Team Diplomacy

A Gunboat Approach?
by Edi Birsan

Traditionally the method of approaching a Team Event in a Diplomacy tournament is to have a group of players create a team name and then in one of the rounds of the tournament there is a designation that it is ‘the team round’ and everyone goes to their individual board with the sum of the scores for that round being compared on a team basis as well as being credited to the individual. Sometimes there are 7 player teams, each player assigned to a specific country. Sometimes, rather than a single round as the team, the sum of the event’s results for the team members is declared. All of these approaches, as far as I am concerned, have a fatal flaw: the product of the individual game is not the result of a team effort, it is the result of an individual effort. Even in the cases such as Baltimore where ‘cross boarding’ is allowed, or at ManorCon where team captains can go between boards, the real result is still the effort of the individual.

One of the major constraints on the team concept is that the individual tournament events are held typically over a Friday night, all day Saturday and half a Sunday and most players given the choice of playing in an individual game or sharing one game with a group will select the individual game. Time constraints cause priorities, and after all Diplomacy is at its core an individual egocentric game ride. So what do we do?

At a recent event in Oregon a Gunboat game board was set up on the TD table. Seven players volunteered in secret and were assigned to the game. During the course of the regular individual rounds, the players would slip the TD a set of orders for the game, which proceeded at about half speed. Certain mechanical issues came up and it was a learning experience all round. However, it was the basis of what may be a good experiment for some of the events that have enough people to want a different concept in team games. What I suggest is the following:

By allowing all members to put in orders, you reduce the No Moves Received possibilities. You also allow for the team members who may become more involved in their individual game to shove off responsibility, as it is needed, to someone else in the team as the tournament goes on.

The most important thing is that the product of the Gunboat game then reflects the actual combined work effort of the team.

This could be expanded to allow for the Team Game to be a regular game going at half speed with all the players allowed to talk to each other during their individual games. This again allows for the teams to assist each other in the order writing duties and the diplomacy. For example, one variant would be that in a three player team, one player is responsible for 1901-1903, the next to 1906 and the final to 1909 when the game must end. Most people do not want to be distracted from their regular games, but a three year ‘double up’ at half speed is not exactly taxing anyone’s ability who is in a ‘serious’ tournament such a s an EDC or WDC. Further it allows for the players in the team who get pounded early on to make a greater contribution to the team effort game.

What do you all think?

Edi Birsan

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