AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

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AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby sock » 28 Apr 2017, 23:06

Roughly three years after I began my last playdip adventure, I was sitting at my desk, looking at a mounting series of responsibilities--plays to write, a class to teach, local politics, and of course, my real job in corporate America. The idea that I would allow myself to get sucked into another game of Diplomacy after I forced myself to go cold turkey--well, don't I have a strong will and an ability to show personal restraint?

Apparently not.

Let me introduce you to the cast of characters in this little drama:

BRITAIN--Guns of Brixton
FRANCE--drintoul (3way DRAW)
ITALY--sock (3way DRAW)
GERMANY--V (3way DRAW)
AUSTRIA--Durkeety
TURKEY--Charleroi
RUSSIA--Bromley86

Here's a link to all the action:

http://www.playdiplomacy.com/game_play_ ... _id=128445

Durkeety was kind enough to host this little gathering. I was intrigued by the high caliber of players. Those who know me best know I never shy away from a competitive match. And I got a chance to play Italy, my favorite country. I like Italy because it has plenty of options when it comes to solos. And when compared to the other central powers (Germany and Austria), it can truly be both a naval and land power. And I would argue its defensive position is pretty good, as long as you ignore those Austrian sentries staring at Venice.

As Italy, you have three objectives. Don't let Austria and Turkey gang up on you. Keep England and France separated. Survive into the middle phase with more than four centers.

My preference (sorry drintoul) would have been an English/German alliance. If Italy has a shot to grab Spain and Mars, it is on an early road to a solo, as long as it can manage its Eastern affairs. Unfortunately, the early communications suggested my worst nightmare--a Triple Alliance, which meant France would be gunning for me in 1902 while I was addressing eastern distractions. Since Russia's early communications was also friendly, I didn't want him distracted by northern entanglements. I needed him to knock Turkey out of the game.

And why Turkey? Well, nothing personal against Charleroi, but he didn't get off on a right foot with me when he started making demands about keeping me out of the Ionian (non-negotiable) and Greece (a fair price in return for my cooperation against Austria). I nodded calmly and smiled. And I could. Because both Austria and Russia seemed pretty supportive of an alliance against Turkey. The early eastern moves in 1901 were pretty benign. The situation was still pretty fluid.

The West was a different story. Germany, who maintained a friendly, energetic demeanor through out the competition, chose to bounce England out of Belgium and seize it himself. The French chose to move its MAO fleet to Portugal rather than either the English Channel or Irish Sea, a precursor to an assault on England. And with three builds in hand, Germany had an unprecedented superiority over a French position that had only two fleets and an army in Picardy to protect the interior. And the French put a fleet in Mars, which caused a bit of discomfort for me. I truly had no idea what was going to happen.

My paranoia suggested the Fall moves were a ruse to disguise a Triple Alliance, especially since Germany showed little interest in following up its advantage. It lead me to even suggest to Turkey that he was orchestrating the whole thing because it was the best way to protect himself from the pending attack by his neighbors.

During 02, the Austrian/Italian/Russian assault began in earnest. Austria was kind enough to allow me to take Greece since he took Bulgaria. But a last minute order change by Russia led me to make a move that didn't endear me with my Austrian ally--a retreat from the Aegean sea into Greece to ensure my fleet didn't get destroyed. It weakened our offensive posture, and clearly led Austria to have second thoughts about my worthiness as a partner, even though Turkey's position was fairly desperate.

I'm a firm believe that good players don't get stabbed; they allow themselves to get stabbed. I sensed Austria would make a play for Venice the following year, because he had gained everything he wanted in the Balkans, and could easily offer Greece as an enticement to the Turks. But there was really little I could do to stop it, besides hoping that Russia was not going to let me die while Austria created an empire that would have been too big for him to handle. What I didn't expect was that Russia would launch a pre-emptive strike at the same time Austria stabbed me.

The eastern assault by the Russians caused a real quandary for Durkeety. He could push west, but in the process lose Vienna or Budapest or even both. V also got involved--a rare rift between German cousins. I had been saved. At least for moment. Austria and I kissed and made up. But not really. I couldn't let Austria go down without getting a piece for myself.

Then Bromley choose to continue his pattern of hyperactivity. While V kindly helped me gain Trieste, Russia stabbed Turkey for the second time. Two great Eastern powers quickly dissolved. But Turkey was still institutionally strong enough to be a handy ally against Russia. Germany had essentially handed over England (minus London) to the French, who were slowly completing the second Norman invasion, and he turned his resources against the Russians.

Why did I choose to attack Russia, after all his past support? Well, Russia's early pattern of pre-emptive strikes made me a little leery. To ignore that, would only invite my own demise. I also suspected Russia's actions fill into a game strategy I have deployed from time to time--keep everyone small as you slow build momentum, so that no one can stopped you without coordination. I was faced with a good example of how Italy has to be bold, or else remain in place.

