Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 1 shownotes – Known World 901

Venue: Grand Central Hotel, Brisbane

Drinks of choice:

  • Kaner – Fat Yak original pale ale from Matilda Bay Brewing, Australia
  • Amby – Rymill “The Yearling” Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra

For our first episode we introduce ourselves – Kaner and Amby – and our background and experience with playing Diplomacy. We get into the early days of playing, from face-to-face to rather embarrassing first ever opening moves when playing online. We also explain why the podcast is recorded over a few drinks in a bar.

Next up we give a bit of a high level overview of the type of things each of our episodes may cover, including:

  • A “deep dive” into a variant
  • Features/how stuff works on webDiplomacy and vDiplomacy
  • Anything new that’s happened on the  websites
  • Any threads of contention in the threads
  • Interviews

We go deep into the variant Known World 901 by David E. Cohen, and on-boarded to vDiplomacy by Kaner. We cover:

  • How at a 15 player variant it fills the gap between large 10 player games and massive 34+ player games
  • How Amby loves its historical nature and learns some history, all while continuously mispronounces players’ country names
  • The really cool transform option for changing armies to fleets and vice versa. Kaner talks about why he did this to improve gameplay
  • We then look at an example of the map in the game Vae Victis . Here Amby made it into a 6 player draw despite only having 4 supply centres. What strategies and tactics did he use to make it to the end? What approaches did the other players take?
  • We touch on other Diplomacy variants discussing this map, including the never released Monghul variant. During this discussion we touch on Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History about the Wrath of the Khans
  • Kaner discusses how you can use variant statistics to better understand how to play the country you draw
  • And for comic relief Amby mentions the taunt he uses on Wagadu players. For the related crappy 1980’s pop song “Agadoo” by Black Lace enjoy this little treasure:

Finally we discuss the WebDiplomacy 2012 World Cup championship, a game that took three and a half years to complete. We’re lining up a number of the key players to discuss this mammoth Diplomacy gaming effort in an upcoming interview. In the meantime you can view a stop-motion style recap of the game thanks to Kaner’s editing:

If you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see covered in an upcoming podcast, or something you’d like to see regularly covered, please contact us or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks to Dan Philip for his rockin’ intro to the Diplomacy Games podcast.


5 thoughts on “Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 1 shownotes – Known World 901”

  1. Hi guys!

    My stage name is “Jonnikhan”, pronounced ‘johnny’ – ‘khan’ in one breath. The “i” is a connector letter only as the name is actually two names spliced together via the “i”. I’m a song-writer, based in San Francisco, and have two albums on the internet that you can listen to on my website listed below.

    I really enjoyed your discussion on the Vae Victus game we played together. The diplomacy utilized in that game was some of the most intense I’ve ever partaken in. I’m an old-school diplomacy hack, having grown up in that environment (my dad was an American diplomat, etc). When I make an alliance I stick with it through thick and thin; and sometimes that requires subversion against other players not associated with the original alliance. This was the case in that fantasy variant we played together wherein I stabbed you – I was forced to do so by my existing allies. Vae Victus was a similar situation. Turan’s geographic location was unfavorable toward forming an alliance with Kazaria; especially when Kazaria (me) was already in an alliance with Russia, Axum and Srivijaya. The only purpose we had for Turan was as a buffer against China and India. Spain joined our alliance much later on in the game, at the behest of Russia and Axum. When Srivijaya went rogue on our alliance, we went into damage control mode. Srivijaya used his position within our alliance like a club and kept demanding more and more, and giving less and less in return. Russia had initially objected to Srivijaya’s inclusion into our alliance, but was overruled. Apparently Lief has had a rough time in the past with Mike Retillion (Srivijaya), wherein I’d only played Mike once before and, yes, he ended up stabbing me in that game too. When Srivijaya went rogue on our alliance, Turan’s status changed dramatically. Initially, Srivijaya acted as if he was allied with Turan and used Turan as an excuse for his expansion into China and India. When the alliance confronted Srivijaya on his reluctance to follow through with the original plan; i.e.; to eliminate Turan after the demise of India and China – that’s when Srivijaya attacked Axum, etc. Turan was also targeted by Srivijaya shortly after that and this was an opportunity for our alliance to create a strong buffer zone against Srivijaya in Asia, which is what happened and how Turan managed to survive against all the odds. Srivijaya wanted to eliminate Turan completely and we haggled over that for well over a year or more. Our alliance wasn’t about to allow a back stabber to get everything he wanted, so we denied him his final demand. I’ve also survived a game in similar circumstances once wherein I had control over a single strategically imperative supply center situated between two overpowering alliances and ended up surviving to a draw by playing one side against the other. It’s an incredibly delicate balance to maintain oneself under such intense pressure from all sides and Turan did a marvelous job at survival under the most precarious situation imaginable. Kudos to Turan for a job well done!

