AAR 124182 – Speak with an accent (EIT 3-way draw)

Discussion of finished games.

AAR 124182 – Speak with an accent (EIT 3-way draw)

Postby Nat20 » 08 Jan 2017, 03:46

ENGLAND -- lemonmade (3way DRAW)
FRANCE -- robsworld
ITALY -- Stubev (3way DRAW)
GERMANY -- Dytarma and thedonaldtrump, surrendered
AUSTRIA -- RealCaptainKirk
TURKEY -- bdferris1 (3way DRAW)
RUSSIA -- demiany, surrendered

I'm writing this AAR for two reasons. First, as a companion to drintoul's fantastic one posted recently (http://playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=54507) to show how the Key Lepanto may go very, very differently for Austria. Second, to extoll the excellent play of Stubev, the Italian player. Stubev has played 2 games and drawn twice. If he continues to play with the same tactical intuition and easy diplomacy he used in this game, I'm sure the solos will follow.

I want to emphasize that my play in this game was not awesome. Any comments or criticisms from fellow players or other interested folks would be very much appreciated. This was a real "game-theory draw" for me; I was nowhere close to soloing in the end, but I was just strong enough that any other player's pursuit of my centers might have given the third party the win.

On to the the good stuff. The top has some fun diplomacy, the bottom some fun tactics.

Spring 1901
My first time playing Turkey. My instinct is to join an RT. This is complicated by a message from Austria inviting me to a 3-way alliance with Germany intent on destroying Russia. A golden opportunity, or clever diplomacy?

I'm willing to entertain the idea. I message Italy, saying that, unlike most players, I am open to a TI alliance, with Turkey taking the land and Italy the sea. I ask Italy to go west, allowing Austria to concentrate on Russia. Italy, however, shows immediate disdain for going west in 1901 and indicates they want to attack Austria. This is fine as far as I'm concerned, and makes my decision of who to ally with easy: Russia is the choice. I suggest to Russia that we DMZ the black sea. Russia agrees saying he will go for Rumania. Russia betrays me with indifference, NMRing the first turn.


Fall 1901
Seeing the map, I curse myself. While my erstwhile ally was busy watching Netflix or something, I have missed a golden opportunity to sneak into the Black Sea. Meanwhile, in Austria, something that looks suspiciously like the Key Lepanto is on the cards. The clue is the 2nd Italian army: in Naples, not in venice where it could have supported the interloper in Trieste. Austria contacts me:
Welp, looks like I'm in trouble. Russia may be out to lunch. Do you want to take Rumania while I try to take back my homeland? If you do that and move Ankara to Armenia you'll be well placed to take Sevastopol next turn.

A little too on-the-nose. A second message like this would have had me moving to Serbia. I reach out to Italy, hoping for clues, asking for tactical advice. His response:
It really depends on whether or not Russia is in the game from this point forward. He seems to be out to lunch :S

If he's out, you could hit black sea and armenia in an attempt to get Seva come the new spring.
If he's in, I would be trying to get him to get his shit together lol

Part of the message's genius lies in the flippancy of the last line. Whereas Austria strongly coerced me to perform a certain set of moves, Italy seemed not to care. I did not notice the similarity of both the message and the language ("out to lunch"), and fell for it. Russia never responds to my messages, and so, figuring he has checked out, I decide to press some advantage before he autosurrenders.

Spring 1902
In the west it's everyone against Germany. France helps England gain a foothold on the continent. Russia finally gets a build by taking Sweden. I built F Smyrna to show Italy that the Lepanto will not work for him, perhaps enticing Italy to attack Austria. It doesn't work. The Key Leapanto is realized

Fall 1902
Now I'm straight up f****d. Not only have I fallen for the Key, but Russia did NOT surrender, and must be pissed due to my aggressive moves. I frantically message Russia, offering both condolences and support into Rumania. He responds:
You're a little late with this and I fear you've condemned us to early defeats in this one. I'm have little trust in your suggestion. I'd possibly consider if you backed Armenia off.

I've condemned us? I was unaware I had NMR'd on Russia's behalf in 1901. I do not want to deal with this kind of partnership, and basically write Russia off for the rest of the game.

Who am I to turn to? Austria writes me trying to convince me that a duck is not a duck, that what I'm seeing is not the Key Lepanto, and to keep attacking Russia. But, as a wise diplomat once intoned, "Fool me once, shame on you...Fool me...hm, can't get fooled again." Therefore I turn to Italy for counsel.

