Further Reflections from a Diplomacy Newbie

Stephen Lepley

I'm finding it difficult to see the differences between being in a Diplomacy group and just playing "pick-up" games on the net. It seems we suffer from many of the same problems that any game has.

We have delays. Plenty of them. Vacations, holidays, job changes, relocations, "work overload" combined with family obligations. All these and more combine to bog the game down like no group of college kids ever could. Think about it. Those college kids spend most of their time stuck in the dorms and on campus. They are generally around to enter their moves (if they remember). But when a company sales rep is ordered to Europe for two weeks, that's it. You've got another two week delay. Just grin and bear it. So, if you think a group of middle-aged, working adults will play without delay, think again.

Emotions flare! Our first club game has had two resignations thus far.

Is there a black cloud over Italy? You might think we "adults" would behave far better than the college crowd. Not so. Yours truly included. I am trying to reach that perfect state of "Diplomacy Nirvana" in which I calmly accept all moves and stabs as the working out of the master plan of eternity. I'm not there yet.

The enthusiasm for the game at hand has waned somewhat. Broadcast press and cross alliance press seems to be about nil. It's as if the ending were written in stone and there is nothing left to talk about. To be fair, there has been some enthusiasm about the next club game. Perhaps a real group feeling just takes time to build and we may be on our way.

Nevertheless, it does feels good to influence the rise and fall of alliances and affect the outcome in this game. I wouldn't expect too much from any club or group of players. In our group, Diplomacy remains full of confusion, backstabbing, miscommunications, and delays. That is compensated (of course) by that great feeling you get while grinding down an opponent.

It seems that I have overcome my earlier problems with the lying aspect of Diplomacy. Call it what you will. Be as legalistic as you can about how you do it. When you get someone to believe something that is not true, you have perpetrated a heartless, black, bald-faced lie. That means you will spend time in purgatory. How it went from a moral issue that dragged at me to "just a part of the game," I don't know. Time, I guess.

My position in game "Club1" remains strong. Stabbing my old alliance E/I/A did not destroy me (Russia). However, Germany's stab of France did put a kink in my plan to sacrifice Russia (to see that Italy doesn't survive to a draw or a win). France was picking up Italian SC's when he was forced to retreat and face his former ally, Germany. I now had to survive in the Balkans (rather than fight a slow retreat). Now, I can only bring down the Italian if I hold back Italy long enough to give Germany time to grind down France.

Initially, I felt that I could not contain Italy and Turkey in the Balkans. They could put more units in the immediate area with greater speed and had a better tactical position than my Russia. I now have good evidence which indicates that their forced alliance (France/Italy/Turkey) remains fractured and mostly uncommunicative. This disarray has caused them to miss their opportunities to press their advantage and to bust my line.

Somehow Germany and I accomplished what I thought we couldn't. We stopped the France/Italian/Turkish alliance in the Balkans. The present move (at this writing) is the first time in months I haven't had to cross my fingers and seemingly wait an eternity for the judge to process the turn. The Balkans will hold now and I can afford to go on the offensive.

Even better news is coming in from our western front. France was ill-prepared for the stab. Germany took all of England, as well as Paris, and Brest from France in one and one half game years. I can let you in on our present move because it will happen before this is published. We have a little scheme going to bust the back of the Italian defenses at Piedmont. If all goes well, Marseilles, Spain, and Portugal will follow in collapse.

I don't expect to get a draw now. My plea to Turkey to join with me and force a draw with Germany fell on deaf ears. The German offer to share a draw doesn't set well either. He pulled off a great stab and is welcome to take it all. I am content to support and pull a few down with me!

It seems that Turkey wants me dead as much as the Italian does. I now enjoy doing everything possible to see that Italy and Turkey do not survive into a draw or a win. Having found a stalemate line which I can hide behind (and be aggressive from), I am a pretty happy camper.

There is some talk of making our next club game a gunboat game. That sounds pretty good. Having done-in remnants of England and Austria, as well ruining Italy and Turkey's chances of a place in the finish, it seems I have made a few enemies. I wonder why?

By the way, if anyone would like to be used as a fill-in or a replacement in our club games, just let me know by e-mail and tell me a little about yourself. I'll keep your name on file. We've been awfully hard on the Italians! I am also planning to add a Diplomacy section to my home web page. Send me your best Diplomacy links!

Stephen Lepley

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