A Merry Christmas from Your Friends at the Briefing

The Christmas Song You Didn't Know You Needed

David Hood, Diplomacy, and Christmas are three things that belong together...preferably in song. We at the Briefing proudly present a David Hood original composition: Deck the Board
* By original composition, we mean with an assist from Harold Reynolds in the Diplomatic Pouch. 
Merry Christmas to Your Victims

Nothing says that a benevolent dictator is coming to town than learning the holiday greetings of the countries that are falling under the jackboots of your troops. Your "allies" will also appreciate this thoughtful gesture. They might even be so touched that they'll give you that cherished support into Belgium or leave the Black Sea without a bounce.

So in this spirit, I say "Buon Natale, Frohe Weihnachten, Boldog Karácsonyt, Joyeux Noël, Счастливого Рождества, Mutlu Noeller, and Merry Christmas to all!" May you concentrate today on your families and loved ones. As for me, I have letters to write, orders to enter, and knives to sharpen.
Christmas is a time of warmth and good cheer. For Diplomacy players, it's the perfect opportunity to use the holiday season to their advantage. What happens though when the master of Christmas joins the game? Maxim Popov is here to share that most memorable encounter.
Stabbed by Santa

On a cold December night a group of friends gathered around the table and set up small ships and cannons on a map of Europe. As it was Christmas Eve, they were not particularly upset at having their seventh player unable to show up, they knew they would figure out a way to make things work.

Countries were drawn in the usual way, and I ended up with England. One by one the other powers were taken up until only Russia remained. “We can’t play without Russia!” the French player exclaimed.
Suddenly, footsteps sounded from the living room and in walked a large man, dressed in red and white. “Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! Russia has arrived!” Santa’s magical aura made it all seem completely normal, and no one thought to question how or why he came. We entered negotiations, and I quickly felt Santa’s charm. 
He offered to work with me to quickly dismantle Germany, and who was I to say no. With the Frenchman moving to Burgundy, myself in the North Sea, and Santa sitting in Saint Petersburg, the Gulf of Bothnia, and Silesia, we were ready to quickly grow.
Santa and I discussed how he would take Norway and move to the Baltic while I convoyed into Denmark quickly dismantling the German. But, things didn't turn out as planned. When the orders were read, I didn’t make it into Denmark and instead found Santa in Norway and Sweden with him and the German working together. I looked up at him, shocked, and his booming laugh echoed around the room. I frowned at him, and he knew that the game was on.
I walked off with all of the players save for Santa and Germany. We spent the entire time discussing how to best defeat the terrible Northern bear. As time was called and all orders in, I noticed the white tip of a hat hanging out of the chimney. Santa had heard it all. After he countered our each and every move, we were at it again. 
This time we made sure that Santa was not there, and our moves were once again in and ready to surge forth. Once more, as I was leaving the room, I noticed a little figure scampering away. It was an elf! Santa had spied on us once more.
Each move was countered again, but the third time pays for all and we made sure to block all entrances and this time we could not be overheard. However, once the orders were read I saw sheepish looks and a Russian fleet in the North Sea. How could this have happened!
As I talked to my former allies, each of them explained that they had seen Santa frowning over a list with a sack of coal next to him, and as they walked up, he offered them two choices. Working with him and getting a gift, or supporting me and being written down on the naughty list. They assured me that they had no choice.
On the next move, I wrote my orders immediately to counter Santa’s moves and then went to search him out. While I was looking for him in a bedroom, I heard the door slam behind me and elf’s giggling outside. I had to spend the entire turn convincing him to let me out, and once he did I had no time to speak to the others.
I had now lost all the seas around me, Santa’s troops poised to take my centers, but the battle is never lost. Throughout the next two years I did my best to try to corral the board against Santa and to keep my centers, but to no avail. When all I had left was Liverpool, the board decided to concede Santa the solo since he had many centers over the line including Portugal, Tunis, Marseilles, London, and Edinburgh as well as many German centers behind him to take at his leisure.
Despite being unable to succeed, or even get a few centers away from my home, I had fun that game. As a reward for everyone’s good play and for having a good time, Santa gave everyone gifts, including giving me what he called the “lucky Belgium token” that he assured me would get me support to Belgium every time. After finishing off the last of the cookies and milk and feeding his Reindeer, he hopped into his sleigh on the roof and rode off to distribute presents to all of the good kids around the globe.
Diplomacy Artwork by Lady Razor.
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