AARs

10 player variant set in the New World, Created by Macario Reyes and GMd by Morg. Triple Draw shared by Mexico (JonS), Spain (Pedros), & Peru (ColesD)

Re: AARs

Postby ColesD » 02 Sep 2015, 15:19

First off, thanks everyone for a great game. I have my reservations about the quality of WitA as a variant, but with these players a quality game was assured. That said, I think I drew the longer straw – the greater diplomats seemed to be in North America, South America was more of a tactical challenge, but a fascinating one.

My opening messages were focussed on finding at least one ally in the inevitable bloodbath to come. Fortunately, I found that Chile, Brazil and Argentina were all at least friendly, with Chile perhaps the strongest potential for an ally. Only Colombia worried me and as GhostEcho has said, we came to a prickly non-aggression pact, which I was never sure would hold long term. In 1840 I took my Bolivian neutrals and waited.

However, Argentina took no centres in 1840, and it was clear he was already crippled (Argentina is one major blot on the variant, see my comments elsewhere). Brazil and Chile would carve him up. I could join them, but I was too far away to benefit. I could stick with my seemingly highly loyal Chilean ally and move out north or east. But I looked at the board and realised the truth. I was a boxed-in middle power. A strong Chile would soon control the south tip of the continent, and from there would be unstoppable. Geography is destiny as they say, and for me, if I was to figure at all in the game it was Cape Horn or bust. In 1841 I attacked Chile.

However I also kept up a stand-off with Brazil over the crucial space of MGr. It wasn’t an attack at this point, more positioning, but it meant I had not an ally on the board, and was making no significant progress. My NAP with Colombia was the one thing at this point keeping me alive, and every turn for the next few years I ground on south and east, and waited for the inevitable stab from the north. It never came. In the interim, Venezuela had grown strong and was looking to expand, and I was able to pick him up as an ally against Brazil. Somehow through this crucial phase I survived, but wasn’t really advancing.

By the end of 1843, the wars were at something of a stalemate. However this was true for Chile as well. He and Brazil had carved up Argentina and with his border with me locked, he had nowhere to expand unless he stabbed Brazil. So before Fall 1843 I sent Brazil the following message:

Ok, I know you have no reason to trust me, but that may be about to change. I want to say that Venezuela made me a generous offer to help him in his war against you, but obviously he's not coming through with his side of the war, so my loyalties may have to change. My first and foremost priority has always been Chile, and so long as I believe there is a chance that you two are working together (as you did against Argentina), I have to be opposed to you. However, I see Chile is now in a position to stab you. So I make you this promise: I can't guarantee I won't make any moves against you this turn (but I suspect they will be of minimal effect), but should Chile stab you I will immediately switch to your side and help you wherever I can, including against Venezuela. For me, Chile must be contained at all costs. Let me know if you'd be interested if it happens.


Chile did not stab Brazil in Fall 1843, but he did in Fall 1844. Meanwhile, through clever tactical use of a deliberate forward retreat, I was able to secure Uruguay on the same turn. I immediately affirmed my commitment to the above offer to Brazil, and we became allies. But by a stroke of luck, at that moment, all my units were south of Brazil, and pointed at Chile. So I became an ally of Brazil against Chile and Venezuela without having to fight Venezuela! That meant I could maintain friendly relations with Venezuela and Brazil at the same time. I just told both repeatedly over the next few turns I was focussed on Chile and nothing else, and would happily join them against the other when that war was over. All my units charged against Chile. And still the stab from Colombia never came (he had Mexican problems to worry about by this stage).

It took until 1848 to conquer Chile (he quit towards the end, too late to need replacing, but early enough to allow me to complete the conquest more rapidly). Meanwhile, Venezuela had conquered the Brazilian home centres but had stalled there. That meant Brazil could no longer build, and as such he had virtually become my puppet. My SC count dwarfed his 13 to 4 and he was relying on my generosity to survive. I had achieved the objective I’d set myself in 1841, now I could think about winning for the first time.

