AAR - 126326. The Diplomacy Brochure: Welcome to Europe 1

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AAR - 126326. The Diplomacy Brochure: Welcome to Europe 1

Postby Mr.E » 27 May 2017, 11:40

1902 - The Fall of Governments
This proved - against the odds - to be a fascinating game. Against the odds because it suffered three surrenders in the same year.

In Fall 1902 Turkey, England and Italy were all abandoned. At this point, the game looked like this: Image
Yep - Bulgaria only just captured and Tunis still neutral. This might explain why the two southern powers left, but there was more to it than that.

Flamingmonkey236 was Italy. In S01 he'd pushed west and allowed Austria to move Tri-Ven. At the time, Austria told me - Russia - that he thought Venice and Trieste were bouncing. In F01, Italy NMRed. It didn't look promising: a weak player, messing-up in S01, looked to be gone and Italy had lost a unit. Italy appeared to NMR in S02 - but he couldn't have done as he was still in the game. It was his third - apparent - NMR which led to his expulsion. Difficult to understand what was going on there.

skins54 was England. He started with the Yorkshire variant of the Northern Opening, took Norway in F01 and tried to convoy Yor-Bel, bounced by France. Having built a fleet in London he then NMRed in S02. This allowed my fleet in Sweden to successfully support StP(nc)-Nwy (which would have worked anyway as Germany had agreed to cut potential support for Sweden from the North Sea). The F02 NMR wasn't unexpected.

Bomberclad's (Turkey) was a ridiculous surrender. He and I had never really got on. I'd started by asking for the Black Sea to be DMZed. Turkey's reply was sent in F01! In it he said he would be happy to bounce there but that, if I accepted his fleet in Black Sea, he'd support me into Rumania. I don't know what he thought a friendly Russia would be doing with his Sevastopol fleet in any situation Turkey was discussing: a bounce would prevent any support; if I allowed him into Black Sea, what would my friendly fleet be doing? Surely, Sev-Rum! So Turkey must have been expecting Austria to have bounced me from Rumania.

As it happened, Turkey's S01 silence had already hardened my resolve. I'd ordered War-Ukr, Mos-Sev and Sev-Arm, assuming Turkey would be in Black Sea, as he was. So I messaged him and gave a subtle warning about his silence. But I also offered an olive branch: If he would support me into Rumania after all, I would leave Armenia. So my orders were Ukr S Sev-Rum (I wasn't going to rely on Turkey's support - I wouldn't have given it!) and Arm-Sev. I was still unsure about Austria - whose messages weren't overly friendly and a little paranoid - and I didn't want to be isolated in the south. Turkey ordered BLA-Ank (as he should), Bul-Gre and Con-Bul. However, Austria had ordered Ser-Bul; Turkey was in Greece but that army was isolated.

But the silence from Turkey was still ringing. It took me to message him in F01 Builds to spark some interest... eventually, 2 days later. Amongst all the blabbing - which, in a perversion considering he was not really replying, went on about trust and the splitting of Austria - he told me how much he wanted to DMZ the Black Sea but would move there to support me in Rumania. I had 3 units in or bordering Rumania...

So I gave some detailed thoughts on how we could move against Austria. This included Gre S Rum-Ser on the basis that Austria wouldn't expect it (Austria had built armies in Budapest and Vienna). Again, SILENCE. As it happened, S02 saw Turkey take my suggested moves and use them but I hadn't heard anything. If I had kept to my suggested orders, I would have been in Serbia. However, yet again without Turkish communication, I couldn't afford to trust him. I'd even told him I needed a reply as, without Turkish support, I couldn't afford to lose Rumania.

