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Sam I Am — Bassett Tops Game 91

Fasten your seatbelts. March Madness is under way.

Our third annual March Madness extravaganza tipped off today with Game No. 91 at my place in Oak Brook, and what a start to a month in which we expect to play six games of Diplomacy. The center lead changed hands five times, with five players at least sharing it at various points.  The game also saw:

  • Austria and Italy open with a Key Lepanto.
  • France grab three centers in 1901.
  • Russia fail to build and fall in 1905.
  • Five players at six centers in 1903.
  • Turkey go from two in 1904 to nine by 1908.
  • Germany own Moscow and Spain.
  • Austria play two short after jumping from six to 11 in 1904.
  • Russia convoy a British army from St. Petersburg to Sweden.
  • Italy convoy a German army from Spain to Tuscany.
  • Several misorders.
  • A couple of surprising retreats.
  • And a desperate race to prevent a solo.

When the dust cleared in Fall 1910, it was Sam Bassett atop the board with a 15-center England. The final center counts were:

Austria (Nate Cockerill): 6; 75 points.
England (Sam Bassett): 15; 195 points.
France (Amanda Baumgartner): 0; 7 points.
Germany (Adam Berey): 0; 8 points.
Italy (Peter Yeargin): 4; 55 points.
Russia (Mike Morrison): 0; 5 points.
Turkey (Jim O’Kelley): 9; 105 points.
 
A supply center chart only tells part of the story. Nevertheless, this one is worth a look. Hopefully the players will tell the rest of the story in their endgame statements. This game merits discussion.

Join the discussion!

Find out more about an upcoming event or article, talk smack before a game, brag about your board top, or most likely, ask what on earth your fellow Weasels were thinking!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Jim O'Kelley

    Alternate headline:
    Sam Eats Green Eggs, Ham and Much of Europe

  2. Samuel Bassett

    Game 91 was at least as bizarre as her stats, if not more so. When I drew England out of the box, I was excited, as it would be a chance to play in the west.

    Having played with Amanda twice, and knowing that we had been at war both times, I figured that we were due to a peaceful arrangement. I immediately suggested either an EFG or EFI. Peter mentioned a hope to go with VEN-Tyrolia which was quickly abandoned for an assault on Jim. With EFI out of the question, I started looking towards an EFG.

    Jim’s Turkey came out firing against Mike’s Russia which was busy bouncing in Galacia and misordering out of StP. England took the bait and stayed out of the lowlands in lieu of a Northern route. Then came Amanda’s +3 with a French fleet in Brest. I had intended to maintain a strong EF relationship, but I felt compelled to move my new fleet into the ECH.

    As the French moved against Germany and Italy, England placed her pieces to play F and G against each other while helping to finish of Mike’s Russia. This created a mess in the west while providing me the ability to get unquestioned naval superiority in the Atlantic.

    1904 saw a very aggressive Austrian stab, moving from a table-balanced 6 to 11. I spoke with Nate, thinking that we could negotiate a fairly even board split, but he seemed unwilling to offer anything for help so I joined the six nation war council. Within two seasons, the board united to slap Austria back down. Meanwhile, England built a “convoy line” of ships which just happened to border several German and French centers. It also allowed me into the Mediterranean Sea.

    After Austria seemed quelled, I gambled that slow growth, +2/+2, was better than quick growth +4. I slammed into France which had just stolen Germany’s Spanish build, causing Adam to weaken his defenses against my incoming fleets. Fearing a similar backlash to what Nate’s Austria received, I offered two SCs to Italy. The goal was to give Austria and Turkey another target to worry about in their own backyard while I reposition in line for a best England. I figured I would max out at around 14, but if Jim slammed into Peter full tilt, I might be able to pick up a few more in Russia or Germany.

    Much to my delight, Turkey did hit Italy hard, temporarily.

    Using the builds from the declining France, I built armies to fight on the mainland as Austria and I split up German territory.

    Once Jim, Peter and Nate realized that England might sneak up past 14, another world council formed. After establishing a 15-21 stalemate line, the game ended.

    All things considered, the game was very dynamic. Had Amanda built A-BRE instead of F-BRE, I would probably have ended up in a quagmire in Scandinavia with Russia and Germany. Had Austria not ‘sploded up five SCs, I would have not gone unnoticed moving pieces into position to sustain either an anti-France or anti-German stab.

