I’m out on the patio, enjoying a cigar after a long evening of organizing the hall closet in preparation for our new arrival—which is coming like a freight train, by the way—and to be honest, I’d be a lot happier if I had a can of Raid by my side. On this evening in the city, the bugs are a little too comfortable for my liking. Anyway, read on for the latest news from the North American hobby.
Must Hear Air
It’s difficult to recall life without the DiplomacyCast. Eric Mead and Nathan Barnes released their 17th episode on Wednesday, and they’ve delivered another fantastic show.
This time around, recurring guest Matt Shields joins our intrepid hosts in the studio for an episode devoted entirely to tournament scoring systems. Let’s face it, though many of us like to claim otherwise, we love talking about scoring systems. And guess what? Listening to these guys talk about them is just as fun.
They devote sufficient time to the three broad categories of systems: Draw-based, currently played only at DixieCon; lead- or rank-based; and center-based. And they wrap up with a lengthy discussion of the Sum of Squares system, which we’ll feature at the World Diplomacy Championship at Weasel Moot VI in August.
If you’re planning to attend WDC, then do yourself a favor and tune in. You can download the 17th episode at iTunes or DiplomacyCast.com. Barnes, Mead and Shields offer a lot of great advice for playing in the Sum of Squares system.
The Windy City Weasels have been playing the system in our league for the past two years, so I’ll briefly add a couple of comments.
First, while some of the Weasels are much better at calculating scores on the fly than I am (current league leader Peter Lokken comes to mind), I can tell you that all you really need to know is that separation is the key and that the magic number is four. You want to top the board by four or more centers, if you can.
As Shields points out in the episode, with two drop rounds at WDC, you’re going to need some big scores to challenge for the championship. The key to garnering more than half the points is to top by four or more and to keep the other counts as low as you can. 12-8-8-6 gets you 46.8 points. That’s a nice score. But 12-8-5-5-4 gets you 52.6. Those additional points could mean the difference between playing for the world championship and watching from the sidelines.
Second, as one of them—Mead, I think—points out, the system leads to fluid play, which is why we adopted it. However, while Mead points to cross-stalemate line play, I’ve found that the fluidity tends to happen within the heartlands.
Anyway, it’s a great episode and one that ended too soon. Kudos to Mead and Barnes for another great show. I can’t wait for the next one.
Haver Spills More Blood
“Freedom!” cried William Wallace, as he captured his neutrals.
Josh Hamilton, meanwhile, knocked his out of the park.
William Wallace and Josh Hamilton. They’re hardly household names in our Diplomacy hobby, but they may be one day thanks to the ongoing efforts of organizer Thomas Haver.
The Columbus, Ohio, resident held another of his recruiting tournaments at the Origins Game Fair last weekend. Despite a down year in attendance for the convention, he pulled in 32 players on six boards. For 19 of them, it was their first exposure to tournament Diplomacy. Eleven of them, including three women, were playing for the first time, period.
“Fun is No. 1,” Haver says of his approach to recruiting. “Whatever I feel personally about Dip tournaments is inconsequential so long as they have fun.”
To that end, Haver prefers to manually seed boards to separate the sharks from the novices.
“A new player could ‘wreck’ the game of an experienced player and vice versa because they may not have the same goals,” he says. By manually seeding boards when appropriate, he ensured that “the experienced players were happy, the new players were happy, and everyone wins.
I work my hardest to align the players’ expectations with their outcomes.”
Ohio native Chris Glassburn (who has attended every Weasel Moot, by the way) won the event, racking up three Best Country awards (Austria, Germany and Russia) in the process. Glenn Gasner placed second and won Best England and Best New Player. Dan Burleson took third along with Best France. The other Best Country awards were claimed by Greg Koeser (Italy) and Clark Goldentyer (Turkey).
Haver also scored big at last year’s Buckeye Game Fest with 15 new players among the 27 who played.
His efforts deserve our praise, certainly, but more than that, our support. In August, he’ll expose more new players to our hobby at WBC and GenCon (where 52 players participated in his intro rounds last year) and again at the Buckeye Game Fest in the Fall. But to activate them, he needs our help.
“The number of new players looks nice,” Haver says, “but unless we can actually connect them with local hobbies or other events, then we’re not doing our job completely. … We can begin by [distributing] business cards or pamphlets for local hobbies at each of these large conventions. Not everyone will be interested, but a professional advertisement will go a long way toward recruiting interested players to more events.”
