O’Kelley and Yeargin Share the Spoils in Game 97

It took 97 games, but we finally saw our first 17-17 split. Game 97, played today at my place in Oak Brook, ended in Spring 1913 in a two-way stalemate-line draw. The final center counts were:

Austria (Thom Comstock): 0; 5 points.
England (Don Glass): 0; 5 points.
France (Jim O’Kelley): 17; 200 points.
Germany (Todd Woodman): 0; 7 points.
Italy (Peter Yeargin): 17; 200 points.
Russia (Sam Bassett): 0; 11 points.
Turkey (Amanda Baumgartner): 0; 8 points.

Here is the supply center chart. Stay tuned for endgame statements.

Next up: Greg Duenow is hosting a game this Saturday on the South Side. That game is now full, but a spot has opened in Matt Sundstrom’s game in Glenview the following weekend. Sign up if you’re interested.

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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 24 Comments

  1. Thom Comstock

    We made a preference list.

    I and I alone chose 1. Austria . . . 😮

    Be careful what you ask for you may just get it. 😳

    I led with “what best country awards is greg in the running for…” Jim said “Austria.” 😉

    It was all downhill from there. 😐

    Thomas 😆

    emoticons rock almost as much as signature quotes!

  2. Jim O'Kelley

    Greg didn’t open with F Tri-Adr, A Bud-Tri and A Vie-Tyo! 😉

  3. Thom Comstock

    [b]It would’ve worked too . . .if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids.[/b] 😐

    Not to worry, whether I take it or not . . . Greg isn’t going to hold best Austria for the rest of the season.

    BTW, I am willing to step down from Greg’s game in the interest of letting someone who hasn’t played in awhile play.

  4. Jim O'Kelley

    Right back at you. If it hadn’t been for your meddling, we would have seen a variation of the Koniggratz Freakout. Now [i]that [/i] would have been something to write about. But it was a good thing for you that you meddled. Otherwise a Germany army in either Vienna or Trieste would have added to your woes!

  5. Jim O'Kelley

    [u][b]Anatomy of a Two-Way Draw[/b][/u]
    Let me get this out of the way first: Game 97 was a good one with a fun group of players. And it was nice to play with a new face in Todd “The Mailman” Woodman. He was the game’s only rookie, playing in his second face-to-face game and third game overall, but he gets it and will be “delivering” in no time if he sticks with it.

    Okay, so at Todd’s request, we had previously agreed to select powers via preference lists. I cherry picked, listing France first, followed by Germany, Russia, then the rest. Sam matched my first three choices, and with every country allocated except France and Russia, we put those two blocks in a box, and he pulled out the white one. (I’m not certain we handled the selection correctly, but no one complained.)

    The other players were Thom Comstock in Austria, Don Glass in England, Todd in Germany, Peter Yeargin in Italy, and Amanda Baumgartner in Turkey.

    The clock starts, and the Easterners quickly pair up for private conversations, leaving me at the board with Don and Todd, so I pitched a Western Triple. As I’ve declared previously, I’m not a big fan of the Triple (unless I’m playing Turkey), but I generally prefer not to open against new players, so I was willing to consider one here just to have another option.

    Don jumped at the offer, eager to secure Belgium for himself, and when I talked privately with him later, he was still keen on the idea. We agreed to DMZ the Channel, and I promised not to meddle in Belgian affairs.

    My talks with Todd took on a different tone. He was less than enthusiastic about ceding Belgium to the Brits, and he also shared that Russia was contemplating a northern opening. We agreed to DMZ Burgundy, and he pledged to bounce the Brits in Belgium. I told him I wasn’t interested in opening to the Channel but that I’d be glad to move against England in 1902 and if Russia were on board, the attack would go quickly.

    By now, I had decided that I wanted to take Iberia with my two armies with F Mid convoying Gas-Por in the Fall so that I’d have tempo on the Brits. To facilitate this opening, I sought the Italians and asked Peter for a bounce in Piedmont.

    “I was going to hold in Venice,” Peter said.

    “Well, let’s bounce, and you’ll end up in the same place,” I countered. “What’s the difference?”

    “The bounce might tip off the others that we’re working together.”

    “But we’re not working together.”

    “Yah, but you might let me into Piedmont so that Thom can take Venice.”

    “Why would I help Thom take Venice?” I asked.

    “Yah, good point.” Peter considered the move, then shook his head. “No, I don’t want to bounce in Piedmont.”

    Okay, so no “arranged” bounce in Piedmont, but I sure as hell didn’t want him moving there and messing up my cunning plans.

    Next, I went back to Germany. I was moving to Piedmont, and if I got in, I wanted something fun to do.

    “I know we talked about Munich moving to Ruhr,” I said. “That’s a good move. But I have a crazy idea I want to bounce off you.”

