diplomacy

DIP   
 
   18-24    
    9-15    8-14

   Garden

David Hood, NC

1998 Champion
2nd: Tom Kobrin, NC
3rd: Webb Agnew, CT
4th: Edwin Turnage, SC
Event History
1991    Bruce Reiff      56
1992    Tom Kobrin      65
1993    Stephen Koehler      71
1994    Will Wible      57
1995    Sylvain LaRose      73
1996    Will Wible      50
1997    Steve Cooley      46
1998    David Hood      65
AREA Ratings
1    Paul Rauterberg      1584
2    Keith Sherwood      1584
3    Drew James      1569
4    Tim Greene      1562
5    Stephen Koehler      1553
6    Sara Reichert      1535
7    Buzz Eddy      1529
8    Phil Reynolds      1528
9    Michael Lowrey      1527
10    David Large      1524

Knife sharpening for beginners ...

A. GENERAL INFO

The GM will interpret rules and orders strictly by the book. All rulings are final. Good sportsmanship is expected of all participants. The GM reserves the right to disqualify anyone for poor sportsmanship. Purposely delaying the game may be considered poor sportsmanship.

B. STARTING TIMES

Players are encouraged to arrive and register 30 minutes prior to the announced starting times.

C. TIME LIMITS

Sometime between six and eight hours after each round begins, the GM will call it to a halt. Active games will end immediately, unless orders are being read. Any game which has actually begun reading orders will be allowed to finish that set of orders and the associated adjudication. The final supply center count will be taken at that time as if it were a Fall turn. Players will then have 15 minutes to vote on draw or concession using the criteria outined in E.4. If at the end of this period, the players have not reached a conclusion, the GM will make the determination using that same criteria. Each board will keep its own time limits for negotiations, order writing, etc. We recommend a maximum of 20 minutes per season (including five minutes for reading and adjudicating) and not more than ten minutes for builds/removals.

D. BOARD & COUNTRY ASSIGNMENTS

Board assignments will be done in a random manner with the exception that no one will play the same country twice. Otherwise, the traditional "draw a block from the box" method will prevail.

E. SCORING SYSTEM

A player's overall score will be the combined total of his best two rounds. To be the overall winner, a player must play at least two of the three rounds.

1. SUPPLY CENTER POINTS: Each player receives one point for each supply center held when the game ends.

2. BONUS POINTS: Win = 30 points; 2-way Draw = 14 points; 3-way Draw = 6 points; 4-way Draw = 2 points. No bonus points willl be awarded for 5-way or larger Draws.

3. TIE BREAKER: The player with the highest average number of supply centers per game year for the games being counted will win ties.

4. GAME ENDING NEGOTIATIONS: Any group of players holding 29 supply centers or more may determine who is to be part of a draw. A game may be conceded only to the player with the most supply centers on the board - 14 centers minimum. A concession vote must be unanimous among all active players (positions in CD or with standing orders are not considered active).

F. PROVEN WINS

If time expires before a game ends, players who believe they are in a position to force an 18-center win will be given one additional move to gain said win. The player attempting the win will make his moves first, then all other players will move their units in an attempt to stop that win. Players will not be allowed to assist the win.

G. AWARDS

The overall winners will be the players with the highest total points accumulated in two rounds. Best Country awards will go to the players with the best one-round score for each country. Golden Blade and Hammered Awards will go to those players which the GM feels are most deserving of them from among the DIPLOMACY and COLONIAL DIPLOMACY players.

PAST WINNERS   1995                      1996                     1997                       1998

Best Austria            Hugh Turner           Greg Geyer           Steve Cooley         Tom Kobrin

Best England           Bill Schoeller         Vince Galarneau     Steve Cooley         Steve Koehler

Best France             Web Agnew            Justin Thompson   Ben Foy                David Hood

Best Germany          Joseph Abrams       Web Agnew          Bill Thompson      David Hood

Best Italy                  Mike Cunningham  Bill Thompson      Tim Richardson    Ric Manns

Best Russia              Sylvain Larose        Web Agnew           Ric Manns            Web Agnew

Best Turkey             Carl Wilner             Will Wible             Greg Geyer           Web Agnew

Golden Blade          Carl Wilner              Will Wible             Christian Dreyer    Ray Setzer

Hammered              David Hood              Hudson Defoe       Lange & Setzer      Stephane Dorais

OVERVIEW by Edi Birsan

The purpose of this little guide is to provide players a quick look at the aspects of tournament play that may not occur to them until after several tournaments. For the 'new to tournaments' player, it is an attempt to close the gap in information on this very different aspect of the Diplomacy Hobby. It is also there to provide a basis for numerous discussions at the after game
lounges for the experienced players to mull over and dispute various aspects as presented here. After all, what is a good Diplomacy Convention if not one that you can talk about long after the action is over?

