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Game Review: WDC 2002, Round One, Game Thomastown
By Rob Stephenson
Date: April 2002

Round one commenced on Friday the 29th of March and all the hard work had been done. I was not required to play the round and so I took my digital camera and began recording what looked to be the most exciting game (this was based on the players names in that game). The Game name was Thomastown - Tournament Director Ken Sproat's idea was to name each game after a suburb or country town we had to drive through to get from my place in East Doncaster all the way to Canberra.

What follows is my view of the game and as always my view will differ from many others. It calls for a lot of assumption on my part and some knowledge. In making this story possible I would like to thank the Austrian, English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Turkish Naval and Ground forces who without their co-operation this story would not be possible.

The players: Craig Sedgwick as Austria. Geoff Baker as England. Cyrille Sevin as France. Frank Meerbach as Germany. Greg Evans as Italy. Rohan Keane as Russia and Edi Birsan as Turkey.

Spring '01. Ken calls "Play" and we are underway. The first photo shows a relaxed Edi Birsan (Turkey) leaning casually on a black 4WD just outside the conference room. Arms crossed he is in discussions with Craig Sedgwick (Austria) and it doesn't look like he is terribly convinced with what Craig is trying to say. As always the Turkish/Austrian alliance is a hard sell but it is usually the Austrian who looks worried. Craig is standing in a powerful and confident yet compassionate pose (as only Craig can) and continues on with the sell. Does Edi buy the line? Only time will tell. As we all know time is on the Turkish side (in most cases) and I think Edi is quite happy to see how things unfold.

Edi and Craig wander off to start other negotiations and we find Frank Meerbach (Germany) with his legs crossed leaning against the same black 4WD trying to convince Greg Evans (Italy) what it is they can achieve together or at least what Greg can do for Frank. Greg is standing with his order pad in his left hand behind his back while his right hand is covering his face as he pinches the bridge of his nose and looks down and away from Frank like a man in deep thought ( I would say "an as yet to be convinced man in thought"). One can only speculate what they are talking about but most likely once they have decided to dismiss Frank's first thought of a suicidal attack by Italy on Austria (Greg is too smart for that one Frank) they are probably discussing where it is Venice is likely to find itself at the end of the spring turn.Not too many Germans are happy with the idea of a rogue Italian army sitting next to Munich at the start of the fall turn.

In the third photo we find five of the players within 20 feet of each other. Rohan Keane as the Russian is talking to Greg Evans while Edi Birsan has sidled into the picture in an attempt to interrupt. Rohan seems more than happy for Edi to be there but Greg has once again adopted his stance. Leaning on a black 4WD (I'm glad it wasn't my car) now he looks down and away from Edi and Rohan while scratching his nose with a pen. I think Greg wants the Turk to go away while he plans with the Russian how to take him apart. Only time will tell whether or not deals have been made and stuck to but for now Rohan and Edi look pretty chummy.

In the background Geoff Baker as England has adopted his "superman" stance as he stands legs apart hands on hips in discussions with Frank Meerbach. Frank adopts his friendly open stance as they no doubt go through the rigmoral of working out who gets Belgium? Are we in an EFG? Will you hit France while I take on the Russian and other various plans. One of them will undoubtedly be true but can the two of them decide which plan to go with and can they co-ordinate it properly to exploit maximum use of their available units?

It's just about now David Norman's sister screams out"DEAD LINE" (It sends shivers down my spine just typing the phrase and again each time I proof read this). She has a beautiful voice but for some reason her voice sounds like that of a jilted lover or ex-wife dragging you through the divorce courts. Like a "Siren" over the waves you are drawn to her sweet sound yet you know it can end in disaster. Everyone takes a deep breath and the moves are read out.

Austria has opened standard. Bounce in Gal and capturing of both Serbia and Albania (no need for Craig to show his hand yet) Turkey captures the Black sea but doesn't send an army to Armenia as he takes Bulgaria and Constantinople. Russia lets the Turk into the Black sea and moves Moscow to Ukraine. War bounces with Gal and his other fleet moves to GOB (Rohan knows the Turk will always get the Black Sea in the fall so perhaps he has tried to build some trust with Edi by letting him in during the Spring turn. It takes courage to do this as Edi can now stand him out of Rumania in the fall and he could have also gone to Armenia but he didn't so maybe Rohan has made a friend in the South). The Italian takes the Ionian and moves to Apulia. The Venice army winds up back in Venice. I don't recall if it bounced with someone but I hope for his sake this doesn't cause trouble with the Austrian (I personally don't like it when the Italian just hangs around in Venice. It has nothing else to do but go for Trieste eventually no matter how many times the Italians try to convince you and it is just this sort of niggling mistrust that sits in the back of my mind for the rest of the game). The English charge into the Channel and the North Sea while the army moves to Wales (look out France) but the Germans don't go to Burgundy or the Ruhr as they capture Denmark and move Berlin to Kiel. Munich also winds up still in Munich doing nothing (Again I don't like units that muck about and wind up in the same place. You never have enough units in a game of dip and it is tantamount to treason to waste them bouncing with each other. If it bounced with the Italian as a last resort fair enough but if it held what a waste). The French take the MAO and Paris moves to Gascony. Marseilles wound up in Marseilles. Again I don't know if it bounced but as a result of his moves he doesn't have a shot at Belgium either and the English must be laughing. Let's hope he knows what to do with two builds).

