1600 II: AARs

GM: kininvie. 3-way draw - Kian (England)/Jus (France)/Magmaniac (DenNor)

Re: 1600 II: AARs

Postby Jus » 16 Mar 2010, 20:17

France AAR

Part I: I came, I saw, I joined as France

Hm, well, it's hard to remember all the way back to the beginning. I'll say now that my AAR isn't in exact chronological order--I abandoned it for the sake of a riveting story. But the general events are in order, anyway.

I know that, when Kininvie started accepting signups, I was pretty bogged down with my other games, but I joined anyway for two reasons. One, the plethora of territories and supply centers makes for some interesting tactical options for all the countries; and two, the first-come first-served option allowed me to choose France, one of my favorite countries in any Diplomacy map. It would have been my second choice, but His_Flyness snagged Spain before I could.

Advantages of France: its sheer concentrated power lends it versatility and defendability, and of all the countries that border Germany it can, if it's determined, field the most units there in the early game. In the course of the first year it can broker potentially helpful deals with six countries, though only three of those countries can be considered "neighbors" who can pose a serious threat. The French also hold a natural defense against any powerful, united "punch." Though Spain and England can converge on French centers, their attack is limited to a pincer manuever, and they cannot practically mount a concentrated assault from any one direction (unlike, for example, the Juggernaut against Austria in Classic Dip).

Downsides of France: The final advantage is that it doesn't have too many pronounced weaknesses. There is, however, the threat of a united Austria/Spain pair, who can work together to hold France to a single first-year build. To accomplish this Austria only needs to commit one unit and can keep the bulk of his forces to fight his eastern wars.

That Germany is a completely neutral area, I think, is interesting. Two of the countries that border it, Poland and Austria, though they have access to several centers there, are so involved elsewhere that they find it hard to claim and hold German land for long stretches of time. And in the end, it seems, only one country can reign supreme in Germany; though it may be divied up at first, it's inevitable that one of the four bordering nations, especially Denmark or France, unless two of them have a solid alliance, return after a war on a different front is resolved to dominate the exceedingly plentiful German centers. Thus they gain a crucial foothold for an invasion of France or Central Europe (Denmark itself is very difficult to invade unless the invasion is supplemented by fleets).

Italy is interesting for the same reason, though it has fewer centers. It's more of a traditional neutral center-cluster rather than a vast, heavily-contested melting pot like Germany. Italy brings France, Austria, and Spain together in a natural triangle and offers France and Austria the opportunity to ally against Spain, whereas in Germany the two are brought right up next to each other with no hope of working together against anyone. In the end, Germany and Italy serve to balance each other, and the map, very well.

Most of the above is my thoughts on the board before the game began, though I added some things I discovered later. Now, as for the other players...

Part II: Neighbors and Nemeses

A list for quick reference:

1) England-------Kian
2) France -------Jus
3) Spain-------his_flyness
4) Hapsburg Empire-------Retsam
5) Denmark/Norway------Magmaniac
6) Sweden------DOI
7) Poland -----Poflaco
8) Russia -----Oedrannus
9) Ottoman Empire--------Deanchuk, Bobbill1

The Talks with Spain

A Franco/Spanish alliance, when I first looked at the map, looked to me like the Juggernaut of 1600, except without the pitfalls of the Juggernaut: the alliance seemed versatile, appeared resilient to outside attack, and possessed a crucial strategic position on both Germany and Italy. My seedling of a plan involved moving against England early on, then turning to Austria once Spain and I had dominated the northern seas. That all depended on what course the Ottomans chose, whether or not they decided to become a major Mediterranean power.

And there was our first disagreement. Spain insisted that his only choice was to flood the Mediterranean himself before the Ottomans took control; I held that, if the Ottomans were sensible, they would only make an attempt at naval expansion if they were certain of success. And with the Spanish building a fleet in Granada, Deanchuk would be confronting a formidable force indeed if he encroached on our domain.

