Austria – Nigel Hawthorn; England – George Foot (WON 1913); Germany – Ray Harper (d.o. S04); Russia: – Russell Harris; Turkey – Keith Loveys; Italy – John Culver; France – Mike Woodhouse.
Game started: Ode 22; Ended Ode 48. GM: John Marsden
George Foot (England):
I found this the most consistently interesting and enjoyable diplomacy game I have played. Every set of orders until the last two seasons, which were fairly routine, involved extension thought and planning. My memory of the early stages as always, is rather sticky. I do remember I allied with France against Germany, we dreamed up some devilish seismic moves (which I can’t remember but which worked well) and got me in particular off to a good start. Italy and Austria also formed a good alliance which dominated the south and east of the board. Italy’s attack on France was sufficiently effective to take up France’s attention leaving me to benefit most from Germany’s demise. Russia had also made a good start against Germany but had a lot of problems in the south, so I was able to persuade him to provide passive co-operation in the north.
Thus the situation resolved itself into England building up strength in the north having gained all the Low Countries and Scandinavian centres and some of Germany. Italy doing well in the south west having taken over France and Austria dominating the south east, though Turkey was putting up stout resistance. At this point I had created a good buffer to the east with the rump of Russia and an expanded Switzerland (the latter my doing) so that I could concentrate all my forces against Italy. This proved a longer and tougher fight than I had expected with Italy putting up an excellent resistance, frequently choosing some unforseen and very frustrating seismic moves. I did at this stage have a bonus. Austria, through an oversight, failed to finish off Turkey cleanly – having destroyed his last piece in the Spring he failed to occupy the s.c. in the Autumn, though of course Turkey, not expecting this had not ordered a build. Now normally an army-less Turkey would have been of little interest to anyone, let alone England, but this was Seismic Dippy. I imagined that there’d be little love lost between Turkey and Austria so I asked Keith for permission to give his orders. No army to order but I did have an extra two crucial seismic orders. Actually had I been greedy and made the first seismic isolating Ankara and even possibly getting Ankara off the board I might have kept Turkey going much longer but I saw that possibility too late. However, that helped me make much faster progress against Italy.
Just as well, because with Turkey finished and Russia almost finished Austria was gaining strength and reaching the point where he could turn his attention to me. At this stage I realised the importance of keeping Russia alive. He was clearly losing interest as Austria picked up his centres but fortunately I managed to persuade him to let me order his pieces and I made sure he survived. I think at much the same time Italy handed his forces over to Austria for the final confrontation. I felt that I must be favourite but it was by no means a foregone conclusion. I spent a very long time planning at this point. I foresaw Austria opening the Southern front and it being a long contest. I worked out my prime strategy had to be to force the elimination of Italy even at the expense of Austria gaining an extra centre at this stage. This would, have reduced Austria to only one seismic order instead of two and that could have been crucial. It was for this reason I was less strong than I might have been in the north. In the event Austria did not see the importance of the southern front until a year too late and by then it had become a foregone conclusion.
On reading this through I realise it doesn’t begin to convey the true fascination of this game but sadly that would have included very complex description of the pros and cons of the many possible moves especially the seismic ones.
Thank you to all the other players for this excellent game and particluarly John who provided me with my longest and most hard fought battle. Also thanks to our GM for managing to run such a complex game so efficently and especially for producing the excellent maps.
John Culver (Italy):
I found the Seismic game very enjoyable. I made a strong non-aggression pact with Austria right form the start, with seismic moves isolating Austria and Italy so that we could not double cross each other easily. It was those seismic moves which meant that George won, I think, because when I was pushed Austria could not lend me any aid easily even though he was keen to help me.
My struggles in this game were only with France, whom I overcame, and England. France was conquered faster than I thought, partly because of Mike’s NMRs and partly because I knew from talking to him that he didn’t expect me to attack him. At the time the game started he printed an article in Blackmail on Seismic, pointing out all the good moves that Italy has against Austria. An obvious hint that I played along with in the pre-game negotiations. My seismic move joining Tuscany and Marseilles guaranteed a supported move against Mar in Autumn.
After defeating France, I faced a slightly stronger England. I managed to hold my own against him for several years, but when the end came it was swift.
My thanks to all involved for an enjoyable game.
Russell Harris (Russia):
Well, I made a right mess of this one! I had an unpleasant surprise when I first looked at the list of players, to discover that England, Germany and Turkey were being playd by 3 players whom I was trampling all over in 11eme as CSA. I decided that an alliance with Austria was in order, but Nigel moved against me in the first season, and I was left facing four more-or-less hostile neighbours. I don’t blame him for that – we were just incompatible as allies. He prefers telephone Diploamcy, whereas I always write and don’t keep a Dippy board by the phone. At the time I was not quite familiar enough with the board, and so when he rang at an inconvenient time I’m sure I must have been very unconvincing.
The second phase of the game was a defensive struggle against Austria and Turkey. Italy has taken advantage of the seismic moves to mount an effective attack on France and George Foot’s England was making progress in the direction of Germany. My defensive strategy consisted of wrapping myself in Rumania, while denying any gains to Turkey to convince him to change his mind. I don’t think I ever received a letter in reply.
My interest in the game was waning rapidly, until George wrote to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse. There followed a period of mutual co-operation against Austria but all hopes of a Russian renaissance were dashed when I bungled a move. Total disillusionment with the position, and a Young Lady at University, combined to produce an NMR on my part, at which point George wrote to ask if he could order my units. He is a better player than I am, and I had mostly been following his suggestions anyway, so it would make little difference to the game, and he was the only player who had helped me at all, and I give up too easily, so I agreed. The rest, as they say, is history.
Well, you win some and you lose some, and I reckon I had this one lost from the word go. George deserved to win it, for both tactical skill and diplomatic persistence. But just wait till next time.
John Marsden (GM):
I must say I was delighted with this variant. It appeared in French in one of the issues of Vortigern produced by Jena-Pierre Hubsch, and I liked the look of it. George’s performance has shown just how the seismic rules can be used to extend the tactical possibilities of regular Diplomacy, and he put in a performance deserving of victory. George is very much a tactical player, and I suspect that his victories with England reflected the suitability of the variants involved to his style than any special qualities of England.
The early game was dominated by the Austro-Italian Alliance, and their clever separation of two normally adjacent countries was a brilliant use of the rules – except that, as John has said, it inadvertently left George plenty of room to expand with which they could not readily interfere. The rapid expansion of Rumania and Switzerland were intriguing features as those provinces proved convenient barriers, and Portugal departed on its probably inevitable travels! The map shows the final configuration, but does not show the full extent of changes that occurred; since some borders were restored in the final stages! For those interested, I simply kept a pencil-drawn master, altered each season, which I photocopied for the players. The quality was not always perfect, mind you.
A thank you to all the players (except Ray Harper), who all participated fully in their parts of the game, and full congratulations to George. I hope 37eme proves as good a game.