So the English have shafted the French and maybe the Germans have too. (although I seriously doubt that Frank would have. I generally find Frank likes to play his cards close to his chest and I doubt he would have bounced in Burgundy in '01. It just isn't his style to take the risk early). The rest of the board looks as though all bounces were organised. The Turkish and the Russians look chummy and the Italians and the Austrians look like they can work together. So will Frank join in the attack on France if he hasn't already? Will Rohan stick with Edi or will he join the AI partnership? Or will we see some other turn of events. The clock continues to tick and the players run off to chat again. Cyrille seems to be coming to terms with the dead lines and only managed to forget to put his orders in the box once for the rest of the tournament (as Ken said "He's so good he didn't need to have orders").

Fall '01. Negotiations end and David's sister sings out "DEADLINE" (urghhh!) Edi as the Turk does nothing. He holds onto Bulgaria (He isn't going to make it easy for someone to justify an attack on him). Russia takes Rumania and is allowed into Sweden (Could they be any nicer to Rohan Keane of all people? No-one is giving him an excuse to attack but he will always pick someone eventually. Rohan is that guy who can just destroy countries before breakfast and laugh at their stupidity as he counts the spoils of victory. A very, very "dangerous" man as Ken would say). Frank charges into Burgundy and attempts to buy Russian love with the build in Denmark. Frank has joined Geoff in his attack on France but why wasn't he in burgundy in Spring 01? (as I said he may have bounced. I still doubt it though) No guts no glory as getting there now will only upset the French. They better be able to finish him off. There are times for the wait and see approach but Frank is now a turn behind the English attack and will have to work hard to catch up. Italy takes Tunis with the convoy and moves Venice to Piedmont. With Frank, Geoff and Greg attacking France it does look dim for the reigning World champion (can they keep the group together though?). England takes Norway with the fleet and lands the army in Belgium. This buys Russian trust and means there can be no French build of fleet Brest. If the English and French have set this up England is in a great position to do what he likes. The Russians went South and the Germans and French are busy with each other. England should have a great game and it is all in the builds. Cyrille takes Spain with the army and puts the fleet into Portugal, Gascony covers Brest but as I said he now can't build there (Cyrille must be thinking the Aussies just don't like him). Cool as a cucumber Craig wanders into Greece and holds Serbia. Another bounce with the Russian in Galicia keeps Rohan honest and probably helps to gain Rohan's respect (If Rohan doesn't respect you, you're dead it is as simple as that and normally before breakfast).

So at this stage the English, Austrians and the Russians have the box seats (moving freely about gaining builds). Italy and Turkey are in for the long haul as always (The Italians have upset the French though and the Turks will be glad to see that). These two countries are very difficult to get rolling with early. The Germans have now made their attack on France and are committed while his back begins to look a bit exposed. The French are being hard pressed but if he can hold them off for a while he might not be the only one in a sandwich.

The builds go on. Austria two armies (fine). Turkey fleet Smyrna (sensible). Russia two armies (fine). Germany two armies Kiel and Munich (ummm ok. Probably best. I guess he still doesn't want to antagonise the Russians but that back is still a bit open). Italy fleet Naples (no other choice really). France fleet Marseilles and army Paris (best he could do under the circumstances. It gives him a lot of flexibility having two fleets now and leaves room to negotiate his way out of this three man attack). England fleet Liverpool and fleet London (Pathetic.....I still can't believe he did that. He needs armies on the land and it would have been risky but if he trusted the Germans and the Russians I would have built 2 armies. It should have been at least one army. What a waste. He has the Channel for the convoy and no-one to convoy. Time will tell but the French may see some light at the end of the tunnel. This is where it all starts to go wrong for the English). Time for some fancy talking as we head off into Spring 1902.

Spring '02. Well we know what the English were up to. With the two fleet builds and with one of them being in Liverpool they must attack France and they do. Don't seem to be in much of a hurry though as they manage to capture the Irish and the North Seas while the rest of the units hold their positions. That's right no purposeful co-ordination with the Germans to capture Picardy or Gascony. The Germans manage to capture the Ruhr but apart from that no other German unit advances on the French front (did I say this was going to be a slow attack?) The French have done very well indeed as by the end of the turn Cyrille has lost no more ground. He still holds Brest, Paris, Marseilles, Spain and Portugal (a great effort with three countries going after him). Better still the Italian moves away from Marseilles and goes to Tyrolia. At the same time as doing this he captures the Aegean Sea and follows with the Naples fleet into the Ionian Sea to threaten the Turk with possible convoys (It looks like the Italian doesn't want to fight the French at all and has turned his interest to Edi the Turk. Could the Italian just have suckered the Germans and English into an attack on the French so that he has a free hand to do as he pleases?). With the assault by the Italians on the Turks, Russia attacks Turkey as well. He captures Armenia with his fleet and moves everything South. Now Edi has two fronts to worry about. Craig as Austria hasn't moved and his men sit patiently in the same five territories they started in (he still hasn't started a fight and if he did anything to help like a support to capture the Aegean Sea it probably won't matter as he is the least of Edi's concerns. Edi must deal with the Russians and Italians surrounding his home centres). Turkey attempted to bounce the Italian in the East Med. but got it wrong and so instead of keeping the Italian away he now must come to terms with the fact that Bulgaria is gone for all money (again this depends on the ability of a 3 way alliance to stick together).

And so ends Spring '02. A few feints, a few attacks and the game is beginning to heat up.

