Bouncing Back in Style

by Mario Huys

Topping the ranking of the Bangkok Diplomacy Club's inaugural season required more than just one strong game. The ranking system favors those playing in more games and being able to top the board ahead of the pack. What it doesn't require though is physical proximity to the club's venue. With the world going in lockdown, most games moved online with invitations being sent to people all over Asia, but occasionally also to players around the world. And so it comes that a man who hadn't left the Land of the Rising Sun for over a year could subdue the City of Angels. But if I would need to pick one game, it's this one, Game #7 of the Thai Diplomacy Championship 2020.

At the start I proposed Turkey we'd try something novel to get our armies and fleets quickly arrayed against Austria. I would convoy his army to Rum if he'd let me in Bla. He countered with a move set that would blow up my fleet in Rum. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I went with it, because it meant Turkey would take on the lion part of the battle, while I could venture elsewhere. While others were screaming "Steamroller", I could pretend to not be really involved, because for the longest time I only had an army in Gal as my only contribution to the RT. And with Italy such a staunch ally to Austria, the South was as good as deadlocked.

Meanwhile Germany was getting attacked from all sides with especially France successful in dominating the scene. I built a second fleet on StP south coast to join the fray as an ally of England, aiming to control the whole Baltic region.

Fall 1902 was a turning point. Italy had entered the Eastern Med, forcing Turkey to redeploy southwards and temporarily leave Rum. I was hoping to take it over from him, but bounced with Austria. As a result Turkey built a fairly useless army, whereas I was desperately in need for a unit in StP to keep a dittering England honest. Meanwhile Germany incomprehensibly allowed France to enter Mun. The game seemed rigged.

This need for a dot forced me to re-evaluate my alliances. I decided to side with Austria in order to secure Rum and get a foothold in Germany. Meanwhile I promised England whatever he wanted ("A game long alliance? Check.") to move him away from overrunning my Northern holdings. This worked marvelously well, so that by Fall I was looking at gaining two centers and tie France for the top.

But then I made the most foolish decision of the whole game. Unaware that Italy had decided to stab that turn, and in an attempt to placate Turkey, I voluntarily walked out of Rum. Simply protecting Sev with Ukr to cripple Turkey, or cutting Ser with Rum to aid Italy, would have been so much more sensical.

Upset by my own stupidity I became lackluster. No more astute plans, just take the easy dots. But Turkey had seen enough and decided to move against me. This quickly put him in Sev, if not for Austria's stab on him the very same season. Count on Bill Hackenbracht, the current number one in the world according to DBN, to seize the opportunity to explode to the top. And on me to blunt that stab with a seemingly counterproductive bounce on Rum. Turkey again avoided becoming marginalized by the rarest of luck.

Meanwhile France was in full attack against England who did all he could to protect his homeland. Italy was on the brink, because of the short-lived AT that had helped Austria into Ven. Things were in flux, but thanks to Austria's stab I no longer had to worry about further Turkish incursions. In fact I had no enemy anywhere near my borders. What a luxury.

From there on it was smooth sailing. I coordinated with England and Austria to push France out of Germany and the Lowlands and force Turkey back to his homeland. Then with Austria out of position I seized the opportunity to finally take Rum and descend on his exposed home centers, cheered on by an incensed Turkey.

I brought France to tears by never taking the Scandinavian centers from England. But my goal had already shifted. I not only wanted a board top, I wanted a top score that would put me in first place in the Thai Championship Standings, where Sascha (France) was in the lead. Diminishing his score was just as important as increasing mine. As long as I could keep the second finisher 3 centers behind, I would be guaranteed of the full 12 points domination score, which was vital, more so than the actual centers I would obtain.

Before the final turn, Fall 1907, I had already 9 centers assured and could vie for 11, unless stabbed. My main rivals were my two allies, England and Turkey, both at 6. They could really only hope to get to 8, but only if they worked with me, not against me. Even then, their 8th center (Bre and Tri) could be denied from them if their opponents chose to do so.

Fall 07

Note the beautiful symmetry of these two powers, as well as France/Austria who faced the same kinds of decisions and basically came to the same conclusions, priming their defences against me, the board leader, instead of against my allies, their main threats. They also ended with the same score. Karma?

So yes, I could stab for an extra dot here and there (Rum, Edi, Den or Hol). But I considered the likelihood of either of my allies stabbing me small enough that my 3 center lead, and thus my domination bonus, was not in any danger. And thus I care-beared even on the final turn. You'll all like me the more for it.

Email writer thumbnail Mario Huys

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