    I proceeded to explain the Koniggratz Freakout to him. That’s when Germany opens to Tyrolia, while Italy moves to Piedmont and Venice. In the Fall, Venice supports Piedmont to Tyrolia, dislodging the German army there, which then retreats into whichever Austrian center is open. In this variant, it was going to be my army in Piedmont instead of Italy’s and we’d have to persuade Italy to support my move to Tyrolia in the Fall.

    “If Italy doesn’t want to support me into Tyrolia,” I said, “I’ll support you into Venice instead.”

    “All right,” Todd said, “let’s do it.”

    “Good,” I said. “Now, since you’re not going to be in Ruhr, you really should move your fleet to Holland to keep England out of Belgium. That means Russia gets Sweden. Is that okay?”

    “That actually works out well,” Todd said. “Russia wants Sweden and says he’s sure he’s not going to get Rumania.”

    “Really?” I asked. Because that didn’t match what I’d heard. I heard that Turkey was going to cede the Black Sea to Russia and that there was a fairly solid R/T.

    So, the moves are read. England and Italy played it fairly standard. Everyone else was anything but.

    [b]England:[/b] F Edi-Nwg, F Lon-Nth, A Lvp-Edi
    [b]Italy:[/b] F Nap-Ion, A Rom-Apu, A Ven H
    [b]Austria:[/b] F Tri-Adr, A Bud-Tri, [u]A Vie-Tyo[/u]
    [b]France:[/b] F Bre-Mid, A Mar-Pie, A Par-Gas
    [b]Germany:[/b] F Kie-Hol, A Ber-Kie, [u]A Mun-Tyo[/u]
    [b]Russia:[/b] F Sev-Bla, F StP-Bot, A Mos-StP, A War-Ukr
    [b]Turkey:[/b] F Ank-Con, A Con-Bul, A Smy-Arm

    For me, Thom’s Austrian moves were the only real surprise. I had no idea that was coming. Unfortunately, his move to Tyrolia had thwarted the Koniggratz Freakout. Sigh.

    Thom’s opening shaped the course of events in the East for the next few years. And from the Austrian perspective, not in a good way. Thom had big problems.

    Meanwhile, Don expected to get both Belgium and Norway, but unbeknownst to him, Todd planned to keep him out of Belgium. So toward the end of the negotiation period, I pulled aside Amanda and Sam.

    “Look,” I said, “Depending on how you guys move, two players may not build this turn.”

    “If I bounce England in Norway, I can’t build a fleet on the North Coast,” Sam replied without waiting for my pitch.

    “Let me put this another way,” I countered. “We have the opportunity to prevent two of our four opponents from building. Amanda, what would you rather have, two builds for you and one for Austria, or one build for you and none for Austria?”

    “None for Austria,” she said.

    “Good, so you’re moving to Serbia?”

    “Yes,” she said.

    “What about you, Sam?” I asked. “Would you rather have a fleet on the North Coast or an England with no builds?”

    “I don’t want to get stuck in St. Pete,” Sam said.

    “A fleet on the North Coast is the most overrated build in the game,” I said.

    “Okay,” he said, reluctantly. “I’ll move to Norway.”

    But he didn’t. Nor did he follow through with his promised convoy of Armenia to Rumania, taking Rum for himself instead. (I’m not sure whether Sam ever intended to convoy Amanda to Rumania, but knowledge of the plan at least gave credibility to his claims that he wasn’t getting that center. It also explains how Todd and I could both be right despite seemingly conflicting information.) Todd bounced England out of Belgium, which at least kept Don from building two. Amanda kept her word as well by bouncing Thom out of Serbia.

    Peter, of course, had been upset about my move to Piedmont, but I mollified him by passing through to Tyrolia.

    England and I built fleets in London and Brest, but as he deployed his fleets to the northeast against Russia, I moved mine to Mid and the Channel while also moving my new army in Paris to Picardy. My army in Tyrolia supported the German army in Munich to Bohemia. In the Fall, that unit successfully supported my army into Vienna. I also convoyed to Wales and moved to the North Atlantic Ocean.

    I spent quite a bit of effort brokering a G/R deal where Germany would help Russia take Norway in exchange for getting Sweden. Russia reneged on that deal, too. He also made a couple of mistakes in the south and ended up losing a dot to Amanda. By the end of 1903 and mostly due to his own perfidy, Sam was down to three centers.

    I took London, Liverpool and the North Sea in 1903, so it was a great year to be me. I was now at eight, but Italy was keeping pace. Right around this point, we began talking about a 17-17 split.

    French players in our club tend to have a bad habit of attacking Italy before the West is settled. There are two problems with this attack.