With Germany and Turkey aligned with me, I seized Budapest, but in a conservative way in the Spring of 1905. Instead of providing Turkey with support from Serbia into Bul, I used my Serbian unit to cut off the possibility of Rumanian support to Budapest. It was an unnecessary support, and led to Turkey blasting me for my "stupidity." But how stupid was I, really? I didn't want Turkey to get off its feet. I was still very comfortable with France's intentions, and I didn't want to juggle two weakened eastern powers before making my inevitable move west. I promised Turkey I would help him get back in Con, so he could rebuild his country, but chose to seize both Rumania and Bulgaria in the Fall instead, leaving Turkey with only one pirate fleet.

On the surface, my position going into 1906 looked good. But there were too many purple combatants facing me. France had mysteriously chosen to build a fleet in Marseilles instead of Brest. And my gregarious German friend because very very quiet. I was worried that another stabbing loomed, with no one left to come rescue me. Russia smartly seized upon my unease, and we allied again to help me ensure my southern border, while he could turn his forces to the north. I attacked Germany in Vienna and moved into Smyrna with Russian help to end the aspirations of the Turks.

I was truly on the pathway to 18, except--sigh--I had waited too long to move west. France would have little trouble closing down the exit ramp out of the Med. And without a way to breakthrough the stalemate line, I could see 17 centers in hand with Russia's demise, but nothing more. The dreaded four-way draw loomed.

I tried everything to convince France not to settle for a draw without at least taking a shot at a solo (although not in those words exactly). I was willing to take a risk if France was willing to make the game fluid again by stabbing Germany, which was frankly badly exposed. I knew I risked a resurgent Russia, but Bromley took my solo aspirations in good humor. He was confident he could thwart them. And he knew a destroyed Germany was the only way he could salvage a draw. I think he preferred to ally with me versus France anyway. But France was steadfast, even when I was willing to put in play two valuable chits--Tunis and Munich--to at least give him a chance to consider a two way draw. No dice. I turned on Russia once again, setting the condition for a three-way draw and there you go.

On one hand, despite my rustiness, I didn't embarrass myself too much against some true world-class players. On the other hand, having been at the edge of 17 before, there is no more sickening feeling than to know that you will fall one center short. Some additional observations:

---Bromley is scary good. I had a pretty good sense I knew what he was thinking most of the time and I greatly admired his ruthlessness. I think he made me more conservative than I should have been, and that ultimately sealed my fate.

---However, I failed to make Bromley's talent work in my favor at the end. I could not convince drintoul how strong his position was. How dangerous a neighbor Bromley was. And how realistic it was for drintoul to take a shot at the brass ring. This is not meant to be a criticism of his choices, but rather a failure in my part in the art of persuasion.

---V lives in Central America, and I know the coffee is got to be good down there. I think V drinks a lot of it. He was a fun, caffeinated player. I hated to stab him for Vienna, and I should have waited until he got sucked further into Russia, so I could safely target Munich, but I didn't know how to re-establish my relationship with Bromley without attacking Germany.

---Durkeety was everything you would want in a host, minus the beer and chips. In retrospective, my solo aspirations took a big hit when Durkeety turned on me. If we had stuck together and buried Turkey as originally planned, Russia and I could have amiably carved up Austria and given me enough runaway to move west while France was busy watching the Beatles perform in Liverpool. Durkeety did the right thing, and he must have assumed he could take the risk because Turkey was on life support. But the division of the Balkans was messier than it could have been and I lost a precious year while matters were being sorted out.

---When GOB suggested that he, Charleroi, and I form an alliance of Turkey, Italy, and England, and call ourselves the TIE fighters, that demonstrated exactly the type of cleverness I was battling all game. It was room of top-notch players, and I'm greatly appreciative that Durkeety at least gave me a seat at the table. And Charleroi and I demonstrated that ultimately Red Sox and Yankee fans don't make very good playdip partners.

Let step aside from the keyboard for a moment, so the other players can offer their color commentary. And then I will fill in the other gaps as needed.
Last edited by sock on 29 Apr 2017, 15:14, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby Buachaille » 29 Apr 2017, 09:15

Got to love a good AAR. Highly entertaining, thank you :D
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby V » 29 Apr 2017, 15:59

Germany here, I have never participated in one of these so do not expect the polished review achieved by Sock.
Firstly I would reiterate the quality of the field. Definitely the best I have played against. I knew two, Bromley86 & Durkeety from previous contests, but the other 4 were new opponents.

In 1901 I briefly considered a WT, that was heavily plugged by England, but decided it was too dangerous with this calibre of players, so was glad when France suggested we target England instead. My suspicion was England wanted a WT purely to attack Germany at the earliest opportunity. An alliance between IRA seemed to be forming against Turkey & if England could be removed as a threat, survival looked more likely. France supported Germany into Belgium & a good start was made allowing three builds. To avoid multiple enemies Sweden was granted to Russia as part of a deal involving Austria that Russia would not invade Galicia in 1901.

In 1902 France maneuvered splendidly to defeat English defense to the west of the Isles. England ceded Norway to Russia, but maintained determined defense of North Sea. This was disappointing, but possibly to be expected as it is exactly the defense I would have conducted under similar circumstances. The result was that France & Germany agreed that depending on progress Germany's reward in England could well become London (not Edinburgh). More on that later...

Meanwhile Germany had a splendid army available for adventures. France was my primary ally, Russia was friendly & collaborating against England, which left Austria as a potential target. I was also worried that if Turkey fell rapidly to a combined IRA assault, then Germany would get attacked before England's elimination. So, off to Vienna.

Simultaneously with the start of the German move south came the unexpected Austrian attack on Italy, that Sock so ably described above, so the timing could not have been more fortuitous. Russia was attacking the east & Austria was in immediate difficulties.

By the time Fall 1904 arrived with my anticipated victory in Vienna, there had been a disconcerting bit of Diplomacy with Russia that raised huge alarms. Russia pointedly asked how come France had loaded up units to take Edinburgh from England (that was by then down to just Edi & Lon) expecting Edinburgh to become Germany's SC. Not knowing we had switched to London. Russia then followed up this in the Fall 1904 negotiation with the offer that they could support Edinburgh to hold preventing France getting a build in 1904, leaving them open to German attack.

It was all too obvious Russia had switched the opportunity. The original plan was to prevent Germany getting Vienna & Edinburgh, so that France could attack Germany. He had just rewritten the script a little giving Germany an opportunity to attack France instead. An ally capable of this duplicity needs attacking, so in Fall 1904 I took London & Vienna without Russian interference & also sent everything east to target Sweden & Warsaw immediately & hopefully Moscow later. Meanwhile the Russian support for Edinburgh to hold merely served to upset the only threat to this maneuver, being France.

All went well with Italy achieving great success in the Balkans, while Warsaw fell, until Italy decided Vienna was to become theirs, again described above. This meant all dreams of Moscow were to be discarded, but in that Fall of 1906 the opportunity was there to take all of Norway (France) Sweden & StP (Germany) yielding sufficient Russian destroys that I thought they would give up the fight in the north. This in my opinion was the only possible route for a Russian survival in that they could still contest Turkey & the Balkans, while FG targeted Italy.

Diplomacy was very active during that build phase, but it was not to be. Russia decided to destroy all southern units, effectively giving everything to Italy & all hopes of taking down Italy evaporated. From there the mechanics of destroying the remaining Russian opposition in the north was a formality, while France sealed up the south of France & MAO to secure the inevitable 3-way draw. Italy had 17 SC's in the bag by then, even though some were still coloured Purple & any strategy other than securing the stalemate line was nonsense.

As a Postscript I would like to add my thanks to the highly talented & thankfully loyal French ally, who provided splendid communication throughout the contest, much of which had me laughing, at times rocking with laughter. Italy is best positioned to give more details on that subject:-) Also France provided some excellent support concerning tactics & mechanics of the battle. I know both Russia & Italy, hoped/expected France to attack Germany pretty much throughout the entire game, but I never seriously thought it would happen. On the first instance, Russia had just upset France by attempting to set up a German attack on them. In the second instance, Italy had 17 SC's in the bag, even though some were not yet Green, that meant betrayal would only lead to an Italian solo. France & Germany discussed all such issues openly throughout the game to ensure we both realised the value of each other & our alliance at all times.

I am personally delighted to have got a respectable draw in this high quality contest. Two of the participants are currently very high on the ODC leaderboard, clearly very talented & both were serious threats to German success. At no time did Germany feel a draw was an easily achievable result & indeed it would not have been possible without the solid FG alliance that was achieved.

Thanks to all participants & I look forward to meeting you all again, though may be not as a bunch of 6:-) And yes, every morning I enjoy copious quantities of fresh brewed, best in the world, Costa Rican coffee, and always will however caffeinated I become:-)
Last edited by V on 29 Apr 2017, 19:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby Bromley86 » 29 Apr 2017, 18:13

V wrote:By the time Fall 1904 arrived with my anticipated victory in Vienna, there had been a disconcerting bit of Diplomacy with Russia that raised huge alarms. Russia pointedly asked how come France had loaded up units to take Edinburgh from England (that was by then down to just Edi & Lon) expecting Edinburgh to become Germany's SC. Not knowing we had switched to London. Russia then followed up this in the Fall 1904 negotiation with the offer that they could support Edinburgh to hold preventing France getting a build in 1904, leaving them open to German attack.

