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Subject: 6-player Session Report rss

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David J
United States
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This session report might be of interest because it was a 6-player game, and you can learn from our mistakes about how we chose to handle both that, and trying to come up with a draw rule. We knew that we would not finish the game with 18 centers due to time limitations (we started Saturday morning at 10, had to explain the game to 3 new players, and planned to end at 6, with a leisurely lunch break). Pete and I (the most experienced Dip players) came up with a way beforehand to handle non-Draw Includes All Survivors (non-DIAS) draws, which we sold to everyone with some modification.

6-player rule:
We decided that Italy should be the neutral country. It started with a unit in each supply center (Army in Rome, not Fleet). Its orders for 1901 were to hold in Venice and Rome, send the Fleet Naples to pick up Tunis, and build a Fleet Naples in winter 1901. All of this was predetermined before the start of the game. Then, whoever had the lowest number of SC's would gain control of Italy for the coming year. That person would control all Italian units' movements in Spring and Fall, as well as the Winter build/removals, before then passing control of Italy over to the next loser. The first player eliminated from the game would gain control of Italy permanently, if Italy still was around.

This should have worked well in theory. The idea was to both have an active Italy and to throwing a couple of bones to the losing players. However, both of these "throwing the bone" options had the potential to result in manipulation of the board, so I wouldn't recommend this.

non-DIAS rule:
What we came up with was this:
Any single player could claim victory if he attained 14 SC's.
Any two players could claim joint victory if between them they had 20 SC's and they both agreed to share the victory.
Any three players could claim joint victory if between them they had 24 SC's and they all agreed to share the victory.

Attentive readers will immediately notice there is a problem here. If the game had resulted in 3 players left, with one controlling exactly 14, then the other two would control the remaining 20, and both the 14-unit player and the 20-unit pair would have the right to declare victory. Fortunately, this didn't happen. We basically picked the numbers wrong, but if the numbers were to be sufficiently tweaked, I think this would work out fairly well.

With these rules declared, and after explaining the rules to everyone, we picked countries randomly, then swapped to get one we liked. Here's how it ended up:

Charles (Dip newbie and relative game newbie): England
Jesse (experienced in Dip): France
Pete (very experienced in Dip): Germany
Ben (gamer but Dip newbie): Austria
Christopher (gamer but Dip newbie): Russia
me (very experienced in Dip): Turkey

OK then. I'm Turkey, and bordered by two smart newbies and a robot state. And we're off!

During 1901, I managed to get Russia and Austria to both agree to be my ally. Now the problem is deciding who to attack. I'd rather not attack either of them, actually, and just chew into Italy. But convincing either one I'm their ally without attacking the other is troubling. Pete (Germany) later suggested I should have gone for a triple alliance (what he was afraid was actually happening) but that didn't occur to me.

There appeared to be a strong England-France alliance against Germany, which was fine by me since Germany was the most experienced player besides myself. I encouraged this. However, when the first orders were read and two of the three English units held, it started to become clear that England had not quite grasped what was necessary to do well at this game. Unfortunately, I didn't clue into the unreliability of the English player as rapidly as Germany did. Germany made an offhand comment to me that this was turning into a bizarre game and that "aggressive action" was what was called for. I mistakenly assumed he was going to attack England.

Meanwhile, the Russian alliance plan called for us to coordinate against Austria while Russia took Norway from England, with a planned future invasion into Germany. I suggested he do it sooner than later, but he didn't want to have so many enemies at one time. This was a mistake.

In 1902, England (having built nothing!) assumed control of Italy. I now am bordered by 3 newbies!

I stab Austria with a combined Russian attack on Serbia in the spring of 1902. It succeeds, but the advance is not defensible and I will lose it in the fall. To make matters worse, Germany invades Russia. It now looks like I chose my ally and enemy poorly. I try to backpedal. Never backpedal, you can't afford the lost time.

In 1903, England keeps control of Italy. Because England has not grown quickly enough to make France comfortable in an English-French alliance against Germany, France and Germany have reached a truce. Because England controls Italy, and England and France are still allies, France has no one to attack. The solution is for England to help France into Italian SC's. France begins a rapid advance into the Mediterranean, and beats me to Tunis. Crap, I am growing too slowly. Russia is being dismantled by Germany and Austria, but (for some reason), Germany keeps getting the builds. Austria's growth is halted. Russia is doomed, but has some wildcard units roaming around the board. I make a final decision and again stab Austria. This time the stab is defensible.

Austria and Russia are shrinking. England is stagnant. I begin to bargain with France over dividing up Italy (which we can do because England is now operating as a vassal of France, and England controls Italy). Russia and I, in a serious heart-to-heart, agree that Russia is lost. Russia agrees to a series of moves which will ensure him the fewest number of SC's, THEREFORE giving him control of Italy for the next turn and probably the rest of the game (that board manipulation I referred to). However, England gives one of his supply centers to France for some strange reason, and we are more successful against Austria than we expected. There is therefore a 3-way tie for lowest number of SC's (England, Russia, and Austria each having two), and a die is rolled. England gains control of Italy AGAIN.

1905 was the last turn we played. England fell to a combination of French stabbing, German cherrypicking, and a rogue Russian fleet that had been a nuisance for a while (although the Russian capture of Edinburgh in the spring was undone by a German recapture in the fall). Italy also became completely divided up, without hostility, between myself and France. Russia has one unit left (in Budapest, after allowing me into Sevastopol by agreement), and Austria is hunkered down with two units left. The score at this point is:
Germany (12), France (10), Turkey (9), Austria (2), Russia (1), England (0), Italy (0).

No one has won, according to our rules, but Germany has a lot of options:
a) Offer a 3-way victory to France and Turkey.
b) Offer a 2-way victory to either France or Turkey.
c) Go another turn for the solo. He will have to get 2 and keep us from gaining 1 (at this point we realize our math error with the 14/20 split).

An unscheduled period of diplomacy commences. We realize that any 2-way offer would have to be taken, since the penalty for not accepting could be that the other junior partner could accept the offer and the game would end. This despite the fact that according to the board it is very unlikely that he can attain 14 with France and Turkey (now) allied against him. In the end, he offers the 3-way. It was the gentlemanly thing to do; we were about out of time anyway.

Still wondering about a correct split, given that we wanted 14 to be the victory condition for a solo win. 21 seems a good number for a 2-way (one more than the remaining 20). What about a 3-way? Comments welcome on both this and the way we played Italy.
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Valdir Jorge
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Re:Session Report
Very good SR! I chose it to receive my one Excellence in Session Report Writing Award this week. See this geek list:
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