Fall '02. Well something had to happen. Someone had to do something unpredictable so we look to the English. Geoff captures the MAO and the North Sea follows into English Channel (Yes that was all. What the hell kind of attack is this on the reigning world champion? Kill the bastard quick or you'll regret it. I have visions of that great movie "The Holy Grail". Cyrille standing firm on his castle wall ordering his men to "Fetche Le Vos" Fetch the cow. If you don't understand this. Hire the movie at once). Obviously then you would think the Germans must have gained ground but with the Italian in Tyrolia the Germans are paralysed and not a single man moves ("Dig in lads and get the gas screams the German commander" General Meerbach. It's just like it was in WW1. How realistic is this game?). I couldn't believe it then and I wouldn't believe it now except for the fact that I am looking at the photos while I write this. Cyrille actually makes ground capturing Picardy with Paris and stopping any movement there. He moves fleet Marseilles to Spain and Spain to Gascony (He is positioning his men while the others muck around. It appears as though he conceives England to be the greatest threat and now has all of his men on that front. The only gap being exposed to the Germans in Marseilles. Maybe next turn the English and Germans will do some damage. They are slowly closing in and all is not lost). The Italian move to Tyrolia in the last turn appears to be another feint for this wandering army as it now turns and moves south to Venice (maybe he doesn't trust the Austrian or maybe he is setting up to convoy both armies to Turkey). He now captures the more orthodox East Med and sets up for the convoy to Syria while the Turk again guesses wrong and covers Smyrna. The Turk does well and holds the Black though and the Russian doesn't make any further head way. Ankara remains open and the only Russian unit to move is Moscow to Ukraine (It does hurt when they pick you and your men bounce while your ally advances and of course who should that ally be but Craig). He hasn't done much yet and just covers his home centres with the exception of Serbia which now captures Bulgaria off the Turk (He is cruising. Gaining ground turn by turn. Covering his home centres and not making too many enemies. A masterful game is being played here and of the three with the start in the first turn it appears as though Craig is doing it the easiest).

So who got the builds? Russia none, Italy none, France none, England none, Germany none, Austria one and the Turk lost one (Magnificent dip that turn. Of the four countries who actively attacked each other none of them got a build. It was Craig who took advantage of the moves of others and did the simplest of attacks and it was Edi who paid the price. Bulgaria is liberated.). It is slow going down South but even slower in the North and if they don't sort things out someone will get caught on the hop very soon with their back exposed.

Spring '03 arrives and Edi is talking hard and fast. (It is a shame for him that the English, French and Germans can't sort out their side of the board as he can't find a friend to help him and the EFG players aren't doing anything to take his assailants away from him. It now appears as though the AIR is indeed going to wipe him out if they stick together. Edi's only hope is that they can't stay together. He is preying the alliance falls apart). So how tough is the AIR alliance? It is now when they start to look at each other. They know they have Turkey on the ropes and they know they have to finish him but they also know they have to look at each other and be ready when the void appears. Crunch time for the alliance and they respond well. Craig captures the Aegean leaving Greece vacant and he moves Vienna to Bohemia and Trieste to Budapest (He has moved in the interests of the alliance and must be a little bit nervous about being the man in the middle). The Russian moves Warsaw to Silesia but still can't gain anything off the Turk as Edi again holds onto Smyrna, Con and the Black Sea. He also moved Sweden to Norway though and the English may be starting to ask him why? Obviously Rohan doesn't trust Geoff and wanted to make sure that if Geoff shafted him and took St.P. he would lose nothing as he would take Norway off the English (The only problem with this is the seed of doubt just sewn in the English mind for the next turn. He was probably quite happy with the fact no-one was moving in Scandinavia and it might not be a good thing for the Russian to draw attention to the area. Especially with the English getting frustrated at the lack of momentum). The Italian unbelievably doesn't send the convoy to Turkey and moves back to Tyrolia from Venice. The army in Apulia which looked like it should have landed in Syria moves to Venice to back up the army moving to Tyrolia (This going back and forth is going to hurt him in the long run. You just can't keep changing your mind like this Greg. The best chance was to land the army in Turkey and consolidate a build or two down there. IMHO.). Cyrille on the other hand must have been ecstatic to have seen these moves as this must surely spell the end of the German invasion. His only problem is that the English and Germans finally guessed right and he lost Brest to an English fleet moving in from the Channel. All is not lost though as he really only has to worry about the English. The Germans may in desperation decide to go for Marseilles next turn but he can afford to cover that.

So now it is the German on the blocks with the Turkish. If the AIR sticks together they are both stuffed and it remains to be seen whether or not the English can now finish off the French alone before the AIR alliance gets there. While the French see a glimmer of hope. Can Cyrille hold the English off long enough to mount a defence against the Italians if they come back?

Fall '03 and the heat is really on. The English and Germans are in it together. It is now also an AIR while both France and Turkey fend for themselves. The problem for the EG alliance though is they are too busy to do anything but continue the fight on France. The best they can muster is maybe an English fleet miles from the front and army Munich. The AIR alliance has about seven units to spare with three or four of them at the front within a turn if they work together and charge full steam ahead at the EG alliance. The mistrust by the move to Norway in the last turn by the Russians again repeats itself. The Russian moves to Norway again. This time the English and Germans are ready though and the English take St.P. with the fleet while the Germans take Sweden with fleet Denmark. On the land though the AIR fairs much better. The Russians bounce the Germans in Berlin and the AI combined attack on Munich sees it fall to the Italian. With the move by the German army in Holland to Kiel, Munich has no retreat and is removed from the board. Frank gambled on the French leaving Burgundy alone and it was this unit supporting the Ruhr to Munich move that would have left his army Munich "beleaguered" ( A bad gamble as it turned out for the French cut Burgundy as surely they must. The attack on France was too slow and Frank could not see that his best chance was to try and patch things up and get the EFG working as one. Of course this would have required Geoff Baker handing back Brest [I would imagine] and I doubt that Geoff would have done this after all this hard work to capture it).

So the only English unit to move is the fleet to capture ST.P. The French cover Marseilles with fleet Spain while the armies hold their ground. The Germans lose an army and Munich falls. The Italians capture Munich and follow with the other army into Tyrolia to help and insure that they hold Munich. At the other end of the Italian lines Greg outguesses Edi as he moves fleet Smyrna to Syria in the hope of bouncing the Italian fleets back. Alas he captures Syria and the Italian sails into Smyrna unsupported. The Russians again get out guessed by Edi though and the Ukrainian army moves to Warsaw (It would have been better off in Moscow so that he could have gotten ST.P back but I guess he was hoping to take Berlin and that the English might have left him alone. Turkey is now crippled and at best he can hope to hold only one centre next turn. The AIR has stuck firm until now and is on its way. All units not required in Turkey are heading to the fight up North except Austrian army Trieste and Serbia which just hold (Craig is setting himself and is ready to go either way).

The builds and disbands go on. Italy with his stunning work in Turkey and Germany builds a fleet in Rome and an army in Venice. The Austrian builds an army in Bud. (ouch! this is poised to strike as well. I am glad Rohan is the Russian and not me). The Turks remove fleet Syria (fair enough). The Russians who lost ST.P. and Sweden gained only Norway and so Rohan removes army Sevastopol (boy it is looking empty in Russia all of a sudden). The English got a build and builds fleet Edi (Obviously he is worried about the Russian fleet in Norway but he is never going to get onto the land. He has six units and only one army. Oh! Geoff what a waste). The French have finally lost a man and Cyrille decides the best way to hold what he has is to let fleet Spain disband (a tough choice but probably the right one. The Italians are on the way with a fleet now in the Tyrrhenian Sea and another in Rome so little can be gained by keeping two French fleets against three English and Two Italian fleets. It looks as though his best bet my be to try and fight for survival by getting himself stuck in the middle of the two aggressors while trying to hold his own). The Germans having lost Munich picked up Sweden and as a result they get to build army Berlin to replace the Army destroyed in Munich and the thin black line looks just a bit thicker.

So we move on into Spring '04. What new deals have been made I wonder? As far as the AIR alliance goes it is pretty simple for the Austrians and Italians. Craig's fleet captures Constantinople of the Turks and the Smyrna fleet helps out. The rest of the Italians charge at the French again. He captures Piedmont, West med and the Tyrr Sea. The rest of the Austrian men just sit around watching and supporting (they are waiting to see how Rohan fairs). Rohan the Russian takes Ankara off the Turk but only because the Turk left. Edi convoyed Con to Sev thinking that his best chance of survival is to get to Moscow (I guess). Rohan persists with his attack on Germany and moves War to Pruss thus giving up on Sev and Moscow. He should have finished off the Turk properly but he has blundered and his game is going to pieces. Now the Turkish army is free to roam around in the back of his lines creating havoc. He also moved fleet Norway to Skagg to increase the pressure on the Germans. The French again pulled off some excellent diplomacy. He should have been gone for all money with the pressure he has been under but he cuts a deal with the English and the Germans now and they agree to back off. The English fleets leave. Brest to MAO, Irish to NAO, MAO to Nth Africa and Edi hold (why? I will never know I guess he didn't want to put pressure on the Germans and Frank may have even asked him not to go to the North Sea but it was a gutsy gamble as Rohan could have walked straight in or at worst been bounced back and then forced to retreat to Skag where he wanted to go anyway. It is only Rohan's poor moves that saved Geoff's poor moves here. No offence fellas remember it is just an opinion and I could be wrong). The French trusted the English and Germans here and so he shuffled his troops around to wind up with armies in Paris, Gascony and Marseilles while his fleet in Spain faces the Italian threat. It appears as though the EFG have fixed their problems to ward off the AIR but the AIR have the jump on them. Can both three way alliances stick together or will someone start to get greedy?

Fall '04 arrives and the second test of wills begins. The Russians have to deal with this wandering Turkish army at some point and the two groups of three must decide whether or not they can work together for the long term. Again Edi is on his own. As I wandered outside the first photo I took was of Greg and Rohan having a chat out in the sunshine (just past the black 4wd). Craig is just about to leave after putting in his two cents worth. All three players have their pads poised for writing especially Rohan who with a big smile on his face has obviously cracked. He must be wondering what went wrong with his great start. He looks as though he is saying to Craig "Yeah mate! Are you sure that is what you want my men to do? Whatever you want is fine by me nothing I am doing is working, Bloody Edi". Greg is just casually standing there watching on and looking fairly comfortable with the whole situation (the two builds in the last turn and the end of a Turkish threat to him makes his life a heck of a lot easier). Craig also has that easy swagger about him. He is under threat from nothing. The Turkish fleet in the Black sea is perfect for him as it gives him the excuse to keep his men down South where he wants them......ready to strike. I turn around and take a photo of the board from the door and who is there? Geoff is sitting on the right of the board looking around at the clock or something while Edi stands in deep thought arms crossed studying the board and offering advice to Frank, Cyrille and Geoff (probably his best bet is to take turn hand brake off in the black 4WD and push it right over the top of the board). It appears as though these three (EFG) guys intend on sticking together and Edi is happy to give them all of the advice he can especially if they can help him to survive. At this point the game is in serious danger of stalling. Unless someone does something to break up these two three way alliances we could have a very big draw on our hands.

