Back to the WBC ...
Prospero's Pride - DIPLOMACY at WBC 2003 was a classic
case of good and bad news. The bad news first; we only had 28
players and three, four, two boards for the Saturday, Sunday
and Monday sessions, respectively. It was our lowest attendance
ever by far. The surveys done over the previous two years indicated
we should have seen our player count increase. 'Twas not to be.
It's back to WBC proper for Diplomacy next year as we surrender
our Pre-Con slot to another and I hand the GM reins over to the
2002 champion, Andy Marshall.
There was plenty of good news as well. We picked up a fair
number of new players, all of whom said that they would be back
next year. The level of intensity and quality of play was excellent.
The unlimited length games allowed for true "mid" and
"end" games to develop on most boards. In round 2,
three of the four games ended in solo victories with the fourth
very nearly ending in a solo as well.
Joining the ranks of WBC's Diplomacy champs was Rick
Desper whose 83 points easily led the pack. He was followed in
order by Ric Manns (70). Conrad Woodring (68), Nick Benedict
(63), Tom Pasko (50), Mike Czajkowski (44), Rebecca Neville (38),
Scott Bowling (37), Jeff Ladd (21), Tom Fleming (19), Hudson
Defoe (18), Ken Samuel (12), Andy Bartalone (10), Rich O'Brien
(10), Jason Levine (10), Brian Ecton (9), Rod Spade (7), Graham
Woodring (6), Jay Heuman (4), Paul Konka (4) and Ben Foy (3).
Lori Fleming, Tony Vile, Kevin youells, Evan Perlman and Derek
Harmon went scoreless.
The champion's account follows:
My first game I drew England, and allied with Scott Bowling,
the German player. We made quick work of the French player,
with Italy coming in for a slice. On the other side of the board,
Andy Bartalone had difficulty in Turkey, and Rebecca Neville
started growing as Austria. Jay Heumann started stabbing people
as Russia - I convinced him to keep after Buffalo in the corner
just to make sure I wouldn't have to face a resurgent Turk at
any point. The mid-game featured E/G making gains, and Austria
starting to dominate in the East, while Russia was pummeled by
all. I put my effort into trying to make gains in Italy - I
took Tunis but got stopped at that point when Germany stabbed
me pretty much at the same time I stabbed him.
After a few tactical errors, things looked bleak, as Scott
started to make progress in Scandanavia. But Scott underestimated
Rebecca, who "forgot" to make sure my army in the German
rear got destroyed, and it wandered back through Bohemia, Tyrolia,
and Piedmont. In the last year of the game, while I was in danger
of losing the North Sea, I retook Marseilles and Brest while
taking Paris, consolidating my forces. At this point I convinced
Scott that his hopes of getting a 2-way with Austria were unrealistic,
and we settled on a 3-way draw. Phew!
The second-round game was even more exciting! I drew Turkey
and had Brian Ecton in Italy, Evan Perlman in Austria, and Richard
Irving in Russia. On the other side of the board were Ben Foy
in France, Jeff Ladd in England, and Ken Samuel in Germany.
Ladd went down fast and hard as the Sea Lion roared, while Austria
was the big target in the East. Sensing that Brian would work
with me, I then turned against Russia, and Ken joined in the
fun. Brian exploited through Austria and turned against Ben,
which led to a mid-game with a strong Italy and Germany, and
France on the ropes.
At this point I did a nasty stab of Brian. Having convinced
him to only keep two armies in Austria, I rolled into Bohemia
and Galicia, while armies marched up through the Balkans. I
hit Brian hard. Brian, realizing he had to do something drastic,
decided to keep going after France, as the Italian SCs were undefendable.
Ken played a moderately aggressive Germany, moving his way against
France, too. There was much discussion between Ken and myself
about how we might possibly make this into a two-way draw fairly
easily, using the
traditional 17-17 split. But first I tried to sneak into Munich,
just to see if he was paying attention. He was, and nearly abandoned
the 2-way plan, but I convinced him that he should have warned
me about such a reaction, and also said, "hey, who wouldn't
try to see if he coult take Munich and guarantee a solo?"
He calmed down, and then we hit the spell of voting.
I was not in a position to cross the stalemate line, so the
question came down to whether Ken and I would get a 2-way, or
whether Ben or Brian would weasel his way into a 3-way by threatening
to throw the game to me. At this point it started to get late,
and I felt that I had little hope of winning, so I started voting
for draws. Brian proposed a 3-way without France. The vote
failed. Brian proposed a 3-way without himself. It failed.
Ben proposed a 3-way without himself. That also failed. At
this point it became sort of obvious that Ken was the one blocking
the draw votes. I said, "OK Ken, do what you like, I'm
pulling back into the corner" and withdrew most of my forces
from Russia and Northern Austria-Hungary. I offered him Warsaw
and Moscow if he wanted to, just so we could get back on track
to a 2-way draw. I put forces in places like Syria and Eastern
Med. Ken went back on the attack, and I made plans with Ben to
take Brian out of the game completely. At this point there was
some talk of settling for a 3-way with France (talk which I encouraged),
Ken decided to attack France. I would love to take credit
for this, but really, it was all Ken's idea. He felt he could
try for the 2-way without risking a loss. I kept enough forces
in the Russia area to make sure that, once Ken started the attack,
I didn't lose Moscow or Warsaw. And Ben was so disgusted by
the sequence of events that he decided to let me have Marseilles
and Spain, too. Victory!
This was my first victory at a con - not only winning the
Diplomacy tournament, but also my first solo in FTF diplomacy.
It took quite a while, but developed in a way that I thought
favored my conservative style of play. And after the solo, I
basically only had to wait to see if somebody would pass me in
Round 3. Ric Manns and Conrad Woodring had also soloed in round
2, and Nick Benedict and Tom Pasko had shared a 2-way in the
first round. Any of them could pass me in the final round, and
I had to work (it was a Monday!) So I drove back to Bethesda,
and kept in contact with Andy Bartalone most of Monday until
he finally confirmed that I won. Yippee!
This years GOLDEN BLADE
(or Silver Sword) AWARD went to Rick Desper.
The HAMMERED (or Purple
Mallet) AWARD went to Lori Fleming.
Best Country Awards:
Best Austria: Rebecca Neville - 11 centers in a 3 way draw.
Best England: Nick Benedict- 16 centers in a 2 way draw.
Best France: Ric Manns - 18 center solo
Best Germany: Conrad Woodring - 17 center solo
Best Italy: Nick Benedict - 15 centers in a 3 way draw.
Best Russia: Mike Czajkowski- 12 centers in a 3 way draw.
Best Turkey: Rick Desper- 19 center solo.
The WBC 2003 Best Country Awards went to: