ColonialA: AAR

GM : attitudes; 3-way draw between France China (asudevil), (glacier777) and Turkey (luckythirteen)

ColonialA: AAR

Postby attitudes » 09 Apr 2014, 21:05

Game has ended in a draw between China, France, and Turkey.

Good game to all who participated. It was fun to watch.

Please leave whatever comments you would like regarding the game and the variant. Of particular interest will be your thoughts regarding the land bridge between SAK and VLAD.
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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby glacier777 » 09 Apr 2014, 22:41

AAR for France:

First and foremost, I'd like to thank attitudes for being a fantastic GM. Easily the best GM I've had on here.
Secondly, I really enjoyed this game and I hope others did too.


Game start
I draw France. Oh crap. And Ausedevil has China while Morg has Holland. Well, it's safe to say I'm the underdog and that I'll be happy not to be first out.
My first plan is a central alliance with China and Britain - the main reason for this is to neutralise Japan and Holland who are my biggest long term threats. China and Britain hate this plan so I reach out to others.
Turkey is on the same page as me and our close alliance develops. We decide to attack Britain and other people help out too.

Middle game
Britain is gone. Japan is on his last legs. Turkey is powerful in the East. We decide that he should stab Russia or China. We chose Russia because that is easier for him and it means I can keep peace with China. China joins our alliance loosely and we plot against Holland and Russia. Just as me and Turkey are ready to strike Holland, China gets too close to a solo so we form an ALA.
As soon as China is repulsed, me and Turkey stab Holland and form a loose alliance with China again.

End game
Me and Turkey fight China to prevent him solo'ing. In the end we all become tired and the game wasn't really going anywhere. I'm glad Turkey accepted - he could have tried for the solo but imo that would have lead to a Chinese solo.

Variant
I really liked it. There are obvious imbalances and stalemate lines but it's really fun nonetheless.

Players
Morg - Sorry be being super awkward pretty much the whole game. I just saw you as a huge threat and I was always looking to neutralise you.
Pedros - A very sincere player, as always.
Ausedevil - Aargh! You annoyed me so much but that's becuase you're such a good player. Well played.
Luckythirteen - I loved our alliance and very like your style. It's a shame RL got in the way for you sometimes.

I'm really pleased with the three-way - better than I'd hoped for with France!

Thanks all
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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby asudevil » 10 Apr 2014, 00:01

Yeah...on an iPad....may give more.

Hoped turkey would reject ... He had a better solo shot at the time because my core land was flailing without a chance to resupport.

I was going to stab France the year after he did me....I was about to set up for it with the builds I was going to get....and move strong into him.

Well played because you never had a chance without it.

I had you tied down and holland was with me.

Anyway, good game...not my favorite...and I hate weak draws....but coms had died out and l13 was busy irl so had we continued the shifting ala could have kept working, but not sure JUST how well. I may have had it because I could have turned France against turkey when turkey broke into my mainland, and I don't know if l13 and glacier would have been able to organize one against me again with l13's rl issues...but that's not the reason to keep playing,
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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby luckythirteen » 10 Apr 2014, 00:26

First of all, I'd like to thank Attitudes for a *fanstastic* job adjudicating this game. I regularly found myself struggling to keep up with everything with just my own units, much less trying to keep track of everyone else. I appreciate his dedication and hard work. Those of you who have played in other games that Attitudes has been the GM know what I'm talking about. Those of you that haven't had the opportunity owe it to yourself to join one of his games. He is great at what he does!

Second, I want to apologize to the other players for my sometimes sporadic play. Without going into too much detail, I had some significant life changes during this game that I allowed to negatively impact my play. There were periods of the game that I was basically playing Gunboat and that really wasn't fair. I actually messaged Attitudes at one point about considering a replacement, but decided to stick with it. To bring this back into something appropriate for an AAR, I'd offer the following advice for anyone considering a game of Colonial. It's going to take longer than you think and require more effort than you think. You *have* to play the entire board, there are a ton of stalemate positions to work through, there are a ton of units on the board, and all of that just takes time to work through. To me, Colonial has a "puzzle like" quality to it, feeling sometimes a bit like the puzzle game "traffic" where your blocks are all jumbled up and you have to maneuver them in just the perfect pattern to make forward progress. This isn't a bad thing, it's quite entertaining from a mental challenge perspective. It just takes a much bigger commitment than a game of classic Diplomacy or a smaller variant with fewer stalemate positions like Heptarchy. Be prepared for this when signing up for a game of Colonial!

