AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Discussion of finished games.

AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Postby Brumark » 26 Nov 2018, 11:45

Background
This is my first AAR but as winner I was informed this was my responsibility – I took it on face value as I do everything in diplomacy… I have read a couple of others so hopefully this is along the right lines

Housekeeping
I plan to refer only really to the main power so when I say Italy I mean Italy and Spain. This is because
1. I am lazy
2. Generally and pretty quickly majors and minors were joined, the only really case where this wasn’t the case and persisted as a major force till the end was my Britain and Egypt and perhaps this ability to have diplomatic influence in both halves of the board lent me an advantage not available to the others, albeit meant I was more vulnerable for longer.
I also intend to talk more about the strategic themes rather than rationale of tactical choices unless where they were particularly relevant. Readers can at their leisure review the blow by blow moves and I will be happy to respond if any questions are made on particular move sets, also I can’t remember some of them and I refer you to point one above.

I am going to highlight one or two tips which were things I learnt, especially picked up in this game, I hope people do not presume it presumptuous but I am assuming that a number of players at varying levels of experience will read this.

There are a couple of places where I feel this narrative could really be enhanced by the thoughts of the other players, I have highlighted this by the format (AAR – Germany)

Note on Alliances
I got on really well with most if not all the players and am hugely grateful for the advice I was given throughout. What this meant, plus everyone’s incredibly mature attitude (by not holding grudges) was that my decisions about who to support at any given moment (and believe me the alliances were constantly shifting subtly) were driven by strategic rationale not by personal preference – which was incredibly refreshing.

Players
Britain (Egypt) – Brumark
France (Greece) – Eutrueia
Italy (Spain) – Sweapea
Germany (Rumania) – Big Gun
Poland (Sweden) – Woolgie
Turkey (Yugo) – MrShed123
USSR (Czech) – Mr Aedron

Eliminations
Sweden – 1932
Rum – 1934
Greece – 1934
France - 1935
Poland - 1936
Czech - 1937
Italy - 1941
Spain - 1942
Germany – survived
Turkey – survived
USSR – survived
Yugo - survived
Britain – win
Egypt - win

Summary
I have broken the game into three Acts which broadly represented three different periods of strategic narrative for my game. These are then broken into sub chapters

Act 1 (1931 – Spring 1935) – Rise of Rome: Initial alliances are sorted, Italy advances mercilessly and the Grand Alliance forms in opposition (USSR, Germany, Turkey Britain) but continues to be pushed back:
o Opening alliances
o Opening moves (Spring 1931 – Spring 1932)
o Italy Advances (Fall 1932 – Fall 1933)
o The Grand alliance forms, falls apart, forms again (Fall 1933 retreat – Spring 1935)
Act 2 (Fall 1935 – Spring 1941) – The fight back and shifting alliances: Italy is finally halted and turned back, alliances become fluid as we struggle to keep the grand alliance together
o First Rays of Hope (Fall 1935 – Spring 1937)
o The First Triumvirate (Fall 1937 - Fall 1939)
o The Second Triumvirate (Fall 1939 – Fall 1941)
Act 3 (Fall 1941 – Fall 1944) – Rule Britannia: I manoeuvre for the solo and execute the stab
o Setting up the Stab (Fall 1941 – Fall 1942)
o The stab (Spring 1943 – Fall 1944)

HELP! I have created (what I think is) a great custom chart but cannot find a way to post it showing centres over time

Act 1 (1931 – Spring 1935) – Rise of Rome
Opening alliances
I felt I had good communications and build a level of rapport with all of Germany, USSR, Turkey and Italy. Poland less so but our ability to influence each other is much more insignificant. France I had some messages with but not hugely and this really boiled down to lets DMZ the channel. I never really believed his intention to DMZ (and so it would prove) as it was not backed up with wider joint plans. No mention of his minor for example.

I managed to get a good idea of who had the majority of the minors with the exception of Sweden and Greece between Poland and France. (Tip: I managed to get some clues on who had what minor based on when they messaged me, eg having the first contact from a major and minor power at similar times, this did need to be triangulated as wasn’t a sure fire thing but actually quite helped in a couple of cases).

My initial plan for alliances were:
Germany, USSR (*and Italy). This was because combined with our minors of Egypt (me), Rum (Ger) and Czech (Ger) this created a number of common enemies we could work against:
• Turkey (Egypt, USSR & Rum)
• Poland (USSR, Ger, Czech & Rum)
• Sweden (USSR, Ger & Britain)
• France (Britain, Germany & Czech)
In addition:
• Turkey agreed I could have syria, this was obvious very attractive and also meant I could avoid conflict with Italy.
• Italy had Spain and had a couple of requests, one I go after France with him, second I keep away from Tunis and he would help my to Greece the next year (I don’t really go for promises in later years normally but I had other reasons for complying) – these I could comply with without any cost to me and thought it might get me some goodwill to use down the line.

