Since most players come from English-speaking countries, English is the most important language in international Diplomacy. But there is one other country in which you'll find literally thousands of Diplomacy enthusiasts: Germany. It's difficult to say what accounts for this phenomenon. Perhaps it's the many dialects which are an excellent means of disguise - it is almost impossible for someone from Berlin to understand a proud Bavarian - or simply the fact that, after all, Bismarck invented the whole thing. However, there are so many players that a real Diplomacy community has developed since the Internet arrived. In order to show you what's really going on in the land of the evil-looking black pieces, I'd like to introduce the most interesting things that have happened in German Diplomacy over the last few years.
The German-speaking diplomat (including players from Austria and Switzerland) will find two big websites on which he can pursue his hobby: Ludomaniac and Lepanto.de. Dirk Hammann's Ludomaniac is the world's largest non-judge Diplomacy site after Cat23, with about 1300 registered players. It started in 1996 and has since then grown steadily. Today, it hosts about 100 PbEM games and over 15 different variants. The games are adjudicated by "real" GMs, and over the years, a feeling of community has become Ludomaniac's trademark. Players discuss Diplomacy in several boards, organize FTF games, and have the opportunity to compare themselves with other players in a database which records every game and provides highscores. Ludomaniac provides games exclusively for players who have sent in an ID.
Lepanto.de was founded by Dietmar Kulsch in 1997 and hosts the world's third largest Diplomacy judge, DEAC, which is mostly German-language based. Along with three smaller judges, Lepanto.de currently hosts over 150 games, including some variants which cannot be found elsewhere (1847, Caribbean, Duo). Many players are registered to both sites, although there sometimes are animated discussions between those who prefer the faster and more reliable judge and those who find it too complicated.
Since 1997, German FTF players meet once a year at DipCon, a four-day event organized by André Ilievics. About 40 participants indulge in treachery and disguise, but also in drinking beer and having all-night parties. This fall, the DipCon will include the first German FTF Championships. The tournament will be open to players who don't speak German as well - after all, the very first DipCon already welcomed a guest from the United States. Because of the growing success of the event, André is currently planning a European DipCon, which will take place in Frankfurt.
In 2001, Bernd Wittmann, one of the most experienced German GMs, undertook to organize the first German PbEM Championships. They were a great success, so it was soon decided to play the tournament every year. This year, there were 159 participants. The first round winners advanced to the semi-finals. Interestingly enough, each of the seven countries won exactly one semi-final, so we're looking forward to a highly exciting final. It started some weeks ago and has advanced to 1902 by now. England and Austria are in a bad position, but it is difficult to make any predictions since the alliances shift almost every turn. Hasbro Germany has sponsored prizes for the best players and the best GM, who will be elected by all participants.
Until two years ago, German players who were interested in strategy weren't able to get any information in German, since the English-language magazines were the only source for articles. So, I asked Manus Hand if I could translate some articles from the Pouch zine and its Online Resources. He liked the idea and that was how the German Pouch was born. With the assistance of some other English-speaking diplomats I've built up a resource of articles on strategy and Diplomacy in general. The German Pouch now includes over 50 Pouch articles translated into German, a handful of articles written by German players, and a dictionary that explains English terms such as "bounce" or "juggernaut." Edward and I plan to translate some of the German pouch articles into English so we'll be able to share our thoughts on the game across the language barrier.
So this was a short account of what's happening in German Diplomacy. Hopefully, you'll hear more from us in upcoming issues. If you want further information or wish to participate in a German-language Diplomacy game, don't hesitate to visit our websites or e-mail me.
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