WHAT MAKES TOURNAMENT PLAY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER FORMS OF GAMING

What is doing well?
Recognition of achievement?
When does it end?

General gaming is usually a single event. All Diplomacy tournaments are a series of games tied together in which the results of one game help to affect the perception or results in others. It is not enough that you end the game with a 15 center Austria, it is important that no other Austria does as well. In a social game if things get awkward and boring, you may simply say the hell with it and go on with other things. In a tournament system your actions affect not only everyone at your table but have a ripple effect on all other tables. If you decide to throw in with the front runner and help them win, not only will you affect his score, but all the country scores of those that opposed him will be affected.

Tournament play, is for most an intense period of gaming in which the pressure to do well is greatly heightened. For many it is also the first time that the definition of what is 'Doing Well' has been determined by others and may be structured in a manner that is not in line with what the player has been accustomed to in his normal playing areas. For example: is having eight supply
centers in a 5-way draw better than seven centers in a 4-way draw and is it better to have tied with the most number of centers regardless of the number of players that survive a game that is not won or is it better to have as few partners as possible even if your supply center count is small. It should not shock you to find out that in the last four World DipCons and the last seven North American DipCons, the answers to these questions are different with almost no uniform agreement amongst the
systems employed on how to handle the above conditions. Every tournament system has taken a different approach to defining what is 'doing well'. This is only one of several shocks that players have to deal with in a tournament.

You should look over and understand what the tournament system is calling achievements that are worthy of recognition. If you disagree with it, save it for after the tournament, there is too much at stake to start complaining at the start of the convention and it is not going to change. You should decide if in your game play you are going to keep in focus what the tournament
system says is achievement or whether you are going to play in a personal style independent of what the tournament rewards. If you decide on going with the tournament system, then be on the lookout for those players who either have consciously decided to go against the system's rewards or who appear to be unaware of the system. You may be able to blend their reward
system with your focus on the tournament in such a manner that both of you accomplish what you want with you gaining ground in the tournament system and the other players achieving some personal goal. Tournament players often look down on players who are unaware or ignore the tournament system, however, as the ultimate purpose of any game is to have fun and make it fun for others, sometimes the personal players have achieved a much greater sense of enjoyment and continue to come back whereas the tournament player has burned out with his own intense competition on shifting artificial goals and rewards.

Face to Face games often have social limits: play to midnight or when the last train leaves for home. Postal play and Email play have no limits and the game continues till a draw or a win. Tournament play has limits. Most often it is a matter of game time or real time. In a few systems there has been an attempt to place no limit on the games other than to play to a win or a draw. The last method is going out of favor, but still has some social limitations as the family person with small children at the convention, or reasonable local home front requirements. If you find yourself in one of those rare tournaments where there is no set time, then at your table as part of the pre-country assignments bring the subject up of a reasonable end to the game and see if there is an agreement. If you know that you are only good for 12 hours then you may want to keep in mind those who are determined to play to the bitter end so that in the mid-game period you can make the appropriate adjustments to leave the end game made up of similarly minded social players. If you are one of those who feels that his health make up and intensity can sustain you through an all nighter then consider the pressure that you will be putting on yourself to perform well in future rounds if you physically exhaust yourself in an early round. Also remember that when players in the tournament find out that you were pushing a game far beyond the social envelop of the game, your chances of survival in the early game goes down quickly.

GOOD BEHAVIOR AND GENERAL PARANOIA

It is only a game. Say it again and again to yourself until you get it straight. Tournaments bring out intense competition and narrowing focus on sometimes minor aspects of the tournament system or even the rules or reading handwriting. It is only a game. Having gotten that straight, try to treat people in a social setting and remember that nothing is personal. Try not to use any language that you would not employ in front of your mother when talking to your daughter. It is only a game. Behavior issues at a tournament that you may have to deal with are:

1. Temper: It's only a game.

2. Cross Round Grudges: It is considered very bad behavior to bring into a new round hard times that occurred in the last
round. So if you were viciously stabbed in the first round, and wind up with the same player as a neighbor in the next round do not go into the game with revenge as the motive. In fact, go out of your way to make sure that the other players know that you treat each game separately. In that way from a very real tournament perspective your in-game diplomacy will be far more flexible and you will have a better game. If everyone thinks you are tied to the last game experience then you have less options. This does not mean you forget who is trustworthy and who is not, it just means that you may bring a little more caution but not hostility in dealing with past foes.

3. Game Interference: While you generally do not have time to go around in the middle of your game to see what everyone else is doing, if you do have the time try to avoid contact with other players in the other games. For example if you are playing Austria and doing well you do not go around cheering on all other boards to kill their Austria so your score stands as the highest country effort. Do not interfere with other games or even discuss the tactical options in those games when the players
are around.

