Not unlike the Cubs he loves, every 100 games or so, Dan Burgess will top a board. Last night at Guthrie’s Tavern, in the 100th game of the club he helped found, Dan Burgess had perhaps his best game of Diplomacy ever. And wouldn’t you know he was playing the same country that he ran into the ground in Game No. 1.
Dan’s board-topping performance wasn’t the evening’s only surprise. We also got 10 crisp minutes of standup from Cockerill. This line, about his Polish ex-wife, had me rolling: "Her three favorite things are vodka, payday, and the sound of Russians dying."
We also busted out the Weasels battle hymn, and despite missing co-author and chief baritone Eric Brown, the walls resounded with our lusty cries. I knew I had been carrying around 10 copies of the hymn for a good reason.
Later on, when I broke into song on my own, I attracted the attention of four guys and a girl who were with us on Guthrie’s porch, playing Apples to Apples. Within minutes, Cockerill had them gathered around a table as he explained the rules. Three of them insisted they’d look us up, including the girl, who kept asking, "Now when do you sing like him?"
We had cameos from Christian Kline, Christian MacDonald and Matt Sundstom; lots of toasts to the Weasels; and several renditions of "For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow." Despite all the fun, the evening was not without a controversy worthy of conspiracy theorists everywhere. Game 101 actually started a solid 30 minutes before Game 100. Hmm.
So, the games.
Sam moved into seventh place in the club standings. Competition should be fierce these last three months as players jockey for Royale bids. It will be fun to watch.
Here are the supply center charts. Let’s hear from the players.
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Our board (101?) started off a little shaky. I proposed a western triple. May Ling and Josh all seemed to be onboard. As things progressed I began to surmise May Ling was being influenced by the Yeargin Italians. She did move to the Irish and took Liverpool from me. I also promised Russia not to take armies in to Scandinavia. I took Norway with a fleet which I later used to peeka stab St.Pete successfully. Josh and I got things rolling and eliminated France with a tad bit of help from Italy.When I grew to nine dots I began to clock watch as the hard quitting time was nearly upon us. I positioned my fleets and saw Holland, Belgium and Kiel as clearly attainable targets. I struck at the last possible moment.
As a side note I will not spill other players drinks as it ended up costine me 24.00 bucks or so and I won’t eat from the tamale man. I got violently sick, so ill in fact I had to leave work today. Besides that it was a great night and a good celebration for the club. I think the members realize what a great thing we have here in Chicago and all the work Jim and others have done. [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1csr0dxalpI&feature=related[/url]
In Game 100, Chris (Germany) and I quickly decided to play a Sea Lion. I later heard that there was a lot of chatter about an anti-Jim coalition to open the game, but I was blissfully unaware. In an ongoing effort to open up my playing style, I didn’t even cover Burgundy. I insisted on a bounce in Piedmont, however.
So, I opened to the Channel, Picardy and Piedmont — for the first time ever, I believe. The first two moves succeeded, and the latter resulted in the expected bounce. In the Fall, we played the Sea Lion straight up, with me supporting Chris into the North Sea and moving to Belgium to ensure that England couldn’t move or retreat there. Fortunately I got it for two builds — both fleets.
In Spring 1902, I convoyed to Wales, and by Spring 1903, I had two armies on the island. We eliminated England (Peter Lokken) that year, with me getting London and Liverpool and Germany getting Edinburgh.
Blame Peter Yeargin’s Italy for the inequitable split. In 1902, he and Austria (Ted McClelland) moved to Tyrolia and Bohemia. Chris couldn’t defend Munich, and they took it in the Fall.
But they didn’t shore it up, and for the Spring 1903 turn, Chris and I had units in Burgundy, Ruhr, Kiel and Munich. Chris offered to support me into Munich. He wanted me out of Burgundy and figured that I could pass through on my way south. I sincerely tried to talk him out of this scheme, but it was his center so ultimately, I agreed to his plan. I also moved Mar-Pie because Italy had violated our DMZ by moving to Tyn.
“The Tyrrhenian is an Italian sea,” he insisted.
Anyway, in the Fall, I supported myself to Tyrolia from Munich, but Italy also supported himself there. Chris, meanwhile, had tried to walk to Munich so that he could thrust east against Russia (Dan Burgess) with the other units, so I ended up keeping Munich. Darn the luck, but I did try! Worse for Germany, his move from Kiel to Munich failed, which meant he didn’t have an open spot to build. He’d have to play the next year one unit short.
At this point, I was at nine and free to pick my next target. In Spring 1904, Peter was contrite.
“I’m going to pull back,” he said. “We have to stop Dan. He’s already at nine.” And then, after a brief pause, “Wait, how many centers to you have?”
“Nine,” I said sheepishly.
I took Tunis from him that year. F/I hostilities basically ceased at that point, and by the end of the game, I was actively working with Italian replacement Christian MacDonald.
I also tried again to vacate Munich, but this time, Russia blocked my attempt to move to Silesia. In the Fall, Germany had a build coming but only one open center, so I asked him if I could keep Munich so that I could build, too. He agreed, and then unexpectedly lost a center to Dan in Scandinavia to stay even.
At this point, sitting next to Chris at the table, I pointed to our 10-5 center-count disparity and said, “This is why I have such a bad reputation as an ally.”
Fortunately Chris wasn’t that concerned. Russia was at 11, and we both recognized that Germany’s armies were essential to checking Russia’s expansion.
In Spring 1905, Chris had a great turn, but it was probably too good for him. He flanked Russia by moving to Livonia and Galicia, and these moves flummoxed Dan, who switched immediately to defensive mode.
I had been in position to take both Liverpool and Holland from Chris, but as I noted above, doing so could have facilitated a Russian explosion. In the Fall, Kiel also opened. The addition of a third dot to the potential stab, coupled with Dan’s change in focus, convinced me to stab. I took all three centers and shot past Dan to 13.
Chris was down to two centers, and with one of them, a fleet in the Norwegian, he made me pay. In Spring 1906, he convoyed the Russian army in Norway to Clyde. Dan also took Denmark from Chris that turn, which made it a little easier to patch things up with Chris. I offered and gave him support into Norway and helped him hold Berlin. Meanwhile, Dan outguessed me, taking Edinburgh as my army there moved to Liverpool.
The next year would be the last one of the game, as the 11 p.m. hard end loomed. I knew I could easily retake Edinburgh, but Russia had taken Berlin in the Spring, so I had some guesswork in Kiel and Munich. I chose to risk Kiel and sent it to Berlin to cut a support. I also moved to Tyrolia to cut that one. Munich was safe, but Kiel wasn’t. To minimize the risk, I also sent the North Sea to Denmark. Kiel could only fall if Dan attacked from Denmark, and in that case, there was a fair chance that I’d take Denmark.
Using North Sea in this manner meant that I couldn’t support Chris in Norway, as I needed Norwegian Sea to retake Edinburgh. That actually fit into my metagaming plans, however. Some quick arithmetic revealed that a 13-center four-way would give me 145 points. My third best score was 140, so the game would net me five points in the club standings. I just happened to trail Peter by four for third place.
So, I approached Dan and told him that I wouldn’t be supporting Chris in Norway. Dan retook Norway, but with his fleet in Ska, he chose to support Denmark instead of cover Sweden. Chris walked into Sweden to thwart my machinations.
Despite losing Edi and Swe, Dan grew one to 15. I had to settle for second place and a measly two points in the club standings.
It was a fun game, though. I look forward to No. 200.
I usually can’t make it to Guthrie’s games for 6:15pm gaming, as I live and work in the western suburbs, but for Game 100 I had to go in. Coupled with Todd “The Mailman” Woodman being on vacation and offering to drive (as well as the free pizza and one free beer offer from Jim) I decided to make a day of it.
Upon arrival, our leader started Game “101” and then we waited for a few latecomers before starting Game “100”. I thought that was done perfectly. It was a little disappointing that Peter Yeargin had to play both boards, but he did great.
Having drawn Russia, I was faced with a new, young player, Peter Lokken, in England, my long-term nemesis Kevin O’Kelly playing Turkey, and Ted McClelland as Austria and Chris Davis as Germany, which suited me well to have Peter and Jim a good distance removed from my Russian units.
Early in the negotiations it seemed clear that Jim and Chris were going to give the new guy a rough time, so I opened Mos-StP to deny Norway to England, and meanwhile Chris allowed me to land in Sweden, which worked perfect for me. Meanwhile in the south things started out well with Kevin, as we bounced in the Black Sea and then agreed that I would take Rumania in the Fall.
And as Jim noted, I did indeed plant the seeds of an “anti-Jim” alliance, but that didn’t go very far.
At this point, and for much of the next three years, I was torn with attacking either Austria or Turkey, and I mostly decided to go after Ted, though on occasion I did mess with Kevin as well. Things generally went well, and each year I seemed to pick up a supply center or two without having to connive or beg too much. It was a nice change of pace for me.
As Jim summarized in his commentary, Chris and I were getting along, then Jim stabbed him, then Chris helped me, then in the endgame I was aiming for dots. As it became likely that I might top the board, I began to ask players, Would you like to read “Jim O’Kelley tops Game 100” or “Dan Burgess tops Game 100”? That mostly went over well, though when Christian MacDonald replaced Peter Yeargin as Italy, the dynamics changed quite a bit, as he sided with Jim immediately, something that Peter had not been doing and would not have done.
It was a fun game, I drank some good beer, played fairly well for a change, and the whole experience made me yearn that I lived in the city and could participate in these Guthrie’s games more readily.
If ours isn’t the best boardgaming club in the country, I can’t fathom what could be.
Game 100, Germany
I had two train rides to get home, so I had a couple of hours to think about what I did wrong this time. (Brown line to the loop, Metra home.)
In the musical Chess, there is a story about how Chess was invented because two Indian princes fought a war, and one was killed. The mother was seriously pissed, so the living son developed chess to show her that it was not his fault but his brother’s for losing. I think this applies quite well to Diplomacy.
Jim convinced me to join in on the hazing of the new kid, which was fine with me. Actually, I warned England about Jim and told him to watch the channel, so I had no guilt about joining the pile when my warnings proved true.
I figured that post-England, I could either move on France with Italian support or just move against Russia. Silly Peter Yeargin in Italy changed all of that. He convinced Austria to support him into Munich. That cost me momentum and forced me to defend. My turning point mistake, though, was when I suggested to support Jim in from Burgundy to let him pass through the lines. I was thinking that this would remove a threat at my tender rear, but what happened was Jim staying and staying. As a result, I was weak in Scandinavia when the Russian game. As a result of that, I was weak everywhere when Jim finally pulled the trigger.
If I had simply done the obvious thing and pushed myself into Munich, I would have been fine.
My flanking move against Russia would have been brilliant if I had a loyal ally. Instead, I had Jim. With Russia reeling, it was the perfect time to stab me, and he was able to take board top. What neither Dan or Jim said was that until that point, a Russian solo (at Guthries!) was looking like a possibility. I took one for the club by preventing Dan from achieving something that many of us thought impossible without collusion on the board.
I am a master at playing with a few pieces. I should be, I have lots of experience playing with 2, 1, or even 0 units. There was little I could do to hurt Jim, but I suggested to Dan the convoy with the simple goal of hurting Jim. It did that, but it also opened the opportunity for me to get back to Norway then Sweden, preserving survival. If the game had not been called, I would have died the next turn.
I always try to learn something from every game I play, and I learned the strategy of slow play from Dan. In poker, slow pay is when you have a knucking futs hand, but you appear weak to trick your opponent into thinking you are bluffing when you finally get aggressive in the pot. Dan has been doing that to use through 99 games. He will no longer be able to claim that he is a weak player. Russia has a hard time in our club, and he was on a board with Kevin in Turkey, Jim in France, and half a Peter Yeargin in Italy. Despite those obstacles, he did not limp into a board top, but he almost pulled off a solo at Guthries with a game that started late while drinking beer. Watch out for this one, folks! If he keeps playing like this, he will not just be hosting the Royale.