Gozer Arrives

Last night found the Weasels and the Minnesota Diplomacy Club crossing streams and opening a portal to another dimension, from which emerged the Gozer of our times: reigning Bull Weasel Ali Adib.  He opened up a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man-sized lead atop the league standings with a steady 13-center board-top, vanquishing newfound nemeses Bryan Pravel and Chris Brown in the process.  Who will be our Venkman?

In the night’s second game, a globe-spanning affair ranging from Washington, DC, to Singapore, Christian Kline jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, scoring a big board top that moved him into third place in the standings. 

Livestream commentary on both games was provided by Brandon Fogel, Chris Martin, and Siobhan Nolen.  The recording can be found here.  All the moves can be viewed on Backstabbr: Game 406 and Game 407.

Players, anything to add?

Game #406, played on Saturday, May 16, 2020, at Online in Interwebs, ended in a five-way draw in 1907. This game is part of WCW League 15 (2020).
Austria(Bryan Pravel)0 centers0.000 points
England(Jeff Rosenberg)0 centers0.000 points
France(Eber Condrell)5 centers11.200 points
Germany(Dan Perlman)9 centers15.200 points
Italy(George Linkert)6 centers12.200 points
Russia(Chris Brown)1 centers7.200 points
Turkey(Ali Adib)13 centers54.200 points
1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17
Game #407, played on Saturday, May 16, 2020, at Online in Interwebs, ended in a six-way draw in 1907. This game is part of WCW League 15 (2020).
Austria(Hal Schild)5 centers10.000 points
England(Christian Kline)12 centers53.000 points
France(Steve Caponigri)2 centers7.000 points
Germany(Brian Ecton)0 centers0.000 points
Italy(Advait Arunav)6 centers11.000 points
Russia(Eric Grinnell)6 centers11.000 points
Turkey(Wes Ketchum)3 centers8.000 points
1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Bryan Pravel

    After the emotional high of coming back from two centers to tie for a board top in game 404 and then racing (and losing) to a board top in game 405, game 406 was pretty straightforward. This may be related to the fact I was eliminated in 1903.

    I drew Austria and was pretty pleased. I wouldn’t say that I play Austria particularly well, but I really enjoy it. In my opinion, it’s the most difficult of the powers to play and success depends heavily on a good mix of negotiations, tactics, and reading the board. I was less pleased that my neighbors were Ali Adib in Turkey and Chris Brown in Russia. We’ve been neighbors for three games in a row now and I had recently stabbed both of them. I felt I was starting the game with a trust deficit. As usual, Italy was the wildcard in the East. I’ve never played with George Linkert before, but I was aware of him based on his play in recent online games and the fact he’s a great twitter follow (@gml4). From reading his posts online, I knew he was not a newbie and understood his stuff.

    The West featured two familiar Weasels, fellow Sneak member Dan Perlman who has been rapidly growing as a player and is ready for a breakout game, and high school hotshot Eber Condrell who has had some success in our league and currently sits just behind me in the standings. Jeff Rosenberg playing England was a new player to me.

    Because of the baggage from previous games I was bringing into this game, I knew my options for allies would be limited at the outset of the game. My primary goal was to get Russia and Turkey fighting each other, play defense, and then join in with whichever of the two seemed to give me better options after they were committed against each other. I knew that I needed to establish trust early, so I didn’t try to hide my moves. I encouraged conservative openings from all players, but hinted that Russia might want to take Rumania with a fleet in F1901. This is typically pro-Austrian so I didn’t hate that, but my real objective was to get the Turkish fleet into the Black Sea. My theory was that once Turkey was in Black, it would be difficult for Russia and Turkey to detangle. To my surprise I met little resistance to this idea so I felt pretty good at the end of S1901.

    Then I saw that Italy opened with the Bohemian Crusher and sent Venice to Tyrolia and Rome to Venice and didn’t feel so good. I immediately assumed a Wintergreen I/R alliance. In my opinion, there is no reason for Italy to ever use this opening unless they are working with Russia. I’m a player who is willing to let Italians borrow Trieste for a double fleet build to cement an alliance. If Italy did not have armies in both Tyrolia *and* Venice, I would have pitched this exact exchange. That would be very wrong if there was a Wintergreen though so I wasn’t willing to risk it. I decided I needed to cement an alliance to help against the I/R so I threw my hat into Turkey’s ring. I asked for a bounce with Italy in Trieste (I didn’t think it would happen) and told Turkey I was leaving Greece open. I explained that we had Russia bottled up, so I asked him to build fleets to go against Italy so the two of us could work against Italy first and then hit Russia once Italy had been contained. I then debated between bouncing Italy in Bohemia (which is the follow-on move for the Bohemian Crusher and I expected to happen) or bouncing Italy in Trieste. I decided supporting the fleet to Trieste was the right call. I think this was the mistake that eliminated me from the game in F1901.

