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AAR: Ides of March (Mentor Game)

PostPosted: 18 May 2019, 01:35
by Colonel Falcon
I thought someone would have posted an AAR for this game by now, but the responsibility evidently falls on my noobish shoulders.

This was my first-ever Diplomacy game. If subsequent games are half as wild and epic as this one, I'll enjoy my time on the site!

I played Russia. I sent or received messages from everyone early on, but nothing stood out except for the messages of Austria and Turkey. Everyone else was bland and non-committal. Understandable, since we're all trying to get a feel for each other.

I was aware of the juggernaut strategy, so I was willing to listen to Turkey. An easily-understandable (and fearsome) strategy would work perfectly for this noob.

But while Turkey offered good terms (no army in Armenia, eventual DMZ in Black Sea, etc. etc.), he rejected the idea of a Black Sea bounce in turn one. He wanted a fleet in the Black Sea, to start off the game at a high tempo.

I stressed that I was uncomfortable with simply giving him the Black Sea on turn one, for obvious reasons. Turkey's replies were aggressive, and though we eventually agreed to a bounce, these negotiations soured me on this country.

My, how those feelings would change later....

On the other hand, Austria's messages were clever and reasonable. He'd give me Rumania, help me conquer Turkey, in exchange for a DMZ in Galicia and help marching down to Greece. Sounded like a good basis for an alliance. I threw my lot in with Austria.

Things proceeded as expected. Turkey didn't move his army into Armenia, so he had little to threaten me with. With me in Rumania and Austria continuing south, Turkey was bottled up.

To the north, I made it into Sweden. I couldn't go further; negotiations with England never bore fruit, at any stage of the game.

I believe Germany missed a turn, or decided to hold for no reason, which put him at a severe disadvantage. I smelled blood, and judging from the actions of England and France, so did they.

I broke the DMZ with Germany, which caused him to send an army east in revenge. That attack fizzled, as the combined efforts of England and France forced him to destroy at least one unit. Surrounded and friendless, Germany fell.

Around the same time (actually before Germany), Italy ran into trouble. Austria moved west in force, and pounded the land of pasta. I was surprised this was allowed to happen; Italy still seemed intent on moving against France, even as Austria showed up on its doorstep. I'm guessing Austria had been sending incredibly persuasive messages Italy's way.

For my part, Austria's move west was alarming. I began to realize he had no intention of giving me Turkey. He'd destroyed Italy, and would now, with his newfound power, return to the east and destroy both myself and Turkey. Austria's messages during this time weren't comforting, either. It was basically what I've quickly recognized to be the usual “just wait, we'll get there” stalling. I decided to stab. Fortuitously, at the same time Turkey contacted me, willing to renew diplomatic relations and ally against Turkey. An old enemy became a friend.

More experienced players would probably say stabbing Austria was a poor move – or that I should have stabbed earlier, somehow, to keep Italy in the game. Regardless, I don't regret it, as subsequent events will show.

To my shock, Austria returned to the east with drums pounding and sabers rattling, abandoning Italy. He had a score to settle, and by golly, he was going to settle it. France swooped in and took Italy's centers, but that only helped me a little, because now I had to contend with both a fierce Austria and an England that was slowly chipping away at me.

Turkey was still boxed in, and couldn't help much, so the poor Russian empire was eventually whittled down to one supply center in Sev...

...but [cue soaring orchestral music] it didn't perish.

France and England had what appeared to be a solid alliance, much to my vexation. This allowed both to become powerful, as the middle countries collapsed and the east became locked in a vengeful conflict.

France looked like the front-runner, especially with Italy's centers. Turkey wanted to reach out to our foe Austria and convince him to resist the land of Napoleon. I thought that was pointless, but Turkey took the lead, and we tried our best to convince a seething Austria to cease hostilities and help against the real threat.

But ceasing seething (say that three times fast) was not something Austria wanted to do. France was going to solo. It was all Russia's fault. Enjoy the fruits of your labor, Tsar!

