Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 50 – Interview with Zack Twamley from When Diplomacy Fails

Venue: Gilhooleys, Brisbane

Drinks of choice:

Kaner – Kilkenny, Ireland

Amby – Guinness, Ireland


Gilhooleys, BrisbaneThe guys interview Zack Twamley, the host of the history podcast When Diplomacy Fails. They talk about parallels between the game and real life events. Plus Google Translate chat and their first Face to Face game in Brisbane.


  • Kaner and Amby start by forgetting to introduce themselves before celebrating their 50th episode at Gilhooley’s Irish Pub and running through their drinks  (0 mins 5 secs)
  • They then discuss their upcoming guest, Zack Twamley, host of the history podcast When Diplomacy Fails (1 min 20 secs)
  • Zack recently completed an 85 episode series about the Treaty of Versailles and has name dropped the game Diplomacy a number of times on his podcast (2 mins)
  • Amby gives a quick run down about the Delegation Game that Zack ran which involved a lot of the same set of Diplomacy skills in drafting an alternate history Treaty of Versailles (3 mins)
  • The guys then throw to the interview (4 mins)

Interview with Zack Twamley from the When Diplomacy Fails podcast

  • Kaner and Amby welcome Zack to the show (4 mins 15 secs)
  • Zack talks about his recent holiday in Sicily. He discusses the books he took to read: Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets and Bernard Cornwell’s multi part series about the archer Thomas of Hookton. Amby touches on Kaner’s prior recommendation about Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian series beginning with The Winter King (5 mins)
  • Amby touches on Zack’s show and his occasional name dropping about the game Diplomacy. Zack talks about his experience with the game in a caravan one holiday and how it was so unlike any other game he’d played before (6 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby asks Zack to give his perspective on what makes Diplomacy very different to any other games (10 mins)
  • Amby touches on the recent interview with Baron von Powell and the random element in Diplomacy being the players and their behavior (11 mins 30 secs)
  • Zack asks about a couple of Baron’s variants, Amby explains particularly 1900 and its more historical bent (12 mins 40 secs)
  • Amby asks Zack about what 2 or 3 players in history would make excellent Diplomacy players (16 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby quotes Zack quoting Colonel House in episode 73 of When Diplomacy Fails, talking about Lloyd George which sounds like a critique of a Diplomacy player. He goes onto discuss House’s thoughts about the main contenders in Paris after World War One (22 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby asks who was a poor Diplomacy player at the peace conference, Zack then discusses who was a surprisingly good player (26 mins 45 secs)
  • They discuss the similarities and differences between When Diplomacy Fails and Diplomacy Game (35 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby talks about Zack’s “The Delegation Game” and to what extent it turned out the way he expected (36 mins 50 secs)
  • Zack discusses which players of the Delegation Game he felt would make great Diplomacy players (41 mins)
  • Amby touches on Zack’s other job as a university lecturer discussing European politics. He queries the nature of Brexit and how it relates to the game Diplomacy (44 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner asks about what historical similarities to Brexit are there (48 mins 50 secs)
  • The guys ask Zack where Diplomacy Games listeners can go to if they want to learn more about his show (57 mins 40 secs)
  • The three guys talk about an online collaboration game (1 hr 0 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby provides info to Zack’s audience if they want to learn more about Diplomacy Games, finding face to face communities and online Diplomacy sites (1 hr 1 min 20 secs)
  • The guys start wrapping up the interview (1 hr 4 mins)

Post interview chat

  • Kaner and Amby return post-interview and give a few apologies (1 hr 5 mins 15 secs)
  • They talk about how good it would be to get Zack in a game and set a goal for episode 100 (1 hr 6 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby reflects that in addition to this being episode 50, when this episode drops its been 3 years since the podcast started (1 hr 7 mins 45 secs)

Around the grounds

  • The guys start talking about their current online games. Kaner begins by discussing his three Renovatio Europa games (1 hr 9 mins)
  • Kaner poses some questions about the connection between the Red Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in this variant. Amby agrees with Kaner’s argument on the ahistorical nature of this connection. They discuss options for how to maybe manage cross-African journeys. They also touch on which powers appear to be consistently doing overly well. Kaner talks about his games (1 hr 10 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby discusses his Renovatio Europa games. They discuss how players can “kiss and make up” in gunboat games despite initial conflict (1 hr 18 mins)
  • Amby turns to his anonymous Divided States game which has been going over a year in real life (over 40 game years) which is starting to plateau. He discusses the recent changes in alliance blocks on the board (1 hr 20 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby says he’s been eliminated in his Versailles game at PlayDip, but his War of the Americas game is still going (1 hr 25 mins)
  • The guys talks about Amby’s Google Translate Diplomacy game with a couple of choice quotes (1 hr 26 mins)
  • They agree to head to their live face to face game and come back to discuss it and the Translate game in more detail (1 hr 28 mins)

Post live face-to-face game wrap up with Tony the Butcher from PlayDip

  • Brisbane Backstabbers Diplomacy groupThe guys introduce Tony the Butcher (a PlayDip player) who attended the face to face game in Brisbane. He played as Austria and got the equal highest number of SCs at the end of the game. Incidentally Amby drew Turkey and Kaner got France (1 hr 28 mins)
  • They talks about the newer players Tristan, Beth and Ty and how they did well. Strangely enough Rob who was the most experienced player got smashed up a bit (1 hr 30 mins)
  • Amby reflects that he didn’t get the same adreniline rush in this game as the Melbourne Open. They discuss having regular games now in Brisbane every two months (1 hr 33 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby asks Tony about his experiences at PlayDip. Kaner discusses using the Fog of War map as a taster for Classic players to try variants (1 hr 34 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner shows Tony the Renovatio Europa 34 player variant and talks about the board and playing a map of this type. Amby explains how sealanes and overseer zones (1 hr 36 mins 30 secs)

Google Translate game

  • Kaner and Amby discuss the Google Translate game going on at vDip using the Aberration V map. Players need to push their message through at least seven languages. All are published on full press (1 hr 39 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner reads some sample recent messages (1 hr 41 mins 30 secs)
  • They discuss the nature of this being an unrated game. They ask about ratings at PlayDip (1 hr 45 mins)
  • Kaner talks about his recent win as Russia in a 1898 Fog of War game (1 hr 48 mins)
  • Amby digresses about the face to face game and seeing less experienced players not understanding the rules/writing orders. They talk about what’s easy in the game to pick up and what’s not (1 hr 51 mins 30 secs)
  • They ask Tony about his experience playing his first face to face game in a while (1 hr 54 mins)
  • Kaner talks about how in face to face you notice who is talking to who and how animated they can be and how you don’t get that in online games. They talk about how the game ebbed and flowed (1 hr 55 mins)
  • The guys wrap up (1 hr 59 mins)

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 or you can also shop at Amazon using our affiliate link. It costs exactly the same to you, but Amazon give us a small cut and it doesn’t cost you a cent more!

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

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