    In retrospect, I should have gone to Greece and bounced Bohemia. Italy probably takes Trieste which isn’t ideal, but he’s bottled up and we can still work together. The Turkish army in Greece was killer. A Turkish fleet isn’t bad for an A/T but that army meant that Serbia was sitting there as a delicious target waiting to be taken. Whoever controls Serbia controls the Balkans. By giving Turkey Greece in 1901, I gave him control over Serbia, and in effect, made it dumb for him to not attack me. I may have still been eliminated, but I think I would have had more diplomatic leverage.

    In S1902 I made my favorite pitch of the game. Italy would borrow Munich from Germany, move Venice to Piedmont, and build fleets to go west against France. It could have been *brutal*. George seemed to give it some serious consideration, but ultimately declined. I was able to play some defense with the help of Dan in Germany who (rightly IMHO) supported Austria against Italian aggression. I don’t think a rapid collapse of Austria is good for Germany because that usually means Russian success, or someone else beating Germany to the Russian dots.

    In F1902 I knew I couldn’t hold all my dots, so I tried to convince Turkey to not tap Serbia. He didn’t agree which tipped me off that he was definitely working with Italy against me as well. I couldn’t defend from three powers at once so I decided I’d rather have Russia get my dots than Italy or Turkey because he was the only power I could really work with at this point. My hope is that Italy would get frustrated at other powers getting my dots and agree to work with me instead.

    In S1903 I thought I had made a breakthrough. George approached me about convoying an army into Greece. He made a move towards me and I swam towards that life preserver of diplomatic outreach as fast as I could. We ultimately concluded it was better to just convoy Italy into Albania and I asked for support back into Vienna. My pitch was that Turkey had control of the Balkans, but if Italy was in Greece and I could build in Budapest, we’d have the right unit mix and position to push Turkey back into the box. If we didn’t move this turn, we’d never have that chance again. We executed the spring moves, but in the fall Russia, Italy, and Turkey each took my last remaining dots and eliminated me from the game.

    I still believe my pitch to George in Italy was correct. It’s impossible to say what would have happened, but I believe we could have had a very solid alliance that would have resulted in a higher score for Italy than how he ended this game. I feel he would have had all the upside of the I/T with less risk of a late game stab. Personally when I play Italy I’d much rather have a weak Austria as my ally than a stronger Turkey who has position. Who knows though. George’s Italy and Ali’s Turkey were a model of how to play the rarely seen I/T alliance. They both showed tremendous restraint when needed (Ali in particular). Look at the movement of the fleets in F1904. George leaves Greece and goes to Ionian and Turkey backs out of Adriatic into Smyrna. This set of orders took guts. It was a sign of two experienced players who read the situation on the board and respected each other enough to execute. It was a thing of beauty to watch.

    The main lesson that I feel I learned from this game was that giving a potential ally position against you in exchange for a strategic decision you cannot force is not the smartest decision, particularly when they are an experienced player who understands how to take advantage.

    Despite the early exit it was a fun game. It was great meeting Jeff and George. I’ve loved watching the Minnesota hobby come to life and look forward to many more games with you guys. George, in particular I hope I earned a little respect from you in this game and that we can work together in the future. I know you earned mine. I am a little disappointed that I still don’t have a score in the Minnesota league though. I had visions of topping the board with a huge score and competing in both leagues this year. 😀

    Player Feedback:

    England: Jeff, we didn’t get to interact a ton but I always enjoyed your positive attitude and a fellow player to join me in my misery.
    France: Ebert, I was impressed with your commitment to the F/G. I encourage you to check out the live-stream, particularly the comments about the move of your fleets in F1902. I learned a little from this and I think you will as well. I’m glad to see you sticking with this. You have a ton of potential in this hobby and am genuinely worried you will pass me in the standings soon. 🙂
    Germany: Dan, you made a move and had a good result! I’d also encourage you to check out the stream. There’s some good stuff about when you reached the midgame. What I like about you is that you come across as a good alliance player who is learning to take risks. I very much appreciated working with you this game and hope we can do so again. I think our play styles complement each other.
    Italy: George I had a blast losing to you which is about the best compliment I can give from this position. Thanks for being willing to discuss harebrained schemes. I look forward to working with you again.
    Russia: Chris I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us again. If I didn’t suspect a Wintergreen I/R I would have been a little more willing to push you forward. I wish we could have worked things out in S1903. I think you, Italy, and I working together could have definitely progressed against Turkey. I know you felt like you were better finishing me off first, but to me the army builds of Turkey could only be read as “Russia is next.” I really hope that you, Ali, and I aren’t neighbors again in the next game but I really am hoping to work with you soon.
    Turkey: Ali, I respected every aspect of your game. You consistently made good decisions, balanced all phases of the game, and in my opinion controlled this game from F1901 onward. You were patient, took smart risks, and earned this win. Well done, you deserve your place on the top of the League standings.

  2. gml4

    Being the Unhappy Puppet

    Windy City Weasels North Precinct – May 2020 online match – Game 1

    Italy – George (the author)
    Turkey – Ali
    Russica – Chris
    France – Eber
    England – Jeff
    Germany – Dan
    Austria – Bryan

    Draw of Italy – Most face to face Diplomacy I’ve played was with less than seven players, so I’ve had few opportunities to play this power before. My online experience as Italy has been mostly unremarkable.

    Name because I felt I had no other real good options but to play along with Turkey for most of the game.

    1901 – So the lesson from May 2020… be more aggressive and don’t waffle. I confer with Turkey (with whom I had a good rapport with in a recent game) and Russia, and it’s quickly agreed that we should eliminate Austria. Discourse with Austria was fine too, but I want to be bold here, and strike north with both armies. The Diplomacy in the Fall cemented my resolve to strike Austria, but I play the good ally and talk Austria into defending Trieste and move to Bohemia so a Venice build can guarantee a Trieste gain in 1902. Because I was going to be bold, right!

    1902 – France and I agree to continue to leave each other alone, we set clear boundaries and respectfully discuss our intentions. Russia admires my position, and wants to claim Vienna. I _really_ want Russia to be my long term ally here, and agree to support them, while I make an attempt to Trieste. I never had intentions of attacking Germany, and I believed they were on my side, but the German move to Tyrolia disrupting my support was the beginning of a series of misjudgements I made the next two years. Austria successfully defends himself in the Spring and in the Fall, Turkey makes a last minute change to not cut Bud support, and I get Russia (my hopeful future ally) into Vienna, and I’m stuck without that build.

    1903 – I’m super upset I get no builds, but relieved Turkey holds up his promises to build armies. I start feeling like Turkey is being a master puppeteer, pulling many strings, including my own. . Russia was attacked by both Turkey and Germany so they are upset, and negotiations with them are difficult. I try to be patient and let them sort it out, but it’s eating valuable time and my Russian friend doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do. Conversations with Turkey are fine, but they talk about advancing his line in the Spring, and supporting attacks I will be making in the Fall. I continue to talk to Austria, and during that conversation the idea surfaces to convoy my army in Ven – Albania. Austria also offered to support my fleet into Greece. I didn’t think too much of it, but that it sounded more fun than banging my head against Trieste, so we made a deal, and I stab Turkey. I almost regretted it right away, as I felt exposed, and my progress here would be very tough. Conversations with Turkey continued, and my stab is quickly forgiven and we quickly conspired to put me in my puppet clothes and dispose of Austria with Russia. Both France and Turkey wanted fleet builds, so that decision is easy for me to make.

    1904 – I initially set my moves against Turkey. Even though things were tough when trying to cooperate with Russia, I initially thought I could make an R-I alliance work. (side note- For some reason, trying to get a hold of Russia was very inconsistent. It didn’t appear he was talking to someone, but most of my calls to him were declined) When we finally were talking, Russia continued to “waffle” about his intentions. I basically offered to walk instep with him in either direction, be it against Germany or Turkey, but he couldn’t articulate a direction, much less try to coordinate moves with me. Big heavy sigh. So Turkey was the better alliance option to work with, especially as his builds were clear cut pro-Italian. So I change it up, put on my puppet grin, and head west with Marseille in my sights. France was a new player to me, but showed himself to be a competent player so far. Were they the type to cover Marseilles? I guess not, so he builds an army there. That pretty much stopped whatever progress I was going to make there. Turkey continues to be easy to work with, as we deescalate our borders in the Balkans and he heads north, and we push Russia out of Austria.