When Turkey replied his message, in response to my orders of Rum-Bul (bouncing with Con-Bul), Sev-Arm (expecting Ank-BLA), Ukr-Sev & War-Ukr, was as follows:
YOU stupid motherfucker... he will kill YOU NexT...
And then, predictably, he left the game in F02, without even ordering. Perhaps I tipped him out; my message in reply to his idiotic message was:
There are perhaps three reasons behind your lack of messages:
1. You're new to the game and don't recognise the importance of talking.
2. You're in more games than you can comfortably handle and only send a minimum of messages as a result.
3. You haven't seen that the game's called Diplomacy and/or don't understand it.
However, when I'm lucky to get one message a turn from you, which doesn't say much at all, I find it very difficult to work with you.
Still I tried again in F02 to communicate, fruitlessly.

And so there were four.

1903 - The Swing Year
At the start of S03, the board looked like this:
With Italy gone, Austria could sweep up Italy and Tunis, gaining three builds. With Turkey gone, I could sweep up Turkey - with Austrian grace - and gain three builds. Austria would be on 9 SCs, I would be on 11. There was a new England - rd45 had taken control in F02. That left the north undecided, the south to be split between two powers. Sense suggested Austria and I work together, take the offerings and move west.

And so I tried to stab Austria ;)

My thinking was sound - really, it was. If I successfully moved as I was aiming to in 1903, I could capture both Budapest and Vienna. Austria would be on 7 units and be unable to build; his nearer-to-me SC total wouldn't matter. And I would be able to mop Turkey up at my leisure.

So my orders were: Rum-Bud, Bul-Ser, Mos-War, BLA C Arm-Rum. These moves were accompanied by (not-quite-as-crafty-as-I-thought) diplomacy with Austria. I encouraged him to move west, readying his units to be thrown across the Med. I'd told him I wouldn't build in Warsaw or Sevastopol - and didn't; I'd suggested he build another fleet - he did. In S03 I offered to move my Black Sea fleet into Constantinople and move to support him in the Med - but only if he wanted. I suggested he move his Balkan units west and I would move mine away from the Balkans, DMZing the region. Austria's reply ignored my suggestions about moves other than the Black Sea fleet. This gave me pause; I dithered.

However, the plan was that I would be in Budapest, perhaps Serbia, with an army in Rumania and one waiting to jump into Galicia. I would order Bud-Vie, Rum-Bud, War-Gal. I was relying on Austria being distracted by Italian freebies, to some extent, but we both saw the advantage in pressing the West while it was divided.

In the meantime, I had decided to work with England. He was the smallest active power on the board and I thought he would take some kind of olive branch. I had been working with Germany but I could also see Germany and England working together against France. Germany had a soft French centre in front of him. So I decided to move my fleets (in the absence of English power, someone had to try to dominate the northern seas) to position myself to defend: Swe-GOB, Nwy-Swe, StP(nc)-Nwy. It wouldn't be too hard to change this into an offensive, anti-German position while working with England. I was delighted to see Germany successfully order Mun-Bur, with Paris empty and not reachable; he'd also managed to get two units bordering Belgium. However, he'd also mis-ordered: Denmark had been ordered to support F(NTH) HOLD but he also ordered NTH-ENG. England dislodged the North Sea fleet.

Everything looked good. Except that my stab on Austria failed.

The lesson in this is that timing is everything. I felt I needed to act then. If Austria had gained the builds he was due from Italy, I would have been facing a much more formidable opponent on my south-western border. I didn't want that. I didn't necessarily want Austria eliminated but I certainly didn't want him approximately equivalent in strength.

In retrospect, I would have been better to wait. A stab like this is probably better held until the ally has given you more trust than he can afford to break. I'm not sure whether Austria spotted the impending stab or whether he simply moved defensively. Certainly the defensive move made some sense on its own; he would have placed his units in position to hold me at bay. Another reason I was able to persuade myself that it was the right time to stab.

This could have been the swing year. It could have given me a position from which I would have inexorably progressed to a win. Instead it led to my decline... if not quite a fall.