It's Craig who moves. He attacks his loyal servant and ally Rohan and takes Rumania off him while moving into Galicia from Budapest at the same time. This leaves Rohan with a retreat to Budapest (which he does) and Craig's one centre stab is for nothing ( If Edi had an award for biggest stuff up I think Craig just put himself in the running for it). The Turk held his ground and owns Sev but this means a disband. Russia goes for Berlin and Denmark and gets them both while Cyrille takes back Burgundy and sets himself for defence. The German doesn't trust the English and falls back to cover Holland with Ruhr and moves Burgundy into the Ruhr. This cost him Denmark and Berlin and results in one of his armies being blown up and I can't even begin to work out what he was thinking here ( I guess the pressure was just too much for him and the fear of a stab caused him to run for what he thought was the safest position). The English as it turned out could be trusted and he works with the French to capture the West Med. He also follows up with NAO to MAO and his fleet Edi captures the North Sea. It think the Italians are a little worried as well as he really could use the extra fleet in Smyrna back at home but he didn't move it and as a result of the attack on the West Med he winds up with fleet GOL and fleet Tyrr Sea leaving the English with two fleets on Tunis. With the English and the French working together well he could be in some trouble.

The builds and disbands. Austria army Vienna. Russia army Moscow. Turkey disband fleet Black Sea. Germany, England, Italy and France no change.

Spring '05 and the English, French and Germans stick together. The English take Tunis off the Italians and sail fleet MAO to West Med. The English also finally convoy army Belgium over to Norway while the Germans cover Sweden and support like crazy on the land. It appears as though the EFG is sorted and the AIR is not. The Italians have no choice and move Smyrna back to the Aegean. His armies hold onto the land positions but the Ionian must be covered before an English fleet sails all the way through. The Austrians don't move Trieste again and capture Budapest back but this may have been agreed as the Russian could have gone to Vienna. The Austrian also moved from Gal to Silesia and appears to be up there to support the line. Maybe they sorted out their differences after last turns stabs and maybe not (I sense mistrust). They are still in a good position if they can get rid of Edi's last army (now in Ukraine) before the English one gets there to help it live. It could be once again three way against three way.

Fall '05. The EFG serges forward again. The English capture the Tyrrhenian Sea this turn and force the Italians to retreat to Rome. They also slide army Norway into St.P and move the fleet back to the Barents. The Germans capture Denmark with English help and the Russian fleet falls back to Heligoland Bight. All is well with the EFG except for the French who take back Brest. This is most probably organised though as Geoff has captured Tunis and with the move by army Burgundy to Marseilles the Frenchman is leaving Belgium open to a supported attack from EG if they are annoyed with the Brest move. The rest of the German units hold their land and it appears as though the EFG is sound for the moment. The Turk on his lonesome captures Moscow and is probably madly talking to the Englishmen about continued support to insure his survival (I don't think he will get any sympathy from Russia). The AIR also seems to be sticking fairly well although there is no doubt the Russians and the Austrians could have forced the Turk out of Ukraine and captured Warsaw and thus insuring that the Turk would have been dead (Unfortunately they just don't seem to trust each other all the way and it will cost them Moscow for the time being. Not that this is going to bother Craig. He isn't about to solve Rohan's problems for him). The Austrian pushes into Ukraine while Galicia holds to stop the Turk wandering off there. Craig is helping his Russian ally in Rohan but at the same time he is still in position to attack Rohan and take advantage of the situation if the opportunity presents itself. Craig's Austrian fleet pulls out of Constantinople and heads into the Aegean to no doubt support the Italian fleet which moves from Aegean into Ionian. Of course with the fall of the Tyrrhenian to the English he may find himself in the Ionian next turn but I doubt very much that he would be upset by that result (again this will position his fleet to do damage to the Italian if that opportunity arises. This is a nice position but Italy should be safe due to the fact that Craig only has one fleet. My advice : "Look out for a second fleet Greg").

Fall '05 ends and we see Craig has another build moving him to eight units. Rohan is really off his game and should have pushed hard to own Constantinople or something of the sort. He has lost two centres and is forced to remove fleet Ankara and army Prussia (Turkey is now unprotected and his gains in Germany depend heavily on his allies. He has just let himself be destroyed. This is a bit of a trait with Rohan these days. I hate to say it Roh but "You're going soft" Ouch! That's going to hurt me. Last time I told Rohan that he got an 18 and one the next tournament while destroying my country. Just a bit of inspiration for you Roh). The Italian also didn't do to well that turn and is forced to remove army Piedmont (leaving a rather inviting gap for the EFG allies). England drops one and removes Barents by losing Brest and Belgium to the French (what a waste of time his game is turning into. All that effort to get the French and then just as he is making progress he gives it all back) Cyrille must be over the moon to still be in this game and now gets a build (A Paris is his only option). Through some sort of muck up the English are taking a fleet off while the French and the Germans have a build each they cannot put on the board due to the fact none of their other home centres are free for a build (I don't know what happened there but Geoff shouldn't have let them get away with that and to be honest I don't think Cyrille should have taken the build without being able to build a fleet in Marseilles against the Italian). Things could get interesting again for the EFG end of the world. Craig would dearly love to see Cyrille keep the English honest giving him a free hand to do whatever he feels like against the Italians and Russians and surely Geoff is going to react to the fact he is going backwards.

Spring '06. It's crunch time again and someone is due for a stabbing. Craig again waits (his men have time on their side and he just watches the way everyone else moves this turn). It appears Geoff has had enough and he works well with Frank to eliminate the Heligoland fleet while at the same time taking Norway off Frank with army St.P. (He isn't too interested in staying in St.P. to help Edi hold out in Moscow). He also tries another reversal and winds up in the MAO threatening Portugal and in North Africa (protecting Tunis but no longer threatening the Italian). Meanwhile the French fleet has taken West Med and he hasn't moved on the Italians by going to Piedmont. It appears as though we now have an FI forming to protect themselves while Geoff is trying to form an EI to stuff up the French again. Greg captures the Tyrrhenian back from the English and must again be breathing a huge sigh of relief as he sees Geoff's units change their mind and leave. The Russians capture Warsaw from Galicia. The French army in Paris takes Burgundy and army Brest moves to Gascony. The wash up means very little moved on the land and those that did didn't do anything spectacular (Cyrille may have been disappointed he didn't send Marseilles to Spain though as he now can't cover Portugal from an Englishman who is just going wherever he feels like).

