A Weekly Threat Assessment of the Diplomacy Community

Cascadia Tournament Results

The Cascadia Diplomacy Tournament was held on the last weekend in January and was a great success!
Congratulations to the tournament champion, Ed Sullivan! Rounding out the top seven were Jaxon Roberts, Matthew Crill, Andrei Gribakov, Doug Moore, Karthik Konath, and Russ Dennis. Listen to all the exciting action here, brought to you courtesy of DBN and check out the complete final standings here. The Diplomats Youtube Channel (run by tournament winner Ed Sullivan and our own Umbletheheep) also have coverage of their games from the Cascadia Tournament- watch them here.
DBNI Countdown Show

David Hood and Zach Moore announce the final standings for the 2020 DBN Invitational Tournament. They also speak about the players who just missed the cut, as well as recap all the excitement of the just completed Cascadia Tournament. Watch it here

The Champions Corner is where recent tournament winners share a specific move or strategy that helped them emerge victorious.

Ed Sullivan is this year's winner of the Cascadia Tournament. He also runs the excellent 'Diplomats' Youtube Channel.

                                         Venimus, Vidimus, Vincimus

When Caesar coined “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” or “I came, I saw, I conquered,” he gave no credit to his legions. I prefer conjugating the Latin verbs to “We came, We saw, We conquered.” For me, winning Cascadia was a team effort, and I would like to explain why.

In late 2018, I found Nexus on its Discord server and began playing Diplomacy competitively. After many losses, I sought to improve and stumbled upon Chris Martin’s invaluable videos about the 2016 WDC Championship. Chris Martin and the players were my “first” team members. I sat on the bench and absorbed information. I noted their styles, negotiating methods, and tactics, all of which Chris Martin helpfully broke down for his viewers.

In the Nexus Season 2 tournament, I made my first Top Board, finishing second. Alas, I made emotional mistakes that cost me the win. I became so scarred I wrote a 500+ page After Action Report analyzing my every move and negotiation. I am now publishing it in a serialized format (I am shocked I have yet to win the Pulitzer Prize for Diplomacy writing). Along the way, I played with the very best online players in the world, including Umbletheheep, Conq, VillageIdiot, and Powa. These “second” team members taught me painful lessons about my limitations, including how my desire to be liked by others prevented me from making the right board moves. This tension persists.

In 2020, Umbletheheep asked me to do a YouTube series. Mostly, I ask him questions, and he provides valuable insight about high-level Diplomacy strategy and tactics. I have interviewed World Champions Nicolas Sahuguet, Chris Brand, and Doc Binder, as well as 2020 Weasel Moot XIV winner John Anderson. This series is my “third” team member. Pointedly, Nicolas told me that I could only earn respect if I gathered the courage “to go for it,” even I failed.

Umbletheheep strongly encouraged me to play Dixiecon last year. I played one game and shared a board top, finding the other competitors delightful, particularly my neighbor Edi Birsan, who is genuinely the hobby’s best ambassador. I was pleased with the result and decided to keep trying. I am fortunate to have met many great people on the circuit—my “fourth” team members, especially Conrad Woodring, Nicolas Sahuget, Ben Kellman, Liam Stokes, Karthik Konath, Kirk Vaughn, JJ Raymond, Farren Jane, Morgante Pell, Tanya Gill, John Anderson, Russ Dennis, Seren Kwok, and the Robertses.

The “fifth” team members are the DBNI crew—Brandon Fogel, Bryan Pravel, Siobhan Nolen, David Hood, Adam Silverman, Doug Moore, and Kevin O’Kelly. I appreciate how they objectively and humorously analyze my mistakes and playing style.

So, how did I win Cascadia? It’s not a tremendous tactical story. You don’t play with me for tactical suggestions. You play with me for no-stress fun.

In Round 1, I played Russia and had not previously played with any of my Eastern neighbors. A strong AI formed early, and Turkey disagreed with my suggestions on meeting the threat. Instead of fearing the AI and worrying about being its next victim, I played to my diplomatic strengths. I spent time getting to know Austria (Garry Sturley) and Italy (Mikalis Kamaritis) personally. I bonded with them by finding common outside interests, and I helped them get to a place where they would listen to me—not as a desperate soul reaching out to them in a time of need—but as a friend who could make their games easier if they worked with me before swallowing me whole. They opened their hearts and minds to my suggestions, and we saw the game through to an 11-11-11-1 draw. We tied for third place after the first round standings.

In Round 2, I played Germany. I had previously developed relationships with five other players, but I barely knew France (John Archbold). Unlike the others, I spent a lot of time listening to him, encouraging him, and showing him trust. Unfortunately for John, he felt previously disrespected by another player on another board who, like me, was in contention to win the tournament. He confided to me that his goal was to ensure that the other player did not win, and he would do that by helping me increase my score. John sought respect, and I gave it to him, and he is deserving of it. Edi Birsan gave me that respect in my first tournament, and I strive to pay it forward.

With the game at 10-8-8-8, I considered stabbing France, but that’s not me, and to DBN’s chagrin, that’s never going to be me. I rarely stab just for a higher board top. So, I earnestly proposed a 10-8-8-8 draw. My then opponents, Russia (Ben Kellman) and Turkey (Riaz Virani), agreed to draw. France, however, did not. He pulled me aside to explain that he did not believe my score was high enough, and he proposed that I take two dots off of him. What was I supposed to say? I went back to the others, explained France’s position, and further explained that this proposal would increase their scores because the draw would then be 12-8-8-6. I said I was happy to continue going on, and I would respect everyone’s decision, which was true. Everyone agreed to the proposal, and the players collectively arranged how I would take two dots off of France.

Fortunately for me, however, Turkey simultaneously stabbed Russia for three dots, breaching the agreement. Riaz explained that he did not want to see the game concluded in this manner, but he would agree to a draw in which he ended up second. I respected his position and told him I would try and sell it to the others. To me, it made no difference. France and Russia refused and said they would not draw in a worse position than before the stab.

I assured Russia and France that my only interest was to see each of them with more dots than Turkey. I hated to lie to two friends, but I knew a solo would seal the tournament victory, so I lied. Because I did not want to veto any draw proposal by Russia or France, I planned to make a move before Turkey slipped below either. An opportunity arose in 1910, and with Russ Dennis and Nicolas Sahuguet whispering in my ear, I “went for it,” took seven centers, got the solo, and secured the tournament victory.

No one threw a solo to me. Russia and France did not believe I would betray their trust because I don’t betray trust in most of my games. Each counted on me playing to form. Typically, that’s a good bet.

So, in short, assemble a great team, and play Diplomacy for fun and self-improvement. Tournaments are intense, but Diplomacy does not have real-life stakes on the line. My team has taught me that Diplomacy’s real value is the small-d “diplomacy”—building relationships, finding common interests, and reaching mutually beneficial outcomes for as long as possible. To my team, thank you for all your help and encouragement. We came, we saw, and we conquered.




This issue was brought to you by Edi Birsan. Thank you for the support!
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