WW4 Final map and AAR

GM: an49. 12-way draw.

WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby an49 » 06 Mar 2011, 15:39

This epic game has come to an expected/unexpected but
nevertheless well deserved end.

I will surly write a bit more later but lets us take a look back into History:

On a Sunny 4th of April 2010 a till then never played Variant was about to begin.

Those where the players:

WW-4-start-pdf.gif


And this was the beginning map in spring 2050:

http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/1831/ww4beginn.gif

After 32 spring and fall seasons and 11 month of fearsome attacks, loyal alliances and treacherous stabs
these Countries survived and decided to have peace and rule the world as they see fit

WW-4-final-pdf.gif


And this is the New World in Winter 2066:

http://img109.imageshack.us/img109/300/ww4final.gif


I am very happy that I had the possibility to GM this Game, thanks to all of you.

Deanchuck brought the Map and TheChosen1 put up the players list.

I would like to read some AAR's, so feel free to tell something about this game

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Re: WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby Waterice man » 06 Mar 2011, 18:59

My AAR:

I started with a major rookie error. I failed to make contacts in the first few days. However, I did feel that I has established a good relationship with the Manchurians. How wrong can one be. This alliance didn't turn out well, with him stabbing me pretty quickly. In the end, however, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Concern about the two Chinas allying led me to form a new alliance with Khmer (already a good ally, and perhaps it was this that defined Asia), Oceania (who I was fairly rocky with, and I ended up stabbing twice) and the Central Asia Soviet. I had a proposal for dividing Eastern Asia amongst the three of us:

WW4 map 1.gif
WW4 map 1.gif (16.26 KiB) Viewed 3883 times


This didn't, however, go completely according to plan. Because of Persia, the Central Asia Soviet was having difficulty taking his area. With this in mind, Khmer, India and I (our first proper cooperation) decided to take what was due to him, with permission, but then that was followed by taking all of his centres, eliminating him. At around this time, the concept of a three nation Asia was proposed, with the goal of securing Asia then marching off and securing the world;

WW4 SoI.gif
WW4 SoI.gif (117.73 KiB) Viewed 3883 times


With this in mind, I raced across Northern Asia, marching through Persia only when India had no use for him, and across the Northern Pacific, once again through Oceanian territory. I was, however, a little late in this enterprise, only managing to take Alaska and secure the stalemate line. The rest, as they say, is history.

What might have been:
There were several people who attempted to get me to stab my TNA allies. The first occasion was when the NCE alleged that Khmer was going to stab me. I consulted with India, and whether by his actions or by the lack of truth in the allegation, no stab ever materialised. At this stage I myself was not capable of taking on both or one of my allies, so no stab occured.

There were also two planned stabs planned by Ceebs (who else) towards the end of the game, one with the support of the Confederacy, Cuba, himself and the Slav against India and Khmer (I never felt confident of success), and one on India with the support of Khmer and himself. This was suggested late, and might have occured if Khmer had sent his agreement.

Well played to all. I'll see about posting a final graph soon.
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Re: WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby Ceebs » 09 Mar 2011, 06:57

Waterice man wrote:There were also two planned stabs planned by Ceebs (who else) towards the end of the game, one with the support of the Confederacy, Cuba, himself and the Slav against India and Khmer (I never felt confident of success), and one on India with the support of Khmer and himself. This was suggested late, and might have occured if Khmer had sent his agreement.


Either of these scenarios could have materialized if you and most of the other players hadn't sat on their hands and contributed little or nothing to the diplomatic process.
A big part of my reasoning for wanting the game to continue was to allow more time to discuss these options. In this case, Khmer had checked out of the game mentally already (he even told me so) like so many others in the game, and so changing the voting rules at the end allowed the game to die not with a bang, but with a whimper.


