While most of the Diplomacy hobby’s high-profile members attention was focused on the recent NPR “This American Life” segment devoted to Allan B. Calhamer’s game Diplomacy, that featured writer David Hill, former US diplomat Dennis Ross, and a cast of hundreds at David Hood’s DIXIECON in Chapel Hill, NC this past Memorial Day weekend; a lot of low-profile but hard working American Dippers were using the Meet-Up web site to find and link up with other Diplomacy players.
It’s only my opinion for what it’s worth, but I think the long term benefits to the hobby from the second group will be far greater than the bombast from the first. I don’t know how many Meet-Up groups there are at the moment devoted to Diplomacy (The Meet-Up site shows five: San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Canada, Cambridge, MA, and Los Angeles, CA. with a total of 288 members. In addition there’s a group in San Diego with 49 members and the Potomac group with 178 members; or a total of 515 members; of whom perhaps 20% participate regularly in game events.) but I do know it’s a growing phenomenon in California where it began in the Bay Area with Edi Birsan and Adam Silverman in 2009. Since then they’ve grown to 126 members and have hosted 20 events. When Adam moved to San Diego he got in touch with me and another group was soon under way in San Diego. Since March 2014 we’ve grown to 49 members and had 5 events. One of our first players, J. Be, lives in the LA area and in August he got a group going up there. They’re up to 25 members and have had their first event with another on the way. I suspect something similar is going on around the country; and I hope DW will feature the Meet-Up sites in their events calendar.
With that background I want to bring the hobby up to date on our latest event in San Diego. Unlike our previous sessions where the game(s) ended in draws and such, our fourth session in August went on for almost eight hours with no clear winner in sight at the end of 1909. Since none of our previous games had produced a “real” (e.g. 18 center win or win by concession) winner I proposed a week after that session that the same players meet and finish the game. All agreed to the idea and a week later they met at my place to duke it out.
Two players, Italy (Mike Janowski) and Russia (Liam Fay), had been eliminated in the first session, so that left five of the original players on board. Unfortunately, Chris Plato, France, became ill, and I stepped in to cover his three center position. The other players were; Austria: James Heg, England, David Miano, France, Larry Peery, Germany, Nick Turner, and Turkey, Toan.
The game resumed play in 1910 and ended 3 hours later in 1913. I’ll leave it to others to do the play by play and just note that at the end of the game Austria was at 9, England at 18, France at 0, Germany at 1, and Turkey at 6. It did go right down to the wire, though and on the last turn England picked up Paris from France and Berlin from Germany, only to lose Moscow (to Turkey) and Warsaw (to Germany). It was gaining Rome that gave him his 18th center and the win! Congratulations to Dave Miano for his first ever win and being the first SDDG winner.
What both Adam, who was present for Session I but not Session II, and I noticed was how the players in the group have improved since our first game just a few months ago. At the beginning the focus was on learning the rules, the layout of the board, the basics of writing orders, and the diplomatic arts. Now, in this last session there were few questions about the rules, map issues, writing or adjudicating orders and the diplomacy (in most cases) was strong. Because the game played out there was even a serious discussion of stalemate lines and a key reason England won was because he moved quickly to block those.
But I confess I was most proud of something that happened in the winter of 1912 when England gained three centers to bring him to 17, only one short of the win. He was obviously excited and the other players were looking for a way to stop him. In all the excitement and confusion David forgot to write his three builds (All his home supply centers were wide open.) We had already moved on and were writing orders for the Spring of 1913 and negotiating when somebody noticed (It wasn’t David.) that he had forgotten his builds. First there was shocked silence. Then there was a brief discussion as to what to do. Technically, since the next turn was under way, play should have continued; but the players agreed to let him have his builds; and then move on. I was so proud of their good sportsmanship. Adam had taught them well. I’m sure Phil Mickelson would have been as proud as I was.
As for the future, I’m sure we’ll continue to recruit new members and improve our skills locally, but there’s already talk of meeting up with our Diplomacy friends to the north.
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