Your enemy’s enemy is still your enemy….
A Diplomacy MP Beta AAR

Turkey – Tracid
Italy – Edi Birsan
England – Josephus 1
Russia, France, Germany and Austria-Hungary – AI players.

As a Beta Tester, you’re generally expected to be good at the game. Well, in my case, I had never played the game before I got to test the PC version. And while the Single Player mode offers many challenges (in fact, I got eliminated by the AI more than once!), the ultimate test of Diplomacy of course lies in multiplayer play.

For my first real mp game, I got together with Josephus I, playing as England, and DIPLOMACY guru Edi Birsan, playing as Italy. I got Turkey, since it is supposedly the easiest nation on the board, and against Edi, you need all the advantages you can get!

The game started off without many surprises. England was moving on Belgium and Norway, but got rebuffed repeatedly by Russia on the last one, while Italy and Turkey agreed to divide
Austria together. While I got Romania, Bulgaria and eventually Greece, Italy moved in on Vienna, Budapest, Trieste and Serbia. Not quite the fair trade that I had had in mind!

In Spring 1903 Austria was no more, as you can see on the enclosed screenshot, and while Italy and Turkey were expanding, England was in trouble! The French AI had managed to sneak by his navy and land on the British Isles, while the Russians were still stubbornly bouncing him in Norway. Here’s what Josephus had to say about his situation:

The trouble with the AI is that they’re too illogical to figure out. And even when they’re allied with you, you just can’t trust them. In a one human vs. 6 AI players, you will win. But with other humans, the AI can stunt your growth enough to let other humans win. This is what happened.
Right off the bat, I made an agreement with France, a NAP (non-aggression pact) with the English Channel as a DMZ (demilitarized zone). My goal was to enter the continent via Germany first. Get some quick supply centres…Norway, Belgium and either Kiel or Holland. But in Spring 01, France backstabbed me by moving to the Channel. Fortunately my usual British opening moves allowed me to block his anticipated move to London next turn. Russia surprised me. I knew it would move St. Petersburg) to Sweden, but its Moscow to St. Petersburg caught me off guard. I couldn’t take Norway. Even a supported move would be blocked. Desperate for a supply centre, in the Fall I sent North Sea to Belgium; tried Norwegian Sea to Norway and sent York to London. Belgium worked. Russia sent St. Petersburg to Norway but didn’t support it from Sweden, so we bounced. This went on all game, just about. I tried an alliance with Russia but they refused a DMZ in Norway, which I planned on breaking and so I was in a stalemate war with France and Russia.

After the end of Austria, Edi and I both went into different directions. I went into expansion against Russia to gain more supply centres, while Italy advanced into France and Iberia against a French AI overwhelmed with three fronts against Italy, England and Germany.
On the diplomatic scene, I tried my best to build an anti-Italy alliance, seeing as Edi was obviously on the road to a domination victory.

But unfortunately, those efforts also failed, since Edi had already beaten me to it on the negotiating table. An alliance with Russia, a non-aggression pact with Germany and deals with England to aid him against the French, all destroyed my hopes of finding real allies against the Green menace. So it was up to me to find a way to defend my position and keep him from gaining any more centres, at least in the East. Finally, in 1904, I declared war on Edi, hoping that he would be occupied enough in the West in order for me to take one or two centres back from him in the Balkans.

But he was already too strong, as I was soon to discover. Our first confrontations only resulted in an exchange of lands – and centres – as I took Greece and he took Romania, and I thought that I could hold him at bay for a few more turns while I once again tried to get at least England to oppose him openly in the West. In the meantime, Josephus had managed to take Norway, finally, but also lost Belgium in a combined French-German attack. But while I was desperately trying to fend off Edi’s land attacks on the Balkans, the decision would be brought about somewhere else – on the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Without enough units to cover both the Balkans and my Southern waters, I had allowed Italian fleets to slip in unchecked, and I was about to learn that this, for Turkey, was a big mistake!

"Courtesy of the inventor of the Lepanto!"

That was the in-game chat comment that accompanied this move, the double convoy from Naples to Syria, behind the flanks of my forces.
I was painfully reminded at that moment that Edi himself is the inventor of the Lepanto, and that he had been victorious in many battles with this move, against players much more experienced than me!

Here are Edi's comments on the whole war:

For the next few years Turkey was given a lesson on several things:
1. The Balloon Approach: choked in the South, the Turks were allowed to go rampaging North while the Italians just tightened the noose on the Balkans.
This put the Russians and later the German pieces at the disposal of the Pope since he kept taking their centers and over expanding North and the Pope kept proposing to support them against Turkish pieces. Lesson: when you have a major power you have declared war on, do not tick off the little guys around you.
2. The Lepanto convoy of Naples to Syria, not just once but twice so he could remember the technique. With the first Army going to Armenia and then Turkey surrounded on all sides it was not pretty.
3. The “Don't attack the supporter of an attack on yourself” lesson.
4. The “Do not defend Turkey with one fleet in the South” lesson.
While the education was taken place in the East, in the West, the Papal forces were easily welcomed in the Catholic territories of Spain, Portugal, Marseilles in a rather quick campaign, while the English kept the French occupied and fully focused by attacking them in Belgium and the Channel.
Finally with every proposal for a nice social draw being refused by the Jihadist, the Final Crusade was launched in the East called Operation HOLY MOLLY: Sevastapol, Constantinople, Smyna, and Rumania all fell, while in the West the Normans in Brest clearly wanted good Catholic Schools as opposed to British Fish and Chips stores and the British garrison at Denmark was bribed to support the Italians from Munich to Kiel.
So 1907 and time for a Benediction and all that other ritual stuff... as the Master Class Pope/Mentor leaves the scene.*

*referring to the Master class article series on

The screenshot of the beginning of the end, as Edi had already flooded into Sevastopol behind my back and his armies and navies surrounded me to deliver the final death blow only two turns later.
In the end, it was a valuable lesson for me by the very master of DIPLOMACY himself, and I will surely not make the same mistakes again playing Turkey! I learnt that even through the best of diplomatic deals, you should never forget the slogan of the DIPLOMACY game: “Your enemy’s enemy is still your enemy!”

Personal thanks to Susana and Jeanette from staff over this article.