This simply created an overwhelmingly compelling strategic narrative for me. I had got on well with Turkey and I was a bit sad to initially cut him out of my plans but as I said nothing else made as much sense. I added Italy in in brackets as my main view was to work with Germany and USSR but it seemed Italy’s plans also aligned in terms of attacking France and potentially using our fleets to influence the med, so for me it was kind of an associate alliance but not as core.
Tip: I didn’t realise at the time how potent Spain is in generally and in particular when paired with a power bordering it. I may well have taken different action if I had known this.

Opening moves 1931 – Spring 1932
Egypt: as above I went for Syria
Britain: not trusting the channel DMZ I went channel & North Sea (and Wales – probably a bit silly if I thought the channel was not going to be open but given I was committed to a war on France I really wanted the opportunity of a convoy).
These then were what the other players went for. I am particularly interested in doing this (AAR – Turkey) as to the basis of Turkeys moves and whether they had originally intended to stop me in Syria (which they didn’t) and what the relationship was like with USSR.

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I had tried to reach out to Sweden but not hear anything and the move to Oslo was disappointing but not unexpected. I had guessed it was France.

After Spring moves France then also confirmed (Incorrectly!) that he was Sweden. I honestly think this was a mistake, I get wanting to cause confusion and hide your hand but to claim ownership of a hostile move only cemented my position of going for him, as when combined with the channel really suggested to me he was set against me (AAR – France). Tip: Don’t claim ownership of hostile moves which are not your own unless you really have something to gain

Things for me broadly continued to plan for me until fall 1932, Germany supports me into Belgium in Fall 1931, Turkey lets me into Syria as promised, Germany and Italy seem to be working with me against France. (Greece does leave himself surprisingly exposed to Italy). Germany and USSR are co-operating on Poland and with me against Turkey. Others may wish to give a bit more colour to this period.

Italy advances (Fall 1932 – Fall 1933)
Italy stabs me, MAO was supposed to support me to Brest but instead moved to Irish I recall that Italy was also supposed to support Germany to Switzerland so stabbed both of us. Perhaps I should not have left Ireland unclaimed for so long, this must have been very tempting (although I think it was Italy’s plan from early on). Some one advised me to be careful about going for it and it was a dead end but if I play Britain again I will think carefully about how I can secure it in 1932 (would welcome thoughts of others on how important it is to grab).

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Unfortunately I did not have much ability to counter at this point. Italy was talking about still wanting to work with me if I went after Germany. I did not really believe this as a genuine offer.

France would not engage constructively around co-operating against Italy with Germany and me. I did find this a bit odd as actually the only country which had taken a centre off him was Italy (twice including Athens), so whilst I don’t deny Germany and I had been working against him, no more so than had Italy (and indeed had France against me with us bouncing in the channel in the opening year twice). France would persist to suicide against Germany and I whilst allowing Italy and Spain to walk into his centres.

So I was left with little choice but to defend as well as possible, try and make Italy think I would work with him and convince him there were better targets. This had pretty much zero impact and Italy continued to advance reaching a combined Italy/Spain total of 9 in 1932 and 11 in 1933 (1.6x the nearest rival). Turkey is working actively with Italy at this point, but given my initial allies and I were trying to take his homeland, that seemed reasonable.

Our initial alliance of Germany/Britain/USSR falls apart as Germany stabs USSR sniping Prague and Sev instead of taking support to Ankara (AAR - Germany) in fall 1933

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The Grand alliance forms, falls apart, forms again - Fall 1933 retreat – Spring 1935
Any last hope I had of Italy not planning to turn my skull into a drinking goblet Viking style were finally dispelled as Italy stabbed me in my attempt of taking Smyrna (diagram above) as support had been promised, also it became abundantly clear that France fully intended to suicide against Germany and me whilst allowing Italy to take all his centres with no resistance (not really sure why but his prerogative) . Italy reached 11 builds (13 with France).

Assuming at this point that Poland was too far gone I reached out to all other viable powers, Germany, Russia and Turkey in an attempt to put together a “Grand Alliance” against Italy. Unfortunately this was made more difficult as the alliance between BGU had just fallen apart with Germany stabbing Russia in Fall 1933 (by slipping into Sev rater than taking support to Ankara). I will leave Germany (AAR - Germany) to discuss his rationale. Also I had through Egypt just tried to sneak a centre off of Turkey.
Spring was going to look like this following builds:

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At this point I had no real game plan other than throwing everything at Italy and hoping the others recognised the threat, so I stated this (and hoping it was recognised that snipping my centres would simply allow an Italian steamroller – something I was going to repeatedly rely on). I believed we had very little time to stop Italy maybe one or two turns.

