SR: Diplomacy Mini-Monster (VERY LONG)
- Ah well, a fine day of meddling, squabbling, chicanery and
incompetence! We also played Diplomacy.
Attendees: Constantine von Napoleon, Tsar Matt II, Sultan Abdul Hamid
MacInnes, Field Marshall Karl Hague, and Prince Klemens "Adam"
Location, location, location: Casa De Von Hoffman, in Sunny Brighton.
A grande ole time was had, as we scrambled to assume our roles in the
masterful game of Diplomacy and hunker down for the long haul. After
a quick rules explanation (which apparently did not take for some of
us, as you will see), we dived right in.
By random lot we drew countries as follows: Karl drew Britain,
Constantine drew France, Adam drew Austria-Hungary, Matt drew Russia
and I drew the Sick Man of Europe, the Ottoman Empire. As we had
five, the rules dictated that we play in europe of 1801 instead of
1901, so Germany and Italy were virtual non-entities, with pieces on
the board but no minds behind them (sounds like some of the players!).
From the very get-go, it seemed as though Sultan Hamid had taken
control of my body, forcing me into a variety of bad and plainly
illegal moves, which led to the Turk being indeed the low man on the
pole, while the others jumped out and snatched up territory left and
right. After the first year, I believe Russia had 6, the Ottomans had
4, France and Britain had 7 and Austria-Hungary had a frightening 8
(well its frightening when they're on YOUR border and looking your
A further series of self-inflicted Turkish mishaps left them
struggling to hold onto 3 or 4 supply depots for most of the rest of
the game (which their leader handled quite well, once he was talked
off the roof and the tears were dried). Meanwhile Austria continued
to inch south-eastward into Ottoman territory, Russia pushed ever
deeper straight into Germany, Britain took huge bites out of
Scandinavia and eyed the low countries and France consolidated her
hold on Iberia and looked eastwards.
At this point, the lines began to be drawn, as it became obvious that
Russia had badly over-extended herself with the British on her
northern flank, sharpening their knives, Turkey was staggering around
drunkenly with the Austrian vulture circling overhead and France was
riding towards us on a white steed with an olive branch in one hand
and a cask of wine in the other.
I knew that if I had to choose either Austria or Russian as an ally,
since they had also been beating on each other and had already broken
promises back and forth (love that bad blood). I also knew that if I
sided with Austria and attacked Russia, I would not only give Austria
the game, I would also be her next victim. So the eastern powers
formed common cause and tentatively entered into negotiations with
the Little Emperor. Britain was more or less not an option as our
third partner, as she could not assist the Sick Man at all and was
already burping after a feast of finest borscht.
This, of course, forced a defacto alliance between Austria-Hungary
and Britain, which appeared to work fairly well for them throughout
The next few turns saw the Ottomans prop themselves up a bit,
rotating holdings like bad tires from 3 to 5 (generally hanging onto
4) while Adam Metternich used the Concert of Europe to pipe his way
into the Russian Heartland, with British assistance in the north.
Somehow, he was also able to keep me busy, and take back any gains I
occasionally made with a vengeance (with some help by further
buffooneries on my part). The bulk of Russian forces were now
stranded outside the Russian border, and the only supply center in
the motherland still under Russian control was the virtually useless
However, around this time, the French War machine was finally making
good her promise, and had steamrolled her way into Italy and the
central mediterrean, threatening the Austrian heartland with
assistance from the Russian Expatriate Forces. It was at this point
that Austria approached me one final time with a veritable pact from
satan himself: Attack Sevastapol and he would support my further
assaults into Russia, while he would take Smyrna (the southern third
of my Anatolian homeland) and we would otherwise leave each other
alone. I must say I was tempted, since I knew he could take Smyrna
anyway, but my Turkish stubborness would not allow me to voluntarily
cede an inch of Anatolian land to the infidel. And besides, I had
some hope that the French push would force him to retreat with a
little more patience on my part. I of course made a token acquiesance
(that I doubt anyone would have bought) and then went back to the
table and planned my best plans to harry the Hapsburg forces (not
much, I wager).
