I have to confess, I have (as I routinely do) forgotten my Redscape login and so, rather than trying to figure it out (i.e., resetting my password for the 500th time), I thought I would just include it here. I'm replying to all to make sure everyone gets a chance to see it, but George, please feel free to post it on the forum as well.

First off, thanks to all of you who remain for a well-played game. This was a bit of an odd one for me because, frankly, I think it has probably been years since I played a standard game. It seems like I only play about a game per year now and usually it's a variant, so getting back to standard was both nice and jarring. I admittedly stumbled my way through the first couple of game years trying to find my rhythm. That meant being a little unnecessarily aggressive and stabby with England. On one hand I stand behind the early aggressive play, but on the other hand it's clear I chose the wrong ally and enemy. From early correspondence with Rob (our initial Germany), I thought he would jump on board with an F/G alliance. Had it worked, I would have had the early jump on the majority of English centers and be able to quickly pivot south. Meanwhile, I expected Germany after his big opening year to put pressure on Austria an Russia.

My early game fell apart when Germany became both paranoid of me and extremely passive in his play. In addition, the strong Austria/Italy alliance in combination with passive German play made clear I would be on the defensive in the Mediterranean earlier than expected. When Germany became non-responsive (previewing his subsequent NMR), things started to look bad for me. I would not be able to both finish off England and pivot to stop Italy without active German help.

That's when Brad (England) saved my game. I can't say enough positive things about a player who is willing to set a stab aside, collaborate with the person who stabbed him to fight against a bigger threat, and remain active throughout the game even though he's been pushed to the brink of elimination. While it's possible that my stab of England would have paid off with a different/more active Germany, I would like to see what would have happened in a version of this game where I had allied with England from the start.

Anyhow, the rest of the story is pretty clear from the map. I was able to wrangle Brad and our new Germany on board just in the nick of time to force the stalemate line against Austria/Italy. Compliments to Freeman and Matt on putting together one of the stronger Austria/Italy alliances I've seen. Unfortunately, the key lepanto put a target on your back and made it very clear to everyone that you had to be stopped. Thanks also to Jon for hopping on board and working with me to craft the stalemate strategy after Rob disappeared on us. You could have made a deal with A/I that would have let them break through the line and it's a totally different game if that happens.

At the end of the day, a 5-way DIAS is kind of a "meh" way to win any diplomacy game. Here, however, I have to take particular pride in it because the game could have gone so very differently. Against such a powerful Austria/Italy alliance, there would be no stalemate without Germany and England's collaboration with me. I would have settled for a 6-way DIAS if Russia had remained on board, but once he turned state's evidence for A/I, the writing was on the wall for him. I know Italy and Austria would have liked to see me knock off England at least, but that was never going to happen after how much support Brad gave me in forcing this stalemate, especially after he had relatively little reason to trust me following my early stab.

And lastly, many thanks to George for running a smooth, well adjudicated game. The best GMs are the ones who make you forget that there's a person on one end keeping the ship running and inputting the orders. This one was pretty flawless.