AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1902

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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby another » 15 Feb 2019, 16:27

hedge trimmer wrote:There was no way I would hand you Sevastopol as the first center, it would basically let you take every Turkish center at your leisure while also allowing you to continue your attack north if you chose to do that. I thought I was very close to being big enough for everyone else to ally against me, so I didn't want to give you an excuse to turn the game into F/A/I... If the game was going to go that way, I should at least improve my position as much as possible.


Well, you didn't hand Con over anyway. From that aspect, perhaps if you had "agreed" to start the handover with Sev, I would have been less suspicious? Though as I said, whilst I thought it would have been a mistake for you to attack me at that point (which eventually turned out correct despite me and Italy making a meal of it), I also realised that you finally had the units to do it effectively, so I think I would have asked for the bounces anyway. Then again, you would have had more bargaining power to talk me out of them, since you were finally agreeing to one of my requests. (e.g. "Well, I am agreeing to you taking Sev over, why can't you agree to not bouncing in Galicia? My armies are better served to attack Germany / France and your armies to finally grab those centres from Italy!" or something along those lines.) Who knows...
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby hedge trimmer » 15 Feb 2019, 18:09

Maybe. I wasn't planning to stab you the whole time though, and I seriously considered continuing with the 2 way.
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby another » 16 Feb 2019, 23:16

hedge trimmer wrote:Maybe. I wasn't planning to stab you the whole time though, and I seriously considered continuing with the 2 way.

You tease! :oops:

What was the thinking behind you deciding to stab me at that point? Was it something I (or someone else) said or something I had done? Or was it just your cost/benefit analysis which made you think you could pull off the solo?

Anyway, I should get done with my analysis/walkthrough!

another wrote:And then came the turn of bounces. Russia bounced with me everywhere where we had agreed, Italy bounced with me where we had agreed, but Russia also bounced with me in Con (whilst opening Sev up for a build).

This I felt was the beginning of the final stage of the game. I wouldn't like to call it End Game, as there were still 6 countries present, but it was the last stage.


So Russia had decided it was the right time to go for the solo. A decision, which I felt was a mistake because he was only on 11 centres, and despite having a great presence all across the board, him having stabbed France, Italy, Germany and England previously and me now - it would be easy to unite everyone to stop him, right? Right? I mean, RIGHT? I mean - Russia is obviously going for a solo, so everyone should get very quickly on board to stop him.

I quickly reached out to Italy, saying that it was good we had bounced with each other given what Russia was up to, and that we should work together with him (and the rest of the board) to stop Russia.

I then reached out to France and Germany with a similar message. Germany was a little bit confused, as Russia had supported him into Kiel and for Munich to hold, but had also taken Denmark off Germany, but everyone was quickly on board and we started a 4-way discussion.

I also reached out to England to see where he was standing. England had been on 1 centre since 1903 (it was 1906 now), and if anything, seemed to have been helping Russia (again, a totally valid choice, from his neighbours, Russia was the last one to attack him, and only after he had moved to Barents), so there was a chance that Russia would have made some sort of a jannisary offer? England had supported NTH to hold for quite a few turns, and last turn had bounced in NTH, which could have also been at Russia's request. Anyway, as now there was a real chance of a 6-way, I thought England should be up for joining in, which he later turned out to be. Anyway, England (or Russia), could you shed some light onto what your relationship and arrangements was before Russia went for the solo and the Grand Alliance was formed?

Before any conversations in the 4-way could start, though, Italy wrote to me directly that I should give him back Venice. I don't recall exactly the wording, bur from my memory, there was a very vague reasoning behind it at best. Without any solid explanation of how this would help us stop Russia, and with me most likely bearing the brunt of Russia's gains (Russia had the army superiority, but we would overpower him in the waters) and Italy most likely making the gains (we could force AEG and then be quite sure to get Italy into Con) I refused. Italy insisted saying that he won't come on board unless I hand Venice back (again, going from memory here), but I was very firm saying it is not going to happen.

