Imperial III finishes - AARs

GM: Waterice Man. 4-way draw - Flatley (France) / Pedros (Mexico) / cs (Turkey) / kininvie (USA)

Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby Waterice man » 11 Feb 2011, 01:36

beowulf7 wrote:What one thing did you expect me to say? lol - guys, more verve, dash, daring and risk! Its a game and we don't actually gain or lose anything. Maybe I need to found a new group of players who are all susceptible to mad and rash glory hunting changes! It seemed we all (me included with my "not alone" policy) were frightened to risk anything. As a result we have a non-event end game. Would you want to play many more games like this? I mean, its hardly going to be remembered for long... ;)

Overall view? The fun and fulfillment is not enough to justify the laborious game play.


I feel like quoting Narnia...

[Reepicheep] was a good [chess] player and when he remembered what he was doing he usually won. But every now and then Lucy won because the Mouse did something quite ridiculous like sending a knight into the danger of a queen and castle combined. This happened because he had momentarily forgotten it was a game of chess and was thinking of a real battle and making the knight do what he would certainly have done in its place. For his mind was full of forlorn hopes, death or glory charges, and last stands.
Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?

The word 'surrender' derives from old French
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby VGhost » 11 Feb 2011, 03:00

I'll respond to some of the other AARs later, for now I'll just get this up here:

Thanks to Waterice man for GMing - I'm not sure how he handled the bazillion orders per turn so well.

Short AAR: miscommunication, argh!

This game was all about communication breakdown. I believe I had to deal with 2 USA players, 2 Chinese players (maybe 3), 2 Russians (maybe 3)... and I never got the position I wanted.

The headaches started right at the beginning of the game. One flaw in the map (well, from the Japanese POV) is that Russian-Japanese border is unstable. I wanted to defuse this by trading Har for Kamchatka, incidentally placing Russia in full conflict with China. As I was planning to ally with China, this extra conflict would be fine. Problem was, Russia didn't get back to me, so I went with the blitz approach and took Vla. I didn't think I'd take it; as I had concluded Russia was probably hostile I was trying to block any aggressive moves! Unfortunately, my attempt to take Kam as well backfired, and resulted in an overbuilt northwest Asia when I didn't want to fight in the first place!

However, I'd talked to USA and established DMZs, and set up the alliance with China. I intended to play the game out with that two-way: I agree this wasn't likely to be a solo game, but the back-to-back position with a fleet/army split looks really strong.

The China->Russia<-Japan war went on. USA technically trespassed a DMZ and I used this as an excuse to ignore my promise to leave the Philippines alone (I was going to do this anyway, and the DMZs I'd gotten weren't actually reasonable for the USA to continue to respect). My plan was to go south first - I realize in retrospect I didn't really discuss this with China, as it seemed like we could operate pretty independently. Also, my target was France's Indonesian holdings, and I didn't want to cooperate there because if we broke France's land holdings China could expand too fast and build more fleets and stuff.

I hesitate to say this next part decided the game, but I really think it might have. In Winter 1936 - two years in - China built a bunch of fleets and came after me, weakening his land assaults in the progress. He said France had told him I was going to stab him. This essentially stalled him for the rest of the game; when beowulf7 took over he'd made just enough progress that letting off the pressure immediately would have been ideal and let him challenge France but of course he didn't until it was too late; by that point some things still might have gotten done, but I wasn't letting Chinese fleets into "my" seas because I was 80% convinced of a France-China alliance.

Anyway, the rest of the game wasn't that interesting strategically. I lost my land holdings to China, then the Philippines to China, then he lost them to France. I continued to talk to Russia, but he didn't want to antagonize China and/or couldn't spare troops or... anyway eventually I established a semi-working relationship (maybe it was a blind) with the USA (with some participation from the more southern American powers) that allowed me to get back into a decent anti-France/anti-China defensive position.

It was not, however, calculated as an anti-American defensive position, and when the draw showed up the alliance that way, I was left scrambling. And the rest is history.

I feel like I played reasonably well, but not brilliantly. I definitely needed to keep in better contact with people - I have no idea who played most of the powers, actually.