    1905 – I had the sense France and Germany were tight, and so I was fortunate to support myself into Tyrolia in the Spring. Talks with Turkey continue fine, and we coordinate some moves still. I try talking him into not worrying about the Russian points, but to strike into Germany. It just takes so long to advance those armies of his. Talks continue with France and Germany. France and I see the futility of our battle in the Meditereanean. He wants me to move against Turkey of course, which is now very hard to do because I’m Tukey’s unhappy puppet. In the Fall I offer to cease my attack if he allows me Mars. He agrees, and I bounce his fleet in the MAO to keep his fleet in the English Channel so they can stab Germany. It worked smoothly and I anxiously awaited his move against Germany. My lazy Fall 05 moves commented on in the stream were deliberately weak, so it appeared I was still moving against France. I honestly believe they made the right call in giving me Mars, and I made the wrong decision in continuing to play the puppet.

    1906 – So I believed I had convinced France to stab Germany, and was telling Turkey that we should just continue to press north. He asked for my move suggestions, but his line was in a bit of disarray, and there was no clear way forward. I was still insecure on my France border, so I shored up my line there. I was disappointed France hadn’t made that stab yet. Germany and I had a long conversation trying to find a way to untie our lines, but that was fruitless. Turkey of course changed my puppet strings into very sharp knives in the Spring that I should’ve anticipated. I have still a blind spot to end these timed Diplomacy games, and don’t see the stab coming. See note below.

    1907 – Losing points in Austria to Turkey who was now done stabbing his puppet, and taking a whip to my sore backside, I shore up the Ionian to hold up for the long haul, which of course, was never going to happen anyway (because it was a stupid end of game year where people are just trying to count points) so my move to Apulia I thought might be a better place to sit to support Ion, or support Ven in the future.

    Austria – Truly sorry for the early elimination. I would say I attacked you first because you seemed like an easier target than Turkey. I enjoyed our discourse, and look forward to playing another game soon with you!

    Russia – I’m really disappointed we couldn’t make things work. Thanks for putting up the good fight!

    Germany – Nicely done. If we had more time, I think we could’ve worked something out. Let’s try harder next time.

    France – It was a pleasure. I like our direct and straightforward conversations. Let’s do more of that!

    England – My Minnesota brother! I didn’t know we were in the same state until the next day. If I would’ve known that, I would’ve come to your aid!

    Turkey – You worked very hard for this one. It was a good alliance, and I have no regrets except I should’ve seen the stab coming. You are a complete Diplomacy player now. In fact, I think you will never lose a game of Diplomacy again! It’s Easy Street for you from now on buddy! Nice job working the board. I sincerely look forward to another one soon.

    Thanks to the Windy City Weasels and the Windy City Weasels North Precinct (formerly known as the MN Diplomacy Club) for putting together this game. It was a fun game, and I look forward to another one soon!

    See you in 1901!

    Note – I am a long time Diplomacy player, but am not used to playing for “points” See my twitter thread about it here


    Game moves – https://www.backstabbr.com/game/WCW-406–MNDC-20-05-1/5922272826621952/1901/spring

    [for fun when reading this post,, substitute the word bitch, for every time I use the word puppet]

  3. Wes Ketchum

    Another good time playing, meeting new people, and somehow surviving to the end. Huge thanks to the MN club for teaming up to make for a good Saturday evening.

    I drew Turkey in game 407 (the wrong Turkey of the pair …). I was happy to see Christian, who I worked well with in a game just prior, in the same game as me (and … happy he was on the other side of the board in England, since I had gotten the better of him in that game), but other than Ecton in Germany, didn’t know any of the other players in the game. In the end, it was an at time frustrating affair, but felt like a bit of salvaged game by the end.

    1901 — Immediate negotiations with Eric G in Russia are fairly good: he wants to team up, and lets me dictate the terms. I insist on a bounce in Black, and hold out hope to see how things turn as I’m on board with the idea of an RT. I enjoy talking to Hal in Austria, who is out-front anti-Russia and looking for help. In the fall, I agree to support him to RUM, and then … decide not to do it. I feel like I hit it off reasonably well with Advait in Italy, and try to convince him to go after Austria. The spring opens with a Lepanto-like move, and In the fall, he claims he’ll go for Trieste and convoy to the Balkans (Apulia), which … I’m a bit wary of as it doesn’t make much sense. Sure enough, AI are working together, as Italy gets an army supported into Greece. Not may favorite way to start out, as my fleet is now stuck in Black (having moved there in the fall to prepare to bring out).

