AARs and reflections on the game

Game for 7 set in riots in London over one night. Unusual rules! Devised by Andy Mansfield, introduced and GMd by Pedros. Winner: thewysecat (Nurses)

AARs and reflections on the game

Postby Pedros » 23 Feb 2012, 19:34

I was going to list the different "special abilities" in order from least to most useful, as a useful aid to anybody who thinks of running or playing this in the future. It's an appallingly unbalanced game, and the quality of the rules as originally written is as bad. Whatever the differences between Wyse and myself, I think we might agree that there are far too many loose ends and even issues which are not tackled at all.

WarSmith beat me to it (viewtopic.php?f=353&t=26587#p412406), at least as far as the Nurses are concerned, but that's no problem - I hope others will chime in from their own point of view.

I would say that two factions are the weakest by some distance; the first of them is the Shoppers. Their only advantage is the initial - but temporary - advantage of the double army in Knightsbridge. But that unit is faced by the Royal Garrisons which mean they're unlikely to be able to make much use of their double strength in the first year, and if they don't make a first-year gain they lose the extra unit anyway! Add to that the fact that Knightsbridge is quite isolated from the other two starting centres and the Shoppers position is weak indeed.

The other may be surprising in view of their second place in the final reckoning, but the Eastenders could easily be as short-lived as the Shoppers. They start with a good, tight-knit group of three SCs, but their only unit is the triple army. That looks frightening, but in fact if the City Boys decide to head that way in numbers they can be almost certain of two gains in years one and two at the expense of the East Enders, forcing them to reduce the triple unit to a double then a single. The City Boys then gain the additional advantage of a corner position. If the East Enders can survive this early onslaught, then their long-term position is reasonable, but they will always suffer the disadvantage of needing two additional SCs just to support the triple unit, reducing their offensive potential (the relative uselessness of the triple unit south of the river in this game shows its limitation).

The Royals have good defensive prospects because of their two garrisons, but those do not help them in offense. Away from the Palace they are just like any normal diplomacy country.

The prospects of the City Boys depend to a considerable extent on the position of the five hidden SCs whose location they know. In this game none of them were close enough to provide an early advantage and in fact I don't know that they ever gained a single one of them. They have no other advantage (except the opportunity to force themselves into the corner as described above.)

I expected the Theatre Goers to fare better than they did. I believe that the fact that they didn't is probably due to two factors - the very strong Nurse faction which came to oppose them early on; but also the large proportion of SCs compared to neutrals in this game, in contrast to Regular Diplomacy and most other variants. Even before the river is crossed (where every space is an SC), the numbers are 32 SCs (including the ten hidden ones) and 41 non-SCs. Add the 12 police units and there are more occupied spaces in the north than unoccupied. This compares to 34 SCs and about 50 other spaces on the classic map. What this means is that there are fewer places for the Theatre Goers to remain hidden, and it was very rare for a unit to be out of sight for more than one or two turns, so that their advantage is strictly limited.

It is more difficult to assess the chances of the Taxi Drivers. In this game, early on, the unit moving twice tended usually to move two spaces away from its colleagues, which meant that the units very quickly became very fragmented. It would be intersting to see what happened if they had tried one move to a new position and then a surprise support for another taxi unit, which could have made them much more troublesome to others.

Which just leaves the Nurses. I agree with WarSmith that their floating double unit was the biggest advantage by some distance. They were able to put in extra force at the strategically important position. Combined with Wyse's fine strategic sense this would have made them probable winners in any case. But the advantage is even bigger than this. Whereas the Shoppers and the East Enders had to resource their double and triple units with SCs, the Nurses' additional strength needed no support. Difficult to quantify, but certainly a significant advantage.
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Re: AARs and reflections on the game

Postby diplomat42 » 23 Feb 2012, 20:36

I'd put City Boys lower down than you have them Pedros.

The hidden SC's aren't nearly as much of an advantage as you might think, even if you get the good fortune of them being near you.
Firstly, you've got to hope someone doesn't stumble on them.
Secondly, you've got to explain what in the heck your army is doing wandering up behind someone's lines where there is apparently nothing.
Thirdly, if you take the center it is revealed, meaning that it's giving the others your ability.
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Re: AARs and reflections on the game

Postby diplomat42 » 23 Feb 2012, 20:38

In addition you find yourself near the Nurses at some point in the game.
I think the Nurses should have to have the center extra to use the 2A.
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Re: AARs and reflections on the game

Postby Pedros » 23 Feb 2012, 20:50

diplomat42 wrote:In addition you find yourself near the Nurses at some point in the game.
I think the Nurses should have to have the center extra to use the 2A.

