The 2018 CODCon Diplomacy Open is in the books! Twenty-one players began the ascent up the sweet Swiss Alpy mountaintop. Jim O’Kelley, the founding member of the Windy City Weasels, ended on top with a composite score of 143.1034. Jim’s solo was particularly impressive because it was on the top board during a timed round. It is also the second year in a row that Jim has soloed during the 3rd round of CODCon to clinch the tournament.
Finishing in second place was the great lover of Armenia and long-time Weasel veteran Matt Sundstrom, who hauled in his entire 71.5084 points in the final round of the tournament. Matt did not solo on his board, but feedback from the other players suggests that Matt had a very good chance at soloing if the game had not finished due to time. An interesting note is that both Jim and Matt played in only two rounds. Third place was taken by Mr. 859-DIVORCE himself, long-time tournament veteran Eric Grinnell, with a score of 59.0759.
In addition to the win, place, and show trophies, two special awards were given for distinctive play:
|Best Stab:||David Hafner (R3, B1), for his 1904 stab of Turkey and Russia as Italy, taking him from 6 centers to 9 centers and forcing the entire board to stop whatever they were doing and respond. David was in 4th place at that point in the tournament and this stab put him in the driver’s seat to win the tournament.|
|Icarus:||David Hafner (R3, B1), for reaching 9 centers in 1904 and having not only his board, but the entire tournament in his grasp, but ending the game with France owning all of his home centers.|
The best country awards went to the following:
|Austria:||Jim O’Kelley (R1, B2), 43.1034|
|England:||Matt Sundstrom (R3, B2), 71.5084|
|France:||Jim O’Kelley (R3, B1), 100.00|
|Germany:||Eric Grinnell (R1, B1), 17.7536|
|Italy:||Don Glass (R3, B2), 4.4693|
|Russia:||Ben Johnson (R3, B2), 10.0559|
|Turkey:||Eric Grinnell (R2, B1), 41.3223|
The final tournament results are listed here:
Many interesting things were said at this year’s CODCon. These were some of the most memorable:
- Jorge Zhang discussing why he isn’t working with one of his neighbors: “I just need to see something other than you taking my dots.”
- Eric Grinnell to Jorge Zhang: “You see, I care about my standings. Thus, the conflict…”
- Eric Grinnell upon being left alone at the board: “I’m surrounded by stupid effing morons.”
- Ben Johnson: “This might be the worst game I’ve ever played.”
Jim O’Kelley: “Just ask Eric.”
Zach Moore: “He’ll tell you.”
- Overheard: “Gramila looks like everyone I’ve ever sat next to on a bus.”
- Jim O’Kelley: “Fortune favors the guy who convoys to Holland.”
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For posterity, other games played:
[b]Friday night off-site:[/b] Wallenstein.
[b]Saturday on-site:[/b] High School, an original game co-designed by our own Jorge Zhang (and really fun to play by all accounts), and 6 nimmt.
[b]Saturday night off-site:[/b] Tortuga 1667 and more 6 nimmt.
Round 1, Board 1: I drew Austria, and negotiated a DMZ in Galicia with Russia. I opened to Tyrolia to put pressure on Germany. I offered Italy support for a convoy into Greece in exchange for working together. Greece went unoccupied in the fall, the Ionian fleet sailing for Tunis instead. Scrambling for an ally, I supported Turkey into Rumania in 02, and agreed to eventually give up Greece. Feeling confident in the alliance, we were able to push into Russia and Italy, leaving them both on one center by F05. It’d have been a great position, but a Turkish army garrisoned Greece in 04 and 05 found my armies on the bleeding edge of a stalemate line in Livonia and Piedmont. I’ve never built a fleet, and know I can’t board top. By 06 the E/G that won the West meets my armies across a rough stalemate line, and Turkey can dot me for at least one whenever they want. It’s a relief and mercy the game draws that year.
Round 3, Board 1: The peaks of the Swiss pairing. This game was a ton of fun, even though I made a number of serious diplomatic errors. I drew Germany, and floated a Western triple. England and France agree. France dismissed questioning along the lines of “are you supporting yourself into Burgundy?” by supported Paris into Burgundy. The Italian player who moved to Tyrolia earnestly checked in about the possibility of coordinating moves, and I bounce a supported move to Munich. I built an army Munich, and saw a world of tactical opportunity in France.
