Location, Location, Location

A Matter of Real Estate, Pure and Not So Simple
Larry Peery

Some people hold that Diplomacy is a game of tactics, strategy, and diplomacy. I disagree. To me Diplomacy is a game of real estate, pure and not so simple! I guess I've felt that way for quite a while, since one of my first Diplomacy variants, back in 1967, was called Diplomatic Monopoly.

Let's consider a few real world examples.

Any real estate agent will tell you that "Location, Location, Location!" is everything when it comes to pricing real estate. Many of you know Ron Spitzer, enfant terrible of the LA-LA Land Diplomacy crowd. Just ask his parents (who live up the street from O.J.) what has happened to the value of their property since O.J. made Buckingham Dr. a tourist mecca. The average house in that area has dropped in value about $400,000.

I remember going out to visit Ken Peel when he lived in suburban Washington, D.C. The Metro had only been open a short time in the capital. I took it to the end of the line in Silver Spring, MD, where Ken lived. You climbed the steps of the modern station and were surrounded by a ring of high-rise apartment and condominium buildings, all built right next to the Metro station. Just behind them were row after row after row of single family houses, often right next to a fifteen story apartment building. Real estate. Always real estate. Land within sight of the station was worth $XXX a square foot. Land a block away was worth $XX.

Or consider an earlier example and variation of the same story. Jacques-Henri Strauss told me the story of the construction of Paris's Metro system as part of the building of modern Paris. The Strauss family was involved with the designers, and knew where the stations would be built. Naturally, they bought property around them; and laughed all the way to the bank. The Rothschilds Bank, of course.

Consider London, not just a supply center, but one of the world's most expensive pieces of real estate. You can't even buy a piece of land in some of the best areas (Mayfair, Westminster, etc.). You can only lease it for a period of 99 years. Why bother, a typical American would say, who thinks in terms of possession of land for a few seasons or years. But when you're the Duke who has owned that land for almost a l,000 years, a 99 year lease isn't such a big deal; and you get it all back in the end.

Or Wien. What about property values in Wien? In 1989 I had a chance to visit Ferdinand and Dagmar de Cassan at their farm and home. The farm, devoted to growing roses, and home were just outside the city limits of Vienna. I asked Ferdinand if he wasn't worried about urban sprawl surrounding and destroying his rose fields. No, he said, it will never happen. Wien's city limits have been the same since the 1500s. This land has always been farm land and it will always be farm land. Still is, as far as I know.

One more example, another supply center (or hadn't you noticed?). What city has the highest price per square foot for rental of office space in the world? Hong Kong? Singapore? London? New York? No. The answer is Moscow. Moscow's prime office real estate is the highest priced in the world. Supply is low. Demand is high. And St.Petersburg is right behind it.

Now, take your mind off of my version of Diplomacy Monopoly and look at your Diplomacy gameboard. What spaces on the board are the most valuable pieces of real estate (sea spaces count as real estate in this context)?

My challenge to you is to pick the seven spaces on the Diplomacy gameboard that you think a would be game winner must dominate by occupation, control, or neutralization in order to win a game.

You must justify each choice in tactical, strategic, and diplomatic terms; and provide your rationalization for each one.

Now, send your responses to your favorite Diplomatic Pouch Publisher and, if you like, a copy directly to me, Larry Peery, 6103 Malcolm Dr., San Diego, CA 92115, USA or to peeriblah@aol.com. The best responses will be published in the hobby press. And the best of all will win an appropriate prize.

Larry Peery

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