I moved the conversation to the 4-way discussion laying out my plan - it was obvious that Greece should be supporting ION to AEG (so Italy can get Con next turn), but then it was up to Italy whether my fleet moves to ION with a view to go East and his to TYR with a view to go West (as at that point it seemed there was risk of Russia sneaking into Mediterranean, and France could have done with some assisting) or we have a supported move into ION (Russia could be bouncing there, as us having a supported move into AEG was so obvious). Either way, it would make sense if my fleet goes to ION, as staying in ADR doesn't achieve anything against Russia, but I also understood that Italy could see that move as highly risky for him, so was open to hear other suggestions.

But Italy got back to discussing Venice again - saying that if he doesn't get it back, he won't collaborate with us. His argument was that we needed more fleets (but he didn't explain what for) and my army in Venice wasn't doing anything anyway. Italy couldn't force Venice, I could easily defend it, but ideally I would have moved the army East to fight Russia. But if at that point Italy would take Venice, I would have my back totally exposed to him, would have to destroy a unit, and I wasn't up for that given our history.

So I said a very firm "No!" again, and explained that until I hear a proper explanation what we need another fleet for, I am not giving Venice up. Meanwhile, I explained to everyone what moves I had se, so even if Italy didn't agree to them, if he later changed his mind, he could adjust his fleet movement to my support orders. Those moves were to support Italy into AEG, move into ION and tap Sevastopol with Rumania.

Why tap Sevastopol? Well, Russia had vacated it when he stabbed me, and he was definitely getting at least one build, and a fleet build in Sevastopol would make our situation extra hard, if not impossible. While I had an army in Rumania, he had armies in Moscow, Ukraine and Armenia, so if he wanted to force fleet build in Sevastopol, he could have done the self-bounce there and had Ukraine go to Rumania to cut any potential support Rumania could be giving for one of the units.

But as I was thinking about how Italy will be getting Con next turn and what moves would ensure that, I realised that we couldn't 100% guarantee it if Russia moved Armenia to Smyrna. Would Russia consider that as a potential move? Given that Russia could "force" Sevastopol, in a way, there was no point in me even attempting anything around Sevastopol. And given this - perhaps Russia wouldn't see the point to use 3 of his units to force it in the end, but would rather move Armenia to Smyrna to defend the imminent attack on Con?

So maybe there was a crazy case where Russia would leave Sev just open, knowing that I would most probably be ignoring it? And given how bad a situation we appeared to be in, maybe there was point in taking a risk and just moving Rumania to Sevastopol? I mean, there was no point to support any of his armies in, if he was bouncing, he would also cut the support.

So those were the moves I communicated. By this point, England had joined the conversation, so basically everyone other than Russia knew all of my moves for that turn.

And then came silence from Italy. In my mind, the moves I had suggested were the most logical ones. I was totally fine with not going to ION, but surely Italy would see how clearly the right move Greece S ION to AEG was? And Italy was clearly a smart and (I hoped) pragmatic player, and he would then move his fleet that way?

But he still didn't reply. So I started thinking that perhaps he wasn't bluffing in the end and will actually not move as I thought he will and will perhaps try to play a king-maker or at least attack me. Whichever of these his motivation was to move against me instead of Russia, there was a high chance he would tell about the move to Russia. In which case, Russia wouldn't have to worry about losing Con next year, so Armenia was free to get back to "forcing" Sevastopol. So it was clear that I wouldn't have the luck to just walk into Sev. I mean, one does not simply walk into Sevastopol, right? ;)

So I ordered a supported attack into Galicia instead, and lo and behold, Russia moved Armenia into Sevastopol (a move that would make sense only if he was expecting to bounce with me there) so he couldn't build the 2nd Southern Fleet and I also managed to keep him out of Galicia. Given how disastrous Italy not playing with us was, that was a lifeline!

Then followed the most frustrating part of the game. It was clear that without cooperation from Italy, we were not going to stop Russian solo. But Italy wasn't willing to change his stance. His follow-up to his 1906 fall moves was to say that he had moved exactly as he had told he would, as if that was some kind of a good thing. Also, Russia had hinted that he covered Sevastopol based on a tip from someone

//////////////////

And he insisted on getting Venice, still without providing any reasoning as to how that would help fight Russia, which at this point there was no way I would happily hand over to him. To me it seemed like he was used to forcing other players into doing what he wanted, something you can do when you negotiate from a position of power or when you are good at manipulation / coercion. But now he wasn't in a position of power, but kept using the same tactic.

