AAR: January mentor game: 152224: France solo

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AAR: January mentor game: 152224: France solo

Postby mjparrett » 07 Mar 2019, 12:16

I haven’t done too many AARs, but enjoyed this game and thought worth doing one for the people involved. Feel free to ask questions or for clarification on anything. I also hope the players in this game realise how much effort it took me to solo; almost 400 messages sent despite joining the game in 1903!

This is my first experience in a mentor game; original France found the time too much and surrendered at the start of fall 1903 in a good position. Mentor Willie posted for experienced replacements and I jumped in.
The players:
Turkey - Moosten. Good player. Bit of experience years ago but new to the site. Seemed a bit more aware of my threat earlier than some of the others.
Germany – Hurlyburly. Very talkative player and we seemed to get on well. Asked some sensible questions. If you talk that much in your future games you will put yourself in a good position!
England – Zoquo. Probably spoke to you the least despite our neighbouring positions. You left and rejoined the game at a later date as well and not sure if you were struggling with time for it or the enjoyment? Either way really glad you returned and played your part out to the end. Sorry for all the stabs.
Russia – Yvraine. We never really got the chance to work together too much. Most of the game I was plotting your downfall. But we kept talking and you played it out well, and never took anything personally. Hope to play with you again.
Austria – GoodGuyBravo. We worked together a lot at the start and there were some good comms. But you talked less and less as you grew more wary of me. Just before my fatal attack of you, you picked up again and I almost felt guilty. Almost ;)
Italy – NJLonghorn. Another replacement. Original Italy quit not long after I joined and another pro was called in. We never spoke much because it was clear there was going to be war between us. I think you should have been bombarding me with messages offering anything to stay alive but it never really happened.

So France has done well. Picked up early neutrals, attacked Germany with England/Russia and got himself in a position to attack Italy. Considering France is my favourite country to play this was the ideal opening! I’ll let everyone else tell the tale of how the board developed to this point. Germany might have a lot to say!

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Desperate negotiations with everyone. I didn’t want to offend anyone until I saw all the relationships. Offered to support both Germany and Austria in the middle and pull back from Italy. I saw England and Russia as the main threat and they had worked really well to dismantle Germany. France only chipped in near the end (which is why France was able to be in such a good position against Italy). So if anything I wanted England/Russia apart and fighting. Russia had built a fleet in StP north coast in 1902 (I don’t know in defence or attack) and I used this with all my might. Stirred it up as much as possible. England would be my first attack.
Then the turn processed, Italy NMRd and quit. Oh. Change the orders then. No point in pulling back from Italy; full attack ahead. England is saved. I think NJLonghorn took over before the deadline, but too late to change my plans a second time. By mistake I left in a Belgium – North Sea order which annoyed England a little I think but I talked my way out of it. So the turn really did process, and everything went as well as I could hope. England didn’t attack me (which is what I would have done in his position), but got ready for Russia. I was passing everything back and forth between England and Russia with a slight adjustment getting them fully ready to fight each other. Russia grabbed Denmark with German help. Brilliant. The England-Russia conflict had begun. And would pretty much last all game. There was also some bickering over Munich between Austria and Russia and I took advantage of this as well to create a war between Russia and Austria.

Germany was screwed at this stage and with one centre. But no love for England or Russia as they had attacked him since the start. So I brought him in on my plan, and we worked together right to the end. I convinced Russia he was part of a FGR to kill England (and we need Germany alive just now to help, we can easily stab him in a year or two), and England he was part of a FGE to kill Russia (and we need Germany alive just now to help, we can easily stab him in a year or two). Every time I thought one of England or Russia might gain the upper hand, I would leak a little less and try and bring it back. Just give me enough time to kill Italy and set up a stalemate in the south before turning my attention to the north!

Ultimately though I wanted England out first. He was more a long term threat to me and I knew I could get other help with Russia. I was also going to help build Germany back up and I didn’t want him building any fleets/getting any English centres. So I needed to make sure it was as much mine as possible. I worked on Austria and Turkey to get them fighting Russia in the south, all while I help Russia in the north. Germany is still privy to almost all this, and my hope is to build him up and get him to attack Russia, and I will be able to follow behind.