Huge credit to my fellow players here. Turkey forgave all with only some reasonable requests of us moving away or invading forces from his borders. Germany and USSR managed to patch things up which I was surprised at (Turkey and I did wonder if some of the bluster was for show for the rest of us but I think perhaps not, relations would not prove to be good) (AAR – Germany, USSR, Turkey).


Well I say patched things up, this lasted until a couple of hours before the very next orders deadline (Spring 1934). Russo-Germanic relations took a nose dive. Ambiguity had crept into the negotiations and USSR demanded Sev back late in the day when this wasn’t generally expected at this point. Germany reached out to me (and I think Turkey) and wanted us to set about USSR and in particular to support him to Stockholm.

In side discussions Turkey and I concluded that:

• this was far from ideal; however
• German/USSR war seemed inevitable and relations irreparable (at least in the immediate short term)

Therefore the best bet was to throw our weight behind one side or the other and finish it as quickly as possible and hope that Italy had not won the game by then. We concluded that Germany was more vital in the struggled against Italy as if we turned on him then Italy would simply gain centres. This led to the conclusion that we had to support Germany.
Intense negotiations in leading up to Fall 1934 with Turkey and I trying to support peace between USSR and Germany pays off (and again credit to them for seeing the bigger picture) (AAR – Germany, USSR). A more stable peace deal is signed, unfortunately Versailles which would have been the ideal location is held in enemy hands so we all booked a cheap flight to a dreary town in Moldova to do the actual signing.

Side Note: a key feature from there till pretty much the end of the game for me was that my forces were tied up with the Italians, whilst this was a weakness in once sense I recognised it could be a strength in that I could always find an excuse to stay out of any disagreements in the Grand Alliances as I could not provide support other than kind words. I took a very deliberate policy to try and be everyone’s friend and hide behind tactical excuses to not commit. I believe this was effective but I guess the advantage of doing an AAR is that other players can tell you how transparent it all was… (AAR – USSR, Germany Turkey)
Despite the alliance Italian forces continue to crush all in their path in 1934 and Spring 1935. The below is the position at the start of 1935

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The grand alliances gathers for what might be the last war council before we all succumb to the iron shod heel of the second Roman empire, supplies and morale are low. On mainland Europe the invincible Italian legions are well placed to continue their advance, in the Atlantic the vaunted British navies are fast becoming out numbered and are bound to lose their toehold on the French coast. In the med two Egyptian fleets are isolated and stare down three Italian veteran armadas.

The great-great-grand son of Horatio Nelson is dispatched by the British high command to take command of the Egyptian fleets and told to hold at all costs until the armies of the Sultan can be force marched across land to threaten Greece. No one believes he is being sent to anything but his death.


Act 2 – The fight back and shifting alliances (Fall 1935 – Spring 1941)
First Rays of Hope (Fall 1935 – Spring 1937)
Munich falls to the merciless green hordes but Belgium is taken in the spring and holds in the fall as the Janissary forces of France bow out. On mainland Europe the Italians reach a high water mark with troops in Croatia, Austria, Munich, Ruhr and Picardy.

The outlook seems bleak till news reaches the embattled German forces in their trenches outside Berlin: Egyptian fleets make headway in the med – a second Trafalgar (ok a bit grandiose but history is written by the victors) - slipping past Italian armadas into Greece and the perhaps more importantly past the front line into the Ionian. Troops of the grand alliance feel hope feel hope take tentative root – for the first time the pink and green plague does not grow (peaking at 13 centres). USSR also offers Germany Finland on a temporary basis to strengthen the front line – having this extra unit was also really important and demonstrates how in defensive alliances individual positions sometimes need to be sacrificed in the name of the greater good.

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From here Italy is in almost constant and gradual retreat albeit is not removed from the map until the final spanish unit dies in 1942 (Poland disappears in 1936). The narrative moves away from the Italian war which now only really provides the backdrop to the main storyline which is the shifting relationships within the Grand Alliance as we try and balance the demands of continuing to push Italy back, whilst seizing opportunities to improve our comparative positions and provide security to our nations.

The strategic issue here is that the front line is only three powers wide, not four. This is a common issue in diplomacy (the overall number of powers may vary but the issue is where one of the allies is not fully engaged on the front line against the common enemy)

The First Triumvirate (Fall 1937 - Fall 1939)
1936, with the lessening of the Italian threat Germany and Britain agree that unoccupied Russian forces are a menace, they cannot reach Italy so will become restless. Turkey too seems to have a bunch of forces not needed on the front line (unlike Germany and Britain who are tied up almost completely with Italy) – and bang the solution presents itself. What if they were say at war?
And so a largely German (some British but I was trying to keep my hands clean as possible as noted previously) diplomatic campaign begins to sow mistrust of USSR to Turkey, point out the threat the other poses and to offer surety that support will be forth coming in military engagements.

