Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

GM Pedros. 3-way draw between Girion (Cornwall), Ceebs (Northumbria), and AngelEyesGBU (Wales)

Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Pedros » 04 Oct 2012, 14:43

Please post thoughts here.

The changes were:-
1) two fleets for Scotland;
2) Anglia and Northumbria have three armies each; and
3) Mercia starting with nothing in Gloucester.

Scotland's invasion of Ireland left its homeland almost totally defenceless, which against the three Northumbrian armies was - well - crazy! I was never sold on that set-up, and I still don't see how having two fleets gives Scotland more options (unless it can do a deal with Northumbria - which means N. tackling the formidable Mercia probably single-handed. And even then Scotland is going to be wide open to a stab.)

Northumbria's position looks stronger on this showing, but it's scarcely a fair test and they fared worse in the TestBed trial, set upon by a joint Scotland/Ireland attack. There has to be a further look at this one, although I still don't really see how a fleet on either coast strengthens Northumbria.

Which leaves Anglia and Mercia, the main focus of this experiment. Anglia started strongly and clearly sold itself to Cornubia, which has rarely happened in games here, but he gave away Portsmouth (surely too generous!) and trusted Girion, leaving himself open to the stab. Only they can tell us whether Girion had negotiated that behaviour or whether he was simply opportunistic. But I haven't seen anything in these two experiments to persuade me that there is any advantage at all for Anglia in having a fleet instead of the third army. (The obvious temptation - the SC in Flanders - is an illusion, three squares away so no build in Year 1, and just as close to both Mercia and Northumbria, and even Scotland!)

Mercia suffered badly in this arrangement, and maybe we went too far, weakening Mercia seriously and probably strengthening Anglia at the same time.

That's my perspective for starters. I hope to hear from (at least) Yhanthlei (Anglia), Girion (Cornubia), Willie900 (originally Mercia) and Ceebs (Northumbria). Those who've been in that mix before, how were the dynamics different. In particular was Anglia able to negotiate from any stronger position than usual? Did Mercia seem unduly weak? Did the vacant Gloucester have any effect both on negotiation and play (AngelEyes' Wales has an important input here as well, but the key one is Mercia's, since Willie chose to go straight for regaining Gloucester at the expense of more usual tactics.) And Northumbria - more opportunities, or fewer?
"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: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Girion » 08 Oct 2012, 19:11

Home now, will start with writing my analysis of the diffrent setups;

Anglia 3 armies: I feelt very confortable playing Cornubia in this position. My main concern was to make sure that I was not attacked by an Walish-Irish alliance, not an to difficult task. After thi was accomplished it feelt easy to make suggestions to both Mercia and Anglia of alliances against the other. I can't say I had much particular reason for picking Anglia as my ally, but I did and I was not surprised when he took my offer and we could continue. Since I also managed to secure realtions with Wales, it feelt very natural for him to join in against Mercia.

My personal analysis (which I stated before) is that I think that it's true that Anglia might be as strong as Mercia but it really does nothing to encourage Mercian/Anglian relations, and it really makes Anglia stuck with the options of attacking Mercia, or try cornubia with him as an ally, this leads to Mercia as well being stuck with theese two alternatives. In one way this kinda forces Cornubia in, Anglia/Mercia needs one against the other or just maybe he will be attacked by them.


Anglia with Fleet in Flanders: To begin with, if this is ever though of as an variant the Fleet in Dover should defintly be made an army, adds very much to the set up.
Personally I feelt I had quite some ability to negotiate, there was possibilities for my fleet in Flanders to move north (if negotations with Cornubia had gone better). I don't think the problem is solved with the set up though, had I played Mercia I'd probably still think that allying with Cornubia against Anglia would be better in the long term, so things can definetly be better even though I think it's better then it normaly would have been.
The cap created with neutral Oxford do indeed makes for an slightly funny situation, I could not decide whenever or not it was bad but it made some interesting negotiations. This do make for an weaker Anglia compared to Mercia, I agree, but in the end it all comes down to who gets Cornubia and Anglia have good chances of an strong start.

I can't say that I'm entirely satisfied with neither solutions, but I wonder how easy it will be to solve the fundamental problem: Anglia and Mercia always ends up in an fight, with the pure mean of changing starting position. If we used map changes, for example an SC in Cotswold instead of say Essex would be interesting. But we kinda don't want to mess with the map since the quality of ot is the big reason we're going through all this trouble. Would be glad to hear others opinions about this though, there ,ore that have an say the closer we can get to an solution, or to what acctually is the problem, will likely add more comments here later.

Some more generall comments;
-I think Northumbrias 3 armies turned out quite good, I would have prefered an solution giving Northumbria more options but this can do. Even though there was problem facing an commbined Ireland/Scottland attack he did quite well, most people suffering an attack from two neighbours while every otherone is bussy elsewere do have trouble, Northumbria took 2 SC first years and hel them till the second, even though there was an NMR.