On the Back Foot
Fall 1903 onwards looked bleak, then. I'd shown my hand and been matched. Austria wouldn't trust me for almost all the rest of the game. I decided to do the best of a bad situation and take the Turkish SCs. Not too bad as a fallback plan but the solo, which would have been, I think, guaranteed by moving successfully into Budapest and Vienna in 1903, was out of reach.

Meanwhile, disaster in the west. Germany (remember, with an army in Burgundy poised to capture Paris in F03 and un-removable) ordered Bur-Mun! At the same time, Austria ordered Pie-Tyl (he wouldn't have captured Marseilles). What was going on?

I believe that was England's doing. He'd correctly recognised the possibility of an Austronaut (A/R alliance), seen the western powers divided and predicted a collapse of the game. Had I told him I was about to stab Austria perhaps this mid-game appearance of the Western Triple alliance wouldn't have happened. Then again, who would've been so daft as to tell a new player - with nothing to lose - that he was going to launch a stab like that? Careless talk...

Seeing the WT, I tried - understandably unsuccessfully - to mend the relationship with Austria. I lost Rumania in '04 and Bulgaria in '05. In the north, I lost Norway to England and Sweden to Germany in '06. I was down to 7 SCs - the homeland and Turkey. Austria was continually at war with me as where England and Germany; a French fleet had sailed inexorably into the Barents Sea. By S07, there were French fleets in Ionian Sea and EMS.

Throughout this time, I was working to make peace with Austria, split England and Germany and get France to attack Austria. France was playing two sides: while in the WT alliance, he was also working with Austria to move against me. And, in this, was the one gap in the anti-Russian forces.

Germany was refusing to work with me because he distrusted Austria, confirmed by both him and Austria. The problem was Austria's occupation of Tyrolia. Germany just didn't trust him. In reality, this had been a defensive move, although I think it may have been - initially - an agreement between France and Austria: if Germany had captured Paris way back, Austria would have tried to take Munich.

France was also, apparently, refusing to work against me. I was encouraging him to move against Austria. The response was disappointing on more than one level. Why wouldn't France take the chance to stab Austria in Italy?
You made a lot of valid points and I give you props on that, but I'm not a solo player at this game, I am not a fan of stabs either, and this game is peculiar enough. So a lot of what you said is valid and cool, but not quite destined for a player like me.
In other words, he wouldn't stab because he didn't play that game.

1907: The Year of the Landed Fish
The game, for me, looked like one of diminishing SCs and staunch defence. 1907, though, was a flippy-floppy year. There were two main areas of the board - Scandinavia and Italy.

England switched allegiances. I supported him into German-held Sweden. In F07, he supported me into German-held Denmark. I'm not sure what really motivated this turn, but I was definitely happy to grasp the straw. The WT had collapsed.

In Italy, France went after vulnerable Austrian SCs. Was this a plan? Were France's claims to be a drawmonger nothing more than a diplomatic smokescreen? I don't think so. I think he was nudged that way - not by me but by England. England told me that France's plans for grabbing Austria were too complex. But it was also clear that France expected the WT to continue: the bitterness he held for England after the latter's stab of Germany affected the ultimate outcome of the game.

When Winter 1907 came around, I had gained Denmark, England Sweden, France Rome and Naples. Germany had lost two SCs (down to 4 - the homeland and Holland). Austria had lost three: the aforementioned Rome and Naples... and Rumania; the latter was captured by me. Accidentally.

At this point, Austria and I were beginning to make some plans. I'd defended; I hadn't attempted to regain the two Balkan SCs he'd taken from me (I couldn't afford to try!) We'd agreed moves that would allow he and I to move against Germany. Somewhere along the way, however, Austria moved Rum-Gal; I'd planned and expected him not to do this and was making a phoney attack on Rumania, only to fall into that space: Image
Suddenly, from isolation, I found myself in two alliances: an Anglonaut with England and, finally, an Austronaut. Germany was the power that suffered. When England merged the two alliances, it became E/A/R (I call this the German Vice alliance) against France and Germany. For F/G, the bad news was that the two didn't seem to be able to work together.