Spring 1937 Turkey begins to move against USSR (Aegean back to Const, Slovakia to Galicia, Bulgaria to Bucharest) – German forces remain in their bases and casually shrug their shoulders and avoid eye contact with Turkish commanders.

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Germany and I agree to support USSR if it comes to it and the First Triumvirate is formed in Fall 1937. Turkey is not happy and calls Germany out who denies everything. USSR either believes or chooses (?) to believe Germany (AAR – USSR) which I found quite amusing as Germany used a forward of an exchange between him and Turkey which actually proved Turkeys point but Germany simply brazened it out stating it proved his. It was not in my interest at the time to point this out

Turkey turns his forces against Germany in response whilst trying to hold the line against USSR, my Egyptian fleets are tied up with Italy so I can remain neutral. Ultimately though at this point it felt like USSR Germany and I can see the game out (with some tough fighting) and I had zero ambition for a solo.

The Second Triumvirate (Fall 1939 – Fall 1941)
The world wakes up to a very different geo-political landscape as USSR disengages from Yugo-Turkey and snipes Stockholm from Germany. USSR immediately tries to form a new alliance with Turkey and me.
This sparks a frantic round of diplomacy as all across the board we are trying to form a new three part alliance. A four power alliance will suffer exactly the same issues as Britain-USSR-Germany-Turkey did in that one power will be necessity be at the others backs.

Turkey & Italy
Discounted - The position of all our fleets in the med would mean we would have too many useless units and Egypt would be super exposed and ultimately crushed.
Italy & Germany (or USSR)
I reached out to Italy, this was in the context of I would be able to force either Brest or Madrid and Italy currently heading for a loss as I had better board position and allies. So I offered to give up Tunis in exchange for both Brest and Madrid. Which I thought was fair reaching towards generous – i.e. I took the net build I was lined up to take anyway but from there we swapped centres to better align to core territory and I disengaged (having the ability to prosecute the attack in future years as would happen). Italy was not prepared to give up the one centre and suggested moves which were not really realistic and struck me not being genuine and just trying to take advantage.

I therefore decided that Italy would not be my ally of choice.

Turkey and who?
As USSR and Germany seemed irreconcilably at war and Italy had been discounted this meant I had to secure Turkey as an ally. I was worried that Turkey might side with Italy but luckily this was not the case as I had managed to maintain good relations with him as I did not have to commit to anti-Turkish action as part of Germany-USSR-Britain. I also made sure that I let Turkey have the ultimate choice between USSR and Germany and made it clear early on I would follow his lead.

I also offered Cairo and Athens to help balance things as long as I could get some much needed support to secure Tunis

We debated between Germany and USSR to some length and in the end Turkey (AAR Turkey) sided (a bit to my surprise based on previous angst) with Germany as we felt there was at least some risk of USSR solo – given he had given up a pretty solid 3 way draw position to stab an ally, there seemed likely a degree of ambition otherwise why swap one sure 3 way draw for the uncertainty of forming another. USSR had stated this was due to a desire to excluded Germany for prior indiscretions – which was probably true – but the nagging doubt of the potential solo form USSR was enough (AAR – USSR).

I was happy with this as I had been trying to steer Turkey to Germany for this reason but also I felt that this would give me more of a chance to solo, I wasn’t expecting the opportunity to arise at this point but though a 3 way alliance with a 5 centre Germany compared to a 11 centre USSR might provide more chances. The final bit for me was USSR’s move to Lapland (albeit understandable under my indecision the turn before)

Final decisions were not made until orders for Fall 1940 so we had to navigate Spring: USSR offers support to Denmark. Having still not decided, I managed to sell this to Germany by leaving Holland open for him and saying it’s a better place to counter USSR from rather than him moving Hamburg. This had the benefit of being a better move whoever I was supporting. I also tried to style my moves out a bit in the Fall as rationale non-aggressive to USSR but I doubt he believed me.

Fall 1940 was a nervous time for me as Turkey could have absolutely hammered me by helping Italy in the med, however I think by being able to offer up two of my centres (which he could have taken anyway) and help to an Italian centre, the chance to get three amicably vs probably only two himself and giving Italy a couple was a better option.

Act 3: Rule Britannia (Fall 1941 – Fall 1944)
Setting up the Stab: Fall 1941 – Fall 1942

So this was what things looked like going into Fall 1941 (spring retreat). USSR had by now realised he was on the outside of the second triumvirate and was inevitably heading for a loss unless he could break apart our alliance.