Instead of taking advantage of the decent position, I spent S02 failing to convince England to move to Burgundy, failing to realize I should try to take Burgundy, failing to tap Burgundy, failing to realize the Italian army lingering in Tyrolia could try for Munich again, then failing to support Munich. It wasn’t a good spring. Austria came along for the ride, ordering Vienna to Bohemia, where it supported Italian Munich in the fall. This caused me to absolutely lose my mind, and I rejoiced when Austria slid to one dot the following year.
I took Munich back in S03, and saw hope in a forward Italian retreat to Silesia where they walked unopposed into Warsaw. France made gains in England, occupying the Channel and taking Belgium. I bungled my own survival by taking Sweden from England, while giving Norway to a growing Russia. I failed to clear a build location, played one short, and my hopes for a board top died.
In S04, I studiously ignored my own destruction by building no fleets, then moved to Tyrolia and Prussia. Holland remained French territory in all but name for the next three years. To get best Germany, I needed an ascendant Italy to take Russian dots and become strong enough that France felt pressured to build more and southern fleets. I did not communicate this realization to Italy. Italy spent the next three years twice walking unopposed out of Warsaw into Munich adjacent locations. I completely lost my mind and fully accepted life under the benevolent umbrella of France’s good grace. Continuing North, I arrived in Livonia well before enlisting the aid of the English fleet. I took Saint Petersburg, then voluntarily walked out of Saint Petersburg, then got mad that I had lost a center. France was fine with it though, so I soldiered on to secure Russian dots.
France sent along a lot of reinforcements, then took me by surprise by walking all their pieces east on a turn I also walked east. I tried to sell it as a walkthrough to bigger and better dots further down the board, but France ran out of time writing that set of orders.
The lessons I took from this year’s CodCon: it’s worse to be a tepid ally than a committed enemy, and to remember to not walk out of dots because people ask you to.
Round 3, Board 1 [i]was[/i] a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ve ever negotiated while jogging before.
I’ll have more to say later, but despite all the finger pointing and blame assignment during the post-game discussion, my solo was a result that only happens in a tournament setting.
The big guy in that pic has to do 3d6, right?
Small funny. Best England, Best Russia and Best Italy were all on R3B2. Not saying much for how a couple countries did. Expected of Russia in Chicago.
And Best Italy really wasn’t Best Italy. Brian Shelden scored better while playing on two boards in the first round but was ineligible for awards with his lesser score. Goes to show how rough the tournament was for Italy.
The anemic Best Country scores deserve at least a supporting role credit for my solo on R3B1.
[quote name=”Matt Sundstrom”]Small funny. Best England, Best Russia and Best Italy were all on R3B2. Not saying much for how a couple countries did. Expected of Russia in Chicago.[/quote]
The Best Country awards would look very different if Jim doesn’t solo in R3,B1. Had the game ended a year earlier, I think best Russia, best Germany, and best Italy would have all come from that board. And Jim is absolutely correct that Shelden’s R1 Italy would have won had he not scored higher with England and eliminated his lower score for the purpose of awards.
[quote name=”Bryan Pravel”] …Shelden’s R1 Italy would have won had he not scored higher with England and eliminated his lower score for the purpose of awards.[/quote]
Proving yet again that no one stabs Shelden quite as well as Shelden stabs Shelden.
I believe Russia vetoed the draw in the spring, though I don’t think theres any way France wouldn’t have voted it down.
Thought I’d go ahead and debrief some of my thoughts as well- discussion on the third round will come in a separate post soon.
R1B2 France: I began by talking with my two neighbors, Don/Germany and Brad/England. While Jim/Austria warned me that Don/Brad might try to work together, after talking with them I decided to risk not covering the Channel or Burgundy. On the other side of the board, I tried convincing Matthias/Turkey and Reid/Russia to work together. Unfortunately, Reid didn’t want to share any info on his plans with me, and Matthias was insistent on moving to Armenia. They ended up bouncing in Arm and were caught in conflict for the rest of the game. Brian/Italy and I didn’t talk much since Brian was on two boards, and so I was not very worried about him. The spring orders are read, and I go for Picardy/Iberia. Don actually forgoes Denmark to go to Holland/Ruhr, so I tell him that I need to see him move Ruhr-Belgium. This means that Reid/Russia gets the convoy into Sweden, which I am very happy about, and so I start talking with Brad about hitting Don with Russian help. He seems to be open to this. But then, Don ends up taking Belgium with the fleet and putting Kiel into Holland, letting Brad walk into Norway/Denmark. Since Don did not follow his end of the bargain, I build A Par F Mar to show Brad my willingness to work with him. Since Brad builds neutrally, I immediately follow up with Brad and propose that he actually take the English Channel so that we can put 3 on Belgium and surprise Don in the fall. Since Sheldon misorders and does not take Tunis in f01, I propose that we eliminate Germany quickly and then swing against Italy. In the fall I end up in the Mid-Atlantic, and can cover Brest, but decide not to since I felt pretty confident that Brad was convoying to Belgium and didn’t want to be stuck in Brest. I imply to Brad that I’d cover Brest, and then order Mid to hold.