Third, I want to thank the other players for making this a quality game. I had regular interaction with almost every player in the game and learned something from each of you. I know the dedication this game took from me and can only assume it required similar efforts from the rest of you. This is a top notch group of players, any of which I'd enjoy playing again sometime. Thanks for making this game successful!

  • Glacier (France): We allied almost immediately. Originally I chose you as my preferred ally because I thought you didn't have a strong stalemate line to work from and that I could beat you if it came to a race for the solo. Over time I learned to respect you and just enjoyed working with you. You take more risks than I do and I learned from that!
  • Pedros (Russia): The biggest regret that I have in this game was my early game stab against you. I usually prefer the "find a partner and stick with him to the endgame phase if you work well together" approach and did not follow that approach in this game. I stabbed because I didn't want to get bottled up. I figured that Stalin (Japan) and you would team up against China and you'd stay engaged in the east while I took advantage of a weak China in the west. I *completely* misread the board and set in motion the events that led to China's growth. Despite the stab you stayed professional and we even ended up working together again. I can only hope that I show the same class when I am in your position. You also read the board very well and seem to be a great Diplomat. I don't think I could have beaten you had we ended up in a race for the solo so I guess that's the one silver lining for me from this mistake. My other regret was that you forgot to specify that you use the TSR in Fall 1881. Your move would have been successful; you would have gotten VLAD and built in OMS, and had a chance to completely break China’s defensive line. It would have been a completely different game! :geek:
  • Morg (Holland): I knew from the outset of the game that if you didn't go east towards Japan, you and I would probably come into conflict around WIO. Your initial blitz against Haroonriaz (Britain) completely took me by surprise and is one of the more impressive opening I have ever seen in any game of Diplomacy. The truth is that I feared you in this game more than any other player. You may not believe me, but after I stabbed Pedros (Russia) I never did have any intention of attacking you in the early or mid-game. I just wanted to build a defensive line that would free me up to focus on Russia and China. I *really* wanted you to head east against China. I think that if you had done that, we could have had a very solid working relationship and I probably would have turned on Glacier (France) and Asu (China). We would have had *very* strong board position and I think we could have pushed them back. In the end game, I stabbed with my weak solo attempt because of two things. One, you were a corner position dangerously close to building your own stalemate line and forcing a 3 way draw between you, me, and Asudevil (China) and I wanted to keep a solo on the table. Second, I felt that once you controlled India, I'd be completely bottled up with nowhere to go. I didn't think I could beat you tactically, so I negotiated with Glacier (France) and Asudevil (China) to push you back, eliminate that stalemate line, and hoped I'd have an opportunity at the solo as a result. It almost worked, but since you defended India so hard, I just couldn't get enough tempo to pull it off.
  • Asudevil (China): I never did figure out if we were allies or enemies in this game. It's an obnoxious term, but maybe "Frenemies" is the accurate term here? From the outset I think we approached the game very differently. I like to negotiate planned defensive lines that two parties can work from to provide both players safety to work together. You seem to prefer to take a more tactical approach based on the current situation on the board. I like to plan things out with a probably frustrating amount of draft plans a year or two in advance. When I'd send such a message to you, you'd always reply back with "I want to figure things out for myself" which I both respected and got frustrated with at the same time. I could never influence you! :D I also could never read you. Ever. And I mean that as a big compliment. When I decided to stab Russia, my thought was that you'd grow big and fast, force everyone else to ally against you, and then while everyone was busy attacking "big bad China" I'd be able to sweep in from the west and pick off your SCs while you were otherwise occupied. You were just so damn fast and *CRUSHED* Stalin813 (Japan) so quickly that we nearly were unable to throw together a stop the leader alliance in time. After that I wasn't sure if there was a China/Holland alliance to worry about so I did everything I could to keep that from happening. Ultimately we decided on the "Evil League of Evil" alliance with you, France, and myself in a desperate effort to keep this game from stalemating and give one of the two of us a shot at the solo. I think if you had waited just a few more turns before stabbing Glacier, you could have had a better shot. Also, if you had just waited one more year before making the final draw proposal I think I might have had the position I needed to make a run at the solo. :mrgreen: I enjoyed playing with you as both ally and rival.
  • Haroonriaz (Britain): You were more of a victim of opportunity than anything else in this game. Initially, I didn't want you and Russia to ally against me so I did everything I could to stop that. Once I saw that there was no B/R vs. T, the next step was to figure out who to partner with. Ultimately, because I misread the situation and thought that Japan and France would attack China if I stabbed Russia, I attacked you both, tried to secure a corner position for myself, and tried to use you as a buffer to slow down Holland. We never really had much of an opportunity to work together because I pretty much just used you right from the start of the game. I'm not proud of this, but this is one instance where I partially blame the board layout. I think the only realistic way that B/T could ally is if Turkey goes hard for Russia right off the bat and I think Russia is the stronger ally for Turkey unless there is early fighting between R/T.
  • Stalin813 (Japan): We didn't talk much in this game and I think that was among my bigger failures. Early on I didn't want to tip my hand so I remained silent. I was hoping that once I stabbed Russia, you'd ally with him against China but that didn't end up happening. This was a massive mis-read on my part and if we had been talking more perhaps it could have been avoided. Who knows, perhaps we'll have more of a chance to work together in future games.
I've covered a lot in the comments for the individual players, but here's a very high level overview of my thoughts in the various phases of the game:

  • Pre-Game: This was my first game of Colonial and from everything I had heard, one common thread was that there were a TON of stalemate lines. I don't consider Stalemate lines a bad thing. In fact, I tend to play very defensively so for me they often work to my advantage. I tried to find a power that could easily get behind a Stalemate position with as few units as possible and decided that Turkey would be a good candidate. An added bonus was that most of the articles online said Turkey was a weak power so I hoped my opponents were reading the same articles that I was and wouldn't consider me an immediate threat.
  • Game Start: My first goal was simply to do everything possible to avoid a B/R vs. T. I knew that if they allied, there was NOTHING that I could do to stop them. In fact, if I were to ever play this variant again as Britain or Russia, I'd need a pretty strong reason to NOT ally against Turkey at the outset of the game. Similar to its classic Diplomacy counterpart, I believe Colonial Turkey is a slow starting power, but is very difficult to eliminate once it gets started. My initial reads on the other players were that I really liked Pedros (Russia) and wanted to ally with him long term if I could, that I didn't think Glacier (France) had a very strong position so I wanted to prop him up since he would have a hard time defending himself in the mid and endgame, and that because Morg (Holland) was willing to work with me against Britain, Britain and I would probably come to blows unless Pedros attacked me.
  • Very Early Game: Some of this was self-fulfilling, but for the most part things went as I hoped. Holland attacked Britain, Russia and I were getting along great, China seemed contained by Japan and Russia, and France was surviving. The only thing that bothered me was that Holland moved in force towards India and I wanted to see Holland moving against Japan.
  • Early Game: Russia started working with China and that scared me because I figured he'd have to move my direction if that alliance worked out. Holland did better than I expected and I was already worried about him being part of a draw because of his strong corner position. Ultimately, it was Morg's (Holland) push into India that convinced me to stab Russia. The way I was reading the board, I was about to get bottled up around WIO/India and had wide open spaces in the north against Pedros. I figured Russia, Japan, and hopefully France would team up against China giving me space to grow in the north and center of the board. I could build a solid stalemate position that would ensure I was part of a draw conversation, and then ally with Holland or France to take on the survivors. If only it had been that easy! :oops:
  • Mid Game: I could not have been more wrong. Japan never allied with Russia. France never attacked China. Holland never moved against Japan to take advantage of the situation. China blitzed across the board, *dominating* the north east and all I could do is sit back and watch. Pedros (Russia) and Morg (Holland) finally came to the rescue and joined Glacier (France) and myself in a last ditch effort to stop the solo. I've done a lot of stop the leader alliances in my lifetime and this one was among the more dysfunctional that I've been a part of. :D It wasn't helped by the fact that I became very distracted during this phase of the game and communication became spotty. Asudevil (China) almost managed to pull off the solo *despite* having 4 other players working against him. Pedros played a big part in this, helping to keep everyone in line despite having few units of his own to work with.
  • Late Game: The mid-game was a bit boring, but our dysfunctional little alliance managed to stop the solo and actually managed to push China back a bit. When it became apparent that Asudevil (China) wasn't going to solo, I think paranoia started to kick in. Morg (Holland) kept pushing for India and got *very* close to building a line that I could not break through. I began discussions with Asu about how we wanted the game to end up. It was apparent to me that once Morg controlled India, he could start to pick away at Glacier (France) to force himself into a 3 way draw. I didn't want to end in a 3 way draw if there was a way to avoid it, so Asu and I agreed that Glacier would have the more difficult time of stalemating. We decided it would be better for us both to keep Glacier around so we would both have a chance at making a solo run and to do that, we had to keep Morg from building that stalemate line. I told Glacier straight up what we were thinking (including the bit about the solo runs) because