Moot XIII, Round 2, Board 1

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Round 2, Board 1

The game ended by solo in Winter, 1908.

Jorge Zhang
Christian Kline
Braden Lenz
Jim Calabrese
Kevin O’Kelly
Ali Adib
Cori Neslund
100 (Best Turkey)

I’m pretty sad about this game because it proves that I should really learn my lessons from previous games. I played an almost identical house game a few months ago, and in that game I survived as a 1 center Austria, but only due to a last minute (accidental?) save from Jim O’Kelley. In that game I had a difficult choice because I knew that Russia wanted to go to Galicia, and I suspected that Italy was going to Trieste. My response then was to bounce both choices, and then let Turkey into Serbia to try and incentivize Turkey to work with me. In both games, Russia was interested in working with me (at least, I thought) and couldn’t due to the board position not working out. Also in both games, Turkey took the opportunity to take Greece rather than help me out with Serbia. My lessons from that game were to 1. Not resort to giving Turkey Serbia 2. Not worry too much about Galicia, because it’s ok to let Russia in if needed and then pitch them on taking Rumania with the army.

This time, I decided on a similar but ultimately just as bad choice. I had a slight suspicion that Italy would open to Trieste but I got him to verbally say that he wouldn’t go there, so I suppressed that intuition. Also, Ali as Russia was telling me that if I let him into Galicia, he would use it to take Rumania. So my first mistake was not letting Ali into Galicia: this would have perhaps aligned our interests more and put me in a much better position. From my last game, I should have definitely learned that Russia moving to Galicia in S01 is not necessary anti-Austrian.

My next mistake was emotional. After Kevin took Trieste, I was pretty upset by his moves. I unfortunately let this bleed into my decision making process. I remember walking away from him mid-conversation because I flat out didn’t want to work with him. That was absolutely the wrong thing to do. I should have swallowed that instinct and talked about the clear RT that would probably wipe him out next if he didn’t work with me. I should have been talking about the EF that was rolling the board from the other side. Instead, I didn’t even attempt to make a persuasive argument but walked away. I made things worse by making the desperation pitch to Cori by asking her to take Serbia. I think that I actually solved the problem Ali was having with Cori, because my proposed solution made it very easy for Cori and Ali to work together by solving the problem of Cori being in Rum and Black Sea. So in a sense, by offering Cori Serbia I basically helped out the RT (I know that technically Serbia was forced anyway, but had Kevin and I got out stuff together and supported Serbia to hold, it would have caused a lot of tension between Ali and Cori). After this, Russia helped Italy take Vienna and Germany moved to Bohemia to help out pop the unit. Then, Turkey took Greece and Russia took Budapest to very effectively eliminate me from the game. Overall I played very poorly and made moves without thinking about the consequences.

First, a big thank you to all of the participants and organizers. You guys made me feel really welcome and I enjoyed meeting all of you! I can’t wait to hang out and play Diplomacy with you all again.

Also–shout out to everyone who participated in the social stuff. Not only was it fun, but I appreciated getting to know you outside of the game. 🙂

See below for my recap of the game and other thoughts.

1901 – 1903

To be honest I started out super nervous and definitely paranoid. I had been put on a board with Ali and Christian, who I already knew were both excellent players. Then I find out Jorge has a reputation for being a great player too and I was like “s***”. While I didn’t know Jim, Kevin, or Braden’s capabilities prior to the game, I was still pretty sure they would also be good players. Initially my goal was simply either to (i) not be the first person out, or (ii) at least not go out before 1904. Seems stupid now, but that’s what I thought.

It was lucky for me that I had been assigned Turkey as I’d already played a F2F game as that country and done very well (second only to Jake Trotta). With Turkey I felt like I could at least accomplish one of my two above goals. Thus given who I was playing with, and what people had already assumed about me, I decided that my best tactic was to play up my newness. More on this later.

For the first two years I was convinced that Russia, Austria and Italy had decided to singularly attack me and take my dots between them. When Italy opened into Trieste people started saying ‘lepanto’ and I both didn’t know what that was, and also felt that it confirmed my belief that an attack was imminent. This belief probably had something to do with Jorge’s early elimination since I would not believe him until it was too late.