It was all too obvious Russia had switched the opportunity. The original plan was to prevent Germany getting Vienna & Edinburgh, so that France could attack Germany. He had just rewritten the script a little giving Germany an opportunity to attack France instead. An ally capable of this duplicity needs attacking, so in Fall 1904 I took London & Vienna without Russian interference & also sent everything east to target Sweden & Warsaw immediately & hopefully Moscow later. Meanwhile the Russian support for Edinburgh to hold merely served to upset the only threat to this maneuver, being France.


Cheers for the AARs guys. I'll post mine when I work up the will to wade through my copious emails, but I just wanted to clarify something here. Was Germany under the impression that Russia wanted to block him in Vie, and wanted France to attack him? Because, to the best of my recollection, Russia argued with Italy against blocking Germany from Vie, and never once suggested to France that we should attack Germany (we barely spoke all game). I don't think I suggested it to Italy either.
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby V » 29 Apr 2017, 18:37

Apologies for what appears to be a wrongful accusation. Yes, Germany was definitely under that "impression" & it just goes to show how this game turns. Without having come to that conclusion in Fall 1904, I would probably not have launched the preemptive attack on Russia & we may have seen a different outcome. I'll take your word for it in an AAR, but would have needed some convincing during the game:-) All the best, Germany.
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby sock » 29 Apr 2017, 22:23

Ah-ha. So my instincts were affirmed.

I know both Russia & Italy, hoped/expected France to attack Germany pretty much throughout the entire game, but I never seriously thought it would happen. On the first instance, Russia had just upset France by attempting to set up a German attack on them. In the second instance, Italy had 17 SC's in the bag, even though some were not yet Green, that meant betrayal would only lead to an Italian solo. France & Germany discussed all such issues openly throughout the game to ensure we both realised the value of each other & our alliance at all times.


The fundamental question was the strength of the French/Germany alliance. I thought they were pretty much tied to the hip. My assault on Vienna simply forestalled the inevitable. The real question is this--was Germany and France planning from the onset to carve up the board between them, and hope for a two-way draw? Or did either party have nefarious designs for the end game. If two players are committed to remain together, it makes a solo attempt (which is difficult to begin with) almost impossible to pull off.

A purist would have looked at the board at the onset of Fall 1907 and scratched their head. If France had become engaged, he was in a position to subtract at least four centers from Germany (and probably five given Germany's blind loyalty)--St.P to Russia, Warsaw to me. Belgium, Sweden, and Munich (with my help) to France. Now I understand France's worry that I had 17 potential centers on my side of the stalemate line. But I was taking on a lot of risk, too. I was supposed to close the deal with a resurrected Russia in my rear. Bromley was saying all the right things about my potential solo, but he wasn't going to let it happen. Worse case scenario, we find ourselves facing a different three-way draw, but I don't think that's what would happened, especially since I was handing Munich over on a platter--the one remaining hopeful center I needed to solo. That should have been enough to convince France to consider a two way draw with me. But we had not built enough trust apparently to pursue that.

So the only remaining question I have is this---did France ever intend to contend for a solo?
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby V » 29 Apr 2017, 22:47

I understand that the final question is addressed to France, but to interject again from a German perspective. The German Fall moves of 1907 were intended to make French betrayal as difficult & painful as possible, in the unlikely event it happened. I contest that Russia would have been no challenge for Italy (already on 14 SC's) & Germany would have made sure that France wasn't either. There is no question that an Italian solo would not have resulted, from the ambition & talent at opportunity taking, already demonstrated by Sock. All talk of 2-ways & 3-ways makes as little sense now as it did during the contest.
In reference to the other question of were there ambitions for a solo or 2-way, from a German perspective at no time did a solo look feasible. Targeting first England, then Austria, then Russia, there never appeared an avenue that would reach that destination. Although it was never stated as an FG objective a 2-way could feasibly have been achieved, if Germany had ever succeeded in persuading Russia to fight Italy.
This never happened, but not for the want of trying. Russian allegiance to Italy held firm to the end & I never found the right means to change it. There is an impression in this AAR that only FG were "tied at the hip", however the German experience suggested that RI were similarly attached. It was only the decline of Russia to 4 SC's that meant the Italian Coup de Gras was an end game formality.
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby sock » 29 Apr 2017, 23:33

I can assure you that Russia and I were not tied to the hip. I had simply created a scenario in which his overall options were limited. But whether or not Russia planned to stab me, I was still convinced he would, which is much different relationship than the one that France and Germany enjoyed, and my moves (which were painfully conservative) reflected that.
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby V » 29 Apr 2017, 23:39

I can see why I refrained from AAR's in the past. There is as little agreement in them as there is in the contests:-) Let's agree to differ, until next time.
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Re: AAR 128445 Juggernaut Rematch

Postby sock » 30 Apr 2017, 00:07

No harm, no foul, V. You were a worthy opponent. It was great playing with you. Save some of that coffee for me. :)
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