  2. Amby and Kaner,

    Awesome that you guys got this off the ground. I must say the highlight of this podcast was your analyzing how Amby was able to stay alive in the recent Vae Victus game. Well done and very interesting/entertaining. I love end of game reports, and while I am notorious about providing them myself, I am a voracious reader (or listener?) of other EOG’s. I’ll give a brief view from Russia here. I had actually approached Spain from the beginning about setting up a partnership that would have high probability of making it to the end game. My alliance with Jonnikahn was at first an afterthought, but as the board developed became an integral part of my strategy. Knowing Jonnikahn’s play style, I was able to entirely focus west meddling with the interplay between the Danes, Germans, and Franks to help keep my Spanish ally alive and viable. Your meddling Amby between Spain and France was well known to me at the time, and as I had already a strong alliance with Spain, from my perspective, there was little chance you were going to convince the two of them to make up and turn and fight me.
    Jonnikahn referenced history between Retillion and I, and I’d like to clarify, the history there is nothing more than I have not yet had an experience where Retillion doesn’t try to get somewhere between 75% and 100% of the benefit from a deal between the two of us (or any player for that matter). That doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try to work with Retillion in games where I feel I can manipulate what benefit he is getting from a deal between us, or where I feel he is more open to sharing some of the benefit with me, but knowing Retillion’s play style, I counseled early and often against his inclusion in the alliance style play we were embarking on, knowing that it would essentially only benefit Retillion and not be worth whatever benefit our alliance would get out of it, as Retillion wouldn’t hesitate to stab us when he saw fit. My counsel was nothing more than looking out for the good of the alliance. I must admit, I didn’t give Retillion his due in press this game as I just didn’t have the bandwidth to keep up with the volume of press he is capable of. Perhaps had I been able to invest more in talking with him, I could have made another attempt to learn how to get Retillion to do my bidding and make him think it was what he wanted all along. Afterall, (and I will misattribute this quote if I try, so here it is unattributed): Diplomacy is the art of getting someone else to do exactly as you want, and to make them think it was their own idea all along.
    Anyways, Turan became a pawn (a willing one at that) in the game between Retillion and our alliance. I had hoped for quicker action on Amby’s part when we informed him of his inclusion as the front line against Srivijaya, namely a full push against Srivijaya in the Autumn of 912 to try to allow us the advantage we needed in moving against Srivijaya in the south (Srivijaya’s west) to try to remove him. Had there been success in the push to remove Srivijaya, I would probably have more strongly considered attempting a solo, but as it was, my partnering with Spain was a hindrance to that option anyways, because Axum had taken so much of Africa that Spain had no choice but to look toward Europe to grow. My opportunity to stab Spain and start my solo attempt, best done with a mass build in Winter 912, was predicated in many ways on how Amby moved against Srivijaya that previous Autumn. Mike Retillion is a seriously dangerous player, and my choice not to go for the solo was largely due to the fact that I knew Jonnikhan and Dr. Rec would sell themselves to Retillion if I tried for the solo, and that Retillion, as a master stalemate artist was highly likely to organize a stop to my solo attempt, and possibly even agitate for my removal setting up his own solo attempt. My second chance for a solo was probably a build in winter of 913, possibly in concert with Retillion, but I felt much less confident that Mike was going to remain contained enough, as Jonnikahn had already listened to Mike and sent a few units back for defense. As to the other goal of removing Srivijaya, by the point that Amby was fully cooperating to contain Srivijaya, Retillion had already calculated what he needed for his stalemate line (something as pointed out in the podcast, Srivijaya has an abundance of these at its disposal come mid or late game). Once he couldn’t be removed, I was facing a much stronger Spain, a Khazaria with surplus units, and the solo attempt looked even more daunting. Having played the alliance strategy this game, and wanting to reward those who stuck with me, I was happy to put in for the draw, even though we couldn’t remove Srivijaya and keep it only “in the family” as it were.

    All in all a good game, excellent choice to highlight for the first podcast. I must say though, I am surprised you pooh-poohed gunboat as an option on the Known World 901 map, as both of you are taking part in the 15×15 KW901 gunboat tourney on vdip!

