On a wing man and a prayer

Every hero needs a wing man. The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Batman had Robin. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. The Cisco Kid had Pancho. And now Nate Cockerill has young Kevin O’Kelley.

Early on in Game No. 239, played Saturday at the Concentric game convention at the Holiday Inn Itasca (which wouldn’t be a terrible location for a future Moot, by the way), it looked like Kevin was on his way to a monster score. His Turkey was at seven by 1903, and Russia–due to newcomer Chris Cantine’s Norwegian obsession–was a vacuum. (After the game, Cantine acknolwedged that he might have been "too persistent" in his campaign for Norway, a failed cause to which he devoted four of his six units in 1902 and 1903.)

Kevin reached eight, but he stalled there and wound up with seven. He spent the last four years of the game helping Cockerill snatch away his board top. On one turn, he even ceded a center to the Big Oozy, hoping to send a message to the player who was secretly voting down the draws. (When the game ended, Tony Prokes admitted to being the culprit.)


As a proud father who wants the best for his kids, I was disapointed with Kevin’s result, but he was happy. After beginning his Diplomacy career just 12 months ago by posting two board tops and a strong second in four games, he had fallen on tough times. Since then, his best result had been one center in the Season Nine opener. He was eliminated at Weasel Moot, the Weasel Pyle, the North American Diplomacy Championship at Tempest in a Teapot, and in the Weasel Royale.

That many eliminations can sap a new player’s confidence, especially when the player is a kid playing with adults.

"I wasn’t trying to win," he told me after this game. "I’m just glad I didn’t get crushed."

One day, I hope he’ll aim higher. For now I guess if he’s happy, I’ll try to be as well.

The game ended by draw vote in Spring 1908 in the following center counts:

Austria (Don Glass): 0; 0.000 points.
England (Ben DiPaola): 0; 0.000 points.
France (Tony Prokes): 9; 25.633 points.
Germany (Nate Cockerill): 13; 53.481 points.
Italy (Jim O’Kelley): 4; 5.063 points.
Russia (Chris Cantine): 1; 0.316 points.
Turkey (Kevin O’Kelley): 7; 15.506 points.

The supply center chart is here. Let’s hear from the players.

Next up: It’s back out to Des Plaines for our fourth annual St. Patrick’s Day game and third straight at Tony Prokes’ home. Will the Italians top for a third straight year? We need two more players to make this game happen. Who’s in?

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 4 Comments

  1. Nate Cockerill

    History is usually written by the victor but in this case it was written by a 4 center Italy so let me give you my take on the game. Sadly Tony has the orders as he prepared some nice country labeled notebooks for the game and we left them with him.

    The first round of negotiations went fairly well for me. France proposed a three way. I said ok but being Germany I want three builds out of the deal.
    Russia asked for Sweden and I said Ok if you move an army north to make life hard for England.

    Chris said he usually always committed south as Russia but wanted to explore a northern opening. Meanwhile Don as Austria and Tony both said they wanted to open hard against Jim. After spring 1901 Tony had supported himself to Burgundy and it looked like he would support the English fleet into Belgium. Italy was in Tyrolia though so I had some concerns though he and Don were bouncing each other around.

    Turkey and Russia were doing their usual opening bounce in the Black. After Fall Tony had written a support for the Italian into Munich which wasn’t ordered. England meanwhile had supported his army into Norway so I did pick up Belgium and three builds.

    I was angry with France and we continued to build up units to form a wall. He wouldn’t move on Jim and had lied to me. So England and I attacked him. We decided to disentangle but only half heartedly allowing a French retreat in Belgium. I had taken Sweden from the Russians by this time.

    We talked it out and finally agreed to move away. Which allowed me to move into Warsaw and across the line . Russia was wide open. Though neither Turkey or I could take Moscow. I had gotten into Vienna by now so we agreed he’d help me get Moscow and I’d help him(Turkey) get Budapest.

    I had to retreat that turn and went into Serbia which was Italian I believe. I helped Italy into Venice. The game was going on 5 hours. I was willing to draw at 10 because we hadn’t eaten and Kevin and I wanted to play Fiasco the rpg. The draw kept getting voted down and it wasn’t me.

    Also during this time Jim had asked Kevin for some orders and he mentioned some of them to me. I said don’t do it. He’s going to do something else. Kevin said I promised my Dad and if he lies to me then I’ll work with you the rest of the game.

    Sure enough Jim double crossed him cementing our alliance and the failed draw votes were upsetting Kevin enough that he said for each draw vote that fails here on out I’ll give you a dot. he gave me Sevastopol.

