Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Diplomacy Game: Peace Breaks Out, We Have Winners

Since late August, model soldiers have been mostly crowded off this blog by the online Diplomacy game, one of several Play-by-Blog projects that seem to be a minor trend in our community, which is an interesting development and a good thing, I feel.

I’m a little sad to say that our Diplomacy game is now over.   With four remaining at the table, and very much in the endgame, a player told me that he simply did not have time to continue with the project, and with Christmas coming and all manner of distractions ahead, including Curt Campbell’s Analogue Painting Challenge V which starts at the end of this week (God help me), this seems like a good time to finish.

So Now It Can Be Told.

Since this was a Blind Game, with only a few security breaches on my part, here are the players, most of whom are still (well, maybe, I don’t really know what Intelligence work went on behind the scenes) ignorant of one another’s identity, in order of final standing.

England, Score 12 and the Winner:  Mark Haughey (owner of the Sun of York blog).

Turkey, Score 11 and Runner Up, Tim Gow (owner of the Megablitz blog)

Italy, Score 7 and Third Place, Edwin King (owner of the Thoughts of a Depressive Diplomatist blog)

France, Score 4, Thomas Nissvik (owner of the Learning by Doing blog and one of my favourite Vikings)

Also Ran and Damned Honourably At That:

Germany, Pat G (owner of the Irregular Warband Fast blog and fellow Canadian)

Russia, Robert Audin (Owner of the Fiends in Waistcoats blog)

Austria (This player had to leave the game early and I will respect their privacy).

Thank you all for playing, it was terrific fun.   Your dispatches and posturing always came to me before I forwarded them, and made for interesting reading.  Some of you were quite new to Diplomacy, and others were old hands, but you all gave it a shot and bravo to you.  If you never played Diplomacy before and now can say you have, then I consider this to have been worthwhile.

At the outset of the game I promised two prizes.  I have two minis from Artizan which I think sort of capture the look of generic European generals from the turn of the century (provided they are French, Italian or Austrian).  They might do for turn of the century Pulp Gaming.

As the winner, Mark Haughey gets this one for the narrowest of wins over Turkey.  However, with Mark’s total stab of France in the Fall 1906 turn, I think he was in the best spot to get the 16 Supply Centres needed to win, whereas Turkey had a tougher shot at the magic number.  Mark, let me know if you’d like him painted and if so, give me some general guidance as far as uniform and hair colour, otherwise I’ll use my imagination).

 The second prize, for best role play, was much harder to decide on.   A number of players did this very well.   Tim Gow’s dispatches as Sultan And-al-Hamid II, which always ended with the delightful phrase “Blessings upon you and may your camels be ever fruitful”, always delighted me.  Tim and Mark both practised a very clever brand of diplomacy, always keeping their cards close to their chests and always lying with a straight face.  Remind me never to play poker with these guys.   Pat G never ever gave up,  Right to the end, with one SC and one Army, he was wheeling and dealing, and working the telegraph for all he was worth.   His Kaiser impersonation, particularly his exchanges with his “Uncle” in England, were always fun.

Well, there has to be a winner, and I choose Edwin King for several reasons.  First, his diplomacy was steady and effective, and along with his skillful playing gave the leading players a healthy sense of respect for Italy. My favourite message of the game was one where, early on, he told the bellicose Kaiser “Don’t rattle your sabre at me, Sir!” and then gave a long scolding lecture on how Germany needed friends, not more enemies.  Also, Edwin’s creations on the true role-playing side were epic.   I will not soon forget Count di Graspi, the general who became a crazed and mystical dictator, or the venal and corrupt Ernest Harriman (his name seemed to fluctuate a bit) who came to life in the pages of the Daily Dissembler.   This was true fluff, but it was well done, with great humour and creativity, and seems to me deserving of recognition.  So, Edwin, I gladly award you this prize, to help you remember the Lion of Trieste in his salad days.  Again, let me know if you want him painted or unpainted, and if painted, pray give some guidance as to uniform colours.

