As strange as this year has been, it has been quite an exciting and innovative time for face-to-face Diplomacy. While we’ve had great virtual tournaments all year, one of the events that everyone looked forward to monthly was Zach Moore’s Virtual Diplomacy League (VDL). This enterprise originally started off as casual games for the Minnesota Diplomacy Club, however, after amassing a fair amount of global interest, Zach transformed the club into a competitive league to be enjoyed by all. In fact, the VDL hosted 97 players in total and had 37 boards by the end of the season. The whole thing is an incredible success coupled with monthly live commentary by phenomenal players on top of it (thank you Diplomacy Broadcast Network).
I immediately jumped at the chance of playing in the VDL when I saw Zach advertising these zoom/discord face-to-face games on Twitter back at the beginning days of the lockdown. I played a game back in April, rolled Austria, and somehow managed to top the board. Then in June, I played another game, rolled Austria, and somehow managed to top the board again. And then once again, two months after that, I played a third game, rolled Turkey, and managed to top the board. Let’s just say I had fun all three times and it secured me a spot on the top board (which, spoiler, I win).
Playing a top board in an almost year long league is likely quite different than playing the top board of a weekend long tournament. Since I had not played a VDL game since August I was worried about potentially being the odd one out as the rest of the players had likely encountered each other multiple times on the board. Surely, when you play against people multiple times over months, you build trust and friendship, right? Wrong. It was a blessing for me that I had not played with many of these players. Rule #1 is don’t expect Diplomacy players to get along - they won’t.