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PostPosted: 19 Feb 2012, 14:16
by Pedros
In the end, a massacre! But how was it for you?

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 19 Feb 2012, 15:51
by stalin813
saving spot

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 20 Feb 2012, 09:25
by heritikyl
Well, this will be my first AAR so we’ll see how this goes. The best place to start, I suppose, would be the beginning: Spring 651. Out of the gate I noted a couple observations:
  • An alliance with Ireland would be beneficial
  • I could secure both Stranraer and Dumfries easily to guarantee two builds in the first year

Wales was the first to reach out and, incredibly, it was via a three-way message with Cornubia. Looking to establish a quick dispatch of Ireland, he offered to support Cornubia to Scillies which, combined with me denying Hebrides, would severely limit Ireland’s growth. The reasoning being an Ireland left to his own devices could bunker up and dominate. In a game of this size, and, presumably, brevity, I felt an offer to join a three-way alliance to quickly knock someone out was a brilliant opportunity. On my southern front, Northumbria was incredibly brief--very disconcerting as there were whispers of a Northumbria/Ireland plot against me (the main source being a forwarded quote from Wales). Mercia provided some relief by suggesting a long-term alliance between the two of us, and assistance against Northumbria, though I would need to instigate. Conflict quickly arose when Ireland wished to take Hebrides as part of an equal split of neutral centers.

After the Spring results, where Ireland moved F Dublin - Irish Sea despite my persistent suggestion that he move it to Cardigan Bay (where he could cut Wales’ support for Cornubia’s attempt on Scillies, thereby bringing about a 1:1 bounce), I needlessly formulated a rather reckless plan to promise him Stranraer in order to placate him. Perhaps I was feeling risky, but I did not want to bluntly deny his request for an even split (admittedly, I was selfishly looking for a 3-build), and figured a stab would be inconsequential as Wales, Cornubia and I quickly dismantled him. Fall 651 brought some dissapointment with Mercia opting to back down with F Severn; had he taken one of Wales’ centers it would have been a boon for myself.

Ireland was, understandably, angry about my mini-stab. His Winter 651 build of F Belfast spoke to this mistrust and would prove to be a huge issue in the future (more on that later). Come Spring 652, Ireland’s fleet in the North Channel, not to mention his increasing naval presence just south of myself, proved to be incredibly annoying as he trapped F Glasgow in its place. In the south, Anglia was set to be demolished under the combined weight of Mercia and Cornubia.

Fall 652 cemented this outcome, while I was able to make some southern advance against Northumbria, pinching him with Wales.The increasing gap in the center of Wales and Mercia’s land led me to believe they were strongly aligned, with the possibility of Cornubia filling out a central/southern alliance. The benefit was that Cornubia would be quickly cornered with nowhere to expand. Wales gave me the first hint of possibly being on the “outside” when he stated he was not interested in attacking Northumbria, for fear of spreading too thin, while Mercia, to his credit, acknowledged that they would be attacking Northumbria. The slight difference in transparency reaffirmed my allegiance to Mercia and made me incredibly wary of Wales (especially when he took two Northumbrian centers!). I was slightly perturbed, however, by Mercia essentially handing Northumbria to Wales, leading to a three-build year for the latter. Adding to this resentment was the realization that I had helped Wales to his domination by supporting him into Cork, a decision I had been debating for it offered no advantages for myself.

Wales’ mid-game push seemed to put the target squarely on his back, a boon to Mercia who was able to quickly corner Cornubia. Coming into 653, it was clear that Wales and Mercia were planning a quick stab on Cornubia which was, I must say, incredibly well orchestrated. The stab was, according to Mercia, tantamount to stability and our mutual benefit as his team had informed him that Kian was more experienced and more likely to stab. Furthermore, he argued that we could easily dispatch Wales as we had a positional advantage; this suggestion, however, came with the usual caveat that I would need to instigate while he cleaned up Cornubia. I would like to say that this set off alarms, and in hinesight it does, but at the time I fully believed we were going the distance--encouraged, no doubt, by my interaction with him in other games.

Mercia continued to placate me in 654 by promising that the business in the south would take no more than 2 years. At the same time, Wales and I were unofficially officially at war, feeling one another out in the midst of one rogue Northumbrian army. At this point, Ireland’s fleet, cleverly snuck into the Hebridean Sea in 653, began to cause problems. I had to devote two crucial fleets to ensure he didn’t steal any supply centers. Adding to the stress, Mercia’s placation quickly turned to relaying me the troubling news of he and Wales’ plans (in hindsight, likely his), while claiming his hands were tied, unable to help, only to follow through; one of my notes on the correspondence and plan was: “Surrounding my land-based units; creating a stalemate--perhaps his hope for a stalemate wasn’t necessarily for my benefit, but to bottle me up”. Wales, despite Mercia’s whisperings, let me into Lancaster in the Spring. Mercia was shocked, no doubt because his ally had broken rank, and I surmise he put an incredible amount of pressure on Wales to retake it in the Fall (while proclaiming his sorrow at my loss). The growing no man’s land in the midst of Wales and Mercia’s was quite a cause for concern, especially as Wales let Mercia shuffle fleets into the south.