There were no real developments for a year. Due to a misunderstanding between England and I, I lost Denmark to Germany but Austria captured Munich and had an army in Burgundy. Italy was French by the end of '08 and Trieste was vulnerable. France was tied down to attacking Austria; Germany was silent (with me, at least). By S11, however, we'd whittled away at Germany and France:

A Lesson Learned
When it came, the last stab was launched by me. However, the plan had been formed over a number of turns.

In S10, France had sent me this:
As this game is not going anywhere positively for me or for any of the former players I played with, I find myself in the face of resignation. I'd rather start another game with other players some other time at this moment.
As I honestly don't like the personality, style or strategy of none of the players present here, I'll write only to you, because you have the most builds and probably will be the solo player that ends this game at some point or other in time.
So, will there be any kind of moves or strategy from France's side that will help you achieve your goals in a timely fashioned way?
I prevaricated but the seed was planted.

I'd spent time persuading Austria not to leave the game, even when he and I were at war. This wasn't because he was looking to quit but because there were a number of occasions where he was needing to be away from the game for spells. I'd persuaded him to seek a suspension in play. He was a good player and it would be a shame to lose him.

Now France was on the edge of quitting and was offering himself as a kingmaker. There was no way, though, that I was going to break the triple alliance I was part of until I could guarantee both that France wasn't going to make a comeback and I was able to make a killing strike. And, in S11, I'd achieved both goals, with the expectation of French support. So, in F11, the turn resulted in this board (W11):
The result came up in public press:
ENGLAND (Fall 1911, May 21 2017 22:38 (GMT))
Nice moves Russia.
But with best defence, this is a drawn game. You have 10 SCs right now, plus five more from this turn. So you need two more, and Vienna & Budapest would fall next year. But in the meantime, you'd lose Norway, also Trieste, and probably Berlin and Munich.
I'm assuming we could get France & Germany to play ball & force the draw. The moves are straightforward, we could arrange it all on PP.
So, I'm going to make that assumption, and propose the five-way draw.
If I've miscalculated & Russia wins against any defence - feel free to point out my error.

Now, in all honesty, I suspected I could get the Austrian homeland. Serbia would take time because I needed armies to do that and I had fleets around it. If France proved to be as clever as I dreaded, he'd drawn me into a stab that would lead to a multiple draw, gaining him something from a losing game. But I didn't think that was the case; he'd messaged me in F11:
I can assist you as you wish, as long as it ends this game in a couple of years and England is not part of the deal.

Of course, there would be trouble elsewhere: England and Germany could cause problems in the north. At the time of England's PP message, if France disbanded his BAR fleet I would be lost. However, PP also made the situation clear, with some vitriol: Draw proposals were made - a 5-way, a 2-way (A/R), another 2-way (F/R - by England). France rejected them all.

I should say that, at this point, I wasn't overly bothered about how the game would end. I'd given myself a shot at the solo (at last!) and I could get it... but I thought France might go for the latter proposal. This wasn't the case, though. And England made this PP post:
So... if we've all decided that Russia is to win, let's get it over with this year. No need to drag it out any further.

Game Result
Austria (silverwood02) - 1 SC
England (rd45 REPLACED skins54 [who gave up]) - 7 SCs
France (katamari) - 5 SCs
Germany (mmherl) - 2 SCs
Italy (Flamingmonkey236 - gave up) ELMINATED
Russia (Nibbler) - 19 SCs SOLO
Turkey (Bomberclad - ran away sulking) - ELIMINATED

silverwood02 played a good game. He never really placed his trust in anyone, I think. It came down to him having to trust me (and England). I don't believe he didn't see the final stab coming but I also know that he was needing to have another break over the bank holiday (this weekend). I enjoyed playing with him.

rd45 did really well taking over from the inconsistent original England. He merged the WT when it shouldn't have merged; he bided his time before striking against Germany. In short, he made England a player in the game.

