A collection of Weasels, new and old, braved the pandemic to push some blocks around a board at the Red Lion.
|Austria||(Chuck Quinn)||3 centers||11.200 points|
|England||(Wes Ketchum)||6 centers||14.200 points|
|France||(Brian Shelden)||6 centers||14.200 points|
|Germany||(Jake Trotta)||0 centers||0.000 points|
|Italy||(Brandon Fogel)||11 centers||44.200 points|
|Russia||(Jay Honnold)||8 centers||16.200 points|
|Turkey||(Dan Perlman)||0 centers||0.000 points|
First-time player Wes Ketchum joined two Weasels playing in their second game, Jay Honnold and Chuck Quinn. Sharpshooter Jake Trotta made a long awaited return, and former Prime Weasel Brian Shelden, visiting from Vermont, made a rare appearance. They joined current Sneak members Brandon Fogel and Dan Perlman for an intriguing matchup of new and not so new.
On this night, the old hand got the upper hand. Fogel secured a board top by stabbing his Austrian ally in 1906 and then driving the knife in deeper in 1907. Honnold, beset by foes on all sides through 1904, rebounded to finish in second. Fogel and Honnold also sit at the top of the current standings.
Players, care to elaborate in the comments below?
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This was an awesome board. Not only did we get the long-awaited return of my weasel-brother Jake Trotta and a surprise visit from former Prime Weasel Brian Shelden, but we also had three brand new Weasels, including two playing in their second game. A great mix of old and new.
I drew Italy, a country I’ve really come to appreciate. Like with Austria and Germany, negotiation is vital in the early years, but unlike the others, you usually don’t have to worry about getting squeezed by two neighbors at the start. That is, unless France gets lured by some siren song in the south. Either way, a patient Italy will usually find a good opportunity at some point in the game. That’s what happened here.
The most important task for Italy is develop a good working relationship with Austria. Thankfully that was remarkably easy in this game. Even though Chuck was playing in only his second game with us, he already has an excellent working understanding of the game mechanics. Our alliance was solid for 5 years and there was not a single misstep between us.
The alliance benefitted both of us greatly. Chuck let me have Trieste in 1901, and in return I bypassed Tunis and went to the Aegean in F01. It’s an aggressive AI and it enabled us to get a jump on Turkey. Dan knew he was in trouble and hoped that turning on Russia might convince us to back off. It was a reasonable attempt, but we weren’t biting. By the end of 1905, Turkey was neutralized, and Chuck and I were on top of the center count at 8 and 7, respectively. Of course things changed after that, but that’s how it goes in Diplomacy. An alliance that last 5 years and benefits both about equally is as good as it gets with two solid players.
Before discussing the endgame, I have to give an early moment some attention. In F01, Brian in France took Munich, apparently without permission, leaving Jake with only 1 build. Jake put down an army in Kiel, not Berlin. Brian put down a fleet in Brest and an army in Marseille, waiving his third build. In my subsequent negotiation with Jake, I was a little surprised that he wasn’t more bothered by the loss of Munich. He even declined my offer of help to take it back. Next was Chuck, and midway through that talk, I saw it: Mun-Tyl, Mar-Pie, Bre-MAO-NAf, Por-Spa-WES, and I’d be toast. Chuck understood the danger and said he could move Vie-Tyl for me. I covered Pie from Ven and moved Tri-Alb for a convoy to Tun in the fall. Brian did indeed make those moves, adding F Mar at the end of the year with the banked build. I had to guess right in S03 to hang on to Tun, but I ended up parrying this attack until England turned on him in 1904, after which I left Brian alone to defend himself.
Let’s call France’s opening here the “reverse Oktoberfest”. If Italy doesn’t sniff it out, it should be devastatingly effective. Especially as a way to mask a Western Triple. Definitely one to keep in the back pocket.
Last, I’ll discuss the stab. As 1906 dawned, Austria stood at 8 and I was at 7. Turkey was down to 1 dot he couldn’t defend, while Russia was making a surprising resurgence and England and France were locking horns over MAO. Time was beginning to run short; it wasn’t clear whether we’d get a seventh year or not. In the Tribute scoring system, first place is worth substantially more than second. I figured now was the time to make a move.
Chuck’s position was made difficult by two factors: 1) two of his dots were in the north and thus difficult to defend, and 2) Russia was growing and hungry. Chuck had done a good job of supporting Russia long enough to hold back the Western Triple, but this had worked a little too well. Germany collapsed and Russia rejuvenated. This limited his options in 1906 and made him especially vulnerable to a stab. I unsheathed the knife in F06 and reluctantly twisted it further in 1907. Chuck could have limited the damage with stronger defense in 1907; that was just inexperience. I think his main mistake overall was to let Russia regrow; better to let Germany stay viable and secure the eastern dots.
Overall Chuck was a great ally and a good sport afterward. If he sticks with the game I suspect I’ll be writing from the perspective of the vanquished more than once in the future.
I was really impressed with Wes and Jay as well. Wes, in his first ever face-to-face game, managed well in the west with two very experienced players. Jay was playing in his second game with us and he already has the shark’s nose. He scored a big board top in his first game, and having played with him, I can say I’m not surprised. I look forward to more battles with all of these guys in the future.