AAR: Seal #157542

Discussion of finished games.

AAR: Seal #157542

Postby james39562 » 30 Jul 2019, 04:37

Game type: regular
Stats: norank
Variants: Classic

Winner: Chundar (SOLO) Russia 1918


Game start players:
England: riceeee (surrendeed Fall 1901, replaced by Linkinbrick)
France: springbreeze (surrenedered Spring 1903, replaced by Strudeldunsenman)
Italy: liro121 (surrendered Spring 1909)
Germany: Henry87 (surrendered Fall 1904, replaced by DaveSpermbank, surrendered in Fall 1908, replaced by notMyBack)
Austria:chelct3 (surrerndered Fall 1902, replaced by jjames39562)
Turkey: Hellflare (surrendered Fall 1905, replaced by Emperor229)
Russia: kaiznanji (surrenedered Spring 1904, replaced by Chundar)

Game End:
England: defeated by Russia solo in Fall 1918
France: defeated by Russia solo in Fall 1918
Italy: eliminated Fall 1909
Germany: eliminated Spring 1912
Austria: defeated by Russia solo in Fall 1918
Turkey: eliminated Fall 1912
Russia: SOLO WINNER Fall 1918

Taking over from a surrendered player is usually a gamble, especially when the game is not ranked and there is only one or two SCs left. It's not like the player left because they got hit by a heavy schedulle at work, or will be without Internet for several days. They just gave up on what seemed a lost position. So, I didn't expect much when I joined this game. Boy was I wrong.

he first thing I noticed when I joined this game was that Public Press seemed to have a lot of messages that indicated the players mostly knew each other. Reviewing the messages from my predecessor (I'm playing Austria and took over from chelct3) there were messages to the effect of "I can play a smilar game in politics class." and "Are you So-and-so's date to the formal?" Sp, I appear to have stumbled into a game that was set up between friends at school.

As the game wore on, there was a lot of surrenders and new players joining. The previous Turkey had been pretty rough on Austria, leaving them with only 2 SCs when Austria left. It was apparent that Austria had little experience with Diplomacy but I didn't take kindly to Turkey taking advantage of that. I mesaged Russia and Italy right away with entreaties to help push Turkey back. They both complied and we were able to stop Turkish expansion. Unfortunately, at one point, Italy attempted to make a move on Serbia, but did so with a fleet! Could have been a bad mouse-click, but I just got the feeling that Italy was trying to make a move on me.

Russia left and a new Russia joined in F '04. The new Russia messaged me and Italy right away with a detailed message. I like that. Communicate well with me and you'll find me much more likely to work with you. Russia was under pressure from England in the north, and Turkey from the south. At the end of '04, I still sat at two SCs (Vienna and Budapest), and Russia was down to three, having lost StP to England and Sev to Turkey. Technically, he still had Sweden, but he burned the army there to build in Sev to keep pressure on Turkey. Still, I liked how Russia thought and together we held a white-knuckled grips on our territories. The alliance we formed would last most of the game.

It was about this time that Germany surrendered and a player by the name of - get this - DaveSpermbank took over. I hope he was not sharing his keyboard with anyone. Spermy messaged me the following.
Subject: Austria

Message: You seem hopeless. Could you please move vienna-tyrolia?


Now, maybe I'm reading this wrong, but the gist of this message seems to be, "You're dead anyway. Why don't you jump on this knife for me?" I didn't care at all for that. I think I sent an equally snarky message back and moved Dave up to the top of my 'Players I do not want to play with' list. Sorry, Dave. Maybe we'll meet in a future game and you can change my mind.

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice, er, I mean back in the south, I don't know if Turkey realized that Russia, Italy and myself were now putting up a fight or had other obligations outside the game, but we caught a lucky break when he NMR'd in F '04 and S '05. A new Turkey joined and messaged me with peace offerings. I quickly accepted because I wasn't too sure about Italy and would rather work with Turkey against Italy. I begged my Russian ally to lay off the attack on Turkey so Turkey and I could take out Italy. Russia graciously accepted, but he remained wary of Turkey on his southern border. But, I needed Turkey for the time being so I pleaded for patience.

Here's the breakdown of things in W '07:
Me (Austria): 4 units
Russia: 4 units
England: 2 units
Turkey: 7 units
Germany: 6 units
France: 5 units
Italy: 4 units

England was in possession of Scandinavia, having lost his home centers to Germany and France. France, although being at 5 units, was hurting due to a German unit sitting in Paris and having just eliminated an Italian unit that had been running around the Iberian peninsula scattering linguine, tortellini and almost any ini all over the place.

