Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Discussion of finished games.

Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby Radical Pumpkin » 01 Sep 2016, 06:37

The game is still a few hours away from its official end, but Jaikes in Italy will have 18 centers once the Retreat phase processes. Congratulations to Jaikes for the solo in a long and well-fought game!

ENGLAND: tchung
FRANCE: Sirocco
ITALY: Jaikes (SOLO)
GERMANY: Sydney (surrendered 1914); Gooderian
AUSTRIA: theman83554
TURKEY: Etl819 (surrendered 1903); joe92
RUSSIA: Gildal (surrendered 1903); Foibleson

I'll have a bunch to say about the game, but it will likely take me a few days to write up my thoughts. In the meantime, I encourage all participants to share their take on the game. What do you think you did well? Where did you go wrong? What were the big turning points from your perspective?
Radical Pumpkin
 
Posts: 835
Joined: 31 Oct 2010, 15:58
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1599)
All-game rating: (1620)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby Radical Pumpkin » 05 Sep 2016, 09:48

It took me a while, but here’s my AAR from an observer’s perspective. A few comments before I walk through the game: We had too many surrenders, but also some really committed players, which was a delight to see. In was also great to see the game take a big twist (Germany’s downfall and Italy’s rise) as the diplomacy reacted to circumstances on the board; that’s not always something you see in a beginner’s game. I’m going to make some critical comments below, but a) I could be wrong--I’ve read almost none of the private messages, so I might well be missing key information, if nothing else--and b) all players make mistakes. Newer players are particularly likely to make strategic mistakes, since they’re hard to spot without experience, and so that will be my focus as I go over the game. If you think my take on anything is distorted, by all means chime in and give your own perspective.

There are two broad schools of thought about Italian play. The first says that Italy’s unique advantage is that it doesn’t have to commit to a course of action as early as the other powers, and so it should adopt a “wait-and-see” approach, getting a sense of where the board is heading before committing to a particular direction. The second school says that this is a trap, a recipe for Italy puttering on 4 centers until someone finally gets around to killing it off. I’m generally a proponent of the second school, but this game showed that Italy can get off to a slow start and still finish strong.

1901-1902

The game began with an EGI (England-Germany-Italy) alliance against France in the West and an AR (Austria-Russia) alliance against Turkey in the East. At this point, I would have said Jaikes was off to a bad start: he spent 3 turns convoying to Tunis and then back to the boot, then bounced France in Piedmont, so that the only progress against France after 2 years was a single fleet in the Gulf of Lyons. There’s always a speed concern when Italy goes west; it’s just easier for England and Germany to get to the French centers more quickly. A western opening can work for Italy, but typically it needs to slam on the gas from the start in order to get its fair piece of the pie. (An alternative strategy is to poke France with the goal of weakening it, not planning to make any serious gains there. However, that approach typically requires making gains elsewhere at the same time.)

Nor, in my view, was England doing well from this triple alliance. A Russian NMR made St Petersburg an easy gain, but taking it with a fleet didn’t help the English position: England was now committed to using 2 units to defend the center, and by stripping the French front of fleet power, the Channel became vulnerable. The result was a (consensual from what I can tell) German move into the North Sea. Combined with the handover of Belgium into German hands, this made England hostage to its much more powerful ally and hamstrung the rest of its game. The construction of a third German fleet at the end of 1902 sealed England’s fate: that fleet would never have anything productive to do except threaten English centers. (An aside: my general rule in England-Germany alliances is that Germany should have exactly 2 fleets. That gives Germany enough naval power to be annoying should England stab, but 3 German fleets make it hard for England to attack other parties without serious worry of a German stab.)

The East was proceeding in a more normal fashion. However, I’ll note that I think the Austrian play in 1902 was a mistake. With the only Austrian fleet stuck in Albania and Russia taking Bulgaria, Austria was bound to have problems claiming Turkish territory. This was likely the genesis of Austria’s stagnation over the next few years: it needed a target and a path from which to attack it.

The Board at the End of 1902:

Image

1903-1904

The years when France holds on surprisingly well and Germany explodes.

The French endurance can be attributed to a few factors, I think: the power’s natural defensive edge, some miscommunication among its attackers, an aborted Italian pivot against Austria (before swinging back against France), and a forward fleet in the Channel/Wales that pinned down a number of enemy units defending Liverpool and London. The result was that after 4 years against a triple alliance, France was still sitting on 5 centers! Quite a tactical achievement, if not a great diplomatic one.

