A Weekly Threat Assessment of the Diplomacy Community

eCarnage Results

The eCarnage Tournament is in the books! Katie Gray won the title; clinching the top spot with a 14 center Austria-Hungary. Ed Sullivan came in second and Jason Mastbaum finished third. Many thanks to Dave Maletsky and Robert Rousse for organizing. See the full standings here, and check out the DBN coverage here.
Diplomacy Games: #90

In their latest episode, Kaner and Amby discuss Media Wars 2, give the Briefing a shout out, and talk about how face to face play is coming back now that Australia has lifted covid lockdown restrictions. They also go over their current online games. Give it a listen here.

The Game That Never Ends...

CaptainMeme and Ezio of the Diplostrats have completed their mammoth undertaking of analyzing the 2012 webDiplomacy World Cup finals Public Press game.

The game lasted for a total of 105 game years. This series consists of 10 videos with a combined runtime of 30 hours so you'll be ready to go when you fly transatlantic. Be sure to check out this thorough series on Youtube.
 We are looking to add 1 more person to become a content editor.  They would be in charge of helping to plan out future issues and collaborating with our copy editors. Click here for more info.
Our Second Fiddle feature brings us those who came oh so close to victory. Here they relive their moment of agony and share with us what they could have done better to secure the crown.

For this issue, we welcome Ed Sullivan who finished second in the eCarnage tournament.

What Price, Victory?

“Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay the price.”

-Sun Tzu

Half a day after my good friend Ben Kellman struck me with a rusty blade, causing me permanent—but not fatal—damage to winning eCarnage 2021, The Briefing decided to pick up the blade, thrust it back into my bloodied body, and then twist it. Yes, Dear Reader, The Briefing has asked me to write a Second Fiddle post, explaining my second-place finish in the 2021 e-Carnage tournament, for which the top results are below:

One way of evaluating my performance is that, over a three-game span, I was one center short of tying Katie and two centers short of winning. Could I have obtained two extra centers? Probably. I likely could have picked up three more in Round One if I had not done my best to convince the others to draw while I was on 12. In Round Two, I could have obtained two to three more centers by stabbing Liam Stokes.

The correct way of looking at it, however, is that even if I took every available dot for myself in each game, Katie Gray would still be the winner. The scoresheet may show a one-center difference between first and second, but that’s because Katie graciously called for a draw in her final game as soon as she secured victory. Instead of soloing, Katie called the game on her terms and with no more damage to others than required. I admire that choice because it reminds me of the timeless Churchill saying: “In Victory: Magnanimity.”

More than providing you with meaningless war stories from eCarnage, I am much more interested in how I’ve changed my Diplomacy game in the past six months and how that will affect my future performances. Truthfully, I’m struggling with the Diplomacy player I’ve become.

For months, I had earned—deservedly so—a reputation as the Ultimate vFTF Care Bear. Almost everything I said last summer and fall was true: I play this game for fun. Life is stressful enough. And at that point in time, I lacked a killer instinct. As the UCB, I racked up a lot of shared board tops and respectable tournament results. I made several new friends, learned much, and most importantly, had a great time.

And yet, I was unfulfilled. What I did not tell others was that, in my bones, I love to compete. I am one of the lucky people that thinks, writes, and talks for a living. I work in a high-stress environment, with paying clients, demanding judges, and intense opposing counsel. If I don’t perform to expectations, my clients will find someone who does.

I reevaluated my playing style to see if I could take my Diplomacy game to the next level by trading on my UCB reputation by increasing my lies and deceptive techniques to see if it would make a difference.

Result: It worked! I’ve been in excellent form for seven months: Highest qualifier at Carnage 2020 (second place overall), VDL 2020 Top Board, winner of Cascadia 2021, a DBNI appearance, Top 10 at Whipping, and several Best Country awards.

Along with those improved showings, I have frustrated, upset, and sometimes hurt others. Among the many examples, I:
  • stabbed Morgante Pell so cruelly to win a game that, despite his many successes, he can’t stop bringing it up with me and others;
  • pettily punished Evan Swihart by ending his top-board dreams for daring to try and out-race me for a dot that I did not need;
  • lied so incessantly to one of my mentors, Nicolas Sahuguet, that I doubt he will ever work with me again;
  • tricked JJ Ray about a dozen times;
  • ruined Liam Stokes’s hopes for DBNI qualification by turning on him when I had promised him my sole goal was to see him advance;
  • and completely abused the trust of John Archbold and Ben Kellman in a series of effective lies to solo the final game at Cascadia and win the tournament.
There are many more examples. Was the juice worth the squeeze? By the time I reached DBNI, I didn’t think so. So, instead of stabbing Sergey Seregin and Maxim Popov in my first game, I accepted a four-way shared board top with two other survivors. DBN savaged me, and I missed my spot on the top board.

As I entered eCarnage, I was motivated to demonstrate that my recent non-DBNI results were no fluke. So, back to “Lyin’ Ed.” To obtain a second-place finish, I confess to the following transgressions over the two-day tournament:

  • Deceived a fine gentleman Eber Condrell so many times, it is impossible to count;
  • Devised a plan to keep Andrei Gribakov below me in the tournament standings;
  • Entered orders to stab Russ Dennis (Turkey) in Round One only to pull back just after he said he would throw dots to me if Katie Gray did not accept us both in a shared board top. Consequence: Best Country, Italy;
  • Repeatedly assured Ben Kellman (Russia) of an alliance while simultaneously coordinating his downfall. I took him from eight centers to one before he could blink and ruined his tournament hopes. Consequence: Best Country, Germany;
  • Stabbed Ben Kellman (Italy) again, this time eliminating him, to try and grab dots in an ultimately futile pursuit of victory. Consequence: Ending Round Three as tournament leader; and
  • Caused Russ Dennis’s elimination in Round Three by blowing up a stalemate line because I wanted a better score for myself. Yes, I guaranteed the elimination of the same Russ Dennis who threw me dots 24 hours earlier and helped put me into my great position.

Did any of this ultimately work out for me? Would it have worked out even if I had won? Let’s look at just some of the price I have paid for my better results:

  • Ben Kellman, a long-valued ally and genuine friend, told me that he could no longer trust me;
  • Morgante Pell and I have a relationship rockier than Jay Leno and David Letterman;
  • John Anderson(!) now points to me as an unreliable player;
  • Katie Gray’s board was cheering my demise by naming their draw votes: “Make Ed Cry – Yes, or No?” (sadly, that’s not a joke);
  • Kevin O’Kelley no longer calls me an alliance player; and
  • Russ Dennis will never throw dots to me again.

I don’t like how I’ve played, but my results are undeniably better. Is the price worth it? Or have I simply sacrificed good but not great results for a short-term advantage that will eventually fade away? If I burn the Care Bear bridge down forever, can I consistently score higher in future tournaments, or will I simply become the person that other players must quickly eliminate? Surely the answer is an appropriate mix of the two, but finding that happy medium is challenging. I doubt I will ever achieve the necessary balance, although I will endeavor to try.

On the other hand, I do like winning. Winning is great, isn’t it? If I had won, I wouldn’t be so introspective. If I had won, I would get to write a Champion’s Corner post about how great I am. Those are much more fun.




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