So in my mind, the way I saw it was, there was no way I would work with Italy if he doesn't change his stance / style, and there also didn't seem any chance he would do that. Other than that, there weren't really any moves which we could make that would ensure we couldn't attack on the other. As in - if it was me and France that had this "problem", we could all still work together to stop Russia, and we would just choose the moves so that the 2 powers don't need to interact with each other. But with the 2 countries being Italy and Austria, such moves just didn't exist on the map.

But then Germany wrote a set of moves that actually would do that - we could work together without having to worry about the other stabbing. From my memory the moves were:
- Greece S ION to AEG
- Naples to ION
- ADR H
- Venice H
- Bul - Con
Which basically, sets up the convoy of my army in Venice into Con in the fall. If Italy moved against me in the spring, he couldn't take Venice anyway, as I could just support it to hold. And if he then wanted to take Venice in the fall, he'd need to be part of the convoy chain, so I would get Con. Or if he didn't do that, then the army would remain in Venice. And the same way - if I moved against Italy, I could just maintain the status quo. And if I wanted to get the army into Con (which I would), then I would need to work with Italy.

Here's the map at that point:

Image

I was astonished and happy that such moves existed! As I was inspecting the moves and trying to anticipate what Russia could potentially do, I realised that the convoy to Con wasn't really guaranteed to work, as it required me to bounce Russia out of Con, but that would put Rumania under risk. But hey, if these moves could make Italy finally come onto our side, I was happy to not make the gain from Con, and if that was the case (Italy played as per Germany's suggestion, so proved that he was on our side, but the convoy could ultimately fail), then I could even see convoying to e.g. Albania so Italy could take Venice back (but at that point his fleets would be in ION and AEG).

It was already very late, and I was about to go to sleep, but I would be up before the deadline anyway, so would be able to make any adjustments if it turned out Italy didn't agree with them. So I set the moves and wrote to everyone that I was happy with Germany's suggestion and had set my moves up accordingly and I hoped Italy would also agree with them. I also explained that I will be up before the deadline, but I hoped that I won't need to then change the moves.

Next morning when I woke up I saw a few messages in the group chat.

France had suggested that he could move his Marseilles army to Piedmont (something we had touched upon at some point previously in 3-way chat with France and Germany), and then there was a back and forth between France and Italy about whether that was a good idea or not, and Italy again saying he in unhappy that there are any discussions happening where he is not involved in. And that was it, there was not a single message where Italy would say that he agreed to the moves. I dropped one final message to him (it was middle of the night on the East Coast, but Italy had previously communicated in that hour), but no reply. So I contemplated everything, especially in light with how much Italy had stressed that last turn he had moved as he said he would, and understood that without Italy saying he agrees with Germany's suggestions, I wasn't feeling comfortable supporting Italy's fleet movement, which potentially could again not match. So I changed my orders, not to attack Italy, but to ensure he couldn't attack me (both my fleets bouncing in ION to ensure ION couldn't support an attack anywhere).

The deadline came and it turned out Italy HAD moved as per Germany's suggestion. And then he sent a message in our group chat accusing me, I'm not sure of what exactly, I guess attacking him (despite my fleet movement not being offensive), and quoted my message from the night before as proof that I had lied - implying that I had said I will NOT be awake before the deadline, so I must have never set the moves as per Germany's suggestion. I don't know, maybe me not being a native English speaker played some role here, but I re-read that message of mine a good few times, and it clearly said that I will be awake before the deadline, and I was waiting for Italy to commit to the moves and was hoping I won't need to change my orders when I wake up. I pointed this out, but Italy kept on at it, so at that point I had had enough, and I swore never to talk with him again in this game (which I did for a few turns).

I reached out to Russia saying that whilst I won't be giving my centres up without any fight at all, but that my priority wasn't any more to stop Russia solo-ing, but to attack Italy. That basically, any draw that includes Italy for me is a worse outcome than a Russian solo. I also explained that my biggest fear would be if Italy somehow got France on his side, and then they managed to somehow both eliminate me and stop Russia from solo-ing, in which case then there is a draw that doesn't include me, but includes Italy.