The German explosion was greatly aided by the easy capture of Warsaw and Moscow. That in turn stemmed from a Russian decision to convoy the army in Livonia to Finland in Spring 1903. I’d be curious to know whether that was a lucky coincidence or a clever diplomatic ploy, because it paid off handsomely. By the end of 1904, Germany was by far the largest power on the board, with 9 centers and the best position from which to claim French territory. This was a good point at which to think seriously about Early Leader Syndrome, the potential for big powers in the early game to become subject to a large alliance meant to contain them. In my view, at least, being an Early Leader is still a good thing, but it requires diplomacy to ensure that you have allies who are happy to continue working with you.

In the East, meanwhile, we had a bit of a realignment. A new Czar pulled out of Ankara voluntarily, and for a moment it appeared that there would be an IRT (Italy-Russia-Turkey) alliance against Austria. However, with Russia collapsing from the north and Turkey still blocked behind a Russian Bulgaria, this arrangement was awkward from the start, and it quickly seemed to evolve into a de facto AI (Austria-Italy) alliance, with Italy focusing west and Austria picking up the pieces from the East.

Some strategic comments about the East: In my opinion, the strong Germany made Austria-Russia conflict especially inadvisable. Russia needed Austrian help against Germany, and Austria would have been better off making Russia into a junior partner than a source of centers. In general, I see Germany-Austria-Russia as an important triangle where no power wants to see one of its neighbors eat up the third. Turkey was only an ongoing distraction from the serious threat in Germany, so I would have tried to continue the alliance against it and kill it off quickly. E.g., a convoy from Bulgaria to Sevastopol in Fall 1903, with Austria moving Serbia-Bulgaria, would have given Austria an avenue for expansion against Turkey while saving Moscow.

The Board at the End of 1904:

Image

1905

A transitional year. France began to collapse, and England & Italy made their first gains. However, Germany gained as well and continued to expand aggressively, moving into Galicia just as Austria moved out. (The Austrian move out of Galicia looked like the result of negotiations with Germany, but I don’t know whether that’s true.) Russia collapsed almost completely, but without any pressure coming from the north, the Turkish position was reasonably solid.

With two powers on their way out, this year marked a shift from the early game to the mid game. When the mid game comes, players select new targets and often reevaluate their alliances. This was a critical time for Germany to ensure it would have at least one significant ally in the coming years. England, Italy & Austria were all viable choices, and it was worth significant concessions to bring one of them on board….

The Board at the End of 1905:

Image

1906

Early Leader Syndrome hits hard. In the Spring, England accepted a French convoy to the mainland, Italy accepted French support into Burgundy, and Austria moved toward German possessions in Russia. The game had turned into everyone against Germany, with rump Russia & Turkey playing their own game of survival in the southeastern corner. The timing was a bit awkward for England, though, since it couldn’t properly defend Norway & St Petersburg against Germany. I would have waited as England, using the time to reposition my units so those centers could be defended before stabbing my erstwhile ally.

However, as Germany, I would have been reluctant to actually take Norway in the Fall. Germany needed one of England/Italy/Austria as an ally; while England had accepted French convoy services, no damage had been done thus far. In addition, the fact that England had permitted German occupation of the North Sea for so long indicated he was a good (and submissive!) ally. The fact that England took a shot at French Brest in the Fall also suggests he was not entirely on board with the anti-German alliance yet. Submissive and loyal allies are worth paying a lot to keep. I suspect that if Germany had made the game England-Germany-Turkey vs the rest, he would have eventually won a solo. From my perspective, losing England as an ally was the critical error of Sydney’s game.

The Board at the End of 1906:

Image

1907-1909

Slowly, slowly, the German and Turkish positions worsen, although there was surprisingly little loss of centers over these three years. Notice that England has struggled within the anti-German alliance, unable to reclaim Norway or St Petersburg and tied up by the German fleet in the North Sea. England is arguably in an even weaker position than France at this point! Notice also that Italy is still only at 5 centers. However, it does have significant tempo, meaning that its units have travelled far from home. The army in Burgundy is especially valuable for planning a future stab. In addition, the Italian position benefits from a lack of threatening neighbors; only Austria could be a threat, but it is quite occupied already with Turkey & Germany.

The Board at the End of 1909:

Image

1910

A breakout year for Italy. Jaikes picks up Munich with the help of his allies, his Austrian neighbor cedes Constantinople (perhaps intended to make the Italy-Austria partnership more equal?), and Smyrna falls easily. Italy builds 3. In addition, the two Austrian fleets are now far removed from the Mediterranean, Austria is looking a bit vulnerable to a stab, and Spain is free for the taking whenever it becomes convenient.