    [list][*]Unless France can overwhelm Italy, the attack tends to stagnate. A France who isn’t growing and whose resources are devoted to an Italian campaign is a tempting target for England or Germany. Or both.
    [*]And even when France overwhelms Italy, she frequently overextends. At CODCon, we twice saw what can happen in that case.[/list]

    So when I’m playing France, I’d much rather leave Italy alone and play in the West, at least until my business there is settled. And for the first three years of the game, at least, this approach was working very well for me and Peter.

    Between traditional allies, a 17-17 split has to be consensual. What stalemate line can England and France, for example, forge? But between players in different spheres, it’s possible, provided that each player [i]stays[/i] in his sphere.

    You just need to dominate your sphere while managing the stalemate line. Managing the line requires three things:

    [list][*]Knowing where it is.
    [*]Understanding the unit mix you’ll need to hold it.
    [*]Ensuring that you can lock down the line before your opponent crosses it.[/list]

    If you can do those three things, then you don’t need to sit on the line, and that will free up your pieces to dominate your sphere.

    Let me just say at this point that my goal was not to achieve a 17-17 draw. I only know of one player who sits down with that goal in mind, and that’s John Ritz. At this stage of the game, my goals, in order, were to:

    [list][*]Prevent Peter (or anyone else) from winning.
    [*]Secure 17 centers on my side of the line.
    [*]Win if I could.[/list]

    Who doesn’t love a list?

    Now, let’s just back up a few paragraphs to the point where I said that a 17-17 draw was achievable if both players stay in their spheres. You’ll recall that I now had an army in Vienna.

    It was fun to be there, but I really didn’t put the piece to good use. I wanted to keep that unit in play so that when it came time to cross the stalemate line, I’d already have a head start, but the problem was I couldn’t find anyone to work with.

    Peter wanted my services, of course, but his Italy was slicing through the Balkans as if it were butter. He didn’t need my help because Sam’s Fall 1901 betrayal had annoyed Amanda to the point where she put two fleets on the Black Sea and threw everything at him.

    Nor did I really want to work actively against Peter. Our non-aggression pact was working out well for me. Besides, at this point, there wasn’t really anyone to work with against him. He was virtually unopposed.

    So, I just kind of hunkered down in Vienna, and each turn as I wrote down my pieces, I’d count them and realize I had forgotten that one.

    And this brings up another point I want to make. Later in the game, Sam asked me to talk.

    “Let me write down my moves first,” I said.

    “I’ll talk to you,” Peter interjected. “You’re my priority, not my pieces.”

    That was funny, to be sure, but also a reminder that we all use skills in our everyday lives that when applied to Diplomacy can make us better players. In this case, the skill was customer service. For the rest of the game, whenever someone asked me to talk, I said, “Sure. You’re my priority.”

    But let’s go back to 1904. So there I am, perched atop the board along with Peter, and there’s an open Edinburgh before me for my ninth build. My options now were to turn on my German ally or my peaceful Italian neighbor.

    I was getting a lot of pressure to attack Peter, and would for the next five or six turns, but those conversations typically went like this:

    Amanda: “Jim, can you swing your fleets against Peter?”
    Me: “Can you slow him down? ’Cause I don’t want to turn against him only to see him build three.”

    So Germany was my next target, and just as I was considering the best way to take two of his dots, Todd asked me to convoy his army in Belgium to Denmark, which was held by England. He also had armies in Prussia and Galicia, and fleets in Holland and the Baltic. The other unit was in Sweden, I think, so he had two supports for the attack on Denmark.

    My original A Paris had been sitting in Gascony since Spring 1902, and I had a new army in Paris, so it was looking like I could walk into Edinburgh, Belgium and Munich this year for three builds. Sadly, three things happened to thwart my plans.

    [list][*]I had encouraged Todd to use his fleet in Holland to cover Kiel. Don was intent on blocking that move, so I told him that Baltic would be supporting Hol-Kie and that he was better served to use Denmark against Sweden in some fashion. Don didn’t listen and bounced in Kiel. Now I’d have to support myself into Belgium.
    [*]Todd supported himself to Warsaw in the Spring, dislodging the Austrian army there. Thom retreated to Silesia, so now, I couldn’t just walk into Munich, and I had no support for an attack. I let Thom take it and moved to Ruhr instead.
    [*]Peter moved on my Vienna and took it in the Fall. I thought about retreating to Bohemia or Tyrolia, but I went to Galicia instead.[/list]

    Peter’s decision was especially troubling because it threatened to end our peace and also came at a time when I needed a second build and he didn’t. I was facing an angry rabble in the North, led by a two-center England and including a three-center Russia, a four-center Germany, and a one-center Austria, now holed up like a rat in Munich.

    At this stage of the game, only three of my nine units were fleets. The rabble had four fleets at their disposal, so I felt like both my command of Gibraltar and my British breadbasket were in jeopardy.