Fall '06 arrives and the EFG treaty is torn to shreds. Geoff sails into the English Channel and takes Portugal off the French. He tries to cut a deal with the Italians to hold Tunis but the Italians take it off him anyway and destroy his fleet in the process (back to 3 fleets from a peak of 5 and again back fighting with the French). The Italians aided the French and vice versa that turn by leaving each other alone and it looks like they can depend on each other but poor Greg has just been shafted by Craig who takes Venice with army Trieste, Smyrna with fleet Aegean (that's 2 off the Italian) and Warsaw from the Russians with Silesia. Craig also moved Budapest to Serbia to cover the reaction from the Italian next turn. Craig is off stabbing again (only this time he has got it right). Rohan kicks the Turk out of Moscow but with the destruction of his Northern fleet and the loss of Warsaw he won't be able to build anyway (A damn good try to get back into the game again but not to be). He is hanging onto Berlin just and Sevastopol only because Craig just doesn't have the men to take it off him (yet). Edi is given a bit of a lifeline and retreats to St.P thanks to the English leaving to get Norway (this is about the safest place Edi could be for the moment). Frank moved Heligoland back to Denmark and has his sights set on Berlin next year. Where in for some movement next turn as the AIR is dead (thanks to Craig) and the EFG is dead also. The new alliances in this very fluid game as we head into '07 appear to be FI, EG, AR? and T (although Edi may have just joined the EG and the R is only with A until the point when Craig can afford to kill him. I think).

Builds and disbands are interesting. Austria decides it is time to start up a navy and builds a fleet and two armies. The Russians, Turks, Germans and French don't change, the English build a fleet again (where's the army Geoff?) in London and the Italians disband Munich.

Spring '07 and Craig's units move like a balloon expanding in all directions. The wash-up sees him continue the fight on the Italians while positioning himself against both the Russian and German fronts. He is by the end of the turn in the Adr, Aeg, Gree, Rum, Ukr, War, Sil, Boh, Tyl, Tri and Rome. Poor old Rohan is looking at a dog's breakfast. He moves into Livonia and holds with the other two. All he can hope for is a merciful Craig. Edi holds onto St.P for grim death and survival where it shouldn't have been. Franks single-minded determination sees him sail into the Baltic on his way to Berlin. Geoff is definitely with the Germans and takes Wales (why I will never know. I guess the fleet has a plan. I would have thought he could have worked out the value of building and landing an army with German support by now but apparently not). He takes the MAO with Nth. Africa and the pressure is off Tunis. The most exciting moves were by the newly formed FI alliance. These two have decided to work together no matter what the cost and their tactic seems to be let's try and hold our own land first. The Italian having disbanded in Munich simply gives up on it and his Tyrolian army walks freely into Venice. He allowed the Austrian to take Rome and convoys French army Spain into Tuscany via French fleet West Med and the Italian fleet Tyrrhenian Sea. The Ionian sails into Albania and Tunis to the Ionian. The gamble worked here as the English left and the Italians can concentrate to the one front now. Brest moves to Gascony obviously to help cover Spain if need be but the bickering between the Germans and the French sees none of them go to Munich. Craig must have been loving it. Watching the four of them dance around like fools while he just continues to build. France, Italy and Germany should be working together.

Fall '07 and Craig continues his cool methodical destruction of Rohan and Greg. The balloon widens to take Sevastopol. He also takes back Venice (Italian army Venice retreats to Apulia) with the Roman army deciding it is best to link up with the rest of his units. The Ionian falls to his mighty fleet moving in from the Aegean. The Italian takes back Rome from Tyrrhenian and parks his fleet Ionian in Naples (Greg went on the defence a little too quick here I think. He had the fleets to out number Craig but for some reason chose to leave Turkey and go after his homeland. A good look at the board last turn would have shown him that Craig was very thin indeed down in Turkey and Italy and he may have been better advised to have exploited his fleet superiority rather than moving to useless provinces like Albania. We all do funny things though when the armies start marching into our home centres and obviously he had to worry about Austrian convoys in the next turn. Either way it was going to be a guess and he made his choice last turn. Now he just has to try and survive). I can't believe what I see when I look at the next photo. Geoff now has Spain if he wants it but all he does is move fleet Wales to English Channel and all of the other fleets hold. He allows the French to sail unsupported back into Spain and the only thing I can think of is that Cyrille must have convinced him that the Austrians would get through if he took Spain (It must have been a masterful piece of diplomacy or close to Geoff's biggest blunder of the game). Even without the armies he should have had landing by now he could have taken land off the French this turn that he could hold and yet his units just sit there. The more I look at it the more I can't believe what I see. Why build the fleets? Move them up to threaten the French and then just when you have them where you want them, stop. I guess I will never know. :-) Unfortunately I can't recall what happened in Munich this turn and to say anything else would only be speculation (Just like the rest of this article. I can say though it remains empty at the end of the turn). The Germans did manage to take Berlin off the Russians and the Russians wind up with armies in Lvn, Mos and Pruss (Foolish but there it is. I guess Rohan just didn't want to play anymore. As I said the possibilities in Turkey were there for the Italian and they are also there for the Russian. He could have just walked into Armenia to protect Ank which he still owns or better still taken Smyrna or worked with the Italian but both of them let Craig have it far too easy by continuing the way they did). By the end of the turn the Turks still hold onto St.P. and the French, German and Austrian units sit next Munich (a very strange DMZ). The Russians are looking really stuffed as the balloon continues to expand unopposed and the English are just procrastinating.