    Overall, again, the game had a unique feel. Each country was in the driver’s seat at one time or another and two races to prevent solos highlighted the game. Also, the teamwork against the leaders was unique, including several multinational convoys.

    Now, just to convince you guys not to allow a 16 or better SC England…

  3. Jim O'Kelley

    This was an incredibly interesting game with more twists and turns than most of the screenplays up for awards tonight. I feel like I played pretty well in climbing out of a deep hole, but I dug that hole myself with some really bad choices in the first two years.

    Austria (Nate Cockerill) and Italy (Peter Yeargin) opened with an imaginative and aggressive Key Lepanto. In this variation, Austria ordered Budapest to Rumania while also bouncing in Galicia.

    Mike Morrison, playing Russia, was just as imaginative on our side of the fence, suggesting that we get his fleet into the Mediterranean by swapping Constantinople and Sevastopol (Sev-Bla-Con and Smy-Arm-Sev). I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for that gambit, so we agreed on a standard Black Sea bounce.

    I also moved to Armenia, hoping to capitalize on rumors of E/G aggression against Russia and also to encourage a non-committal Austria to consider working with me.

    The orders, and specifically the aggressive Key Lepanto, signaled a solid A/I, a problem exacerbated by Russia’s misorder of StP-Bal. (As an aside, the misorder could have been a boon to Mike as it meant Mos-StP bounced.)

    Mike and I talked about whether I should bounce Italy’s move to Serbia, thus keeping him in an Austrian dot, or support Mike’s move to Rumania. We decided on the support, which I ordered, but I also took Sev and the Black Sea.

    That was my first bad choice. In the face of a solid A/I, an ally was worth much more than a dot.

    In Spring 1902, I encouraged France (Amanda Baumgartner) to move her fleets in Portugal and Brest against Italy and also to push Mar to Pie. She did all that, but England sailed into the Channel on the same turn, which threatened to turn her around. I worked hard the next turn to broker an E/F peace so that Amanda could keep pushing against Italy.

    Meanwhile, A/I supported Russia’s fleet in Rumania to Bulgaria, popping my army there, while Italy set up his Lepanto.

    My goal was to keep Italy from building so that he couldn’t counter Amanda’s attack without either pulling off of me or poaching a center from Austria. All I had to do was cover Smyrna and support a unit to Bulgaria.

    Instead, I decided to hold Smyrna with a bluff so that I could order supported attacks on both Bulgaria and Rumania, denying those dots to the A/I at least and possibly taking them.

    Second bad choice. My attacks kept Bul and Rum in Russian hands, but Peter outguessed me with a convoy directly to Smyrna. Crap. That meant he could build a unit for use against Italy. Double crap. And Germany took Belgium from France, which meant Amanda had to pull a unit: A Tuscany. Triple crap.

    So, now I was down to three centers and in big trouble. I lost Sevastopol in 1903 to drop to two, and I stayed that way the next year.

    But the game changed for me in the Fall of that year when Austria stabbed Italy for three centers (Rum, Ser and Ven) plus Sevastopol, which Italy had taken in the Spring from Russia. Austria also picked up a fifth center to jump to a board-topping 11 centers, but I can’t remember where that one came from. Warsaw, maybe? After that turn, I texted Greg Duenow to tell him he had just lost his Best Austria award.

    Peter’s Italy, meanwhile, and Amanda’s France both lost three centers to fall to three, while England gained two. It was a volatile year.

    What followed was the Red Scare of 1905-06. England, France, Germany and Italy (and to a lesser extent, me and Russia, who had three centers between us) banded together to forge a defensive line and beat back the Austrians.

    The Grand Alliance successfully beat down Austria. When 1906 closed, Nate was back at six centers. (Off went a second text to Greg.) However, the Grand Alliance also had two unintended consequences.

    First, it allowed England to seize control of the game. He closed 1906 with 10 centers, fleets in the Mediterranean, and lots of opportunities for growth. Second, it allowed me back into the game. I doubled my size in 1905, taking Constantinople and Sevastopol, and I gained two more in 1906, taking Greece and Rumania.

