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My goal heading into the tournament was to play well diplomatically, and if I had a shot at a best country or winning the tournament, go do it. I assumed with all 3 rounds counting, if I could consistently score around 30 points, I’d have a good shot at doing well. In my first game, I drew England, the western nation that I have the greatest room for improvement. France was hobby veteran Andy Bartalone, Russia was Tournament Director Peter Yeargin (who was on the WDC top board), and in Germany a guy named Ron who had recently joined the Navy and claimed to be an avid webdipper.
I knew Russia’s score wouldn’t count as TD, so I figured he wasn’t going to be playing for a solo. First I spoke with Andy (or Buffalo, as he’s known in the hobby). He told me he doesn’t move to the channel, and I took him at his word on that. I spoke with Germany first, wanting to get a better read on the unknown. He told me that "I don’t like attacking France as Germany, it’s never worked out in the past, so it’s either a western triple or…" Protip: don’t say that.
I agreed to the triple (at least temporarily), and also learned England intended to bounce Russia out of Sweden. I used that opportunity to convince Russia to do the "you move to baltic, he’ll move to sweden, and I’ll swipe Denmark. Then we can kill him together" thing, because I haven’t tried that in a while.
Well, they bounced in Sweden anyways, and the move to Denmark failed. Buffalo and I kept our DMZ in the channel, with Buff moving south on a rookie Italy. Russia also built a fleet in the south coast, which, what? But Germany was mad at me, and initially worked with Russia against me. Then I turned Russia against him, pitching our original "let’s leave each other alone" plan. Then, after accepting Russian support, I pivoted in the fall to kick Russia out of Sweden. Peter Yeargin was an absolute blast to negotiate with-even when we were fighting, we were cracking up the whole time. Big fan of him and his game.
A note on that stage of the game–Buff was slowly progressing against the Italian–didn’t even have anything in MAO. I don’t think I deserve full credit for that theatre working out my way–Germany just didn’t play his best game.
Then Buff and I agreed that it was time for Germany to die, particularly as I was outpacing him. I agreed to give him Belgium in exchange for support into Berlin, then got Germany to agree not to cover Holland in exchange for giving him Berlin. Spoilers: I took Holland, Berlin, and had just seized Kiel.
I had 3 builds, Buff had 0, Russia was stuck in STP south coast. Buff’s nearest fleet was in TYS. I built F London, F Lvp, and A Edi, and said let’s do this. I know you’re not supposed to stab with builds, but the opportunity was there and it appeared I could outpace a growing Russia.
After the builds, Buff looked at me and said, "Is there anything we have to talk about?" I said that he’s a very charming guy, at which he was quite insulted. In fact, he repeated "that’s insulting" a few times. Not terribly important for the game, but I was amused.
Unfortunately, Germany decided against janissarying for me (damn) and retook Berlin with Russian support in the spring. I took Belgium, but would not be in position to take Brest or Iberia for another couple seasons. Then Germany ordered a move to Kiel in the fall, allowing Russia to take Berlin from him. At the end of the year, Russia was suddenly on 10 while I was on 9, with no one of relevance in the south to stop him.
I immediately called for a draw vote, knowing that if the game kept going I was looking at Russia getting to 18 before I did. Brian Shelden was going to veto to get back at Turkey for… reasons… but changed his mind when I implored "you support your fellow Weasels!" I don’t know if that was the cause.
Buffalo was likely to throw the solo if I did not turn back, so I reassured him and said I’m getting out of your way. When I mentioned that 14 dots was worthless to me if Pete got 18, he gained a lot of respect for me. We took the draw, and I walked away with temporary best England of 30 points.
Overall, I played real solid diplomatically in this game. 3 areas of improvement:
- I could have done better to see Russia would outpace me to a solo. I may have been better off taking STP, then killing the German.
- I had a CRUCIAL misoder that would have sent an army into Berlin instead of a fleet. Fleets in Kiel and Berlin aren’t super helpful and are tremendously vulnerable.
- I stabbed with the builds. I think Buff would have reacted strongly even if I had built just one fleet, but for some players it may have been smarter to build just F, A, A, then convince France that I was just playing defense and they had nothing to worry about. I can see both sides on this one.
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Good result against good players. Saint Pete is a dead end in the opening game, but once you’ve made the move to take Sweden from Russia, you need to shut down their game in the north.
Also, well spotted to call for the draw before a solo could happen!