A Weekly Threat Assessment of the Diplomacy Community

DBNI Results!

The most prestigious event of the 2020 Diplomacy season is over. Congratulations to Peter McNamara for beating the very best and becoming the inaugural DBNI Champion!

On the most stacked board in Diplomacy history, McNamara resurrected the Roman Empire and trounced six wannabes to take the Calhamer Cup. With a 13 centre Italian finish, he conquered the formidable Farren Jane (Austria), megalomaniacal Markus Zijlstra (England), duplicitous Russ Dennis (France), audacious Andrei Gribakov (Germany), Machiavellian Matthew Crill (Russia) and the nefarious Nicolas Sahuguet (Turkey). Diplomats beware! Enormous thanks to the organisers at DBN for putting on such an event. Relive the action here.
New Virtual Diplomacy League Season
2021 welcomes a new year of Diplomacy! VDL Founder and Commissioner Zach Moore writes: "Year one of the Virtual Diplomacy League surpassed all of my expectations, both in quantity of players and quality of play.
We had first time players, world champions and everything in between duking it out on the virtual stage, and crowned a worthy inaugural champion, Tanya Gill. Now equipped with a rapidly growing hobby and a year of experience under our belts, I expect year two to be better still! Get your Diplomacy fix by hopping in one of our monthly virtual games, or tuning in to the excellent DBN broadcasts to follow all the action!"
The 2021 VDL begins on Saturday, 13th March. Sharpen your dagger and stick the knife in here.
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 our founder Russ Dennis who competed on the top board of the Diplomacy Broadcast Network Invitational tournament.
No England, Mo' Problems
In some ways, our Second Fiddle series seems perfect for me. At this point, I should wear a shirt that says “close but no cigar” to tournaments. Regardless of the result, this game was one of the most enjoyable I’ve had since I started playing.  This article will cover the good and bad from that game, and I hope you will learn from my successes and failures.

The Diplomacy Broadcast Network’s Invitational Tournament is the most prestigious tournament of the year.  28 of the best players from online, f2f, and virtual were invited for this first of its kind event.  There was intense competition over 4 rounds, and I was fortunate to end up 3rd in the rankings.

I’ve become known somewhat as an England specialist thanks to the never-ending hype from Zach Moore (just remember if you ever stab him he’ll make sure the Diplomacy world will never open its back to you again).  Alas, Markus picked England and acknowledged that he did this to keep it away from me.

That meant I was stuck with the nation no one wants to play…France. Lucky for me, I had recently read a delightful article by Tobias Harris about playing that lowly country in the Diplomatic Pouch. In that article, he described a scenario where England lied to him in Spring 1901 and moved to the channel. Markus must have also read that article because he told me the exact same lie!

The real juicy idea Harris had was telling England that he was going to cover Brest with an army, grab his two builds, and that England should move into the Mid-Atlantic so they both could setup an attack on Italy. I liked that idea, but think I improved on it somewhat. This was my Fall 1901:

I got 3 builds because both England and Germany believed I was covering Brest. Germany was my preferred ally and supported me into Belgium so I’d at least get my two builds. This move set overextended England and with some less than ideal tactical decisions, he was gone by Spring 1905.

The next phase of the game witnessed a dissolving of my alliance with Germany. I had acquired a stronger position by Fall 1905 and had been pushing Germany to move on Russia with me. I did not plan to stab Germany at this point, but I believe I could have done a better job putting him at ease than wielding the Sword of Damocles.

I offered to support a convoy of his army from London to Norway and then me take London. This would give both of us a build and also put the hurt on Russia. He flatly refused this. I pressed him to reconsider, and he pushed back just as hard. When an ally purposely slows your growth that is the moment to cut them loose because they are getting ready to stab. Perhaps I could have done a better job articulating what I would use this new build for, but I’m not sure in this game that would have made the difference. I believe Germany was of the mindset that he would not be the smaller one in a midgame alliance. Regardless, my move set that turn was not ideal for a lot of reasons.

First off, I should have blocked the move to Edinburg. That was very apparent, but I didn’t think as deeply that turn because I had spent a lot of time trying to get Germany to let us both build. The worse move was convoying my army instead of supporting F Eng-Lon and moving F Mao-Eng and A Bre-Pic. This is a move I’ve done plenty of times, but I just missed it.

I give credit to Germany because a year after this we realized the Russian threat and blocked his movements in the north and even dislodged an army so Germany could build another fleet and move on him. I still do not understand why Germany decided to move against me after going through all the gymnastics of this plan, but this move set ultimately sunk both of our games

The east still hadn’t resolved so there was great opportunity. This was especially true for Germany who was best situated to grow from Russian centers. On top of that, I didn’t have a great position to stab so most likely Germany would have grown to 9-10 quickly. Instead, his decision to attack me netted him 0 centers.  In Spring 1908, he was at 7 centers and when he pulled away in Spring 1911 so we could try to counter a 10 center Italy he was at…7 centers. The outcome of his decision was that Russia had got one of my centers in England, and he allowed the east to resolve to Italy’s favor.

Russia moved away in Fall 1911, but I didn’t actually begin to setup to attack Italy until the next year. Time was of the essence, and I’m pretty sure I could have negotiated them moving away a lot faster if I had tried. Now this game lasted almost 10 hours, and it was past 1:00AM for me. Perhaps that’s a good excuse but not really. I should have articulated a better vision. Regardless, in Fall 1912 the move was ready

So began what I termed the Alliance for Humanity against the Machine that is Peter McNamara. Peter is an amazing tactical player, and if you get the chance to go toe to toe in an endgame scenario with him, you should take it. My line to both Germany and Russia was let’s keep playing until he stops making mistakes. And mistakes surprisingly he did make. Though he swallowed up Turkey, I was able to push past his line in the south. Unfortunately, while the tactics were there our common humanity was dragging us down. 

Near the end of the game, I gave a speech about this game being between Peter and me. I was trying to cut down on the temptation of a stab, but this was a poor diplomatic choice because you want everyone to believe they can still win.

There was more tension between Germany and me when in Spring 1917 he told me he was going to take Edinburg. I had just broken through in the south, and this statement felt like an especially harsh betrayal from all the discussions we had. The result was one of tensest discussions we had and left me almost no time to plan out my moves. I’m sure I missed a superior move set because of this. We ended the season agreeing not to attack each other, but we definitely lost tempo. In Fall 1917, after more tense negotiations he agreed to not take Edinburg and go after Russia. I had worked out a nice convoy surprise into Naples, but I was dismayed when the moves resolved to find that I had misordered and had also had my army dislodged

With my lost tempo and Russia threatening to throw, we submitted to the will of our robotic overlord. If I had got that convoy, I believe I could have had a chance to win. Rome would have fallen next, and if I could have got Russia to not throw but instead slow down Germany, I might have been able to stab for the win. Getting 2nd to Peter McNamara is nothing to sneeze at though, and I personally loved negotiating with him and crossing swords at the end.

In conclusion, I want to say thank you to the DBN crew who made this such an exciting marquee event.  I also want to thank Markus Zijlstra, Peter McNamara, Andrei Gribakov, Matthew Crill, Farren Jane, and Nicolas Sahuguet for not just a well-played game but also a respectful one. I look forward to reading Peter’s upcoming Champions Corner article and meeting all of them again in the future.




This issue was brought to you by David Hood. Thank you for the support!
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