We wrapped up our third annual March Madness extravaganza with two boards last night at Guthrie’s Tavern in Wrigleyville. The two boards brought our March total to six, which ties August 2009 for our most active month.
A couple of late cancellations forced us to stretch a bit to field a second board. We only had 12 players, so Michael Martinez and I volunteered to play on both boards. With Guthrie’s quick negotiation phases and liquid distractions, this proved incredibly challenging but also a lot of fun, and I think we both played well enough that we didn’t skew either game.
Here are the results. I’ll rely on the other players to supply the commentary as I missed a lot while playing both boards.
- Pete McNamara’s 17-month apprenticeship is officially over. He’s now a Diplomacy craftsman.
- Yuji Takata was playing his first game ever, and he’s a quick study. He’s also an expert at Settlers of Catan, fyi.
- This would have been a great game for Pete under the CODCon Sum of Squares system. He topped and spread the other centers out fairly evenly among the other players. That’s what you’ll want to do next month.
- The last year saw some pretty good scrambling with Adam taking Liverpool and Munich but losing Holland to grow to eight, where he caught Peter who lost two centers.
- Matt proved especially slippery in not just staving off elimination but coming back to finish third.
- Christian’s Russia had three fleets in the North in 1903. Bastard.
Here are the supply center charts. Players, please post your comments.
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I was on the little board and drew Austria. It seems most games I’ve been in lately Austria has gone down hard early on. Wanting to avoid that fate for myself, my initial goal was two-fold 1) secure a good working relationship with Italy and 2) create conflict between Turkey and Russia so that they’d both be looking to me to be their friend instead of ganging up on me.
First turn negotiations started off with Italy and it seemed that Mike and I were going to be able to work together. Next was Turkey and he told me he was going to bounce Russia in the Black Sea and then he wanted Bulgaria and either Greece or Rumania. Well, I didn’t like the sound of that! I suggested that he instead move to Armenia, let me have Greece and I would help him into Rumania. We agreed that Turkey would not be in both Rumania and Bulgaria early on, but if he moved aggressively on Russia, I would help him dismantle Russia. I think I told Russia that I was concerned about my survival and that I’d help him into Russia if he focused his attention on Turkey. Mission accomplished when Turkey did open to Armenia.
The only surprise in the spring moves was France and Italy bouncing in Piedmont. I had expected Italy to just hold in Venice so when I asked France about the bounce he told me “Italy asked me to do it” and when I asked Italy I was told “France asked me to do it”. This told me two things: 1) France is savvier than the average first time diplomacy player and 2) Maybe I need to be careful of Italy.
As it turns out the Fall turns worked out great – I supported Turkey into Rumania and Turkey upheld his end by not going to Bulgaria so it ended up neutral. This also provided Italy and I the opportunity to work together on Turkey while Turkey and I worked together on Russia. Italy ended up taking Bulgaria and setting himself up for more expansion into Turkey while I helped myself to Rumania (I didn’t realize my alliance with Turkey was so short until I looked at the center sheet).
Even though I was happy with Austria’s growth I feel my best move of the game was convincing England and Russia to work together a bit. Russia had just lost St. Pete to England, but I could see that Germany was set to take Sweden unless England supported Russia to Sweden so they’d bounce the Germans out. Fortunately, the agreed to work together and I think it was the right move for England as otherwise Germany was going to get strong and England had his hands full with an aggressive France.
The game progressed well – Jim’s Germany helped me into Warsaw in 1903 with the agreement that he’d get the North of Russia and I stay away from Prussia/Silesia. After Germany helped me into Warsaw I could see that he had his eyes set on the West. I figured if I could get E + F to work together that they could make life more difficult for him so I tried to call them together but Jim caught me and said “why do you want to talk to them”. I guess since he had just helped me into Warsaw I shouldn’t have been so quick to slow him down on the other side of the board, but I think that talking to everyone, not just your neighbors is important…but maybe I can be more discreet.
The turning point happened in 1904 when Italy had taken Marseilles and was set to take another center in Turkey (with the agreement that Austria backfill into Bulgaria). This would have meant the near end of Turkey and even growth for Italy and Austria. However, Mike was drawn to his other game and a few of us (okay, Jim) saw how France could make an automatic attack on Marseilles. Knowing that Italy would not be gaining in Marseilles and that I had Bulgaria, I told Turkey to attack Con and that I would support him. This meant that instead of growing by 1, Italy went down by 1 and I grew by 2 (also adding Sev to the Austrian empire).
Remembering that Matt Sundstrom had told me once that moves are tactical but builds are strategic I chose to build two armies even though I could build a fleet in Trieste. Even though I had all armies and one fleet at that point I figured this would give me at least a chance to patch things up with Italy and for some reason I felt my armies would be more valuable on the ground.
I was able to move enough armies on Munich to take it in 1905 and the final turn of the game saw me lose Munich and Bulgaria but I compensated by taking Venice and Moscow.
It was only after the game that I noticed I missed being Top Austria by 5 points. I think the only way I could have garnered that was by finishing off Turkey instead of using Turkey to beat back Italy a little. I think if this was not a Guthries game I would have worked longer with Italy but the time limit does affect how long you might be willing to work with a different power.
Game 96 was a fairly quick study. RT were reasonably well-behaved in the spring but made pretty hostile moves in the fall. I managed to hold them off for a year and just hoped Italy wouldn’t take advanatage of the situation. Sadly, he did and poached Trieste. He also moved west in the same turn, which got the attention of France. I went into survival mode and offered to attack Italy if RT left me alone. Christian was free to build fleets up north and Peter sent a Turkish navy into the Med. They both did pretty well while I stayed even. France came south and Italy was in trouble. I retook Trieste and eventually got Venice while that happened.
It wasn’t until the last couple years that I had any chance to grow. France helped me get a couple centers and Turkey stabbed Russia. Time was running out, so I got what I could to get to six at the end.
Good luck at CODCon.