The worst kind of first

Since our founding in September 2005, and counting League, Exhibition, Premiere and Tournament games, we’ve played 659 games of Diplomacy on the standard map. Yet, on Saturday in Game No. 357 at Matt Sundstrom’s home in Glenview, we saw something that we’d never seen before–France eliminated in 1902.

Jake Trotta, one of the most dominant players of the past two seasons, was the unfortunate frog. A look at the supply center chart, Spring 1901 tab, will confirm that he failed to heed sage advice regarding the play of France–mind Burgundy. And that with his arch-rival, Brandon Fogel, of all people in Germany.

Game No. 357 ended by draw vote in Spring 1908 in the following center counts:

Austria (Mick Johnson): 5; 8.065 points.
England (Tony Prokes): 10; 32.258 points.
France (Jake Trotta): 0; 0.000 points.
Germany (Brandon Fogel): 11; 39.032 points.
Italy (Jacob Rebnord): 0; 0.000 points.
Russia (Peter Buczak): 0; 0.000 points.
Turkey (Matt Sundstrom): 8; 20.645 points.

On paper, the French collapse looks like the big story, but surely lots more happened in the other five game years. Players, how ’bout filling us in? (But don’t ignore the opening, ’cause, 1902? How’s that even possible?)

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This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Chris Martin

    Lose a home center AND don’t pick up Spain or Portugal? Brutal. Did you get supported back into Marseilles from Spain by Jacob?

    1. Jim O'Kelley

      Looking forward to hearing from the players, but my best guess is that France anticipated German support for Pie-Mar and moved to thwart that…only to walk out of Spain and lose Paris.

      1. Jake Trotta

        [quote name=”Jim O’Kelley”]Looking forward to hearing from the players, but my best guess is that France anticipated German support for Pie-Mar and moved to thwart that…only to walk out of Spain and lose Paris.[/quote]

        This is exactly right. I also accidentally got into Belgium from Burgundy in S02, thinking I would bounce a unit from Holland.

        1. Jim O'Kelley

          I’m a big fan of the risky, aggressive defense myself. Sure does suck when you’re wrong, though.

          Were you reacting only to your read of the board, or had the water been muddied by [b]#FakeNews[/b] of G/I coordination?

          1. Jake Trotta

            It was more the hangover then anything else.

  2. Jake Trotta

    Well, that was probably the worst French performance in Diplomacy history (certainly in Weasel history.)

    In that history, only Austria (four times) and Turkey (three times) have been eliminated in 1902.

    France has only failed to grow 6 times. Now 7. I am responsible for two of those.

    It might be karmic justice for my refusal to refer to France as France in the wise old weasel.
    [url] [/url]

    So, what the hell happened?

    1) I picked France in the Santa Clause selection order because I use selection orders to improve where I’m weakest.

    2) I did not have a plan because hangover.

    3) I pitched a Sea Lion and decided not to cover burgundy.

    4) I made the highest risk moves on all four seasons I was alive, and all four went wrong.

    Here’s what we learned.

    A) I would strongly advise this to any player- learned a lot in my two brief years.

    B) Have a plan. Drink gatorade 2 hours before playing.

    C) Tactical security is of greater value than winning friendships as France in a long game. If you play good D, you will make the midgame.

    D) No need to play high risk tactics as France in the early game.

  3. Jake Trotta

    Brief story of the board:

    Rapidly dead France leads to immediate and strong EG that would not break. Strong Austria start offset by poorly timed/ executed stab on Italy, leaving the entire East in shambles.

    EG both had opportunities to stab they did not take, so they ground the east down. Turkey slowly built back up, but because they weren’t breaking, couldn’t get big.

    Deserved result was probably 11-11 EG split. England, had he kept pressing, could have stabbed and gotten to at least 14 with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, but did not feel confident 1v1 against Brandon and didn’t want to drag thing out.

    The play of the game was England telling the east that he needed two more dots to stab Germany, accepting those dots, then doubling back, taking the Ionian, and maintaining the EG. Filing that one away mentally.

    Player Feedback:

    Austra (Mick): You’re getting very close to making a breakthrough. Once stab timing becomes more noetic, you’ll be near the top of every board.

    England (Tony): Always a blast playing with you. It was pretty comedic that you moved to channel on me because you thought I’d done it in a previous game (turns out it wasn’t me).

    France (Jake): An historic performance.

    Germany (Brandon): Great board read took advantage of what was in front of you. Took the draw at the right time. A tidy and steady performance.

    Italy (Jacob): Impressed by how you hung in with the Weasels in your first game. Looking forward to seeing you on another board.

    Russia (Peter): You played well, there’s really not much you can do as Russia when France rolls over and forces EG.

    Turkey (Matt): Thanks for hosting, had a blast. Always impressed to see the level of patience you bring to Turkey. Bummer EG didn’t break for you.

    1. Jim O'Kelley

      [quote]but did not feel confident 1v1 against Brandon and didn’t want to drag thing out[/quote]
      Tony was on the board for two of Matt’s four Turkish solos. That probably factored into his calculus as well.

      1. Tony Prokes

        Yeah… that explains my deep seated issues of trusting Matt too far and giving him any wiggle room (especially as Turkey).