Ali and I had already agreed on some kind of alliance which he kept even after I stabbed him for BLA pretty much right out the gate. Given his club championship win I felt like he could easily overcome me if I didn’t have an advantage. We talked about this and he seemed to accept that–I am curious what his thoughts were during this period though.

Up until 1904 I mostly just played along with what Ali and Kevin were saying to me. I deliberately misordered a fleet to Greece instead of an army which I was sure would tip Ali off that I was at least somewhat uncooperative. However, even after the stab and misorder both he and Kevin must have thought I wasn’t a threat and so they turned their backs to me in order to move west which left them open to the horrors to come.


Stab year. Kevin and Ali had moved out of my way, giving me free access to a ridiculous number of their dots which I could take with one move. In hindsight I should have waited until fall–but I guess I decided to be a bit reckless and thus stabbed in the spring.

Honestly, huge props to Ali and Kevin. They really took this stab in stride and proved that they are excellent sportsmen. I owe them for sure. If I ever decide to print “I’m your ally and I’ll help you win a game with no backstabs” coupons they will both get one [offer not valid in tournaments].

At this point there wasn’t going to be much that Russia or Italy could do to stop me from progressing, especially considering that Austria was out already. They decided to assist me as much as possible–which Ali did until he was eliminated. Kevin stuck with me for a while until he and the other players realized I was likely to solo unless they were more proactive in protecting their dots.

Around this time (or perhaps a year before) Braden (France) tried to get me to help him finish off Italy. I think it would have been a good choice if I hadn’t thought there might be a possibility of a win for me. Braden and I probably could have topped the board together in a draw if I had started to cooperate with him at this point in the game.

1906 – 1908

Things were going well. Christian was doing his best to ally the other players to stop me from getting a solo. Unfortunately for him, Jim and Braden were tied up with him in the west. They were so clumped together I think it was hard for them to get in any real kind of position to stop me.

Jim seemed to vacillate between who he was supporting, so I pushed in and took some of his dots. At this point I was pretty sure I could get a solo, and when I took StP that was the end.


Going back to my above note, I knew playing up my newness as a tactic wasn’t going to fly for long–and certainly at this point it’s a dead duck (as it should be). The reason why I chose to go that route is because I noticed that across the board (prior to the solo) everyone I played with believed that I was so new that I couldn’t be a threat. This was regardless of the fact that in my previous F2F games I had not done poorly at all. It didn’t seem to occur to anyone until it was too late that I was misrepresenting my understanding of the game, likely since my behavior fulfilled their initial expectations. That blind spot is what allowed me to position myself for a solo.

While initially I felt like it wasn’t ‘my’ win since it was gained by taking advantage of other people’s ‘kind’ assumptions, I now totally feel like it’s my win. Just because someone is new doesn’t mean that they aren’t a solid competitor (or ally). That underestimation was too good to pass up, so even though it will never work again (and shouldn’t have worked in the first place) I’m glad I did it.

Now I’m looking forward to playing games that aren’t clouded by a perception of me that isn’t true. I am new, and I am learning, but I know enough to be a great choice for an ally or a vicious backstabbing weasel of a competitor. Jim was right–I am a monster. 😉


Jorge: It was fun playing with you–I’m sorry we didn’t get to play together longer. I’m really looking forward to being on a board with you again! Hopefully next time we’ll be in a better position to support each other.

Christian: Awesome game–good job trying to rally the troops into stopping me. In 1907 I definitely felt some twinges of doubt on if I could solo.

Braden: You’re a funny dude! I legitimately think that an alliance with you would have also paid off. Hopefully sometime in the future we can take another stab at it (haha–pun intended).

Jim: Thank you for being such a great player! I should have worked harder on my communication skills with you. I think if we had been on the same page more often we would have seen better results.  

Kevin: Wow–you are such a good sportsman. Your attitude the whole game was A++. I still have a lot of respect for you as a player–even though you turned on me in the end (and perhaps because you did). 😉

Ali: Not sure how I can truly express my gratitude for your help in this game. You were at the first game I shadowed and I knew you were a great player just from watching. Seriously I am looking forward so much to playing with you again–whether we’re allies or enemies I know it’s going to be fun! Next time we meet up I would love to hear your perspective on this game!

A:Jorge Zhang
E:Christian Kline
F:Braden Lenz
G:Jim Calabrese
I:Kevin O’Kelly
R:Ali Adib
T:Cori Neslund

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