AAR: 170422 A-F-I alliance and draw

Discussion of finished games.

AAR: 170422 A-F-I alliance and draw

Postby Rob5000 » 20 Apr 2020, 02:33

https://www.playdiplomacy.com/game_play_details.php?game_id=170422

The Quick Pace Game was a regular game that finished in Fall 1912 after 16 real days with a 3-way draw declared between A-F-I.

The English perspective:
This was England's first online game and second ever. There were many other beginners in the game as noted by the stats at the start:
Italy - 213 turns, 10 games; France - 82 turns; Austria - 79 turns; Russia1 - 9 turns; Germany - 8 turns; England - 0 turns; Turkey - 0 turns

By Fall 1901 it looked like A-F-I were working together. Russia1 had no builds and surrendered, easing the threat to Germany and Turkey.

At Fall 1902, Russia2 (about 20 turns experience) entered and noted the A-F-I alliance. England halted its drive to Moscow and returned west. Turkey was a bit slow to work with Russia2 and was overcome by Austria and Italy. Then it was A-F-I against E-G-R. It was tough going but with German support, England finally broke into the Mid-Atlantic only to be dislodged. England then made a risky and poor choice. Thinking they would have a 5-4 win against France in Brest, England retreated to Gascony, leaving the North Atlantic open. England then found it was a 4-4 standoff in Brest learning a lesson about order resolution details. Italy's support to France was ever increasing from it's Turkey wins. England retreated to protect the British Isles. England was recovering and pushing south again, but Russia2 stated they were sick of the gunboat diplomacy from Austria, thought the game was heading to a foregone conclusion and surrendered. Russia3 (0 turns experience) then joined. Tempted by the weakly defended Scandinavia, Russia3 attacked English and German centres there. This led to the rapid downfall of Russia3, Germany and England.

England enjoyed this game, and experienced or witnessed some interesting moves such as unwanted support, a 7-region convoy, surrenders and rejoins, as well as regular multi-country attack and defence. England learned about orders and map details, but little about diplomacy here.

Immediately after the downfall of E-G-R, A-F-I then agreed on a 3-way draw, with their supply centres sitting undefended next to other country's units. What variant of a regular game is that?
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Re: AAR: 170422 A-F-I alliance and draw

Postby Talisman44 » 20 Apr 2020, 02:58

A fair and particularly diplomatic assessment of a game that smelt of a prearranged alliance
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Re: AAR: 170422 A-F-I alliance and draw

Postby Thyrfing » 20 Apr 2020, 09:55

Sounds like you had fun in the game even with the circumstances, that's the best part! Nice review too.

Sometimes when a country rejoins and a new player comes in, it is difficult for the new player to catch the synergies that are already in place in the board. For that it is nice to look at order history to see what's going on.

Aside from that try to search for games in the forum of for Ambassadors only (though you might need to play a couple more games first to get that rank), then players are usually much more reliable and talkative, so it will improve the experience.
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Re: AAR: 170422 A-F-I alliance and draw

Postby mjparrett » 20 Apr 2020, 12:50

Thats a very unusual map! Italy from Sweden to Armenia!

Be careful of posting about pre-arranged alliances, as that is an accusation of cheating that should be made in the correct channels (not aimed at the OP but a follow up post)

One thing I will say about the comment of leaving centres open next to enemy units; diplomacy is a game unlike any other. What you must remember is that there is likely to have been conversations over those centres; someone could stab and take them sure. But then in your game that would leave one power (example Austria) very close to a solo, and facing a concerted French/Italian alliance to fight them back. The weaker power in a 3 way alliance also has the threat of king making someone. essentially Italy could have said "hey Austria, if you stab me I'll king make France and let him win and you'll end up with nothing". Some players might call the bluff, or think they could get to 18 first. Some more cautious (or newer players as you have described) would rather take a safe 3 way draw rather than risk walking way with nothing.

knowing your stalemate lines in games like this is key, but again not something every new player is totally aware of

totally agree with the ambassador comment. or join the classicists and you'll get great games with no NMRs/surrenders
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Re: AAR: 170422 A-F-I alliance and draw

Postby Probus » 21 Apr 2020, 01:35

Rob5000,

Your point of view in the after action report is fascinating. I genuinely mean that! These games are a total enigma while in progress, and even afterwards you don't always get to hear from your opponents were thinking at various points in the match. Since you shared your viewpoint, I'm willing to share mine since the game is now over.

This is only my third online game that I've finished and my only experience with the tabletop version was over a decade ago in college. I'll admit the online version is somewhat more challenging because you can't get any visual clues about your opponent, and you have to rely more on sending thorough messages to all players. To better myself I've tried to read up on diplomacy strategies and I've watched some of the "Floridaman" after action reports to understand the online version better. I didn't realize that you can track our turns, I guess that is a premium feature? At any rate, I'd say I'm just past beginner in diplomacy, but by no means a true expert.

By drawing Austria, I realized I could easily be in a world of pain. Enemies all around me, and likely no long term friends to call my own. I sent messages to each player in the first year Spring phase. You'll likely remember my "friends from afar" message just to say hello. I try to do that for 2 reasons, one just to be friendly for gamesmanship, but two is to see how strategic or shifty that player might be. Who can help me in the immediate phase, mid-game or long game - that sort of thing.

France, proposed an interesting strategy. He sent identical messages with this country combination F-I-A and F-G-A. Basically the proposal was to work out a 3 way alliance early and destroy the odd man out quickly. I responded quickly to both proposals, to signal that I'd be willing to accept (in both message chains). I was leaning towards an alliance with Italy anyway because of how close our homebases are. We would need a truce if we were going to go anywhere and this opened the door for me to do that. Italy also suggested an interested early game strategy against Turkey which would also be of use to me. Having his ships support my armies, and no worry of invasion on my Western front is important. Really, the main reason that I chose to go with Italy and France, instead of Germany and France, was due to securing a temporary alliance with the first Russian player. You'll notice that Russia made highly aggressive moves to Germany, and potentially a misclick trying to get to Sweden. I'm not sure if that frustrated him so much that he decided to surrender or what caused him to do that. It was highly inconvenient, and Germany likely could have been gone by Fall 1902 had Russia stayed the course. However, he left in the dead of night and that threw a major wrench into the plans to take down Germany. I sent you a message in Fall 1901 asking you to join in the take down of Germany which you tacitly appeared to agree to do. You said you would take Belgium and potentially move that way. However, while you moved towards Germany, which could help me in the mid-game by removing at least 1 neighboring enemy, you instead stretched over to St. Petes.

The lack of a Russian player was troublesome for multiple reasons. It slowed the assault on Germany, showed that I burned a bridge with Germany by committing with France/Italy to invade and take Munich in year 1 (seriously how did I get 3 builds in that first year!). I've never seen Austria get that before, yet somehow I managed that. That commitment to Germany and Turkey came at a cost. Without a Russia player, there was no one to stop England from invading Scandanavia or St. Petes into Moscow. By the time I moved towards Ukraine the new player had joined (I believe it was Talisman44 at this point in the game) and Russia blocked me in the dead of night. At that point, Germany was definitely not going to work with me, England could see that France has allies, Turkey saw the writing on the wall with a classic Austrian/Italian assault, and with a Russian player who didn't trust me (for whatever reason), my only allied options were France or Italy. At that point, Burgundy/Ruhr/Munich/MAO/EC was a crazy battle of the bulge and Turkey slowly went by the wayside.

While I tried to convince Russia to work with me or at least counter England, he never seemed to oblige. Then he set a few bizarre orders that left me wondering if he was an extremely coy player or very new to diplomacy. He said he wanted to do purposeful bounces of his own units around various locations near the black sea/rumania. This was a bit odd, but I thought I'd entertain the ideas of a DMZ if I thought I could bring him into an alliance against Germany/England. Had he moved sooner to act I might have turned on Italy in the black sea or snuck into Italy's home base while he was overstretched. I don't think the chances of that were high for me to turn on Italy at that point in the match, but after every phase I try to evaluate everyone's intentions. Russia's attempts at a DMZ were fine for a year, but we were approaching a unique 3 v 3 stand off. The way we were all positioned to defend or react made it extremely difficult. I feel like the game took a serious turn when Russia said he would move to Silesia (just to bounce off Germany) and that he distinctly requested that I not support his Warsaw A into Silesia from Bohemia. After a year of DMZ with Russia, and trying to break the alliance/truce that Germany devised with Russia, I took my shot. I decided to support Warsaw into Silesia with Bohemia - If Russia lied about the movement then the order doesn't go through, but if Russia was serious (meaning he did order Warsaw to Silesia) then making it look like Russia was working with me could throw Germany for a loop. That mistrust between Germany and Russia might last for a year or so before it could be regained, especially in this match maybe a year, and I thought that might be enough to spread out Russia and break the stalemate.

It wasn't until late in the game did we start discussing draw options or at what point would we turn it to a head to head match up. I thought in my positioning on the board I should keep my resources intermingled with Italy. Essentially, I took the mindset of "Mutually Assured Destruction" or MAD into account. If Italy turned on me, then I could hurt him badly and the same if I turned on Italy he would make my life a pain. I think I thought, and perhaps Italy thought this too I'm not sure, but having France as a buffer to hold back England was in our best interest as well. If England took the entire Iberian Peninsula, it would be extremely hard to push you back when you could have lots of mobility.

Towards the later years, we started bringing up the 3 way draw in most of our communications between France, Italy and Austria. If anything it was to try and keep each other honest. In Fall 1908, Italy proposed a two way alliance since we collectively had 18 resources and could turn the game into a 2 way draw or head to head match. I was open to it, but wondered if I agreed that Italy might backstab me while he also gained Portagul/Spain/Marseilles. He could have swung 3 or 4 resources in a blink of an eye, but going back to MAD if he stuck something of mine, I could have struck more of Italian occupied Turkey.

Even at the end I was pondering a solo, although considering the 12 hour decisions, there was a bit of mental fatigue setting in. I didn't want to throw away a chance at a 2 or 3 way draw, because I got greedy going for a solo. Everyone in this match proved to be stubborn or headstrong in interesting ways. I knew if I backstabbed too soon that this match could drag out for another 4 or 5 years. You'll notice I started to walk that line very closely with how I was positioned around the Black Sea and started to encroach near Venice. I think the closest I was to backstabbing Italy was Fall 1911. If I stabbed him then it would have been a very serious 3 resource swing that would have caused Italy to order destroys. Instead I decided to take a defensive hold and support line.

England and Germany held remarkably well for nearly the entire match. One major surprise and I think a tactical mistake was on England not taking more of Scandinavia or moving an army or two into St. Petes/Moscow. That could have shored up Germany's Eastern wall or you holding more of Belgium/Holland/Denmark and then England supporting Germany into Russia. I'm not sure if you all agreed to a truce or to treat those resources as a DMZ, but I think that could have tipped the balance. England, you were potentially going to be the biggest player and I was very very annoyed/terrified with an England in St. Petes that early in the game (Spring 1902 - you and Germany had 6 resources each! While the rest of us were 3-4-5 resources).

Overall, I really enjoyed this super tense match. It could have gone totally different ways at a few points in the match. Good game and best of luck in future matches!
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Re: AAR: 170422 A-F-I alliance and draw

Postby Rob5000 » 21 Apr 2020, 08:55

Wow - thanks for all the details Probus.

Whether or not to take Moscow early on was a key decision for me. I could not hold it from you for long, but the build would have helped me push south into Iberia/France for a SC or two and then I could have just disbanded that unit. Germany was busy at the time. Hard to say if I made the right choice or not.
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Re: AAR: 170422 A-F-I alliance and draw

Postby Probus » 21 Apr 2020, 15:57

Rob5000,

Sure thing! When I started writing I was like "this will just take a minute" and it turned into a novel.

I've seen England in St. Pete's at other times, but most often it is with a Fleet. Rarely, have I seen an Army there that early. I probably would have pressed that advantage more, or maybe you could have reached out to me for pressure on Russia. That would have been an interesting face off! Heck, if you had taken out Russia, Turkey might have ended up as your ally. This was a really good game, absolutely tough, and lots of strategic retreats and truces. It was great to see it played out. Best of luck in your next match!

- Probus
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