Dan Burgess (left) and Kevin O’Kelley discuss their Christian Kline problem in Spring 1902 of the first round at CODCon.
Jake Trotta is a quick study. After learnng the game last July, he’s been fighting for the club lead all season. Last weekend, in his first tournament ever, he set the bar pretty high, winning the CODCon Open championship with a strong board-top as France in the first round and a close third in the second.
A total of 27 people played in the tournament, helping us field three boards per round for the first time since the inaugural Open in 2007. The top seven were:
- Jake Trotta
- Christian Kline
- Tony Prokes
- Matt Sundstrom
- Peter Lokken
- Zach Moore
- Ben Johnson
The Best Countries went to:
- Austria: Tony Prokes
- England: Christian Kline
- France: Jake Trotta
- Germany: Brandon Fogel
- Italy: Sam Bassett
- Russia: Matt Sundstrom
- Turkey: Peter Lokken
Check out the complete results here.
Special thanks to all for playing and especially to travelers Zach Moore and Ben Johnson who drove in from Minnesota. Congrats to Jake. Other first-time tournament players were Brandon Fogel, David Spanos and David Hafner.
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Thanks Jim, it was an awesome time! Truthfully, I’ve been working hard at it just to make sure I’m better than my brother Ian when he gets back from school. There is no greater trophy than brotherly bragging rights.
Felt lucky to win and still have a very long way to go. I still can’t comprehend how Matt Sundstrom pulled 3 best country awards in last year’s CODCON. During the tournament, I put together some game recaps for the diplomacy subreddit. If anyone is interested, I can post those here.
Thanks again for a great tournament, looking forward to more bar games and worlds.
Good to see everyone. Thanks Jim for being such a great host!
Would love to read your recaps Jake. 🙂
Game 1: France
I was between three veteran players, one I had played with and worked well together (Italy), one I played with and it didn’t go so well (Germany), and one I hadn’t played with but had come in second the year before (England.) S01 Italy and I agreed not to mess with each other unless it was for a big result late game. England seemed opened to a DMZ in the channel and was fired up by the idea of a western triple. However, Germany was very much NOT on board with a western triple. My gut told me Germany was hitting Burgundy, and I decided even if England was in the Channel I could always throw him Belgium, so I forced myself into Burg and went to MAO. F01 I asked Germany if they were committed to working with England and their response was “yeah, pretty much.” So now my objective was to keep England out of Brest and flip them against the German. I promised to cover Brest and said I wouldn’t interfere with Belgium. I went to Portugal anyways while England took Belgium with a fleet. I also successfully moved Bur-Ruhr, getting some position on the lowlands and mainland Germany. I built A-Paris and Fleet-Mar to signal I was committed to working with England.
Spring 02 I pitched England on a rather devious plan to allow Germany into Sweden by convoying into Denmark, then retaking Sweden in the fall. At the same time, I’d support him into Holland in exchange for Belgium in the fall. I kept relations open with Germany, stressing that I was always willing to talk. Italy totally understood my build of F-Mar and knew I was moving it Spain (SC), so we were all set. At the end of the year, England picked up Denmark and Holland (Russia prevented a Swedish takeover) while I took Belgium with British consent. We both had one build, I had fleets in Spain (SC) and MAO, armies in Ruhr and Belgium, and I built F-Mar again. England built fleet London, leaving him with no defense in Liverpool.
Mid Game Shakeout
S03 I explained to Germany that I wanted to get them back in the game, promising a support into Holland and a move back to Burg from Ruhr in exchange for peace. I acted concerned towards England about F-London, pointing to my super friendly second consecutive F-mar build. He was mad at me for not being all over the Med already, saying “if you’re gonna go, go all out.” My spring 01 moves were Bel S Kiel-Hol, Ruhr to Bur, Burg to Gas, MAO to Irish, Spain (SC) to MAO, Mar to Spain (SC), setting up the convoy directly to Liverpool. I took Liverpool in the fall, while Germany finally got into Holland and Scandinavia remained a mess. England pulled back to mess with me on the island, I built F-Brest, and Germany agreed to Janissary for me the next year.
End Game-Missed Opportunities
England took me until late 06 to finish off due to poor guesses and Russia slowing me down in North Sea. I was sitting at 10, holding all of England, and could’ve jumped on Germany and Italy at the same time, and told people I wanted a 14 center board top. I realized the next year that I had an opportunity to solo and went for it, making it to STP and picking up Scandinavia, Denmark, and Kiel. Upon reflection, I should’ve been pumping fleets into the Med and sweeping up Germany a year earlier. I tried for the solo, but was too late as Italy locked up the Med at TYS, while Austria and Russia filled in to defend Munich. I took the draw at 14, holding home, Iberia, England, Lowlands, Scandinavia and Kiel.