I may provide a more comprehensive AAR later, but there isn't much to say considering how devoid of 'action' this game really was. Here are the coles notes for me:

  • I joined a few years into the game, inheriting a position in the pan-african alliance which i was not in a position to break at that time. If i had played since 2050, i probably wouldn't have started off with that alliance.
  • I worked with Congo in a lengthy attack on Argentina. We made some ground, but with the fall of the other south american powers and Cuba's indirect and direct help of Argentina, the whole effort essentially netted out to many years wasted as Argentina eventually pushed us off his continent.
  • As soon as it was clear that the South American campaign was bust, i began campaigning for new allies. This was around 2060 (Mid-October). I started with offering an olive branch to Argentina, who, after ignoring me for a while, became quite upset at my persistence and essentially refused to let bygones be bygones. I continued reaching out to him over the rest of the game to see if he would work with me to overthrow Cuba, but he never relented and then went back to ignoring me.
  • With the African alliance falling apart in North Africa, and due to the fact that Congo and Kenya had pretty much checked out of the game (congo even told me he was not going to be communicating anymore, and essentially agreed to be my puppet), i figured there was no sense sitting on my hands and began gathering up some African real estate for myself.
  • All the while, i continued to reach out in earnest to players across the map (particularly Europe and in the americas) to try and break up the evident power blocks before they became too entrenched. An alliance was formed between NCE, the Balkans and myself as a response to the power blocks that flanked us, but the arrangement was not much use in practice. We were unable to coordinate very much even in North Africa, and it was clear that any new alliance system had to be intercontinental (at least, it was clear to ME). Unfortunately, nobody listened to me, or they were not interested in taking chances any more, so the game came to a standstill just as i envisioned.
  • And the rest you all pretty much have heard from me already. Though they are harsh-sounding words, i can't think of no others more apt to describe the prevailing attitudes among the draw-inclined besides apathetic and cowardly.

To be clear, i don't mind a draw when there is really a stalemated situation and no other feasible option. However, this game had several paths it could still take, but nobody in the key positions was ever willing to take a chance on anything i proposed, nor did they show any initiative on their own to break the stagnation.
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Re: WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby vaderi » 10 Mar 2011, 02:30

I'm back from Maine early so I'll put in my AAR now. I'd like to dedicate my success to Tooth1066 who worked with me from start to (his) finish.

I started the game as India and ended tied for third most SCs at the end of the game. I sent out feelers to everyone and everyone but Thor(Kenya) was eager to woo me to their side in the regional conflicts. I started planning my domination of the Indian Ocean and relations with Kenya soured very quickly but everything went fine until I realized that Bom was an Army and not a Fleet like I had assumed and so began the fight for the Indian Ocean(that lasted the entire game). Khmer was eager to secure his western border and our friendship blossomed quickly and I found that Persia was more too my liking than Central Asia Soviet(really? not totally bad name but, eh).

Persia and I started fighting Central Asia and Kenya barely won the fight for the Indian Ocean. The early game was largely a success for me but I was watching the network of alliances forged by Indonesia (RL friend) grow in strength and position. I started trying to bring it down but while there was China to beat on the alliance held firm.

Persia got off to a great start and I had just started to think about our future when Egypt came hammering in and smashed the eastern two-thirds of Persia in short order. Since by the end of 2052 the African Alliance had become rather obvious I feared that Egypt would go through Persia and destroy me with Kenya's help in just as short a time, so I quickly decided I'd prop up Persia as long as he needed it. Persia and I stepped up our war with Central Asia and so Persia never had more than 1 destroy and yet he became evermore oriented to the North and South. Suddenly the situation changed, The Slav made his entrance into the spotlight of the game as he annexed the entirety of Russia in a single move. The Slav's rapid response sparked the rise of Concerning Europe which started out as Lemination's plea for sanity from the rest of the world. It quickly became apparent that the situation in the Middle East (it truly was the middle of the map or slightly to the east for everyone) had to be resolved before Concerning Europe could become relevant. Fortunately for all of us we were all on on the 16th of june for a furious exchange of ideas and demands which resulted in the temporary resolution of the Middle East. In the Spring of 2054 Concerning Europe made it's first of many moves. Sadly Concerning Europe only lasted as a cohesive unit from the 15th of June to the 18th of July, it was kind of inevitable considering the number of nations involved (7 or 8) but I think that that makes it the largest Alliance in the game.