 I hope the players will chime in with their own thoughts and comments on their strategies,  that would be interesting.

I also wish to pay a special tribute to Ion Dowman (also known as Archduke Piccolo) for his insightful play by play commentary as General Erasmus Blatt.   It was always very entertaining and instructive.  Ion, how did you see the game ending if we’d played to the bitter end?  I’d be interested to know that.   Also, there is a little something on my painting bench for you, but it won’t make it’s way down under before Christmas, sadly.

Could I see myself doing this again?  Most likely yes, but not until after Easter of 2015 at the earliest, as I shall be quite busy between now and then.  If you are interested in getting on the list for another game, please let me know.

Cheers and blessings to you all!




  1. Gentlemen, to date I have been in two games that truly deserve the title "epic". The first was a double blind umpired game of Squad Leader I played back in my 20's, the second was this one. I thank you all for a very enjoyable game.

    However, the hero here is the Michael the Mad Padre. If my volume of mail was anything close to average, the poor Padre spent more time ministering to us than his actual flock.

    Thank you Michael for a wonderful experience.

    1. You're most welcome, Pat. Actually, I don't have a regular flock right now, just a thesis I should be writing instead of doing mad ventures like this. It was a pleasure getting to know you better, and I REALLY hope I'm posted to Ottawa next year, it would be awesome to game with you in person.

  2. It with some surprise I read this, and no little disappointment. But we are in a busy time of the year (not least for those of a Clerical Profession) and this game has taken up quite a lot of brain-effort.

    I want to thank my fellow players (gentlemen all!). It was always a pleasure to receive communications from you and to try and work out what was over the hill. Given the way the game rolled, my main diplomacy was with Turkey and Germany - I must say I thought Turkey masterly and thought that the Kaiser's Mad Push Eastward brought a brilliantly surreal touch to the game.

    I'm very pleased to receive the inaugural Harriman Prize and shall accept it in memory of it's much-maligned namesake.

    My admiration goes to Michael, who managed to deal with a huge amount of diplomatic correspondence (my own log runs to 53 pages, and I didn't get round to anything after Spring 04! To keep us all in order, to keep the blog bang up-to-date and to come up with the Daily Dissembler at the same time was a great achievement.

    Michael - it there a 'little something' that we players can contribute to by means of thanks and Christmas Cheer?

    1. I was a little disappointed as well, Edwin, but it isa game and I can't force people to go on. ON reflection, it seemed like a good place to end it, if end it had to. I look forward to getting the Harriman prize done for you - email me about the paint specs.
      I don't require any recompense, this was a labour of love, but thanks for your final thought.

    2. Yes, don't get me wrong - of course it doesn't matter if it ends early.

      For me it was a good time to end - before Turkey brought some real power against me and England reached my borders. I think it was all downward for Italy from here on!

      Thank you again!

  3. I have enjoyed following the game and it was a delight reading the Dissembler. Sorry to see the game end early but understand.

    Well done to all!

    1. Thanks Jonathan, so glad that the Dissember (itself a labour of love) was a hit. It's worth it to read your's and Dai's comments on that.

  4. This has been lots of fun to follow, especially the fun in character written pieces where the players seemed to go all out that had me in stitches on a regular basis.

    Congrats to all the winners and well done Michael for keeping this seemingly smooth throughout.

    1. Many thanks, Dai. Maybe you can get a seat in the next game, when it happens?

    2. It'd be a pleasure mate, assuming I can jump in on time. :)

      Diplomacy again, or something new?

    3. I'm thinking another game of Diplomacy sometime after Easter, either a trad game straight up or one of the variants. Open to suggestion on this one.

  5. A rather surprising and abrupt end, at a point at which the situation was still pretty much in a state of flux, too. But seeing the dramatis personnae was worth it! I don't 'know' all the cast, but some of them are familiar to me.