By this point however, North America had more or less resolved itself. Aside from agreeing a sea border and NAP with Mexico, I’d completely ignored the North all game (as he had the South, the map really does split that way). Now I looked. Mexico and Spain now dominated the North with limited resistance to mop up. There are 61 SCs in this game, so 31 to win. By my count, that is the entirety of mainland South America, plus the Malvinas. In positional terms it was not impossible, but Mexico/Spain could hold the north coast against me if they cooperated, and the seas were easily blocked. The only way I could pull it off were if Mexico and Spain fought each other and were distracted long enough for me to knock out Venezuela and force my way through before they noticed. I had a flicker of hope when I saw Mexico had taken Jamaica off Spain that turn, and I made enquiries, but it turned out it was an agreed concession. The two of them were working together that closely that I knew the game was up. A 3-way agreement was quickly mooted and I knew I had to accept. Such was our combined strength that (on my part by attacking Venezuela then executing a final stab of the stricken Brazil) we were able to achieve it within two years. That unlikely NAP with Colombia survived to the very end.

I will post my fuller thoughts about the variant over in the thread in Suggestions some time later, but in summary as I said I still have reservations about WitA as a variant (particularly as a main site variant) that were more or less the same that I came in with, particularly the weakness of Argentina, the number of extraneous provinces, the difficulty of achieving solos on this map and the difficulty of actually designing a WitA map that the main site could use. But as a game, this was excellent, thanks to everyone, and in particular to Morg for immaculate GMing.
Information, the first principle of warfare, must form the foundation of all your efforts. Know, of course, thine enemy. But in knowing him do not forget above all to know thyself. The commander who embraces this totality of battle shall win even with inferior force. - Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
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AAR - Spain

Postby Pedros » 02 Sep 2015, 18:52

nb - I've written this before reading almost any of the other AARs, even though I'm posting it late. I wanted to get my impressions unspoilt. Doubtless I'll have things to add or modify when I have read them.

Firstly a huge thankyou to everybody who played here in what was, as I saw it, one of the very best ever (not just WitA!); and certainly to Morg for almost faultless GMing - I know how tricky this one can be.

Secondly, a couple of fascinating facts about the game. Firstly, in five games played here, this was the first one where the Great Lakes and the Rivers (well, the Mississippi anyway) were used. A totally different feel to it - well done nanook for spotting that one. But also the enormous amount of overseas activity from several nations. Colombia's expedition to Greenland and Halifax was notable, Brazil surviving for many years in complete exile from the homeland, but most of all the way Britain and the US totally swapped homes for several years in the early middle game, occupying all of each other's home centres (well, not strictly in the case of Britain, but all of those in Canada.) And the two US excusrsions into the Caribbean area, although less unusual, were still noteworthy - but more of that later!

As nanook says, I've been around this variant for a long time. Queen of Hearts asked me to replace him as GM in about Year 3 of the first game here. I've Gmd all four previous games, increasingly wishing that somebody else would give it a go so that I could play (thanks Morg!) I've watched successive Spains get hammered; scarcely surprising given the fact that, counting the two British fleets, they have no less than five close neighbours. Even so, I felt that something could be done with it and was desperate to give it a go. In particular I was convinced that it should be possible to persuade both Colombia and Venezuela that some sort of accord was in their interests as well as mine - they have quite enough to do in the South without sending fleets into the Caribbean! And fortunately that was how they saw it as well. I proposed DMZs in East and West Caribbean, which were agreed.

I had watched the strength of US in the last games (their miserable showing in Game 1 was due to the President dying or something after one season!) Finding a way to tackle that strength was crucial. And I'm never keen on having stray units from a distant power - Britain's two fleets in this case - roaming around. Him having two centres in the Caribbean was even worse. Given half a chance Britain could make a substantial play for the Caribbean quite quickly if it chose -and I knew how easily their Candaian holding could disappear. So I worked hard before the start to persuade both of them I would make a good ally. nanook in US came at me strongly, telling me as we talked of alliance how he would bombard me with so many messages that I'd get really fed up of him. But the one thing I need in any close ally is a lot of communication, and after a while nanook became much quieter, so any slim chance of alliance which he had disappeared anyway.

Which only left Mexico as a potential ally against the US. I was fairly anxious about him - first Forum game maybe, but I'd seen his sky-high stats on main site (including at Pure Dip, and you don't get there without being a very good player.) But needs must, and the two of us hit it off quickly - a lot of sensible discussion about how we might do things; so, go with that, but watch him closely!