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His approach was to warn Turkey and Germany that unless they let him back in he would feed me centres till I soloed. He let me know this too and this was of course backed up by repeated comms. Now I get frustrated when players throw games to no end other than they cant win and they have a grudge - HOWEVER this was clearly not that, this was calculated strategy to create a common threat in order to get himself back in a draw. This was a concept that I had done myself a couple of times without explicitly realising it and not as effectively because I didn’t realise explicitly that was what I was doing and requires great skill, my attempts had not been as calculating and had not had the appropriate comms, so I would really highlight this as a Tip for less experienced players, it can be a valid strategy to begin to throw the game to a player in order to make yourself vital for the other players – this needs to be done very carefully.

This was my take on the situation:
• I was now secure for probably the first time in the game from Spring 1941 (my centre count whilst always reasonable masked a much more vulnerable position due to my split major and minor)
• I was going to be able to grow – the remaining Italian and Spanish centres could be relatively easily got
• I would be getting additional centres from USSR
• My forces were out of position (eg Catalonia, North Atlantic also the Spanish army would really tie up my forces)
• Turkey and Germany would grow but not as fast as me organically, not initially at least. The first centres to go would be Italy and Scandinavia.
• USSR would be reducing in strength (sounds obvious but was important)

Just for context at the start of 1941 the centre count (inc minors) was: Britain 12, USSR 11, Turkey 11, Germany 5, Italy 4. So hardly dominant – but like earlier when my centre count was high compared to my relative strength it was probably the opposite here.

I concluded that the solo might be possible, I therefore wanted to play in a way that maintained this opportunity, but I was still a way off that (I made no final decision until the stab). It was all about relative strength:

• My relative strength (which crucially is not just centres but the ability to bring your units to bear) was going to grow quickest. The “soft” centres, plus USSR’s strategy of handing centres to me, plus the passing of time meaning I could get my forces that were mopping up Italy/Spain to the front line.
• I was facing extremely good players, the second I went for the stab all players would band together in a new grand alliance, there would be no grace period
• Germany and Turkey would know my power was growing quickly and would not stomach this forever – I would need to make some concessions
• There was a limit of USSR centres I could realistically get, the inland core centres were probably beyond me.
• USSR was trying to give away the minimum amount to get me to solo. I needed to encourage him to keep giving.

There was going to be a point where my relative power would reach a peak before Germany and Turkey started catching up either because the USSR defence had fallen and the inland centres began falling or I could no longer credibly refuse to hand over key centres to Germany and Turkey and maintain the alliance.

The key was to keep USSR handing me centres and board position whilst making just enough concessions to Germany and Turkey to give at least some credence to my claims of being in it for the draw.

So that was what I wanted to achieve. The rest of this section is about how I went about it and some of the key decisions. Unsurprisingly Germany and Turkey were lobbying me heavily to hand over centres. Perhaps the best way to do this would be to share the messages here but I wont do that without the others permissions. So broadly:

• Germany and Turkey pointed out USSRs plan and that I was growing dangerously and should hand over centres, a draw position is 15-14-14
• My counter was I got the jist but wasn’t prepared to take risk in so doing and draw didn’t need to be equitable to be a draw, they had mentioned that once a power got to 17 they were extremely dangerous, I seized on this and promised to not grow beyond 16 and would swap out centres as I got them in, (knowing full well I would reach this well ahead of the others getting many more centres and then not swapping out may give me the opportunity for the stab), I also played the “I am new to Versailles my ambition tops at a draw”. This was broadly agreed
• I then tried to be proactive in sorting this out, planning for which centres. I wanted to appear committed, playing up that I was just risk averse. Whilst I knew this might not be fully convincing certainly reducing comms would have been damning (AAR- Germany, turkey)

Comms with USSR were tricky, I needed to get over the impression that I was not convinced but could be convinced with the right presents so please keep handing me stuff without giving anything other than vagaries I could easily deny the intent in case they were forwarded to Germany and Turkey.


Fall 1942 reached a point I could no longer continue without handing over centres (below is the Spring 1942 retreat moves so hopefully you can see the position we faced going into the fall):

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I had started the year with 14 and was likely to get Stockholm, Paris and one of Finland and Leningrad, this would take me above the magic 16 so had to give at least one away. Germany had Switzerland free and wanted Marseille.

However I desperately wanted to set up defensive positions and keep a line of Marseille, Burgundy, Belgium which could be held as a stalemate once my units were in place if need be (and Holland once I grabbed it). Turkey had previously mentioned that he thought the Italian peninsula might need to be his. I decided to use this as having Turkish (well Yugo) armies in Italy which wouldn’t threaten my naval dominance (I would have at least a turn to worry when he crossed the ionian DMZ) and therefore much better than having an army in Marseille. I therefore offered a three way swap instead, Rome to Turkey and Austria to Germany. I also promised that Holland could be the next centre (along with Naples). This was accepted.


