• Published 13th Aug 2013
  • 3,862 Views, 147 Comments

Games Ponies Shouldn't Play - DagaYemar



Trixie and her five best friends are about to play Diplomacy. Let's watch.

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Game Start

A great rumbling shook the chamber as a spire on the far side of the city gave way and crashed to the ground. Cries and screams, too far distant to make out clearly, nevertheless filled the air with a dull murmur. Smoke, thin this far away from the raging battle, was temporarily displaced as a squad raced by overhead. The light of the fires spread all over the once great capitol was slowly but surely overtaking that of the setting sun. Far below, panicked civilians fled through the streets or took to the skies, trying desperately to avoid getting in the way of the equally panicked army.

In the highest tower, the Great and Powerful General Trixie the Griffon, Commander of the Griffon armies, Defender of the Great Kingdoms, fifth in line to the Granite Throne, wondered where everything had gone wrong.

“WHERE ARE THOSE REINFORCMENTS?!” the General demanded, slamming her taloned fists down on the oaken table. Maps and field reports scattered before her wrath.

“They’ve been attacked on the border.” A nervous page answered, trying and failing to deliver his message without singling himself out.

The General grabbed up a goblet and threw it with all her might at the nearest wall with enough force to shatter the golden cup into pieces. “By who?! Is it the ponies? The elks? The tapirs? No force should have been in a position to do all this!”

“My lord…” one of her lieutenants stated, faltering under her glare. “My lord, the situation is hopeless. We should begin the evacuation.”

Trixie gaped at the lieutenant, her rage temporarily banished by the absurdity of the suggestion. “Abandon the capitol? The Pride of the Griffon Kingdoms? You want me to flee and leave my own ancestral home to these invaders?!”

The lieutenant looked like she wished she had never spoken, but seeing as she was doomed anyway, bravely pressed on. “The forces against us outnumber our own two to one. We have no choice, my lord. We must save as many lives as possible!”

This time the General’s fury was truly terrible to behold. With a roar she slammed her talons onto the center of the table, which buckled and gave way beneath her wrath, splitting down the middle. Papers launched through the air and flitted like fat snowflakes around her aides and advisors, all of whom were too startled by the event to respond. For a delicate moment the scene held, the great and powerful leader surrounded by a fluttering storm detailing her failure.

Then in a flash the General was in motion, her grand wings carrying her across the room. She crashed through the closed shutters and came to a halt on the edge of the balcony, gripping the rails tightly. Far below, the streets were a chaos of fire and dust as her own soldiers abandoned their posts and fled before her eyes. There was only one possibility, one explanation for how everything could have gone so very, very wrong.

The General drew in a great breath and screamed, the sound containing all her fury, despair, shame, and rage in a single word that echoed across the fallen city.

“BETRAYAL!!!!”

My little pony, My little pony
Ahh ahh ahh ahh
My little pony
Friendship never meant that much to me
My little pony
But you’re all here and now I can see
Stormy weather; Lots to share
A musical bond; With love and care
Teaching laughter; it’s an easy feat,
And magic makes it all complete!
You have my little ponies
How’d I ever make so many true friends?

Several hours earlier…

“So what is this game called?” Carrot Top asked, trotting over to the table and inspecting the box with interest.

“It’s called Diplomacy.” Cheerilee said, popping off the cover and pulling out the board.

Cheerilee had been cleaning up her basement earlier that day and discovered the game nestled between boxes of worn clothing and stacks of dusty books. She’d remembered getting the game as a present many years ago, but had never actually gotten around to playing it. Deciding on a whim that it was high time to give it a try, she had invited her friends to meet for dinner and a game night. The box had suggested giving players plenty space to spread out in, so they’d moved after dinner to the library, which was much bigger than the schoolteacher’s house.

“You all are going to play Diplomacy?” Twilight Sparkle asked, pausing in her shelving to eye the six visitors.

Trixie nodded and beckoned to the unicorn. “You can join us if you like. There is an alternate way for a seventh player to play. It’ll be fun!”

Twilight paused and seemed to be on the brink of saying something, but then shook her head and turned back to her books. “No thanks.”

“If you’re sure…” Trixie said, her tone implying that there was plenty of room at the table if she changed her mind.

“And thanks again for letting us use the library!” Lyra put in. Twilight gave a noncommittal sound and waved at them over her back, but they had already turned back to the table.

The game board was now fully spread out and the friends looked on with interest. The map included the whole continent, each nation split up into larger, simpler territories than in real life. Pale colors differentiated the various nations apart from each other and a bright orange symbol marked which territories were more important.

Raindrops dug through the supplies left in the box and grunted in surprise. “I don’t see any dice in here…”

“That’s the fun part of this game.” Cheerilee said, smiling as she reached past Raindrops and started pulling out notepads and pencils. “There aren’t any! In Diplomacy, we each have to talk with each other to make plans and plot strategies. There is no chance, only cunning.”

