Arise, Lazarus, and Walk!

Coming Back from the Dead in Diplomacy

By Nick Smith

Usually, success or failure in Diplomacy is a relatively straight road. Most games you play will turn out one of two ways.

Either you pick up centres steadily (with the occasional backward step or forward leap) until you're a good size and then you either go for the solo or get eliminated trying, or share in a draw.

Alternatively, things might start off looking bad and then go downhill from there. You might be France, confident of growing to six centres in 1901 with a gentle stroll into Belgium, only to find that your staunch ally of one year, the German, has supported an English army in. You never get to six centres and you're out of the game by 1905.

But some Diplomacy games take other roads. There is the famous brick wall, a particular favourite of Italy's, where a player climbs to four (or even five!) centres in their first year and then stays there for the entire game.

But more interestingly, and the subject of an upcoming article, there is the resurrection. That rare game where you're almost dead, and where, by rights, you soon ought to be, as Monty Python would have it, an ex-player. You've been driven back, your home territory invaded and now you're sitting uneasily on a small number of centres, waiting for the deathblow. While your belligerent neighbour has already, in their mind, counted the two or three centres you uncomfortably occupy towards their 18.

But somehow, it never happens. Somehow, despite everything, you wind up on eight or ten or twelve centres (or even 18!).

How? How did it happen?

Next issue of the issue of the Pouch, I'll have an article on Lazarus-like comebacks in Diplomacy but in the meantime, I'd like your experiences to draw upon to write my article. Please send your stories of resurrection to me. It could be a tale of how you did brilliantly just to survive and then bounced back to get a high score or it could be how another player, crippled and bleeding and left for dead, somehow would up eliminating you. Or, indeed, anything else that's vaguely relevant. I'll be especially grateful for references to games that took place on the judges, so I can cull from the game history.

Nick Smith

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