Well, we tried.

Then England stabbed, and the French player promptly quit. Very disappointing.

I'd been sleepwalking through a few turns, as I couldn't do much with only one supply center. Turkey had broken out, but didn't stab me, and no other country could finish me off without assistance.

Then a new French player took over, and he had a plan.

This new player was obviously more experienced, and set about persuading Turkey and I to set up a stalemate line against England. We chafed at this; though France knew what he was talking about, it's only natural for people to resist when a newcomer arrives on the scene and starts giving commands.

France also wanted me gone, but Turkey, to my surprise and delight, would have none of it. Russia would be included in all plans – period. France stated that if this was a ranked game, he'd finish me off, but since it was a mentor game, he'd roll with it.

I sat there in Sev with my one fleet, watching the seagulls wheel overhead, while France and Turkey set about keeping England at bay.

Oh, and Austria was finally destroyed – much to my satisfaction, and Turkey's as well. Outlasting him was victory enough for me.

The stalemate line was set up. A four-way draw proposal (France, England, Russia, and Turkey, to be clear) was offered and rejected. Another proposal was floated later, and finally accepted.

Thus poor old Russia managed to get a draw with only one supply center.

Much thanks to Turkey. I tried to be helpful after we finally allied, and I suppose it made an impression – either that, or you were in a generous mood. Turkey could have cast me to the garbage heap, but he insisted I be involved in the endgame.

As France noted, it's unlikely this would happen in a ranked game – but it wasn't a ranked game, so it did happen.

A toast to you, Turkey. (Insert the ridiculously-long stream of honorifics you used in the early game.)

A hearty laugh at you, Austria.

Thanks to our teacher and the many links he provided.

I hope others will respond with their insights. I have no idea what certain players were thinking at certain points.

I learned a lot, but certainly made some boneheaded plays. But the main thing I learned is DON'T QUIT. Nothing is certain until the game ends.

Re: AAR: Ides of March (Mentor Game)

PostPosted: 18 May 2019, 03:21
by Canswede
Great read!

Sounds like a fun game apart from the French player leaving. Seems like it had everything a great game of Diplomacy should entail.

Happy conquering!

Re: AAR: Ides of March (Mentor Game)

PostPosted: 18 May 2019, 21:54
by Shyvve
Hey Colonel Falcon of Russia,

I'm glad you took the time to write up your entertaining and informative take on this game. I should've made mention of writing AAR's towards the end there, my bad. Hopefully I didn't simply bombard folks with links and Diplomacy resources. By intention, I tried to stay away from giving my own personal opinions about the game and instead chose to point people towards the literature and greater minds than mine on the subject.

I will say that one of the most exciting (and satisfying) games I've had on this site ended up in a 4-way draw including me as a 1-center Germany: ... _id=130529
AAR for that here if interested: viewtopic.php?f=51&t=56059&hilit=130529

But back to the point. I encourage the other players to contribute their reflections on the game here also. Even those who weren't around at the end as that would give some insight as to why some fell/rose during the mid-game.

Thanks for stepping in, mparrett, and keeping the game balanced when the original France left.

Re: AAR: Ides of March (Mentor Game)

PostPosted: 21 May 2019, 20:16
by Adm.Vogel
Thank you for starting this Col. Falcon.
Game #155137
I was the English player.

Italy: Alas, poor Italy, I hardly knew thee. I did make contact, but as we were on opposite ends of the board, there was little interaction in the early game. Italy is one of the toughest draws and without a partner out the gate is often doomed. This seems to be the case here. Italy was first out and early.

Germany: This player exchanged very few diplomatic missives. Germany's tactics were varied between intelligent and foolhardy. Once Russia attacked, Germany was determined to return fire. It became clear soon that Germany was too erratic to be a good partner and instead became a good victim.

