The blessed day has come! After 35 weeks of battle, peace has broken out in Europe! By unanimous agreement of all surviving parties, I hereby declare this game to have ended in a 2-way draw.
Congratulations to our co-winners, Sun Chung (Austria) and Alex Bennett (Italy)!
Sun and Alex richly deserve the prize. I can honestly say I have never seen a gunboat alliance hold up for 17-and-a-half years. Heck, I've never seen a gunboat game last 17-and-a-half years, period.
Kudos, as well, to all the survivors, along with my thanks for playing hard and sticking it out to the end. We had our troubles along the way, didn't we? Seems not everyone possesses sufficient mettle for a marathon game such as this. Before I proceed with my comments, here is your game roster.
Austria Sun Chung 1901-1918 Draw
England (1) Brian Lam 1901-1909 Abandon (3 NMRs)
England (2) Jess Morse 1910-1918 Survival
France Scott Hickey 1910-1918 Survival
Germany (1) Marc Peters 1901-1914 Abandon (3 NMRs)
Germany (2) Paul Russell 1915-1918 Survival
Italy Alex Bennett 1901-1918 Draw
Russia Nathan Merritt 1901-1918 Survival
Turkey Jeffrey Clay 1901-1915 Eliminated
Special thanks to Jess and Paul, who stepped in to save the game when the original players dropped out. Jess is my daughter, and this was her first try at on-line Diplomacy. Baby steps, right? She was quite happy that the draw passed this turn. France and Germany had submitted moves that would have eliminated her.
Paul is an old friend and fellow dipper from way, way back. He introduced me to the game 30 years ago and, in fact, I still have the board and wooden pieces he gifted me with when he moved away.
(And just in case you're wondering, no, neither of them knew that the other was playing. I run a respectable game.)
Nathan was also a DC newbie. I think Russia had perhaps the most up and down game, but it was a fun one to watch. Hiding out in Scandinavia was a pretty clever move at the end, too. If you'd stayed home to fight, I think an elimination was a certainty.
Special congrats also go out to our Sultan, Jeff Clay, who stuck with his position for years on 1 dot until he was finally eliminated -- our one and only! -- in 1915. Somehow I think that the arrival of a new daughter at Jeff's house during the game more than made up for the pain of losing.
GM's End of Game Comments
Those of you who were here from the beginning may have a hard time remembering, but this game was started as a Fleet Rome variant, meaning that Italy started with a fleet in Rome instead of an army. The whole point of this arrangement is to make it easier for Austria and Italy to cooperate. I guess that worked as advertised, didn't it!
My gunboat experience is reasonably extensive, and what that experience has taught me is that Austria typically does not last long. Even worse than in regular Dip, where it is hard enough to survive playing the red. No matter which direction the easterners start off, after a couple of years, when the neutrals have been snagged and there is a big logjam in the Balkans, it seems that inevitably R/T/I become frustrated and, unable to communicate, take the easy way out and carve up Austria. On those occasions where Austria and Italy do seem to cooperate at the beginning, as soon as one or the other gets a couple of builds, the stab soon follows.
I thought we might have the same thing here, when Austria "accidentally" took Venice early on. In theory, he was protecting it from Russian aggression (ah, the mad Russian and his army in Piedmont... remember that?) but once he was there, I was surprised that (a) he never left and (b) he never went any further and (c) Italy never tried to reclaim it. As it turned out, it seemed that turning over Venice to Austria, worked to solidify the A/I alliance in a number of ways:
1. It gave Austria a place to park his fleet. He would never build another.
2. It eliminated the possibility of the quick stab from Italy.
3. It allowed Italy to focus 100% on the Med, since he didn't need to hang back to protect Venice or Rome.
Of course, none of that was inevitable in the beginning. How much of this was influenced by the Fleet Rome starting position as opposed to just having two players who were willing and able to pull of the game-long alliance? I'd welcome your comments on this question.
As solid as the A/I alliance was, it certainly didn't look like a world beater from the beginning. Germany, in particular, had multiple chances to seize the reins, but a combination of oddly cautious play and untimely NMR's, he consistently shot himself in the foot. England likewise started strong only to be done in by NMR's even more than the Russians.
My overall impression of this game, especially in the early to middle years, was that it was very conservatively played. Beside Germany, I thought France and Austria also had their chances to bust out and make a solo bid, but it never happened. I'm not going to go back and compile statistics, but I have distinct memories of a couple of turns where multiple players just sat tight and supported themselves from imagined attacks that never occurred. Hey, easy for me to talk, isn't it? :-)
I've attached the final Realpolitik file for your perusal. The final map you already have from last turn.
End of game statements from players are welcome. You now have everyone's address, and you should also copy the game forum as I've done.
Thanks very much to everyone for playing. Good luck in the Blitz, if you're playing, and whatever future Diplomatic adventures you may embark upon. It has been my pleasure to GM for you, and I hope you enjoyed the experience and will come back for more.