His_Flyness' reasoning: The worst thing possible was allowing the Ottomans to swarm the West Med. Gaining North Africa, or at least bouncing Deanchuk out of it, was crucial, because otherwise he might break through. Spain's plan centered on an immediate offensive that established his naval supremacy not in the North but in the Med, and perhaps later turning to invade Britain, but concentrating on dismantling the Ottomans first.

My reasoning: Hit England fast and hard, strengthen ourselves with his centers, then with our newfound land power turn east against the Austrians and take Germany for ourselves. And I was unsure of what to do with the Ottomans; I told Spain that they might be an asset, and if he ceded North Africa to Deanchuk it might go a long way toward establishing friendly relations (and keeping the Med empty). Because if Deanchuk saw evidence of Spanish goodwill, he might reinforce himself with armies for a campaign in the east and not have to build fleets at all.

And with a heroic attempt at solving the issue, Spain made a final declaration: he did not want to be my ally, because we hadn't built up enough trust for an alliance to work smoothly. For now he just wanted a peace treaty, and perhaps later we could work together more closely. And he was right, I think. There wasn't a whole lot of trust between us. But his mistake soon became evident, because that message of his forced me to rethink my priorities.

Then the diplomacizing with the Danes got underway, and it was then that I started examining Spanish centers with a hungry eye.

Caucus with Denmark and the Ottomans

I was in a tough spot: the negotiation with Spain hadn't gone well, and I needed an ally fast. Magmaniac and I had been toying with the idea of invading England together and perhaps overwhelming Spain afterwards, though when I received the latter's final abrupt message I knew I needed something stronger. Denmark and I were on good terms, true. But only England or Austria could really help me now.

And I wasn't liking either choice. England was utterly silent; Austria was on good terms with Spain, and an alliance between the two was apparent even before the first Fall turn.

Little did I know back then how much those talks with Denmark would affect my strategy. And perhaps they didn't all that much--it just seems to me now that if we hadn't exchanged messages early on, he and Poland might have formed a pact against me, or he and England. But it did give me some hope of winning that hopeless game.

Around that time the Ottomans sent their reply to my initial greeting and hailed me as the greatest tactician ever to walk the earth (no exaggeration there... ok, maybe a little). He wanted to form an alliance based on the pattern of one of my alliances in an archived Forum Game, which he GMed. The general idea, which in retrospect I wish he'd elaborated on, was to form a peace treaty / alliance with Spain while he and I moved through Austria and Germany and rendezvoused in Scandinavia.

Then, inexplicably, he fell silent. And, finally, England deigned to send me a message.

Comparing Notes with England

From the beginning (soon after the first deadline passed) our alliance was very simple and straightforward; I think there was an unspoken agreement that we needed each other to survive. I noticed that trust wasn't going to be a huge issue with him, and it was rather refreshing not to have my loyalty called into question at every turn (though in my talks with Spain I probably deserved it). Our plan was simple: decimate Spain and make a move on German centers, after which we could expand into the Mediterranean.

But our first big mistake is evident to me now. We had isolated ourselves from the rest of the board, stayed too quiet, and relied a little bit too much on luck when it came to who was able to dominate Scandinavia, and how much the Eastern countries were going to tolerate the Hapsburgs.

Thus ends Volume I of my AAR; number II will be finished, hopefully, whenever I can find time. Great game, everyone. :)
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Re: 1600 II: AARs

Postby Bob.Durf » 16 Mar 2010, 20:29

Great writings, I like knowing what happened at the beginning of the game.
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Re: 1600 II: AARs

Postby kininvie » 16 Mar 2010, 20:34

Great post. Can we have part 2 as soon as possible....then I shall bundle up the AARs and re-post them all on the 'After the game' forum.

Kininvie
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False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

(Macbeth - W. Shakespeare)
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Re: 1600 II: AARs

Postby his_flyness » 22 Mar 2010, 23:03

Hey everyone. This game feels like years ago to me (perhaps because I was eliminated so early!), and I've been largely away from the game/site due to RL problems for a while, but I figured I'd pop by to post a (brief) AAR -- especially because Kinninvie has requested one, and I certainly owe it to him after his excellent GMing.

First, a big thank you to Kinninvie. He did a wonderful job as GM, and was extremely dedicated; I don't think any of us could have asked for more.