This does not mean that you cannot be paranoid. Most gamers are paranoid, after all if they really are all out to get you, you cannot be crazy to think so. Here are some of the most common things that players get paranoid about in tournaments:

1. Different language at the table: In international play this is a probably the single biggest hot button to push and drives the
paranoia levels way up there. As every player who does not understand the language will have his paranoid self say: "they are plotting against me because I do not understand". If it has been agreed that one language is the table language and people lapse into another language, do not be shy and simply ask what does that translate into. A common language is often a strain for some in an international setting to put aside as a courtesy to others and lapses and mistakes happen.You have to suppress your paranoia at times. It is after all only a game.

2. Always going off with the same person first and last. Try to vary who you talk to and the sequence. This way players feel that you are more open to communication. Talk to everyone if you can even for a moment. You may never know when you may run into the person in a future round and need some polite prior times to build on. It is after all only a game.

3. Nationalities/local cliques: Diplomacy is a game in which if there is one winner then there are six who did not win. Some areas of the world have had a greater exposure to nationalistic conflicts than others and for them it is sometimes tempting for those who did not win to both lessen their own loss and the achievement of the winner by claiming that there was some conspiracy of a nationalistic or a local clique to favor their own against all others. Sometimes there is a minority target fear: "We are the outsiders to this country and they may all jump on us, so should we stick together?" The reality is that in about 30 North American DipCons and international Diplomacy Tournaments that I have watched, I have not seen any real function of such nationalistic bias or local cliques despite some grumbling here and there. Diplomacy as a game system attracts INDIVIDUALS and rewards individuals. It is the egotist's dream game.

BASIC TOURNAMENT TYPES

Game Year Fixed vs Time Fixed vs Open
Supply Centers vs Draw

Fixed Game Year: The tournament ends in a certain game year. The common settings are 1905/07/09/11. Game year endings are most common in non-North American tournaments. French tournaments have experimented heavily with the shortest of the deadlines (typically 1907) while, when used at all, the Americans have the longest of the deadlines. The Swedes have had tournaments with various dates but are becoming more oriented towards the shorter deadlines. Why everyone picks an odd
year is unknown. The effect of the fixed deadline on the game is that in the last two years of the game, players become far more cut throat than if the game was to end at an unknown time or range of years. So start to think of your standing in the tournament and guard yourself from what might otherwise be a suicide stab in the final years.

The shorter the fixed deadline the more common it is for conflicts to start in 1901. For example in the 1907 fixed deadlines the following are more commonly seen:

England: Fleet London to the English Channel
France: Army Paris to Burgundy
Germany: Fleet Kiel to Holland
Russia: Army Warsaw to Galicia
Austria: Army Vienna to Galicia
Italy: Army Venice to Trieste
Turkey: Army Smyna to Armenia

You will also see far greater agreed standoffs in Spring 01 in the shorter games than you will in the longer games. The three areas of critical standoffs being: Russia and Turkey in the Black Sea, England and France in the English Channel, and Russia and Austria in Galicia. Germany and France are less likely to agree to a stand off in Burgundy because the French can force the issue by using Army Marseilles as the supporter. Further, the Germans are not gaining any momentum by having Army Munich bounce around. They are far more flexible with Army Ruhr and knowing that the French doublecrossed them by going to Burgundy when it was agreed otherwise.

Shorter games also bring out greater risk taking by both the very experienced and the newer players while average experience players tend to be cautious. This is often seen in the cases where Germany has to decide whether to cover Munich in Fall of 1901 when there are armies in either Burgundy or Tyrolia or the French/English decisions when an enemy is in the Channel.

The theory is that tournament play in general rewards the bold, and that in a shorter game there is less reward for the defensive move than the offensive one. In the longer game you have more opportunities to plan a bold move sequence so that defensive play becomes more important. Using the defense as a diplomatic tool is also very important in the short game where you can
sometimes turn someone around by simply showing that it would take three game years to achieve a break and then it might only yield one or two centers while the rest of the board is growing.

Shorter time games will see greater changes in alliance patterns as players become very focused on even the smallest power difference between each other. It is therefore in these short games that the players who are operating outside of the reward system of the tournament become critical partners for the tournament focused player as they will be less likely to turn on you
because of a power differential than another tournament player.

Supply Center Ranking vs Draws: All tournament systems hold the win as the pinnacle of achievement, it is what comes next where they break down. Tournament systems come down to a simple divide:
do they reward supply centers or
do they reward participation in a draw.
Two extremes of this are represented by the following: In a game that ends (regardless of how) with supply centers of 13-12-6-3.
The Supply Center shows a Ranking of 1-2-3-4 of the players based on centers often
giving the 3-center power here not much credit.
The Draw system says all players participated in a 4-way draw of equal value or that the
difference between the 3-center in this game and one in which all seven were still around is
huge.

Overall, the Europeans tournament systems through the 20th century favored the Supply Center Ranking system while the American systems tended to favor the Draw methods.

