Russia wrote a lovely EoG, especially the last full paragraph bolded. Here it is:


First, I want to thank George for serving as GM this game, my first real game of Diplomacy.

I also really am grateful to England and Italy, who gave me a huge amount of guidance and advice, and for sure helped me to understand enough about the game that I was able to be one of the surviving two players. England should really write a beginner's guide to Diplomacy - England, I might take a collection of your emails to me and post them somewhere, if I knew where - maybe Reddit?

And finally, I want to express my appreciation and admiration for Turkey, whose calm and even-tempered play style was a marked contrast to my own - and frankly, to the rest of you as well. By the middle of the game, he was the only player I would have been ok with losing to, and I played like that.

I figured I was starting the game with a target on my back, between having the extra unit and England declaring (even before we had picked nations) that the game should be "everyone against Russia." So I reached out to everyone from the outset and tried to forge lasting alliances. Austria was the only nation that didn't respond immediately and positively to my overtures, and a narrative seemed to form in my communications around "well, if Austria's not talking to me...who is he plotting against me with?" So when Germany said "go ahead and attack, I'm okay with that," I did. I was surprised that Germany didn't come to Austria's defense - but that will be for Germany to explain.

The ironic problem was that I now had no enemy, because I was in alliances with all 5 of the other players, who themselves were paired off in alliances. I tried mightily to convince England and Germany that neither could be trusted, and likewise with Turkey and Italy - but those alliances were too solid. So when Germany attacked me, it actually was a big help - I was able to convince Turkey and Italy to remain neutral while I defended myself against Germany, and ultimately to depict him (and by extension, England) as the evil powers that needed to be defeated.

However, once Germany fell, I was really in a bind. Turkey was insisting on a 3-way DIAS between Turkey, Italy and Russia and that I reduce in size and not grow any larger until they had caught up. England was encouraging me to break that alliance and go for a solo, which he would support me in achieving. And everyone - especially France - was annoyed with me for taking London.

When we went into the December recess, I had more or less resigned myself to sitting on the sidelines and waiting to see if Italy and Turkey would really eventually attack England, and then either accepting a DIAS or ending our alliance at that point. But I started to get restless, and ended up cooking up a strategy with England in which he would warn Italy and Turkey that I was about to stab, they would attack me preemptively, and I'd then be able to go to war with them without having to be the one to break the alliance. They saw right through this, of course.

At this point, I really had no idea what to do. There wasn't a way to win the game without stabbing an ally; I more or less asked Italy, "will you still be my friend if I now attack you?" I then made a complicated treaty with Turkey that gave me permission to attack Italy without him coming to Italy's aid, much as had happened earlier when England had stayed out of the war between Germany and me. I hoped I could take Italy's centers quickly enough that Turkey wouldn't be able to catch up, and that I'd take enough of England's centers to win the game while keeping him in until the final finish.

Of course, England was less on board with the idea of me taking his home centers than I realized - I truly thought that his offer to help me get to a solo would include him donating his centers to my cause, which in retrospect is characteristically egocentric of me. He was, expectedly, infuriated, so it came down in the end to having to fight both England and Turkey, or go for the DIAS. Since Turkey and I had agreed early in the process that it would be pretty terrific if two newbies at the table could ride the Juggernaut to a victory, I was definitely ok with that being the final resolution.

While I very much like the negotiating and the strategizing, and this game definitely was an incomparably more emotional experience than any I have ever played - I'm not sure whether, in the end, I would say that I liked it. In many other games, you need to trust other players and work together with them, but in this one, it feels like victory is predicated on deception. I played pretty much above board the entire game - I told people how I was going to move, and then moved as I said I would - but nevertheless was accused of lying by almost every player, almost every turn. It wasn't a pleasant experience. Waiting to see if your ally is going to stab you is sort of a fun anxious feeling but mainly a yucky one - and contemplating attacking the person who has trusted you over a period of months actually feels worse. It seems to me, as a beginner, that if you want to solo, you have to attack centers left undefended because the other person trusted you - and that feels cheap.

I guess if I were less concerned about some nebulous idea of playing with honor, I'd probably like the game more. Otherwise, I guess I would need to insist that all my treaties came with exit clauses.

Thanks to you all for putting up with my bullshit, and I look forward to a nice cooperative game with you all next time.