• Published 13th Aug 2013
  • 4,536 Views, 149 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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Winter 01

She couldn’t have figured out my plan already. Trixie thought, as the others broke off from the table and spread out to talk with each other. She should also be starting her negotiations, but the placement of pieces on the board nagged at her. She chewed the end of her pencil thoughtfully and studied the armies laid out on the map.

Moving into Viljujsk was supposed to be one of the best bluffs in the game. It should look like I’m going straight for Gryphos, so how… no, it’s probably just a coincidence we clashed. After all, there aren’t all that many places for her air force to go. Yes, a coincidence is all. Nothing to worry about…

Trixie looked up and saw that the object of her musings was sitting by herself, staring intently at her personal map. Trixie stood up and trotted over.

“I hope there are no hard feelings about Elnais.” She said brightly. “Just wanted to move south. You were probably doing the same?”

Carrot Top looked up from her map and nodded quickly. “Um… yeah, I was.”

“That’s what I thought.” Trixie continued after a moment, when it became apparent Carrot Top wasn’t going to elaborate further. “So… Cheerilee looks like she’s heading north. You worried she might take Elgland from you?”

“I… actually hadn’t thought of that.” Carrot Top said, blinking and looking back to her map worriedly. “Do you really think she would? All her other pieces are too far away to support holding it if she does take it.”

Trixie shrugged, mentally heaving a sigh of relief. Yes, it must have just been a lucky move on her part before. “You never know. After all, she can make new armies to support it this turn. You might want to send some units over there to defend it. Tell you what; you can go to Elnais. I’ll find another way to move on Equestria.”

“Alright.” Carrot Top said, but Trixie was already turning away. The unicorn gave herself a mental pat on the back for handling that one so well. As far as she was concerned, Hirvi was as good as hers for the taking. And she’ll never see it coming.

It never occurred to either pony to look up as they talked.

Did Trixie just say that she was going to attack me? Ditzy thought, looking down at her friend in surprise. She and Raindrops had decided to fly up to the ceiling to get some privacy to talk in, but neither had been expecting a conversation to break out right beneath them.

“Sounds like Trixie is a natural at this game.” Raindrops said in a low voice, breaking into Ditzy’s reverie. “Must be all that training for the Night Court she had.”

Ditzy shook her head and put aside what she’d just heard for later. “Perhaps, but we were talking about the peninsula.”

Raindrops nodded and returned to their interrupted topic. “It’s obvious you’re going for it with your full force, but I just want to take this one on the end. Do you think you could just let me have it?”

“I don’t know… that one is in a very good position to stop the Buffalo’s advance, if Lyra comes straight up the coast.”

“Perhaps, but it will still take you three turns to even reach that space. And by then Lyra would be already fighting with you. I can reach it now and then you’d have me helping you defend it. I could attack her armies from the sea anywhere along the coast; that’d keep her busy and off our backs.”

“That actually sounds like a great idea!” Ditzy said with a wide smile. “So you go there, and I’ll…”

“I thought you said you had no interest in the West Dune Sea?” Cheerilee asked. Lyra squirmed a little under her scrutiny like a naughty school-filly caught sneaking a peek at her neighbor’s test sheet.

“I’m not! I’m just a little worried about all the other armies gathering there.” The mint unicorn gestured at her map. “Both you and Raindrops are moving around right behind my territories. Who wouldn’t be worried about that with how spread out I am?”

“I don’t think you’re as defenseless as you make it sound…” Cheerilee said under her breath, and then sighed. “It doesn’t really matter anyway. The two of you have two units around the spot and I’ve only got one. I know when I’m beat. I’ll have to go somewhere else…”

“No!” Lyra said hurriedly, scanning the map quickly. I have to keep her focused away from Pte. “How about if I supported your move into WDS? With the two of you over there, I could never hold it, but you…”

“You would do that for me?”

“Well, of course!” Lyra said, pulling out her card and skimming the rules on actions. “And there’s nothing against it in the rules. In fact, it looks like the game’s specifically set up for players to do this for each other.”

Cheerilee clapped her hooves. “Then it sounds like a plan! This way we’ll both get what we want. You aren’t going to leave me high and dry, are you?”

“I’m writing it right now.” Lyra replied, levitating her notebook out with her magic and writing it in where they could both see. She’d only gotten one line down, however, when they were joined by a jasmine pegasus dropping down from above.

“Hey, can I borrow Lyra for a second?” Raindrops asked Cheerilee.