Unfortunately, Brad has no intention of working with me and convoys into an open Brest! Now facing a strong E/G I have to back-peddle quickly just to survive. I pull my second fleet and ask Italy to fill in my fleet gap. I threaten Don with throwing to Brad, and discover that this is exactly what Don wants. So I play along and tell Brad that I am throwing to him. He seems to buy it because Brad doesn’t support Brest in the fall, so I am able to take it back and get back up to 5. Here, I almost get back into the game with Italy coming into the Mid-Atlantic and plugging the gaps. Unfortunately, Brian decides to stab me and takes Marseilles/Spain, and I spend the rest of the game taking these back from Brian. With nothing left to check Jim, he ends up with a large board top, and so I accept a draw here since it doesn’t seem like I have any way of getting a better score and already punished E/G.
Even though I have a mediocre result, this still puts me in the top seven due to other players dropping out, and makes me play on the top board despite not having the advantage of a high score.
R2B1 Austria: Talking with Italy/Ben, we immediately get off well and I feel like we have a solid alliance. Thus, I try my best to get Turkey/Eric to open to Armenia and get him fighting with Russia. Unfortunately, he makes it contingent on moving Trieste-Venice, which I am unwilling to do. Russia/Kevin tells me he will get back to me about Galicia but then doesn’t, so at the last minute I tell him just to go with the bounce. This ends up being a mistake since I don’t think he was going there before then (Russia ends up opening north). The spring orders are read, and the west seems to get along very well. Eric picks this up immediately and warns everyone of a Western Triple, and so I know that one of Kevin/Eric/Ben/I will have to be the odd one out. Because Ben and I have a solid relationship, I try to sell Kevin on hitting Eric, but he doesn’t take my offer of support into Rum since he is afraid to lose the Black Sea. Therefore, I decide to set up to work with Eric, and move to Galicia. The fall orders are read, and the western triple now appears certain with France/Brad in the West Med and Germany/Don in Baltic. It becomes clear that if the triple will break it will be England/Zach. Eric makes it into Rum, which means that Russia will almost certainly be the one on the chopping block. Because the western is solid, Eric builds two fleets and we coordinate to put me in Ukraine and him in Arm or Black. This lets us take Warsaw/Sev in the fall. On the other side of things, Ben has to now send everything against Brad as Brad is in Wmed and built F Mar. The orders are read, and I make another big mistake by ordering Vienna-Trieste, letting Don/Germany into Tyrolia. This unit becomes the one that ends up crippling Ben/I throughout the rest of the game. Ben ends up sending Ion-EMed because he is worried with Eric building two fleets, but this just ends up giving Brad the entire Med. Because the West has been so effective, in the fall I have to pull out of Serbia to cover both Vienna/Trieste, and send Greece-Ion to plug the gap Ben leaves with Emed. I have the feeling that Eric will take Greece as I walk out, and I make a mistake here of not making it clear that he absolutely cannot do this. This allows him to explain it as a misorder when he does walk into Greece, putting me in a position where I have no growth potential but also cannot really justify punishing Eric. At the same time, Eric needs me on the line and so I decide that being 4 on the line will at least net me some points.
To do this it becomes clear that Ben/Eric/I will have to all work together. This is pretty difficult since Ben and Eric basically refuse to negotiate, and I end up being an intermediary between them. Because none of us have any other options at this point, we eventually form a line around Sev/Tunis, which makes it impossible for the Western to progress. At this point in time, Zach makes his move and convoys into Brest. Don however, decides that he would rather stay on the line than help Zach against Brad, and so Zach never ends up getting further than Brest.