At this point, the Italian board position was stronger than the German one. That could easily have prompted a reevaluation of the alliance structure, but it appears it did not: Jaikes did a better job than Sydney of keeping other players on his side while benefitting from rapid growth. As a result, he was able to stab at the time and in the manner of his own choosing….

The Board at the End of 1910:

Image

1911

Jaikes makes peace with a beleaguered Germany in order to stab Austria and France simultaneously. The Austrian stab is particularly brutal, leaving the remaining Austrian centers near helpless to the advancing Italian armies over the coming years. If Italy’s board position was only slightly better than Germany’s at the end of 1910, it is far superior now. Italy is a clear solo threat with 12 centers and 4 more Balkan ones that can be taken fairly easily.

However, it was still very possible to stop Italy. In particular, Italy’s western position was weak, and a concerted effort by the western powers could have prevented expansion past Marseille-Spain-Portugal or even pushed Italy back.

The Board at the End of 1911:

Image

1912

The Spring season was the right idea with a Grand Alliance against Italy, but everything disintegrates in the Fall as England and France turn back against Germany. That ensured Italy would be able to take MAO, blowing any hope of a stalemate line. (It was still quite possible to stop Italy through sheer superiority of numbers, but only if the other powers were united against it.) I would be curious to know why tchung and Sirocco chose to break away from the anti-Italian alliance so quickly. Did Sydney (Germany) piss you off in negotiations to the point where you preferred to see him lose? Did Jaikes offer an attractive deal? Did you think you could make gains in Germany quickly enough to still stop Italy short of 18? Had the game just gone on long enough and you wanted to reach any kind of conclusion? In any event, this was the beginning of the end. There was no serious resistance to Italian expansion during the remaining three years, with Austria even convoying an Italian army into its own supply center (Sevastopol) in 1913!

Spring 1912:

Image

Fall 1912:

Image

End Board Position:

Image

I don’t know the contents of the private communications or the players’ thought processes, but I can nevertheless summarize the game as follows: Sydney failed to solo because the board was united in the opinion that he should not; Jaikes succeeded because the board was not so united. Most solos are a little like this, that other players “let” the solo happen, but it was strikingly clear in this game.

Thoughts from any of the game participants very welcome!
Radical Pumpkin
 
Posts: 835
Joined: 31 Oct 2010, 15:58
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1599)
All-game rating: (1620)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby tchung » 05 Sep 2016, 13:31

I'll post as soon as I can. I'm working on many assessments right now as I just got back to school. Sorry for any delays.
tchung
 
Posts: 12
Joined: 20 Jul 2015, 01:06
Class: Diplomat
Standard rating: (843)
All-game rating: (852)
Timezone: GMT+8

Re: Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby theman83554 » 05 Sep 2016, 15:56

It's pretty much as you stated, I stagnated against Turkey with Russia in the way early on.
During the German Explosion, I asked Russia to move into Moscow, I'd have supported him into the area, he decided to move into my territory.
During the 4 way alliance, I (like to think that I) was leading it, continuously telling the others my moves, and saying stuff like, "I know it's slow, just keep pushing he'll fall eventually" I (like to think I) kept things stable.

When Italy took Constantinople, I wanted him to cover it, while I cleaned up Turkey's last centres. the deal was he take Ankara and Greece, I take the rest. That didn't happen. I left him with Constantinople too long and he stabbed, hard. (Well done BTW)

Near the end, I wanted to believe that Italy was just spicing the game up and wanted to go back to smashing Germany, then maybe England and France, THEN and ONLY THEN doing a one v one beat down cause it'd be fun. So, I did the stupid and opened myself up to another stab. *sigh*

GGWP
theman83554
 
Posts: 2
Joined: 29 Mar 2016, 00:52
Class: Diplomat
Standard rating: (972)
All-game rating: (972)
Timezone: GMT

Re: Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby Zosimus » 05 Sep 2016, 18:00

I am so pleased to see that more and more AARs are containing maps. If I recall correctly, before I started posting AARs, most did not contain maps. If I have accomplished nothing else for the sport, at least I have gotten better AARs in the forum.
Be more aggressive.
User avatar
Zosimus
 
Posts: 660
Joined: 19 Aug 2014, 22:17
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1632)
All-game rating: (1665)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby WHSeward » 05 Sep 2016, 21:40

That is a pretty silly post, Zos. Even a casual review of AARs prior your first with maps (about your 6th on site IIRC), shows that most of them contained maps and there are several epic AARs. Nonetheless, I think it is good to applaud all quality AARs. I think they bring a lot to the game experience and to the site. Doesn't quite make up for missing the post-game beer, but that is what FtF tournaments are for.
"As a general truth, communities prosper and flourish, or droop and decline, in just the degree that they practice or neglect to practice the primary duties of justice and humanity." WHS

A member of the Classicists.