    But the thing about rabble is they’re rabble for a reason. I squashed this threat by playing to their greed instead of mine.

    I told Germany that I wanted to patch things up and as a starting point, that I wouldn’t interfere with his ability to retake Munich. He agreed to that and retook it in the Fall, knocking Thom out of the game.

    I talked briefly with Don, but the problem here is that I had nothing to offer him except the return of his home centers. Even I didn’t believe I’d do that. But in the perfidious Sam, I found a willing partner who also could serve another purpose. I offered to support him into England’s two centers in the Fall—Denmark and Norway—if he’d agree to build two armies and work with Amanda to slow down Peter. He did, and so we knocked Don out of the game, as well.

    No more rabble alliance.

    Other notable 1905 events:

    [list][*]Peter dislodged me from Galicia, and I retreated to Ukraine. That unit was popped the next year. 🙁
    [*]I took Holland to get to 10.
    [*]Peter took something to get to 11.[/list]

    By the end of 1907, Peter and I were tied at 13, Germany was out of the game, Amanda was at two and surrounded, and Russia was at six and still viable. I felt like I was in total command of the stalemate line and wasn’t concerned at all about Peter soloing.

    But that changed when I glanced at the board and noticed that Russia now had a fleet on the North Coast of St. Petersburg. I forgot that he had been playing a unit short, so my first thought was that he had jokingly placed a Flying Dutchman on the board. Alas, it was a real build, and in an instant, my game changed from tactical mop-up to complex diplomatic dance.

    For Peter, Sam’s build was a coup. Peter apparently had offered to back off Moscow and Warsaw if Sam built a third Northern fleet. Sam jumped at that offer. Peter now had a much easier road to 17 and at least an outright board top. For me, the road was perilous. Sam now had units behind my line that could throw the game to Peter if he felt I was squeezing him out of the draw. My challenge: How do I squeeze him out of the draw without looking like I’m squeezing him out of the draw?

    Peter really did a beautiful job of milking the new dynamic. Fortunately, he hadn’t yet pressed against Iberia, so I was able to send a couple of fleets north to help contain the Russian armada. Peter also marched immediately on Moscow and Warsaw, and I think that was mistake. Sam saw Peter renege on the agreement and consequently never moved aggressively against me. Nor did he seem inclined to throw the game to Peter even as I took Norway in 1908 and Denmark and St. Petersburg in 1909.

    So now, we were at 16 each, while Sam held Sweden on my side and Moscow on Peter’s.

    In 1910, I tried to outguess Sam by bouncing him in Baltic in the Spring and then finishing him off in the Fall. But Sam held, and now I had a problem. Peter was probing my line from Spain to Berlin, and it was solid, but now I had a guessing game over Denmark. If I covered it and Sweden moved to Baltic, he could tap Kiel and give Berlin and the game to Italy. If I didn’t and he moved to Demark, then I probably have to accept the 17-16-1 draw. But Sam held again. Peter took Moscow to get his 17th.

    At this point, we had conducted a couple of draw votes, which had obviously failed. I voted against them, and I assume Peter did as well, but in my negotiations with Sam, I of course blamed Peter.

    “So, how do we end this game?” Sam asked. It was a question he had asked often in the past two or three years.

    “We have to show Peter that he can’t win by taking one of his dots,” I said, not for the first time.

    But this time, Sam suggested that we move my army in St. Pete to Livonia and also work toward swapping St. Pete for Sweden so that I could focus on taking Warsaw or Moscow. And as Sam moved to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Fall, I took Sweden from Baltic for my 17th.

    That was 1911. I had the stalemate line locked down, but the line only requires 13 units, which left me with four to play with. Peter’s units, meanwhile, were all pressed up against my line. His stalemate line was behind him, so if I could eliminate a piece he needed for his line or force him to make a bad retreat, I could win the game.

    That’s what I worked toward in 1912. It took me those two moves to position my pieces for attacks on Livonia and/or Prussia.

    In Spring 1913—the pressure of ensuring I had correctly written the seven critical moves for the stalemate line starting to wear on me—I asked Peter to demonstrate his stalemate line. While the clock ran, he played with his pieces and eventually found it. I was satisfied that he could fall back without losing a critical piece, so I proposed a draw, and it passed.

    And there you have it, an anatomy of our club’s first 17-17 two-way draw. Sorry for the length.

  6. Thom Comstock


    I’ll hold with nicely written, I hope the rest of the club reads this closely.


    Thomas 8)

  7. Christian MacDonald

    Sounds like the guy who ordered:

    should read it closely. 😉


  8. Thom Comstock

    I had your job once Christian, it gets old. :-*

    If you read Jim’s brilliant non-spin you’ll see he illuminates quite a bit about how he sets out to screw his allies and new players . . . I mean, maybe he doesn’t want to . . . but you know its required at least after Sp1901.

