Nero

I Wish I Could Not Write.

Nerō Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (37 – 68) was Roman Emperor from the age of 16 until shortly before his death by suicide. History has viewed him as a tyrannical fool with a penchant for finding new and interesting ways of torturing Christians to death while being unable to hold together the empire.

Accused of burning down most of Rome in order to clear land for his planned palace, he was very unpopular with the nobles and thinkers (religious or otherwise) whose opinions valued as little as their property (including the quote above). He was quite popular in most of the Eastern parts of the Empire, but far less so at home and in the Western Empire where he suffered major losses in Gaul and Hispania – losses that eventually led to him relinquishing the crown.

There’s not a lot to like about Nero as a man, either. His litany of sins include executing his own mother, conspiring to poison his step-father, framing three of his advisors for conspiracy, setting christians on fire as a party trick, stealing other senior Roman officials’ wives as a show of power, and incest. He was very busy in his 31 years, so busy he did not have time to bathe and was described as “malodorous”.

 

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Colonel Sanders

There’s No Reason To Be The Richest Man In The Cemetery.

Harland Sanders (1890 – 1980) was an American business and personality, known throughout the world by his Kentucky honorific: Colonel Sanders. Responsible for the creation of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain and the long-time brand ambassador for the business, he nevertheless would often drop by his own franchisee restaurants and describe their food as rubbish, eventually leading to him being sued unsuccessfully by the company he sold to for suggesting that the gravy was “wallpaper paste with sludge added”.

Prior to his career as a cook Sanders had engaged in a large variety of jobs, ranging from insurance salesman to ferryboat entrepreneur (in amongst with he was involved with shooting one of his competitors). A successful businessman prior to the Great Depression, he started selling chicken at a roadside diner and gas station in the early 1930s and, after realising the power of franchising to provide an income he tried a number of times to get his chain off the ground, eventually succeeding and leading to his establishment as a worldwide icon of fried chicken.

Apart from secret recipes, he is also known for his evangelical Christianity, misogyny, womanising, and “Southern hospitality” (not the famously polite type; he was often drunk). This possibly contributed to his bargain basement sale price for his chain, though at the time he was quoted above, indicating it was all getting a bit too much for someone who was, by then, a septuagenarian.

I Wish I Could Not Write

The Classic Lesspanto is the fourth most popular Italian opening and comes in at number 24 overall. Any time you think you’re not a good Diplomacy player just remember that 7.4% of openings use this objectively poor opening. Unless, of course, you are one of the 7.4%, in which case: stop.

Naples achieves nothing that Apulia doesn’t, but leaves Venice at risk of attack. While the opening is not awful in totality, it is simply worse than the Classic Lepanto, so use the better opening. Apart from the risk to Venice, everyone else on the board will take one look and decide you’re not competent.

While we’ve already seen worse openings than this that have more popularity, but none have such an immediately obvious better move. This means this has the dubious honour of being the most popular opening that should never be used.

There’s no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery.

Alpine ChickenThe Alpine Chicken: as fowl an opening as you will see. The 21st most popular in the game, it is often tactically equivalent to laying an egg, but the value of it as a delaying tactic is powerful and sees it used fairly often in high level play.

Theoretical attacks against Austria or France are tactically solid enough against new players but so well worn that better players will see them coming. But that won’t stop even the best from being slowed down to Italy’s glacial speed, and with little diplomatic leverage lost in the process.

If there’s a weakness then it is that Italy’s fleet finishes in Tunis and any attack against Turkey is going to be very slow indeed. An annoyed France may take years to arrive in Force, but that is of no benefit if Italy has cost themselves the same amount of time in their attack against the Turk.

The fact that the opening is Italy’s third most popular may be down to the simple question of “Who wouldn’t want to open with an Alpine Chicken?” or it may just be that this is one of the best openings Italy has available to it and should form part of every strong player’s repertoire.

Don John

There Is No Paradise For Cowards

220px-John_of_Austria_portrait.jpg

Don John Habsburg (1547-1578) was the illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Sequestered and known as Jeromín he only discovered his parentage when informed by his half-brother, the King of Spain, on a hunting trip. Recognised and elevated to a high station, he rewarded his brother through an impressive history of military service, including putting down a revolt in Granada effectively and brutally and later in life military campaigns undertaken as the Governor General of the Low Countries.

He is, however, most renown as an admiral, with his most famous victory being the Battle Of Lepanto. Outnumbered against a more experienced Turkish fleet, his leadership of a multi-national fleet was ingenious and his disguise of his more advanced weaponry led the Turks into a false estimation of his strength, resulting in the battle becoming even and being decided by ship-to-ship fighting on deck, through which his fresher forces prevailed (thanks perhaps to his inspirational speech beforehand: culminating in the quote above).

A ladies man and a fighter, he is likely to have inspired the fictional character Don Juan (the author of this work fought with him in numerous battles) as a comedically over-the-top version of the man himself.

Hannibal

I Shall Either Find A Way Or Make One.

Unknown.jpegHannibal Barca (247 – 183 BC) was a Carthaginian general, considered a revolutionary military leader and dubbed “The Father Of Strategy”.

Running amok in Italy for well over a decade following his famous arrival with an army partly comprising elephants (the quote above is attributed to him as a response to one of this advisors telling him that it couldn’t be done), he was defeated only when the Roman General Scipio Africanus adopted many of his own strategies against him and eventually forced him to fight in unfavourable circumstance at the Battle of Zama.

Even following his defeat, he continued to be a thorn in the side of the Romans, rapidly restoring Carthage despite punitive war reparations while acting is it’s magistrate. As a result, the Romans demanded his surrender, at which point he fled into exile, popping up to annoy Roman interests on behalf of the Selucids, Bithynians, Syrians, and Armenians.

There Is No Paradise For Cowards

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 5.16.29 pm.pngThe Classic Lepanto is the second most popular Italian opening and comes in at number 10 overall. It’s the first opening on the list that features a unit holding. It’s always seemed lazy to me, but it remains the far most common version of this most famous of Diplomacy opening families: the Lepanto.

With the concept being to take Tunis with an army and thus leave the fleet better positioned in 1902 (particularly for a presumed attack against Turkey), the Lepanto family accounts for just under 40% of Italian openings. It’s undoubtedly a strong anti-Turkish attack that requires early commitment and courage to execute. Likely to result in Turkey building Mediterranean fleets, there is no second place in the conflict that this opening sets up. In Italy’s favour, this conflict can be inevitable and this set of moves does give them the best chance to finish first.

Given the Lepanto idea is on solid footing, the only controversy here is that more than half of the Lepanto-style openings feature A Ven h. There’s no good reason for it to do so. Austria is not moving the fleet to Venice, and there is no tactical reason not to be in Tyrolia compared to Venice. Italian players forfeit the right to complain that they grow too slowly if they make this very passive opening non-move.