1904 went nicely. I grabbed a couple of Italian centres, and we got Germany a build. I don’t want Russia getting England instead of me, so I am still pretending I am with England and we get Russia two destroys. Russia has no idea I helped arrange so my cover is intact. He is also doing anything he can to get me and Germany on his side. He agrees to destroy Berlin as a show of good faith. Somehow everyone sort of thinks I am on their side, and that Russia is the main threat. This is going well. It is around this time that England resigns. He re-joins but I feel like his heart isn’t truly in it. I build an army in the south to plug some gaps, and a fleet in the north. I don’t feel I need any more fleets in the south; Italy has two on the way out, Austria has one stuck in Venice and Turkey only has one as well. Alarm bells should have been ringing here but it was too late and my superiority in the Med would never be threatened. With the south secure I am ready to attack England.

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1905 sees more of the same. I continue working with Germany in the centre. Mainly with Russia and his approval on everything, but scheming how to invade him. I continue working with Austria in the south who is happy to get rid of Italy and ensure he profits from it. Austria did keep asking for a better split of the Italian centres, but despite vague promises I never did back down. In the north I break a DMZ and enter the Channel, and blame it on England’s less frequent responses and 1904 surrender/return which he sort of accepts. I am still giving him good intelligence on Russia so he still trusts me somewhat. And I have managed to convince him this is all Russian fault and I think the chances of him working with Russia again are slim. Which I turn out to be right about. I grab London anyway. The far east I still in turmoil; no one can agree to a lasting alliance and Russia/Austria/Turkey seem to bicker. This is perfect for me so I do everything to keep it going. In the end it is Turkey who benefits with two builds but that doesn’t bother me. I get two builds and my Germany ally one. England, Russia and Austria all have one destroy and Italy two. Despite me still telling Russia and Austria I am with them, I am delighted to see them pegged back. This time I build two fleets, both of which are destined north. Maybe should have built an army in Paris here, but didn’t want to alert Germany too soon.

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But I keep talking with England, and like Germany he is happy to see Russia taken down a peg or two. Similar offer that I can help keep him alive if he helps, and he seems willing. So just as Operation England starts, it is put on hold in favour of the 1906 stab on Russia. My messages go into overdrive and I’m sending messages left right and centre. About 100 in 1906 alone, just trying to keep everyone doing what I want and not looking at me too much. Austria seems caught in the middle and unable to decide fully which way to turn but is still helping somewhat against Russia. Although I think around this stage he started to get distrustful of me, and possibly realise how much I was talking to everyone saying the same sort of thing :) It was also around this time I really started to think about how to solo, so I guess you were right to be wary.

But the attack on Russia was a long time planned. Germany is now getting a few units and is more an influence in the centre. Russia wants to convoy to England and pick up a few centres; no way am I letting him get those builds! I take the North Sea and cancel his convoy. Germany gets set up to attack and shifts his armies east.

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Fall is brutal. Russia has 3 destroys and is in all sorts of problems. This is the end of him being any threat, although I downplay that as much as possible to the others.

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England up a build but still happy to work with me against Russia which is great, especially with me in London and such a threat. Really England and Russia should have made up this year and attacked me, but it never happened. I don’t know how much that is to do with the diplomacy I was doing but I’ll take some credit for it! Germany is following the plan a dream, pushing into Russia. I considered a 1906 stab of Germany as well but decided against. I even discussed this with Germany himself (I was still in two minds whether to play this game 100% or slightly like a mentor and help others. Deciding it would be unfair to whoever I didn’t help win I decided to just play it straight, but while trying to explain my moves to the others so they would see what I was thinking). With Turkey building two fleets and Austria starting to get suspicious, 1906 was the first I heard about any anti France threads. I thought putting myself on 13 centres with a German stab would be too much and people might patch up their differences. I did however arrange for Russia to take Munich. Obviously I knew which centre was being left free and knew Germany would believe me if I just told him Russia guessed correctly. I couldn’t afford to make Germany too big as he would then be hard to stab. Annoyingly Germany told me of a change of orders last minute and decided to move back to Munich as he started to fear Austria. Russia was bounced, but I think no-one really suspected me of leaking too much yet.
Despite helping England again and him getting a 1906 build, I had as many fleets as everyone else put together and knew I could push on from here. No builds for me but I was happy to take a gap year.

1907 was my year to go for it. I decided to attack England (again), stab Germany, and try and force Venice from Austria. Russia knew his time was coming to an end and I don’t think expected any form of result at this stage. Despite England being back in it slightly with a build, I don’t think he overly believed he was getting a result either. G/A/T though were all keen on a draw. In order to seem more believable, I said I was happy with a 3 way draw but not a 4. Someone else needed to go. The obvious one was Austria being in the middle of us all so pitched that to the others. Germany still very much dependent on me for survival agreed. Turkey seemed keen but I think still more or less knew what I was really thinking. I don’t know how much choice he felt he had though so went along with it. I needed him on board if my plan was going to work though. Otherwise my move to the Adriatic would not go down well. I offered Austria various options on how to proceed but something was definitely up; the messages are really dropping. Oh well, full steam ahead and into the Adriatic to help take Venice. The Russian destroys after the stab had been fairly kind to me, and with Tyrolia gone it was much easier.

