Reviews of the Y2K Regatta

You've seen the pictures and read the scores and results. But that won't tell you the whole story of the Y2K ARMADA Regatta. Manus Hand, Edi Birsan, Bob Steinke and Sean Roberts took the time to share their thoughts on the Regatta and it's future. First, we'll hear from Edi Birsan, Diplomacy Tournament Pro and winner of this year's Regatta:
TITLE: DENVER: ARMADA Regatta I / Feb. 11-13, 2000
ROUNDS: 4 rounds, fixed time, maximum season
ATTENDANCE: 41 players spread over rounds of 4-4-4-3 boards


A system of declining centers-needed-for-victory was used, beginning with game-year 1904. Play in three of the four tournament rounds was required to qualify for rankings.

Games were kept to a six-hour or 1912 end. In practice, no game went to 1912 and few games ended on time. Most games ended by either a concession/solo or draw. Players were allowed to pace their own board though with reminders from the Tournament Director.

The game scores, seeding, and placement were kept on a computer (PC base). Player scores were made public at the end of rounds 2 and 3.

Unwanted convoy was not allowed. Units moving to adjacent coastal provinces defaulted always to land movement unless specifically ordered by the owner to move via a convoy. Only one route was allowed. Alternate convoy was not allowed -- any dislodgment breaks the convoy. Convoy route can be specified by the convoyer to avoid unwanted hostile dislodgment Convoyed attacks do not cut support of coastal fleets that are giving support in or into a space containing a convoying fleet, even if the army dislodges the supporting fleet.

Perpetual Orders were allowed.


There was a mid-tournament lecture by hobby experts about techniques of play. This had an impact on increasing the style, quality of play, and tournament aptitude of the players, as reported by impartial observers. The Diplomatic Corps Tournament Player Guide was also available on every table throughout all the rounds.


The tournament ran very well and is a credit to the directors. It also introduced a new concept in tournament play with the declining supply centers needed to gain a solo win.

House Rules:
House rules were available at time of signing up along with the scoring system. Two cases of ruling came up in my games that were not covered by the House Rules and should be addressed in future editions:
1. What to do when a unit has two written orders: does the first go or does the unit count as holding? It was ruled that the unit holds.
2. What to do when a removal order is miswritten, not just forgotten. The House Rule has that in the case of no removal the GM will remove the most 'injurious' to the player. However, in our game that became a delicate point where the GM was unaware of the diplomacy around the units, therefore most injurious to a tactical position vs. a diplomatic choice was in fact what was done. The GM should never be placed in a position where his tactical skill can be brought into question since simple mistakes can be made in observation. Therefore it is suggested that something similar to the rule book (furthest from home, fleet before army) be employed to keep the GM off the hook.

The declining supply center count for a solo win had a profound impact on the game and resulted in 9 solo victories out of 15 games played. Most of the solos took place at the 13 center point, though two games were concessions in 1905 and 1906, when the player had 13 centers and was felt to be unstoppable given the alliance structures in the game. The effect of the reduction in winning points makes stalemates and true tactical draws less likely, especially when there is a large mix of new players who find that the game advances very quickly beyond them and then suddenly someone goes from 9 to 12 centers and is a contender to win. The tournament also saw 5 of the 9 solo's being done by Turkey, possibly because of the high concentration of supply centers in the Balkans and south-east and a poor realization of the effect of the decline in centers. It should also be noted that the classic south east stalemate from Italy-Austria-Sev contains 14 centers while a corresponding western 14 is more spread out. However, this is speculation and further study of this interesting approach to the game is needed. The existence of the reduced solo center count resulted in more solos and more excitement, especially in those several games where there was a last minute flip-flop to create a winner. On a negative side, there were cases where players gave up large numbers of centers to try to stop one winner or create a winner, but this is part of the general aspect of face-to-face tournaments that are beyond the tournament director's control and rests on the aggravation and diplomacy factors of the individuals involved.

Post-tournament discussion revolved around having the solo win required to own at least 2 more centers than the next largest party rather than just one, which would have had an impact on two of the solo wins, and may result in more three and four way draws.

Draws including all survivors is a philosophical point that had some effect in making a few of the larger draws, with the result that several 1 center powers were caught in perpetual orders.

The Venue:
The location was in a first class hotel with excellent food and at a reasonable price ($79 per night). The local people made an extra effort to pick up people from the airports and were most cooperative.

Thanks for your feedback, Edi! Next, Bob Steinke makes some observations about tournament play and Diplomacy strategy.
The ARMADA 2000 Regatta was my first tournament ever. I had played the game before, but never in a tournament setting. In the third heat I found myself in a game with Edi Birsan and Larry Peery. I had heard that these players were good, but I wondered, "Just what is it that makes them so good?" and I said to myself, "I'll watch them, and if I notice them being good I'll stop them." I was then given a first hand view of their skill which resulted in a solo victory for Edi.
I knew before that there were some parts of my game that weren't very effective, but I didn't know what to do differently. From playing this game I have distilled a few pieces of advice.
  1. Diplomacy is not just a game of "guessing who to believe." Good players rely more on trying to influence other player's actions. Do your best to make the other players do what you want. If you and an ally have a plan that you like, don't just try to guess if and when they will stab you. Try to give them every possible reason not to stab you, and don't put yourself in a position where you will lose if they do.
  2. Have a plan, not just for yourself, but for every player on the board. Often in my 1901 negotiations I found myself making plans with my neighbors (sometimes contradictory plans) and then picking one. If I didn't border another power I would often just say, "Have a good game." I would wind up with a plan for myself, and maybe an ally, but very little influence on the board. If you are England you should know whether you want Turkey to attack Russia, and you should do everything in your power to make your desires come about.
  3. They say "talk to everyone," but what should you say? Before talking to someone, know what you want to achieve with that conversation. In addition to specific tactical maneuvers you need longer term goals such as influencing attitudes towards yourself and other players. Points 1-3 are summarized by point 4.
  4. If you want to be good, for your next dozen games never use the phrase "What do you want to do?" Don't ask people what they want, tell them what they want. Your ability to convince them of this will come with practice.
  5. As a mediocre player playing against a good opponent the first question you should answer is, "Who is going to stop this good player?" You can't win if they do. Make sure you have a sensible plan from the beginning of the game for stopping anyone better than you. Continually reevaluate this plan to make sure it is still valid, or change it. If they have superior tactical skill you will need superior numbers, and may need to gang up on someone "just because they are good."
  6. Playing personalities goes beyond information you get within the game. Part of your diplomacy should be discovering how the other players feel about each other. You should also present to others a plausible picture of your own attitudes. Don't just lie or tell the truth at random. Think about how to cause the effect you want.