  4. Brandon Fogel

    Here’s how the west went down in the first two years:

    Note that, had England followed through and supported Den-Swe in S02, I wouldn’t have been able to both take Bel and keep Hol in F02. I figured I’d build Kie in that case and sweep up the remaining dot in 03 if that happened. In any case, that’s why I followed with Kie-Den in S02 rather than the more aggressive Kie-BAL.

    I’ll write a full AAR when I get a chance.

  5. Tony Prokes

    It’s been awhile since I wrote up an AAR so bear with me…

    The country selection was very appropriate given the Holiday season, we went with a random selection order yet with a White Elephant twist. I got first selection and decided to shake things up by selecting Italy as I wasn’t sure where people would be, this would allow me to select the theater. Italy was ten taken from me by Jacob, so I then chose Turkey taking the choice away from Matt. Unfortunately, he stole Turkey from me and I was musing taking Italy back or taking England and being in the same sphere of play as Brandon and Jake… being the masochist I took the bullet (and England) instead of putting a new/newish player to the club between the two.

    Opening discussions were longer than needed, I’m still firmly in the camp that Spring 1901 should be 15 minutes while Fall 1901 should be 20 minutes to allow more time to shift through and adjust to everyone’s opening moves. I aleady had my opening moves written down as S1901 discussions started (F EDI-North, F Lon-EC, A LVR-Wales), a very strong Anti-French opening but I wanted to try something I don’t normally do as England and figured I’d be aggressive out of the gate. I was later pitched by Germany and Italy to go against France and almost played it a little to coy, I was the only one of us to get bounced… Germany got into Burg and Italy got into Pie. It was later I found out that Jake in France was pitching a Sea Lion… bad things happen when you plot against England.

    The next surprise to me during play was Russia’s F1901 Fleet build in St. Pete… it was in the South Coast! I was completely ecstatic to see this and now knew that Germany’s fleets would be tied up through the midgame in the Baltics, especially if I played it right. It was because of this that I never even attempted to dot Russia in St. Pete’s and tried to play a balancing game between helping Germany and Russia in the North. It was also because of this that the North Sea remained empty until the spring of 1907.

    With the North occupied, I turned my attention South with my intention to make the turn into the Western Med by the end of 1905. In 1902, I took Brest, in 1903 I took Portugal, and in 1904 I took Spain with 4 fleets bearing down on Italy’s 2 in the Med. In 1904 the Italian fleets retreated to home waters due to turmoil with Turkey and Austria… leaving me an unwritten invitation into the Med, it would have been rude of me to not accept. So, into the Med the ships of Blue sailed.

    It was at this time that I started to look at both ways that Brandon could stab me, and I could stab Brandon. Both of us were making good headway, even if I was the ‘junior’ partner… I realized that if I were to even attempt it I would need to build two fleets back home in one turn and it would still take me two moves to attempt to take any dots from him. Something that he would see coming and could cover drawing him back from the front lines… in F1906 Turkey and Austria provided me the dots by eliminating Italy. Sure enough as soon as I popped the fleets down and I started to rattle my sword Germany turned and with negotiations with Austria who then turned to stall Turkey. Even while trying to figure out a weakness in Brandon’s defenses I continued forward with my campaign in the South which got me a demerit from Matt.

    In S1908 I voted for the draw… why? Well, for one I was fighting a cold and getting pretty tired. Secondly, I might have been able to get a couple of dots from Brandon and a dot or two in the South giving me a finish of probably 13-14. But in my opinion, it would have opened the game to Matt who is one of the most patient players that I know of the most chances of growth. I was willing to take a 30+ point game as my season opener, having learned a couple of tricks, taught a couple of tricks, and having had a first hand, front row seat to the biggest French implosion in the history of the weasels.

    Mick: Great playing with you, it a shame you and Jacob couldn’t get things straightened out. It seemed like you were both looking short term of where your next dot was going to come from instead of looking longer term.

    Jake (France): Shortest. France. Ever. Glad to see you took it in stride and look forward to seeing you on another board.

    Brandon (Germany): Steller game, you read the board and players well.

    Jacob (Italy): It was great to see a new face, and playing face to face is a big change from playing online. You have a lot less time to process what people are telling you and plan out your moves. You’ll get the hang of it, it just takes some practice. Looking forward to seeing you on another Weasel board.

    Peter (Russia): This was honestly the first time in as far back as I can remember that Russia built a fleet on the SC of St. Petersburg. As England I was astonished as I was expecting to see it on the North coast. Way to knock a vet back on his heels! Yet another good reason to not be the big dog on the supply center chart in F1901.

    Matt (Turkey): Great job hosting Matt! Your hospitality is always gracious and welcoming to your players/guests. We didn’t get a chance to converse a lot and it seems I now have red in ledger.

    1. Jim O'Kelley

      Welcome back, Tony. Nice write-up.

      [quote]the North Sea remained empty until the spring of 1907[/quote]
      To keep it empty, did you rely on:

      a) Diplomacy
      b) Faith
      c) A bounce dynamic
      d) All of the above

      1. Tony Prokes

        It was mostly “a) Diplomacy” and “e) Board Positioning”

        With Brandon’s Fleets pretty much tied up in the Balkans, they were no threat to my Centers. Nor was there a reason to place a fleet there and antagonize him.
        By keeping it neutral it allowed us to focus on what we each needed to get done; we were two moves from being able to stab each other for more than a single dot… which wasn’t worth jeopardizing our collective board positions.

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