My failure to submit a build for Winter 654 (I postponed it thinking I would remember after going out later the evening before, only to forget until I woke up and saw the results [I’m not shamed to admit cursing ensued]) sealed my fate as Mercia was able to sneak north to snag one of my centers--a gambit I could have defended against had I successfully built a fleet in Aberdeen. The concluding year, 655, saw the game come to a pretty evident finale as Mercia exploded in all directions. I will leave it there as I’ve already rambled quite a bit; some final thoughts on each country:

Ireland: I would like to apologize for the decidedly rude stab, particularly in light of the fact that I did it to you simultaneously in two games. Clearly it left you feeling vengeful as you made it your one and only mission to pester me for the remainder of the game--a goal you succeeded at. Your play goes to show how a one-center country can still have quite an effect on a games dynamics.

Wales: If only we had been more communicative, we might have avoided Mercia’s cunning tongue. I must admit, that initial mislead regarding Northumbria rubbed me the wrong way and our correspondence diminished significantly thereafter.

Mercia: Well played, your orchestration of conflict between Wales and I was spectacular--not to mention leading me along with the “long-term buddies” carrot. A well deserved win.

Cornubia: Glad to see we were finally able to find a spot in which to cooperate, if only it were under different circumstances.

Northumbria: Your correspondence was short, as are my final thoughts on your play (not much to judge on).

Anglia: We didn’t really speak, so there’s not much to say.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 22 Feb 2012, 16:38
by Girion
Now it's time for my AAR as well, I have to say that I in the beginning was slightly sceptical, but after playing I have comed to like the variant, something I hope don't entirely have to do withe the result.

With the blind auction, things didn't start well I and my teammates agreed on Mercia being one of thoose countries I wouldn't like to play, closly followed by Anglia. Asudevil suggested me spending an few points on the other countries that wasen'y my favories, like Cornubia and Northumbra, I did' though and gone all out for Scottland and then Wales, not bidding for Ireland since I predicted that one would be quitepopular. Well things ended up as they did, and in the end I don't regret my initial failure :).
After taking an close look at Mercias position I decided that I shoulden't be that bad, Anglias position seemed worse, and even if the past games records of Wales and Northumbria attacking Mercia early on and the fated Mercia-Anglian war left me quite paniced I decided that if I could sort thoose things out then my position would probaly become quite good once I entered mid and end game.

So, initial negotion was quite hectic, I had many things I wanted to do:
i) I decided that an quick elimination of Anglia would be the most favorable to me in the long run, having him alive later on would leave me copletly souronded in later on, almost regardles on how did. On the other hand, if I could take him out I would aquire advantages of an corner position wile still being able to build in the middle. (More about Mercia-Anglia relations at the end, just for you Pedros!). I had quite much talk to him in the beginning, formostly discussing an attack on Cornubia, but also suggested, for the thrill of it, a joint attack on Northumria. The goal was ofcourse to make my real motives less obvious, but I saw no real oppertunity to make an good stab.
ii) For that I needed the help of Cornubia, the country that when I looked at the past game seemed like an plausible ally to Mercia in the beginning. Here another thing almost mde me panic: I gt no answer! In the end it appeared that I've spelled Heptarchy wrong and the message had reached the wrong folder, so the message haden't been recived. We did have contact the day before the deadline and everything got sorted out. Exept for the fact my fleet in Gloucester and his army in Bristol went back home in fall, were his army could have taken Oxford, something we might have avoided if we'd have the chance to talk more.
iii) Wales and Northumbria. As I've said they have spelt the doom to Mercia many times, and I needed them to look elswere wile I sorted my buissness out elswere. I talked much with Wales, Offered to cooperate attacking Cornubia once I had no more use for him, and we also discussed stabbing Northumbria for his southern centers once he turned his atentions north. I also tried to forge bounds with Northumbria, trying to convonce him that Scottland was the threat, and that he no doubt would come south, sooner or later.
iv) The best way to keep Wales and Northumbria of my back was ofcourse to ensure that somoneelse attacked their. I had much talk with Ireland and Scottland, trying to convince them to attack Wales/Northumbria, and to make sure that they had some kind of alliance.