    😆 😆 😆 Big Belly Laugh

    That’s why Jim’s the Prime Weasel . . . I’d say he’s also the Pope Weasel but that reference would elude most.

  9. Greg Duenow

    Wow sounds like you pulled a Ritz there at the end Jim. Were you drunk again? 🙂

  10. Peter Yeargin

    So reading Jim’s game report inspired me to right one of my own. As he said, Game #97 was an extremely fun experience and I commend everyone for a great game. Todd handled himself quite well as Germany and played a solid game until the end. He’s definitely picked up the game quickly and should continue to improve.

    We went with preference lists for this game. I’m not really a huge fan of preference lists as I really enjoy the randomness of power selection. But I went with Italy as a first choice because I had a plan to play it slow and see how the board developed. If there is one thing I learned at this past DipCon, a fast start is almost never a good thing in Diplomacy. It tends to alienate neighbors and unite enemies against you like nothing else. Italy seemed the perfect fodder for me to test my new theory.

    I began my negotiations in this light as Thom and I stepped outside into the sunlight for our first discussion.

    Thom: “I’ve got a fun and crazy idea. You interested?”

    Peter: “I’m always interested in hearing ideas”

    Thom: “Great, it’s called the Blue Lepanto. You move to Ionian and then let me dislodge you. Then you retreat to whatever open space or supply center is the best option”

    Skepticism and utter confusion as I contemplate this plan…

    Peter: “How the hell can you dislodge me? You only have one fleet. You mean in 1902??!”

    Thom: “Yeah…1902.”

    Peter: “Um..OK. We’ll talk again in the Fall about it”

    Jim was my next target. I won’t reiterate the discussion there as I believe Jim pretty much nailed it verbatim. My thinking was I don’t want to be in Piedmont. I don’t trust Thom. And I have no idea what will happen in the East. On top of all this, a move to Piedmont did not jive with my “slow and steady” plan. If Jim moves to Piedmont, he’s out of position and he probably doesn’t want that either. No thanks!

    As the orders are read and Jim starts pushing the pieces around, I stare at the board in disbelief as it all materializes.

    [b]Germany[/b] – [u]A Mun-Tyrolia[/u]
    [b]France[/b] – A Marseilles- Piedmont
    [b]Austria[/b] – [u]A Ven-Tyrolia[/u], F Trieste-Adriatic, A Bud-Tri

    [b]WOW![/b] So much for slow and f**king steady. I must say I don’t think I’ve seen everyone move on Italy like that at once in Spring 1901 before. Apparently I need to rethink my Diplomatic skills because I am [b][i]clearly[/i][/b] doing something wrong. My only saving grace was Germany bouncing Austria in Tyrolia. Reading through Jim’s comments now, I can tell that the coordination amongst the three countries was actually more coincidental than anything else. However, looking at the board post-Spring 1901, all I saw was a quick exit to the game for Italy.

    My negotiations went something along these lines.

    “Thom, what in the hell??! What happened to the freaking Blue Lepanto??!”

    “What are you talking about? We’re doing it in 1902. I have to be in Adriatic for that. We’re all set up now for it.” he says.

    “In whose universe is that opening set up for an Austrian/Italian alliance? You just sent your entire world at me as did everyone else on the damn board. Perhaps I could understand Tri-Adr, but not Vie-Tyl [b]and[/b] Bud-Tri.”

    “Don’t worry. I’m [b]not[/b] attacking you. You don’t need to support Venice. I’m moving away.”

    “Oh, I’m supporting Venice. I’m sure it’s not going to do me any good as you’ve probably got Jim chomping at the bit to help you into Venice.”

    “I haven’t even talked to Jim about that. I’m moving away.”

    Following that conversation, Jim assured me he was moving to Tyrolia with Piedmont. I assumed he was full of it, but really had no choice in the matter at this point. If he wanted to help Thom into Venice, there was nothing I could do about a 3 on 2. I convinced Amanda to let me take Greece with my fleet Ionian, but at the last second, changed my mind and went to Tunis instead. If Jim was going to help Thom, he was going to get an Italian fleet Western Med in the Spring of 1902.

    Considering the Spring moves on Venice, I wasn’t happy and I definitely wasn’t expecting the Fall moves that followed.

    [b]France[/b] – A Pie-Tyl
    [b]Austria[/b] – A Ven-Bud, F Adr-Alb, A Tri-Ser
    [b]Turkey[/b] – A Bul-Ser

    My moves –

    A Ven H
    A Apu S Ven
    F Ion-Tun

    Sigh of relief. Breathe. Somehow I survived 1901 with a build. I was pretty happy not to be staring at an Austrian unit in Venice. Thom was in trouble with no builds, and as Jim iterated in his write-up, Sam’s Russia had betrayed Amanda, leading to a Turkish fleet build in Ankara. The seas were open in the East, Austria was in serious trouble and Jim was apparently concentrating in the North. I may just make a game out of this yet.