    In the role of Genl (rtd) Sir Erasmus Blatt, Political Correspondent of the Rioters News Agency, I hope at least to have been entertaining and reasonably informative. I was always a little uneasy about saying too much, or 'second-guessing' the action. Mind you, the good General didn't get everything right!

    Bearing in mind that there was still room for the remaining four belligerents to negotiate and wheel and deal, I think England had the edge over Turkey at the end of 1906. It could have held all the gains of 1906, and Warsaw was still hostage to England's good will towards Turkey. In the first half of 1906 I thought the situation 60-40 in England's favour - by the end of that year, it was edging towards 70-30. But the 30 side of the ratio was what was keeping things uncertain. Turkey was in a pretty good place to take out a large chunk of the Balkans.

    Unfortunately for France, the situation had become so unfavourable, that even after a fair bit of thought I'm still not sure how I would handle it. Italy has pretty much reached its high water mark in southern France and Spain; but England is much better placed to make further inroads into French-held territory. Maybe it would would depend upon which two units France disbanded.

    What persuades me most of England's ... erm ... supremacy, is that she made certain of building plenty of armies to land upon the Continental coastline. I have seen (and benefited from) a failure to do this. Possibly a France-Italy-Turkey alliance would arrest British progress, but the incentives are too long term to be promising, especially in view of the short-term prospects. France is going under; Italy has probably stalled altogether; only Turkey can expand. So I think the final standings is a fair reflection of how the future of Europe was like to go.

    It was a most interesting game to watch from afar, and my congratulations to all the players for the manner in which they played their roles. It's a simple game, but far from easy!

  6. I thought this deserved a separate comment: Michael, I thoroughly enjoyed your adjudication, reports and 'Daily Dissembler' reports during the course of this game. Excellent value!

    1. Thanks, Ion. Much appreciated. It was always a pleasure to put your comments in the DD and perhaps give them a wider and deserved audience. You added a lot to the game for sure.

  7. A big thumbs-up and round of polite applause to all the participants and especially the umpire. It's been great fun following this PBB game over the past few months, so well done for keeping those of us in the cheap seats* entertained :)

    * well, we're wargamers after all. You can't expect us to shell out for seats in the circle when that money could be spent on shinies ;)

    1. Thank you, Tamsin, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I found myself wondering if this would be of interest to the miniatures gamers out there, or if they would find it as dull as dishwater. Probably, given human nature, a bit of both, but I'm so goad you had fun in the cheap seats - next time I could offer you a seat at the table? ;)

    2. Don't do it! The seats at the table seem cheap, but boy is there a price to pay!

  8. What? I wake up this morning to find peace has broken out. Oh well...

    Brilliant work Michael for organising this and providing the Daily Dissembler.

    Archduke, I loved your extra commentary.

    It's a fun but cruel game. In away I am glad it stopped before I had to get stuck in to my French ally, but at the same time I am still working on my next moves: breakout into the Atlantic, seize Belgium, occupy the Ruhr and rescue the Poles.

  9. This has been a fun game to play and to follow. This does seem the best place to end it as Turkey was unlikely to get out from under a depreciating situation. With only 3 nations with substantial positions left and Italy unlikely to join with Turkey lacked the muscle to win out. Great game Michael!

    1. Actually, I tried my damnest to persuade Turkey that I could still be his ally if he laid off Italy. I think I meant it too! I would have been happy for him to have Eastern Europe.

  10. Actually I was thinking of Edwin's final thought in his comment. If anyone could lay their mitts on a 28mm miniature that would be suitable for an Edwardian lady reporter to represent Miss Amelia Roosevelt, America's favourite girl reporter, that would be awesome.

  11. Here is my post on the game. Thanks again Michael and fellow diplomats, commentators and international observers.

  12. My thoughts:

    And yes I am definitely in for the next game - unless a new player needs the slot - share the joy, share the pain!


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