Before we begin, a note on the byline: I asked Manus to avoid using my name. It's not like I'm a fugitive from justice or anything so trivial as that, its just that I'd rather not have my name known too well in Diplomatic circles. Not that I'm a player to be overly feared, in my opinion, but I don't wish to find myself in a game as, say, Austria, with the Russian agonizing over his choice for an ally. Our Russian protagonist then runs a "whogame" and discovers that the Dual Monarch is indeed the author of a scholarly-sounding article (and surely only scholars of Diplomacy are fit to be authors of 'Pouch contributions, he thinks). As the Tsar sees it, the Austrian must be either working on my Masters Degree in Diplomatic Tactics, or a tenured professor at the Harvard College of Treachery & Deceit. I find neither conclusion particulary conducive towards my goal of heartlessly crushing Russia for a solo victory, or for that matter even for a paltry share in a draw. So, I'm choosing to write under the simple pseudonym of "The Scribe," and away we go....Just how does the typical 1901 game-year unfold in a game of Diplomacy? Well, funny you should ask. As part of a new Openings Library that I've been creating (to be combined into The Pouch's Library of Diplomacy Openings), I've documented several statistics, in addition to openings, from the first year in our favorite game of treachery and deceit. And while the game is a matter of, well, diplomacy, a knowledge of the frequency of certain occurrances can be quite helpful.
Perhaps you're the newly anointed Dual Monarch and you're wondering how likely you are to lose a home center to start the game. And which center that is most likely to be. Or how likely you are to find a five (or, heaven forbid, six) center Turkey as you enter 1902. And just how often does the marauding Tsar manage to seize an Austrian home center in the first year? How many neutral supply centers will still be unclaimed? And just how likely is the Italian to move to Tyrolia in the spring? Well, let's take a look, shall we?
The following numbers were compiled from no less than 600 games run on various Internet judges between 1993 and 1997. All games were Standard Diplomacy and featured partial press, either white, grey, or both. No variants of any kind were used, even those as minor as, for example, Fleet Rome. However, some consider "gunboat" (i.e., anonymous) to be a variant and a number of these games are included in this sample. Every effort was made to exclude those games from which Hall Of Fame points were withheld as a result of some impropriety, or suspected impropriety, though a few of these may have slipped through given the sheer number of games analyzed here.
The Library itself will hopefully be debuting with an upcoming issue of the Pouch. A breakdown of sample games by the year in which the games were started follows:
France and Germany are by far the most likely powers to gain three builds in 1901. Meanwhile, Austria and Russia have a chance, though less so. Three builds by Italy or Turkey in 1901 is a true rarity while for England the feat is nearly impossible, depending upon a convoy by France just to have a chance at the magic three. If you can even convince France to do such a thing I would nominate you for Diplomat of the Year! Russia's chance for four builds is likewise virtually non-existent. Such a conquest would necessarily include either the taking of Norway, Bulgaria, or a Turkish home center, all rare occurrences in and of themselves. And then you still have to seize three other centers.
On the other hand we see that Germany is the power least likely to be held without a build (a mere 1.7% of the time, just ahead of Turkey). Meanwhile, Russia suffers that fate 11.2% of the time, and actually enters 1902 with only 3 centers a relatively whopping 1.5% of the time.
Of course, Russia leads the pack here, courtesy of beginning the game with an extra home center. But, surprisingly, it is Germany in second place and leading Europe in builds gained in 1901, just ahead of the vaunted French. England and Turkey rank low due to their corner positions which limit their potential in the early years. But the defensibility of those positions in the years to come more than offset the disadvantage of their slow starts. Italy's renowned weakness is clearly illustrated. Without the defensive benefit of a corner position they in fact gain fewer average centers than either of the two witches.
|Power||Gained Center||Frequency||Power||Gained Center||Frequency|
|England||Norway||91.2 %||Austria||Serbia||91.7 %|
|Belgium||23.3 %||Greece||72.5 %|
|Denmark||3.7 %||Rumania||5.8 %|
|Brest||3.5 %||Warsaw||2.5 %|
|Holland||1.8 %||Venice||1.5 %|
|France||Spain||82.8 %||Bulgaria||0.7 %|
|Portugal||80.5 %||Munich||0.5 %|
|Belgium||28.5 %||Germany||Holland||89.0 %|
|Munich||4.5 %||Denmark||82.5 %|
|London||1.3 %||Belgium||25.8 %|
|Italy||Tunis||87.7 %||Sweden||2.8 %|
|Trieste||12.0 %||Warsaw||0.8 %|
|Munich||3.3 %||Marseilles||0.7 %|
|Vienna||3.3 %||Paris||0.5 %|
|Greece||3.2 %||Vienna||0.2 %|
|Marseilles||2.7 %||Russia||Rumania||76.2 %|
|Serbia||2.5 %||Sweden||69.3 %|
|Budapest||1.0 %||Vienna||4.7 %|
|Turkey||Bulgaria||93.8 %||Budapest||2.3 %|
|Greece||10.2 %||Constantinople||1.3 %|
|Rumania||8.2 %||Norway||1.3 %|
|Sevastopol||7.2 %||Ankara||1.2 %|
|Serbia||0.7 %||Berlin||0.8 %|
| ||Bulgaria||0.8 %||Munich||0.8 %|
Note that all neutral centers that a power can take without the assistance of a convoy by a foreign power have been documented as taken by the power in question in this sample. However, not all foreign centers were so taken. Sevastopol was never taken by Austria-Hungary nor was Venice ever taken by France. And neither Trieste nor Venice was taken by Germany. No cases of a power taking any center that required a foreign convoy (i.e., Austria-Hungary taking Tunis or Germany taking St. Petersburg) occurred.
The vulnerability of certain centers in 1901 is revealed. Trieste, Munich and Vienna are the three home supply centers most likely to fall in the first year of a game, clearly illustrating why 1901 is considered such a perilous year for the Dual Monarch.
|Frequency||14.5 %||33.7 %||32.3 %||14.5 %||3.5 %||1.3 %||0.2 %|
|Belgium|| ||23.3 %||28.5 %||25.8 %|| || || ||22.3 %|
|Bulgaria||0.7 %|| || || || ||0.8 %||93.8 %||4.7 %|
|Denmark|| ||3.7 %|| ||82.5 %|| || || ||13.8 %|
|Greece||72.5 %|| || || ||3.2 %|| ||10.2 %||14.2 %|
|Holland|| ||1.8 %|| ||89.0 %|| || || ||9.2 %|
|Norway|| ||91.2 %|| || || ||1.3 %|| ||7.5 %|
|Portugal|| || ||80.5 %|| || || || ||19.5 %|
|Rumania||5.8 %|| || || || ||76.2 %||8.2 %||9.8 %|
|Serbia||91.7 %|| || || ||2.5 %|| ||0.7 %||5.2 %|
|Spain|| || ||82.8 %|| || || || ||17.2 %|
|Sweden|| || || ||2.8 %|| ||69.3 %|| ||27.8 %|
|Tunis|| || || || ||87.7 %|| || ||12.3 %|
(Pop-Up Chart for Each Neutral Center -- Click on the Center Name Below)
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