Some systems will have mix of the two extremes, but it is surprising to note that for the most part, the tournament approaches are fairly polarized. Know which way your system rewards achievement. You might find it helpful to outline your own scoring in the following four conditions to bring out the bias of the system and help you decide if within a tournament system it is in your interest to move the game strategically from one relationship to another:
At end of the game:
you are 7, others are 6, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
you are 7, others are 8, 8, 10
you are 7 others are 12, 15
you are 7 others are 18, 4, 3, 2

Knowing your tournament score may decide whether you want to eliminate the weak players to reduce the numbers in the game or to keep them around because your relative ranking would be higher.

PICKING YOUR ROUNDS
Tournaments have multiple rounds. Most allow you to skip one or two rounds or to drop your lowest score in a single round. Many tournaments also have a round devoted to 'Team Play' which may also double as a round scored for the tournament. When you play in a team round your results are linked with your teammates in other games. The dynamics of these games thus have an additional set of factors in which you become subject to forces outside your game as the time progresses. You will often see in team games players from the other games coming over to share their results with their teammates. The general behavior of non-game interference is greatly weakened in team rounds.

In the case of a good result in another table, the story could come with information on who is also doing well on their table. The temptation and sometimes outright advice is to go after a particular team on your table so as to toss them back in the over all team standing. However, this very viable team technique is actually very rarely seen and in some circles is considered 'rude'.
Instead what is the most common inter-game dynamic is that a teammate that has been eliminated drifts over to share his woe. In those cases it comes with a certain wave of depression that the fellow teammates results is meaningless since the rest of the team was pounded. In these cases it is very common for the other players to come in with a chorus of 'this game means something to my team so why not help me?' This outside dynamic is something critical in a team game round and opens up opportunities for diplomacy and discussion. This is another way in which tournament play is very different from other games.

Team Rounds also tend to attract more competitive players. Many of the novices will avoid a team round since they do not have a team, or they perceive the team round as something that experienced players alone do. All of which is not always the case as many pick up teams have done well, but it becomes a reality that the games are affected and that you see on average a higher degree of competition and experience in the team round games.

If you have done well in your prior rounds and you have the tournament individual results as a personal goal, then it may be to your interest to avoid the Team Game Round since there are additional outside dynamics and the level of competition is greater.

Another question of tournament play is whether you want to skip a particular round ­ the most obvious being to skip the first or the second round. By skipping the first round in a tournament that allows you to drop a round, you may have a better idea as to who is ahead and can then try to catch up. However, if you have done very well in the first round, you may want to skip the second round to see who appears to be competition in the tournament and then plan your approach based on what you may consider as your margins. All this depends on being able to find out what the results are.

THE FLOW OF THE TOURNAMENT

Some experienced players believe that tournaments have a certain flow or mass psychology which you can pick up in an early round and then apply in the latter rounds. This point dwells almost on the 'mystic forces of a tournament' which may not be valid and can never really be proven either for or against. For the purposes of this guide we will discuss it because it is a fun aspect and some people really believe in it. The flows are in two areas: play on the game board and play around the game.

Play on the Game Board: It is held that sometimes tournaments will have it out for one or another country and you will hear that 'Russia is being pounded'. Or that one particular offensive opening is being used extensively, such as Lepanto against Turkey. ( In DipCon 9 in North America where there was a seminar talk to the players before the tournament about the Lepanto opening, the resulting three rounds of a total of 57 games saw the best Turkey in a 1909 deadline game being a 7- center survival with 23 cases of Turkey being eliminated. Killing Turkey, by any means, was obviously in the Flow of the Tournament).
When you convince yourself that there is a Flow in game play then your position on supporting it, directing it or reacting to it is based on your country of play. Remember that you may be creating a self-fulfilling prophesy by your own actions. However, if you are convinced that the other players in the game may have been influenced by the latest fad in openings then make your moves accordingly.

Play round the Game Board: The most common mass psychology aspect of the Tournament Mob is the approach to very
experienced players. In some tournaments there appears to be a mentality of ganging up against the experienced players while others seem to ignore it. Experience can be an attraction to other experienced players who always fear a silly stab, while at the same time be an attraction as a target to the paranoid novice or average player that fears the tactical ability of a star player. Getting a sense of this allows you to emphasize or try to divert attention from your skills or to play up the paranoia or the situation as best fits in with your position.

Individually. there is a long standing tradition of dumping on the prior year's winner. This is outside of what we are talking about here as the flow of the crowd and almost a tradition of sorts that the former champions take as a badge of honor.