I decided not to stab at this point as I didn’t feel I was quite strong enough and I wanted another turn at least to get my units into place. I also guessed USSR would not allow me into Finland and had thought I would stab this turn. My stab would have meant I took Holland and kept Rome, putting me on 18, might have been possible from there but I doubt it.

1942 build – this was what I had been waiting for, USSR has to destroy twice and gets rid of WBS and GoB handing me complete naval dominance in the Baltic.

Spring 1943 (to Fall 1944) – the stab
It was time. This was the board facing me:

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I had to give up two centres really. I argued hard around which centres I would have to give up and when. One because I felt it was tactically important and two, perhaps more importantly because the continued hard arguing over this was intended to continue to convince my allies that they were indeed just that. I argued I didn’t know I would get two centres off USSR, one for sure so I said Holland in the spring knowing I was planning on attacking it and then Naples in the fall if it looked like I would get another centre.

Key here was keeping Rome out of Naples in the spring, this would allow me to take the chance on moving to ion, ion was not held by hostile forces, I need Naples to be empty as I wouldn’t have been able to dislodge it. I was also trying hard with USSR to make him think he still needed to give me more.

This then was the stab:

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I took Finland and Holland and also guaranteed myself Switz, Cairo and Hamburg in the fall taking me to 21 form 16.

The end from there was largely academic as I was close enough (well actually it was tougher than I thought) to the magic 22 to wrap it up the following year and that probably isn’t worth the words in this already overly long piece.
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Re: AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Postby Mr Aedron » 26 Nov 2018, 15:04

Marked, I will make my contribution but I don't expect to do it before early december, I still have promised 2 AARs and I am behind on both :roll:
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Re: AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Postby MrShed123 » 26 Nov 2018, 15:04

An excellent AAR and thanks for writing it up. This is largely a placeholder as I do want to spend a bit of time writing up my position on this game. For now let me just say that in probably the most challenging game I have played to date in terms of diplomacy, to take the solo was a superb and well deserved achievement.
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Re: AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Postby MrShed123 » 26 Nov 2018, 17:15

OK so going to try and put my side to this. This post may be edited frequently over the next couple of days as I know from bitter experience that AARs take a while and cant often be done in a one-er.

I played Turkey/Yugo in this game, and as I have said before, I think this was one of the most challenging and enjoyable games I have played. Its no wonder really now that the anonymity is revealed, and I have found that I was the second lowest ranked player.

Before I go into a chronology, some overall thoughts/observations from me on the ebbs and flows of this game from my perspective:
- Britain ultimately won as he was extremely diplomatic and made sure that he did not create enemies easily. This paid off dividends in the end game as ultimately, Germany and I believed him when 99% of the time I would have had alarm bells ringing. He had built up substantial credibility by the end game. Now looking back, I am actually a little in awe of the diplomacy Britain performed - he gave the constant appearance of going with the flow, and allowing others to make decisions, which very much positioned him as non-threatening.

- USSR (Mr Aedron) very much pushed us for feedback during the game. He is lucky as a hugely defining feature of this entire game for me as Turkey was the USSR position so I intend to speak about this at some length :D ultimately most of my positioning was due to his moves and messages. In particular, I felt he put himself in a very untenable position with me early on, which I will elaborate on below.

- I actually feel like I played a very poor game here, as I was ultimately wracked with indecision for the vast majority of it. This didnt help when Real Life pressures meant that I took firstly a gap from the game (in way of a game pause) and then late diplomacy due to various other things going on away from Dip. I am interested to know from the other players how much this did, or did not, impact upon the outcome etc. I am pretty convinced that had I not been in a corner, I would have been eliminated midgame.

I will outline a chronology of my thoughts (as I remember them) in the three acts that Brumark has so eloquently outlined. I will talk as one as to be fair my minor was very quickly revealed this game.

Act 1 (1931 – Spring 1935) – Rise of Rome

So this period was largely defined by USSR. Despite an awful lot of negotiation, USSR eventually (in F31) stabbed me early doors in supporting Germany to Bulgaria, and thus keeping me with zero builds. USSR portrayed this as simply feeling that Turkey/Yugo was too strong - I would be interested to know whether this was the genuine position at this point from USSR.

Without going year on year too much, this was a defining feature of the next few years with USSR, and I feel that he bordered on either unreasonable or irrational messaging - despite him having the upper hand, and portraying as if he wanted to work together, his demands were excessive. For example, in Spring 32 he implied that I had stabbed him by moving Con to BLA to break support...despite the fact that he was in effect supporting an enemy unit to prevent any form of Turkish advance on a territory that is not only completely fair to be Turkish (in a USSR/Turkey alliance) but in fact one that Turkey had held in F31.