    I think it may have worked as they vote soon passed but not before Chris Cantine made a bid for survival by offering me a support on Norway allowing to pick up Sweden from my English ally who had dotted me for it and Norway thus eliminating England. So we drew that turn. If we hadn’t I had St. Pete assured the next turn.

    Tony said he was going to bring 4 fleets at me the next turn but I had fleets in North,Norway,Sweden and Helgoland. Not to mention I built two more the final turn. I was also sitting in Paris the final year sipping absinthe at The Moulin Rouge.

    Kevin and I were able to get along along when we needed to and I think he played a good game. He moved out of two centers before they were his in fall turns and could have been more aggressive but he’s young player and will improve with age and more play. I just hope I’m not on the receiving end when that day comes.

    Concentric was a cool laid back little Con. I had a great time gaming with Don, Vicki, Tony, and some of the other organizers. The venue was nice and easy to get to and close to the airport.
    So support Concentric next year whether you play Dip or other games I think you’ll enjoy it.

  2. Jim O'Kelley

    [quote]History is usually written by the victor [/quote]

    For the Weasels, history is written by the Chief of Public Information (me) or whomever wants to write it (usually also me).

    [quote]Also during this time Jim had asked Kevin for some orders and he mentioned some of them to me.[/quote]


    [quote]Sure enough Jim double crossed him [/quote]

    In 1902, Kevin rolled to six centers while following solid advice from his loving father. Then in 1903, he turned on me.

    Kevin welcomed the Austrian janissary into his fold and with the aid of the Austrian fleet, forced the Ionian. He also threw in with the French and German interlopers, leaving me no choice but to defend against the little ingrate.

    At one point, I retreated to Albania from Trieste. That flummoxed Kevin. He offered to convoy the army back home to Venice, but from his standpoint, the convoy was what he was giving up in the deal so he was unwilling to offer anything else, not even a commitment to stand down against me. So, I agreed to the convoy but took Greece from him instead to stay even.

    (Staying even was a theme for me on the day. Every time I started to get traction, someone nabbed Venice. Don convoyed in on one turn, and Tony took it twice. When I liberated Venice, I’d lose one of my dots in Austria or the Balkans. I never progressed beyond five despite occupying at various times all the Austrian centers plus Serbia and Greece.)

    But to be clear, the convoy from Albania to Venice was Kevin’s idea, not mine. I learned the hard way a long time ago that talking people into doing stupid things will come back to bite you in the ass.

    (To be clear again, I’m not calling Kevin’s offer stupid. I’m saying I didn’t try to trick him into the move so that I could take Greece. That’s the sort of thing that will make someone feel stupid, and it’s a lot easier for a player to forgive you for a good stab than it is to forgive you for making him look stupid.)

    Kevin played pretty well, and I’m proud of him for that. He didn’t press his advantage in 1903, which might have cost him a board top, and twice he walked out of a center of mine that he had captured in the spring. Nate alluded to the first time. He took Budapest from my Serbia. At the same time, I took Trieste from Nate. I think my mover was Budapest. The combination of moves left Serbia open for Nate’s retreat, so I didn’t keep it despite Kevin’s mistake.

    The second occasion occurred on what turned out to be the final turn of the game. Kevin seized the Ionian from Greece, which he had just captured in the spring. As a result, he finished with seven centers instead of eight.

    As I noted in the summary, Kevin’s seven were six centers more than he had compiled in his previous four games combined, so he was thrilled with his result. For Kevin’s sake, I wanted his strong early performance to be rewarded with a board top or a close second, but at least he was happy. As the other fathers in the club would agree, I think, there’s nothing more important than that. The fact that he had a decent result is icing on the cake.

    And being able to play Diplomacy with him, even when he frustrates me as he did this game, is a big old side of Brown Cow ice cream.


    Great game! I enjoyed my first encounter with the group after years of not playing. Nate is right that Russia was wide open, but only because Kevin surprised me by attempting to move into Galicia, which bounced me back to Budapest. I anticipated Nate’s move and would have saved Warsaw for a while.
    Well played folks.

    On the northern front I took a gamble to break the deadlock. It was too late to change the balance, but sending my fleet into the Norwegian Sea proved to be quite an adventure as I seized Edinburgh the same turn Tony took Liverpool. I wanted him to support me into Liverpool, and he wanted me to support him. We couldn’t agree so we went our separate ways.

    In the end I conspired with Germany to finish off England to survive one more turn. Fortunately, we drew before my certain destruction, giving me a fraction of a point.

    I enjoyed everyone’s sportsmanship, especially Ben’s. Now that I have a complete .316 point I won’t be so quick to repeat my last move. I look forward to more intrigue and naval adventures.

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