Now there didn't happen much in Spring, everyone moved as it were to be expected and at least from what I could make out of my message everyone seemed properly convinced that I wasen't an good target. I had done much trying to convince people so, describing how paniced I were and that i would mostly stay defence (don't attack me, you won't catch me of-guard!), and try to not making enemies for he risk of bein tottaly oerrunned (don't attack me, then you will have an saf flank for sure!).
In fall thogh I was quite disturb to see, what various sources convinced me was, th Scottish mini-stab on Ireland. I can say that I did much to mend their relations, both talking with Scottland and Ireland.

Even though the Scottish Irish conflict things continued well the next year, Wales fough Ireland, and Scottland Northumbria, exactly as I had hoped. I also decided to help Wales in an stab on Northumbria, I figured that would be better, starting conflict between Wales and Northumbria as well. And when Scottland and Wales was done with Northumbria they would have an hard time not fighting each other and I hoped that both of the would favor an alliance with me. It was also during this year I finally pinned my long term plan. At an good, when I was sure I could do so and still win, I would stab Cornubia. The sooner the better. Wales had also said he was interested in this. With his help I would clean up Corunbia, and Anglia as well. Hopefully this would be finished at the same time as Wales and Scottland was done with Northumbria and Ireland.
In this situation with just 3 players left I would have an great advantage, Scottland and me on each side of Wales, but the majority of the Walish troops would be closer to Scottland. In that situation Wales would do best to ally with me against Scottland. And then as we proceeded into Scottlands land his troops would get further away from home, making the final stab easier.
That fall Wales recived 3 builds, Scottland seemed quite bothered by it, I wasn't that bothered. As long as he stayed my ally long enough things would hopefully end up well. If not then onw army this or that way didn't matter.

Next year 653 came the Cornubian stab. Initially I had wanted Wales to initiate, but there was no good reason to force him to do so, and I could get Bristol by stabbing in spring. In addition to that, if he had chosen to side with Cornubia over me it woulden't matter that much if it were al an trick and I had good reasons to trust him. In the end it proved more succesful then I had imagened, probaly because I had anticipated Anglia and Cornubia to cooperate against me in the end, but they didn't. I was slightly afraid that I had started to grow to fast, as long as I could stay friend with both Scottland (preventing him to have fleets in the Norht sea before I wanted to, and also didn't want him seeing Wales as to much of an potential ally) and Wales (my first choice as an ally, should the situation begome my ideal one) I thought i would be quite good.

In 654 things proceeded in an slower pace and now I started to feel quite secure in my position. My biggest problem was in trying to stay friends with Scottland as the same time I coulden't deny Wales my help in old Northumbria. I still wanted all possibilities open, towards the end of the year I had also started to losely think of the possibility of an final stab for win in 655. In the end of this year I also talked with both Ireland an Northumbria, pointing out that I was the one that until now had been less unkind to the of the remaining powers. I truthfully said that they wouldn't remain to the end of the game, and that even if i coulden't offer them an chance to survive I could at least help them in making an last little impact in the game, should they help me. I wasen't surprised when they both agreed.

It wasn't till the Scottish NMR in the build phase that I finally decided for the final stab in 655. The set-up was perfect; in 654 Wales had himself suggested me to build another west-coast fleet, something I had wanted to do but not even dreamt to suggest, also I could make make builds for the stab without rousing suspisiouns, and what more the Walish build was (quite natural), an northen fleet. The stab went as planned, I can say that I had it really well planned out, i had gone trough all diffrent moves I found likely, in the end the only thing that didn't go as planned, was Wales supporting his army into Exmoor, I had though he would accept my offer and try to take Exeter with my support already in Spring, in costed me Bristol, but in the end it didn't really matter, I recived Liverpool back as an bonus, something I was quite sure if I could count on.

In the end it was an really nice game to play (especially for me I guess). What surpridsed me most was how well everthing acctually went as I had planned, but I guess it's no rule that you need an plan B.

And now, as I promised earlier on; my thoughts on the Mercia-Anglian relations. This will probably be from the Mercian point of view, and it will be interetingh to see what Kian and Dar Krum thinks as well.

Firstly, I think one problem can be that there have been som few games played with this variant. Until now it have becomed an trend with an Anglia-Mercia war, and with this few games played Mercia/Anglian players might thinkt the risk that the other player will follow what everyone have done before him is to big, so they won't take any risks. Also if this haden't been an tournament game I might have enyojed risking something more spectacular, for example being more serious in asking for an Anglian alliance against Northumbria, he have the fleets, and we convoy his troops in. Also things like Cornubia being an very unlikely target from an attack from any player, and many other things that might work, but just haven't been tried may affect things when they are, but people maybe is less encouraged to try this things, when they haven't been done before and they are afraid that there "allies" won't be interested in something daring and new.

Now to the situation, and Pedros question; yes I gave the alliance with Anglia and quick though, but only as an last resort if I had given up the chances of an solo, and in no situation I would have chosen Anglia over Cornubia.

