by Will Abbott

The Diplomacy tournament at GenCon was held over three days of the convention. It was put on by Rogue Judges, and was my first convention Diplomacy experience. But before I get to how I did, I should explain the tournament format, as it is a little different from most other tournaments.

The tournament consists of four qualifying rounds over Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. A player can enter as many of these rounds as he or she wishes. These rounds are scheduled for six hours and are played until Fall 1907. During these rounds there are also four-hour introduction to Diplomacy sessions.

The best result for each country qualifies for the tournament final on Saturday evening. A solo automatically qualifies, and if a country has two solos in the qualifiers, both players advance, bumping another country's qualifier. However, since solos by 1907 are rare, this scenario rarely happens. In fact, we only had one solo at the 2009 tournament.

I was planning on playing the Saturday morning qualifier. I went to the playing area on Friday night to see the situation and to find out if I knew any of the other players. As it turned out, the Italy in one of the qualifiers had to drop out, so I took over the position.

This Italy was 7/7, including owning Constantinople. My predecessor got that way by stabbing everyone he could, and left a good deal of bad blood around the board. I took it on as a mercy position, and held on to what I could, ending with a 4/4 Italy that was almost best Italy at the time. Unfortunately, the one solo of the tournament was at this board: a 19/16 Russia. I wasn't able to establish relations quick enough to stop the solo, and my fellow players were divided amongst themselves.

Oh, well, there's always Saturday morning. So I take my place at the board, and draw out the army for my country… and it's green. Italy again. Oh, well, the qualified Italy was only 5/5.

I set up an early alliance with Austria, who was the most experienced player on the board. My initial plan is to head west. Unfortunately, Russia and Turkey are trying a Juggernaut. It wasn't particularly effective as they had problems coordinating their orders and units, but it is enough to swing me back east. Meanwhile the west sorts itself out, after a year, as EG vs. F. We put the stop to RT and I can send off an army to help out in the west. France dies, with Italy getting Iberia. In the east, Austria takes the Balkans, and my navy gets me Turkey. I peak at a 9/9. We've got a four-way alliance of EGAI. But it's not 1907 yet.

Germany makes a minor stab and knocks me down to 7/7. Russia is hanging around with one unit, while Austria and England are around my level, with Germany around 11. It's 1907, the last game year. And now it's time for metagaming.

Germany needs a couple of centers to qualify. England isn't going to qualify, he's not nearly big enough. Austria and I are both big enough at the time, though. So we agree to a plan. Germany takes a center from England and eliminates Russia, with their consent. Everything not involved in doing that holds. Germany qualifies, and at the time so do Austria and Italy (that's me!)

Wow. I wasn't expecting to make it to the final, but hey, I'll take it. Unfortunately, we were playing fast, and there's another qualifier. It had gone pretty similar on that board, but Italy and Austria are peaking later. They metagame and get their Austria and Italy in. Oh, well, show up at the final to watch.

At any rate, one qualified player and the first alternate do not show. So our Austria makes it in anyway, and I'm next on the list. But everyone else shows up, so I only get to watch. But hey, it sounds like eighth to me — with two games as Italy.

I should note, though, that our Austria had the Italy that I eliminated. The Austria that beat him out in the other qualifier was played by his son.

The final is an eight hour session, playing as many game years as needed. I didn't see the end, but Turkey got a concession. Our soloing Russia drew Italy and was pretty small throughout the final. All in all it was an enjoyable time, meeting fellow Diplomacy players, and talking to some newcomers about the game. I'll be back next year.

Will Abbott

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