S07 is going to be the big one then. But suddenly a flurry of messages; England writes to me and asks for London back. Austria suddenly sends a heartfelt message asking for a FGA 3 way draw. It tugs my heart strings. Too much of a bastard though I push ahead. I agree to Austria moving to Tyrolia. It can’t hurt as I’ll take the Adriatic regardless and can defend Venice from there. I agree to England having London back although I mean no such thing. I also tell Austria the 3 way is very much on, and we should attack Turkey. Turkey finds out about this pretty quickly of course, and with enough information to stop Austria from growing…
Then Germany writes and ASKS me to move into Munich and Ruhr for a fake stab! Again I can’t believe my luck and do a little jig. I can almost see the logic – this way he can convince Austria and England he didn’t know what was happening and gather some intelligence. But with England practically dead anyway, I don’t know how much help it could be. But I don’t worry too much.

The turn processes. And what a turn it is. Austria follows through on everything and helps Germany finally end Russia. I lie to Austria and take Venice (as well as the Adriatic so I can keep it). I also lie to England and take Edinburgh as well as bouncing Wales. I’m also in Munich and Ruhr and have no plans on leaving them. Brilliantly though, Germany knew all about my deception of England, and Germany/Turkey knew all about me moving to the Adriatic and taking Venice. And they both know that me in Munich isn’t real and a ‘fake stab’. So I’m made! I know that even if Austria and England do the very sensible thing and start an anti-France thread, no-one will listen to them! Germany and Turkey both think the 3 way is on, and expect me to now sit back while they dismantle Austria for a nice three way ending.

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Russia and Germany don’t seem to talk, and I even manage to get Russia to agree to move on Berlin with my support, just to help finish Germany even though I have betrayed Russia so much he accepts. Germany tells me he is going to write to Austria and see what he can find out. So I get in there first and tell Austria that they have suggested a FGT 3 way draw and I’m happy to go for it. Austria tries the clever thing of throwing this back in Germany’s face and trying to split us up. Germany asks me why I would tell Austria about the draw excluding him and I deny it. The reason though was to make Austria distrust Germany as much as me. I still feared a stop the leader alliance could stalemate me so I wanted as much bad feeling on the other side of the line as possible.
The same applies with Turkey, who writes to me grumbling that Austria thinks he is going to attack him, and why would he think that, and how difficult he is to work with etc. He thinks that because I told him! I heard a lot of that in this game; people frustrated because other players would change their mind or find out about their betrayal. Somehow no-one ever fully realised how much it was me causing this, and if they had compared messages I would have been screwed!

So Fall 07 will be crucial. Germany won’t like it. He actually writes to me pre deadline pointing out that he knows I could stab him but is choosing to believe I won’t. Sorry but no. Admittedly I felt better about it before you wrote that message, but I’ve been gearing up to this move for about 4 turns and there is no turning back now. Munich stays, and supports Russia to Berlin. Ruhr to Kiel takes another. North Sea to Denmark completes the set. Boom

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And to be honest that was pretty much it. Obviously there was now no denying my intentions but I couldn’t easily be stopped. I had complete control of the seas in both the north and south, something I had worked hard to achieve. I was one or two units away from a full stalemate but with the 5 builds I had that year was pretty quick to plug the gaps. Turkey cleverly arrange a convoy from Greece to mainland Italy and took the Adriatic in 1909 and there was one turn before reinforcements arrived where the three Italian home centres were under threat. They could really only try for one of them, and I knew I could successfully defend any two. So one round of guesswork which was in my favour. Thankfully I got through that, whilst my armada of fleets gradually closed in on Scandinavia. With only one fleet against me in the north, I could successfully move into the Baltic and surround Norway and Sweden until they fell. The end came in 1910 when I had finally forced the issue. The last few years were a little lonely as everyone had pretty much stopped talking to me (thanks to Germany and Turkey who kept up some correspondence).

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I hope everyone enjoyed this game as much as me. Easy to say with a solo I guess, but it really was good fun, and I think there are a few good addition to the site here. I appreciate I took advantage of your newness etc, but it was all with lessons learned in mind! In ranked games people will spin you a lot of nonsense and happily take advantage of new players getting up to speed. Never trust anyone too much! And even though I told you all how untrustworthy I was, you all seemed fairly happy to go along for the ride!