In time, Turkey and I managed to eliminate Italy. Perhaps what I did next was wrong, but neither Russia nor I felt comfortable with Turkey at our backs. For years Russia had been asking if I was ready to attack Turkey, but the timing just hadn't been right. With Italy gone, the timing finally was right. It was lousy repayment for all the help Turkey had given me with Italy, but it was nothing personal. That's just the business of Diplomacy.

Through all the chaos, France's situation had gone from bad to worse. England had reclaimed some of his home centers and France had lost some of his home territories to Germany. In S '10, France finally lost Munich to the Germans. I had made some decent gains against Turkey, so, being the nice guy that I am, offered Trieste to France so he could claim a build. France was very grateful and I think I made a friend. In the words of France:

Nope, very grateful for the help and as I say, you have my loyalty.


I daresay, that single act probably turned the entire course of history for all of Europe. At least, that's the way I see it, and I'm the one writing this AAR. ;)

From this point on, things were on the up for France, and it started going downhill for Germany and England. Turkey had lost his home centers to Russia and I was doing a decent job of rooting Turkey out of Italy. By the end of 1912, France had recovered, Turkey's last unit had been eliminated, and Germany's Spermbank account had been depleted and closed.

Through all of this, Russia and I had been in constant communication. Not a season went by where we didn't discuss almost every move, or at least the ones that concerned mutual neighbors. Once Turkey was eliminated, though, the tone changed. The powers left were myself, Russia, France and England. Obviously my next target was France or Russia. I was not eager to attack either, but Russia had been a solid ally, so I chose France for my target. Russia suggested I keep my plans regarding France to myself so that there was no chance of leaking those plans. Good advice, but that meant less communication. France pledged us both loyalty, so he vowed he would not attack either of us unless attacked first. But, that didn't mean France wasn't going to urge us to each go for the solo.

England was being sneaky too, apparently fabricating messages and pretending they were from France. France swore they weren't his since there were multiple spelling mistakes. The writing styles didn't match either. No one was swayed by this and England was soon reduced to just his home territories

I was struggling to push my fleets through in the south and I didn't do enough to protect my borders with Russia. I guess I just figured that things were still good between myself and Russia and that we were going to end up sharing the victory in a two-way draw. I gotta give France credit, though. He saw it before I did.

=======From FRANCE Fall 1917 Orders =======
Russia could be on 17 centres by the end of this round. Have you got a backup plan?


I didn't have a backup. Russia moved on Rumania and England that fall. Vienna and Budapest had no armies on them and I had no way to protect Budapest. Our arranged bounce between Constantinople and Bulgaria collapsed when Russia moved Constantinople to the Aegean and Ankara to Constantinople. By the end of the following year, Russia had swept up the rest of England and I had lost Bulgaria and Budapest to him as well. That was 18, and the game was his.

All in all, it was a very exciting game. I started out in a very bad position and Russia's wasn't much better. It took several years before either of us made gains, during which time enemies surrendered to be replaced by new allies, which then became enemies again. A solid alliance through all of it, and even when that alliance ended in a masterful stab, I somehow felt proud to have been the victim of it. It was exactly the kind of game I started playing Diplomacy for.
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Re: AAR: Seal #157542

Postby Strudeldunsenman » 30 Jul 2019, 15:37

Excellent analysis. Very much hope we play again! It had all the elements of an exciting and edgy game whilst everyone still remained pals at the end of it. Just how a game should be.
'In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.' Yogi beri
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Re: AAR: Seal #157542

Postby Chundar » 31 Jul 2019, 00:29

Very good analysis, James39562. No arguments whatsoever. Some funny lines, too.
Some comments from me about the game, then some comments about the players.


Game
In my mind, the mid-game was the most fun, while the end-game was the most interesting. The initial alliance between a dying substitute Austria and a dying substitute Russia changed the course of the game.

Though there isn't luck in Diplomacy, Austria and I both had some strokes of luck in this game. There were several fortuitous NMRs by key opponents that opened doors for us. I came into the game squashed between Turkey and England. With England having to backtrack due to chaos in the West, and Turkey's original player suddenly leaving the game, it wasn't any stroke of brilliance to survive. The alliance with Austria was hugely important, and then I was able to fight single-front wars until the end. Also, there were three or four big 50/50 plays that all inexplicably fell in my favor, which played a big factor in the outcome.

Rather than go through the whole game (Austria lays it all out very accurately already), I'll mention a couple of keys in the mid-game that set up the very interesting end-game, then go into detail on the ending.

Mid-game
The addition of France to the Russia/Austria alliance was tremendous. I do think that Austria's generous gift of Trieste in France's hour of need turned the tables in the West and set up the unique end-game.