However, it changes the dynamic in the East tremendously. Because Ben no longer has to be a part of the line, Eric pressures me immensely to hit Ben. At the same time, Ben pressures me to hit Eric. This puts me in a very dangerous position. I don’t want to give Eric all of Italy, but at the same time, attacking Eric would just lead to my timely demise. Thus, I decide to help neither of them, and stubbornly tell Eric that I will not help him against Ben. I also tell Ben that I cannot help him against Eric. Everyone ends up frustrated, and the east makes no progress. At the same time, the west makes no progress because Zach builds F Lon rather than A Lon, and now is stuck unable to attack Brad any further.
Because no one is making any progress, we call for a draw. I vote for it, but it is rejected, which leads me to suspect Zach or Eric as the culprits. The next turn, Eric makes his way into Albania/Adriatic through brute force despite me trying my best to slow him down. This makes me very suspicious of Eric voting down the draw when it is rejected again for the second time with the West again not making any progress. After some time, Eric ends up forcing his way into Naples/Venice, and now has the board top by a center. Yet, when we vote for the draw, it is still rejected! This makes me absolutely certain that Eric is voting down the draw, and so I decide to stab him by sending my armies towards Rumania and abandoning the line. Eric is now infuriated as he insists that he definitely did not vote down the draw. I tell him that I still do not believe him, and so he publicly votes for a draw and tells me to watch him vote for the draw. At this point, I just really want the game to end, and am so confident that Eric is indeed voting down the draw that I can’t help but glimpse Eric’s vote card. To my absolute bewilderment, the vote fails anyway, and I am now left with no idea of what to order. I end up accepting Eric’s offer of support into Warsaw but still cover the rest of my centers in case Eric tries to dot me (which he does). Luckily for me, the game ends here due to the random time limit end, which spares me of the shame of peeking at Eric’s vote card.
[quote name=”Jorge Zhang”]
Because no one is making any progress, we call for a draw. I vote for it, but it is rejected, which leads me to suspect Zach or Eric as the culprits. [/quote]
Bryan would later tell me that these draws were being rejected by four people every time, so I was completely off on this one 😮 .
R3B1 England: I am put onto the top board again despite a mediocre score, which at the time I was unhappy about. Only later did I realize that because my score is very low, my neighbors were all willing to work with me as I was not a large threat to win the tournament- thus this actually gave me a large advantage. I ended up wasting this opportunity though by playing very passively. More on this later.
I end up finding out that David/Italy, Zach/Austria, and Christian/Russia plan to hit Eric/Austria out of the gate, which makes me worry about a strong Russia. John then tells me that he wants to hit Russia out of the gate, but later comes back and cancels this plan due to the plan leaking to Christian. Jim tells me that he wants a triple, but then changes his mind and tells me privately that he would rather hit John. I want to talk to David about what he plans to do, but I don’t manage to talk with him to find out what exactly he is up to. I also find out that both Jim/John would prefer me to have Belgium. With all of this in mind, I decided to open a very passive Lvp-York.
Reflectively, this was the worst possible way to play this position. Despite a mediocre score on round one, my five center France was the best France at the time. I should have been talking with John/David to hit Jim out of the gate. Even without an opening to the Channel, after the convoy to Belgium, a supported attack into Burgundy or a walk into Picardy would have also been strong moves to make.
Alternatively, opening to Edi against Christian would have also worked out very well. Jim was content staying in France to let me do this, and John would have been down to go after Russia with me as well. Christian, who was not going to open north regardless, would have probably chosen to strategically lose the north. I would then be able to pivot against either of the other western powers.
Finally, it was also possible to hit John. After a convoy to Belgium, it would have been easy to then follow up with a convoy to Holland, and thus have the jump on German dots over Jim/David.
None of this ends up happening. The spring moves are read, and only now do I approach John about me wanting to attack Jim to preserve my best France. Here I am too late as David Hafner opened to Tyrolia and now has nowhere to go but Munich. Because of this, John tells me to wait until the next turn. I end up convoying to Belgium and putting the fleet in Norway. I am also surprised by John letting Christian into Sweden, which likely stemmed from my move to yorkshire making him too uncomfortable to annoy Russia.
While this makes Christian happy, both Jim/John become nervous with my army in Belgium. Jim builds F Bre and an attack on France at this point is implausible. Despite this, I decide to antagonize Jim by moving to Picardy and supporting MAO to English Channel (which would have otherwise bounced with Bre). I also antagonize Christian by moving Nor-StP north coast, which bounces with Moscow. John doesn’t really trust me, and warily supports me into Sweden with the condition that I build F Lvp. But I then don’t build F Lvp, and thus manage to annoy all three of my neighbors! From here, they all get together and decide to attack me, and so I go from 6 to 3 in one year.