Ask me about mentor games. Send me a PM or post in the Mentoring forum.
User avatar
WHSeward
Site Admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 2986
Joined: 29 Dec 2012, 22:16
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1633)
All-game rating: (1647)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby Zosimus » 07 Sep 2016, 12:52

Well, my memory is as fallable as anyone else's. I am, however, pleased to see large quantities of maps in AARs.

Edit: Although perhaps my memory isn't as fallible as I thought. I went back to look at AARs in 2014 and most of them did not contain maps. In fact, I think the most telling one is viewtopic.php?f=51&t=46126

Written by Radical Pumpkin, this AAR contained no maps at all.

However, the one written above contains a plethora of maps. It's wonderful.

Of the 10 I surveyed, one was eliminated because it dealt with a face-to-face game, and we can hardly expect maps on that one.
One was eliminated because it was just a link to other AARs.
And of the remaining 8, one contained a single map, one contained three maps, and the third contained a full map set.

Perhaps it is a bit of a conceit on my part to claim responsibility for the improvement -- even in some small way. Nevertheless, I must confess a certain avuncular pride swelling in my brest as I gaze upon this excellent AAR, for which we can thank Radical Pumpkin for his diligence.

Kudos.
Be more aggressive.
User avatar
Zosimus
 
Posts: 660
Joined: 19 Aug 2014, 22:17
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1632)
All-game rating: (1665)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby joe92 » 07 Sep 2016, 13:29

First up, congrats to Jaikes! That stab was very well played and no matter what you say I'll pretend that my departing message had some influence there ;)

I joined in Fall 1903. I was Turkey with 3 centres, 2 units and a Russian unit in my third supply centre. In other words it was a horrendous position to pick up, so I thought I'd at least have some fun with it. Russia was also a surrendered position and Foibleson picked that up at the same time as I picked up Turkey. I did all I could to persuade Russia that letting me prosper would be a good thing. I pushed hard on the late forming juggernaut angle. It worked, he pulled out of Ankara and I was able to acquire a build.

1904. My next objective was to convince Italy to turn on Austria. As Radical Pumpkin says it looked like an IRT alliance may have been gearing up against Austria, and that's exactly what I was trying to achieve. I started off well with Italy. I got support into the Aegean Sea. But then I made a mistake in the fall. I misjudged Jaikes and thought I could push for Greece based on the tactical advantage of convoying my army there and then pushing up into the Balkans while he took Trieste with an army - and those armies subsequently working with each other to attack the Balkans. Jaikes wanted both, wanting to move his fleet to Greece. The tactical advantage of an army in Greece was unquestionable, but in hindsight I should have given it up. Italy and Austria were in alliance and the extra effort should have gone in to breaking that up. If Russia had been a bit more communicative (seriously, like 3 messages from him the entire time, each only a few sentence long, 0/10 for effort) I would have probably felt a bit more comfortable with giving up Greece. Italy stabbed me and went with Austria.

1905 onward. I couldn't convince Italy to join me. I never heard from Russia again. Germany was too far away to help. An anti-German alliance started up. They included me in the messages to start with but soon cut me out as Austria wouldn't give me the time of day, let alone a build (and I probably wouldn't have in his position either). I took Sevastopol which put me shoulder to shoulder with Germany and we worked together the rest of the game. It became a game of trying to last as long as possible. If I could make it to the disintegration of the anti-German alliance I could possibly make a comeback. I was eliminated in Fall 1911. That spring, knowing the elimination was coming I messaged Italy pointing out a stab he could make to pick up 4 centres and cripple all powers except England in a single blow. Whether that message had any influence on the decision that ultimate led to the Italian solo... I'll just tell myself it did :D
Designer: Emergence, Modern Extended
GM'ing: Nothing

Platinum Classicist

Taking a break
User avatar
joe92
 
Posts: 1059
Joined: 02 Feb 2013, 00:26
Location: Leeds, GB
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1106)
All-game rating: (1721)
Timezone: GMT

Re: Art of the Knife X (Mentor Game) AAR

Postby Foibleson » 07 Oct 2016, 01:51

Sorry for not being communicative, I'm sure if you had prodded me with a few more messages I would have responded more.
User avatar
Foibleson
 
Posts: 94
Joined: 21 Jan 2015, 02:38
Class: Diplomat
Standard rating: (1075)
All-game rating: (1095)
Timezone: GMT-6


Return to After Action Reports (AARs)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests