Diplomacy Academy – 2. Tempo

Chris Martin’s Diplomacy Academy is a great – if small – resource. I’ve looked at it before and thought, today, while I’m working on a book called “The ABC of Diplomacy” I’d write a post reviewing the second video in the series.

I’ve got to be honest, the second video is hard to review without going through the whole video and I’m not going to do that. Far too long! So – rather than focus on the Adriatic Alliance (Austro-Italian alliance) that is in play here – I’d focus on what Chris has to say about tempo.

What is ‘tempo’? Well, if you know something about music, which I really don’t, you’ll know it is the speed or pace the music is played. Pace in music works to produce an emotional response: if the piece is played quickly, it builds energy; if it is played slowly, rather than negative energy, it produces a relaxed feeling. As an example, imagine the finale to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture played slowly!

‘Tempo’ in English comes from the Italian where it means ‘time’. I’m not going to go through a list of words derived from tempo… you get the meaning.

Away from music, tempo also means speed. And this is the case in Diplomacy, where it relates to the speed at which a player makes progress in the game.

Martin uses the Austro-Italian alliance from a game to demonstrate the pace at which that alliance moves and how this changes the game. Incidentally, this game is also a master class in how Austria can win games. Although the alliance lasts a while, there’s no Carebearism in play here!

Martin looks at the position the two powers have reached in 1902 and shows how, by 1904, they’ve pretty much taken control of the game. It demonstrates the success the alliance has because it tempo and trust.

There are opportunities for Austria to stab Italy. In 1902, Italy has moved away from Venice and Austria builds an army in Trieste. Austria then moves Trieste to Venice but the army moves through Venice to Piedmont. Italy could have succumbed to paranoia at this point and stopped working with Austria – they had an army in Tyrolia at the point Austria built in Trieste; that Italian army might have covered Venice or moved to Trieste. It didn’t.

What both players are doing is trusting each other. Both have realised that working together is more important to take the game by the scruff of the neck. And they move through.

By the end of 1904, they’ve worked with Russia to get that power out of a desperate position and eliminate Turkey. They’ve broken a Germany that seemed to be in a strong position. They’ve captured Marseille from France – an Austrian army – at a time when France is embroiled in England.

There’s no doubt that France made an error. They moved a fleet to the Mid-Atlantic Ocean in 1903 but held it there: Martin points out the error. What he assumes France is doing is resisting moving that fleet to Spain, from where it could have prevented the loss of Marseille, because the French player didn’t want to move it south if they didn’t need to do so. Martin also suggests that Austria could have sold A Tri-Ven as a stab on Italy to France; possible.

If you watch the video, you’ll see just how the Austro-Italian alliance achieves this success. It’s impressive. Of course, we don’t know whether they know each other but they certainly showed that they were prepared to trust each other and put progress ahead of defence.

This is difficult to do in an online game. It’s much more difficult to judge whether you should be trusting someone of not. It takes a lot of work to keep the tempo in an alliance going, especially with the Adriatic Alliance but also with any alliance where the powers can’t help building next to the ally.

It would be great to see the communications between the two players. They will have reinforced the aims of the alliance and continually built on common goals. In short, trust will have been emphasised all the time.

Eventually, Austria went on to win the game. It was a classic example of how to achieve this – Italy’s units were separated from their home SCs, and they were split between west and east. This meant that, when Austria did stab Italy, Italy had no answer. And, of course, Russia was left in a position from which they weren’t able to survive without Austrian support.

I believe online players struggle to recognise the importance of tempo in an alliance. If you can build trust and push the alliance into a position from which it can take control of the game, you’re going to do well.

And, if you want to make sure you can get a great result from the game, rather than taking that alliance all the way, you can put yourself in a position to finally take a shot at a win.

Published by Mal Arky

I'm a Diplomacy nut... if you haven't guessed. I write about the game Diplomacy, mainly as played online on websites, such as Playdiplomacy, webDiplomacy and Backstabbr. I write books on Diplomacy, too. First one to be published soon!

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