From Natus:

I'll make this short and rancid: I was very pleased with my Diplomacy pre-winter holiday initiatives, but after the holiday, I simply could not get my concentration back, with disastrous results. The black mark I earned with this game can only be expunged by plentiful amounts of bourbon and a ****ton of hosting. Considering that I'm known as "Mr. Diplomacy", an NMR and serial order mistakes have corroded my (questionable) honor. Very depressing, and all of this simply made my in-game defeat all the more ignominious.

Where the canker truly gnaws, however, is that my entire objective was to prevent a Russo-Turkish alliance. Had Archduke and Kaiser been more aware of the danger, I believe we could have gutted either Turkey or Russia early on. But given that Austria was basically non-communicative for the early negotiations, I had to dance with R/T, and quickly, or I might become an Italian appetizer. Once the game started, the knives were already sharpened for Austria, and there was not much he could do about it.

As we were dismembering Austria, surely, I thought, surely Russia or Turkey would want my help taking a bite out of the other. But they individually resisted all my entreaties and initiatives. Tsar went so far as to tell me that if I was going to stab Turkey (my first choice), not to tell him. That meant I was going to have to block Turkey's expansion on my own, making myself vulnerable to an already strong Russia, unless...

Unless...why did I have to fight Turkey? Why not re-write the script? Why not create a fourth Triumvirate and invade the West, smashing the western powers before they realized the danger? Once Turkish fleets were in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, THEN I could stab without fear of a long, protracted struggle. And it worked! We had a few nail-biting seasons where it looked as if England, Germany, and France might band together to stop us (after all, what Italian ruler would encourage Turkish galleys to sail the Mediterranean?), but success in the north was almost immediate, with Germany collapsing and England retreating.

I must pause here to say that I could never get a good diplomatic fix on any of the western powers. It just seemed easier to deal with the devils I knew rather than craft a whole new relationship, especially when Turkey and Russia were so strong. King Jonbone and I went back and forth and forth and back over the imminent danger of a Russian solo victory, but we never could manage to work together, so while I dithered, Turkey and Russia simply got stronger and stronger. Worse was that this unorthodox relationship had pulled me way out of alignment. I could only defend the German centers I took with Russia's forbearance. If that changed...

After the holiday break, England had obviously gotten to Russia (using old yearbook photos I have no doubt), and thus the Tsar turned on Turkey and I with the kind of over-acting that Gary Oldman is famous for. I did my best to dissuade Russia from turning on me, but the fact was that it was the right move, particularly if he wanted to win. I expected Turkey to help me fight Russia in the east and in the west, but Turkey's objections were almost nonexistent. I was well and truly hoisted on my own petard, and feeling very glum and helpless. Turkey and England were worse than useless, and Russia started crunching in to my ill-aligned forces. My late and badly written orders only made things worse. I had failed to break up the R/T and had now become a victim of my own cleverness. My life story, apparently.

When Turkey launched his fleets at my almost undefended Italian centers, I couldn't even manage a word of protest. Why shouldn't he? Turkey and Russia were doing what they should have been doing. I was the fool who had pushed them into the west with little thought to what came after. I was the one with misaligned forces and undefended centers. Why shouldn't they gut me? I had been stretched out and dismembered on my own Procrustean bed, and I heartily deserved every word of derision I received. That I was vanquished before the sneering English king added insult to considerable self-injury.

Bravo to the steady Russia-Turkey combine (is anyone surprised at that win?), and many thanks to George for hosting and dealing with my repeat failings. Back to remedial Diplomacy!

Re Soldato Natus