Austria's stab of Turkey after they took down Italy together was the key moment of the mid-game. It was well-timed and executed. I was able to swoop in like a vulture to grab Turkey's home centers, and he had no chance. I was spinning my wheels until I got those centers, so that was big for Russia. I was also able to build my first fleets with those centers, both north and south. This allowed me to finish off Turkey and prep for England.

End-game
This left only four powers: France, England, Austria, and Russia. France wasn't willing to team up with England, probably due to earlier stabs, but he and England were able to hammer out a non-aggression treaty so they could try to fend off the Eastern powers. Due to assistance granted earlier by both me and Austria, France was also unwilling to take the fight to either of us. As Austria reported, France promised he would only attack if attacked. He would not be the aggressor.

Austria and I were enjoying our alliance, but we both agreed that we'd go for the solo if it presented itself. Austria and I talked about a race to 18. We'd happily draw if it looked like we couldn't make it happen. France wanted to see Austria and Russia go for the solo, but he wouldn't make it easy for us.

This put us in a very interesting endgame situation. My decision was easy... if I had to choose to attack England, Austria, or France, I was going to go after England because he was the weakest and most likely to attack me (due to France's oath and alliance with Austria), and (as previously mentioned) he would require all the attention I could give him in order to finally put him away.

Austria's decision was much harder. Attacking me would have been very difficult and would have thrown the board into chaos. England wasn't an option. France wasn't weak (stronger than England) and was a little out of position with most of his fleets in the north, but he was tactically strong and powerful. Any delay meant France would be able to strengthen his defensive position by bringing more fleets into the Med. If Austria wanted to race rather than stab, he needed to act fast. So he did. Austria attacked France, and I went after England.

In the end, it did come down to a race. That gave Russia the advantage, because England was weaker at the time. France managed to get most of his fleets south and slow down Austria quite a bit. I gave Austria Rumania because I only had it on loan. I knew that if I needed to stab him, it was right next to Sev and I could get it back quickly after a build, and the unit it gave Austria wasn't going to make a huge difference.

Due to some good defense by France and some lucky moves by me, I was able to take England out while Austria was just breaking through France's defenses. Which led to one last decision. Stab Austria or sweep my ships south to take on France. Stabbing Austria was difficult for two reasons, both sentimental.
1. Austria and I had such a great alliance. Neither one of us would have gotten to end game without each other.
2. It would be the first time in the game that I broke a promise or attacked without obvious warning. I wanted to get through the game without a stab if I could.

Because of my lead in SCs, I think I still would have won if I'd gone for France without stabbing Austria, but it would have taken longer and been risky. Austria had done a nice job of pushing through France's defenses in the south, and once I broke the wall holding France off from attacking me, there was no guarantee he would fight me and Austria equally. The last grasp for SCs might leave me wanting. Also (and very importantly), Austria had left himself a little too vulnerable. I decided to stab, got a couple of lucky breaks, and the game was complete.

After the game, Austria had a good comment. He knew he was leaving himself a little too open, but he worried about stressing the alliance. He was nervous that adding troops in the East would make me nervous and lead to an erosion of trust and a cold (eventually hot) war. My response was that I wouldn't have blinked at him adding another unit in the East, but two units would have probably gotten me nervous. But that's so subjective, so I understand where he was coming from. How would you know what somebody's limit was? Regardless, the opening was too tempting, so I took it. I'd be interested in hearing others comment on this, but I think that an alliance is strengthened by a little defense. I don't think you need a fortress, but the easiest path needs to be elsewhere.


Players
There were two kinds of players in this match. NMR surrenderers and great players. I really enjoyed playing with a lot of the players in this game. There were numerous stabs - particularly in the West. There were plenty of strong alliances and partnerships, too. This was my first Diplomacy game in over a decade, and it definitely reminded me why I enjoy this game so much. A few comments.

NotMyBack took over Germany in a very tough spot - everybody had pretty much decided to divvy up his territory by then. Thanks for sticking in and fighting to the end.

liro121 put up a good fight. Emperor229 played Turkey well, but it's pretty impossible to be Turkey stuck in the middle of a strong A-R alliance.

Linkinbrick has to be the scrappiest player I've ever seen. Recovered all his home centers after losing them all. Used every trick in the book. He's never out of the picture - always working his way back in with clever tactical or diplomatic moves. One to keep an eye on. After several failures to come to an agreement, a strategic ceasefire in the middle of the game was crucial for both of us.

