by Edi Birsan

The origin of the Best Country Awards goes back to 1976 at the DipCon in Baltimore, that Mike Rocamora and myself were running. We both had seen the great drop off in interest in the ending rounds of a tournament when everyone was focused on the Top Board qualifications, and there was decreased interest among the tournament players who had gotten pounded early on. So we came up with the idea of Best Country awards for the single best result with each country. This gives everyone something to shoot for in the final round of the tournament, even if they are not on the top board. This was also a period of time when the philosophy of play in the game was more inclined toward the idea of "Win, or something else happens." This was such a dominant concept that rankings were rarely even considered, let alone reported. The idea of Best Country awards has taken off since 1976, and quite a few people have as their goals going into an event to get their elusive 'Best Austria' award — or whatever country they are missing.

Just as the trophies for winning events have changed from Paper Certificates to Cups to Plaques and all sorts of things in between, so have the award for Best countries as depicted in the photos below.

The easiest to make is a simple paper certificate that is now available from any number of word programs. Then there was a fade that refuses to die, of taking wooden blocks painted in the color of the country with or without a engraved plate on them. The advantage of the wooden blocks is that anyone can go out and make them and they vaguely relate to the game by looking like an over grown fleet. Personally I dislike them, for the paint often degrades over the years, and the wood cracks and just does not look right.

The most common method for the award in North America is the use of a colored plaque in the color of the country.

Some of the more novel approaches that I have seen have been:

  1. Bottles of Wine/spirits as was done in EuroDipCon in 2004
  2. Painted plaster piggy banks as was done for PiggyBack 2002
  3. Mouse Pads with the country outline on them for Denver Armada 1999
  4. Country flags stuck on bases as was done for Denver Armada 2000
  5. Colored Hats with country and Goblin Diplomat on it Whipping 2006

Some of my favorites:

  1. The Lobster from the Boston Massacre 2004
  2. The Plaque with National Heroic metals as done by Weasel Moot 2007
  3. The National Helmets/Warrior figures as done by Whipping 2008

Different Trophies Used As Country Awards

One of the things that I liked about the Lobster from Boston was that the award brought with it a tie-in to the venue without being detracting, such as the PiggyBack piggies. I also liked the Plaque with the Heroic Metals on it from Weasel Moot, as it shows a uniqueness in presentation plus a direct association with the country. I am partial to the national figure style, but that could be more of a bias by design.

Boston Massacre 2004: Best Russia

There are various other examples that I was unable to get a hold of. Particularly of note were the plaques coming out of Carnage, where they featured either War Posters or Battle Plan maps from the period.

The costs for all these varies from about $12 to $35; and remember that when you are talking about the countries, everything is then times seven.

As for wording, I always hated the idea of getting an award called ‘Best Turkey’, so for the events that I run I use "Outstanding Play of …". Furthermore when I run the events I generally have a restriction that you can only get one 'outstanding play' award so that the seven awards always go to seven different people.

Edi Birsan

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