A couple of the key points were the Russian stab in 06 (and his destroys really helping me out), as well as the constant E/R war and A/R/T triangle. I’m not sure how much credit I can really take, but I really put everything I had into keeping those wars going at all time. If England and Russia shared messages they would see how much I was playing them and I might have been attacked. Similarly in the east, I encouraged as much in fighting as possible. So in 1907 when I was ready to make my main move everyone was still alive and scrapping. Austria on 5 centres, Turkey on 7 and Russia on 4 (although fading). I really used this to my advantage. Austria especially seemed unsure who to ally with and that really helped me – too much uncertainty. Sometimes you need to pick an ally and stick with it through thick and thin.
Germany knew the most about what I was up to, and I think there was a genuine rapport there. I think probably the player who minded me winning the least, and the player I felt the worst about attacking at the end. Sorry!
mjparrett
 
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Re: AAR: January mentor game: 152224: France solo

Postby zoquo » 07 Mar 2019, 15:23

Well played, France. And a great AAR! Thanks for your efforts in that regard.

For me, I think the crucial point in the game was when the previous France surrendered. He and I had been working together well and I had a full blown aggression towards Russia that probably ruined any chance of Russia and I working together. I didn't have much of a chance unless I could trust the new France. I had burned my bridges with Germany and Russia may have been an ally until he built a fleet in StP NC. That signaled to me that Russia was never going to ally with me.

France was masterful in their deceit. I was surprised not once but several times by their stabs. I was naive, but again, I wasn't in much of a position to do anything but trust them after my opening.

Overall an enjoyable experience despite the outcome.

Andrew
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Re: AAR: January mentor game: 152224: France solo

Postby moosten » 08 Mar 2019, 22:20

This is Martin's response, I played Turkey in this game.

First of all, thanks to Willie for helping us out, and getting our bearings on this site. Your advice was very helpful!

Furthermore, congratulations to France with his solo win. Well played! And thank you for the AAR, very well written. An interesting part of your win that I would like to highlight was getting the 1 SC Germany on your side. As a player with few units, you often set your goals a little lower, and do everything you can to just stay in the game. So you are looking for an ally to which you can be useful. The natural ally would have been Russia, in my opinion. Russia had to downsize two units. Germany could plug the hole in Russia's long front lines, and it seems that Russia was counting on that, given the removal of the Russian unit in Germany. But somehow, Germany ended up allying with France.

As Mike (France) pointed out in his AAR, I have some experience with the game, but I am quite rusty. I used to play face to face tournaments as a student in the 80s, and I played a couple of e-mail games in the mid-90s. In fact, even though I was not an elite player by any standards, I wrote a little piece about a French-German alliance for the Diplomatic Pouch in 1997 that I just learned is still around. Which goes to show that you have to watch what you write on the internet ... Anyway, the next 20 years I did not play, and it showed. In 1901, I found Austria convoying Italy into Greece, and it seemed clear they were hitting it off. In 1902 I banked on Russia as my natural ally, only to find a Russian fleet parked in Ankara by Fall 1902. All the signs of an early Turkish exit where there. ERFIA had jumped on Germany, and he was down to 1 SC, but Turkey wasn't far off.

There are two things I would like to point in those first pre-Mike&Jeff years that I think were of note:
1) The Russian sidestep of Sweden in F01 was great. Germany accidentally ended up in Sweden and out of position, while the Russian fleet, instead of hanging in the Bothnian no-mans-sea, ended up enjoying the view on four supply centers from the Baltic Sea. If I ever play Russia and Germany threatens to bounce me out of Sweden, I will keep this move in mind.
2) Italy (the old Italy) did something odd in Winter 1902: he built a fleet in Venice. Combined with the army in Tyrolia, that looked anti-Austrian, but what an odd way to start a conflict. It turns out that he intended to move the fleet to Piedmont. That is not feasible as the adjudicator in Spring 1903 decided to change the move to a Hold. That realization must have hit the old Italy hard. Italy missed his second turn and auto-surrendered. Coincidentally, this is also where the old France left.

That's when Jeff (Italy) and Mike (France) joined the game and that's where Mike's AAR starts. Of course, Jeff inherited a crippled Italy, whereas Mike got a good position with France almost having no other option than taking over the Italian supply centers.

In 1903 I desperately need an ally and started to work with Austria and Russia. I had not heard anything from Austria and Italy in all of 1902, but I assume the odd build combined with quick Russian progress had changed the situation. Now, the first thing Austria shared with me was the offer I made to Russia: to exchange Bulgaria for Ankara. I had not heard the response from Russia, but Austria already told me what a ridiculous offer Russia thought that was. This made me believe that Russia wasn't serious about my offer. (He actually did follow through). Anyway, so Austria was my new pal. I preferred to start with pushing Italy out of Greece and worry about Russia after handling Italy, but Austria insisted that we'd take Rumania first. However, after he supported me into Rumania in Spring 1903, Austria left me hanging in Fall, in an apparent attempt to appease Russia. Needless to say, I was very unhappy about that but felt I had burnt my bridges with Russia and had no other options. Russia took not only Rumania back, but also took Vienna. The good thing about that was that Austria now understood that we needed to fight Russia together. To complicate matters, Austria had stabbed Italy by taking Venice. The whole southern triangle was a complete mess and the only one who looked like he controlled the situation was Russia. ATI somehow had to come together, overcome the past mutually questionable moves, and fence off Russia and France.

Fighting France came down to Italy, who was out of position. Fighting Russia went surprisingly well. Austria recovered Vienna and Rumania in Spring 1904. We could have secured Sevastopol too in Fall, and there was nothing Russia could do about it. That would have meant that Austria would take Sev, while Turkey would fill the whole in Rumania (and take Rumania). But Austria did not want to do this. All the gains where for Austria and clearly I was an afterthought. Same in S05. I had stayed in touch with Russia all along, and besides the army in Berlin, he had also removed the fleet from the Black Sea. Now that Russia was no longer a threat, and since Austria wasn't really trusting me, I switched sides. I picked up Rumania and Greece in F05, and built two brand new fleets. With me on his side, Russia's southern front was secured and we could roll back Austria and get Russia in a position to hold back France, who by now was clearly leading.

Things took a very different turn in 1906. Without letting me know, Russia decided to retreat. I absolutely did not see the Russian Implosion coming. I picked off Italy's last SC and built an army. A fourth fleet would have been better from the perspective of fighting France. I floated this idea by Austria, but Austria did not think about France as a threat. So I did the sensible thing and built an army as a lock on the back door (Austria was in Sev now). I figured there may be some x-way-draw plans out there that did not involve me.

So it is 1906 and I still do not have an ally. Germany and Austria headed East, and France picked up Italian SCs and invaded England, getting to 11SCs and having no opposition to speak off. At this point, I am sounding the alarm bells, and am trying everyone to pay attention to France. I noticed that these messages made it to France, there surely was a lot of talk going on. Austria and Germany were sold on the idea of a 4-way draw with France and me. Which at the time was possible, but risky.

Anyway, in S07 I want to move the Albanian fleet into the Adriatic, which I communicated to Austria early on. From there I could convoy an army and get some boots on the ground in Southern Italy while threatening the Ionian. The convoy would eventually happen in 1909, when it was too late, but the idea was born in 1907.
At the last moment, Austria asks me what I intend to do, I repeat the plan, and I hear from France (!!!) that Austria does not like the move into the Adriatic. In an attempt to gain Austria's trust, I retreated my fleet while France moved his fleet into the Adriatic and an army into Venice instead. So you think in Fall 07 we can talk about positioning against France, but Austria did not trust me! Germany still believed in an (FGT) three-way even though there was a French army in Munich.

At this point, the game was lost, in my opinion. I admitted as much to France, and this was when I was growling a bit about how hard it as to form an alliance with Austria. I should not have done that. First of all, it was pointless from a strategic view (really, did I need to provide evidence that there was no anti-French alliance), and secondly, given our history, Austria had valid reasons to be wary of me.

Anyway, France grabbed 5 supply centers at once, which must be some kind of record of sorts. I saw some praise for the stab, but I don't quite agree with that. Don't get me wrong, the stab was fine and France played very well and deserved to win. But this stab we should have seen coming, this one is on us. If I had to give a compliment, which I am happy to do, I would choose the way he handled the 1SC Germany and used Germany's struggle for survival to his advantage.

Anyway, I was willing to call it a day and accept the French win. But others wanted to play on, and I am glad we did. Even though I never believed in the chances of the grand alliance, I actually enjoyed the cooperation. There were some interesting logistic puzzles and I finally had some real allies!

This response is way longer than my play warranted. If you made it to here, thanks for bearing with me. But it was a great game and I enjoyed playing with you all.
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