Be the Little Guy
On the trip down to World DipCon VIII, excellently run by David Hood and the Carolina Amateur Diplomats (hooray!). There was much speculation as to how one would be able to get to the final round. Surely anyone who had a "name" in the hobby, and there were a bunch of 'em there, believe you me!, would be at a disadvantage, as well as anyone who did really well in the first or second round. So it was my intention from the beginning to play a strong-but-unspectacular first game, take a few chances the second game, and to play all-out the third and fourth rounds.
This proved to be a pretty solid strategy. I pulled Turkey in the opening game, and had Larry Peery as Russia to the north. We struck a deal that would let us fight our own fights, without doing a traditional Juggernaut. He went north and east; I fought for the Balkans. And this brings me to the first virtue of Being the Little Guy:
In Round 2, I drew Germany, and was the victim of the dreaded Western Triple. Yes, I meant that. In tournaments, the W3 rarely works out for Germany, but I figured this was my round to be bold, and it wasn't impossible that it could work! So, I supported France through Munich, worked England into St. Pete, and was on the verge of Warsaw when England stabbed me...for Belgium. That was it, a one center stab, but in the end, it forced France to choose between me and England, and heck, he already had Munich! However, I learned virtue #2 of Being the Little Guy:
So to Round 3. I draw England, and Vincent Mous, inventor of the Modern Variant, is France. A fellow named Steve Mauritas (sp?) is Germany, and I find myself forced to decide on my strategy for the game in 1901. On the one had, Vincent, will make an excellent ally, his tactics will be sound, and in the end, he can almost certainly out-play me given a chance. On the Other Hand, Steve is (As far as I could tell, I had met him at PrezCon previously) a solid player, without much feel for the endgame, who, as Germany, would almost certainly have bigger problems than me! I convince Steve to work with me for Vincent's demise. And So it goes. A Relentless assault on our part, and Italian intervention in Iberia, seal Vince's fate. No one can fight three at a time, but he holds on until 1904, when he goes from four centers to zero. (ouch!)
And, just when things are looking pretty rosy for the E/G alliance, Russia springs west, and captures Munich. A long fight ensues, wherein the R/A/I alliance scrambles to get to the Stalemate line. And here I learned virtues 3 and 4:
In the end, a solo and a two-way were just barely enough to get me the win. As the Little Guy, the one who no one had really heard of, and who certainly didn't appear capable of taking the whole shebang, I was, I think, a little underestimated -- if only as someone not to "key onto." Many of the veterans, like Simon, Manus, and Edi, had such strong reputations going in that they probably fared less well than if they had equal abilities and no reputation. [I hope not. I intend to win someday, despite any notoriety I might have. --MH] My last thought on the matter is one about tournaments, and something I learned while competing in Ballroom Dancing:
Win the Tournament, Not The Event
If you focus too hard on getting the solo win in every game at a tournament, odds are against it happening. Have fun, play boldly, with solid tactics and reasonable diplomacy. That was my formula, and it worked for me!
See ya in Belgium!
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