By Rich Goranson
On the 1st of August, just as I was trying (and failing) to
wrap this baby up, I went in to work prepared for my usual eight hours of
misery. Instead, my supervisor came up to me and said that that leave time for
the weekend that I put in two months before finally got approved because someone
cancelled their leave for the same weekend. So on the morning of the 3rd my
little '87 Plymouth Horizon and I headed up the treacherous stretch of roadway
called the QEW to Toronto to join in the little festivities known as CanCon held
in the townhouse section on the beautiful grounds of the University of Toronto -
For those of you who have never been to CanCon (and before
this weekend, this included me) its not like your typical convention. It's more
like a house party where people drink beer and backstab each other. After
hacking and slashing my way through the dense foliage to find the right
townhouse, I entered the sumptuous palace to be greeted by the smiling faces of
Mike Gonsalves, Bob Acheson and CanCon host, Jerry Falkiner, all of whom I am
currently in postal games with. Once I made my introductions all around, it
didn't take long to get in my first FTF game in over two years. It was game four
of the Con and was judged as the most intense of the all those played so far.
The players were:
Austria: Doug Acheson; Northern Flame contributor and
resident whipping boy. Trustworthy ally, even when you stab him. I would soon
put this to the test.
England: Jerry Falkiner; our humble host, serene and quiet.
You never knew when he would wake up and kill you and he would still be serene
and quiet while he was doing it.
France: Vance Copeland; dazed, confused and unpredictable.
Very dangerous when unpredictable. A perfect player for this game.
Germany: Tim Snyder; another serene and quiet player. Out
of the whole group, only I had ever been in a game with him before. I knew he
Italy: Bob Acheson; some time publisher of The Canadian
Diplomat and self proclaimed Canadian Dip God. Sneaky, slimy and deceitful. He
would consider this a compliment.
Russia: Dan Gavrilovic; his morale shattered by previous
poor performance, he was bound and determined to put himself in the winners
column at any cost.
Turkey: Rich Goranson; publisher of Forlorn Hope and
resident long hair hippie freak. An unknown quantity (in FTF) to the group, I
was determined to make a good showing, or at least not embarrass myself.
The game started out with some pretty good fireworks. The
principal players were myself, Doug and Dan. Doug and I came up with a sneaky,
underhanded and brilliant plan which kept us strong and under little pressure
for the first three years. First it involved getting Dan to make an anti-English
opening, or at least an anti-German opening. This we did. I went full
anti-Russian (F ANK-BLA, A CON-BUL, A SMY-ARM) while Doug moved into Rumania.
Dan went anti-German with F SEV-BLA and suddenly finding SEV not only threatened
but lost if Doug and I chose to cooperate. England went anti-Russian as well and
Dan found himself facing possible elimination in 1902. What followed next was
one of the most enjoyable deceptions I have ever been able to manage to pull.
Doug and I decided to choreograph a war. Every move we made was pure
disinformation for the opposition while we both managed to grow. I moved A BUL-SER
while accepting his support into SEV and made it look like a stab. Doug acted
this well and we had the board completely fooled. We snarled at each other for
well over two hours in front of everyone. Well, I doubt we had Doug's brother
fooled, he knows his brother too well.
We fenced and sniped for four turns until it was obvious
that the jig was up and France was getting too powerful. Italy was holding on
despite FOUR French fleets in the Med. There was an obvious F/E/G but France
looked the strongest. Doug and I agreed to stop him. I moved armies into Greece
(which was his SC) and Bulgaria and he would convoy me in to help defend the
Italian peninsula. It was then that Doug made his fatal error. He had given
Venice back to Italy for the build and would be -1 if he didn't get a centre
back. I now held another of his centres and had two armies against his one in
Serbia. Jerry reminded me that the time to stab was now while I reminded him
that he had had four turns of opportunity to stab France. If it worked I would
be +2 while Doug would be -3. When Bob changed his mind and refused to allow
foreign forces on Italian soil, I knew that it was time.
The stab was classic and devastating. I almost lost control
of myself when Austria's orders were read first and he continued to push
westward. I knew then that the stab had worked and completely lost my poker face
to a slight case of the giggles. Doug's expression was classic shock and horror.
Afterwards he said that he realized the situation after he sent in his moves and
that he would have done the same in my place. My stab of Austria set in motion
two other stabs: Germany and England on France. Vance had left himself
completely open and seeing no other place to get centres to keep even with me
(now with 8), Tim and Jerry promptly dismantled the French war making machine in
a lightning strike, reducing him from a very strong 7 to F SPA (sc) three turns
later. Bob and Doug, knowing which side their bread was buttered on and
realizing that English fleets in the Med would be a bad thing became perfect
toadies to the might of the Sultan. My major problem became Jerry. We agreed
that I would allow him Warsaw while I took Moscow. I agreed to this because I
thought that it wouldn't threaten him too much while it would allow him to put
pressure on Germany. He didn't do it and he took both Moscow AND Warsaw and
there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. Tim and I tried to come to some
sort of arrangement but we were unable to do so.
Eventually a three way E/G/T draw was proposed but it kept
failing. We knocked out Vance and it still failed. We suspected that it was
either Doug or Bob that was blocking the draw. Eventually we realized that this
game was running about eight hours and we really wanted to get in another one so
we eventually agreed on the E/G/T. This I probably should not have done. The
three principals were all at nine each but a little sniping by Jerry and Tim had
left Moscow and Warsaw vulnerable while I could grab Trieste as well and shoot
up to 12 with a very good defensive line. This would have given me "Best
Turkey" honours for the tournament. I wanted the solo win but the most that
I could have reasonably hoped for was 16 before the wolves hunted me down. I
reluctantly agreed to the three way and tried again.
Game 5 of the tournament was one that should not have been
played. We were all hot and tired and I was starting to fall asleep while
writing my orders. Not a good sign. I drew France, which is my favourite country
to play but I played miserably. I got paranoid and sniped with England when I
should have been helping him. Rob Lesco, who is traditionally the first player
eliminated at this tournament, just rolled us all up. His Russian forces played
a masterful northern strategy to perfection while I was playing games in the Med
with Italy. I tried to prop up Germany against Martyn Phillips' Austria but was
unsuccessful. It ended in 1905 with a concession to Russia as we all realized
that we could do nothing against him. I had a pretty solid seven centres and
proposed a R/A/F but it was voted down. I eventually went with the flow and
agreed to the Russian win at 3AM. I have never seen more unintentionally botched
orders in any game then I did in this one but we were all tired and little
I left CanCon on Sunday morning with the final board still
being played. Tim Snyder (with three three-way draws) and Rob Lesco (with his
solo win) were in the lead for the trophy but it was really anyone's tourney.
One solo win by any of the contending players could have done it for anyone. As
you may have heard from other zines, Bob Acheson took the final game and the
trophy. The things that happen when you go home early. Well, Bob,
congratulations and we'll make sure that it never happens again.