18cards (USA) - seemed like a solid communicator, if a little weak strategically. Dunno what happened to him.
kinninvie (USA) - did I spell that right? I'd say you definitely did the best of us all with what you had.
Flatly (France) - benefited from stick out the entire game, I'm pretty sure, but well played. Were you really responsible for China's early stab?
beowulf7 - you're remarkably honest for a Diplomacy player. Now if only we could work on your strategy (meaning: don't attack me! ;) ) next time.
Pedros - You were what, Colombia? Well-played, I suppose.
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"I'm not panicking, I'm watching you panic. It's more entertaining." - Elli Quinn
"[Diplomacy:] No dice or chance. Just calculated insincerity." - Counter Trap
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby Ceebs » 11 Feb 2011, 04:20

I took over for an already beleaguered Britain at the end of 1939. I joined because i made a deal to do so if someone from this game stepped in and took over an abandoned player in War in the Americas (a good way to avoid stagnation of near-hopeless abandoned positions actually....thank you to Waterice Man for answering the call but no thanks to cs for giving up the spot in WitA in the first place)

My position was pretty well doomed from the start, but i figured i'd give it the ol' college try and see if i could shake things up a bit. Unfortunately, i had no such luck. I reached out to everyone around me and received pretty much nothing encouraging in return. Germany snubbed me, Mexico lied to me and then stabbed, and France actually negotiated with me a little but it mostly boiled down to "i'm going to take most of your possessions, but you could be my pawn elsewhere".

Anyways, i resisted all my attackers diligently, but with no real help from anyone else, it was only a matter of time. Indeed, towards the end i really made no attempt to conduct any diplomacy--it just wasn't worth my time. For the last few years i simply sent in one set of instructions to be followed ad infinitum and ignored the rest of the game. For that reason, i'm not very well versed in the reasoning behind the final geopolitical state of the game.
Meanwhile, in the petty world of small victories, i am somewhat chuffed to see that i outlasted 4/12 of other players alive when i joined, technically earned a survival credit (i'm not eliminated until fall!) and tied colombia for 7th place! hahaha


Admittedly I only skimmed through the various players' explanations of the final situation, but from my understanding of the basic details, i'm left with a dissapointing impression of the end of the game. Although, with a few forum games' experience under my belt now, i'm not all that surprised.

From my perspective at least, France was (or should have been) public enemy number 1 from the day i joined. I had hoped to see a broad coalition develop to oppose him, but apparently defeating the runaway SC leader was not a priority for most of the players in this game. Equally surprising is that France did not try to push his way to the solo. It would have been an exceedingly impressive feat, and with little at stake to lose, it's a shame he didn't try.

I also don't understand this draw proposal that excludes China/Japan. It just doesn't sit well with me to have 3 players say "we will never stab each other, so you can't survive if we play like this ad nauseam, so we might as well end now and assume you are/will be eliminated". It's a cowardly way to "win"--or rather, draw whittle for a meaninglessly smaller tie. At the same time though, it's just as unfortunate to see China accept such a draw. He has nothing to lose, and potentially everything to gain by refusing the proposal and forcing the other players to either include him in the draw or painstakingly eliminate him while risking being stabbed from within (and in the event of such a stab, China can gain new allies). All the rhetoric in the world about the game being fait accompli doesn't change this--resisting gives you leverage and it's always possible to see a stab.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the pattern for large scale games like this. After a number of years, large and permanent alliances emerge. It would seem that players develop a strong vested interest in the game and believe that having expanded thus far, it would be safer to cash out than take further risks. This means that the game ends prematurely in the mid-game and without a forced draw situation. It is as though the goal of the game has shifted from winning outright (which is the case in standard diplomacy) to being part of a 'winning' coalition. However, the latter is much easier to accomplish (especially in big games where one has more options for both skilled allies and unskilled/uncommitted early opposition). This dynamic of large games means that it is more feasible to establish unbreakable alliances and stick to them, whereas in regular diplomacy, it is--or should be--an unspoken agreement that no alliance is permanent because every one is trying to win. If traditional 7-player diplomacy games ended like this one, we would see games with 3-4 players establishing a close alliance early on, playing only 3-4 years, and then declaring themselves victorious.

Another issue is that of time. The larger the game (in size of map, number of SCs and number of players), the longer it will take to achieve a solo (not necessarily a uniform correlation). However, players' expectations and commitment to the game do not tend to increase accordingly. Fatigue becomes a factor in hastening the draw process. 12 games years is seen as a long time to play in any variant without regard to the stage of the game that is reached. That length of game would mean a protracted end-game with only 2-4 players in standard, but it may not even be reaching the end-game on a large map.

