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Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 02:54
by Mouse
It was a grand experience playing with all of you folks. Very challenging game. What can I say about this variant? It was horribly stressful. It was my LAST pick. For the most part, the countries were pretty screwy since they were so interwoven. Still, Danmark was the country I truly didn't want to play. It was a thin red line stretched from Normandy to Russia. In addition, I truly hated Danmark’s home supply center locations (This was a hatred I carried throughout the game. For example, the two Danmark supply centers on Britain were poorly situated and essentially they might as well been one!). To complicate matters, I had lost a few home supply centers early.

Caught between Burgundy, Norge, Swedes and Slavics, I was not confident on survival for more than a handful of years. The first order of business was to ally with the Norge and have some non-aggression pact with Burgundy. The Swedes and Slavics were not about to divide their partnership. To make matters worse, the Swedes forged a letter from me to them and sent it to the Norge. The letter made the claim that Danmark was going to attack the Norge. This made relations with Norge a “bit” uneasy initially.

Once the misunderstanding was over, the Norge and I became fairly solid allies, but there was a problem that was creeping into the equation. The Norge were “squeezing” me. I was being sandwiched between them and the Swedes/Slavics. I did lose a couple home supply centers between the Swedes and Slavics in the first couple years. I also took a bit from the Swedes. In essence, I was a buffer without much expansion. To make matters worse, Danmark had made “future” promises of Scandinavian supply centers to Norge. These “promises” were being “claimed” early by the Norge including a Danmark home supply center (this was the third one taken in the area). Whether it was intended or not, the Norge were slowly “eating” me and pushing me, but supposedly was my ally. I kept the irritation inside since the Norge were in better position and stronger. They could have seriously hurt me if trust started to be lacking. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding concerning the taking of the Danmark home supply center or just the growing stress of being “squeezed”, but I shortly thereafter reached a breaking point and ended the alliance with a “stab” that took over the Isle of Britain in very short order. In one stroke all my disadvantages over Norge melted away and was replaced with advantages. I still could have reconciled the alliance, but knew that it was wise to carry on what was started and continue pushing against the Norge. My stab wouldn’t have truly been forgiven.

By the time Norge was stabbed, Burgundy and Danmark had grown to be very close as allies. Generally speaking, the fear was Burgundy winning the game and he sort of needed a person he could trust. He really could trust me. Seriously! There were many times Danmark could have claimed a host of Burgundy supply centers, but did not.

Everything was going well. Even the Slavics had turned on the Swedes. Burgundy, Slavics, and Danmark were allied (though my loyalty was to Burgundy). Then I received a message from Burgundy informing me that I should slow down on my conquests since Danmark was close to the victory with 20 units when 26 was needed. Ironically, I was not even keeping track. I weighed my options. In the Viking way, I decided to take the prize for myself. I stabbed Burgundy and made a hard attack on Spain. It was the logical move. The alternative would have been to wait for my allies to catch-up and possibly lose to one of them sprinting for the finish line. If I was to stab, it was for keeps (or survival as with Norge) and in this case, it was for the win. It was possible to have obtained all six supply centers the turn I made my move, but I fell short and gained five making my total 25. Just shy of 26. Still, the inevitable victory was in the next year.

So how did I enjoy the variant? It was beautifully revitalized by Upquark. Far superior to the original map and units. The GMing of Upquark has once again been exceptional. It must have been a very hard variant to GM. The play of the variant was ‘vicious” and “confusing”. The starting positions created immediate conflict and a sense of danger from all sides. I would play it again, but doubt my liver could stand the test if I was the draw Danmark a second time.

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 03:46
by AirsoftAlex
When I first looked at Viking, I was awed and overwhelmed by the huge map. It's size made for many different centers of contest. I liked the look of The Arab Caliphates, as their large range of influence had many opportunities. I spent all of the possible amount of points on them and won! (I think I beat Mouse out of this position, he went all out too!). But, the large spread of my centers was also a double edged sword. I was attacked early on by an alliance of the ERE and Slavs. My Spanish units could only watch in dismay as my eastern front was pushed back. Then, to my relief, the lead of Burgundy became apparent. The ERE contacted me and we soon patched up our differences and went all out against Burgundy. We made slow but steady progress, and kept gaining ground. Our alliance to cut down Burgundy lasted most of the game, until Denmark was only 5 or 6 centers away from winning.
Then we stopped our attack of Burgundy, which by then had reached southern France. Spain was assaulted by Denmark, and was practically lost by the landing of a red army.
I really enjoyed this game, it was my first forum variant. UpQuark did a fabulous job GMing, and has set my standard for a good GM.

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 03:51
by Mouse
You took my country! I crawled into a bed with a fifth of Jack that night and cried myself to sleep.

One of the smartest moves I made was not letting you into the MAO. I nipped that in the butt!

Honestly, all countries were stressful in this variant. The size of the variant didn't bother me near as much as how interwoven all the countries were...

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 04:05
by AirsoftAlex
Yeah, I was very surprised. I thought you would want help with Norge..

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 04:32
by UpQuark
Well, I will say I chose this game for all the right reasons, and even then it impressed me in the end. I did not expect such a good variant as it appears to me to be.

I like the lower SC count ratio for the win, as 3 nations could potentially race to the same goal and attain it simultaneously. 43 would be too many, and drag the game out beyond interesting/fun I think. This is one more feature which adds to the stress of being a player.

This game is about stress - the intertwined positions, large array of forces on an open map, and everyone has a feeling of being surrounded. Even the corners don't feel safe. Very Viking!

I also like the idea of the larger starting nation size - 8 units apiece. Everyone feels strong and healthy at the start (and then fear as they look around). Early losses did not prevent Danmark from recovering, and in other variants (and Regular), this is often fatal. I note Norge is still alive in France, and as his last SC was once again taken, he has another retreat route into a new survival SC... Only 1 nation was eliminated!

This was the hardest of the 3 variants I GM'd concurrently to adjudicate, and I underestimated the effort it would take to resolve all those interconnected supports and cuts and bounces (more than I've seen per turn in any variant) and moves across Europe. But I didn't mind - it was a great game to watch, and I thank all the players who fought to the end, even when the result was mostly obvious, and did not sign onto the Solo Draw proposal.

I saw no signs of any sort of stalemate positions behind which one could safely hide, even. Nowhere is safe on this map, and all your neighbors want to crush your skull. As it should be.

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 04:46
by Mouse
I personally like having a fewer SC for victory. One thing I have noticed is large games sort of stagnate to death... they can go on for a year or more. People drop out and lose interest. The dynamics is in the midgame, not the slow slug match of the endgame. By the endgame, Viking would have changed and would become stable and lose its "feel". At least that is my opinion.

Okay, I would like to hear about more people's experiences especially in the south and southeast. That was a totally different game down there!

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 05:52
by VGhost
Well, despite the fact that this has been going on for only five months, I had to look up my bids. I generally prefer not to bid very high, but I thought the edge of the board would have an advantage in the chaos: Slavics were fourth despite that because of their ungodly mess of an entanglement with Sverige.

Anyhow, I drew Slavic Nations, and that gave me two options:

1) Turn on the yellow pieces immediately. This would have required Grand Strategy in the form of careful plotting with Danmark and Norge, though, or I would get the worst of it and be stuck in my corner. Since Norge looked to be Danmark's only reasonable target initially, I discarded this in favor of:
2) Superpower. And with a better position than the Italy/Austria we've all seen before, it looked like a possible stunning success. The only problem would be staying the dominant power in the alliance; with the edge of the board on my side, and more of his SCs bordering other powers, that didn't seem to be a real problem and the eventual stab would have been not too hard assuming I didn't mess up before then.

Things went pretty well for a while - not as fast as they could have, actually, because I was making a real effort to maneuver yellow pieces out to the front so that I had real control over our "shared" territory. There honestly isn't much to say about the early part of the game. The only long-term friction was with carter342's ERE, and I at least viewed that as more of a border dispute - I wasn't about to start a full-out war without getting the Arabs on my side, and they weren't.

When Bazza left (I think he NMRed out), Pharaoh of nerds took over on short notice and... immediately stabbed me. After a few irate messages back and forth, I talked as if I was going to make nice and then closed the choke-hold. (This is where my earlier scheming for position paid off, albeit a lot sooner than intended.) This took up most of my attention for the rest of the game, and in fact I never did finish the job of killing Sverige.

A few years before the game actually ended, when I was fairly certain of eliminating yellow eventually, I did a count and noticed that there were five powers remaining which were a threat. I sent a message to all except ERE - my theory that "middle = doom" again - suggesting we discuss the endgame. I got practically nothing back. I had been working reasonably well with Burgundy - which is to say, we mostly ignored each other - and didn't want to upset Danmark - too many fleets in the Baltic! - so since we had been at odds over Trn the whole game anyway ERE seemed like the most reasonable target. I messaged the Arabs but got double-crossed by AirsoftAlex and lost some position since he stuck with his alliance with ERE (an alliance I hadn't really noticed). I was in the process of retrieving the strategic situation when somebody did the count on Mouse's SCs and sent the ALL HANDS note. (Before Mouse posted his declaration, barely.)

That was really that, except for my skulduggery at the end. I can justify it strategically with a complete straight face - if we had survived, I was going to need builds to beef up my line, while ERE was well back from the front and the Arabs could destroy a unit bordering what was anyway his ally. Really it was just one more move in the skirmish we had had ongoing the whole game. Grabbing Beo too was just icing on the cake. Incidentally, that last turn was the first time I had outright lied to anyone (I think) the whole game. To be honest - if I wasn't 105% sure the game was going to be over, I would have resisted the temptation and not grabbed the SCs. It was for style points only, at that point.

I'm a big fan of the variant, and would love to play again. In answer to Mouse's question - no, it didn't really seem that stressful to me. Of course, due to the early set-up, I actually never had any one power that would have constituted a threat to me (except Sverige), and where an alliance would have been deadly - Danmark/Norge, Danmark/Burgundy, Burgundy/ERE - they were fighting each other or otherwise occupied.

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 06:05
by AirsoftAlex
Haha yeah I sent you my orders too! :lol:

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2012, 06:27
by Mouse
Slavic really had my bet to win the game...

This is how I saw it all playing out.

I give Sverige hell, but that would not be for my benefit. I believed that it would ultimately help Norge. I fight for my survival and do a good job of it, but really I am just a Norge buffer. I outlive my use. Norge allies with Slavic/Sverige, I am crushed between the trio. Slavic turns on Sverige and takes them out with or without Norge help. Slavic and Norge turn on Burgundy while all the time Slavic is preparing for their race to the finish-line. THAT is how I envisioned the game going...

Understand I had no real idea about the south. This is my view of the north only!

Re: Viking AAR - Mouse

PostPosted: 21 Jan 2013, 18:23
by Bazza
Well done Mouse!

GhostEcho wrote:When Bazza left (I think he NMRed out)

I didn't NMR once...never mind out. :shock:

UpQuark got me a replacement pretty much instantly though. :D

(Due to a real life crisis)