Russia disbands army Prussia. Germany builds army Kiel (well done Frank but I think it is a bit late in the game to begin the expansion that will win it from here. Still good work and keep fighting on). Austria builds army Vienna. The French, Turkish, English and Italians remain the same.

Spring '08. I'll start with Geoff 'cause I have no clue what he is trying to do (I just can't get his motivation. Maybe that's it. Maybe he is trying to remain totally unpredictable?). He takes Spain off Cyrille and moves MAO to Nth.Af. (going back the other way again I guess). Irish sea moves to NAO while the Channel and Norway both hold (Don't really no why the Irish Sea is going to NAO and only time will tell if he has a plan for it or not). Frank gets back into Munich and is on the march again. Cyrille follows into the now vacant Ruhr from Belgium and it almost appears as though the EFG is back together again (except for the English fleet that just went into Spain that is). Cyrille's fleet Spain moved out to West Med though and could be on its way to Tunis with some major luck and support from the English now in Nth.Af. Rohan and Edi both have nothing left to do other than to hold on and hope. Greg consolidates his position by taking back the Ionian, the Tyrrhenian and putting the army into Rome but he won't have these four units after the fall of Munich and the pressure is back on him and the French again. Craig moves in for the kill by moving Sevastopol into Armenia to take Ankara in the fall. Ukraine follows into Sev while Warsaw holds. It is difficult for him to advance into Germany or further into Russia and he has probably decided it is a lot more profitable to head for the easier builds in Turkey and Italy. As a result of this he moves into Piedmont and kicks the Italian fleet out of Albania. He could have blown it up but he allows it to get back to the Ionian (a mistake in my mind. We are at that point though of shorter deadlines and more men to move so you can't blame him too much for it). His units final positions at the end of that turn are: Arm, Sev, War, Sil, Boh, Tyl, Pie, Ven, Adr, Alb, Gre and Aeg.

Fall '08. The EFG (and maybe Turkey and Italy as well) is back on track as Geoff DMZ's the Channel and MAO. He holds fleet NAO. He also sails out of Spain and into the GOL allowing ownership to stay in French hands (what an ally). Cyrille takes the Tyrrhenian, moves Brest to Gascony and Burgundy to Marseilles showing trust in his allies not to take Belgium or Brest off him. Frank goes on the offensive and convoys to Livonia. The rest of the German units are smarter though and aren't interested in straying to far from home even if they could and they just hold their ground in case Craig does attack. Greg puts a fleet into Tunis and successfully holds onto Rome and Naples. Craig takes Moscow and Ankara and Rohan is dead. His units everywhere else don't move except for a convoy of Albania to Apulia (he wants more in Italy).

It's now Craig against the rest and his twelve men are making headway. It is funny the way that can happen in this game. He is outnumbered by the other five remaining players but it is him doing the pushing for now. He must lose ground. Theoretically it is not possible for him to stop the other twenty two units on the board but as always the alliance that is stopping him is made up of five people all with their own thoughts on the best way to do things (mostly people tend to look at their own position and not the position of the alliance). Fall ends and Italy disbands a fleet. Austria builds armies in both Vienna and Budapest ( I thought one of these should have been a fleet. The third Austrian fleet on the board is a frightening thing for the rest of the world but it wasn't to be). Frank has a build but again he can't put it on because his units are all sitting on his home centres. No builds for England, Turkey, Italy and France.

Spring '09 and Craig is now on 14. He surveys the board and realises he shouldn't be able to go any further. He probably could have as the way these guys have played would lead you to believe that they couldn't possibly stick together and hold the alliance. We of course will never know as the remaining players agreed to a draw at this point.

The final centre count: Craig 14, Geoff 5, Frank 6, Cyrille 5, Greg 3, Edi 1 and Rohan eliminated in Fall 1908.

Historical note: All of the names directly relate to the people in question. None of the details were changed. Although I did make a few guesses here and there:-) No animals were injured in the making of this document although the black 4WD does need a cut and polish.

POST MORTEM. I don't know whether I should comment directly on the people and the way they played this game but I will anyway in an attempt to help them with their play by offering constructive criticism. These will be very general and you can take or leave them. Argue with or support them or even discuss them with me at a later date if you like but they are just that observations from a different point of view. The post mortem of a game always reveals one thing to me. All seven players see the game differently. Even at the end after the draw is called and they have all agreed to it they still will have differing views as to what was going to happen next. None of them will be right as the game is just to fluid. One or two of them may guess close to what the outcome would be but even the guy on fourteen who is aiming for just four more centres will make assumptions about where his men will move to and where he will be in a turn or two and he will nine times out of ten be wrong due to the fact the others in the game just aren't that co-operative.

So player by player.

Craig Sedgwick is without a doubt one of Australia's best players. I have played many games with him in the past and he has got to be one of the coolest players around. Others may seem cool while they play but most of them have no idea what is actually going on around the board. Craig can play and when he is at his best there are none better. His fourteen in round one was a great result and it is only with hindsight that I could now write something to fault his game. At the end of round one Craig was in first place with Geoff Kerr and Manus Hand slightly behind him. This result was the top score of the round. Craig went on to finish fifth with three excellent results of sixteen, fifteen and eleven points. His other result of a one was at the hands of Cyrille in round two.