In 2056 Kenya reached his high water mark by taking Madras. After that point I steadily pushed him back and reached my own high water mark (except I was like the tide :P I kept retaking GAD) in 2062. Had Indonesia remained in the game I do not know what would have happened since his disappearance and the subsequent TNA(Three Nation Asia) agreement resulted in his total destruction occurring more rapidly than it would have otherwise. With the Pacific Alliance gone and Europe contained if not shrinking I felt as if I had suddenly passed through the valley of the specter of death and had emerged as one of the major powers in the game, and then Mongoose quit. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: . Without Timbuktu and Egypt to hold the line The Slav escaped his prison and emerged to wreak havoc upon my advancing armies. It was a race to the finish line and I lost. As late as 2064 I was hopeful of a turn around, Japan had a promise from Raphtown that he was going to try to breach Murmansk but that plan fell through due to Raph's trusting nature :lol: (how else can I describe it? I was watching The Slav take Quebec apart with disgusting ease). Then I hit upon The Plan where in I would turn to the last of my neighbors who I thought might be receptive to a change in the Status Quo, Jeanphi(Kenya). Unfortunately Kenya was uninterested in friendship and so when I made my move in good faith I lost GAD (again :mrgreen: ). That was about the time Ceebs started harassing everyone else about defeatism and their unwillingness to stab.

I have to say, judging from Waterice Man's AAR and PMs from Khmer, I was judged to be one of the few who Ceebs didn't think could stab anyone. Towards the end of the game I felt I was the only one who was talking, I was rarely (not more than 3 times since Fall 2063) contacted and was forced to go to everyone else to talk. No one offered a stab and I was unwilling to trust The Slav (with good reason), I sadly did not think of CS who I had had good communications with earlier in the game. I resented Ceebs mindless stab mongering since he was the only one who was still making forward progress in any real way. Much as I dislike and disagree with Ceebs' arguments I felt that I had done the most I could when I tried to get Kenya to work with me instead of fighting each other.

Khmer, I was very nervous for much of the game as our border was so very tempting to stab from both sides of our border. I felt that this situation lasted up until 2060 and afterward it had become pointless to stab across. We made good allies I think.

Japan, At the start of the game I never would have imagined ending up in an alliance with you. If things had gone just slightly different in the north with Persia, I would have stabbed you without a second thought but instead we worked together perfectly and in the end your vision of a 3 Nation Asia was good, a pity we failed to achieve your 3 Nation World. I was amused to note that Khmer came closest to controlling everything you painted for him.

Persia, We worked so well together, I'd love to know what you thought of our alliance. I'm sorry I ended up gobbling you up and then letting Japan finish you off.

Kenya (Thor), why were we fighting? by the time I had a say we were already grappling for control of the Indian Ocean but what started it? I was happy to split the Indian Ocean in half and let you have the Island.

Kenya (Jeanphi), I'd like to think that we could have gotten along instead of continuing the slugfest that you inherited from Thor. I would beg pardon for not knowing who was playing Kenya for most of the game and therefore not trying to change the situation.

This map had waaayyy too many stalemate lines and positions. I think that the map I presented (the 4th version of the map) is best left unaltered and allows for the fighting to run to a finish of fewer than 10 (fine! 11, Congo gets an honorary mention with 1 SC left) nations. I think it bears mentioning that the 11 nations left break down into 3 or 4 alliances and so this DIAS is in essence a 3 or 4 way draw.

One last note, Ceebs, you focused solely upon the players and completely ignored the situation on the board, that and you really shouldn't play large forum games if you can't do anything but scream at the other players to stab eachother.
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Re: WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby Ceebs » 10 Mar 2011, 04:32

vaderi wrote:One last note, Ceebs, you focused solely upon the players and completely ignored the situation on the board, that and you really shouldn't play large forum games if you can't do anything but scream at the other players to stab eachother.


Actually i was very aware of the situation on the board. You are also right that i judged you to be more among the players less able to stab than others. That is why you didn't hear much from me directly--because i was focusing more on the players whose positions on the board put them in a better position to stab. But you still could have come to me with any ideas, including those regarding Kenya.

Because you and I didn't share much negotiation, what you don't know is that I sent many calm and straightforward diplomatic envoys to other nations. Eventually I became more and more irritated by the general lack of response i was getting--or when i did get a response, it was generally quite terse and unexplained, which is very annoying when I've spent the time to compose a lengthy and rational message. My irritation about this carried over somewhat into my messages addressed to the entire roster, so to some extent i can see why you viewed it as unpleasant, and that's my bad (though i wouldn't go so far as to characterize it as harassment or screaming).