  3. I’d have to go along with Johnikhan and Leif, the highlight of the first two podcasts for me was definitely the analysis of Amby’s position in Vae Victus! in the first podcast. And I’m going to speak to the Chinese position:

    As seems to be true in poker, the person who calls the game always seems to have a big impact on the game and is often the game-winner. This was no different in Diplomacy, where game-creator Retillion managed to draw Srivijaya, undoubtedly the safest power in this variant, and one with which it’s easy to affect the play of all the southern powers with. I had never played with Retillion before, but his reputation became apparent from talking with others before the first season. And after that season it was already clear that Srivijaya had made a series of three-way alliances across the board, including one with India and I, one with Russia and Khazaria, and one with Axum and Arabia. India and I decided to give it a go anyway though, with the thinking that we could steer Srivijaya west while arming ourselves for the inevitable stab from him down the road. Much to Srivijaya’s chagrin, and possibly upsetting his plans of an early Chinese conquest, I played very defensively with Srivijaya. He was quite upset when I built a fleet the first year, but I managed to convince him it was purely defensive and needed to take Saikaido and, thus, he did set out west. That left India and I free to focus on Turan who had moved all his armies in our direction anyway.

    But a number of issues quickly developed at this point. I knew Srivijaya was also allied with Russia and Khazaria, so the hope was that would lead to the quick elimination of Turan, since Turan can be very powerful in this variant. But Khazaria instead chose to move on Byzantium, which really helped Russia get rolling. Surprisingly, Arabia was comfortable with this and further helped Turan seal India in on India’s western flank. India had also made a few questionable early moves and had been growing slower than he could have, so India and I quickly found ourselves surrounded since we already had been consdiering Srivijaya a threat. Although it was clear Srivijaya, Russia, and Khazaria (who all surrounded a number of us) were orchestrating events in the east, I was unsuccessful in persuading Khazaria to join with India and I against Turan, or Axum and Arabia, who seemed to be aware that Srivijayan domination could be a problem (and I think is a recurring issue with this variant that could use some minor correcting). On top of this, their alliance with Srivijaya also had Axum and Arabia moving west with the bare minimum of fleets being built, so Srivijaya was free to expand without any opposition.

    When Srivijaya then turned and attacked India as suspected, I found myself on an island. Sure that I would be Srivijaya’s next target, and sure that Turan would be after me, I appealed to Turan for a truce, but he was unbending. However, I was able to buy some time with Srivijaya by convincing him I was ok with the move against India since India wasn’t totally on top of his game, and that Srivijaya and I could still work west together. Srivijaya was also concerned with a potential Russian solo (as Russia had managed to break a Danish/German logjam in the east with Byzantine gains that Khazaria had enabled), and I hoped to use this to keep Srivijaya from attacking me, but Russia was just too far away to have any immediate affect on Srivijaya. Thus, while India and I locked horns with Turan, Srivijaya continued on into the Indian Ocean, taking most of the seas while slowly eating his way north through India at the same time. I think it was still possible for India and I to turn things around at this point, or at least just survive, if we could only find one good ally. Unfortunately, just the opposite occurred. While Turan had the jump on India and I, and Srivijaya was encroaching on India, India and I still managed to bring Turan close to the point of elimination. But just then, one of the allies India and I were hoping to find, Khazaria, moved to help Turan hold his remaining units and block my route of conquest, which in turn set Srivijaya up perfectly to move on me as well.

    Khazaria’s help also enabled Turan to then pick up some centers from a quick stab of Arabia, which along with an Indian CD and Srivijaya’s southern encroachment, allowed he and Khazaria to beat back the gains India and I had made against him. From then on, India and I’s fates were sealed, so my prime directive became slowing Srivijaya so that he had no chance to solo. My efforts slowing Srivijaya and Khazaria’s help also allowed Turan to pick up enough units so that he was no longer a tempting elimination target. Eventually, a replacement India joined who was all-too willing to help with this. Ultimately, I think the 2nd India and I’s focus on Srivijaya, Turan’s rebirth, and Khazaria’s seal of any northern route of expansion for Srivijaya slowed Srivijaya enough that he no longer had any viable chance to solo. Even when he was able to turn further west into Axum, there had been too much growth from others by then, so he was only able to go so far west. And the rest is pretty much history. Although if I were Russia, I would definitely have made a run for the solo through Spain and into Africa while taking defensive precautions in the east.

    I don’t think it was as enjoyable a game for me as it was others, but it was still another fun romp through Known World 901 nevertheless. I consider this one of my favorite variants (Modern II, Classic – Crowded, Greek Diplomacy, and all the variants spinning off of Abstraction III/Europe 1939 are other favorites) and would really love to see development of the other Known World spinoffs that were originally planned. I think these would have potential to be some of the best variants on the site. Known World 901 offers more strategic possibilities for nearly every player than most variants, which along with the build anywhere rule and placement of early standing neutral units make for truly wide-open play. For the record, I don’t think World War IX is such an ugly or bad variant, it’s just a bit more limited. And Who Controls America is definitely on my list of variants to try out soon.

    Keep up the great work guys!! I like how natural, spontaneous, and free-form the podcasts are and I very much enjoyed these first two. Cheers!

  4. 7 years. 7 years! And “Agadoo doo doo push pineapple shake the tree” *still* plays in my head every time I see the word Wagadu because of you guys.

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