“It’s actually a very fascinating game.” Trixie put in, eyeing the board with barely contained anticipation. “It was very popular with the nobles in the Night Court. I’ve heard it called one of the best ways to practice politics outside of politics.”

“Have you ever played it before?” Ditzy asked, flying over to the table from the small kitchen area and placing a huge bowl of popcorn next to the board.

Trixie looked sheepish for a moment. “No… though I have wanted to try. Princess Luna had a copy of the game, but she told me that I wasn’t ready to play it the one time I asked…”

“So how does the game work?” Lyra asked, picking up her notebook.

Cheerilee picked up the rules and flipped through them. “I read through this earlier and it’s remarkably simple. The goal is to control more than half of the territories with supply centers. Each nation starts with three units. In each round we talk to each other and try to work out whether we want out pieces to move, attach, support, or do nothing. We write our orders down in these books and read them out at the same time.”

“We don’t take turns?” Carrot Top asked, furrowing her brow. “Sounds like it could get complicated that way.”

Cheerilee tilted her head and compressed her lips. “It is, actually. Most of this rulebook is just explaining about what would happen in different situations. I think I’ve got most of it, but we can just reference the book whenever it gets confusing…”

“It’s not all that complex.” Twilight interrupted. Her shelving had brought her closer to the table and she continued to talk without stopping her work. “One unit is chosen to attack and other units can be chosen to support the first unit. Similarly, units can be chosen to support a nation doing nothing. The attack succeeds if it outnumbers the defenders.”

She paused, a book floating halfway to its shelf, and seemed to forget where she was for a minute. “Well, with the exception of air forces anyway. Flying units will always lose one on one whether attacking or defending. But they can support a unit from two spaces over rather than needing to be adjacent, so it balances out. Really, the hardest part is determining where the losing units get displaced to, but once you get the hang of it…”

“You sound like you know a lot about the game.” Cheerilee said, setting the rules down and coming around the table.

Twilight blinked and seemed to come back to herself, returning to her stack of books with nervous twitch. “I used to play it with my family. Very infrequently. Mostly on holidays.”

“Do you want to be our rules-keeper?”

The stack of books tumbled to the floor as Twilight spun around, startled. “I-I'm not sure… I don’t want to get in your way…”

“Don’t worry about that!” Trixie exclaimed, using her magic to pile the dropped books against the wall. “It sounds like you know plenty about the game. We could really use your help!”

The others offered their encouragement as well, and Twilight stepped warily over to the table. “Well, if you really don’t mind…”

“The more the merrier!” Lyra said cheerfully, making room for her to sit closer to the board. “What do we do first, Game Master?”

“Well, you start by picking nations.” Twilight said, levitating a small bag out of the box. “Just pick a tile at random and it will tell you what you start with.”

Cheerilee reached in first and removed a light brown card from the bag. “The Naqah Caliphate…” she read. “The camels? That means these ones here are mine.”

“You need to decide which body of water your navy in Ard starts in.” Twilight put in, passing the bag telekinetically to the next pony as she explained. “Not many players start with it in the Sea of Tranquility, since it can’t leave, but it sometimes has uses…”

“The Elkheim Clans.” Carrot Top read, eyes skimming the green tile in her hoof.

“Lucky, I was hoping to be the barbarians!” Raindrops said jokingly, nudging Carrot Top playfully in the shoulder as she picked her tile from the bag. “And I’ve got… the Tapir Empire. Looks like you and me are on opposite sides of the board.”

“And I’ve got… the Griffon Kingdoms!” Trixie said dramatically, striking a pose as if she were on a stage. “This could be very interesting…”

“Only two left.” Twilight said, offering the bag to Lyra and Ditzy. The green unicorn reached into the bag first, pulling out a yellow tile.

“The Buffalo Tribes.” She read, and then placed her hoof on their area on the board. “Yeah, I think I can work with this.”

“Which means I must be…” Ditzy pulled the last, bright blue tile out of the bag, “the Principality of Equestira. Right into the middle, huh? Looks like I might have hard time in the beginning.”

“Not always. Equestria may be surrounded, but that just gives it more negotiating power.” Twilight placed the bag back in the box and pulled out the last item, a small fifteen minute hourglass. “You all get twice as long in the first round to talk, so I’ll turn this a second time before calling time. Is everypony ready to start?”

There was a round of affirmatives, but still Twilight paused. “And… are you sure you want to play this?”

“Of course.” Trixie said, already planning out her first few moves in her head. “After all, it’s just a game.”

“Right. Just a game…” Twilight whispered. She flipped the hourglass over and slammed it down on the table. “And start!”

Author's Note:

Just between you and me, I have no idea how this story is going to end. I've got an actual board set up and I'm playing the game out as I write, letting the characters make their moves in "real time". So first things first, here's the board:


Click here for a closer look.

I'll also post up a picture of each turn as it passes, so here's the board again with all the pieces in place. The pieces are color-coded for your convenience.


Click here for a closer look.
A blank peg is an army unit.
A peg with a stripe is a navy unit.
A peg with a dot is an air force unit.

This is going to be fun!

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