Tapping Brian Shelden

It’s a good thing we got in on the ground floor over at the Red Lion. On a typical weeknight when we started playing there four-plus years ago, it was usually just us and a handful of regulars. Not any more. Last night was particularly busy, and if we didn’t have Most Favored Customer status (thanks mostly to old pal Nate Cockerill but also to an exemplary track record), we might have had to play one of last night’s boards out in the cold.

In addition to the 15 Weasels (and one Finnish friend) who showed up for Red Wednesday, the outgunned wait staff had to deal with a private party in the back room for 20 ultra conservative lawyers and their ritualistic chanting, plus nearly 20 boisterous hipsters who apparently were out paying tribute to David Bowie. (Did you hear that he died?) Their impromptu performance of "Space Oddity" was a highlight of my evening. 


And nearly lost among the three large groups were four guys playing Magic the Gathering. More on that in a moment.

It was quite a night. Both games ended after 1906, the first by time limit, the second by draw vote. (That’s because the second actually started first, but we’ll keep things in proper order for this report.)

Game No. 289
Game No. 289 marked Brian Shelden’s debut with the Weasels. I first met Brian at the 2003 North American championship at Tempest in a Teapot. We played together in the final round on a board that didn’t go well for either of us. He’s been an active tournament traveler since 2002 and was also involved with the board of the Potomac Tea and Knife Society prior to moving to Austin from whence he came to Chicago.
I’ve lamented elsewhere the impressive board’s worth of active Weasels who have moved away. (Greg Duenow, Christian MacDonald, Peter Yeargin, Adam Berey, Aash Anand, Matt Kade, Ted McClelland, Nate Cockerill. That’s a board and a standby!) Now that an active player has finally moved in this direction, we’re going to use him. Just as those four nerds* were tapping their Cones of Flame and Coral Barriers, we intend to tap Brian Shelden. He’s already agreed to join our tournament committee for WDC (June 24-26 at Roosevelt University, have you heard?), and as soon as he’s settled in a home, he’ll begin hosting regular games in the city.
Welcome, Brian! We’re glad to have you here.
Alas, in Game 289, tapping Brian Shelden meant something else entirely. His Italy was eliminated in the final year of the game.
Fortunately, the board gave newcomer Zach Eddy (pictured above at right with John Gramila) a much friendlier greeting. David Spanos’ latest recruit, Zach got the rules explanation from me and then jumped right into his first game ever. It was a brutal board, but clearly I’m a great teacher. When the game ended by time limit after the Fall 1906 turn, Zach’s Turkey was topping the board. The final center counts were:
Austria (Jake Trotta): 3; 3.020 points.
England (Josh Heffernan): 6; 12.081 points.
France (Peter Lokken): 10; 33.557 points.
Germany (Christian Kline): 3; 3.020 points.
Italy (Brian Shelden): 0; 0.000 points.
Russia (John Gramila): 0; 0.000 points.
Turkey (Zach Eddy): 12; 48.322 points.
Game No. 290
So, while I was explaining the rules to Zach, we got Game No. 290 under way pretty close to the designated start time of 6:30. It featured another first time Weasel, Bryan Pravel.
Bryan reached out to us on Meetup back in December to ask whether he could join us. He’s in town for a few months on a contract assignment. Turns out he’s from Austin, which is where the Brian just came from. He’s been playing Dip for more than 20 years, first on the Judges, then on various websites. His only prior face-to-face experience was in casual games with friends and families, so he was really looking forward to playing with us.
He first heard about the Weasels in a post in the playdiplomacy.com forum, but he decided to reach out to us while binge-listening to the brilliant DiplomacyCast podcast.
"They mention you guys all the time," he told me. (Thanks, Eric Mead and Nathan Barnes!)
He also acknowledged that he had heard about the popularity of the Sundstrom Opening on the show and planned his opening moves as Germany accordingly.
Sadly, last night was not a good night to be a Br(i/y)an. Or maybe it wasn’t a good night to be from Austin? Either way, Bryan was dispatched.
Game 290 ended by draw vote during the Spring 1907 turn in the following center counts:
Austria (Carlos Trevino): 4; 4.969 points.
England (Jake Langenfeld): 12; 44.720 points.
France (Ali Adib): 9; 25.155 points.
Germany (Bryan Pravel): 0; 0.000 points.
Italy (Chris Kelly): 0; 0.000 points.
Russia (David Spanos): 0; 0.000 points.
Turkey (Brandon Fogel): 0; 25.155 points.

Interestingly, the game featured five players who joined our ranks last season. For Jake Langenfeld, the game was his first board-top in three attempts with the club.

Check out the supply center charts here.

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