I wanted to get Britain out first. I would go for Jamaica, and offered Venezuela the chance to take Trinidad. Along with our DMZ in ECS that cememted a useful alliance for the first part of the game. Colombia had happily agreed the Western DMZ, though he didn't want to get involved in the Caribbean at all. Fair enough - suited me. So I went straight for Jamaica, selling Alman another line that I was protecting myself and would head East next time (I think that's what I said - been a long time!) He was very doubtful, but decided to go for Nicaragua anyway (which I would have done also - at least that way you have a chance of gaining!) With Venezuela cleaning up Trinidad that part of the operation was almost completed, and in Year 2 I could turn my attention to the US.

By the end of Year 2 I was somehow the clear leader (though not by much.) I hadn't expected it and I don't imagine anybody else had either! But I assumed that would produce the traditional response to an early lead, especially since Spain is also the traditional whipping boy. Keep up the Diplomacy Pedros! And somehow I got away with it. It led to a very frustrating period where I was in Atlanta, New Orleans and Texas but nanook had a fleet in ACH. That fleet was a thorn in the side of both Venezuela and me for quite a while - neither of us could afford to let him into East Caribbean but it took a lot of my units (3 at a time if I remember aright) to keep him out and to manouevre into a position where we could drive him out.of ACH. This was a scenario repeated more briefly in the later game, but at that point it was a bit less troublesome.

During this phase I think I made a major mistake which may have cost me the solo in the end (coupled with the good defence from US and Britain.) Atlanta was under some pressure, and there was a British fleet in Mississippi. I've no record of this to refer to, but for a lot of years I played assuming that the Mississippi fleet could influence what went on in Atlanta (I wondered for ages why they didn't use it there!!) Only when I eventually managed to gain control of Msp and needed a bit of flexibility did the penny really drop. I knew all along, of course, in the theory part of my brain, that Msp-Atlanta was impossible; it was just that looking at it on the map it didn't appear like that! So for years I was defending Atlanta against an impossible attack :o

US and Britain, when they got themselves together and finally managed to unscramble their home centres, defended nobly. But alongside this one other thing seemed to come from their stable (though whether Venezuela was behind it or not I don't know.) At the time US was in ACH, Venezuela moved into our East Caribbean DMZ without discussing it first. Understandable that he wanted to deal with that threat; but it also gave him immediate access to three of my SCs which weren't inhabited at the time. We patched this up pretty well, but in the course of conversation he did admit that he had suggested to Britain and US an anti-Spanish move. As a result of this I was always a little wary of him even though we cooperated well for years.

But a couple of years later in the Fall I got a strong warning from Mexico that US, Britain and Venezuela were about to come after me. I was doubtful, because Ven wasn't well-placed, but I had to withdraw slightly from the north to cover it. There was no such move, and in the Spring i moved north again. But then in the Fall there was an even stronger warning from Mexico about the same thing, so I had to withdraw again. That was really four wasted season and probably cost me the momentum I had previously enjoyed. Whoever was responsible for it, very well done! It had an even bigger effect, possibly the real object of the whole exercise. Since my alliance with Venezuela seemed solid, the most rational explanation was that Mexico was leading me astray instead (as I wrote earlier - I was always aware that with his track record he would be an expert stabber, and he had just moved a unit towards Texas into the bargain! So I took Veracruz the next year as a preemptive strike. Once again, he and I talked our way through that - I must say I was really lucky with both of those allies!

The struggle in the North went on and I confess I largely ignored what was happening in the South. This may have been a mistake, because Peru's growing strength didn't really register for a long time. But Mexico moved in to help with the US attack (I had returned Veracruz to him) and things began to improve there - but nothing like as quickly as when nanook's US decided to stab Britain! I found that incomprehensible. His reason, he told me at the time, was that Britain was going to be eaten up so he might as well get some of the cake. But it ruined the good defence they had mounted and left US with, I think, four units - widely scattered. Now they were both doomed. Except that he had reduced Britain to a single fleet, no longer a danger to anybody, so my offer of life and the aim of returning him to one of his own SCs if he became my vassal in attacking US. The rest up there is history, apart from my pleasure in being the first Spanish force to reach not just Chicago but the Great Lakes (by river)!

