Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 64 – PoppyCon & interviews with Melissa Call & Andrew Goff

Venue: Saint and Rogue, Melbourne

Drinks of choice:

Kaner – White Rabbit dark ale from Healesville, Victoria

Amby – Tooborak American Gunslinger’s pale ale from the Tooborak, Victoria


The guys make it to Melbourne for PoppyCon and discuss their plans for the tournament, an interview with host Melissa Call, and follow up interview with multi-WDC winner Andrew Goff and Melissa, before a wrap up of Amby’s Divided States game and more.

Intro, news & their thoughts on what to do at the tournament

  • Saint & Rogue, MelbourneThe guys introduce the show, making it to Melbourne before the Coronavirus really started impacting. They introduce their drinks, venue and Kaner asks Amby what is game plans are for the PoppyCon tournament. Kaner goes onto give some history lessons about Victoria  (0 mins 10 secs)
  • They give some local history (4 mins)
  • They talk a little Coronavirus (6 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner discusses his three build England plan for the tournament. Amby asks about the prospects of a four build Russia and getting a bluewater Russian fleet in the Med to take Tunis in 1903. They go on to talk about how face to face games lend themselves more to crazy alliances happening compared to online (8 mins 55 secs)

Interview with Melissa Call

  • The interview starts with Melissa (Mel) Call, the host of the PoppyCon tournament. Before recording Kaner asked Mel what her favourite country to play is. Her average SC count playing as Russia in Australia is 11 and hasn’t been eliminated locally. Amby asks about what strategy do you need to follow to play a good Russia (18 mins)
  • Kaner reflects on his Russian gameplay, which Mel advises on. Mel talks about not being the first person to 10 SC’s (22 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner discusses Mel’s tactic of getting bickering happening in the centre of the board (24 mins 50 secs)
  • She discusses the value of a Russian-German alliance (26 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner asks about which alliance on the board gets her worried as Russia (28 mins 15 secs)
  • Amby asks if Mel has any particular plans for this tournament. Kaner asks why France is her least favourite country. Mel also gives her thoughts as England and the English Channel (30 mins)
  • Amby asks what the PoppyCon tournament is all about (33 mins 25 secs)
  • Amby discusses how there is a certain thrill to a face to face tournament and his one time he’s replicated it in the online environment (40 mins)
  • Amby asks Mel how she feels when she’s been betrayed (42 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner reflects how experienced players and relatively new players react very differently to a well orchestrated stab (43 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby asks Mel as a female Diplomacy player, how she feels she’s been treated and how to get more women into the game (45 mins 15 secs)
  • They discuss choice of words and deception (52 mins)
  • Mel talks about playing people, not countries (54 mins)
  • Amby asks about how Mel’s strategy may change if she’s up against a great player (54 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby asks how to approach things if your ally is showing tell-signs, impacting your alliance (57 mins 30 secs)

Interview with Andrew Goff and Melissa Call

  • Andrew Goff (Goffy) joins the interview, as well as Mel’s husband Matt and Goffy’s partner Albert (59 mins)
  • They return to the earlier topic of dealing with good players (60 mins)
  • Amby asks Goffy and Mel what new players should do when it comes to trusting players (1 hr 1 min 15 secs)
  • Goffy talks about new players learning from their mistake and finding someone you can trust and learn from them (1 hr 5 mins)
  • Amby asks Mel about the bullshit detector and trust (1 hr 6 mins 15 secs)
  • They discuss Goffy’s “little drops of poison” and how other players view his gameplay. He gives his perspective on that (1 hr 10 mins 30 secs)
  • Goffy talks about not worrying how many builds he gets in 1901, but then goes onto discuss a massive opening (1 hr 15 mins)
  • He recommends online players coming to face to face and doing things they’ve never done before and watching the tight timeframes (1 hr 18 mins)
  • Mel reflects that you can read a lot about the culture of the tournament by reading the rules. Goffy stresses not pissing off the tournament director (1 hr 20 mins 30 sec)
  • Goffy gives his thoughts on tournaments with and without top boards (1 hr 27 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby asks what a newbie player should worry about (1 hr 28 mins 30 secs)
  • They start discussing intermediate player strategy (1 hr 34 mins)
  • Goffy announces the 2021 WDC will be held Battlefield Bangkok at the end of July 2021. He outlines how accommodation is great value in the area and its a fantastic venue (1 hr 35 mins 40 secs)
  • Kaner gives a big wrap about Bangkok (1 hr 37 mins 50 secs)
  • Goffy discusses a number of events for players at WDC 2021 (1 hr 39 mins)
  • Goffy says he won’t be playing as he’ll the tournament director (1 hr 40 mins)
  • Kaner asks Goffy about the culture of Australians spying on players’ writing orders. They expand on gamesmanship, culture and rules (1 hr 43 mins)
  • Goffy discusses you’re only really new in tournaments for 3 or 4 games and how to do well in a tournament, although maybe not necessarily win (1 hr 48 mins 30 secs)
  • Goffy mentions how some US players can hold a grudge. He then discusses how European games often end (1 hr 55 mins 30 secs)
  • He talks about fake orders and unguarding your orders (2 hrs)
  • His next intermediate tip is to not have favourite countries, alliances and players (2 hrs 30 mins 50 secs)
  • Amby asks if when the countries are assigned in a tournament, does Goffy have a predetermined plan in mind (2 hrs 4 mins 30 secs)
  • They discuss the Flying Dutchman (illegally having an extra unit on the board) and why tricks are for kids (2 hrs 9 mins 30 secs)
  • They wrap up the interview (2 hrs 13 mins)