Strudeldunsenman played an excellent France. Like the rest of the final four, he lost home centers and scrapped back. You don't expect to come back from having Italy in Iberia while Germany is in Paris. Strong tactically and diplomatically, Strudeldunsenman is a good ally, and he kept his word. Adding you to the A-R alliance was a key pillar in this game. I also enjoyed your attitude of curiosity. You were more interested to see how the end played out than trying to push for an outcome that would put France on top. Made for a unique ending.

Meanwhile, James39562 played Austria beautifully, bringing her back from the brink of extermination. You were an outstanding ally. I enjoyed discussing strategy with you, and you had great ideas. Truly a partnership. Made the game fun. Though I still think it made sense during the end game to talk tactics less, it was also less fun than when we were strategizing together in the early and mid-game. I appreciate your excitement, you're a great sport, and I very much hope to play with you again sometime soon.


Overall, a very fun game with lots of great interaction and a unique end-game situation. I look forward to future games with this group!
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Re: AAR: Seal #157542

Postby james39562 » 31 Jul 2019, 04:34

I did mean to mention in the write-up that we agreed to race to 18. It was not like you had promised a two-way draw, so when the stab came, in retrospect it should not have been a surprise.

One thing I forgot to mention was the best title for a message from another player. It was regarding the message that England fabricated to look like it came from France. By the way, England, you did almost get me with it. I really did have to compare writing styles to know it wasn't France. Anyhow, when Russia forwarded it to me, he titled it 'Sneaky E and the funky bunch' I literally Lol'd on that one.

Great analysis, Chundar. It's nice afterwards to see what others thought processes were.
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Re: AAR: Seal #157542

Postby Strudeldunsenman » 31 Jul 2019, 11:14

Ha ha, I remember the heading now! Brilliant.

I'd just like to add that the crux moment came, not when Austria attacked me but the defence offered from Russia for Munich. I think that move kept Russia on the front foot. If, as he had told me, he would not go against Austria and so Munich fell, I'm pretty certain Austria would have won the game, I would not have been able to move units to defend.


As for the solo victory:

I had promised both that if they wanted a draw and took out England I would not have voted against this but it was a cheap ending and it was to the courage of both that they both took this on. Austria definitely had the harder choice. I couldn't win this game, the alliance between A-R was evidently very strong and once we got into a position of power, it was only the option of choosing a side.

To let you both understand. I was in communication with you both all through the game but Russia and I were pretty much solid and working towards the same goal (England and Germany). I NEVER intended to attack England initially but reports from (first) Germany and England's move to Denmark, convinced me that Germany was telling the truth re:England that they were allied and I was getting attacked next. Once that turned and I was on the receiving end, my "Alliance" with Russia never faltered. Being part of the Russia/Austria pact was the best moment in the game and the 'gift' of a centre to keep me in the game and fighting on the western front.

To those ends I felt that to betray either in a cheap stab (had Austria or Russia asked for it) would have been a tawdry move. I made it clear that I would never attack either one of you unless provoked. I was pretty sure Russia wouldn't, at least until he dealt with England, and even then I' was sure he trusted my word and so it would be a bit of a dilemma if he came for me.

Austria's choice was hard: Russia or France?

I think ultimately he made the wrong choice because once the 'race' was on, Russia was so far ahead. The difficulty was whether to trust my word and hit Russia hard or to keep faith with his ally and race against me. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he went east. I'm pretty confident that the worst that would have happened would have been a draw, Russia would have a two-front war. For my part I would have been eating toblerone and watching my cuckoo clock tick by from the sidelines. My thoughts were that if that happened, Austria would win. He needed a Russian centre in anycase.

As mentioned, I thought England was the most interesting player of us all. He was resilient, courtly wise and even resorted to underhand communiques when it called for it whilst actively seeking a pact against Russia. Not just the usual diplomatic stuff of ordinary games, I think he went beyond the norm!!!!

It was certainly one of the best games I have played and had everything n it with all players on the brink of extinction at one point!

Bravo everyone!
'In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.' Yogi beri
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Re: AAR: Seal #157542

Postby james39562 » 31 Jul 2019, 22:38

You are probably right about that, France. Austria is a poor choice for a naval power, and I spent a good portion of the mid-game trying to keep Trieste clear to build fleets. I realized after I gifted you Trieste that Vienna would have been a better choice. The naval assault just fizzled like a wet firecracker. It would've been better to attack someone by land, but I don't think Russia would've taken the betrayal as well as you did. Haha. Just kidding, Russia.

I do regret not having had much opportunity to work with England. He seemed like a clever player, but we were just too far apart to do any specific collaborating. Besides that, he kept trying to get me to attack Russia. Why would I do that?! Russia was my ally and I know Russia would never do something like that to me. Lol!
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