Meanwhile, a fierce and ongoing landwar of give and take was going on
in the low countries and western Germany, mainly between Britain and
France, with early assistance from Russia. When the Russian
Expatriates began their Long March back to the motherland, the
Hapsburgs swooped north to fill the void and France, who had been
more than holding her own, began to struggle just to hold the line.
However, since she had, by this time, conquered most of Italy, this
was not overly stressing.
The game proceeded, with Smyrna rapidly falling to the Austrian
Horde, and Greece, Bulgaria, Constantinople and Rumania (and
occasionally Serbia) doing some strange Balkan dance from partner to
partner, as they changed hands numerous times. Russian finally
regained her foothold in her own borders, just as the Ottomans began
their final collapse, allowing Hapsburg fleets into their lake (the
Black Sea), Rumania and Constantinople, with Greece teetering on the
edge (held up only by French assistance, which was the story for the
Ottomans the whole game). Sevastapol fell soon after as further
Turkish lands did as well, leaving Russia and the Ottomans at two
supply centers apiece, with France at somewhere around 13 or 14 and
the Austrians and British splitting the rest (Britain was slightly
ahead, I believe).
The one consolation at this point was that virtually all of the
original Austrian lands were now under French control, as the Turks
(with Russian assistance) had managed to keep Austria so busy that
she had virtually emptied out her own lands. Austria actually had
enough centers to drop 1 or 2 more units, I believe, but no where to
With the eastern powers teetering on the brink, this left Britain and
the Austrians almost ready (in another turn or two) to turn back and
gang up on the French Colossus. Unfortunately, it was getting sort of
late and one of the participants had to go, so we called the game,
with France the winner, but not, in my mind, decisively.
I admit I had begun to severely dislike the game in the beginning,
due mainly to the fact that its structure makes it severely
unforgiving of even the minorest mental errors (and hey, I'm 90%
mental error). This is also one of the main reasons I dislike PoF, an
otherwise unrelated game (except that they are both set in europe
somewhere). However, as the game progressed, and I got a better
handle of the mechanics, and more of my problems were caused by
external rather than internal events, I came to enjoy it more. I
think I would like to try it again, to confirm this, and I believe I
will indeed like it more.
Of course, as we were preparing to head out, ancient spirits from the
Indian Burial Ground that Constantine's house is built upon rose-up,
slamming all the doors and windows closed. An eery voice from beyond
gave us the ultimatum to play Settlers of Catan or be trapped for all
eternity. We pondered, but finally acquiesced.
It was a four player game, and a quick one at that, with the
Russians, I mean, Matt and I jumping out a bit, Matt tossing me up
and the Red Herring of "so winning" (despite my painful lack of
several key resources) and then stomping over us all to a speedy
victory. Constantine came in second, while Adam and I tied for third
at a respectable 5 apiece.
Overall, an enjoyable day. Well spent and I look forward to the next
such mini-monster, whether it be Diplomacy, Advanced Civ, History of
the World or what have you (Britannia?).
- Nice report, Campbell!
>location: Casa De Von Hoffman<Shouldn't that be Schloss Von Hoff? or Chateau Hoffman, given the allocation
>I admit I had begun to severely dislike the game in the beginning,due mainly to the fact that its structure makes it severely
unforgiving of even the minorest mental errors<
That reminds me of the first game of Diplomacy I played. It was a world map
variant played by email, and I was the Emporer of China. I occupied a supply
center in the spring of the first year, moved out in the fall, and was most
upset not to get the build for it.
As for Campbell's PoF comparison, I think that Princes is massively more
unforgiving of a single error than is Diplomacy. Make an error in Diplomacy,
and you can often use it to convince a potential ally that you're not a
threat to them.* Make a mistake in PoF and you're pretty much out of it,
given the level of Florentian experience that abounds at UG sessions these
Having said that, I rarely make a single error in a game of Princes...
* On the other hand, yes, I do admit that there are *some* fatal single
errors in Diplomacy.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]