    I should point out here that Germany (Adam Berey) could have kept me at five by retreating from Moscow to an open Sevastopol, but he didn’t. Thank you, Adam.

    Austria had three removals coming and could have made life difficult for me, but he chose to pull units from the Balkans and home, which really opened things up. I literally would have salivated at the sight of all those open centers had England not supported Italy into two French centers to allow him to grow to seven.

    Peter and I talked about amicably splitting the Austrian centers, with him getting Bud and Vie to go along with Tri, which he already held, while I’d get Bulgaria and Greece. I took my two in the Spring as Italy convoyed to Albania with support from Trieste.

    In the Fall, Peter asked for my support into Budapest, and I said I’d give it if he would agree to move Albania to Trieste to get it out of my hair. He agreed, but I really wasn’t wild about working with Italy.

    For one thing, I was sympathetic to the Austrians. Nate’s stab of Peter in 1904 allowed me to climb back into the game, and when he pulled those units out of the Balkans, well, that was a gift.

    For another thing, Italy was a more likely rival. Austria’s units were all fighting in the north, trying to take German dots before England could. Italy on the other hand, had just put three new units on the board. Now he wanted me to help him take two more from Austria?

    I felt that turning on Italy was my best shot at a big result. I could possibly take those Austrian dots for myself and also get Italy’s dots.

    So, when Nate asked me who was getting Budapest, I said, “Italy wants me to support him, but I’d rather support you into Trieste.”

    “You’ll support me into Trieste?” Nate asked, rhetorically. “I’m down with that.”

    And that’s what I did. At the same time, England took Spain from Italy, knocking Peter down to five.

    Peter, not surprisingly was pissed, and he threatened to throw the game to Sam. A couple of desperate years followed with me secretly voting down a couple of draw votes (anyone else want to admit to that?) while Peter followed through on his threat and Nate and I raced units toward the stalemate line.

    By Fall 1909, I finally accepted that my game wasn’t going to get any better and could possibly get a lot worse, so I proposed a draw. It failed.

    Up to that point, Sam had done a fine job of acting like he was a Diplomacy rube in uncharted waters. He downplayed his abilities. He praised his luck. He talked about the dishonor of accepting a thrown solo. He even proposed a couple of the draws. But the gig was up when that Fall 1909 vote failed. He was going for the solo.

    Nate and I asked Peter to join us in a second Grand Alliance, and he agreed. The three of us forged a line that stopped Sam at 15. Sam recognized that in Fall 1910, and the draw passed.

    It really was a fascinating game. In Fall 1909, Sam retreated his fleet Tunis off the board. If he hadn’t done that, he could have secured Tunis the next year. That same turn, Sam attempted to convoy Kie-Lvn, expecting us to try to hold StP instead of defend Livonia. Nate and I recognized the threat, and I supported his StP-Lvn. Had Sam convoyed to Prussia instead, we might have had problems. It was that close.

  4. Nate Cockerill

    “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” Winston Churchill

    My first Diplomacy game of 2010 was one of the best I’ve played since the 2001 WDC. Pete as Italy agreed to a key Lepanto and we were off.

    Austria is one of my favorite countries as it was the first country I ever played. I was introduced to Dip at the age of 15 and that first game I was part of an AI 2 way.

    One thing I did wrong in this game was stab Italy when I did. If I hadn’t done it, I believe the game could’ve ended in a 2 or 3 way draw. Also after reading Sam’s comments I didn’t realize your gesture of alliance was genuine. I guess we should’ve talked longer and made more offers. That is the great thing about this game. You never know whats going to happen until the orders are read and even then you don’t know if those were written in truth.
    I wouldn’t have stabbed Pete if Jim hadn’t offered to write and sing songs of my treacherous act. Being the attention whore I am i couldn’t resist.
    All in all a very dynamic, fluid game and a great introduction to The Windy City Weasels. Thanks Jim for being a great host. It was great to meet everyone.

  5. Thom Comstock

    So, I am to understand Nate has relocated to the Windy City!

    Yeah! Welcome, and sign up for Saturday March 20 Diplomacy (and other games) come even if you can’t make diplomacy start time!

    Yeah!

    Way to go Amanda, as she takes the TOPLESS award!

    That really sounds bad!

    Thom

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