While not the greatest year in the history of the hobby; 2014 will be remembered for being one of the best in recent years. Hereís why.
Itís all about the play of the game and thatís what we do best; whether itís an international, national, regional, local event, or just sitting round in somebodyís back yard. This year though thereís a new kid on the block and a new way to enjoy FTF Diplomacy. More on that later.
There seemed to be more FTF Dip events this year than in recent years. Whether thatís because there really were more events or because Laurent is having better luck on getting results from them I donít know, but it seems to be so.
The international hobbyís premier event, WORLD DIPCON, held its 26th event in Chapel Hill, NC, USA in conjunction with the United Statesí oldest, continuous Dip event, DIXIECON. Eighty-seven tournament players watched Thomas Haver capture the World Championship. All the details can be found on the dixiecon.com web site. More than twenty Diplomacy events were listed in the Diplomacy Database results this year including:
All the details can be found on the world-diplomacy-database.com website that Laurent Joly of France maintains . Itís an invaluable resource for the serious or even curious Dipper. You can also find write-ups on many of these events in Diplomacy World or The Diplomatic Pouch.
The new alternative way to play FTF Diplomacy is by using MeetUp which lets local Dippers organize themselves using the MeetUp.com website. There are now at least nine of these Dip specific groups and far more board gaming and war gaming groups listed on MeetUp. Check it out online or read up on it in the hobby press. If youíre in one of the countryís major gaming areas thereís probably an existing group you can join. If youíre elsewhere, start your own! An informal poll of the sites showed well over 50 FTF Dip games played at various Meet-Up events this year; and the number will no doubt grow.
The computer and internet based international hobby continues to expand taking the game and hobby into areas no one would have anticipated a decade ago. Diplomacy players continue to flock to the various internet playing formats with the judge based games and events leading the way. Hundreds of these games have now been completed and those devoted to them are setting up their own networks and information resources. How much interaction there is between the FTF and internet players continues to be a question. You can find out more about the judge system at www.diplom.org
Still, the old stand-by hobby publications continue to survive and even grow: Diplomacy World turned 40 this year and THE DIPLOMATIC POUCH turned 20. Under the leadership of Doug Kent DW continues to make waves as the hobbyís flagship; while Chris Babcock seeks to steer TDP in a new direction toward new goals. Although doing better, both publications continue to face the on-going challenge of finding new contributors and new readers; and both continue to search for ways to be relevant to the new kinds of FTF and online players.
Now old enough that itís no longer new, the DiplomacyCast.com site links to and features an audio pod cast Ďzine of sorts which got a lot of attention this year with its 31st episode which features a story by David Hill of NPR and grantland.com about this yearís WDC event in Chapel Hill. The gimmick was having a former US ambassador give his take on the goings on. The most recent episode has an interview with Adam Silverman on getting a MeetUp Diplomacy group going and growing. If youíre thinking about starting up such a group, you should definitely listen to this. It starts about 70 minutes into the podcast.
Moving on to the more remote hobby terra incognita the renaissance in the Italian hobby continues to blossom as it grows in numbers and quality of play and events. After a very successful EDC event in Rome this year, won by Peter McNamara of Australia, the Italians will host next yearís WDC in Milan. That should be an interesting site to see. A week later the San Marino hobby (Yes, there is one!) will host its own very successful annual gaming event .
Moving about as far south as we can go, to South Africa, Dorian Love is busy organizing a long dormant hobby not only in South Africa but in Africa in general. Again, heís using Facebook as a tool to reach out to other players on the ďdarkĒ continent. You can learn more on Facebook at The African Diplomacy Federation. If you want something even more exotic than FTF Diplomacy in Africa, check out whatís happening in China where Fang (Yes, a Diplomacy player named Fang!) Zhang reports there were 7 PBEM diplomacy games started in 2014 in China, with one game named (The Last Dinner) still ongoing. Those games were all GMed and played by Chinese.
Like much of the real world around us, the world of Diplomacy needs an occasional check-up and tune-up. Infrastructures need TLC, just like we do. The hobby is coming to realize this and various events, organizations and services are starting to adapt to the new century --- finally. As I mentioned THE DIPLOMATIC POUCH is giving itself a high-tech make-over, a large part of which is going to be devoted to pruning out the hobbyís dead wood online and updating various web sites. I urge every hobby custodian to work with them on that. The INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY HALL OF FAME, after a 30 year hiatus, just elected its first new members. Details on that are elsewhere in this issue or on the IDHOF Facebook page.
I was saddened to note that four of the newest members in the IDHOF are no longer with us, among them Don Williams who passed away earlier this year at a much too young age. Don may not have been the perfect Diplomacy player, although he was pretty darn good, but he was always the perfect gentleman. He will be missed. Finally, although it isnít quite what Iíve dreamed of for years for the Diplomacy hobby, I should mention that ground recently broke in Washington DC for the National Museum of American Diplomacy which will be located in the old entry court of the Department of State Building in Foggy Bottom:
By some standards our accomplishments this year may seem small, but in comparison with the problems that The Olympics and FIFA are having I think we did just great! Keep it up!!
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