I just couldnt work the guy out. He was desperately trying to contain me whilst pleading peace.

As such, I took the view of partnering with Greece to do anything I could (already on a massive back foot as I was after the first year) to break out of my corner. So I got Greece into Bul, realising it would be unexpected, and so it came about. Greece (France) became largely a vassal state operating on my behalf at this point, especially after the Italian take of Greece.

At this point as well, Britain (in the form of Egypt) was making a strong southern advance, breaking a NAP we had agreed. It is worth noting that in the very first turn, Egypt had really forced the issue of Syria - I wasnt happy to release it but realised I had little choice. So to answer the question posited above - I had every intention of going for Syria in S31 but realised diplomatically in F31 that I couldnt take it due to your moves and therefore to gracefully allow you in made more sense.

This all was driving a strong partnership with Italy. We had communicated extremely well, and he was implying that he would help me out.

The absolute crunch turn for me was Fall 1933. The layout was as follows at the start of the turn:

Image

By rights, I should have been out of the game here, and it was probably one of my tensest deadlines ever. Rumania (Germany) had clearly made a clever move to Arm, and despite USSR assurances that he wanted me as a buffer, the Spring move made no sense without a subsequent take of Ank. In addition, Egypt was squaring up twofold on Smy, and a rampant Italy was present in AEG.

Italy was saying he would support me of course, but to be honest given my position, I thought it was simply lip service - why partner with the clear losing side?

However, eager to at least try, I went on the diplomatic offensive. I made it clear to Germany that should I fall, USSR had no where to look but westward, which put him very much in the firing line, after Poland were dealt with (who, by the way, barely even appeared in this game). Germany responded by asking me to barter peace between him and Italy. I did perform a few messages around this but nothing really other than going through the motions.

In the end, much to my surprise, not only did Italy hold up his end of the bargain with a support for Smy to hold, but Germany took advantage of the empty Sev and moved in. I was saved, and even managed to take Bulgaria with Yugo for my troubles.


This marked a change in fortune for me, but also a very different diplomatic path.
- USSR backed down completely (as you would expect) and agreed to stop attempting to contain me.
- Italy, not unreasonably to an extent, was pushing hard for me to move on the others now that I had a foothold.
- Britain was now backing down completely over the move on Smy and indeed created a group message to push for myself, USSR, Germany and himself to work together against a potential Italian solo.

This was the start of some strange behaviour on my part (albeit not irrational) and indeed the start of my cursed indecision.

I was faced on one hand with working with Italy, who at this point had been the only player I was in conversation with who had not stabbed at me and indeed had supported my defence. Or on the other hand, to work with three players all of whom had only the turn before been trying to wipe me out.

Of course (!) I chose the latter.

In the end, the reason was simple. I was slightly stronger, but still very weak. Italy simply wanted too much from me too soon. In Spring 34, he was petitioning me to move on both Egypt and southern USSR. I simply felt that direct war on two fronts was unachievable for me. Indeed, had Italy simply held on for a turn or two for these demands, the chances are that this game would have taken a very different turn as I actually (in my mind) remained quite committed to working with Italy. I also "liked" Britain at this point - I felt like I got on well with him as a player, and his moves prior, whilst aggressive, were not ones that I would not myself have made. I did of course have in my mind the possibility of an Italian solo as well, and wondered what his next moves would be, so I wanted to buy time.

As it happened, the next few turns for me were basically moves and diplomacy to keep all of my options open, while probably erring towards the 4 player alliance, and ultimately just resulted in very little, with the exception of eliminating Greece. My moves between Fall 33 and Fall 35 involved my army in Turkey moving around a lot, my Con fleet moving in and out of Black Sea, and two self bounces in Hungary. I just couldnt make my mind up what to do for the best.
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Re: AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Postby Sweapea » 27 Nov 2018, 00:01

Hi Guys Italy/Spain here,

Currently very busy with work so this is my quick AAR from the perspective of the bumbling evil empire! Haha
I would just like to congratulate everyone and England especially for being professionals and playing a great game. It was the most intriguing, fun, and intense game I've played thus far. A short run down though to placate any curiosity.

The Rise:

Early game was a mess of paranoia on my part. in 01 i reached out to everyone gauging who I liked and didn't making possible alliances with all. Germany and Russia took notice of my far reaching and contradicting intentions but stayed cordial. Germany made very clear and concise plans for France I was inclined to follow but tbh I didn't like the way he gave orders and wanted information without giving much feed back in return.
France was very friendly and outlined a plan for peace between us with me heading for the Balkans but I worried he would target my precious Spain hence I moved Piedmont so that I could better ensure a build for Spain if something happened.