Haver suggests business cards because they fit easily in a wallet or purse, but he’ll distribute whatever we send him. He’s giving us a wonderful opportunity to sell our hobby. Let’s not waste it.
As we all know all too well, finding six other players for a game of Diplomacy isn’t easy. We need to draw Haver’s recruits into our hobby before their enthusiasm wanes. With a modest amount of effort from you, maybe Josh Hamilton will homer in one of your games.
Long Live the Queen
Conrad Woodring has followed his career to Gabon in West Africa. Replacing him as president of the North American Diplomacy Federation is the Dancing Queen, Chris Martin.
The Maryland resident and former world champ wants to make quick progress on a ratings system. He is talking to Parisian Laurent Joly, the keeper of the World Diplomacy Database, about obtaining North American results from the past three years, and he has tapped fellow PTKSers Peter Yeargin and Joe Wheeler to develop the system. It likely will be an Elo-style system.
Martin has also been working to identify potential bidders for next year’s DipCon and for the 2014 WDC. According to the DipCon Society Charter, 2013 DipCon bids are due this weekend.
He has also talked with Edi Birsan, the hobby’s Yoda, about restarting efforts to obtain prize support from Hasbro.
When he catches his breath, he’ll share his vision for the hobby. Stay tuned.
Grand Prix Rumbles toward August Gauntlet
The Grand Prix standings have been updated through DixieCon, the fifth step of the circuit. You can check out the standings here.
Adam Sigal, who grabbed the lead out of the gate with his victory at WACCon, is still in first. The Penn State law student has scored three events and has 217.61 points. Players score their best four events.
Pursuing him are Nate Cockerill of Chicago with 182.45 points in three events; Andy “Buffalo” Bartalone of Maryland, 173.44 points and two events; Peter Yeargin of Virginia, 148.87 points and two events; and Jim O’Kelley of Chicago, 135.81 points and two events. A total of 97 players have competed in the five events to date.
Next up on the circuit is the Boston Massacre, which will be June 23-24 in Cambridge, Mass. Then comes the August gauntlet. In successive weeks, we’ll see the World Boardgaming Championship in Lancaster, Penn., Aug. 3-4; the World Diplomacy Championship at Weasel Moot VI in Chicago, Ill., Aug. 10-12; and HuskyCon X in Setauket, N.Y., Aug. 17-19.
“Adam Sigal is still leading,” notes Grand Prix Administrator Matt Shields, “but there are so many points at stake over the summer that anything could happen.”
Husky’s purse has averaged more than 150 points the past four years, for example, and WDC could reach the maximum purse of 300 points. Of course, to win the Grand Prix, a player must compete in at least two events, so winning WDC alone won’t get it done.
Still, the serious contenders will have to run the gauntlet.
Next up on the Grand Prix Circuit
Looming on the horizon are the summer giants.
Aug. 3-4: World Boardgaming Championships, Lancaster, Penn., www.boardgamers.org/wbc/schedule.htm.
Aug. 10-12: World Diplomacy Championship at Weasel Moot VI, Chicago, Ill., www.windycityweasels.org/wdc.
Aug. 17-19: HuskyCon X, Setauket, N.Y., huskycon.com.
Look Who’s Coming to World DipCon
The 2012 World Diplomacy Championship tips off in just 63 days. The attendee list is now up to 74. See who’s coming here, and then make your plans to attend.
The event will be Aug. 10-12 at the historic Congress Plaza Hotel in downtown Chicago. Preregistration is now open and will save you $10. For more information, including lodging options, and to preregister, please visit windycityweasels.org/wdc. Check us out on Facebook here.
While the Weasels are enthusiastically preparing for Worlds, they first must slug it out for their league championship and the seven Weasel Royale bids. Weasels league play normally runs from September through August, but to accommodate WDC, the Weasels’ seventh season will end July 14 at the seventh annual Weasel Pyle. Players had two more opportunities to shake up the standings last week.
On Thursday, Jim O’Kelley topped a board at Guthrie’s Tavern in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood, scoring enough points to leapfrog Mike Morrison into second place. The standings are based on each player’s top three scores.