Two big lessons. Number one, despite a tough start, it is totally possible to come back and pick up a big result. The key was not getting angry or frustrated, but continuing to work towards good partnerships and openings. Second, always look for the solo. I play a lot of bar games that end in 06 or 07, so I really have very little experience in the late game. This was my first time hitting 12 centers before the last year. I also was thinking too much about the tournament-needing to get a draw vote approved and acquiring a good score-then the board opportunity in front of me. I didn’t jump down Germany or Italy’s throats because I didn’t want any draw vetoes and I made it clear 14 was my target. Essentially, I had decided to “take the money and walk away” rather than try to answer the million dollar question. Had I been looking for 18 when I was at 10, I would’ve had a shot at it. If they stopped me, it is unlikely the board would’ve been able to take me down to the point my score would’ve been bad. 14 centers was almost assured regardless of the path I took. This almost cost me, as another board had a 16 center board top that was very nearly a solo. But, hey, it was my best result to date, so I was pretty content with it.
Round 2: Turkey
Heading into Round 2 I was in second place in the standings and knew I needed another good result (best 2 of 3 rounds counts towards final score). I had played extensively before with Italy and Austria, but had never played with Russia. I pitched an AT from the start, asking Austria to move to Rum while I went to Black and Arm. I told Italy right away I was committed to a long term IT (and meant it). Russia and I discussed an RT. Knowing Turkey needs to get a second build to have a real impact in the game, I decided AT was my best shot at early growth. I opened to ARM and Black, succeeding in those moves, as well as taking Bul. Austria did not open to Rum, allowing Russia to take it with the fleet, while taking a flier at Venice that failed. Russia moved Mos-STP (he told me he was moving north-darn!) In the fall, I tried to take Sev with A-Arm, but failed due to smart tactical play from Russia. I built fleet Con, Russia built A-Moscow (he didn’t get Sweden), Austria built A-trieste.
The next three years were a repetitive cycle of Austria flipping sides and ordering Trieste to Venice unsuccessfully, while Russia and I traded blows. I got Rum, built a fleet, and eventually swiped Greece from Italy. Meanwhile France was falling apart. However, Germany stabbed England when France was at 4, creating some deadlock in the West as well.
Mid Game: Super Fun interlude.
I was in the Ionian with fleets in Greece and Aegean. Russia and I had a fragile alliance, as I agreed to Serbia in exchange for giving Russia Bud. However, Russia messed up the supports a couple times, and I was stuck. I had told Italy the truth nearly the whole game, except for taking Greece, and decided to let him kick me out of Ion so I could use the retreat. I picked TYS, as a southern fleetless Russia had entered ARM and I needed to hold serve on my home centers. The next spring, Italy said to me “why don’t you move to Gulf of Lyons while I move to West Med and we’ll take Marseilles and Iberia.” Now, that sounds like a stupid idea in the middle of a brutal naval battle in the Ionian, but I enthusiastically agreed. Later in the negotiation, we both realized it would work. The orders went through, and within the year Italy was in Spain while I had Marseilles, allowing a build back home to turn the Russian away. Eventually Italy took Marseilles away from me, but it was a fun and magical trip west that really messed up that half of the board’s game.
End Game: About as awkward as the rest
Now the whole board was worried about Germany exploding-there was no real reason why he shouldn’t have by this point- so we formed an alliance to slow him down before he did. It was about 11pm and there was a hard stop at midnight, so there were only 1-2 years left. Russia reneged on our arrangement, stabbing me for Serbia and setting himself on 8 dots (Rum, Trieste, Serb, and 3 home). In negotiation, I told him I’d be fine if he gave me it back to put us back where we were. In the fall, I got Germany to help me take Trieste from him, while also forcing myself back into Serbia. He picked up Bud, but I was now 1 center ahead. I built an army in Smyrna, signaling Italy continued non-aggression, and we agreed to take the draw. Final center counts 8-8-7-6-4-1.
Overall Reflections: Boy was that a mess
Talking with Italy after the game, the east was pretty much a gunboat game the whole way through. No one could form an alliance with the exception of the IT Iberian #dreamquest. If the game had continued, I had position on Russia and could’ve probably expanded, but I didn’t want to burn more mental energy when I may need a big round the next day. I would not open north as Turkey again without a more solid agreement with the Austrian. I don’t know if I really learned much aside from that. At the end of the day, I ball parked that I was in first in the standings by about 15 points. The 16 center guy from last time had been eliminated, and there was one other guy with a 13-9 board top who could be a threat in a “best 2 rounds system.”
