getting Rumania,” I countered.
“But I need Greece.”
“I can support Greece to Serbia in the Fall, and you can move in behind me.”
“Okay,” he agreed, but instead, he bounced my convoy there from Bulgaria, refusing Austria’s support into Rumania, and moved his fleets into the Eastern Med and Aegean.
At least the attack on Budapest succeeded. In the West, the E/G began making inroads against novice France. I believe Russia moved all three of his new armies south.
I went back to Turkey, now almost frantic. “The attack on Rumania would have worked.”
“I wanted Greece,” Adam said. “You guys weren’t respecting that.”
“We were going to give it to you in the fall,” I countered. “And Rumania.”
I urged him to focus on Russia, but again, he sided with the Bear, this time supporting Russia into Serbia and taking Greece for himself. Meanwhile, I had offered to cover Vienna for Austria, but the move was unopposed, so Austria was down to one. Russia stayed even at seven.
I built A Venice, while Turkey put another fleet in Smyrna. That caused me to take the Lord’s name in vain. Loudly.
By the end of 1903, I had Turkey’s fleets bottled up, owned all the Austrian centers, and was tied for the board top at seven, but my position was untenable. I needed to build a third fleet to ensure that I could hold the Ionian. And even with an additional army instead, I couldn’t hold my Austrian position against the four Russian and two Turkish armies in the theater.
And no help was coming from the North. There had been a glimmer in Spring 1903 when Germany supported the British fleet in Norway into Sweden, but Russia retreated off the board (Baltic was open, with nothing adjacent to Berlin), and England backed out in the Fall, allowing Russia to build another army. At least he placed this one in St. Petersburg.
But still, no help was coming. I was outgunned and all alone. So, I went into “four corners” mode and began withdrawing to defend the boot so that I’d still be alive when the game was called at the 11 p.m. deadline.
I lost Budapest and Vienna to Russia in 1904, the same year that France was eliminated. In 1905, England and Germany chose to play for one of my centers each instead of turning on their Russian partner for a shot at two each. I lost Venice to Germany while England pushed on Tunis. Trieste, meanwhile, fell to the Russians. I did gain some measure of revenge by indirectly helping Russia take Serbia from the Turks.
In 1906, which would be the final year of the game because of the 11 p.m. time limit, I made peace with Turkey so we could each concentrate on staying alive. I lost Tunis in the Spring, but I successfully defended Rome in the Fall to finish at two.
On the final turn, England had a chance to take two centers from his German ally and tie for the board top. He chose instead to hold, which gave us final center counts of 10 for Russia, nine for Germany, eight for England, five for Turkey, and two for my Italy.
It was an awful game for me, all set up by one bad decision. All Spring 1901 signs pointed to an E/G/R Northern Alliance. I failed to read them and foolishly crippled the country I would need the most in the years ahead. When I stood alone in those final years, it was my own fault.
Great EOG statement Jim. As always, a very enjoyable read.
I was Austria. End of story.
In my defense, I was distracted. I was tied up at work, stuck in traffic, and on the way to Guthries my 9 month pregnant wife called from Michigan thinking she wanted to drive back that night with sick kids rather than wait for me to get there on Friday. I would like to believe that I would have required the GAL bounce.
I have not played on a board with Jim since my first game with the Weasels. John I played with my second game. Michael I played my one board at my first moot. The others were new to me, and based on those experiences, I should have allied with Turkey!
Jim and Michael were both pretty committed to taking down Adam, so I took them both at their word. Big mistake.
C’est la guerre!
England EOG. Game 82.
Yarg. Eat me Kevin. Hopefully I can remember this. Doubt it. Kevin has a special place in my mind. He’s the Kiswatch Hadderach in there. I believe him every time. This time he was even distracted by a friend.
Anyway, we drew pieces based on the White Elephant. I could’ve had my first chance to play Turkey in a Weasel Game, but saw Sundstrom already had picked France and I couldn’t let him and Yeargin sit next to each other. That’d just be too ‘Navy’ as E. Brown likes to say.
I chatted with Italy and Germany and talked up going apeshit on Matt. I think they were both on board, but I didn’t go to the Channel. I just knew I couldn’t get anywhere with that move against Matt. Yeargin was sitting in Russia as well, so I made a standard English Opening.
Spring 01 I snuck into STP but also had Kevin tap North so I didn’t get into ENG Channel. HOLY CRAP. At that point I knew I was hosed. I threw what little energy I had left into giving Matt my dots before the G/R alliance gobbled them all up.
Good stab Kevin, and good game. Next time I’ll get you!!