Sometime in 1903, seeing the strong Franco-German alliance in the west, I, or maybe Austria, initiated contingency planning with Russia and Turkey for breaking off our conflict to concentrate on the western powers. This quickly evolved into an actual attempt at alliance which worked to some extent, but Turkey wished to pass through my lines and attack France, while I, fearing the consequences of this three or four years afterwards, denied Turkey such permission and wished to concentrate only on Germany. I wanted to keep Turkey bottled up without actually fighting him, hoping that, eventually, he would be frustrated at the static nature of his position and the static nature of the whole game, and attack Russia as a result. However, Turkey decided to move through my position anyway, and, interpreting this as an attack, I decided, and broadcast my decision, to carry out what had always been an implied threat, throwing the game to France and Germany. However, perhaps in reaction to my broadcast, Germany decided to stab France. Soon, however, he found himself fighting Austria and Russia as well, and, in an attempt to save himself, he threatened to, and carried out his threat, to try and give the game to France. This breakup of the Franco-German alliance made my threat null and void, but I had to invite France into the Mediterranean in order to stave off the Turks. It was apparent at this point in early 1907 that France was heading towards a solo win. However, Austria and Turkey continued to bicker for a year, partly because Austria did not trust Turkey, nor did I, and partly because Turkey did not have the leadership skills to get his suggestions across, and explain them thoroughly enough to convince us to follow them. Perhaps he simply lacked the long-term strategic ability that could conceive multi-year plans that we could trust. Instead of trying to convince us to follow his plans, he merely attacked Austria when we did not. In a situation like ours, this was a poor method of negotiation. It lead to a situation where both Austria and Turkey believed that the other was playing stupidly, forcing them to put up a defense against the other, and leading to an eventual French win. During this time, we contained Turkey while slowing France, Austria and Russia by active military action, while I used more diplomatic means. This should not have worked; not having done a full analysis, I believe that France could have gotten a forced win (assuming the continued cooperation of Germany) in 1907 by attacking me and taking Tunis, but he did not, deciding to trust in what seemed to him the continued stupidity of Turkey. Eventually, with France very close to a win in Fall 1908, Turkey decided to give up his attempt at leadership, and simply shifted all the planning responsibilities to Austria and Italy, as had Russia a turn earlier. He accompanied this by a threat to give the game to France if any of his SCs were taken. After several difficult hours of planning, I, with lots of Austrian help, came up with the final plans, which were duly followed, and achieved the stalemate line to force the 5-way. I do believe, however, that the game could have continued, perhaps to a 3-way FRT draw. I had, of course, a standing threat to throw the game to France if attacked, but France could have withdrawn far enough to make it safe for Turkey, who had the only free unit, to attack me and Russia to attack Austria. Then again, perhaps not, and even if France were willing to withdraw, Russia and Turkey might not have wanted to take the chance. I do not believe that the adjacency press made a significant impact on this game. (As an observer, I believe it made a significant one in the first game.) Although ability to communicate occasionally influenced my moves, in no case was it a primary concern; it merely made the difference between two otherwise equal choices. I did miss having strategic intelligence from far corners of the board, although that was not particularly important. Many players acted as communication conduits for other powers without discrimination between friend or foe, reserving only the right to read all passing messages, although the none of the non-discrimination and non-editing policies were ever severely tested. This eliminated most of the communication problems that anyone had. Proxy, or at least its possibility, also aided in this regard. Also, the high expertise of the players in general made communication less necessary; in many situations, Austria and I scarcely needed to communicate at all; we had learned how each other thought, although being able to communicate gave us a degree of certainty about each other's actions. The short, 25 hour deadlines did, however, have their effect, especially with Austria and I being five timezones apart. We were frequently late as we tried to place even just one message to, and get one response from, the other. The rush that this placed on planning may have occasionally restricted our move options. For these reasons, I am not joining again any games allowing press with deadlines less than 47 hours. I want to thank Mark for starting the game, and especially Andy for taking over the GM duties when Mark disappeared (for good reasons, I expect). I also want to thank Larry, the JK, especially for helping handle our missing GM crisis. Also all the players for not going abandoned. (Only one permanent replacement in 9 years!) It was particularly enjoyable playing with a relatively experienced group of players, probably the most experienced (as measured by judge games listed in the recently put out HoF) on average that I have played with.
-Smiley (Italy - touch2)