In the end, what it really means is that large variants like this generate a significant departure from the diplomatic atmosphere and tension of a small variant. The behavior and risk aversion of players changes dramatically. My general disappointment admittedly stems for a desire to see all games played to an ultimate finale--particularly interesting new variants like this, and where stalemate lines do not control as much of the board. However, perhaps large variants just unavoidably become a different game from diplomacy.

(EDIT: sorry for the rant...I don't mean to derail discussion of this actual game, just thought my little pet theory was fitting here)
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby VGhost » 11 Feb 2011, 05:36

beowulf7 wrote:On point 1; I was hoping that you guys would sell Japan to me cheaply (if you note I did eventually make a real peace with Japan) - seemed possible that you would throw me a bone that would advance my SC count. Remember when I joined I only bordered 3 countries so I did have to take some action. Accepting Japan as a gift would indeed, as events show, have been better than trying by force. And a draw with me, france, japan and 3 americas at least would not really be a result.


What I'm pretty sure I told everybody (but I'm not going to sort through reams of messages to check) is that if you all ganged up on me, I'd block China out and let whoever could grab whatever they could. If I didn't actually tell you that, it's because I thought it was obvious. Further, consider at the time of our talks the only real fleet power in the bunch (besides myself, and I was dealing with your fleets) was Colombia, way the hell away from me. USA's fleets were tied down with the Russian question - or down south dealing with France.

beowulf7 wrote:My own approach to risk depends on the investment in the game but I do have a love of the dramatic and will often go down blazing rather than with a whimper (I don't win very often at Paintball for that reason!). What I look for in the games is something to make that game stand out - that can be victory or supporting a good ally unto death, accepting the dark side of the force, aiding a noob or finding some bizzare task to accomplish. Ok, some of my appeal for a dash of Elan was an attempt to rock the boat, I admit that, but mostly I'm genuine - in this game right up until the last minute it was possible to do something "a bit different". If the mechanics were a bit slicker I would have carried on alone and tried to draw something new into play but, to be honest, it will take 3 months of real time and that seemed too much to ask of you guys

I would be interested in setting up a sub-group of "dramaticists" or similar that have a wilder approach. "Death and/or Glory!"


I'd be interested, although there was very little dash in this game all around. Getting stuck stonewalling was about the worst possible outcome for me.
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"I'm not panicking, I'm watching you panic. It's more entertaining." - Elli Quinn
"[Diplomacy:] No dice or chance. Just calculated insincerity." - Counter Trap
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby Pedros » 11 Feb 2011, 10:36

Ceebs - two things.

I didn't in fact lie to you. Our conversation came in the middle of the period I described above when I was arguing pretty furiously with USA and Colombia about their desire to enter an alliance with France. I got the OK to see what we could enginer with you, and this was pretty well agreed by kininvie when unfunfunt disappeared on us. At that point we took the view that France would deswtroy us in the abwence of a Colombian ally, so I had to pull the plug on that. I regretted it - and I think I did in fact warn you that the deal was off before attacking you!

Secondly, I share many of your concerns about larger games on this Forum. I've expressed some of it in kininvie's topic in the main Forum Games section. It might be useful if you pasted some of your stuff across there.
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby Ceebs » 11 Feb 2011, 15:31

Pedros-I was referring more to the time when you attacked me right at the beginning of my tenure in this game (1940).

I will look for the topic that you're referring to and weigh in with my thoughts on large games there instead.
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby Pedros » 11 Feb 2011, 17:51

Ceebs wrote:Pedros-I was referring more to the time when you attacked me right at the beginning of my tenure in this game (1940).


Ah. But that was the continuation of an invasion of Europe begun the year before. But I suppose you can't be blamed for seeing it as a stab!
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby cs » 11 Feb 2011, 17:57

Lot of material to read this weekend! I'd like to thank Flatley for being an excellent ally and Pedros and kininvie for help us close the deal.

I'll provide a more detailed AAR later, but here's the short version for Turkey:

I was a French client state.
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby Flatley » 13 Feb 2011, 04:51

I haven't forgotten. I'm still writing the AAR. To be honest, I'm conflicted as to how much I should reveal, lest this magician show too many of his secrets.
The enemy's gate is down.