I attacked Venezuela because he was getting stronger and a simple count of where the SCs are showed clearly that a South American power can get a solo without entering the Caribbean or Central America, but a northern power needs something from the South. Henry pointed out that Peru was probably a bigger danger, but there was no way I could get at him, but Venezuela might just offer the hope of getting myself something whilst holding Peru back

Meanwhile in the south Chile's resistance caved in. He was destined for the early bath anyway, but his complete capitulation in his last year handed Peru a very sudden gain of 3 centres which surprised everyone including Peru. Until about that time I was still counting centres and wondering whether there was a way to use those extra builds from the North in putting together an infantry force which could tackle Mexico (sorry Jon!!) and possibly still, somehow, get the solo. Invading either Mexico or anybody in South America was always going to be a tall order (I never had more than the single army), and Peru's sudden growth made it impossible. Any anti-Mexican move on my part would have brought the whole continent down on my head like a ton of bricks. So I immediately started talking to Peru and Mexico about the draw, and suddenly it was all over.

I realise that in all of this I haven't mentioned Colombia snce the opening. Colombia's position was very odd. His relationships with Peru, Venezuela and Mexico were none of them clear and neither were theirs to him. I say this not simply from observation but from what all four of them (not Peru really, in fact) said on several different occasions. Even when Venezuela moved fleets Westward about ten years in he told me (truly or not) that he didn't want to attack, but was simply nervous because he had no idea what Colombia was doing. Mexico was alternately proposing to attack and defend him for the same sort of reasons; and attempts to persuad Echo to attack Peru (which might well have gained him some support) never came to anything.

This was a massive game, and I hope it's clear that I quite enjoyed it :P
"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 Pedros » 03 Sep 2015, 10:05

OK. I've read the others now and have little to add at all. But fascinating to hear about what was going on behind the scenes, and in other people's heads!

Two things - from what you say ColesD, lucky old you! (but then I wrote the same about myself!)

The other,
Alman wrote:I've always been quite a bit of a carebear. Been trying to change that but not succeeding very well.

Exactly why I came back to Dip after many years away. But still found myself going for draws all the time. So a spell in "Solos only" games, eventually leading that group, went a fair way to curing me. In there, you just have to go for people, like it or not!
"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 Gavrilo Princip » 04 Sep 2015, 05:26

Greetings, gents.

I'm writing because I hate when people don't contribute to AARs, but I honestly have utterly nothing to add. I survived all of three seasons I think, and that was ages ago in RW time. What I remember is Alman was really sweet on me, and even though I thought about going against him and not letting him into South America in the first place, I already felt like I wasn't going to get much love from Brazil or Chile. My hope was to go against Brazil and trust the security of my west flank... no such luck. I bear no ill will; sometimes it's just a matter of drawing the short straw in this game. This time it was me. Although I do think Argentina is in a kinda crappy position on this board.

As an aside, I personally do not like the "blind auction" method of allocation. It isn't that I think it's unfair; just that it stresses me out because I feel like I don't know how to effectively bid, and because I end up progressing through the entire game with this dread that I made the wrong choice. Spoils the fun for me. But like I said—just a personal preference.

I shall destroy you all in some future Stuff Happens game! :D
~Gavrilo Princip
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Re: AARs

Postby Henryp0pp » 19 Sep 2015, 19:20

Very late to the game. Sorry everybody. Here's my AAR, country by country.

I was very close to being in the winning trio I think, ultimately what did for me was Brazil's dogged defense. Had I managed to push through him a year earlier then I would have been able to face Peru and Spain will signficantly more strength. As it was I was split on a number of frontiers and just couldn't push around the East coast of South America in quick enough time.

Brazil, apologies for the stab early on. I enjoyed working with subsequently battling against you, credit to the way you held on to your home territories for long enough to have me overstretched.

Peru, well done on winning, I enjoyed working with you though I have to say that I always expected some sort of attack coming from you. You played it very well however.

Colombia, I loved your style of diplomacy. Direct and honest, or at least seemingly so. The sort of diplomacy I find it hard to work with, though!

Spain, congrats. Our relationship during this game was very interesting, I feel that we very often wanted the same thing; a passive ally who we could keep quiet and maybe work with/ maybe stab when the time came. Eventually the time did come and you did well, but it was a pleasure playing with you.

To the other countries, we were never in enough contact for me to form a strong opinion, perhaps a downfall of mine. Morg, thanks a lot for making this happen. I really enjoyed the game and it was a pleasure to take part.

note to self; do AAR sooner after the game ends next time!
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