“Of course.” Cheerilee replied. She gave Lyra and conspiratorial wink and wandered away to give them some privacy.

“This is about the West Dune Sea.” Lyra guessed.

“Well, yeah!” Raindrops said, crossing her arms. “You said you weren’t going for it.”

“And I’m not! I’m just trying to protect myself.” This is starting to feel very familiar…

“And how do I know I can trust you? You have just as many units as I do over there!”

“Then just have one support the other. At worst, nothing will happen and nopony gets the spot. But if it will put your mind at ease…” Lyra held up her notebook in both hooves and wrote something down in it. She turned the book so Raindrops could see. “How’s that?”

Raindrops frowned at what was written there and slowly nodded. “Alright… but you have to promise not to change it.”

“I won’t touch it again until the next turn.” Lyra promised, floating the notebook over to the table and setting it aside.

Raindrops let out a breath she’d been holding in. “Thanks. Sorry for putting you on the spot like that.”

“It’s alright.” Lyra said, trying to put her best face on it. But inside, she was worried. Surprisingly, her friend hadn’t noticed she’d been covering the other order she’d already written under her hooves. But she’d learn soon enough…

“It’s all going just as I said it would.” Trixie said confidently, looking down at her map with satisfaction. “I’m a little surprised that Cheerilee let you have the Sea of Tranquility so easily, but now that you do have it you’ve got a huge advantage. You should…”

“Um, Trixie? Maybe we should talk about your plans.” Ditzy interrupted. She gave the unicorn an inquiring look. Trixie in turn blinked at her quizzically and leaned back.

“My moves? I’ve got them all worked out already. What’s wrong?”

“Well… it’s just…” Ditzy tried to find a way to ask about what she’d overheard that didn’t sound like an accusation. “All my units are moving southward, and I’m almost defenseless from above…”

“Aha!” Trixie said, completely misreading Ditzy’s implications. She relaxed muscled she hadn’t been aware she’d tensed. “You’re worried about the Elks attacking you from behind. Don’t worry, I’ve seen to it that…”

“No, that’s not what I meant.” Ditzy said sharply. Ok, maybe subtle isn’t going to cut it. “I’m worried about leaving myself open to you.”

“What? Me?” Trixie said in mock innocence. “I have no intention of attacking you!”

Dinky was a sweetheart, but even still Ditzy had been a mom long enough for the innocent trick to have lost its effect on her. She looked at her friend with all her motherly disapproval.

“Well, I mean… not right away…”

The look now implied that the mother was aware of what had become of the neighbor’s flower bed and there was a disturbing lack of cookies in the foreseeable future.

“Alright!” Trixie said rather louder than needed, throwing her arms up in the air in defeat. “I might have been trying to lead you away so I could march in from above. But believe me; it wouldn’t have happened until the end of the game! I really do need your help. I’m sorry!”

Ditzy sniffed and nodded curtly. “It’s fine, I forgive you. That’s just how the game goes, right?”

“Right.” Trixie said, relieved.

“Right. Now,” Ditzy picked up the map from where it had dropped to the floor. “I think the best moves for you are…”

Carrot Top leaned down to get a closer look at the game board, continuing to compare it to the paper map in her hooves. I didn’t know that the navy units could move from coast to coast! If I had, I wouldn’t have sent it out to sea last turn… but then it would have been as blocked as my air force. But I think it’s still going to work…

“Hard at work again, I see!” Cheerilee said cheerfully, sitting down next to the farmer. “You’re putting a lot more thought into your moves than the others. Don’t you want to talk it out with somepony?”

“Should I?” she asked. It wasn’t meant to be rude; she actually wasn’t sure what she should talk about with the others. Maybe I should have been talking to Trixie this whole time. This is what I get for jumping to conclusions. Oh, I have no idea what I’m doing…

“Well, not if you don’t want to, I suppose.” Cheerilee said, unaware of her friend’s indecision. “Each pony has her own way of playing. And yours is working pretty well. Do what you want, and let me know if you need anything.”

“Thanks.” Carrot Top started, but froze as her eyes fell on the hourglass. Oh no! The time’s almost up! There’s no time to come up with another plan, I’m just going to have to try it. But I’m still not sure if…

“Actually…” Carrot Top said, pulling Cheerilee’s attention to her map. “Do you think I could quickly get your opinion on something?”