    In Spring of 1902, Thom tells me, “See, I told you I wasn’t attacking! Why didn’t you trust me?”

    “Would [b]you[/b] trust you??!”, I asked.

    “Do you want Trieste? I’m moving away and I’d rather you have it than Jim.”

    “Um, sure. I love free supply centers.”

    Thom also offered to support me into Greece in the Fall from Ionian in exchange for my support of him into Serbia. Since Amanda was all gears firing on Sam’s Russia at this point, I was all for it. Thom still didn’t get a build, but I picked up two to get to 6.

    Jim was cruising up North. Don Glass in England, rather than turning around to defend the English homeland, had determined his best course of action was to continue pressing the attack on Russia. The result was two French armies on British soil by Fall 1902. Jim and I both picked up two more centers the following year to hit 8 at 1903 as he grabbed London, Liverpool AND North Sea. As Jim mentioned, I was slicing through the Balkans like butter, but he wasn’t seeing much opposition himself in the North. Unfortunately for Jim, he was down to crunch time and his unopposed centers had run out as he turned his eyes towards his ally Germany. I had been advising Germany for 4 or 5 turns that the stab was coming, but hadn’t been successful in getting him to commit some units to slowing down Jim. Both of them were growing fairly steadily, though Jim was growing a good clip faster than Todd.

    Jim’s stab on Germany came at an opportune time for me. I knew he had two choices at that point:

    1. Stab Germany and gobble up his relatively unopposed back side.
    2. Turn on his “peaceful Italian neighbor” as he so colorfully referred to me

    They both had their own set of problems. Turning on Germany would likely cause his ally and the Northern half of the board to ally against him. They were very capable of that and had enough units to give Jim some serious headaches up there. In addition, as Jim mentioned, I was rolling through the Balkans with little to no resistance in front of me. This could only help my game.

    Turning on me would quickly lead to a stalemate in the Western Med and likely result in a ruined game for both of us. We both had the units to keep each other at bay and it would probably only allow our opponents to consolidate and become a stronger force.

    Jim chose the former as I think most good players would. After that, my game was a much easier road to 17 than Jim’s. Having only lied a couple of minor lies throughout the game, I was basically on everyone’s good side. Jim’s own reputation along with his major stab of his main ally worked against him. His road to 17 was much more perilous and difficult. Using Sam’s greed to his advantage was a very good stroke of genius and destroyed the affectionately called rabble before it had a chance to really slow Jim down.

    Jim also covered the end game very accurately and I don’t have that much to add. Overall, I’d say that Jim had a much tougher road to hoe and played a very good game to get to the 17/17 draw. My one mistake was near the end when Sam did in fact build the fleet STP north coast. At that point, I should have pulled off him and worked with him to push back on Jim rather than gobbling up his remaining supply centers. My concerns were that Jim would overwhelm him too quickly and blow past 18 supply centers. However, if I’d taken a more patient look at the board, I would have understood that 18 was not in his grasp as long as I was helping Sam. As long as I kept Sam at an arms length, I could have overwhelmed him when the opportunity presented itself, or even broken through Jim’s lines in the South when he would ultimately have had to pull units to defend his northern fronts.

    This game was a great learning experience for me. As a Diplomacy player, you get a ton of experience in the beginning and middle stages of the game. But the opportunities for good end-game play are few and far between. Understanding the nuances of stalemate lines, unit makeup for holding those lines and most importantly how to get past those lines and at what point are critical to a solo. The best players in the world know these factors and understand what it takes to get the solo against a solid group of other Diplomacy players. My first real experience in the end-game came at World’s last year with Dan Lester. We discussed and planned a 17-17 draw for most of the 2nd half of that game. However, I didn’t understand many of the principles Jim detailed above and the realization that all good opponents are going for the solo. It’s my job to first insure they can’t solo, then the stalemate lines or 17/17 draws, and then possibly go for the solo myself in that order, I fell victim to a better player who did have a solid understanding of these tactics.

    I’ve always thought that a general knowledge of the vicinity of the stalemate lines in Diplomacy would be enough to get me by and I think that is somewhat accurate. But the world class players know them very well and always keep them in mind throughout the course of the game. Getting that one unit past them as Jim did with army Vienna early on can mean the difference in a solo or not.

    Everyone should definitely take a good read of Jim’s write-up as it’s chock full of great veteran knowledge that we all would be wise to grasp and perfect if we want to become better players.