That actually was my biggest fear, and if that was to happen, then I would actually just vacate my centres for Russia to solo (as in - if I am losing anyway, then at least the outcome is one that I prefer). It just was clear that as it stood, I couldn't work with Italy (and I'm sure he had the same feelings towards me), but there also wasn't any outcome that would include me, but wouldn't include him.

Thinking about what France could do, if Italy managed to get him on his side, I realised that a strong move would be for Marseilles to go to Piedmont, as then I would not any more be able to guard Venice against any attacks. So I ordered Venice to Piedmont and had ADR attack Venice with support to Tyrolia. I was expecting Venice to bounce in Piedmont, but had to have a supported attack on Venice, in case Rome and Apulia were attacking it. But ultimately, I didn't want the fleet in Venice, as that was an awkward place for it.

In parallel, Germany and France were pleading with me to work with Italy, but I was adamant that chance was gone forever. Germany even suggested that we don't need to talk with each other, that we could communicate via them to coordinate the moves. I asked Germany what moves would he want me and Italy to make? And Germany said I should not attack Italy, hold my position against Russia and that Italy would move to EME and ION to try go for Turkish centres. That was more or less what I was ordering anyway (moving to Piedmont wasn't an attack on Italy), so I said to Germany that whilst I don't believe Italy will go to EME and ION, I will do as he had suggested.

As the deadline came, France didn't move to Piedmont as I had feared (France, Italy, was this ever a move you considered? Did you even talk with each other at this stage? I guess I was perhaps just paranoid), but it was clear Italy had thought that he had got Russia on his side, as he moved ION to Greece and Apu to ION, so he must have expected AEG to support ION to Gre. What this also meant was that if I had supported all my Eastern units to hold, that wouldn't have worked as Italy cut the potential support that Greece could have given to Bul. Russia instead used AEG to support Con to Bul and took a centre off me.

I thanked Russia for not supporting Italy into Greece and said that my priorities are still the same (take down Italy), and he has now seen that I am serious about them. I said I will retreat to Serbia, destroy Rumania and keep up with the plan. And I asked if he would support Greece into ION (which I could ensure would succeed as Venice could cut any potential support Apulia could give to ION), and Russia agreed to it.

If my memory is correct, during this time Italy sent me a few messages of varying tactics aimed at getting me back on-board the Grand Alliance, which I ignored (and none of them seemed genuine, but rather Italy trying different tactics to see if any of them would work on me).

So I retreated to Serbia.

And then destroyed Rumania.

And then Italy sent me one final message. I don't recall what it was exactly, but it finally felt genuine. I did deliberate a little bit, as there was quite a lot of enjoyment to be gained from moving into ION and then attacking Italy, but now that there was something that to me seemed genuine, there was also a chance that I could work with Italy. And if could work with Italy, then there was a chance to get something out of this game. So I agreed.

Russia had still told me he would support me into ION, which I now felt bad about, but if we were to gain anything from this game, then that was something to use. Maybe I'm forgetting something, but ultimately, this was the 2nd time in the game when I lied. Whilst Russia got into the empty Rumania, I managed to get back into Bulgaria and most importantly - Italy moved to EME. Also, whilst I didn't mention anything about it, I moved all my units away from Venice, and Italy thankfully moved to Naples for a potential Convoy.

So we were back in business!

Next came I think the most crucial turn of stopping Russia (1908 Fall). With Italy in EME and ION and me in Bulgaria, we were in a decent position, and Italy wanted to convoy into Syria, which Russia could do nothing about. For me the target was to keep one of Bulgaria or Rumania, but it involved a lot of guesses, and I realised that I couldn't guarantee it, and if I guessed wrong, the amy would be destroyed and a lot of tempo lost.

So I suggested that instead of making the convoy, Italy should just tap Smyrna with EME (and with the convoy being the obvious move, there was a high chance of it succeeding), and ION should support Greece into AEG. Looking at it now, this seems so obviously the correct move, but it did came after we had talked about the convoy, or Greece supporting ION to AEG and other options. The thinking behind it was that if Russia guards Smyrna, then the fleet is destroyed, and if he doesn't - then Italy gets Smyrna, but the fleet is out of position in EME. But most importantly - Greece is free for a retreat, in case Bulgarie gets dislodged. And as I guessed wrong with my moves, it did get dislodged, but it could retreat to Greece. And with me also getting into Galicia, we were in a very strong position.

Basically, next turn it was Russia who had to guess how I would be attacking Bulgaria and Rumania. For each of my potential attacks, there were moves that Russia could make to nullify them, but there were just quite a few ways I could attack them, and in the end Russia guessed wrong, and at that point, it was over.

At this point, it was clear that Russia won't solo, so it was all about how big the draw would be and who would be included. I had been happy to go with the 6-way draw, but it wasn't really in my hands, and at that point, I would have accepted any draw that included me.

It had been clear for quite a long time, that France will try to make the draw be as small as possible, so I was a bit disappointed Germany and Scotland hadn't been bringing the potential draw up much earlier - saying on what conditions they continue to cooperate, etc. So it started to be obvious that this is heading to a 4-way draw, as Russia moved away from France leaving Scotland and Germany at France's mercy.

France also turned to me saying that we could get Italy eliminated from the draw - something I would have loved just a few turns earlier. But at that point - once I had started working with Italy and we both had demonstrated that we could push ourselves to trust each other again when really needed (e.g. me leaving Venice empty and him moving to Naples from Rome - moves we had not agreed to do), it would have felt very strange to me to then stab Italy again. Also, France didn't seem like the country to trust, if I did move against Italy again, surely French fleets would also come into the Med, and nobody knows how that would have ended up.

Basically, from the countries that were left, I truly was able to trust only Russia (though I understood that he could have had a grudge against me, as ultimately, him choosing me instead of Italy potentially cost him his solo), so only if Russia would have insisted on taking one country out I would have considered it. And if it had to be one - I guess I would have preferred to take France out, rather than Italy. But I was tired of the game (both from how long it had been going and also how demanding emotionally it had been) and nobody really seemed too keen to continue with it in search for a 3-way or something better, so we all agreed on the 4-way.

And that concludes my views on the game.

Whilst tiring and emotionally draining, ultimately it was fun playing with you all and I especially want to thank Russia, who I really enjoyed playing and interacting with and Italy - for us both being able to find some common ground in the end despite our obvious clash in communication styles.
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby another » 16 Feb 2019, 23:20

France, one thing I forgot to ask. The turn when I stabbed Italy, you kept on asking whether Italy was getting into Con or not. And kept on at it. And then asked some more. Until closer to the deadline I gave some reply.

What was that all about? Why did you want to know it? Was that affecting your decision making in any way, or did you want to feed that info to Russia?
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Re: AAR: 151322. The Christmas Truce, aka Convoy Like It’s 1

Postby hedge trimmer » 17 Feb 2019, 16:12

That's a lot of text, so apologies if I missed anything.

What was the thinking behind you deciding to stab me at that point? Was it something I (or someone else) said or something I had done? Or was it just your cost/benefit analysis which made you think you could pull off the solo?

Well, you seemed like you were more interested in getting my centers than attacking west (or at least in a better position to do so) so the 2 way seemed unlikely to work, and I thought I could pull it off if I made some lucky guesses and managed to build another southern fleet or two. Well, I failed to get Portugal/Brest etc. so that was that.

I also reached out to England to see where he was standing. England had been on 1 centre since 1903 (it was 1906 now), and if anything, seemed to have been helping Russia (again, a totally valid choice, from his neighbours, Russia was the last one to attack him, and only after he had moved to Barents), so there was a chance that Russia would have made some sort of a jannisary offer? England had supported NTH to hold for quite a few turns, and last turn had bounced in NTH, which could have also been at Russia's request. Anyway, as now there was a real chance of a 6-way, I thought England should be up for joining in, which he later turned out to be. Anyway, England (or Russia), could you shed some light onto what your relationship and arrangements was before Russia went for the solo and the Grand Alliance was formed?

England told me he'd help me, but he was never interested in actually attacking France. Him supporting me to the North Sea was nice, but after that it felt like I had to constantly make sure that he wouldn't move to attack me. I had no interest in taking his center, but he was constantly acting like I was going to remove him from the game if I had the chance. Even though I hadn't done so even when I had some opportunities to move in a way to force him out.

So he didn't do much at all after he was reduced to a single center, and he didn't engage with the game that much. Understandable, since it sucks to have been almost eliminated, but it also didn't seem like he wanted to do anything to get back in the game.