The game ended by time limit after Fall 1906 in the following center counts:
Austria (Mike Morrison): 2
England (Ted McClelland): 7
France (Jim O’Kelley): 10
Germany (Carlos Otero): 0
Italy (Ben DiPaola): 4
Russia (Matt Sundstrom): 5
Turkey (Ulysses Peterson): 6
Two days later, six of the same players gathered at Ted McClelland’s home in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood. We had trouble finding a seventh for this game, so DiPaola and I agreed to tag-team the seventh spot. He started the game, and I relieved him after my morning obligation and before his afternoon meeting. Per our club rules, neither one of us scored.
This time, Morrison topped the board, and he leapfrogged me back into second place. The game ended by draw vote in Spring 1907 in the following center counts:
Austria (Carlos Otero): 4
England (Aash Anand): 1
France (Mike Whitty): 6
Germany (Mike Morrison): 9
Italy (Matt Sundstrom): 1
Russia (Ted McClelland): 5
Turkey (Ben DiPaola; Jim O’Kelley): 8
The Weasels also played on Sunday of last week, as reported in last week’s issue. A total of 12 unique players participated in the three games, and by week’s end, the top seven spots remained unchanged. Morrison, however, narrowed the gap atop the standings to less than two points.
The Weasels have scheduled three more events, including the Pyle, and they’re planning to schedule at least one more bar event. The contest could go right down to the wire. Morrison’s low score is 36.2. Lokken’s lowest is 39.6.
Here’s what’s going on in the hobby hotbeds. If we’ve missed your hobby, let us know!
See the seventh story. In their seventh season of play, the Weasels have logged 35 games with 76 unique players participating. They have three more events scheduled, culminating in the seventh annual Weasel Pyle on July 14. Learn more about the Weasels at www.windycityweasels.org.
Doug Kent is thinking about hosting a round or two of Diplomacy at TexiCon in Fort Worth, complete with awards if there’s sufficient interest. The Texas Yahoo group is here: games.groups.yahoo.com/group/texas-diplomacy.
The PTKSers are organizing at least one board for June 17 at Peter Yeargin’s home in Herndon. They may also field a board on June 24 at Ed Prem’s home. The Potomac Tea & Knife Society’s website is ptks.org. You can subscribe to the group’s occasionally hyperactive Diplist at ptks.org/community.php.
Nothing new to report. If you’re in the Detroit area, check out their Yahoo group at games.groups.yahoo.com/group/detroitdiplomacy.
Nothing new to report.
The New Englanders are gearing up for the Boston Massacre in two weeks. The list is here: groups.yahoo.com/group/MADip-L. The New England website is nedip.org. Organizer Alex Amann also has created a Meetup page. It’s here, www.meetup.com/New-England-Diplomacy/.
New York City
The New Yorkers have big plans.
Six of them gathered at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden on Saturday for a game. Tony Laufgraben’s Germany topped the board with 11. Next, they’re planning to play tomorrow in Central Park. And they’d like to trek to New Haven, Conn., to play with Evil Phil Weissert.
Organizer Robert Premus is also trying to, what else, organize a convoy to Chicago for WDC, and he’s also talking about running a small-scale tournament in September.
It’s been quite a year for Premus and the New York hobby. Follow the New Yorkers on Twitter @DiplomacyNYC. New York has a Yahoo group here, games.groups.yahoo.com/group/NYC-Diplomacy. In addition, there’s a Meetup group here, www.meetup.com/diplomacy-6, and a Google group here, groups.google.com/group/new-york-diplomacy.
The Vancouver guys are organizing back-to-back games at Jay Heumann’s place on June 23 and 24. They’re also planning to hold their first VanDipCon Sept. 21-23 at the Holiday Inn Vancouver. Stay tuned for more information.
The Pacific Northwest Diplomacy community has a Yahoo group here, games.groups.yahoo.com/group/Northwest_Diplomacy, but its Facebook page, the Greater Cascadia Diplomacy Consortium, is much more active. Check it out here.
The Philadelphia Meetup page will disappear in three days if no one steps up to serve as its organizer. That would be a shame, too, because the group has a seven players and a location, Redcap’s Corner, for their first game in more than a year. In addition to a leader, all they need now is a date for said game. The group’s Meetup page is here: www.meetup.com/Philadelphia-Diplomacy-Club.
Nothing new to report. Check out the group’s guild page at www.boardgamegeek.com/guild/1171.
That’s all for this week. See you next week!