If we start looking at it in the long run (from Mercias perspective). If you plan to solo, and i don't think you should begin an game throwing this possibility away, you'll have to at some point be able to defeat your ally, most of the time at least. If I were to make an initial alliance with Anglia, the best target is Cornubia, at least we have to deal with him in some way. Now then I would get places like Bristol, wile Anglia have thoose behin, in the end I will completly souround Anglia, now he's unlikely going to let me solo by taking centers far away, staying strong behind my back, and if I want to attack him we will be at about equall size (unless he accepted an unfair share), but I will have my back wide open. And I will have an really har time finding an ally against him, since noone else borders. There will probaly be many happy to help him, attacking my back tough. Now things doesen't have to go like this but it's far to likely for Mercia to like, and there is no situation were it turns in to an equall disadvanatge for Anglia.

Another example: Comparing to Mercia to German position in normal Diplomacy, something I did in my initial message to Stalin who played Wales. The diffrence is German can feel relatively safe from attacks in the back by Russia, and especially Austria. Mercia got no such guarantees to be safe from Northumbria and Wales as earlier games have showed, but should there be peace, much good for Mercia.
Being in this center position, but expecting much less from my other center-friends, I as Mercia feelt an imidiate need of quickly covering at least one flank, the only target then is Anglia. In normal Diplomacy for Germany both choices of attacking England and France decreases the number of flanks to hold. Now Mercias "inevitable" war with Anlgia is nothing that I as playing Mercia like.

Now it may sound as I think Mercia is the one at lose, but I agree on that the Mercia-Anglia conflict mostly is at Anglias direct loss, Mercia have trouble elswere. If it just were Anglia and Mercia, Anglia would have an good advantage, the back open, better at taking the neutrals inbetween, but then in the end it's Cornubia who decids everything.

There isen't really anyone that is directed tiwards attacking Cornubia, there aren't really any SC that way. Also Cornubia decides everything in the Anglia-Mercia conflict. I think many Anglia would have no problems eliminating Cornubia with Mercia, but as Mercia I want Anglia eliminated as soon as possible, and need Cornubia for that. Likewise Anglia needs Cornubia to not be eliminated, and to fight back.
One reason for Anglia is at lose in this tripple could be the fact that Corunbias natural SC are halfway in to Anglia-lan. Corunbia is so to speak half way there. and Anglia seems to offen like to have at least Portsmouth for himself. Leaving Cornubia with just one natural SC and an 173 of Scillies... If I were playing Anglia I would probaly give Cornubia both, ask him to move Cotswold, move Warwick with Oxford and pray, at least you'd have Ipswich and Cambridge in fall, and if Cornubia joins in it will most likely be the doom of Mercia and Anglia will be in an good position for the continuation of the game.

So the big problem I think is:
i) Mercia needs Anglia eliminated, and it just gets worse with time. If you could have better options for late game help against Anglia after Cornubia is finished, for example from Scottland, then you might feelt safer with that. If there were more contact Scottland-Anglia (how!?) that would also put some pressure of Northumbria who always seems to have problems with Scottland?
ii)Since Mercia needs Anglia away, Anglia have to deal with it, in the end the problem have been that Cornubia have been far to likely to side with Anglia, on this it will be very interesting to hear Kians opinions.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 23 Feb 2012, 19:53
by Pedros
Thanks Giriom for that - extremely useful.

The most interesting thing is your view of Cornubia as a tribe not worth attacking. I played Cornubia (as an early replacement) back in, I think, Hep2, and found the opposite. Wales and ireland were throwing fleets at me like nobody's business! There may be few SCs, but if you leave Cornubia sitting quietly there in the corner, probably picking off a chunk of Anglia, he will always be a worry. And with such a long coastline he's easy for Wales and ireland particularly to aim at. Then one of them - probably Ireland - can sail merrily up-Channel and cause some havoc in the East.

Glad you liked the map though - it's one of my favourites. (At the start I said definitely favourite, but since then Zeus and 1900 have come along to join it!)

One alteration at the start

PostPosted: 23 Feb 2012, 19:58
by Pedros
Just to throw this into the mix. Since the first game of Heptarchy all GMs have simply copied the map and starting position from the original (I altered a couple of names to remove ambiguity, but no change substantially.)

But it's wrong. I don't know how it happened, but that original starting map mis-copied the starting units from the original. Northumbria's fleet starts in the west, and the Durham unit should be an army. I only noticed this half-way through this last game, and I thought I should keep quiet whilst the game is on.

I'm not sure how this will affect games. It gives Northumbria a much bigger influence in the Ireland-Wales-Northumbria around the Irish Sea, but it also reduces the tension in the North Sea, and leaves Scotland, Mercia and Anglia to fight it out on their own.