From the 01-02 position I was in position to work with Germany and England for a quick somewhat profitable and safe take down of France then came a simple message from Russia... Germany was plotting with France to attack my north, Britain was his stead fast ally. I already distrusted Germany and this sparked a raging fire of paranoia. And so I instead formulated a plan to simultaneously attack three players and put my self in a position they couldn't put me back from.
In hindsight my biggest mistake of the game was not helping England as promised here so I could have a trusting person to talk to and work against Germany more effectively.

From here my Irish gift of the gab kicked in and I started talking my way out of the mess as best I could much to the chagrin and amazement of Russia. When France began working with me Germany asked for a non-aggression to focus on russia. I placated Britannia by offering to help take down turkey in the med.
However when it came time to help Russia and Britain destroy turkey I couldn't do it. I knew I needed an ally and buffer to the east and had affectionately seen him as a little brother of the med. (our communications were great). I saved turkey and Germany moved on Russia eliminating my most major threat to a solo on the board at the time.

Things were going smoothly and I expanded through France leading to a disastrous series of mistakes revealing my relative inexperience and lack of finesse.

The Fall:

Several things contributed to my downfall key were:

The betrayal by the chosen one: Turkey You were supposed to destroy the British not join them! lol Simple enough with all my forces west my strategy relied on turkey remaining friendly. I over pressured him because I was becoming paranoid that he was going to betray me (kinda self fulfilling.) my worry was that if he was going to focus Russia and not England what was going to stop him from working with England.

Very stupidly helping people attack Germany: I misread the board thinking I could take down Germany's defenses (was very busy at this time of the year) and hadn't paid enough attention. It backfired, pissing off Germany waking up the bear and solidified the board against me.

Trying to work with Britannia wayyy too late: Once the disaster in the Ionian occurred, due to my complete and utter Mis-prediction of English and Turkish moves, I was in a bad way in the med. I could have possibly survived if I maintained my western potions with more fight but I then tried to negotiate English fleets out of my rear. I couldn't manage it after all the stabbing and the ground given up in negotiations led to my quick defeat. I should have made such concessions earlier in the negotiations between us Russia had facilitated (around the time I saved turkey) and played the game safer but I was rolling the dice all game.

If anyone has questions into my mindset or way of playing I'll gladly field them. Also any comments suggestions critiques are welcome! I'm in no way an expert but I love this game and realize I made many many mistakes. Glad I made a mark in such a high caliber game though, hope I at least can hang with the cool kids haha.

-SweaPea, (Italy, Spain, Second Roman Empire)
Gold Classicist and totally trustworthy diplomacy player
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Re: AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Postby MrShed123 » 28 Nov 2018, 13:07

Sweapea - firstly you've just reminded me that I havent finished my AAR above - I must try and do that today.

I have to admit, even to this day, I feel bad about betraying you (Diplomacy wreaks havoc on my emotions!!). You played a near perfect game, certainly in the early stages.

In the end I am not sure that your failings stem from diplomacy, or even lack of trust etc (even without your pressure, the chances are I may not have ended up joining with you anyway).

One lesson that I have learned (and in fairness one it took me an awful long time to learn) - one of the worst things you can do in Dip is grow too quickly too soon. The only thing worse than this is to grow too quickly as a central power, and your tale of woe is a classic example of that I feel.
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Re: AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Postby Mr Aedron » 28 Nov 2018, 15:07

Not too sure about that though. I think it depends mostly of the board. I have been watching (ok ok, over-analyzing :mrgreen: ) Conq's plays. He pulls stuff I would never dare to and has an insanely aggressive comm style from what I understand.

And yet he is by far the best classic variant players among us mortals.

I think that if you can pull it off with an acute diplomacy to break down the counter attack/board alignment, growing too quick too large is definitely the way to go. But you need to be sure that you can handle the heat.

So to sum it up, on this board, I agree that it was a bit thin to gamble for solo but on most board, the players of this game should go for it. At least in my view :)
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Re: AAR 148291. Ambassadors only Versailles (British solo)

Postby Sweapea » 28 Nov 2018, 21:31

I have to agree with Aedron there. It could have gone much better but I made tactical errors, something a top player wouldn't do. Moving my fleet in the ion to attempt to cut support was a huge error. The objectively correct play was most likely to attempt to hold the ion at all costs. Played to risky there and got knocked on my butt by the dang Admiral Nelson great great grandson. :evil:
Ironically My orders had originally been as such but were changed last minute (a move that will forever haunt me haha) :lol:
Gold Classicist and totally trustworthy diplomacy player
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