Post interview chat

  • Kaner suggests the idea of recording discussions at the tournament (2 hrs 14 mins)
  • The guys discuss hats (2 hrs 16 mins)
  • They return to the conversation about recording discussions (2 hrs 18 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby suggests that listeners give us a Shit Sandwich: something complementary, something you don’t like and then end on something complementary again (2 hrs 19 mins 50 secs)

Amby solos his 50 player Divided States game

  • Amby has won the Undivided States game that they’ve been talking about for almost two years. Amby starts discussing what worked in his favor (2 hrs 20 mins 45 secs)

Undivided states final


  • Kaner asks what its like ordering 127 units to order. In answering Amby talks about the holding vs attacking (2 hrs 23 mins 10 secs)
  • Kaner asks Amby how it approached discussions on the game in the podcast and whether listeners at some point worked out who Amby was despite it being an anonymous game (2 hrs 24 mins 50 secs)
  • Kaner then goes onto discuss Amby’s hopes on rankings and how that went (2 hrs 28 mins 40 secs)

Future game plans & Diplomacy projects

  • Amby discusses his Discord game and how he’s interested in one or two of nopunin10did’s upcoming Discord games: Saga of the Nine and Order of the Dragon. He also discusses getting more involved in the Nexus tournament (2 hrs 30 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner asks Amby, aside from this, whether he’s going to take a break from variants (2 hrs 32 mins 40 secs)
  • Amby mentions how the Minnesota Diplomacy Club and Windy City Weasles found Meetup brought in a lot of extra face to face players (2 hrs 33 mins 30 secs) [Amby post-episode: we obviously WON’T be doing this until the whole Coronavirus thing is under control]
  • Kaner asks whether Amby might jump back into variant creation. Amby gives his thoughts on what he’d tackle, first up is a Classic map with standing neutrals. Kaner suggests maybe changing the opening unit types to a build start so Italy isn’t totally hamstrung (2 hrs 36 mins)
  • Amby discusses his next cab off the rank, a Roman Empire Crisis of the Third Century  variant (see previous discussion on this idea in episode 22) (2 hrs 41 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby briefly touches on a “true” Cold War map (but forgets about detail) and then discusses a proto-historical Colonial map of the American east coast and how to approach gunpowder European powers against Native Americans (2 hrs 45 mins 20 secs)
  • After another drink Kaner proposes a Khmer Empire map in southeast Asia. He goes onto discuss gopher’s idea of a White Russia vs Red Russia variant. Then he gives his thoughts of the colonisation of the East Indies (2 hrs 48 mins 45 secs)
  • They talk Melbourne shopping before announcing the show is no longer an Amazon affiliate (2 hrs 52 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner talks about being a Victorian with mix-allegiances and Australian namesays (2 hrs 55 mins)
  • The guys start wrapping up the episode (3 hrs 0 mins 45 secs)

Just a reminder you can support the show by giving it 5 stars on iTunes or Stitcher. And don’t forget if you want to help improve the audio equipment… or get the guys more drunk, you can also donate at Patreon

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe so you get the latest Diplomacy Games episodes straight to your phone.

Thanks as always to Dr Dan aka “The General” for his rockin’ intro tune.

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