So I ordered a supported attack into Galicia instead, and lo and behold, Russia moved Armenia into Sevastopol (a move that would make sense only if he was expecting to bounce with me there) so he couldn't build the 2nd Southern Fleet and I also managed to keep him out of Galicia. Given how disastrous Italy not playing with us was, that was a lifeline!

Well, this sealed my loss. I was going to move Armenia to Ankara while leaving Sevastopol open, but thanks to Italy's tip I moved it back to Sevastopol, which basically meant that I would lose my Turkish centers. I was pretty annoyed, so I suppose that would play a role why I would hint at getting tips from someone.

Then followed the most frustrating part of the game. It was clear that without cooperation from Italy, we were not going to stop Russian solo. But Italy wasn't willing to change his stance. His follow-up to his 1906 fall moves was to say that he had moved exactly as he had told he would, as if that was some kind of a good thing. Also, Russia had hinted that he covered Sevastopol based on a tip from someone

//////////////////

And he insisted on getting Venice, still without providing any reasoning as to how that would help fight Russia, which at this point there was no way I would happily hand over to him. To me it seemed like he was used to forcing other players into doing what he wanted, something you can do when you negotiate from a position of power or when you are good at manipulation / coercion. But now he wasn't in a position of power, but kept using the same tactic.

He was in a pretty good position to demand things though? He could help me to solo if you didn't play nice. I mean, you yourself mention that just above the part where you say that he was in no position to do so. :lol:

Besides, what do you think would happen after Russia was gone if Italy wasn't in a position to defend against you? You already had two fleets, and you could build more if you had Trieste open.

It had been clear for quite a long time, that France will try to make the draw be as small as possible, so I was a bit disappointed Germany and Scotland hadn't been bringing the potential draw up much earlier - saying on what conditions they continue to cooperate, etc. So it started to be obvious that this is heading to a 4-way draw, as Russia moved away from France leaving Scotland and Germany at France's mercy.

France also turned to me saying that we could get Italy eliminated from the draw - something I would have loved just a few turns earlier. But at that point - once I had started working with Italy and we both had demonstrated that we could push ourselves to trust each other again when really needed (e.g. me leaving Venice empty and him moving to Naples from Rome - moves we had not agreed to do), it would have felt very strange to me to then stab Italy again. Also, France didn't seem like the country to trust, if I did move against Italy again, surely French fleets would also come into the Med, and nobody knows how that would have ended up.

Basically, from the countries that were left, I truly was able to trust only Russia (though I understood that he could have had a grudge against me, as ultimately, him choosing me instead of Italy potentially cost him his solo), so only if Russia would have insisted on taking one country out I would have considered it. And if it had to be one - I guess I would have preferred to take France out, rather than Italy. But I was tired of the game (both from how long it had been going and also how demanding emotionally it had been) and nobody really seemed too keen to continue with it in search for a 3-way or something better, so we all agreed on the 4-way

I had hoped that France insisting on draw whittling would get you and Italy to do something about it, but nothing happened. You say I should've insisted on it, but I thought I would be the next power on the chopping block if seemed like I hadn't given up on the game yet. I seemed to be the only player who wanted to continue, and I had already shown everyone that I would attempt to solo even when it was unlikely to succeed. I think the game could've continued if France wasn't going to be busy with real life though.

I guess Germany and England could've done more to help themselves too... I guess I could've done more too, by promising Germany I would include him in the draw if he helped me... but it felt like he was too invested in trying to stop my solo to help me, even though my chances of soloing were slim at best after I fumbled my stab against France. So I wrote him something vague about not being the biggest fan of draw whittling, while pointing out that France was interested in eliminating him, but the discussion didn't really go anywhere from there. Then again they could've promised to help me if France tried to eliminate them, so I could've moved in a way to still allow me to defend them if necessary, but they seemed to be more than happy to trust France who had already stabbed both of them a few times.

Whilst tiring and emotionally draining, ultimately it was fun playing with you all and I especially want to thank Russia, who I really enjoyed playing and interacting with and Italy - for us both being able to find some common ground in the end despite our obvious clash in communication styles.

Thanks for the game!
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