katamari also played a good game, with a little luck. If Germany had taken Paris in 1903, he would have been demoted to an also ran. Germany and France would have had reversed roles in the game. I don't like his playing philosophy: drawmongery is not something I agree with. He did stab Austria but he regretted it, possibly as this eventually ended the position he'd built with Austria and led to his defeat but I feel like it was more to do with his breaking his playing philosophy. Drawmongery is - IMO - a negative philosophy. Still, play however you want - the challenge is to play against any other philosophy.

mmherl did well without ever really challenging. I don't really understand the refusal to take Paris. Still. The only thing I'd say about him is that he didn't really communicate enough, certainly not with me and rd45 said the same thing. Perhaps what rd45 said was correct: he suggested that mmherl was playing in too many games.

I haven't much to say about either skins54 or Flamingmonkey236 (the original England and Italy respectively). Neither played long enough to make an impression other than too inconsistent to play the game. But perhaps other things were going on IRL.

Bomberclad, Turkey... oh yeh :roll: There are two things about the game that this guy needs to learn:
1. Communicate, FFS!
2. Don't be a baby.
I really should leave it there, so I will... except to say go play tiddlywinks. You're not suited to Diplomacy, on this evidence. (Did you know the players in tiddlywinks are called "winkers"?)

I really enjoyed this game - and NOT because I won. That was a bonus :) But I enjoyed it because I enjoyed the opposition. It was the opponents who made the game interesting. Which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who plays Diplomacy, I guess.

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Re: AAR - 126326. The Diplomacy Brochure: Welcome to Europe

Postby Shyvve » 27 May 2017, 19:42

Nicely done, Nibbler-both the AAR and the game. Congrats on your solo!

I have been watching this game with considerable interest up until the point where the PP you mentioned was posted. I assumed it would end in some draw. It's always nice to get a better idea of what is going on behind the scenes than one can speculate about based solely on observing the game.

It seems the WT came to your assistance just in the nick of time, allowing the A-R war to cease, and freeing you from the prospect of a bottled-up and declining Russia. And then the WT fell apart at just the right time to permit the prospect of a Russian solo once again.

I too am learning that timing is indeed everything. Often the window for success seems to be a single movement phase and whether the moves crucial to a stab succeed or not...just one more turn of trust!
I am sure it was quite satisfying for you that you had a second opportunity to push for that solo.

As for your Turkish player's delay in responding about negotiations concerning the Black Sea and environs. I truly have no response to that one. :o
EDIT: I suppose it's been proven untrue that "stupid mofos" never win!
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Re: AAR - 126326. The Diplomacy Brochure: Welcome to Europe

Postby rd45 » 29 May 2017, 10:38

Thanks Nibbler, and good game. I enjoyed reading your AAR - filled in some blanks for me nearer to the beginning of the game - and helpful to see your thinking around the stab on Austria, which was a surprise at the time.

I won't add much. Yes, the western triple was my idea - seemed an obvious choice coming in at that point. But it was harder work than necessary because we were essentially carrying Germany, who wasn't at all talkative. So I was always looking for an out, and because I'd carried on talking to you & to Austria, and those conversations were a bit more fun TBH, I took the chance to switch things around when it presented itself.

France totally flipped out when I stabbed Germany, and that threw me. I really didn't expect such a strong reaction. Plainly, France values the loyalty of a long-term alliance over any other style of play - and that's fair enough. Not really my style, but it's not uncommon & I respect it. But France's vitriol on discovering that I wasn't the same kind of player seemed excessive. The western end of the map became England v. France as a result. I was happy to play along with that, thinking that it was essentially a side game & that we'd call it quits as soon as the wider state of the board meant that we all had to focus on the east again. But, I guess I underestimated the strength of France's feeling. And, I hadn't appreciated quite how much kingmaking was going on behind the scenes.

Still great fun though - well done on the win. Look forward to playing again some time.
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