Don't go thinkin' you so bad jes cuz you was in SOLDIER.

We've always been at war with Eastasia.
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Re: Imperial III finishes - AARs

Postby Flatley » 15 Feb 2011, 21:17

Part I: Map analysis and strategy setting

Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific. These things have France in common. France ended the game as either the primary or major power in each of these regions. It’s no coincidence that it also began as a power in each of these regions. At the onset of the game I made a point to review the previous games, to assess what each of map-spanning powers have done (Netherlands, UK, France, etc). What I have seen in most cases is that each player opted to divest themselves of some of their starting SCs in favor of focusing their attention in others. In other words, they converted themselves from a global concern to a regional concern. This, I felt, was a mistake on their part, and indeed, they have failed to make it to the end game. France lost out in Imperial I and II. UK was a coin toss in each game, but even as a winner it was not a world-mover. In short, they (presumably) felt that they could lose their SCs in one region and somehow translate that into strength in another region. In fact, all they did was narrow their own field of play, give other regions an opportunity to grow at a faster rate with the investment of fewer resources, and make it more difficult to influence (or control) that region’s events.

My primary objective was to finish as I’ve started: a globe-trotting power(house).

This was no easy feat. Before I could even think about becoming a global general and a global leader, I needed to become a global diplomat. I would not (and did not) have the opportunity to pay less attention to one region’s nations in favor of the other. Indeed, I needed to make partnerships in each of the regions to ensure that I would be able to grow. At least to start, I could not grow by my own strength. In every region, I was a secondary power at best, and did not have the strength to make any kind of unilateral decisions. I needed to depend and rely on other nations to pull me forward, and that required building bridges.
Indeed, I chose my alliances carefully based on the opportunities present at the beginning of the game. I was careful to avoid making close ties with the strongest regional powers, or with powers that could only grow through me. Instead, I looked to my neighbors’ neighbors, the smallest and most challenged of the bunch. Powers that can reach out as you reach out and pull each other towards a similar grow.

One potential partnership for me was found in the Middle East. There were two such powers in the area, one that could help me in Europe and Africa, and the other with Africa and Asia. They were Turkey and Persia. So at the onset of the game I made a point to reach out to them both and make overtures of friendship and cooperation. They both indicated to me that they were receptive to my comments, but that they were first and foremost allies with each other. They were going to watch each others’ backs, which meant that, in the short term, I could predict the direction for their growth. Persia could either grow into India or Russia, which meant I had to assume that I would not be able to make sweeping claims of that stretch of land. (This decision was what later prompted me to support China into Burma in 1938, instead of having him support me, which was the initial plan. It will be mentioned in the coming posts.)

Another partnership was required in Asia. With six players in Asia and the west Pacific, I certainly had my pick of friends, but I recognized that the local powers (Japan and China) would have the greatest degree of personal investment in the Pacific. It was for this reason that I reached out to them both and began to set myself up as a friend to the Pacific Rim. Get rid of the others, and the Pacific is ours. Japan could have pushed into the north Pacific, northwest Russia, and North America; China would have gained total control of Asia; and France with Oceania and Australia. Pie-in-the-sky thinking, but it was achievable, and it was a goal that included France. I did reach out to the US for a minor agreement, but even then I could tell I wasn’t going to gain much traction from the player.

The last group of players of import (no offense to the American powers; I simply didn’t have a presence there, and so limited my diplomacy to a nice letter) were the European powers. Italy and the UK had colonial presences around the globe; indeed, the UK had an even more expansive presence than I did, while the Italians had a strong starting position in Africa. Both would likely prove to be long-term obstacles for me, as they could impact every one of my regions in the same manner I could. In fact, I felt that Italy was the greatest threat to France at the outset of the game; left to their own devices, the Italians could dominate the African theatre and work together with the UK or Germany to pinch off France herself, leaving me at the mercy of the Pacific powers (among whom the UK numbered). Ergo, I would have to reconcile them when I had the chance.

Next up: pre-game Diplomacy, and opening years.
The enemy's gate is down.

Don't go thinkin' you so bad jes cuz you was in SOLDIER.

We've always been at war with Eastasia.
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