AARs

(Played as Game A of 2) GM: Pedros. Result: DIAS (AardvarkArmy - Winterfell; GhostEcho - Aiel; Netr0 - Borderlands; attitudes - Midlands; drrnwrstlr - D'Hara)

AARs

Postby Pedros » 30 Sep 2013, 16:40

OK, if you haven't already written them at length over the last 2/3 years, this is the place to post them.

I had assumed that AA's invective was tactical, aimed at isolating netr0 and manufacturing himself an opening. It appears I'm wrong, and can only say that the spirit of the last few seasons has been, by a long way, the worst in any game I've had the misfortune to be involved in.
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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Re: AARs

Postby GhostEcho » 30 Sep 2013, 18:49

Well, with the game over, I hope the tone can relax a little bit. Pedros says the spirit of the last few seasons is the worst he's seen in a game; I'm not sure whether he's talking about the public "diplomacy" or the orders entered (or both). At any rate, the first has certainly not been pleasant (and I'm probably guilty there), and the orders certainly won't win brilliancy prizes. Unfortunately, I can match the unpleasantness - the recent WWIV AAR got a bit testy. I bring this up mainly because the AAR featured the following "zinger", from board leader thewysecat, directed at AardvarkArmy (who played, it must be stated, a fantastic game there) after a draw nobody really liked:

Lots of fine work to be sure and - as I recall - at least partially inspired by my observations of your initial approach. What a shame your greatest diplomatic effort all game was dedicated to ending it. Something to think about.


If this comes across as taking unnecessary potshots - well, yes. But what I'm really trying to get at is the primary motto of Diplomacy: "Well, it depends..."

That game featured TWC's Nigerian force running out to a massive lead that eventually no one felt like challenging. Although the end result was much more satisfying (cutting a draw down to 7 out of 34 is quite a bit more of a game than cutting down to 5 out of 6), TWC was, shall we say, not happy about the lack of initiative shown at the end of the game by the rest of the board - and it's instructive, I think, to see what happens when positions are reversed.

A Single Death: A Play in Three Acts

Act I

I started this game convinced that the best way to win would be to cement an alliance with my neighbor-by-land; use our alliance to run out to an early lead on the board; and then stab him when I had secured a border that I could hold conveniently while fighting on the purple front.

Step one went okay, although Borderlands was incredibly reluctant to leave our border as alone as I hoped (given what happened to Riverrun, perhaps not an unjustified fear), slowing down step two and ultimately stalling out. Step three... well, step three got derailed along the way.

The first major disruption to my plan was Riverrun's suiciding in 03. I'd maintained correspondence through the first two years, but I was rushed in Spring 03 and, with only one or two options for his survival (and those very obvious) I figured any planning was low-priority. I had meant to jump over the bridge and (depending on Winterfell's movements) either support Riverrun's last centers, or steal them myself (leaning towards the former). To do this, I violated a shiny new DMZ with Winterfell... only to watch Riverrun go charging smack into Winterfell's forces without protecting his own SCs or even slowing the yellow pieces down. I continued across the bridge (because I could) hoping Winterfell would screw up and let me grab a foothold, but when that failed to materialize I convoyed the army back off to the center island. Act I finis

Here's the Winter 04 map:

Image

Winterfell owns the entire southwest landmass, and is established on the center island. This fact would dominate diplomacy for the rest of the game.
Borderlands is set up on the center island, and almost to a position that will take cooperation from at least two powers to break.
Midlands and D'hara have been sparring all game, advantage D'hara - including island position - but Winterfell has the western bridge.

Act II

Winterfell had reached a point where any assault I could stage was going to be ineffective. I needed a new target, and had induced Borderlands to swap Fal Dara to me as he advanced across the center island. This gave me maneuvering room to knock him out of the pass completely - and out of the channel...

...and while I was setting up to pants Borderlands - as in, the exact same year, right after clearing out of "Winterfell" territory (ne Riverrun), while we were planning together that I would attack Borderlands - Winterfell jumped me. Needless to say, I was less than impressed. I spent the next several years kicking him off the eastern mainland, and in scrambling armies south had to let Borderlands back into the pass. (I don't think I asked for this, but I may have as a stopgap, and even if I didn't, I (a) didn't blame him and (b) couldn't do anything about it.)

I lost the southern island permanently, but by Winter 08 had secured my territory again, rebuilt an army, and shut down any possibility of Wintefell aggression. Act II finis

Winter 08 map:

Image

Winterfell's extended his sea dominance and picked up a few more centers on the island, but otherwise the position hasn't changed significantly
Midlands and D'hara have continued to spar without conclusive result. Borderlands has been supporting Midlands, largely because D'hara and Winterfell appear to be allied or at least friendly.

Act III

Here's where I feel a little silly. I have just now realized that it's been a mere two years, game-time, since I finished repulsing Winterfell's attack. Had I realized this earlier, I might have been slower to accept a draw offer - but it's felt like a lot longer than that. I've spent the last two years on the following projects:

a) trying to re-establish my position in the pass. Borderlands hasn't wanted to withdraw - and I can't really blame him - but this has also been hampered by his schedule: he's barely responded to messages, while everyone else has been quite talkative.
b) trying to work out an assault plan on Winterfell's position on the central island. I'm not sure it's actually possible, and would take at least two other players besides myself, but it would be something to try. However, D'hara and Midlands continued their fighting up to this last year - and D'hara's attempt at repositioning ran into other problems.
c) trying to talk Winterfell into giving me space and/or materiel to attack Borderlands. Having done the attack-through-the-pass thing once, I know exactly what I need - another army on that front - and I had two plans to get it: borrow the southern island for a few years, or have Winterfell back off enough to free up one of the armies in Illian and Tear. AardvarkArmy viewed both of those plans as "concessions" on his part and rejected them outright; his plan was to take Channel of Desperation - my fleet or his, but either way to me it seemed to give him complete sea control (as opposed to the about 50% he has now), and would also result in Borderlands taking an SC from me in the pass in retaliation (which I assume was what AA really wanted, a war between us that he could vulture SCs off of), so I rejected that.

And then the draw proposal. Despite (as I found out) it only being two years into the "stalemate", it had seemed to drag on much longer, so everybody agreed. Act III finis

Philosophy of the Game

To me, the biggest drag on this game was AardvarkArmy's insistence on strong-arm bargaining techniques. His - frequently stated - position boils down to little more than, "Do what I say, or else - I'm bigger than you". On a different map it would be more persuasive, but on this one we achieved a position where it was an empty threat. "Or else..." - what? A draw? Whoop-de-do, look what I'm already positioned to have a part in.

Okay, so this is not entirely fair to AA. His argument's a little more nuanced. As I read it, it's something like this: You want to grow. Find a common target that we can both profit from, and I'll help out. Put this way, it's much more plausible... but on this map, in this game, ran into the problem that there were no common targets. In order to get common targets, I at least (and I think D'hara or Midlands) would have had to let Winterfell into an even better position strategically - not in SC terms, necessarily, but more in board influence - than he already had. In my case, this was the Channel of Desperation/sea power problem. It's easy as the little guy to say that what AA needed to do was mix up his approach and play the give-a-little-to-gain-a-lot game: or as I put it to him, he gives me Sea Folk Island for a couple years, and I wreck Borderlands for him. But I really think that was what was needed, if he was serious about shaking the game out of the stalemate position.

The second biggest problem was Netr0 basically vanishing. I say this rarely - I dislike replacing players as it screws up established dynamics - but Netr0, as far as I can tell, was essentially absent for the last three game years, and should have asked for a replacement as soon as he realized his RL schedule was keeping him from corresponding properly. This would be true anyway, but is especially true as he was the 2nd biggest power on the board and essentially in civil disorder. (Does this alter the risk/reward in attacking him? I'm not sure - but one way or the other it played havoc with my ability to plan anything.)

Map

The map I'm not sure about. It seems awfully sticky, but the B game is still going strong (though it's odd that in both cases somebody grabbed control of the southwest landmass early) and is down to 3 players plus hangers-on, with Aiel set to go down next year and Winterfell clinging to a 3-center life. I think this game (Game A) was a fluke of too-stubborn players and bad circumstances, and would love to play again sometime: for whatever faults it may have in aiding and abetting the timid, it's a fascinating scenario.

As I said, I think the map is playable, but it could maybe be improved. It would be interesting to play with the original rules, to see how that compares, though the bridge rules we used do seem to make more sense. Given our rules, the biggest slowdown is the bridges; combined with the relatively few bodies of water, cross-water assaults without total surprise and/or total sea control are nearly impossible. My best guess at improvement would be to make them all two-way (like the mini Bridges of Hope), but then you'd have to muck with the "landing spot" territories as well. Or just make the ends of the bridges four-way borders (think Utah-Colorado-Arizona-New Mexico border, for anyone familiar with US geography)? I'm also not sure how the SC count compares to the territory count - it seems like it clogs up so easily there must be more SCs than make sense for the map.
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel
"I'm not panicking, I'm watching you panic. It's more entertaining." - Elli Quinn
"[Diplomacy:] No dice or chance. Just calculated insincerity." - Counter Trap
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Re: AARs

Postby AardvarkArmy » 30 Sep 2013, 19:30

GhostEcho wrote: the recent WWIV AAR[/url] got a bit testy. I bring this up mainly because the AAR featured the following "zinger", from board leader thewysecat, directed at AardvarkArmy (who played, it must be stated, a fantastic game there) after a draw nobody really liked:

Lots of fine work to be sure and - as I recall - at least partially inspired by my observations of your initial approach. What a shame your greatest diplomatic effort all game was dedicated to ending it. Something to think about.


If this comes across as taking unnecessary potshots - well, yes. But what I'm really trying to get at is the primary motto of Diplomacy: "Well, it depends..."

That game featured TWC's Nigerian force running out to a massive lead that eventually no one felt like challenging. Although the end result was much more satisfying (cutting a draw down to 7 out of 34 is quite a bit more of a game than cutting down to 5 out of 6), TWC was, shall we say, not happy about the lack of initiative shown at the end of the game by the rest of the board - and it's instructive, I think, to see what happens when positions are reversed.


A) Yes, 7 of 34 is a wee bit better than 5 of 6. With 80% of players eliminated, it is statistically similar to a solo in this game

B) You are/were not privy to the private negotiations that occurred in this game. TWC responded to my "public" position, but you have no information on who the real obstacles were in proceeding with this game. I'll just tell you that the strong push toward draw was due largely to another key player deciding to become disengaged with the game for many, many turns...
SOLOS
ICE&FIRE.1-Martell/EXCALIBUR.1-Angles/EXCALIBUR.2-Scots/EMERALD-Sno/MOD.4-Italy/SENGOKU.1-OdaNobu/S.AMERICA.1-Peru

DRAWS
1930-China/BattleIsleA-Winterfell/S&S-Turkey/WORLD INFL-Venezuela/LECRAE-Dublin/WWIV.2-Cali/IMPERIAL1861.1-Trky/YNGSTWN.1-Grmny/AMERICAS.2-Mex/AFRICAN.2-S.Arabia
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Re: AARs

Postby Netr0 » 30 Sep 2013, 20:19

According to Ghost in Act 1, yes I knew you planned to attack me and I saw no reason to rush to the island like the others did... since I could get the core on the island with a simple convoy. And as I thought, the other 4 were entrapped in a war while I would rush for the Island. After that I had attempted to block off winterfell from the central Island but Dhara came into play and I had to fall back and hold 2 cores instead. After that nothing really changed land wise. Winterfell was constantly applying pressure against the Aiel, with his breaking of agreements in the start of the game, and his strongarming via forum. I just didn't trust him.

The second biggest problem was Netr0 basically vanishing. I say this rarely - I dislike replacing players as it screws up established dynamics - but Netr0, as far as I can tell, was essentially absent for the last three game years, and should have asked for a replacement as soon as he realized his RL schedule was keeping him from corresponding properly. This would be true anyway, but is especially true as he was the 2nd biggest power on the board and essentially in civil disorder. (Does this alter the risk/reward in attacking him? I'm not sure - but one way or the other it played havoc with my ability to plan anything.)


Yes my RL schedule had been hectic and I was pretty brief with some messages and ignoring some others. I talked with midlands often though about the situation of the game, mainly because he was my northern neighbor whom with just 1 of my units, I could hold off any northern attack for some time. With ghostecho... I knew you were bullshitting me in the mails and I had meant to reply but I pushed it back and eventually it was too late to bother to bring up. I knew you were planning to attack me had I moved. But with ardvark's last message to me last year about working together to kill Aiel, I saw no point to argue about it so I had ignored that message. If I did work with him, the stalemate would be broken and I would be unable to defend myself. If I told him no, he would have attempted to strongarm me into accepting his views. So while I was the 2nd highest in SC count, my only future would be a draw or a fight with aiel which would have resulted in winterfell taking us both out.
If you can, win.
If you can't, draw.
If you stab, succeed.
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Re: AARs

Postby Pedros » 01 Oct 2013, 10:52

Just to say (> GhostEcho) that I would never complain about the spirit of orders in a game (unless they were seriously neutral and going nowhere.) There is one major and one subsidiary objective in Dip so far as 'm concerned - major, to wn. Subsidiary - if you can't, to stop anybody else winning. If an approach is successful in those terms then there's nothing to object to; if it fails but is making the attempt then likewise.

I certainly have little problem here.
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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Re: AARs

Postby drrnwrstlr » 02 Oct 2013, 02:52

Sorry I have not posted anything yet, but I've had a lot of homework yesterday and today. I should have enough time tomorrow to sit down and write out a good AAR.
D'Hara in Battle Island A
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