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Subject: Beef, Beer and Backstabbing rss

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Jim OKelley
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I’m pleased to report that my attempt to organize an FTF community in the Chicago area got off to a good start yesterday. I had six guys plus, for a couple of hours, an interested observer, over at my place for beef sandwiches, a lot of beer, and some friendly backstabbing. The line-up was as follows:

Austria: Scott Yahne
England: Bryan Westhoff
France: Mike Roth
Germany: Jim O’Kelley
Italy: Eric Brown
Russia: Dan Burgess
Turkey: Jason Raynovich

In the East, the game began with Russia moving his fleet to Rumania while Turkey moved his to Constantinople. Italy had opened with a classic Lepanto. The lack of conflict in the Black Sea solidified the A/I relationship.

In the West, the situation was muddled. England and I didn’t talk much at all, and France served as our intermediary. Through him, we discussed a possible Western Triple. I can never muster much enthusiasm for the Triple, and I was even less enthusiastic about this one when France informed me that England was hoping to get Holland as part of the bargain (with, of course, France getting Belgium).

France and I agreed to leave Belgium open via a bounce, and we also agreed to build fleets in Brest and Kiel, “just to keep our options open.” I also informed Russia that I would be bouncing him in Sweden but said he could have it in 1902. He was fine with the arrangement as long as I didn’t build in Berlin. I didn’t.

The usual neutrals were gobbled up in the East.

1902 was a rough year for the Witches. Turkey lost Bulgaria to Austria while the Italians convoyed into Syria. Austria also managed to nab Rumania from the Russians. Italy, meanwhile, unilaterally decided to “rebalance” the A/I alliance by taking Trieste, giving each of them a build.

England, meanwhile, played toward Scandinavia and expected to pick up Sweden with my help in the Fall. France slipped into the Channel, but that move didn’t set off the alarm bells it should have.

I had moved my fleets to Ska and Den and, per our agreement, allowed Russia to take Sweden, which he did with a convoy. I tried to convince England to take a shot at StP while I attempted to take Swe. Russia could only support one or the other. Instead, England wanted me to support him into Swe and said he’d give it to me when he took StP in 1903.

Meanwhile, Russia had agreed to support me into Norway. Naturally, his offer was more appealing than England’s, so I accepted it.

France was miffed with me for having forced my way into Belgium, but he also recognized that England was sold on the Triple and was unlikely to defend London. So, he forgave me my transgression and took a shot at London.

For England, the Fall turn was a three-center swing: Instead of gaining Sweden, he lost London and Norway.

In 1903, the A/I hammered Turkey, with each gaining one of his home centers. My jump out to seven centers, meanwhile, attracted attention from Russia, who moved to the Baltic, and Italy, who moved to Tyrolia. France and I established position against England but didn’t take any of his centers.

In 1904, the midgame began in earnest. The F/G eliminated England, with each gaining a dot, while the A/I knocked out Turkey, with Austria administering the coup de grace.

Since Russia had moved to the Baltic in Spring 1903, I had been asking him to either convoy out of Sweden or pull out of the Baltic. I explained that since he was bordering three of my centers and had two units on Denmark, he was preventing me from moving against the A/I, which now had three units on Sevastopol.

In the Fall, he finally agreed to convoy out of Sweden, so I decided to take shots at StP and Swe while also moving armies to Silesia and Prussia. Well, my sneak attack on StP worked, but my stab at Sweden was thwarted because he convoyed to Prussia instead of Livonia!

At this point, I had nine centers, Austria had eight, France had seven, Italy had six, and Russia was down to four.

In 1905, Austria stabbed Italy. Up until that point, I figured any three-way would have to include those two, since they were working so well together. Austria’s stab, just as France began pushing on the Mediterranean, opened the door for an A/F/G, or possibly an even better result…

After gaining two more centers from Russia, I saw possibilities for a two-way or even a one-waydevil... Alas, in Winter 1906, my French ally was going to turn into a pumpkin. He had tickets to see the Rolling Stones (with his pal, England, who had provided the tickets!). So, the A/F/G tried to knock down Italy and Russia as much as possible in advance of the draw votes.

We got Russia down to two and Italy, to four. Dan was willing to vote himself out of the draw, but Eric is a D.I.M. player (Draws Include Me). The alternative was to replace France and play on, but we all decided that the draw would be a cleaner end to our first game together. So, the game ended in Winter 1906 in an A/F/G/I draw, with Russia surviving. The final center counts were:

Austria: 9
England: 0
France: 7
Germany: 12
Italy: 4
Russia: 2
Turkey: 0

It was a good start for our Chicago group, which I am tentatively calling the Windy City Weasels.

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