SCOUTING FOR GAME RESULTS

Tournaments are by nature the comparison of your results with everyone else. Knowing where you stand can affect drastically the style and play of the game you are in. This is also a key question of game morality or ethics: how much should you allow your play to be affected by the results of the prior round, by the results seen in games around you. Most VERY experienced players will tell you that they more or less play each game on its own and hope for the best. Most experienced players will admit to the reality of tournament information affecting the play though they deny that they themselves are affected. Most novices seem to recognize the validity of tournament information affecting play, but are unsure on how to do it and question whether it is valid to beat on someone just because in the prior round the player did well.

Some tournaments post the results of one round as soon as it is done, so that players can see what is the best country score and who are the leaders. Some tournaments are very much the opposite where cross game information and effect is considered highly rude and anti social. This reached a height in the United States where for several years the common method was that
the actual tournament system was not known in advance of the play of the tournament and that players were only given the most general of information. You were advised to play your game as best you could and then at the end when the system was applied the winner was chosen. This method has gone out of favor because players want to be able to accept the results on a system known before hand.

Currently, it is fairly common for players to know who or which countries scored an outright win in the prior round as well as often who were the 2-way draws with high supply centers. This is the reality of a tournament as played.

It is also a common reality that on the final elimination round to get into the top board or in the final round of a tournament to determine overall standings that players discuss what their position in the game means to them in terms of their tournament standings as the game progresses and the end results of their game are about to be determined. It is not unusual for a deal to be cut on the top board that will give one player 1st and another 2nd. This negotiation is based on Tournament Position and not actual game board position. The ethics of it all and the social value of the situation is up to you to decide. However, be
aware of this difference between regular play and tournament play that this brings out.

OPENING PLAY BY COUNTRY

The following are the most common conservative openings in play regardless of venue:

England: Fleet Edi-Norwegian Sea, Fleet London-North Sea, Army Liverpool-York
France: Fleet Brest-Mid Atlantic, Army Marseilles-Spain, Army Paris-Burgundy
Germany: Fleet Kiel to Denmark, Army Munich-Ruhr, Army Berlin to Kiel
Italy: Fleet Naples-Ionian, Army Rome-Apulia, Army Venice holds
Austria: Fleet Trieste-Albania, Army Budapest-Serbia, A Vienna-Trieste
Russia: Fleet StPsc-Gulf of Both, Army Moscow-Ukrainia, Army Warsaw hold, Fleet Sev-Bla
Turkey: Army Con-Bulgaria, A Smyna-Con, F Ankara-Black Sea

There has been a slow trend toward having the English play Liverpool to Edinburgh and the Italians to play Army Venice to Tyrolia, but for conservatism you can not beat the above display. Tournament play brings out a sense of bravado and dash in many players and it is therefore very common to see slashing openings as part of a tournament. The shorter the time period in the tournament the greater the tendency to go with a slashing opening. Here are some:

THE SEA LION
Made for a French and German alliance against England. It is critical that France gets into the Channel in Spring 01. Works best if the German move in Fall 01 is unexpected. Can be enhanced by having the Russians move Army Moscow to St. Petersburg in Spring 01 in order to pressure Norway.
S-01
France: Fleet Brest-English Channel, Army Paris- Picardy
Germany: Army Berlin to Kiel, Army Munich-Ruhr, Fleet Kiel-Denmark
F-01
France: Fleet English Support German Fleet Denmark-North Sea, Army Picardy-Belgium
Germany: Fleet Den-North Sea, Army Kiel-Denmark, Army Ruhr-Holland
W-01
both France and Germany build a Fleet and an Army
S-02
Army Belgium-Wales convoyed by Fleet English Channel
Army Holland to York convoyed by Fleet North Sea

The critical factor is the concept of taking the North Sea from the English in 1901 and opening up tremendous convoy potential and leverage for the F-G combination. The double convoy is an idea to demilitarize the Lowlands and go for 100% offense against England. There are plenty of chances for double cross in Sp 02 which will give the game some tension. Also strong chance for a quick growing Germany and France.

THE FRENCH ROLLOVER
France is not often the target of a slashing opening attack but when it is, it is generally a double stab by England and Germany who have agreed with the French to stay out of Burgundy and the Channel. The situation can be made worse by Italy going to Piedmont, however that is very rarely the play of the Italians in tournament play.

S01
England: A Liverpool to Wales, Fleet London to the English Channel
Germany: A Munich to Burgundy, Fleet Kiel to Holland, Army Berlin to Kiel.
Italy: A Venice to Piedmont
F01
England: Convoys to Belgium with German Support or into Brest
Germany: Army Burgundy goes for Paris or supports the Italians to Marseilles
Italy: can go for Marseilles or he fears a stand off can support the French from Spain to Marseilles.

Note Italy can make the above really obnoxious by using the Western Lepanto wherein he also moves Army Rome to Tuscany and Fleet Naples to the Tyrn. Then in the Fall he convoys to Tunis leaving Fleet Tyrn in place to move on the Gulf of Lyon in the Spring of 02 or the Western Medit.