Round 3: Germany
The Night Before: Super Nervous Strategic Tinkering
I knew headed into the third (and final) round of a tournament where only the top two scores count, I was in first with about 75 points (turned out to be 80 with combined 59+21), the guy in second had 66-ish points from only one score, and the guy in third had something like 50 points. There wasn’t anyone else with a score over 40 by my estimation (the Tournament Director wouldn’t let me know exact scores, but I heard who board topped from other folks and pieced it together.) I decided that if I were on the same board as the guy in second, who realistically only needed a 5 or 6 center survival to pass me, I would do whatever I could to get him out of the game and just hope that no one had a monster round on the other boards.
I drew Germany. The guy currently in 2nd drew Italy, while the guy currently in 3rd drew Turkey. My objectives: Kill Italy, or hold him to less than five. Kill Turkey, or hold him to less than 7. That should keep both of them lower than me in the tournament standings. The good news was they were both competing with each other for good scores, as they were both naval powers. The bad news was one of them tends to have a good game.
I decided to be up front and tell people about my meta-game strategy. I decided I needed a strong western fleet power to be able to prevent a good score by I/T, particularly since neither E or F were a threat to win unless they soloed. I pitched them both on a Western Triple, told them to kill me if they wanted when it made sense to, just make sure Turkey and Italy die first. They agreed and were willing to give me Belgium. I also needed Russia to do well and prevent Turkish northern expansion, so I promised to give him Sweden if he opened north, which he sounded willing to do. Austria I made a similar pitch to, and he actually proposed me supporting him into Tyrolia.
This gave me an interesting decision. Do I do the western triple, knowing I’ll only get two builds, and help Austria kill my tournament rival? Or do I not give him the support and ensure a plausible result in the game? I stuck with my original strategy: take down my rivals at all in-game costs. I ordered the support
Austria made it to Tyrolia and Adriatic, E-F honored the western triple agreement, but Russia moved to Silesia. In the fall, I decided to defend Berlin over Munich… and lost Munich. I bounced Russia out of Sweden, and took Holland. Belgium remained neutral.
In 02, I retook Munich and got Sweden while England took STP from Russia. However, I had nowhere to build, so I held 6 centers with 2 waived builds. Italy was brought down to 2 centers while France stormed into the med, locking up with Turkey over Tunis and the Ionian.
MidGame: Fulfilling my “I don’t care if I die” pledge
S03 saw a massive and well-executed stab by my western triplemates. I remember speaking with France and he started to apologize and I told him “dude, I don’t care, totally fine. Just leave me a center or two, I’ll convoy to Livonia and make sure Turkey (then at 6 centers) can’t move north.” I told the same to England, and he agreed. Turkey had moved north on Russia, controlling home centers, Greece, Bul, and Rum. He had an army in Armenia, a fleet in the black, and an army in Rum. So I told Russia “just take Berlin, I’m coming to Livonia to help you.” At the end of the year, I was down to 2 centers, but allowed Russia a rebuild in Sev that ended up being crucial in preventing Turkish advancement.
I convoyed two units to Livonia in 04, walking through Warsaw to Ukraine and assisting the Russian. I attempted to work with the Austrian in a Rumanian takeover, but Austria wasn’t game. England had thoughts of poaching Moscow, but I told him that if he does that, Turkey gets Sev, moving him to the magic number of 7 I was concerned about. He was playing two boards that round and was more interested in the other board, so he agreed to give France the board top. France was at 8, tied with England, at the time and vetoed a draw.
In the final year, England agreed to give France Kiel (miraculously still under my control). England also said that the board thought he vetoed the draw and didn’t want him to take Sweden from me. I told him to anyways-in sum of squares, I did better dying than staying alive. The game ended a 10-8-7-6-3 draw. Turkey finished at 6, accomplishing my goal of preventing a big score for him.
My strategy paid off. Turkey ended up in third in the tournament, Italy slipped to fourth, and a score in the high 40s brought another player into the 70-point total range, but I hung on to win the tournament.
I would not have used my kamikaze strategy in a bigger tournament with more rounds or more boards. I figured with only 2 other boards the odds of either board resulting in a score of 60+ were pretty low.
What did I do well? I went into the first day hoping to have fun, not really worrying about results. Once I was in a position to succeed, I picked a target that I knew could be a Launchpad for the tournament-14 centers- and stuck to it. On my second board, I also went in hoping to have fun and get a decent result. That freedom to enjoy it, regardless of results, prevented a lot of emotional and mental tension, which helped me not only see the game better, but enjoy it more. I also think the diplomatic part of my game went well because I was enjoying myself, joking around, and having a great time competing against a solid group of guys.
Where can I improve? I think strategy was a very mixed bag. There was a solo opportunity on my first board that I missed. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have worked with Russia on my second board from spring 01. Or maybe vetoed the draw and went for more. The Kamikaze third round went perfectly, but I’m not sure I should have explained my metagame strategy to literally everyone in S01.
Sounds like you guys had a great event! Wish I could have been there. Hat tip to Jake for the win and write ups.