The 13th chime

Normally, you can set your clock by Chris Kelly’s board-tops. Since joining the Weasels in Season 6, he’s topped 14 league games, shared or outright. In nine of those games, he landed on eight or nine centers.

A crafty vet who started playing years ago with a group in Los Angeles, every now and then, he’ll drop double-digits on you. Twice, he topped with 10. Two more times, he struck midnight. Normally, though, when he tops, it’s with a modest eight or nine. You can plan on it.

But yesterday at Brian Shelden’s home on the swanky New East Side, Old Clockwork stunned everyone by pealing 13 times.

Game No. 356 ended by draw vote during the Spring 1908 turn in the following center counts:

Austria (Chris Kelly): 13; 62.132 points.
England (Gus Spelman): 5; 9.191 points.
France (Mick Johnson): 3; 3.309 points.
Germany (Don Glass): 2; 1.471 points.
Italy (Tyrone Ferguson): 4; 5.882 points.
Russia (Paul Pignotti): 7; 18.015 points.
Turkey (Mike Whitty): 0; 0.000 points.

The board was eclectic. Spelman, Johnson and Ferguson all joined the club in the previous two seasons. Spelman and Johnson were new to the game when they found us but now are swimming with the next wave of sharks. Ferguson is a webDiplomacy recruit who was playing for only the second time with us.

Pignotti, Glass, Kelly and Whitty all discovered the game years before joining the Weasels in Seasons 1, 4, 6 and 7, respectively. (Pignotti first played with us at the very first Weasel Pyle, by the way.)

On paper, it was a great mix of Weasels. Hopefully, they’ll all chime in with their thoughts about the game. The supply center chart is here.

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 6 Comments

  1. Bryan Pravel

    Congrats Chris. A potential best Austria is one heck of a way to start the new season! From the score chart, it looks like maybe an early Lepanto that turned into an A/R towards the end of the game? I assume that your explosive growth at the end of the game was German and Italian dots? I’d love to hear how things went. I’m always a fan of Austrian wins.

  2. Chris Kelly

    Bryan, there was an intended A/R that turned into an A/T due to some hilariously botched opening negotiations (which deserve a separate comment for explanation). But it turned back into an A/R when Paul, as Russia, stymied the A/T by using his build from Sweden to build an army in Moscow. Since that blocked Mike W. (TUR) and I from taking Sevastopol, I reversed direction & took Bulgaria instead (in addition to Rumania, thanks to my initial anti-Russian positioning).

    Meanwhile, though, Don Glass (Germany) dropped an exploratory army into Tyrolia. At this point, I figured I was doomed – both RUS & TUR had reason to attack me for taking “their” centers in Rum & Bul. And GER had been working with RUS since letting him into Sweden in 1901. With TUR abandoning Armenia to focus on its front w/me, I expected all 3 countries were about to gang up on me, and I could expect some free afternoon time shortly.

    Much to my surprise, that didn’t happen. In some desperation, I had promised to split w/Paul the spoils of conquering Turkey – with me giving him Rumania if needed to balance the gains – and he accepted the deal, moving into Armenia and generally away from Austria. And Don G. (unsuccessfully) tried for Venice rather Vienna or Trieste. And so I was left with a secure 7-center Austria, with no enemies other than a bottled-up and overmatched Turkey.

    From the start, Tyrone (Italy) had gone entirely west, and we had built trust by keeping Venice/Trieste empty (save for a Winter 1902 build of F Trieste, which Tyrone thankfully accepted as necessary to provide flanking support vs. Turkey in the the absence of a Lepanto from Italy). A bold convoy into Spain left his home country free of armies, just as my 2nd fleet had finally broached Turkish waters and taken Smyrna. Meanwhile, since Paul had betrayed Don to take the whole of Scandinavia, I had moved armies to Tyrolia & Bohemia to join him in attacking the German heartland.