“Alright, time to go.” Twilight said several minutes later. It had taken her longer than last turn to compile the moves and the others followed her words a little more closely than before. “Things are going to get a little complicated, so I’ll try and make it as clear as I can.

“First of all, the tapir’s navy lands in Cavallia and takes the supply center. Raindrops’s other navy supports her army moving into the West Dune Sea. Unfortunately, Cheerilee’s army is also moving into the West Dune Sea.”

“But my two beat her one, right?” Raindrops asked expectantly.

Twilight hesitated. “Well, if she’d been attacking alone, yes. But the buffalo army in the North Dune Sea is supporting her move, so it’s two on two. Neither army takes the space.”

Raindrops’ eyes widened and she shot Lyra a stunned look. Lyra shrugged sheepishly.

“But the buffalo’s other armies move into the East Dune Sea and Garanha unopposed.” Twilight continued, pulling two yellow flags from the box and placing them on Lyra’s new territories. And then, to everypony’s surprise, she picked up the flag from Caballeria and put it away.

“Wait! Why did I lose that one?” Lyra asked.

“No, you just didn’t…” Twilight’s eyes widened and she slapped her forehead with her hoof. “Oh no, I forgot!”

“What? What it is?” Trixie asked, concerned.

Twilight sighed. “I forgot that this is your first time playing this game, so you probably didn’t know that you only can claim a territory if you hold it during the Winter turns, not the Summer ones. When my family played, we liked to put down the flag whenever we entered a new space. It became a home rule because my brother and I liked putting flags all over the map. I’m sorry; I should have remembered that wasn’t one of the real rules.”

“It’s alright.” Cheerilee said soothingly. “At least we caught it early, so it didn’t hurt the game much. We’ll know from now on; no harm done.”

“Yeah. And I still get a new territory anyway.” Lyra put it, looking at the bright side.

Twilight took a steadying breath and nodded, picking up the papers to continue. “Thanks… anyway, both Cheerilee and Ditzy’s navies tried to move into Caballeria, so neither of them gets to move. But the camel’s army does take Pferdreich safely, so you do get one new territory.

“The pony army takes Semental and their air force moves into Caneighda. Trixie’s navy moves into the Griffon Sea and her air force takes Hippopotamia. Unfortunately leaving Konja to do so…”

Trixie smiled in understanding as her flag was removed from the second territory to be placed on the first.

“But then her other air force tried to move into Hivri and was stopped by the elk’s air force.”

Trixie’s smile slipped. “You mean Carrot Top didn’t move it?” she asked, like she couldn’t quite believe the inevitable answer.

“That’s not all… she attacked you right back, and her navy in the Iceflow Sea supported the attack. You’ve been pushed out of Haupstadt. You have to move your air force into one of the nearby open territories.”

Trixie’s jaw couldn’t have dropped faster if it had been attached to lead weights. “That not right! The Iceflow Sea doesn’t border Haupstadt! That move is illegal!”

“But…” Carrot Top said hesitantly. “I looked really, really close and I think it does.”

“No! That’s a corner!” Trixie insisted. “You can’t attack on a corner!”

“Actually, it’s widely debated whether it is or not.” Twilight said, trying to be helpful. “It was meant to be a corner, but the original board was drawn a little off so there is a very tiny line instead. Game experts have been debating for centuries whether it counts or not, but…”

“It looks like a corner to me.” Raindrops said, squinting her eyes at the offending spot.

“No, wait. I think I see it.” Lyra put in, spinning the board a little to get a better angle. “You gotta look at it like this…”

It eventually took Twilight producing a magnifying glass and everypony getting a turn with it to settle the issue, but even Trixie had to admit that the very small line was clearly there. Glumly, she pushed her dislodged unit into Genosse.

“I’m impressed, though. Not many novices at this game can figure out the Modige-Sverd opening. And the elk’s army moves from Dadyr into Hjort. A bit of an anti-climactic way to end the turn, but…” Twilight’s chuckle petered out when no one join in on her attempt at lightening the mood. She swallowed and moved on.

“Well, that’s it. Everypony got a new nation, so it’s time to put the new units on the board. The next turn starts as soon as you’re done.”

Author's Note:

Well that was certainly exciting! Let's take a look at the board:

Click here for a closer look.

I got some complaints about how confusing it was with the flags and the pegs being different colors, so now they are all the same and matched with the pony playing them. I also added on the pieces each playing is getting this turn, so let's count that as a minor sneak peak of the next chapter!