After this, I propose being a janissary to Jim, and he uses this to repeatedly stab me and take the island within a matter of a couple of years. Jim ended up using this advantage to later solo the board. After the game, Jim essentially told me that I was playing too passively- which I completely agree with. I learned a lot of lessons here, but the biggest take-away for me is to always have a plan. I went into this game not having one- and despite having three very agreeable neighbors- my indecision costed me the game.
The next game I play, I’m going to make sure I’ve chosen an enemy after seeing the ’01 builds. Seems like a reasonable rule of thumb to generally have an enemy chosen by then.
Aggressive play is normally not what I want from the first few turns of a tournament game, but the final board might be an exception. Top three payers want to preserve their lead. They’ll know the board won’t accept them jumping out to an early lead, so those three openings will tend to be conservative. I think an aggressive opening (which France and Italy did) by players 4-7 probably averages a better result than a conservative opening because it has space to take advantage of conservative board leaders.
[u][b]Know When to Hold ’Em[/b][/u]
R1B2 was a great draw for me. My only longtime rival on the board was Don Glass, and he was playing Germany to my Austria. No two neighbors have more incentive to stay out of each other’s hair in the opening.
Veteran tournament player Brian Shelden was in Italy. That might have been worrisome if he hadn’t been playing on both boards.
The other two players in the East were Reid Kanies in Russia and Matthias Moore in Turkey.
Reid was playing in his seventh straight CODCon. Like clockwork, he shows up every year to play the first round, and then goes home. Well, in 2012, he played both Saturday rounds, but since then, it’s been the first round only. He’d only survived two of his previous seven games, both times with five centers and a middling result.
Matthias, a teenager from Minnesota, was playing his first tournament game.
I decided to try to work with Reid. Brian seemed willing to play the Lepanto, and I knew Reid had taken a lot of CODCon beatings. I figured that he’d jump at the opportunity to actually work with someone, and that if I treated him fairly, he’d be a loyal ally.
I figured correctly.
So, our attack on Turkey was fast and efficient. Despite a misorder that cost Italy his 1901 build, and despite Russia drawing fire from England (Brad Harrington) and Germany in 1902, we were able to take down Matthias by 1904.
I sent help north in Spring 1903, ordering Vienna to Bohemia and Budapest to Galicia. I told Reid that the latter piece had designs on Silesia, but I was also giving myself options. After Spring 1903, the board looked like this:
(Click the link for board photo: [url]http://windycityweasels.org/images//boardpics/tournaments/codcon12/2018CODCon-R1B2-1903.jpg[/url].)
We spend a lot of time thinking about when to stab. This game was interesting for me because it flipped that question on its head. I had a walk to Warsaw and a force on Rumania.
I didn’t stab, though. I felt like jumping out to eight here would have united the board against me. I was trying to defend my CODCon title, this was a favorable board draw, and I needed a big result. Patience was in order.
So, instead of stabbing, I moved to Silesia and kept my commitments against Turkey, cutting Constantinople and supporting Tunis to Smyrna. Interestingly, Reid never flinched. That was informative. He either trusted me completely (possible), didn’t see the danger (unlikely), or was so resigned to the inevitable annual CODCon drubbing that he wasn’t sweating it (likely). Any of those explanations was good news for me.
In 1905, after capturing Constantinople and Munich, I again sent Budapest to Galicia. This time, the board looked like this:
(Click the link for board photo: [url]http://windycityweasels.org/images//boardpics/tournaments/codcon12/2018CODCon-R1B2-1905.jpg[/url].)
Once again, Reid never flinched as we schemed about putting my Galician army in Silesia. Nor was Brian overly worried about the walk to Venice.
Again, I stayed true. England was rivaling me for the board-top. My allies were posing challenges for him on the flanks. A stab here would have helped my rival.
I finally dropped the hammer in 1906. By then, England had engaged Germany, and Don was willing to janissary for me. I walked to Rumania and Warsaw in the Spring and supported Germany to Moscow in the Fall.
The draw passed in Spring 1907 with me topping over England, 10-8. I scored a tournament-leading 43.103 points.
The result held up for Best Austria and positioned me for a shot at the championship despite having to sit out the evening round.