    Now with 8 centers, though, I faced a dilemma. Paul was pushing me to keep our deal by supporting him into Ankara & handing over Rumania – but honestly, I didn’t need his help to take the rest of Turkey, and we both knew it. And given Russia’s success in the north, the added 2 dots would not only put Paul in the driver’s seat for topping the board, but give him extra units he could use to attack Austria.

    So I decided that if I was going to renege on my deal with Paul, I might as well gamble on a huge breakout move, walking into an undefended Rome (passing through Venice) and seizing Munich (in retrospect, a mistake – I should have taken both Venice & Rome instead) while also taking Constantinople. Which gave me 11 centers while, in essence, daring the entire board to stop me from getting a solo win.

    Again, I should have paid a price for that hubris, but I got away with it. 1907 was a massive scramble in which I actually took 4 centers (Berlin, Venice, Naples, and Ankara) while losing 2 (Rome, Rumania). Since 1908 promised further chaos, with no one (myself included!) being certain that they would benefit, a draw was unanimously accepted.

    1. Chris Kelly

      [quote]… seizing Munich (in retrospect, a mistake – I should have taken both Venice & Rome instead)…[/quote]
      Here’s why I say that. In 1907, to my surprise, Don stayed focused on punishing Paul for his earlier sins rather than counterattacking me for having just taken Munich. As a result, I was able to walk into Berlin.

      Had I known Don was that much on my side — and I should have considered the possibility! — I wouldn’t have taken Munich. Instead, I would have moved Tyrolia to Venice (taking a 2nd Italian center) and Bohemia to Galicia, forming an allied front with Germany against Russia.

      The downside here was that Italy had a fleet in Tyr that could have bounced me from Rome, leaving me with 10 centers instead of 11. But even then, I would have had a fleet in the Ionian to help me the next year, in addition to a viable northern ally & more manageable front lines.

      My reasonable best-case scenario probably tops out at 14-15 centers either way, but whatever faint chance I had at 17-18 centers would’ve almost certainly required a couple years of continued German assistance.

      1. Jim O'Kelley

        Thanks for the thoughtful write-ups, Chris!

    2. Chris Kelly

      Here’s what tangled up the Spring 1901 negotiations. Paul & I agreed to a DMZ in Galicia, then he went off to talk Turkey with Mike W. According to Paul, he initially forgot which country he was negotiating with, then stumbled into improvising a claim that I was going to attack Italy because that country had stabbed me in a previous game.

      Whatever the truth of that explanation, Mike relayed it to me by saying Paul claimed the Italian *player* (Tyrone) had stabbed me in a previous game — at which point I broke out laughing, since Tyrone & I had never played together before. I couldn’t help but share the story immediately with Tyrone, and eventually the rest of the board (when an innocent query of “What are you hearing in the East?” got me giggling helplessly.)

      If Paul was able to lie that outrageously to Mike, I thought, a common fib like “I won’t go to Galicia” was certainly a possibility I needed to defend against. And since it naturally got back to Paul that I was telling the entire board what a huge liar he was, he had to assume I didn’t believe him about Galicia. So after agreeing to a DMZ, we wound up bouncing instead (for 5 straight turns!).

    3. Jake Trotta

      First off, [b]very[/b] impressive win Chris. Proud of Ol’ Clockwork’s performance, and any personal best performance should be celebrated.

      [quote name=”Chris Kelly”]

      Again, I should have paid a price for that hubris, but I got away with it. [/quote]

      If there is a lesson for folks to learn from this AAR, it is this. A lot of players are too afraid of the board uniting against them and for that reason don’t take those big risks. More often than not, you can in fact get away with it, especially in the midgame.

      [quote name=”Chris Kelly”]

      I decided that if I was going to renege on my deal with Paul, I might as well gamble on a huge breakout move, walking into an undefended Rome (passing through Venice) and seizing Munich… while also taking Constantinople [/quote]

      If there is a second lesson, it is this. Stabs are cashing in your relationship capital for dots and tempo capital. If you’re going to ruin a relationship, get your money’s worth.

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