|Well, so much for all the talk about building consensus. The endgame proposals fail anyway.
There is great confusion, thrusting, and counter-thrusting in the Balkans. A tactical gem here, a defensive brainstorm there – but in the end, the Austrian and French foes cancel each... er... excuse me... hold on a second... I have received a short missive marked "Priority" from the English centurion on the field of combat. Give me a second while I put on my glasses here to read what it says...
"Veni, vidi, vici."
"Galia est pacata."
My, oh my! It seems that, while the diplomats were unable to negotiate a peace, the generals went and claimed it on the field of battle. England wins. Let me repeat that: England wins. With the additions of Rumania and Sevastopol to his portfolio, he tallies the magical 18. Dirk Knemeyer, vir triumphalis. Crown him with laurels. Parade him in triumph through the streets of London. Let there be displays of captured riches including elephants, Austrian double-headed eagles, German techno music, and Russian hats with furry ear-flaps. (Let a slave stand in his chariot and whisper, "All glory is fleeting.")
"Danger knows full well
That Caesar is more dangerous than he:
We are two lions littered in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible."
I take this moment to recollect that Dirk was not an original member of this game. He stepped in as a replacement in Fall 1904 for Stephan who regretfully had to resign. Stephan left Dirk a fluid position which could have gone one of many ways. Dirk, deftly steered it through the ambiguous years to come and clearly emerged as the beast on the board. Congratulations, Dirk.
The English centurion has also left words of wisdom for the other players.
"Experience is the teacher of all things."
I don’t know how much you have enjoyed this game (usually, by the end of a game, many players have lost their zest for it), but defeat/failure is indeed the best teacher, and I think DC 373 would be an exemplary teaching game, featuring many common Diplomacy themes. There were disabused newbies, blood-curdling stabs, carebear alliances, puppets, attrition, victory, and above all, personalities. I invite you to share your reflections in end-of-game statements (often one of the best parts of the game, I think).
Of the surviving losers (the eliminated players have each already received their own send-offs), I offer the following observation from Julius Caesar himself:
Roughly translated: they wanted it so. Or, as Shakespeare put it (which I did quote earlier in the game):
"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
As with any Diplomacy solo, the victory would not have been possible without the deeds of the vanquished.
Jack, Mark, and Maslow, I hope you will forgive me for tagging each of you with a quote from Shakespeare:
Maslow: Thank you for taking over the abandoned German position; I am always grateful to replacement players. [Note: Matt O’Donnell did eventually contact me following his abandonment, but I decided that five days late for a deadline was too late, even though he was otherwise a reliable player – I was sorry to lose him]. Your decision to play for survival by playing loyal Janissary was well-executed and merits you the following:
You are my true and honourable wife,
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart.
Mark: Somewhere during this game, you let go of the reins, and by the time you looked around for them, they were firmly in Dirk’s grasp. I appreciated the many times you shared with me your perspective on the board and your plans – they made my experience infinitely more enjoyable. It also enabled me to better witness your transition from 'playing the board' to 'being played' (which may or may not be a fair characterization).
Forever, and forever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then this parting was well made
Jack: A reliable, bulldog performance through all the years, and yet you ended isolated and friendless after your allies were picked off one by one. Still, you dutifully submitted orders and soldiered on long after hope had left the building, and I appreciate that a lot. "It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience."
This was the noblest Roman of them all;
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He, only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, 'This was a man!'
Again – end-of-game statements are welcomed, nay, encouraged. Caesar narrated his wars, do thou no less!
Fall 1917 Adjudication
f aeg-gre (*Fails*)
f adr-tri (*Bounce*)
a tyr s f adr-tri
a alb-ser (*Fails*)
a rum s a alb-ser (*Dislodged*)
a bul s a alb-ser (*Cut*)
Army Trieste unordered
F Bal H
A Bel H
F Den - NTH
F Eng - MAO
A Gal - Rum
F Hel H
F ION - Tun
A Kie - Mun
F MAO - Wes
A Mos H
A Mun - Boh
F NTH - Eng
A Sev S Gal - Rum
A Sil - Gal
A Vie H
A War H
Army Marseilles HOLD
Fleet Piedmont HOLD
Fleet Venice Support Army Serbia Move To Trieste
Fleet Tyrhennian Sea Move To Naples
Fleet Naples Move To Apulia
Army Rome Support Fleet Venice
Army Serbia Move To Trieste (*Bounce*)
Fleet Greece Move To Bulgaria (*Fails*)
Ukr to Rum (*Fails*)