From: Vancouver, BC
There has been an interesting recent exchange under the very long thread on "CP and Entente Game Balance" about the absurdity of the Zimmerman Telegram Decision Event. I am pulling out that conversation into its own thread, for those who are interested in it.
The Zimmerman Telegram was a "Hail Mary" pass by the German Foreign Minister of the day (Zimmerman) to forestall the imminent entry of the U.S. into the war. It seemed crazy at the time and I doubt that many players as the Central Powers say yes to the DE as presented in the game. Yet, it actually happened and I think with a little tweaking, it could be made both more realistic and more interesting as a series of connected decision events late in the game that players might wish to explore.
First, the CP player needs to be told in the Notes on this DE what the possible swing against USA mobilization could be if the telegram is sent and if Mexico acts on it by declaring war against the USA. Right now the Notes only vaguely mention the possibility that the US entry might be delayed, and the Notes highlight the risk of the telegram backfiring and instead it accelerating U.S. entry. Naturally, almost no one would be tempted to do this.
Players are rational calculators, so if instead the DE is presented as "there is 35% chance that the USA could swing 20-30% away from the Entente" and a "35% chance that it will be leaked and will increase USA mobilization in favour of the Entente by 10-15%", then players can make up their minds whether to take the risk. (The percentages I have just given are arbitrary - you could adjust them depending on what probabilities of success or failure seem reasonable to you. The point is to give the CP player some odds to work with).
Second, I would recommend pairing this with a new DE for the British. If the Germans decide to send the telegram, there should be a percentage chance that it will be intercepted by the British (Bill suggested he might set this at 80%; for game interest purposes, I would recommend something much lower like 50%). If intercepted, the new DE would offer the British player the option of leaking the telegram to Woodrow Wilson. In reality, the British had a dilemma on their hands, as they knew that if the leak looked to the public like it was planted by British Intelligence, it could backfire on them, either by making isolationists or Wilson himself outraged that they were being manipulated by a British forgery. (Read Barbara Tuchman's fascinating book on the Telegram for a gripping account of how the British managed to get the Telegram onto Wilson's desk without it looking like they had a hand in doing so). Thus the new DE would give the British the option to plant the telegram with the American press, which could have (say) a 66% chance of swinging USA mobilization by 10-15% in favour of the Entente and a 33% chance of swinging it 20-30% away from the Entente.
Finally, there is an existing DE (616) which gives Germany the option of funding Mexico to sustain a conflict with the USA if the telegram is sent. Again, I expect that even fewer players opt for this, not least because the cost is very high (50 MPPs per turn for 10 turns) and the benefits in terms of the economic penalty to the USA are not spelled out. I would change this DE to something much cheaper - say a one-off arms shipment from Germany to Mexico costing 75 MPPs. I would give the arms shipment a 75% chance of getting through to the Revolutionary government in Mexico City. If it works, then General Pershing and two US army corps are removed from the USA production queue for the next eight months, as they are sent south (again) to intervene in the Mexican Revolution. That way, even if U.S. mobilization in favour of the Entente recovers (due to unrestricted submarine warfare and a Lusitania sinking), U.S. Army resources will be handicapped by the insurrection Germany has fomented in Mexico.
If nothing else, the Zimmerman Telegram is a wonderful source of alt-history possibilities that follow from actual decisions made by actors in Berlin, London, and Washington in early 1917. It would be fun to see this given more profile in the game.