My Favorite Stab

by Doug Essinger-Hileman

I don't know whether PBEM stories are generally bland, but I do know that they are not always bland. [Scott's first story] reminds me of the stab which I consider my most pleasing:

I first came to Diplomacy through Ecunet (a religious network, I am a Presbyterian minister) and several minister friends. In that community, there is a small group of us that play hand-adjudicated games. My first game, I was asked to replace the Austrian diplomat, who had resigned after some preliminary negotiations, but before first moves.

Quickly surveying the situation, I knew that I would need an avenue to surreptitiously post anonymous press, so, with the full knowledge of the GM, I created an additional persona (completely legal under the House Rules used on Ecunet), complete with inbox (internal address) and information. In real life, Robert Waddell was a UCC minister in New England, with a real address and serving a real church. In the game, Robert Waddell was a minister new to Diplomacy who was interested in observing the game before he played on himself.

My intention was simply to have Robert Waddell make some innocuous comments on play now and then, and to pass messages to other players from sources who wished to remain anonymous. However, within two days, Robert Waddell was approached by the German diplomat with a plan to allow Waddell to help shape German moves as a means of "on the job training." Waddell accepted. Soon, the German diplomat was sharing his inmost plans and secrets. I was quite pleased with the level of intelligence this was providing, and only hoped that it would serve me well as the game progressed.

But then, my hopes were utterly surpassed. Immediately after the first moves were announced, the German wrote me a note telling me that he had asked the GM to give Waddell permission to submit moves for Germany. After verifying that this request was valid, the GM granted that permission.

As the second season progressed, the German was shaping a plan of attack and supporting diplomacy to gain three builds. Playing in his first full game, he was betting on the ability to stab everyone early, devastate their plans, and sweep to a victory. The diplomacy he used was mostly of the "I'm better than you are so you'd better do what I say" style. I tried to counsel that he bring his plans back to reality, and that he try to build some solid alliances. He felt his plan better.

So I decided to try to eliminate him as early as possible. Five minutes before the deadline, I submitted orders for all three of his units to move to non-supply-center provinces. In a well coordinated effort between me and my allies, two of his supply centers fell the first year, and the third was undefended. It fell in Spring of 1902.

Until the report was posted, he never knew what hit him. Within five minutes after the deadline, he wrote to me exulting in his great skill, and bragging about how I was learning at the feet of the master. As for me, though I did not benefit directly from the stab (my units had already committed to a Balkan attack), I gained some tremendously valuable political IOU's from other diplomats which I parlayed into an effective position.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that that stab helped win the game, for after 1905, the GM quit, and the game dissolved due to the disgruntlement of some of the players caused by the GM's actions. But, it is my favorite stab up until know, and I suspect will always be in my top 3 list.

Doug Essinger-Hileman

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