This was just a game that i was very excited to play at first, but that excitement just didn't materialize for me. I think it's irrelevant that i was the only player still growing at the games' end. My opinion that the game should have continued would not have changed if i was in a stagnant position like the other players. The fact that i was alone in campaigning for a change from the status quo certainly impassioned me even more as well, since i felt that i had to be loud just to be heard.

Lastly, you're right that i probably won't play more large forum games like this...or at least, not without either: 1) some kind of pledge that prevents unforced draws (a solo-only pledge may not be feasible, but one outlawing permanent alliances would be good), or 2) a more attainable victory condition (half the total SC's in a big map is unreasonable, but setting the threshold lower---say 40 SCs--could work).
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Re: WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby raphtown » 10 Mar 2011, 06:42

My AAR:

I started this game as Quebec, sort of an odd-ball country located on the fringes of North America. I sent out probing messages to my neighbors to see who was interested in what, and most were agreeable to some sort of alliance.

Most notably, Eastern USA had a grand alliance plan for us both that involved me quickly expanding into the Atlantic and him taking the continent. I am always interested by strong starts, so I decided to go with it. However, USA stabbed me in a rather brutal manner at the end of the first year, yet my aggressive expansion was enough to permit me a build. Of course, I was not too happy about this, so I rallied up Cuba and Confederacy (the latter of which I was already having good talks with) and promised them spoils of USA's land if they helped me against him.

This worked spectacularly and by the next year USA was begging for help at my door because he was surrounded. I obliged and brutally stabbed him for the majority of his remaining SCs. It was about this time that Confederacy and I started talking about a grand alliance plan to unify the rest of the world. I believe we included Canada as well and we wanted to divvy up the world and we had lots of deals worked out. However, Canada had plans of his own so we ended up wiping him out with Pacifica's aid. Then Pacifica sort of NMRed so we wiped him out too (he was sort of weak).

At the same time, I had resumed my expansion into the Atlantic, after claiming the majority of the Eastern Seaboard. A number of things happened at this point. For one, Confederacy and I were debating whether to go for Cuba or bring him in permanently into our alliance. Second, Timbuktu and co. were calling up a massive attack on Europe since they were too powerful. In the end, we decided to go for Europe and let Cuba annex the South so we admitted him our alliance. I then convinced England to stab the rest of Europe, officially as part of the plan to kill the Slavs and Catholica. So they fight, England starts losing, I begin filling up England's positions to help him defend himself, all the while keeping Catholica convinced I was actually attacking England (not sure how I pulled that off). Eventually I annex the majority of England's territory in one fell swoop.

Here is where I feel I could've done better. England was mine, I controlled the majority of the Atlantic, and the rest of Europe was busy fighting Africa. I really wanted to hit Catholica as he was relatively weak at the time, but was somehow convinced by the rest of the alliance to go for Africa. So, I allied again with Catholica (or continued being allies) and walked into Africa. I made surprising gains at the time, yet as I drove back Africa Catholica got stronger, building more and more troops on my end. I continued to want to make a move on them, but Alliance plans did not allow for such a thing, yet. Eventually I tried to get Slavs to turn on Catholica, yet I never really believed in it. They both turned on me at some point and pushed me back, a bit. I lost Scandinavia to Slavs and whatever I had left of North Africa to Catholica, but my fleets quickly sealed off England and the Atlantic. So now I was at war with Europe, and even though I said I would try for Mur, I realized that that would never really be feasible. In response to vaderi's comment about my 'trust', I think it was more because we got too greedy and 'left' Europe for later. That and I might have meddled too much to their liking. Also I was always looking at the European venture with an opportunistic eye, and I did not want anyone else getting too strong from it. How I saw it, I had annexed England without anyone else making any serious gains. I would've liked to have kept pushing but that was never really to be.

So the end game mostly involved Africa and me making sure I didn't get stabbed by my allies. I was stuck in a pincer movement between Europe and Ceebs in Africa and no one there really wanted to work with me, so I began helping my friend Cuba in and would perhaps have retaken that area. It was not game-changing though.

Anyhow, the whole end game Ceebs was clamoring for stabs while taking over inactive African nations and there was one time when I was scared Confederacy would hit me. However, the situation disarmed itself as (I think) it was made clear that if I was stabbed the Atlantic would fall to Europe and Confederacy's distance from my SCs would make it easy for me to mount a defense that would cost him a lot of time to break (or maybe they were just committed to the alliance?). I must say I was growing rather irritated at South Africa for these repeated calls to stab not only because I was a prime stab target but also because I thought these stabs would be fully to his advantage (the previous allies engage each other... the other nations swoop in...) It didn't help that my attempts to negotiate with Congo essentially ended up in me realizing he was just giving his stuff to South Africa. This made me feel like he was upholding double-standards as he was profiting from uncommitted players while invoking some sort of spirit of the game. In retrospect, it wasn't that bad, but at the time I was quite irritated.

I am sorry for the disjointed AAR but I am quite busy. Also I want to make clear that I respect Ceebs as a player and all and would be more than happy to verse him again. My only real problem was that double-standard mentioned earlier which bothered me at the time.
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Re: WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby vaderi » 10 Mar 2011, 15:43

a more attainable victory condition (half the total SC's in a big map is unreasonable, but setting the threshold lower---say 40 SCs--could work).


I quite agree, Half the SCs on the board is too difficult on a large map like this. I believe that is one of the main reasons for the draw, nobody was even remotely close to victory.
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Re: WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby townypete » 14 Mar 2011, 14:04

Hi All
Well let me start by saying a big thank you to An49 for all of his hard work in making this game fun for us all, and well done for the very few NMR's.
I was very excited to be part of this game, I loved the concept of taking over the world, after I signed up and while waiting for the game to start I started planning strategies for the different areas on the board, then the country asignments came out and i was Congo! :( I could not believe it, I really thought this had to be one of the worst countries to draw. My first goal was just to survive long enough to not be the first player knocked out. There was no strategy for this country. Surrounded by 4 other nations and only one port to build fleets, I thought if I were any of those four nations I would kill Congo quickly, because Congo has too many armies and nowhere to go. So I was worried! So diplomacy it was, and I started the idea that no one player could conquer the world but if the five nations of Africa banded together we would have a great base to attack from and if we trusted each other we would be successful. So the African Continental Alliance was born. Then I was attacked in the first year by South Africa and Timbuktu. I had no chance of survival! So I went crying to my two neighbours who were not attacking me and asked for help. I pointed out that both Timbuktu and SA had agreed to peace between us, and if they attacked me for easy gains how soon before they are under attack too. Egypt came to my rescue, turning Timbuktu away from me which was good, I never was happy with him after that but did not want to put Africa in an unstable position, if we squabbled amongst ourselves it was just inviting outsiders in to finish us off. So we were able to work together. SA was another story led by Superplayer I never felt he could be trusted he was making deals left right and center and braking them just as quickly so the ACA decided to exclude him and Kenya and I began a planned attack against him. Then he disappeared.
It was tempting to just sweep in while the country was in disorder and build a solid base for myself, but then Ceebs came along and was interested in playing but only if it was worth taking over the nation that was going to still be there. I did some research on this new leader for South Africa and thought he could be a good fit and rejoin our ACA and we could be back on track for taking over the world. So I PMed Ceebs to get him up to speed with the game and assure him that I was not interested in SA if there was a strong leader there willing to work with the ACA. So he joined and him and I focussed on conquering South America. This however did not really go to plan...
We just never really made inroads into South America, which was disappointing, and then Timbuktu fell off the map, he was not responding to any discussions and I could see Raphtown coming, so started grabbing land.
Now the really disappointing part of life... I have come to realise in my two and a half years on this site, that I can't maintain many games over my summer months I often don't get home from work until 9 - 930 at night and I am out the door again early. The game was going so well so I didn't want to just leave it, but I was not able to find the time to communicate with my neighbours let alone anyone else on the board. So I handed in my notice and hoped a replacement player was found... no replacement was found, which was kinda cool because I really didn't want to leave... so I thought I would just find the time to put in orders and hope for the best. As Ceebs said, at this time I PMed him and said that I don't have the time to communicate in this game so instead i would just be his puppet I would do the moves that I thought best, try to let him know what I was planning and if there was anything he wanted of me just to let me know. This worked well for sometime, but I think Ceebs started getting worried because of my lack of communication with him and I suspect he saw it easier if he had control of my armies and not need to communicate with me. When I had the time I was always keen to communicate, it just was not enough, and as the game went on it was hard for me to remember who to communicate with and that used up time I did not have to work out. :?
Raphtown did convince me to support him in Africa, which I did send orders to do... but then with just a couple of hours to the dead line I panicked and changed my orders because I had not communicated with South Africa or any other neighbours and I was afraid that this would be my down fall. - Even with no time to communicate or follow the game closely it still was important to me to try and survive to the end. I did regret my panic and wish i had stuck with my plan, I think that Raphtown and I could have enjoyed working together but then it would only have worked if I had time to invest into our relationship. Which only now as summer comes to an end for me I am beginning to have.
And now I come to the best part of this game, the draw proposals, they could not have come at a better time for me. I think had I survived much longer and Ceebs kept declining the draw I might have found the time to try and turn the whole world against him, but thankfully Ceebs is included in this draw even though reluctantly on his part. :D
President of ...well it was Congo but... where am I? :?
Leader of a small tribe somewhere in Africa :)
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Re: WW4 Final map and AAR

Postby cs » 14 Apr 2011, 16:52

First off, a big thank-you to an49 for running this game and doing it so well. And a big thanks to all the players who made it happen. This was about the smoothest forum game I've played, which is impressive given the sheer number of players. (Though I suppose it helped that with so many players, we could just allow NMRs and boot people, as no one player was crucial to the outcome, at least early on.)

I was Confederacy. Raphtown's explanation of the early game in North America pretty much covers my point of view as well--Quebec and Cuba proved good allies, while USA, Canada, and Pacifica did not, for various reasons. Ergo, they failed to survive. Mexico was a victim of a power squeeze--Cuba and I had to go somewhere.

At that point, the game more or less devolved into gridlock. I made one really dumb mistake, which was missing a build phase, costing me a fleet in the Pacific. It's possible that mistake actually determined the outcome of the game, as the extra fleet would have arrived at a time before Japan had established an unassailable stalemate line, and I just might have been able to penetrate far enough to harm him. At the least, I would have kept Alaska. Waterice Man was generous enough to allow me one of the two builds, even though I missed the deadline, but that wasn't enough. (And I have respect for Waterice Man's generosity, I have even more respect for his shrewdness, so I suspect he knew that.)

I'm not sure I agree 100% with raphtown's assessment of his mistake in not going after Catholica more aggressively. I actually felt his mistake was making Catholica nervous (by reaching out to the Slavs about the possibility of eliminating Catholica), leading Catholica to feel threatened and retaliate. Catholica was in a situation where he had little room for expansion without going through either Quebec or the Slavs, and it requires an extreme amount of diplomacy, if not ass-kissing, to keep a player in that situation on board. (That's true for any good player in Catholica's situation and has nothing to do with oedramus specifically, who I think played his hand as well as anyone could have.) In any event, I think Raphtown/Quebec pulled a Hamlet and was simply indecisive. He would have been better off either completely placating Catholica or attacking him--leaving him around and making him nervous was the worst outcome. Everyone made at least one or two mistakes in this game, though, so I'm not trying to be critical of Raphtown--just offering my own comments on the mistake he admits himself.

For the record, I had no intention of stabbing Quebec, even when I made him somewhat nervous with a troop shift that looked more threatening that it was. (The net effect was to move one unit from the Pacific to within two moves of his frontier.) At that point, it wasn't clear to me he could stop Catholica and the Slavs from overrunning him, and I wanted to make sure I had sufficient troops in position to prevent them from establishing a beachhead in North America. There was no intention of actually attacking Quebec (unless it was clear he was doomed and that was the only way to secure my eastern seaboard); they would more likely have helped support him. I was making it clear to Catholica/Slavs that I would not let Quebec fall, and I was hoping they would see the troop shift as evidence I was prepared to help defend him. In retrospect, that was a mistake, as I think they realized better than I they could not defeat him and merely thought I might really be planning to stab him.

In the end, I, too, was a bit disappointed in a 12-player draw, but I think there was some burnout among players. I don't think a solo victory, or even an alliance victory, was possible, but felt an 8-player outcome was entirely possible, which would have included the Americans (Quebec/Confederacy/Cuba), Europeans (Catholica/Slavs), and Asians (India/Khmer/Japan). Argentina might have been a necessary participant, but I saw no real reason for South Africa, Congo, or Kenya to survive, as they could have been eliminated by agreement among the other powers without jeopardizing any stalemate lines. I made some poor attempts and getting this to happen, but I couldn't get interest. I think some key people may have been so sick of Ceebs' efforts to push for stabs and a continued game they were just ready to call it quits. (And to that end, his efforts may have been quite successful in that they distracted people from the fact that South Africa was the only remaining major power that could be eliminated safely.)

Why didn't I stab one of my allies, either Cuba or Quebec? Leaving aside the psychological aspect that I just didn't want to do so (see below), it would have been suicide for me to stab Cuba, and there was no point in stabbing Quebec. Cuba and I were completely reliant on each other to defend our Pacific stalemate line. As long as I saw the guns of Khmer and Japan staring down my throat, I really had no option of stabbing Cuba, as my position would have collapsed completely. As for Quebec, there was no real point. Yes, Quebec would have been eliminated, but, at best, I would have succeeded to his line of defense in the Atlantic. There was no chance of it altering the stalemate lines and allowing a major breakthrough--unless it allowed the Europeans and the Africans to secure enough of the Atlantic to ultimately defeat either Cuba or me. The benefit of going from 12 players to 11 players wasn't enough to outweigh the risk of complete disaster.

Psychologically, in a game that lasts almost a year, alliances become more than just alliances; they're true relationships. That's something that distinguishes this game from ordinary dip or shorter forum games. After everything Quebec and I had gone through together, it would have been just plain hard for me to stab him; I became emotionally attached. I think that was true for everyone, to some extent, who had long-standing alliances. It's interesting that the harshest cricticism of people holding to alliances came from Ceebs, who joined after the game was in progress and didn't really have strong allies. That's not to say his criticism is unfair, but, if you've been tied at the hip to a guy for a year and survived multiple crises together, it's just plain hard to stab him. Rationally, it might make sense, but I'm a human, not a computer. I don't want to invest a year of my life in the game only to leave feeling dirty about something I did. Again, that may not be "right" in the sense that I should play to win, but I'm a human with emotions, for better or for worse.

Ultimately, though, the stalemates were just the result of standoffs. The key problem, I think, was the ratio of SCs to territories was too high for a map this large. As the map gets bigger, the ratio of non-SC territories to SCs should get larger. As players expand with a large map, it becomes possible to have a number of SCs behind the lines that don't require defense, freeing larger numbers to patrol the front lines. The result is that the sea territories, in particular, become huge stalemate lines, as both sides can pack in enough units to prevent an advance. The key isn't to add more territories if some of them have SCs, but to add more territories without SCs, particularly oceans. Yes, some of this can be avoided if, say, Cuba and I would stab each other, or Khmer and Japan had stabbed each other, but that would have been foolish, as it would just opened to door to get overrun.

In summary:

Raphtown--Great game, and a great partnership. Persuading England to stab was brilliant and opened the door to all sorts of things. Crushing Africa was impressive as well.

PiT (The Physicist)--Apart from the sheer pain in the ass of typing your name into a PM, a great alliance. Your stab of Colombia was stellar, but keeping Argentina on board was even better. Had you not done that, it would have been a different game.

Waterice Man--Thanks for your generosity in allowing me at least half my builds when I NMRed, and a game well-played.

Oedrannus--I wish I could have talked you out of war with Quebec, as it would have allowed us to finish off Africa, even if that would merely have resulted in an 8-way draw. Still, I don't blame you, as you were in a tough position. I appreciate your candor in discussions, and look forward to the next time.

Ceebs--I respect your efforts to persuade me (and others) to break up the logjam with a stab, and I respect them all the more because they probably deflected attention away from the fact that you were the most likely major power to get eliminated. By putting yourself at the center of negotiation, you avoided becoming the center of destruction, and I'm completely impressed by the fact you survived. However, I'm a bit surprised you continue to express the opinion that the sort of stabbing you tried to encourae was really feasible. Other than stabbing Quebec, which wouldn't have shaken things up, the other stabs you suggested were just too risky, as the likelihood being eliminated was just too great.
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