I agree with that - but I still think that being able to move that 2A around would be a huge advatage even then!
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Re: AARs and reflections on the game

Postby Pedros » 23 Feb 2012, 20:52

diplomat42 wrote:I'd put City Boys lower down than you have them Pedros.

The hidden SC's aren't nearly as much of an advantage as you might think, even if you get the good fortune of them being near you.

You might well be right; I just think it's difficult to be sure, whereas for me it's clear that the Shoppers are no-hopers and the East Enders almost as bad (once the City Boys catch on) - and the Boys do have that tactical option which I think would make a much better game for them - for a start they could then build a firm line to mount resistance to the Nurses.

In this game the Nurses had the other advantage that, so far as I can remember (I haven't checked back) they were never put under much pressure themselves - which, of course, may be down to Wyse's clever diplomacy!)
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Re: AARs and reflections on the game

Postby thewysecat » 23 Feb 2012, 21:06

The nurses most certainly had an overwhelming advantage in this game. They were controlled by thewysecat

Oppose me and you will be crushed. Cabbies = 0 points, Royals = 0 points, Theatre Goers = 0 points.

One of the keys to victory in any game is find a way to get motivated. I had 3 inspirations - Palin's unprovoked phase one attack, Kian's general rudeness in his PMs and Warsmith's casual suggestion in a PM at 0100 that our position was a near stalemate. Nothing wrong with that suggestion, but I disagreed and so I did a quick back-of-an-envelope calculation that had me in Buck Palace at game end if I played the tactics spot on. And so I challenged myself to see if I could do it

The Royals are a far better power than Pedros rates them. To rate the powers you have to discuss their board position. The Royal's proximity to the river with a very thin police line is their key advantage. Thus the point of the fortresses is to prevent the police ever threatening a royal SC and thus establishing a defence line of the river at that point which is 2 'squares' deep. Of course it doesn't help when the police misorder a retreat and thus destroy one of the few units they have in that part of the map...

That is all.
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Re: AARs and reflections on the game

Postby stalin813 » 24 Feb 2012, 07:08

Getting SHAFTED with the shoppers in this game was a quick route to nowhere. Before, I go into the politics or balance of the game, I would like to make a GM point. I was a sub for Ninja's incredibly short-lived time in this game. He backed out right after bids. However, Pedros had solicited bids from me before their were revealed as I might have filled in for warsmith(i believe). I think in this instance, my bids should have taken precedent over ninja's as I didn't have the advantage of seeing others bids and was in the same blind-auction time as everyone else. Just a point to consider if this situation ever arises again. Consider it similar to the new rule of resetting board after 1st turn NMR.

As for the factions, it is NOT EVEN CLOSE how much the shoppers get the shaft over EVERY OTHER FACTION. Not only does every other faction have a clear line to the river, not only does every faction have at least all their units within one square of one another, but no other faction has to capture a SC, just to avoid a disband in hour 1, which means war with someone or the find the hidden SC booby prize. I thought it best to try to ally with the royals and go after the theatre goers, using the threat that invisible units left to their own devices for too long would be bad. This wasn't a great alliance, but the shoppers HAVE NO GREAT ALLIANCE option. They are at the mercy of other nations and cut in half at that. If the Shoppers power and the nurses power switched, this game might actually be balanced. Other than that, a whole total rework is needed as well as starting positions. Good game Wysecat, who I was actually allied with, even though it helped him far more than me.
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Re: AARs and reflections on the game

Postby Pedros » 24 Feb 2012, 14:48

I don't think it was an option to recalculate the Auction stalin, and what you suggest isn't the same as the first turn restart on main site (at least if I understand it aright - I've never come across it in action) When that was set up I argued, and I think the point was agreed, that once the countries are known negotiations start; you can't scrub them out and reallocate countries, so the only thing to do is rerun the Sp01 with the new player.

In your case the draw was made and announced, so the same reasoning applies - you can't scrub out what's already been said and you can't pretend it hasn't happened. The only difference was that we hadn't even run the first set of orders, so you came in at the off.

But having said that, I do appreciate you taking ninjaruler's place in two games at that opening point, withint a couple of weeks of each other - the more because in both of them he had drawn countries which were among the weakest.
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