THE MUNICH FALL OCTOBER FEST
Everyone wants to be in Munich. Works best with a traditional conservative German opening to Ruhr/Kie/Den. If Germany has made it clear to Russia that he intends to stand him out in Sweden in the Fall then this can often result in a mass gang up on Germany as follows:
Sp 01
France: A Paris to Burgundy, (can be supported by Mar if paranoid)
Italy: A Venice to Tyrolia
Russia: A War-Silesia, F StPsc-Gulf of Bothnia

In the Fall of 01 all sorts of things can go down. Given the above the most common result is:
France: A Burgundy-Belgium
Italy: A Tyrolia-Munich
Russia: A Silesia-Berlin, F Bothnia-Baltic.

The combination of attacks on both Munich and Berlin generally means the German is reduced to one build at the most and often stays the same at 3. The Russian Fleet in the Baltic cements the1902 offensive to take the rest of Germany if the three stay together and the English decide to go vulture and make a play for Holland and Denmark.

THE BALTIC OPENING
The Germans are often in tournament play with short deadlines tempted to make a play for all three nearby centers of Holland, Belgium and Denmark. However, often one can avoid being a target by taking only two centers at the start. The Baltic Opening is also designed to be used as part of a Western Triple Alliance where France goes south putting both armies in the Iberia and shifting Fleet Brest through the Mid Atlantic and into the Western Medit in Fall of 01. England goes to Norway with an
Army and then shifts Fleet Norwegean into the Barents. The German agrees not to take Belgium and
to support England into Sweden in Spring 01 so that the west all have five centers. Germany open develops as follows:

Spring 01: Fleet Kiel to Baltic, Army Berlin to Kiel, Army Munich to Ruhr
Fall 01: Fleet Baltic to Sweden, Army Kiel to Denmark, Army Ruhr to Holland
Winter 01 build Army Muncih, Army Berlin
Spring 02: Army Denmark to Livonia Convoyed by Fleet Baltic, Army Berlin to Prussia, Army Munich to Silesia
The above sequence assumes that the Germans will stand out in Sweden. If they play down to the Baltic then the German gets three builds which can include a fleet to blow the Russians out in the Spring. You also note that Denmark is vacated in favor of the move to Livonia, this is a gamble that the Russian will not go for Sweden in the Spring and let the English have it. Most less than experieinced players never see the convoy into Livonia and thus this presents a massive German Army invasion of Russia that spells the end.

THE AUSTRIAN BLOODBATH
No country has a reputation for being first out like Austria. This works well even when there is an agreed standoff in the Black Sea. It rings the Austrians with hostile armies in 1902 and with a little luck will keep them down to at least four and maybe even three in the first year. The following combination is why Austria is eliminated more than any other country:
S-01
Italy: A Venice-Tyrolia., A Rome-Venice,
Turkey: A Con-Bulgaria, A Smyna-Con
Russia, A War-Galicia, A Moscow-Ukr
F-01
Italy: A Venice-Trieste, A Tyrolia Support Army Venice to Trieste,
Turkey: A Bul-Greece, A Con-Bulgaria
Russia: A Galicia-Budapest, A Ukrainia-Rumania

THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
Russia is about the only country that can attract four powers to attack her in 1901-02 with any degree of regularity. The mass jump on Russia is often driven by personality factors as well as the simple desire to crush someone early. Critical to speed in the south is the failure of the Russians to stand out the Turks in the Black Sea. Failure to standoff in Galicia against the
Austrians will also contribute to a massive downturn in Russian survival chances. When Russia dies early in a game it is usually from this sort of opening:

S01
Turkey: A Smyna-Arm, F Ankara-Black, A Con-Bulgaria
Austria: A Vienna-Galicia, A Budapest-Serbia
Germany: F Kiel-Denmark
England: A Liverpool-Edi, F Edi-Norwegian
F01
Turkey: A Arm-Sev, F Black Support A Arm-Sev, Army Bul-Rum (or Supports Austrians there)
Austria: A Galicia-Rumania or Ukrania, A Serbia Support Turkish A Bulgaria-Rumania
Germany: F Denmark-Sweden
England Convoy Army Edi to Norway, Fleet Norweagean to the Barents

These moves may keep the Russians from having any builds in the first year and will attract the Vulture in the English if nothing else. In the Spring of 02 the Doom Ring is assembled as the English slip an army into St Petersburg and back it up by a fleet in the Barents, the Germans move armies to Silesia and Prussia, the Turks and the Austrians should have Rumania and
Sevastapol and the only question is who gets Moscow. A sad fate for the Russians but a common enough one.