France I: France traded diplomatic missives often. Initially, trust was uneasy, and for a good portion of the game was a simple DMZ in the English Channel. I tried to push into Germany by allying with France and Russia, for some time the four of us in the north were stuck. Eventually, Russia would attack and Germany would scramble. France had the good fortune of Austria taking pressure away from Italy to be able to push into Germany. At that point, I had no choice but to pursue an alliance with France. This worked out well for us until France stopped communicating. I was rapidly reaching a point of no further expansion except into French centers. I set up my stab since France was making no attempt to discuss further plans. At this point, the French player abandoned the game.

Austria: Austria traded diplomatic missives often. I was impressed with his tactics and plans and he sounded like a great eventual partner. Things collapsed for him and his ally Russia, which plunged the East into a deadlocked war giving the French and English alliance time to flourish. Often a fate that happens to the first player to break 8 centers. I tried to get Austria back into the game but feel the player gave up hope and eventually just turtled until elimination.

Russia: Russia traded diplomatic misses often. I wanted to be part of an alliance with the strongest players. Early game I felt this was Austria and Russia. Though it became clear that Russia and I did not see eye to eye on the value of assistance. (Give an owned SC up and support into another for the chance later at gaining an SC back...) Russia then decided to cut ties for the time being. Unfortunately for Russia, Germany started trading missives immediately after, leading me to believe they formed an alliance. So I attacked Russia and this obviously soured relations. I did not seem to mind this after a poorly thought out attack on Berlin cost Russia an SC. Any chance of trust was ruined when Russia cannibalized his ally Austria to make up for a tactical mistake.

Turkey: Turkey and I traded missives early in the game. Being on exact opposites of the map ensured little interaction on the map. My hat is off since things looked dire for Turkey in the early game. Turkey held on despite being locked into the corner. Fortune smiled on Turkey when Russia and Austria had a falling out. This drove the East into a war while France and England claimed the West. I believe Turkey felt some credit was due Russia for breathing new life into his game and wouldn't betray Russia. This worked out well for England giving her a natural border of a useless Russian Fleet in Sevastopol for most of the end game. Eventually, Turkey made a smart play and helped France II form a line against England.

France II: This experienced player did a good job of getting Turkey on board to stop an English solo. I would have tried to forge a new alliance with France II, if I didn't think I had a decent chance to solo. Also, it was difficult because I had France situated between myself and Turkey. The map more or less determined the end game. Things would have been different in a ranked game assuming Turkey stood by Russia.

Overall, it was a good experience. Respect to all my fellow players and good luck in future games.

Re: AAR: Ides of March (Mentor Game)

PostPosted: 22 May 2019, 01:54
by Colonel Falcon
Good to read the thoughts of England, a player I never had a handle on.

You are right that the attack on Germany was reckless, doubly so because I didn't inform you of it. I expected Germany would act rashly, and I doubted he had solid relations with you or France, but that attack still stung me or a while. If I had a do-over, I wouldn't have attacked, or I would have coordinated with you. It seems this would have improved relations between us.

At one point, if memory serves, you had Norway, a fleet in Skag, and Denmark - and wanted me to help you into Kiel. I thought this was outlandish, especially since you and France weren't fighting. I don't believe you'd given me anything of value, and France had been promising the world, but doing nothing. Why should I help the Big Two get stronger?

It's interesting that you were looking for an alliance, because I don't think I ever felt a strong diplomatic connection between us. Partly this was my fault, but again, I felt the might of the Anglo-French alliance pressing down on me, and I didn't believe my concerns were assuaged.

Re: AAR: Ides of March (Mentor Game)

PostPosted: 22 May 2019, 16:14
by Adm.Vogel
Good thoughts Col. Falcon this conversation attests to the greatness of the game. No matter how much you think you have a handle on things the fog of war always hides the complete picture.

England was not having luck finding an ally early in the game. France was more than happy to keep up non-aggression, but not help England get any stronger either. Unfortunately, Russia became the only target England could strike and that moved France to action on an alliance. Could have gone the other way and England and Russia took apart Germany and France shortly after. The fun of the game is not knowing how things will play out, no matter who you think you will partner with sooner or later.