-In my negotiations with Anglia, I think anything but offering both Southhampton and Portsmouth would be very dangerous, and if more Anglian players had been less greedy regarding to this we would have seen more Anglia/Cornubia alliances. In the end we became quite equall, but I managed to stab him, and he also let me send an fleet around to calais. Had I been unable to do this/Anglia had stabed first or managed to get support against me from other players things might have turned out entirely diffrent.

-I agree with Pedros that in the normal set up (a fleet in Dover) it's not an good idea of Anglia to send it directly to Fladers, maybe in the second year if things seem quiet, but to me neother to origiginal set up nor this feels any good.

-The extra Scottish fleet, I can't say I can evaluate it more from this game, and as I said before, it's an interesting idea but I don't think it makes anything this or the other way, it's not an area were change is currently needed so we're probably better of not thinking about it cow anyway.

-From my point of view (and which also happened in the game) remvoing Gloucester as an Mercian starting Center more or less only ensured that Mercias army Nottingham would end it's first year in Gloucester, no diplomacy involved at all. It effectively limits any aggresion from Mercia year 1, maybe that's an good thing but there are probably better ways to solve thoose problems.
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Re: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Pedros » 14 Oct 2012, 17:17

On the whole I agree with Girion here, but a few differences.

The main one is that I just don't understand Girion's argument that the 3-army Anglia doesn't make a decent ally for Mercia. It means Anglia can go full out for Cornubia, and Mercia either for Wales or Northumbria. I'd certainly be happy to be Anglia in this setup and give it a try.

(I was interested in Girion's point about Anglia being usually greedy over Southampton and Portsmouth - not quite sure I understand you Girion, but it seems to me that Anglia has to hold out for Portsmouth and can't hope to get Southampton early. If it gives up Portsmouth then it's in big trouble from the start - which is pretty much what happened here. But I'll have to go back through the old AARs, if they tell us anything (doesn't look like the AARs here are going to tell us much!!)

My feeling about Mercia is that we should try it with Anglia and Northumbria 3 armies each and Mercia with its usual 4. If somebody will GM it, I'd certainly like a go at Anglia!
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Re: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Girion » 14 Oct 2012, 19:19

Pedros wrote:The main one is that I just don't understand Girion's argument that the 3-army Anglia doesn't make a decent ally for Mercia. It means Anglia can go full out for Cornubia, and Mercia either for Wales or Northumbria. I'd certainly be happy to be Anglia in this setup and give it a try.


Ohh, as Anglia I would absolutley love to play this set up, the problem is that I don't at all see how Mercia would ever like to ally with such an anglia. The problem is that Anglia throughout the game as it will develop this way (anglia makes gain in around Cornubia), Anglia will just become more and more dangrous once war breaks out. Simply I think that you as Mercia (especially in the normal setupt, bur 3-army Anglia don't change this), Mercia have the following problem: Sooner or later Anglia will have to be taken out. If the game progress much this become harder and harder. Answer, take him out early.

(I was interested in Girion's point about Anglia being usually greedy over Southampton and Portsmouth - not quite sure I understand you Girion, but it seems to me that Anglia has to hold out for Portsmouth and can't hope to get Southampton early. If it gives up Portsmouth then it's in big trouble from the start - which is pretty much what happened here. But I'll have to go back through the old AARs, if they tell us anything (doesn't look like the AARs here are going to tell us much!!)

I think Anglia started well, no big trouble til the stab acctually. My idea why is simple:
-Anglia and Mercia will be at war (we can more or less take this for an given)
-Cornubia will likely get involved.
-Cornubia have an hard time getting many Mercian centers though, Gloucester, easy but then it's harder. Allowing Cornubia to take Portsmouth and then Southhampton in 2 year, never having more then one unit in the area allows Cornubia to get one of the main gains in the area that otherwise would be an benefit in an alliance with Mercia. Normally both have equally easy to take portsmouth (anglia rarly doubles on it), and there are other good uses of that second unit anyway.
My thought is that if Anglia get an Cornubia ally, they have good chances for the rest of the game. If they don't then they are more or less dead, so why not go full out on trying to aquire that Cornubian ally?

Pedros wrote:My feeling about Mercia is that we should try it with Anglia and Northumbria 3 armies each and Mercia with its usual 4. If somebody will GM it, I'd certainly like a go at Anglia!

Again, I would also love to go as Anglia, as Mercia, very sceptical. Maybe this is an point where we have missinterpreted what we think the problem is? This will perfectly well make Anglia stringer, but that never was the biggest problem anyway, at least as I saw it. Then ofcourse opinions differ. We would also value more opinions on this, I an Pedros it seems have some fundamental disagreement, I don't think it bases so much on or analysis of the situation on the dynamics of the game, more on what the acctuall problem is and it will be hard to improve the game with just 2 persons ideas.
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Re: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Pedros » 15 Oct 2012, 16:22

Thanks for responding in detail Girion. Certainly I hope there will be more input (I've had a private one from AngelEyes and I'll publish it as soon as I have a minute.)