The game: I didn't play my best. I was already starting to get over-extended on the diplomacy front, and did not pursue early diplomacy as aggressively as I should have done, which in this variant is a real problem (my sense is that you really have to be trying to shape events across the board to do well here).

My read on early Spanish strategy was as follows:
1) Spain has a huge Mediterranean interest, and if any other power managed a reasonable naval presence there, I was done for.
2) If I was going to stop France, I needed to do it early. Once France got going, it was clear he was going to be hard to stop.

Anyways, I sent an early message to France asking for cooperation, and was happy to get a positive response. England was largely absent and didn't respond to early messages. The Ottomans requested North Africa early. If my memory serves, I said ok initially and later changed my mind (fully signaled in a message). Things went OK with France (although I didn't message him as vigorously as I should have), but what destroyed us was his request that I cede N. Africa to the Ottomans. The problem here was that I thought that if he was planning a stab, this would be a brilliant move, by helping the Ottomans grab builds in the med, making an "alliance" with me so that I didn't limit his expansion, encouraging me to pick a fight with England (exposing my back and preventing an alliance there) and then wiping me out in conjunction with Turkey soon after. So, I broke up relations with France and the Ottomans, asked for help from England, and allied with Austria.

Things went bad from here, as after the first turn's moves, it was clear England had picked France over me, and Austria and I were tactically out-maneuvered in Germany (it didn't help that Austria and I didn't have the best communication). I did some trying to convince Poland to leave Austria alone, but that didn't work and it was clear Austria was done.

I goofed up a build order in here (I tried to build in a non-home SC) and that really hurt a lot tactically in Italy, probably sealing my fate.

I did what I could to convince England to switch to my side (including suggesting that I was throwing the game, spreading malicious rumors about Dean and Jus -- sorry guys!, etc.), but it didn't work. It was definitely grasping at straws, and I was gone not too long after.

Thanks to everyone for a great game -- I only wish that I had played better!
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Re: 1600 II: AARs

Postby Kian » 29 Mar 2010, 17:29

So, what role did England play in the battle for Europe that saw the death of Gloriana, the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth and the crowning of His Exalted Majesty James VI of Scotland and first of that name of England?

This was my first Forum game and, before it began, I had not realised quite how a different map, opponents and starting positions would completely affect all aspects of play.

I was slow out of the blocks regarding diplomacy and it almost cost me dear.

When I did start talking it was largely to France, Norway, Spain and the Hapsburgs.

With Norway I felt I achieved a medium term non aggression pact. Spain and France gave me most food for thought. Each offered an alliance against the other. On balance, I bought France´s proposition. Spain was offering a war on my own doorstep – and my doorstep was shiny clean at the moment. I saw no benefit in a war so close to home.

After that – looking at the board I (unusually for me) pretty much discounted the idea of a solo. I saw few opportunities for numerous early builds and pinned my colours to a hopeful 2 way (acceptable 3 way) alliance draw with France and A.N.Other.

I offered to rule the waves and concentrate on building a navy and controlling vital sea areas.

My heart was in my mouth in the very early part of the mid game as Magmaniac powered into my home waters very aggressively. This could have been curtains for me had he not sudden urgent business in the East and had to destroy units and redeploy. This reprieve also led indirectly to the long term three way alliance of France, Norway and England. Though this persisted till the end I was under no illusion that Just was anything other than the iron fist in this alliance and Norway and England could be seen to be expendable if necessary.

I was always the poor man of the alliance in terms of SCś – but I feel I did contribute. Boy, the Med is a tough bucket of water to take and hold on this map. I felt we were knocking on the door of the Tyrennhian forever.

I really enjoyed the convoy into Siberia – this back door sealed the fate of Poflaco and the Ottomans. I was most surprised to get in there at the second attempt after what I thought would be a surprise move was bounced.

Thanks to Jus for sticking with the alliance, for support, advice and some crucial ideas.
Thanks to Magmaniac for sticking to the plot.

Thanks to you all – it was stimulating and very, very different.

I also liked the comparisons in the early game with the previous 1600 iteration.

K
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