    Looking to the west, there’s a clear EF with Steve in France having grabbed Munich in the fall. I start up the popcorn, until I see three French builds, which makes me think Christian will be in spectacular position.

    1902 — AI are going at me, with fleets shuffling around in the spring. I get kicked out of AEG in the fall, but covering SMY lets me retreat to CON. With the fleet in Black, I’m in a decent defensive position and Russia doesn’t have a great opportunity to stab. I’m tap Serbia in the fall to help Eric take Budapest, hoping that getting him dots and crippling Austria won’t backfire on me, as clearly things are going to be slower for me to develop. To balance that, I do what I can to encourage Christian to fight Russia in the north, just to keep Eric in check.

    1903 — I go to Advait and try to offer him a sweet deal: I’ll support into Serbia, which will let him get that and Trieste by end of year as Austria’s demise feels certain. I ask for him to move out and Greece in return. I honestly think he’s on board. It does not happen, and I’m completely demoralized with interactions with Italy. On top of that, I’ve wasted BUL for the turn, when moving to SER would have put me there and kept Austria under pressure: as it is, Hal retakes Budapest and recovers his position in the fall. The one silver lining is Italy built an army in Naples in the spring, and so I know to cover against the convoy in the fall, so that gets parried and Italy is still not in position on my home centers.

    I’m starting to beat the “hey, let’s go defend against EF” drum at this point, as Christian is not surprisingly doing very well.

    1904 — Eric chooses to disband STP as a friendly sign to England, which makes me worried he’ll collapse now. No support from RUM in the spring means I lose BUL, as Italy and Austria get on the same page. Still, Italy is moving slow here, needing to keep the fleet in ION to keep the convoy threat up, rather than get fleets in EAS and AEG.

    Eric and I are now really starting to beat the anti-English drum here. I’m doing everything I can to try to flip Hal, as I feel I cannot work with Italy and that Hal is the decider here. I keep telling him I’m not even that mad he took BUL as I’d rather have my fleet out of black to do something useful…but I need him to let up on me, help me beat down Italy, and I’ll just move west. He … doesn’t buy it. And in the fall, I’m happy that my defense holds, as I displace AEG and prevent the convoy to CON.

    (Though, Italy walks into Munich, which was fun if it didn’t mean it was something good for my main aggressor.)

    1905 — France continues to let England do as he wishes, and now the fleets are getting in position to get into the Med. In the spring, Eric starts a group chat with the eastern powers, and we implore AI to turn west before it’s too late. They agree…and there’s at least some coordination around Germany, But Italy continues to attack me, and now moves ION to AEG to bring him even further from stopping english fleets. (Advait said “hey, I’m moving my newly built fleet in rome west!” which is so too little too late…)

    In the negotiations for the fall, I plead again, promise I won’t take any Italian centers coming from behind, but that if Advait does not move now Tunis will be lost and there’s no stopping England from establishing himself in the Med. I thought he agrees, but then, humorously, while sharing a screenshot to coordinate moves around Germany, I notice that the same screenshot gives away an attack on me.

    I flip, and re-plead my case that if he does not move fleets west now, there will be no stopping Christian from a solo. Fine, maybe there would not have been time to solo, but it still would have been an enormous top. Finally I feel like Advait starts to give in, and in the fall I’m very happy to see AEG –> ION, which is literally just in time as Christian lands in north africa.

    1906-7 — Just letting Italy, Austria, and Russia establish the line. I follow Italy out with my fleets (originally as a ‘just in case they’re needed’). I’m in position in the final year to grab Rome and Naples unopposed, but decide to stick to my word (and thank Italy for finally doing the right thing and stopping the board leader), and not grab a few extra centers.

    Final thoughts: AI got so locked into the idea of an RT that it kept them from doing anything else. Particularly, I think ltaly believed that there was no way an alliance with Turkey could work (and I think Austria did his part to make him feel that), to the point where I would keep asking Advait to name his price for working together, and there was no way to even name conditions. If I trusted Eric more from the jump, maybe there would have been more tempo against an aggressive AI, but I don’t fault myself for not taking that risk with a player I don’t know. In the end, I think the fact that I was so neutered with Austria taking BUL that I was no longer a threat to Austria, and combined with a growing England was enough to convince Austria to let me be, and Italy then let off the gas too. Managing to actually negotiate Italy to trust me enough to do the better thing for us all I think counts as enough success for me for this game.

    Thanks to everyone, was a fun game. Especially congrats to Christian, who played an excellent game on his side of the board.

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