I write Italy somewhat desperately, asking for him to support me into Bulgaria and stab Austria while simultaneously giving him meta-props for his convincing Austria into doing the Key. I tell him that Austria has lied to me in every message (True), and their fleet build portends a stab of Italy. Will he help me and proceed with a TI? He cryptically responds that if I attack Bul and do not move to Aeg that I will like the result. With nothing to lose, I put my life in Italy's hands. He delivers. Oh, and how.

The partition of Germany continues. England convoys to Holland, and France supports himself into Munich. Germany finds at least 1 friend in Austria, who helps him into Warsaw. Meanwhile England waltzes into St. Pete unsupported. My Armenia holds. Out of his 4 neighbors, Russia clearly trusted the wrong 3. But check out Italy v Austria. A beautiful, flippin' brutal stab.

Spring 1903
With Austria and Russia reduced to rubble, I must pursue a TI to survive. France builds in Marseilles (thank goodness) and so Italy is also amenable to the proposition. I offer to limit myself to 2 fleets and take Bulgaria and Rumania, proceeding north, in exchange for non-aggression. Italy agrees to these terms. Over the next few turns, I will prove a mediocre ally, at best. It is not how I like to diplome, but the downside of Italy's excellent play was that I saw what he was capable of, and was determined not to play the lamb as Austria had. I decide to coordinate moves and builds with Italy, but that if other forces were to marshall against him, that I would not stop them.

Austria, chastened by the stab, lets me have Bulgaria and asks for help back into his home centers. This is help I do not intend to give.

England makes still greater headway on the continent. France turns to the Med in force, while Italy dispatches fleets west to meet him. Germany rushes to defend his home centers in vain, and Russia takes advantage, sneaking into Warsaw. I take Bul while A and I duke it out in the Balkans

Fall 1903
Austria asks me to support him to Serbia. I lie and say I will, but also strategically forget to tell Italy that this is Austria's plan.

England and France seem to turn against one another simultaneously. France grabs an SC, but England grabs 2 in scandinavia as well as Kiel, all while sailing into French waters. Meanwhile Italy makes positional progress against France. Austria retakes Serbia but loses everything else.

Spring 1904
France has built two fleets, picking a fight with everybody. I have built two armies with designs against Russia. England fails to cram the continent with more English armies. Italy makes puts 1 unit on Marseilles, 1 on Spain. I head north.

Fall 1904
More bounces between England and France. In the south, Italy outguesses France, going for position in the western med while cheekily holding in piedmont. In the east, Italy eliminates Austria, but Russia sneaks into Budapest. Lucky me, another gadfly for Italy. I finally take Sev, but replace the fleet in Rumania an Armenian Army. This is consistent with my hedging strategy against Italy.

Spring 1905
Now I come to a key decision point, and I'd love to hear folks' opinions on this. I could have stayed the course and slowly shifted armies up toward Moscow. To this end, I spam Germany with messages asking him not to take Moscow, that I will support him in the Balkans, that I will negotiate on his behalf with England and France, anything else to keep that center free. Germany is noncommittal, and eventually takes Moscow.

It would take me a game year just to put 2 units on Moscow. However, in that time, I figure Italy can retake Budapest and get at least 1 build in Iberia. With all those builds and leftover units in the Balkans, would I meet my doom? I also think that diverting Italy's attention for a moment would give France a puncher's chance. A stalemate in the west is good for Turkey.

I decide that I am well positioned for a preëmptive mini-stab of Italy. Maybe I can limit Italy's growth and convince him that I will attack Western-controlled Russia in earnest in future turns. Best case scenario, I actually do this; I need Italy to bottle up the Med. Worst case scenario, Italy and I fight, and I have an extra 2 SCs in my pocket from the early stab. I build A-Ank to try and reassure Italy.

England loses the channel but sneaks into MAO. Russia is eliminated by England, Germany, and Italy. Italy indeed takes Spain and Bud -- and Munich to boot. A stab is looking particularly prescient as I slip into Greece. But wait! Italy has moved Tyrolia to Trieste, allowing him to hold Serbia in the fall if he chooses.

If only I get one last lucky break: I ask Russia to retreat to Vienna! He destroys instead.

Italy writes that I should not have turned on him, and that England was in danger of running away with the game. I tell him I do intend to turn against England after I own Serbia and Greece (True). This idea does not find purchase in Italy's mind. In the fall England and Italy collaborate against both Germany and France. I go for position in the Balkans.

Spring 1906
Italy will have none of the plan I proposed. I do not blame him. His reasoning:
Unfortunately, you're very aggressive moves against me, without saying anything, reeks of betrayal, and I have no choice but to take precautions. SO I will be moving to Ionian.