It may be that you're right and we aren't agreed on what the problem is. When the previous discussion started (seems a very long time ago!) my view was that Anglia was too weak meaning that he was a very easy target for Mercia and Cornubia. After discussion I felt that maybe the real problem was that Mercia is too strong. After this game I'm now not sure which it is, but Mercia's poor showing in this game makes me feel it should be tried with a slightly strengthened Anglia.

Girion, can you describe specifically what you think the problem is? If we can see where we differ on that (and whether other people agree with either of us!) maybe we can spot a way through all this.

But I seriously hope you're not right about one thing - if Mercia has no choice but to take out Anglia then that means Anglia has no choice but to try to team up with Cornubia. A game where two powers have only one opening strategy is a very poor one, which would be a disaster since Heptarchy provides the best middle and end games of any map I know.
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Re: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Pedros » 15 Oct 2012, 16:46

The AARfrom Wales (AngelEyesGBU) includes a couple of relevant comments for this discussion.
"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: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Girion » 15 Oct 2012, 17:23

What I think is the problem is exactly what you fear it is, I will try to describe how I think:

The Problem:
Any opening for Mercia that don't include an early elimination of Anglia is an poor choice
->
An good player of Anglia should know this, with this knowledge the obvious strategy is to attack Merica, there's no reason not to given the likelyhood that Mercia will attack him.

The Disaster: War Anglia-Mercia is more or less expected to occur in every game.

So why do I think this occur. I myself felt when playing Mercia, and probably most players who have played it, that Allying with Anglia will be an poor choice in the long run.
To begin with the only good target is Cornubia. How would early division of centers look? He would get Portsmouth and Southhampton, you would get Gloucester. Then maybe he gets Exeter, you Plymouth /Maybe Wales/Irlelands jumps in here).
Even if Mercia manages to maintain peace with Northumbria/Wales in the early game, it's even more likely that they will attack in the midgame, or maybe an strong Scottland coming down from the south.
Now look at the treats to Anglia. There is an very slim area around Exeter were other people borders him, and then maybe Scottland/Northumbria could sneak around to flanders.

Lets say as in normal alliances that the players are even and have about the same of SC, that's expected. The problem is that Merica will have an very hard time getting allies against Anglia (even thoose that can make an attack will get very stretched out if they do so). On the other hand there are a lot of enemies that could rush in and stab an open-backed Mercia when he faces to deal with Anglia. And sooner or later he'll have to turn around and face Anglia.

Now solving this problem (if it's an problem, which I belive), is hard.
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Re: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Pedros » 16 Oct 2012, 16:46

Well, I've never played Mercia so I suppose I can't tell completely what it looks like from that side. But I certainly have some different ideas for selling the alliance to Mercia if I can have three armies. But I'm not telling them here - I'm hoping to find a GM to run it where I can play Anglia! (Though, just in case Cornubia's reading, it doesn't mean I'm totally wedded to allying with Mercia either - as I wrote before, it seems to me that the three armies give Anglia a serious option, possibly for the first time.

And anyway, assuming for the moment that you're right, three armies gives Anglia a much better defence against the Mercia attack. In Year 1 the Dover fleet has absolutely no advantage over an army.

I'm going to have another look through the archives.
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Re: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Ceebs » 20 Oct 2012, 17:40

Copying these thoughts on Northumbria's situation, which i wrote in 652 of this game, but i contend they remain as true now as then:

  • Northumbria and Scotland seem doomed to conflict. Although i opened with friendly messages to Scotland before the first turn and spoke of grand plans to surprise the world with an alliance between the two of us, i knew from the start that it was not going to happen. It was truly one of my more bullshit-laden opening diplomatic exchanges, and i'm suprised that he bought (at least some of) it. The reason for my feelings on this are that there just isn't a viable direction for Northumbria and Scotland to work together towards. Ireland is too remote from Northumbria for me to consider it as a primary target early on. If i turn my back and go south, then I have to worry about Scotland getting a couple builds and coming after me from behind. No matter what, he's looking south on the rest of the world and i'm in his way. It's kill or be killed.
  • On Northumbria's added army, i certainly felt that it was a positive boost. though perhaps it does lend itself to the situation i described above with Ireland not being a viable target, as it prevents me from going for Isle of Man in year one. However given that i felt Scotland was the much more desirable target, the added army did give me the flexibilty i needed to open northwards and still protect my southern flank. Essentially, moving the army south to liverpool instead of a fleet gives me the added bargaining power over manchester. Not only can i directly take it for myself, but i can also support either of Wales or Mercia there, and thereby gain an allys down south while i concentrate up north
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Re: Analysis of the effects of the new line-up

Postby Pedros » 26 Oct 2012, 17:45

I've asked the GMs if one of them would run another game, with 3 armies in Anglia and North'a but others standard. I want in! But no takers as yet.
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