Geoff Baker has a lot to learn (sorry Geoff it's not as harsh as it sounds). He is a very skilled negotiator who can pull off some wonderful diplomacy but his actual movement of pieces and choices of builds is lacking (sorry again). A top bloke who helped out making phone calls and collecting information for WDC as well as finding the venue. It would be great if there were more like him in the hobby. He is on a learning curve as we all are and if he had the time off to commit to the hobby that unfortunately his work will not allow him to do he would be a very deadly adversary in a very short time. (Thanks for your help Geoff. Unfortunately he left the tournament after this game and I have not heard from him since. If anyone knows what happened to him let me know will you? Ken and I were both worried something bad may have happened to him and I hope everything is alright.) Geoff as I said left after round one and finished in 48th place with one result of seven.

Cyrille Sevin is a wonderful bloke. I only met him when he came over for World dipcon to our shores and I am so glad he did. A wonderfully happy always smiling attitude has obviously got to be one of his greatest assets. He played this game to perfection. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do. Attacked on all fronts at differing times throughout the game all he could do was diplome and defend. He did it beautifully and did very well to walk away from this board with a five. Although I didn't get to play dip with him on the weekend I did play one or two other games with him and you can see that he has the competitive edge that has driven him to great results throughout his career. Cyrille finished in equal 22nd place with one good result and one excellent result. In round two he scored seventeen points. Due to the weighting of eighteen centre victories if he could have picked up the eighteen here he would have won the tournament by one point.

Frank Meerbach is also a very good player and the sooner he realises it the better off he will be. An extremely capable man who can see all of the tactics and moves that need to be done on the board makes him a very annoying and dangerous enemy who is very tough to kill and a frustrating ally who just to often takes the safe path. The one thing I have always thought about Frank is that he needs to have faith in himself. He needs to take the step and lead an assault, take on the enemy and put his defensives skills to their ultimate test. They say the best form of defence is attack and I believe Frank should give it a go at a tournament and see if he can't surprise himself and everyone else. Don't be content to sit in the middle of the herd unless you are there to rip the herd apart. He so often finds himself in these alliances stopping a major power from sweeping the board as he did in this game and it is a credit to his skill that he walked away form this game with a six when he had lost both Berlin and Munich. It is also his style however that gets him into the position of being on the back foot by not taking a chance or two. Frank finished in 24th place one point behind Cyrille with three good to average games under his belt of eleven, eight and six points. In all three of his games he survived they were six way draws.

Greg Evans is going to be one of Australia's great players in the future. Just how great will depend on his commitment and his ability to learn. I have played a couple of games with him and he understands more than he lets on. When he gets the confidence to take command of a situation and starts to walk around the board like he owns it look out. In this game as Italy he was caught in the middle of three truly great players of this game (possibly the hardest position of the tournament). Sandwiched between one of the French, Australian and American great players he managed to walk away with a survival and three centres. A truly great effort that I would be proud of. He may have made a mistake or two along the way but who doesn't. I hope that Greg is around for a long time to come because while he plays others will as well. A genuinely great bloke who can rip you to pieces and still get you to buy him a beer after the game. He finished in thirteenth place with sixteen, eleven, five and four points in his four games. An excellent result for a fairly new player and very consistent results as well.

Rohan Keane started attending tournaments a few years ago and had no idea what diplomacy was. His results are great but his style is his own. I have always said that "War is the last true form of diplomacy" (my very own personal quote) whereas Rohan has never really bothered with the diplomacy bit. He has basically shown up to tournaments to play war. He sees the negotiation period as a time for reconnaissance and misdirection. Wandering from super power to super power spreading the most unbelievable lies and creating fear and mistrust from thin air he is truly in his element and possibly the best there is at it. Unfortunately his rumours have a tendency to come back to haunt him. When allying with him you may have nothing to worry about and everything may be going along just fine but he is so convincing that every now and again a good Samaritan will unwittingly cause mistrust in Rohan's alliances by letting on about something Rohan has told them. His reputation as a man who has no conscience doesn't help here and it is right to worry about Rohan when he is your ally. He is no fool though and will not start a war he can't win. He will sit on a board for however long it takes and wait for his chance. He knows people in Diplomacy make mistakes and as soon as he senses blood in the water look out. He is supremely confident of his skills and has a right to be when on top of his game. Lucky for us he is in a bit of a slump. He currently needs about five points to become a Master of the Australian hobby and when he gets them be ready to have a drink with him. Rohan finished in thirty-seventh place with his best score being nine points. He was unfortunate enough to be in the game with me when I got the eighteen to halve his then best game of the tournament. This resulted in him losing about seven or eight places.

That leaves us with Edi Birsan. He needs no tips. He is a fantastic player and a wonderful man who commits time, money and energy into a hobby he loves. I believe he is one of only two players to have played tournament Diplomacy on four different continents and without his efforts our hobby would be a lot smaller and isolated. His rankings on the Diplomatic Pouch (Currently 7th in the World. This is low for him.) and his efforts with the many other diplomatic groups throughout the world do not do justice to his wisdom, knowledge and skill as a player and a man. If we had more like Edi this hobby would be on Foxtel and none of us would have to work for a living. Unfortunately for Edi he is in that position of no matter where he goes or plays people know him and this makes his life as a player hard. He doesn't seem to care though. An easy going guy who it has been my pleasure to meet. He finished in eighteenth one point off equal fifteenth with four survivals. This game was to be his lowest result with just the three points. His other results were fifteen, nine and six.

Rob Stephenson.


Diplomacy Association of Australia and New Zealand, Incorp. Assoc. (Vic) no. A0029615P.

Last modified: 18 July, 2009
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