IONIAN GAMBIT
Italy is often not the target of a Blitz in 1901 since other than bringing three armies against Venice in the Spring, not much can be normally done. Players in tournaments very rarely open with mad slashing and dashing moves against the Italians in an opener. One possibility is the Ionian Gambit. It depends totally on Italy being convinced to move its fleet into Tunis in the Fall of 1901. Austria plays a conservative opening to Albania, Serbia and covering Trieste and then in the Fall of 01, slides both armies south, taking Greece from Serbia and then moves Fleet Albania to the Ionian. From here the Austrians can convoy into Apulia, Naples, threaten the Turks or get themselves in mischief in any number of places.

TURKISH TOE STUFFING/LEPANTO
Of all the countries to get at in an opening, the hardest is Turkey. The biggest opening advantage comes from a Russian successful move into the Black Sea. This is an uncommon occasion in Tournament play. More common is the bounce in the Black Sea. However, if Russia is either in the Black Sea or has Fleet in Rumania, there is always the possibility of an
Austrian-Russian combination to move on Bulgaria in the Fall of 01 to cripple the Turks. This move is occasionally done when the Turk has been terrorized by the prospect of an Italian Lepanto and are opening with Fleet Ankara going to Constantinople for the move to the Aegean in the Fall of 01. This leaves Bulgaria open to a supported attack. If successful it also means that Russia will have a shot at controlling the Black Sea and threatening Armenia in the Spring of 01.

THE LEPANTO
The Lepanto system is one in which the Italians open with Fleet Naples to the Ionian, Army Rome to Apulia and then in Fall of 01 convoy to Tunis. From there they build Fleet Naples and in Spring of 02 shuffle the fleets: Ionian to Eastern Medit and Naples to the Ionian in order to convoy Army Tunis to Turkish corner into either Syria or Smyna depending on the opportunities. As openings go in tournament play it is rarely pulled off completely. It is a slow opening when carried to the full extent. However, it has flexibility in that in the Spring of 02 Army Tunis can be convoyed into Albania to kick off a Balkan campaign, or even dully back to Apulia to take on a Defensive role.

There are variations in the plan making use of Army Venice which in what is called the Key Lepanto goes to Trieste and then to Serbia with the Austrians consent as the Italians can alternatively give up on going to Tunis and instead shift the Fleet directly in the fall to the Aegean or the Eastern Medit as the Austrians fill in at Greece and the Ionian behind them. A very tense situation for the Italians who must have loads of trust in the Italians as a compliment of the loads of trust that they gave the Italians in their Spring 01 walk through of Trieste. It is a fast move on Turkey if that is what you are up to.

FRENCH SLING SHOT
Single country slashing, like the Lepanto above is fairly uncommon because they rely on extensive diplomatic strategic balances to be employed with success. One of the most overlooked French openings is one in which the French yield the issue of Belgium as a matter of contention between England and Germany while having an alliance with the Germans. The idea is to keep the French Fleet in the Mid Atlantic and then use it to move to the North Atlantic or Irish in a stab move on England and follow it up with a move that allows the convoy into England of an army while protecting Brest from the English coming in the Channel. It also allows for the movement into the Western Medit if needed to face off against the Italians. A possible dream sequence may look like this:
S-01
Fleet Brest to the Mid Atlantic, Army Paris to Gascony, Army Marseilles hold or goes for one of the more unusual standoffs with Germany in Burgundy.
F-01 Fleet Mid Atlantic convoys Army Gascony to Portugal, Army Marseilles to Spain
Winter 01 build Fleet Brest, and Army Paris or Fleet Marseilles
S02
Fleet Mid-North Atlantic, Fleet Brest to the Mid, Army Spain to Gascony, Army Portugal to Spain
F02 Convoy Army Spain to Clyde/Liverpool/Wales depending on your options.


STRATEGIC COMBINATIONS

The strategic game is one in which you look at the alliance patterns as a system. It has long been argued that a perfect Diplomacy game is one that would resolve into a three-way draw. In the beginning game there are basically five players against two. Usually this means in reality that there is one or more players splitting their forces against the two targets. In the Middle Game the situation comes down to 3 against 2, again with at least one of the majority alliance holding down two
fronts. In the End game there is no strategic stable situation as 2 on 1 in a perfect game would see the 2 breaking down as soon as there was an advantage to one side and then the two would change makeup and you would have a strategic stalemate.

Tournament play in fixed deadlines does not allow for the End Game to develop for the most part. Therefore you have the game in two parts: a beginning and a middle. The most dangerous situation in a tournament is for there to be one part of the board where there are 2 vs 2 and the other side where there is 2 vs 1. This causes a significant power shift in tournament terms
towards the odd side. The most common set up where this happens is when the East breaks out as Austria and Italy vs Russia and Turkey. That leaves England, France and Germany to play odd man out. If you are thinking of fast gains then think globally in large groups. Plan to be in the 5 vs the 2. Think about who is going to be your buddy and your target when you are down to 5 and it is going to be 3 on 2. The shorter the game the less stable the alliance has to be. So an alliance of everyone against France and Austria is probably the most unstable group of 5 to go into a mid game situation. However in a game which ends in 1905 this might be perfect for a group of slashers. A longer game means you have to pace yourself strategically and will most likely have less shifting of alliances unless the tournament system is in the extreme range of Supply Center Ranking. Strategically thinking, every time you change your own alliance structure you lose time. If you ever have an Army go back to a province it came from you have lost time.