  11. Jim O'Kelley

    Good report. One thing that’s missing, however, is the moment when I explained to you that the Blue Water Lepanto actually entailed Italy dislodging Austria from the Ionian in Spring 1902. That was kind of funny.

    I also worked hard to persuade Amanda to give you Greece. As I mentioned during our Fall 1901 negotations, I didn’t love the idea of you taking Tunis with a fleet and then possibly moving to the Western Med — not because I was sizing you up for an attack but because I really wanted to play in the West with you in the East.

    Finally, not sure whether I made this clear in my write-up. I noted that the rabble had four fleets to my three. Two of those were England’s last two units, so when I supported Sam into England’s to centers, it eliminated not only a player but also the threat posed by the rabble armada. That was a key move for me.

  12. Peter Yeargin

    Yeah, I completely forgot about that. That was a hilarious conversation after Jim let me know it was supposed to be the Austrian fleet getting dislodged. I asked Thom, “so did you know the Blue Water Lepanto is supposed to dislodge the Austrian fleet from Ionian?” The sheepish grin on his face pretty much told me everything I needed to know.

    You did work hard on Amanda to let me have Greece. That part is true. Ultimately though, I think it was obviously in your best interest to have her bounce Thom and hold him to no builds.

    If you’d posed that same question to me on whether I’d prefer to have two builds for myself and one for Austria vs. one for me and none for Austria, my answer is hands down in that situation, two for me. Thom’s position was very weak, even with a build. A 5 center Turkey in Spring 1902 is much better off IMHO there. She could build the extra fleet to deal with Sam while also providing herself an additional unit in the South to pick up Greece in 1902. As it stood, the tempo she lost there I think cost her a big game. Turkey is so difficult to finish off. One additional SC would have made it even more difficult for me and probably would have forced me to work closer with her as an ally rather than attacking her relentlessly for the remainder of the game.

  13. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]If you’d posed that same question to me on whether I’d prefer to have two builds for myself and one for Austria vs. one for me and none for Austria, my answer is hands down in that situation, two for me.[/quote]
    Yah, probably me, too. But remember, Amanda was expecting to get Rumania. If Sam had followed through on his promise, she would have been in great shape.

  14. Peter Yeargin

    True, but then it’s 6 on 4 best case for her and 5 on 4 worst case, right? A six center Turkey after 1901 is scary.

  15. Jim O'Kelley

    If I’m playing Turkey and I’ve opened with my armies to Bul and Con, then picking up Greece for two builds is probably a no-brainer. But I really hate ending 1901 with a fleet in Bulgaria.

    If I had opened as Amanda did, with her fleet moving to Con, then, depending on circumstances, of course, I think I’d prefer to bounce Austria in Serbia and get my fleet out to the Aegean, which is what I had originally planned. That gives me better position for the fleet and a virtual lock on Greece for Spring 1902.

  16. Peter Yeargin

    Yeah, and I can’t remember if Amanda moved out to Aegean or if she tried to move into Bulgaria in case she picked up Serbia. I believe she did the latter though.

    I wasn’t privy to her negotiations with Thom, so maybe she believed she had a chance to pick up Serbia because he might be focusing on me.

  17. Thom Comstock

    1. I wouldn’t say ‘sheepishly’ I’d say “$#!^” eating grin when you confronted me about the Blue Lepanto.

    2. The biggest mistake of the game was Germany and Russia attacking England and Austria and eliminating them from the game… objectively I say this from the stand point of the game ending results. With the English Fleets and the extra army in play, France/Jim would have had a more difficult road. EVEN if one wants to disagree and say Germany should kill austria, Russia should not have eliminated England . . . the fleets were essential.

    3. From my sole subjective perspective, my biggest mistake was not speaking more with Germany about Tyrolia (make all the jokes you want) . . . but objectively, Amanda knew from the results of Spring 1901 that Russia had not followed through with his stated plans and Austria had . . . therefore, she needed an ally. She would have been better off (TURKEY) with a 6 center Turkey and a 4 center Austria, than a 5 center Turkey and a three center Austria surrounded by units. As the game played out, Austria was the only Ally Turkey ever had.

  18. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]The biggest mistake of the game was Germany and Russia attacking England and Austria and eliminating them from the game[/quote]
    Agreed that Russia’s attack on England may not have been in his best interest. As for Germany finishing off you, I’m not sure your army in Munich was doing anything that he couldn’t have done himself.

    [quote]but objectively, Amanda knew from the results of Spring 1901 that Russia had not followed through with his stated plans and Austria had [/quote]
    Not sure this is correct. I believe Russia’s move to the Black Sea was part of the R/T plan. Sam’s betrayal came in the Fall, when he failed to follow through on his promise to convoy Amanda’s army in Armenia to Rumania.

    Personally, I thought the R/T would have been better served to swap Con and Sev in order to push two fleets out into the Med.

    [quote]As the game played out, Austria was the only Ally Turkey ever had.[/quote]
    What about me?!? My army in Ukraine helped Amanda hold Rumania.

  19. Thom Comstock

    The Austrian Army kept you out of Holland for a season, and had Germany wanted to work with the Austrian piece then it was on the board.

    But even so, Russia made the fatal mistake (at that point) . . . it has been argued that everyone is at fault for a solo or game result (even if eliminated) . . . I don’t necessarily agree with that when there are critical turning points . . . here, Russia didn’t listen to reason and the only fault on England’s or Austria’s part would be not being able to get through to Russia (i.e., we believed Russia understood based on diplomacy the importance of the alliance –at least with England.)

    No, there was specific talk about how Russia would open all of it’s pieces and how Austria would open all of it’s pieces. Just like talk of a Western Triple there was an agreement for an Eastern Triple (R.A.T.) . . . I don’t know why people say I don’t follow through, I did and do . . . now, did I mislead Italy sure . . . did I lie to him sure . . . was he skeptical sure . . . could I have come up with a more convincing lie/diplomacy/deception . . . absolutely!!! (but I didn’t need to).

  20. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]No, there was specific talk about how Russia would open all of it’s pieces and how Austria would open all of it’s pieces.[/quote]
    you may have been surprised by Russia’s opening, but I don’t believe Turkey was.

    As for Russia’s decision, it didn’t work out for him in the long run, but it might have had he used his two new armies differently.

    He needed those units to stop the bleeding in the East. Had he used them to work with Turkey against Italy, we could have seen a different result, and one that possibly included both of them.

    That’s how I pitched the deal to him. “I’ll support you into the two British centers. You build two armies and work with Amanda to stop Peter.”

    Sam built the two armies, but the very next turn, he asked me to use A Ukr to help him attack Amanda. I didn’t, but he did, and the lack of any coalition in the East to oppose Peter’s behemoth Italy paved the way for the two-way draw.

    So, yah, Sam’s decision to finish off England with my support didn’t work out well for him, but that’s because of the decisions he made afterward. Had he kept the two British fleets on the board and worked with them against me, I believe we’d be rehashing an Italian solo right now.

  21. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]The Austrian Army kept you out of Holland for a season, and had Germany wanted to work with the Austrian piece then it was on the board.[/quote]
    Yes, and that sealed your fate.

    To me, your army in Munich represented a forward unit that would take me two turns to replace. It made short-term sense, at least, to try to work with you by putting you in German centers as I advanced.

    In Fall 1905, sitting in Munich, you had no value to Germany. You couldn’t help him hold Holland, and if Germany lost that dot, he’d be down to three. So, he chose to “disband” your unit instead of one of his by retaking Munich, knowing that he had a shot at building if I didn’t take Holland.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his decision there.

  22. Thom Comstock

    First, you’re the master and for me to say otherwise serves no purpose.

    Second, you didn’t offer me anything to work with you while I sat in Munich. You offered me a support to Kiel in the spring, but that would have granted you Holland in the spring and a German army off the board in the spring. You didn’t eliminate me, Germany did through your diplomacy. It made no sense for me to attack the rabble resistance that I was a part of . . . except that it didn’t exist apparently.

    Third, and I’m not joking here . . . correct me kindly but have you not said two things here. A. That Russia eliminating English fleets was probably a bad idea AND B. Even so, Russia would have been in the draw had he listened to you?

    B. Makes me laugh. 😆

  23. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]It made no sense for me to attack the rabble resistance that I was a part of[/quote]
    It also made no sense for Germany to keep you alive. That was the conundrum.

    [quote]Third, and I’m not joking here . . . correct me kindly but have you not said two things here.[/quote]
    Yah, I said I agreed with you that eliminating England may not have been in Russia’s best interest. Then I modified that statement — which is my right. The decision to attack England went badly not because he attacked England but because of what he did with his two builds.

    Had he used his new units to work with Turkey against the encroaching Italians, the game might have ended in a three-way including one of them or a four-way including both. Instead, he chose to attack Turkey, which allowed Italy to completely overrun the East. Until he reached 17, Italy built every year but one, which made him an unattractive target for me. Consequently, I continued to play in the North and the result was the 17-17 two-way.

    So, to summarize, at that stage of the game, following through on his promise to use his new armies to work with Amanda against Peter was Sam’s best shot at finishing in the draw.

  24. Thom Comstock

    I agree that you agreed with me agreeing with you and then changed your mind about anything that I may have agreed with you about. 😆

    We agree that Sam’s to blame? 😐

    Well done, well written.

    And, for retrospective reference it wouldn’t have bothered me if we were rehashing an Italian Solo (by Peter). 8)

    There, you only need to post if you need the last word. 😛

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