The Briefing

A Weekly Threat Assessment of the Diplomacy Community

Tempest Rocks Teapot

The Tempest in a Teapot went off without a hitch. Andrei Gribakov won the tournament of 41 backstabbers with a solid English board top and scrappy Russian play. Commentary of the games was live-streamed on Twitch by DBN.
Thanks to David Miller, Dave Maletsky, Graham Woodring, Rick Desper and the rest of the Potomac Tea & Knife Society for a wonderful tournament.
Tempest After Action Reports

Asia Pacific Play Underway
The 2020 Asia Pacific Diplomacy League Championship is underway. Their Discord arranges speedboat and tournament games for local and international players. Play culminates in a championship game in January 2021.
Brother Bored Media Wars

Brother Bored has published their complete thoughts about the Media Wars game, beautifully formatted and arranged to provide the total view of a single game. They also published a guest article explaining, then railing against the tyranny of scoring systems.
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Champion's Corner
The Champions Corner is where recent tournament winners share a specific move or strategy that helped them emerge victorious.
For this issue we welcome Brumark, winner of the recent ODC Tournament on webDiplomacy. 

ODC 2019

This was a long game - we played until 1923 (with a fixed cut off at 1925) and for the final ten of those years we played with only four powers.

For all but four years (01,07, 08 and 18) I was in the lead, but I was deeply conscious of what players of this calibre would do to a runaway leader (ask Russia) so I ended up playing it as a grind really, trying to maintain my lead and positions of relative strength whilst moving us inexorably towards a draw position.

Which brings me to this article, the idea of which is to focus on a key moment or strategy that led to victory - but the way this game played out in general, and for me in particular the highlight reel is rather empty (see boring chart above). So rather than dredge up obscure tactical moves and assign them false importance I'm writing about one of things I think I did well in the tournament overall that I hope others will find interesting and helpful in future tournaments – my approach to the qualifying rounds.

The Best Possible Result

My objective in any game of diplomacy from any given situation is to “achieve the best possible result” and I will pick my strategy/moves/allies to maximise my chances of achieving that. This was absolutely true here, however I made the deliberate mental shift that the best possible result was not to solo but to qualify. This had a big impact on how I played because in qualifying rounds there is a difference – more than one of you can achieve the best possible result, this can fundamentally changes the dynamic of an alliance.

So my approach was to try and find an ally (ideally a neighbour) who bought into the vision of mutually achieving a high score along the lines of 14 centres each (14 to leave enough buffer in case some one stabs) - that clocks you about 46 points each - and then to play that out and not (necessarily) look to stab for the solo or board top

Of course the keen of mind will have already realised that getting a solo gives you the best chance of qualifying because it both maximises your own points and minimises those of other players. That is of course objectively true, but bear with me gentle listener. I believe this approach does two fundamental things compared to a traditional “go for a solo” playstyle:

  1. Decreases risk: players tend to stab each other when their incentives diverge due to not being able to achieve their individual goals, this is much less likely to happen (and the stab may inherently be risk too); and

  2. Increases effectiveness of your alliance: firstly in traditional play you will likely always be looking to increase your relative advantage over your ally by: looking for ways to get them out of position, make them grow slightly slower than you, leak a few of their moves. Hopefully you agree this can reduce the effectiveness of your combined forces. Secondly if you are less worried about them stabbing it may free up more units for the front line from defensive positions.

In summary the key differentiation for me is the strategy and approach you take along the way, in general creating the circumstances for a solo is riskier and can make your primary alliances less effective at overcoming others (not always, but in general).

In practice it never works as cleanly as that, but what I think I did well particularly in the semis was at key points to find and bring together a coalition that collectively had the tactical ability to control the result, where everyone’s goal could be met 

- the essence of finding the sweet spot in the Venn diagram.

In terms of outcomes, clearly I progressed, but also my primary ally I had from early in each match (and also a minor partner who joined the coalition in one of the semis) also progressed to the next round.

In both my semis I gave up points so others could progress and have a good shot. I also choose not to solo one of the qualifying rounds. I didn't expect (and didn't receive) payback in the final.

But, it cannot hurt to have a personality you know you can work with and indeed to have portrayed yourself as a “fluffy carebear” before the final shark tank.

This approach will not work for all, some are good enough to simply slap everyone up regardless but I am hoping it might help some of you, I found very few players thinking like this in qualifying rounds.

As a quick note, in the final having ushered everyone to stalemate line in the early/mid 1910’s I realised I had epically failed to adjust fully to the top board mentality of first or nothing when the scallywags would not do the decent thing of just hit draw and crown me the winner – instead we had to go through another decade of play (literally and figuratively) where I very nearly lost it several times. So final point make sure you adjust to the game incentives, I did it well in qualifying but badly in the finals.




  • 18th-20th - Virtual World Classic - Email TD


  • TBA - Cascadia (Canada) - Email TD
  • 🆕 TBA - Asia Pacific Diplomacy League Championship - Join Discord



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