Strategic tournament thinking also means that you have to consider if you are going to be facing any of these people in the next round. How much will your future ability to influence them be if you set yourself up as someone who is always playing against the leader even when he is your ally? While carrying game grudges is considered very bad behavior, knowing a players playing style is often critical in making a choice. Who would you want as an ally: the player who always plays against the leader or someone who is willing to run side by side with you against the enemy putting your alliance ahead of a single supply center difference in your power? It is interesting to note that players who are have been playing in tournaments with Supply Center Ranking are most prone to turn on you when you have an alliance and you pull ahead, while those who are most used to operating under a draw system tend to have longer alliances regardless of difference in supply center count.

In the games where there is a lot of time and draws are the emphasis, then strategic play comes down to choices: do you take as an alliance partners that will be crossing the stalemate lines and thus risk a doublecross with no defensive stalemate, or do you plan an alliance structure that seeks to achieve a stalemate line to guarantee results in a small draw?

Remember that most alliances bring with them a mirror alliance and that the tighter one alliance is the more it forces its opponents to be allies. The most common alliance is that of two players who are neighbors: England-France, Russia-Turkey ((The Steam Roller)) are the two most powerful combinations. They also bring against them a potential of a three way alliance which can overwhelm them given time. Know the strategic limitations and counters to your alliance mix.

COMMON ERRORS

When you start the game you set a tone for yourself that others hear. For new players, take a good look at the openings that are possible. When you are given a country assignment have immediately in your mind what the most common conservative opening is and the slashing combinations above. Know the game geography of your home country so that you can discuss
your opening without having to wonder if Liverpool connects to London (*it does not) or be shocked that Army St Petersburg could move to Norway in Fall of 1901.

In tournament play if you act like you do not know anything and try the technique of a victim learning to play, then you will be a victim and will not have learned the most important thing: be confident in yourself. The technique of the meek which works in some social settings does not work well in tournament play.

Irrationality as a technique works mostly in short games where you can get away with a few 'crazy' moves or paranoid plays. "I want to see what it would be like to get an Italian Army in Silesia in 1902" or an Austrian raider into the Mid Atlantic. When confronted with a player that is using irrationality then you put a consistent policy of treating them as an enemy. This way his
irrationality is discounted since you are only concerned with his unit moves. You will be surprised at the number of times players who profess to be wild and crazy suddenly come down to being rather conservative after all when they are forced to contend with unrelenting pressure.

In longer tournaments the general reaction of players to those few who try to constantly stab and lie is to eliminate them. In shorter tournaments players tend to be more forgiving of stabs simply because players can always fall back on the old line: The tournament system made me do it...I need the center to stay even in the tournament."

Stagnation is a common error. At times you may have to play a few turns in a Turtle mode just holding a defensive line. You should not be content with this. An imbalance is a dynamic that wins tournaments and breeds great players. It is also a lot more fun. When you find yourself in a stagnate situation see if you can get your ally to help you open things up diplomatically.
Sometimes a retreat presents your opponents with conflicting desires that allows you to shift the alliance structure.

Order writing is horrible for the most part in tournaments. The handwriting is even worse. The number of mis-written orders goes through the roof. Even very experienced players make errors. The first thing to do is to make sure your starting forces are correct. Do not try to abbreviate things if you are nervous or new. Remember that a poorly written order that allows for only one interpretation generally will work. So what if you spell out North Sea, it avoids a discussion point on any abbreviation starting with Nor. Use a big piece of paper...the trees will forgive you long before you forgive yourself for a bad opening move in which you forget to complete the movement of a starting piece because the paper was cramped.

The most common adjudication error is to forget that a force cannot cut support for an attack on itself. The second most common perception error is that your allies armies are still capable of dislodging you if they are supported by your enemies. One North American DipCon was decided by an unintended support that caused Munich and a stalemate line to collapse.

Players may come across adjudication errors which may be in your tournament interest to overlook. Polite play requires you to point them out. Playing with illegal extra units or wrong locations may be funny at the time in a secret inner place, but in the long run it is not good for the game. Every tournament has a Gamesmaster somewhere, make use of him to help in the
confusion. However, do not argue the results. A bad GM call may be wrong, but arguing with the GM is even more wrong. It is only a game. Have fun and make it fun for others.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * Traditional Best Country Awards augment normal event prizes.

 GM      Jim Yerkey  [8th Year]   NA
    NA   (NA)

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