FDC XXXI: A Video Blog

by Samuel Anavoisard

To activate the subtitles in the video, after starting the video click on the cogwheel in the bottom right of the screen and change the subtitles to English. Below is the full transcript with a couple of footnotes marked with asterisks and explained at the bottom.

SAM: Hello all and welcome to a new video. I am Samuel Anavoisard from the blog "Les-jeux-de-Sam.fr" ("The-games-of-Sam.fr"). We're in Paris today. It's the autumn of 1900 and behind this door here in front of me there's an assembly of 7 heads of state. At this very moment they are negotiating to find allies, they are discussing strategies to invade their neighbors, ... You have indeed recognized the very famous boardgame Diplomacy.

I invite you, then, to follow me on the stage of the 31st French Championship of one of the best strategic negotation games of all times.

Next to me is Patrick who is the organizer of this 31st French Championship. Hi Patrick!


SAM: Can you explain to us what the game of Diplomacy is all about?

PATRICK GARNIER: Diplomacy is the game that you should play if you want to get rid of all your friends, of your family, and to be hated by all the people you play with. Diplomacy is a game of strategy which has as its most striking advantage that it doesn't leave anything to chance. The game requires seven players and takes a relatively long time to finish. Every player impersonates one of the Great Powers at the start of the 20th century and the goal is to dominate half of the map by conquering 18 centers.

SAM: Next to me is Stéphane, who played at the final table of this Championship of France. Well then, Stéphane, tell us what has happened to you during the game?

STEPHANE: It has been very hard for me. I was satisfied to qualify for the final table. Unfortunately I have been eliminated very quickly by a very solid alliance. The three of them attacked me straightaway and I didn't resist for long.

SAM: OK, so it was one huge betrayal?

STEPHANE: Exactly, exactly.

SAM: The French Championship is open, so everyone can participate. Even beginners?

PATRICK GARNIER: Yes, even beginners. In fact, in the first round we had one person who was playing for the very first time and who played a fairly correct game. It has frequently happened in the past that beginners caused a surprise; that is to say people who had learned the rules the day before or during the morning, who discover a true talent and skills at negotiation. Because, as the name indicates, the important part of the game is not to be the best at maths or strategy, but to know how to negotiate with others to get them to work towards your victory.

SAM: We are now in the spring of 1906, so what has happened in the past years?

VINCENT: What has happened is that the Western triple alliance, consisting of Germany, France and England, did not hold. Germany has been attacked by her two old allies. That has had an immediate effect, because at the end of 1905 she has only two centers left while the other 5 powers each have six or seven centers. All the others are within one center of each other. For the moment the Eastern alliance is still holding. But we don't know for how long. Still we can say that there are only five countries in competition for the victory, England, France, Russia, Italy and Turkey.

SAM: How does a Diplomacy tournament function?

PATRICK GARNIER: In France at least, and in the rest of Europe in general, the rule is to limit the number of rounds, the number of seasons played, in order to finish the game in a fixed amount of time. Traditionally it's considered that a game ends after seven years or fourteen seasons, spring and autumn; and every season takes around 15 minutes, which means games of three and a half hours in length.

SAM: So Vincent, we're now in the final year?

VINCENT: That's correct, there are only 2 rounds left before we will know the new French champion.

SAM: OK, so how is it going?

VINCENT: How it's going? Well, as I said before the triple alliances have exploded; the Eastern triple has also exploded when the Turk decided to attack Italy, who had at a certain moment taken the lead. It's now obvious that there are only two powers in position to win, England, who is the defending champion, and Turkey, who is not a Frenchman.

SAM: This was the 31st French Championship, but how does it work? Is there a European championship? And beyond that a world championship?

PATRICK GARNIER: There's a French Championship every year, or rather we try to have one every year. There have been years where it has been more difficult than in other years. The French Championship is one of the oldest tournaments. Only the British and American tournaments are older. Globally the French tournament is very well doted, because there are various French world champions. There is also a European Championship. Next year it will be held in Paris. And the World Championship... Actually the reigning world champion, Thomas Haver (*), was playing in this tournament, together with past world champions.

SAM: I'm here in the presence of Manu who has just succeeded in obtaining the title of champion of France, so congratulations!


SAM: You were England in this game at the final table. How did your game play out?

EMMANUEL DU PONTAVICE: At the start I came along very well with France. But we were very scared of an alliance between Russia and Turkey. So the German came to us and proposed a triple alliance. We had to trust each other a bit so that Germany and I could go after Russia and France could start against Italy. After that the situation stalled, because the others reacted very quickly. We had to take a decision and together with France I stabbed the German. In the end it went well, but it was very tense because a situation like that is always on the edge of the knive. And afterwards I succeeded in finding myself in a neck and neck race with Turkey. I was able to secure one more center by claiming all centers at my borders from Russia, thereby controlling the whole North of the map and the North of Germany to claim victory at the last move of the final round.

SAM: This is the second time for you to win the French title. Will you try to participate in the European or world championships? Perhaps you already did in the past?

EMMANUEL DU PONTAVICE: Yes, in fact I will be organizing the European championship next year together with Laurent Jolie. It will take place in Paris in the last weekend of August, 26 to 28. After that it's always a goal to win the European or world championship! So I will try and persevere in winning one of those two titles!

SAM: Congratulations again and many thanks!

EMMANUEL DU PONTAVICE: Many thanks as well!

SAM: How can one start playing Diplomacy?

PATRICK GARNIER: Come and play! We welcome anyone, we'll teach you ourselves, if you just send us an e-mail and tell us you want to participate in an initiation game. There are regularly games organized in and around Paris and in other regions as well! There are always people prepared to teach you the game, to lead you the way!

SAM: Last question: When will be the next French championship?

PATRICK GARNIER: It will take place in November 2016 in Paris. I don't have an exact date yet, but aim for November 2016.

SAM: Perfect! We took note of the date! Thank you, Lipton (**)!

PATRICK GARNIER: Thank you, Samuel!

SAM: Well then, see you again!

PATRICK GARNIER: See you again! Perhaps next year?

SAM: Sure enough! Bye!


SAM: As you know, Diplomacy is a game which is part of my crazy challenge (***). It's thus in my library and moreover it receives the label "Cult Game". For the creation of my own boardgame I will retain from Diplomacy the alliance between strategy and negotiation. We're close to the end of this video. Thank you for watching it. If you liked it, don't hesitate to give it a big thumbs up and to share it. As for me I will see you again in the next video on my blog "Les-jeux-de-Sam.fr". See you soon! Bye bye!

(*) Correction: Tom actually was the runner-up on the final board of the WDC 2015 in Milan, finishing in third place overall. The world champion, Toby Harris, unfortunately had to decline for this tournament.

(**) Lipton is the nickname of Patrick Garnier, as well as the name of a beverage company famous for its ice teas.

(***) Sam's crazy challenge consists in posting a video every week during one year, each time for a different boardgame for a total of 52 of the best boardgames.

Samuel Anavoisard

Translated by Mario Huys

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