I don't really know what you want from me. You're making no attempt to go north with a ship stuck in seva. All your units in the west. It's clear you're coming after me. I dont even understand the pretense your putting on about just taking serbia. It's obvious bullshit. And while I understand the attempt you're trying to make, I find the obvious lies, quite offensive.

We will war. It seems obvious to me. Your moves speak more than your words do.

Re-reading this stings. I was not attempting to bullshit or offend Italy in this moment, and did intend to go north after taking Serbia. But I must acknowledge that his thinking makes sense. If he had (for some reason) decided to trust me from here on, I think we both would have had a chance at a 2-way, or a better chance at a solo at England's expense.

In any case, what follows is a tactical tour-de-force on Italy's part. Continuing the pattern he established against his other neighbors, he absolutely undresses me on every turn until the end of the game. I've only played 10 or so times; never have I felt so much that I was playing checkers while my opponent was playing chess.

First, I take Serbia with too much force while Italy cedes it to me, grabbing Galicia. If I had managed to bounce in Gal while taking Serbia with fewer units (which did cross my mind), the Serbian army would have been destroyed, and the whole game would be different. In other theaters, England leaves Portugal while Italy takes Marseilles.

Fall 1906
I assume Italy will defend Budapest and Trieste, and hold my line. I guess wrong, and Trieste is left un-defended for a turn. Another cheeky play by Italy. He takes Warsaw, and outguesses me again by taking Eastern Med instead of Aeg. I'm totally bamboozled at this point. On the side, Italy steals Portugal. I see this as a mistake similar to mine earlier: the gains in SCs simply did not outweigh the E-I relationship.

Spring 1907
Italy builds F-Nap. Ruh roh. England writes that he did not consent to the Portugal grab and that he will gather his forces against Italy when the time is right. He prepares to move an army into St. Pete while clashing with Italy and France in the west. In the Balkans, Italy cancels my positional advantage by destroying Albania and sneaks into Syria. Hoodwinked again.

Fall 1907
England makes satisfying progress in numerous theaters, taking Brest and Munich while squeezing an army into St. Pete. An English solo is looking like a real possibility. I must sacrifice Serbia for Budapest. Based on Italy's tactical holds against France, I guess that, instead of taking Smyrna, he will do something weird like take Greece with F-Ionian and use F-Syria to cut support, keeping me from taking the Ionian. Of course I am wrong. May have out-thunk myself there.

Italy messages England and I, asking to draw. I obviously agree; I'm getting totally vaporized and would be happy to escape with a draw. I do not know why Italy proposes it. He could have bottled England out of the med, and, between the two of us, it is clear who was the better player.

Spring 1908
The end is in sight, and Italy, England, and I all work to eliminate F and G, the minor powers, so we can have our draw. In the meantime, Italy takes Greece and Budapest, while I retake Smyrna. England, seeing my plight, helps me into Moscow, and I break even.
Incidentally, I see Italy's decision to participate in the destruction of F and G instead of propping them up as a mistake. F and G were dead set against E by the end of the game, to the point where, in spring 1907 both Italy and England had taken German centers, G messaged all the players exhorting us to kill England only. It strikes me now that such kingmakers might have been vital tools at Italy's disposal, voting down draws while he blithely dismantled Turkey. But I am not Italy; perhaps there was some reason this was impossible.

To whit, this season I propose an EIT 3-way draw. France rejects it although he hold no centers.

Fall 1908
Italy seizes the rest of the Balkans, but I hold Moscow and help England into Warsaw. I try to destroy F-Syria, and guess wrong, but I can at least retreat to Smyrna. A pyrrhic victory.

I make another draw proposal, which the ghost of France again rejects, explaining: "For the record, I'm not a sore loser... I just don't like England."
...why not both?

In spring 1909 the 3-way finally sticks.

Lessons I learned:
(1) Stubev is a boss.
(2) Tactically, and diplomatically, I have much to learn.
(3) Manipulating minor powers is a subtle art, and this could have swung the game toward any one of the three of us.
(4) Do not take allies' SC's without their permission and expect them to stay allies (oops / d'uh).

Other comments, tips, or tricks? I'd love to hear from other players, especially lemonmade and Stubev.
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Re: AAR 124182 – Speak with an accent (EIT 3-way draw)

Postby Funk12 » 14 Feb 2017, 04:12

You present italy as an all knowning correctly guessing god. Lol

I would really like some more detailed examples possibily an attached map. Thanks
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