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Dan Burgess, Master of the House

Master of the house, keeper of the zoo
Ready to relieve ’em of a sou or two
Watering the wine, making up the weight
Pickin’ up their knick-knacks when they can’t see straight
Everybody loves a landlord
Everybody’s bosom friend
I do whatever pleases
Jesus! Won’t I bleed ’em in the end!

With Les Miserables set to hit movie theaters on Christmas Day, consummate host Dan Burgess dialed up his best Thenardier impression in Game No. 199, played today at his home in Downers Grove. With one hand, he served us beer, and the other, he picked our pockets en route to a 10-center board top as Turkey.

The game ended by draw vote in Spring 1909 in the following center counts:

Austria (Tony Prokes): 0; 0.000 points.
England (Jim O’Kelley): 8; 23.881 points.
France (Don Glass): 2; 1.493 points.
Germany (Brad Harrington): 8; 23.881 points.
Italy (Amanda Baumgartner): 0; 0.000 points.
Russia (Ted McClelland): 6; 13.433 points.
Turkey (Dan Burgess): 10; 37.313 points.

Check out the supply center chart here.

Next up for the Weasels is our 200th game, set for Dec. 18 at the Red Lion. The first board is full, but we’re working on a second, so sign up! In the meantime, let’s hear from the players, and also from John Gramila, whose absence forced the host into the starring role.

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 9 Comments

  1. Jim O'Kelley

    Let the record note that Don Glass lobbied for the title for this game report to be “O’Kelley Stabs Glass…Again.”

  2. Ted McClelland

    Toward the end of the game, Tony shook his head when I allowed Dan Burgess’s Turkey to move into Armenia and Rumania (a dot I owned) to shore up Russia’s defenses against a German attack. Let me just say I would never have agreed to that move if Jim O’Kelley or Nate Cockerill had been playing Turkey. But Dan was a trustworthy ally, and moved back out next turn when it turned out I didn’t need the help. You have to know your competition.

  3. Jim O'Kelley

    Ted, I can specifically recall a game at your place when your Russia would not let my Turkey move into a position to assist you and advance our cause vs. Austria, to your detriment. You have to know your opponents, but it’s even more important to know their interests.

    Also, although I compared Dan with the despicable Thenardier from [i]Les Mis[/i] in the summary, he topped this board by playing a solid alliance game, taking advantage of his opponents’ mistakes, reacting quickly to the situation on the board, and–most important in my opinion–welcoming Don’s beleaguered France into his fold. A lot of players would pass on that last bit, focusing instead on reducing the size of the draw. Instead, Dan saw an opportunity to slow down his rivals on the other side of the board, and he seized it.

    Our Prime Weasel may be a reluctant diplomat, but when forced into duty, he can work a board even better than a batch of chili.

  4. Jim O'Kelley

    Just to follow up on Ted’s comment and my response, show me a Diplomacy player who is completely trustworthy, and I’ll show you someone who’s better suited for Axis & Allies.

    A better question to ask yourself than “Can I trust my ally not to stab me?” is “Can I trust my ally not to stab me when it’s not in his interest to do so?” A player can still be a good ally even if the answer to the first question is No. But if the answer to the second question is No, that’s the guy you only want to work with as a last resort: e.g., the alternative is being the odd-man-out in your heartland.

    If you understand the difference between the two questions and can make the second question your barometer instead, it will open up your game, both in terms of your pool of potential allies and also your willingness to move your pieces instead of hunkering down to defend against phantom threats.

  5. Mike Morrison

    But you better write that question down, or you’ll be scratching your head trying to remember that convoluted question Jim was asking when the buzzer goes off and you’re in civil disorder… yes, he’s that tricky.

  6. Ted McClelland

    By the end of the game, we were trying to eliminate France. I convinced Dan to screw Don by sitting on Rome, instead of vacating it, as he’d discussed doing. We were hoping that once France was out of the game, Jim O’Kelley’s England would stab Germany.

  7. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]We were hoping that once France was out of the game, Jim O’Kelley’s England would stab Germany.
    [/quote]
    That’s an example of something that wouldn’t pass “the interests test.” Would it have been in my interest to stab Germany at that point in the game?

    Well, to start with, my land forces were thin. I had six fleets and two armies. If I could have taken France’s last two centers — Spain and Marseilles — and converted them to armies, then possibly. But, I’d need six units to hold the western part of the stalemate line, and at least one of those units would have to be an army. Dan’s Turkey was all over the Mediterranean, so I wouldn’t have much time to lock that down.

    In the East, Germany was responsible for locking down St. Pete. He was doing that with his two fleets. (By the way, I thought it was pretty clever of me to give him St. Pete and the duty of holding it. That occupied his fleets and freed mine for the naval battle against France.) If I stab him, I’ve got to get over there to lock down St. Pete before your Russia liberates it and clears the space for fleet-building. Plus, depending on what Germany removes post-stab, I may have to deal with those two fleets of his. So, best case, I need two units to lock down St. Pete and the North. Worst case, I need a lot more.

    So, in the best case, eight of my 10 units are holding two parts of the 17-center stalemate line. That leaves me with two free units, plus whatever I gained from the stab. Let’s say Holland and maybe Denmark for four free units.

    I need five units to hold the middle of the stalemate line, and at least three of those have to be armies (two armies to support Munich, one unit to support Berlin). In the immediate aftermath of the stab, I’m one unit short of the 13 I need to lock down the line. (Of course, there are five more centers to be had in StP, Swe, Mun, Ber and Kie, so those yield the necessary units, but the question I’m asking myself is whether I can win the battle to secure the line with the units I have plus the two from the immediate stab.)

    Plus, I’m racing to get armies onto the continent while also funneling fleets toward Scandinavia to lock that down. I’m going to lose tempo in one of those two theaters following the stab because I’ve probably taken Denmark from the North Sea. I need something in the North Sea to convoy one of my two armies to the continent.

    My assessment — recognizing that I’m working on 10-minute deadlines so my assessments aren’t infallible — would have been that I don’t have enough armies to ensure that I gain more from the stab than you guys do. I wouldn’t have stabbed unless you or Dan stabbed the other first. Other players may read that situation differently, but I tend to play aggressively at the beginning of a game and more cautiously at the end.

    Now, what I [i]might [/i] have done if I had been able to take Marseilles and Spain is shore up my defenses around Marseilles and Iberia while using the cover of the fight for the middle to shift the rest of my force east. Germany was in danger of losing Moscow and Warsaw, and that would have given me sufficient reason to move units toward Scandinavia. I would have tried to talk Brad into pulling his fleets if he lost those two centers, ridding me of another concern.

    I also would have tried to get armies in Bur and Ruh, and maybe even a fleet in the Baltic, to shore up the German position. If I were able to pull all that off under the cover of defending against the R/T, then maybe I can reassess whether it’s in my interest to stab.

    Almost assuredly, though, I wouldn’t have stabbed immediately after France fell. It wasn’t in my interest to do so.

  8. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]I also would have tried to get armies in Bur and Ruh, and maybe even a fleet in the Baltic, to shore up the German position. [/quote]
    As I take another look, even playing the long game, I just don’t have enough units to make a play for the middle if I also have to hold down the east and west. I need six in the west and two in the east, which leaves two to make a play in the middle, with nothing positioned to convoy the new units across the sea. If I use one unit in the east to support a German fleet in StP, that creates another problem for me if I stab.

    Probably my best play is to cut a deal with Dan that splits the board between us. Failing that, I think it’s in my best interest to stick with my ally, figuring that I may get a center or two out of that just to keep them out of your hands.

  9. Dan Burgess

    It’s time for me to chime in here.

    First and foremost, thanks to everyone for coming over. I love hosting you guys, and I had a decent batch of chili this time (it hasn’t quite been the same since my ex-wife’s departure, the original chili recipe was hers and I haven’t quite duplicated it, though I’m getting closer) and this time I had homemade salsa that went over wonderfully. Three tomatoes, two seeded and de-veined jalapenos, two cloves of garlic, and a handful of cilantro leaves in a food processor. Bam. So simple and fun to make, I predict I will never buy a jar of salsa again in my life.

    Regarding the game, we waited a half hour for the eventual no-show player to arrive. Having drawn Turkey I played somewhat cautiously at first, not wanting to stir things up too much in order to leave a decent arrangement for my would-be replacement. My neighbors were Amanda in Italy, Tony Prokes in Austria, and Ted McClelland in Russia. I like all three of those people dearly, but Amanda pulled an OJ on me at Weasel Moot IV that I will never forget, and although we haven’t played together much, I can see quite a bit of cunning behind Prokes’ eyes. So I decided to be friendly with Ted. We bounced in the Black Sea nicely, and apparently in Fall 1901 I listened to “Puppetmaster J” Jim O’Kelley’s suggestion to bounce Tony in Greece in F1901. Which wasn’t really my fault as Amanda opened Ven-Tri requiring Tony’s army in Serbia to defend the homeland.

    Anyhow in 1902 I abandoned my “waiting for John Gramila” persona and started playing Turkey as my own power, and allied with Ted against AI. I failed to tell that to Tony, and we attacked him mercilessly and (eventually) successfully. Then I built some fleets and came after Amanda and dispatched her in a few years’ time. It was one of those rare games (for me at least) when everything went pretty much as planned.

    It was a little effort to juggle adjudicating the game, getting the laptops updated with conference maps, putting out food, pouring beer, ordering pizza, and playing my position to a board-top, but I managed it somehow.

    As for the alliances, I felt comfortable that Ted wouldn’t stab me, and we kept mostly at a distance so that if he did stab me, a) I would see it coming and b) he would only get one SC out of it. So it never happened and we kept a nice, loyal alliance.

    Brad is a newer player and I’m not surprised that Jim befriended him loyally throughout the afternoon. I came to Don’s rescue (he needed help, and I gave it to him with the exception of taking Rome from him on the last turn, which he wasn’t quite entitled to but had asked for out of pity. I lied and said I’d let him have it, but had my unit hold to gain the SC. In hindsight if the game were to continue it would have been better for me to get my army up to Tuscany and have him build one in Marseilles to defend against Jim.)

    After six hours or so we all agreed to the draw, and I felt like enough of the game had taken place to end it. I could sense that Ted agreed, and on the other side of the board Jim and Brad weren’t on the verge of gaining any more centers, so they agreed to the draw as well.

    I’ve gotten pretty good at using Realpolitik with Dropbox to keep maps current, and people like the roll-up boards that I created earlier this year. People seem to like them too. The draw vote cards make the process take about 30 seconds to finish a vote, nice and quick, and less of a delaying tactic than in years past. As it should be.

    It was fun at my house and we’ll do it again in February and March!

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