we needed his help to stop Morg. The three of us formed the "Evil League of Evil" because every one of us had stabbed our allies, and were purposefully entering into an agreement where two of us were outright admitting we were making a run at the solo, and were allying with someone who we knew was trying to force a draw. It was a bizarre little alliance, but I have to admit it was sort of a fun challenge. It became a balance between trying to stop one player from forcing a solo, prevent another player from working his way into a solo, and stop the other alliance members from soloing. This was actually one of my favorite parts of this game. Ultimately, Asu (China) and Glacier (France) came to blows before we could force Morg (Holland) back, ultimately resulting in a race for Morg's SCs, with the added challenge that Glacier and I were still behind in the SC count so we also had to defend against Asu's attack. I really enjoyed this part of the game. I think it highlighted the best parts of the Colonial variant. :geek:
  • End Game: In the end, China had more tempo than Glacier and me and was very much in danger of a solo. I was expecting Morg to defend him home SCs and slow Asu down, but instead he made a strong defense in India and I got bogged down there for several turns while China made some strong advances into Morg’s home territories. Ultimately, Glacier and I were forced to reach out to Morg and Pedros *again* to stop the Chinese solo. Graciously, they agreed to help. Frankly, they are better people than I. If I were in there shoes, I'd have had a difficult time agreeing to work with Glacier or myself again. Regardless, they helped, we managed to push China back, and then Glacier and I stabbed Morg *again.* He was gaining traction and our reasoning was that he would be able to force himself into a 4 way draw position if we allowed him to keep growing. We never did entirely manage to finish him off. Had we kept playing, I think Morg still might have had a shot at the draw because he would have been very difficult to finish off. It would have made for a long frustrating game though so I’m glad he didn’t. After this, Asu offered the draw. I thought very long and hard before accepting. I don't think I was in a strong position for the solo, but the opportunity was definitely there. I had lied, stabbed, and generally behaved in ways that are very atypical for me to get this opportunity and when I finally got it, I did not take it. Part of me will regret this decision, but on a personal level, I think this was the right decision for me. At the game level, I think it ultimately would have come down to how Glaicer defended. I don’t think I could have gotten my reinforcements into the area faster than China, so if Glacier didn't focus entirely on stopping Asu or worse, if he allied with Asu (even temporarily), I don’t think I'd have been able to pull off the solo and would have just thrown the game to China. I decided the risk was not worth it. I was hoping for at least a 3 way draw at the outset of the game and was able to accomplish that goal so on some level it was a success. I do feel like I let down those that I stabbed by not taking the opportunity to try for the solo and for that I am sorry. If real life hadn't been an issue, I think I would have kept playing. I definitely think there were a few years left on the table and I hate to see games end that way.

In summary, this was a challenging and exhausting game for me. There will always be "what ifs" for me in this game. "What if" I had not misread the situation with Japan allying with Russia to stop China in the early game. "What if" I had been more engaged in the mid-game. "What if" I had expected Morg's defenses in India (both times!). Most of all, I'll always have the "What if" about accepting the draw to end the game. All that being said, I am very glad that I played this game. It was mentally challenging, had some great players that I was able to learn from, and I'm walking away a bit more humble than I was before. Best of all, every player stuck with this game so over time, I feel that I've made friends (despite the lies and stabs) and I'd love to play with any of you again. That's the beauty of this game. No matter the mechanics or the variant, it ultimately comes down to the other players and I appreciate the commitment that each of them made to making this game a success.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby asudevil » 10 Apr 2014, 02:53

Well thought out l13.

To be fair....that is exactly why I proposed it when I did....I knew you didn't have the positioning at the time to have a good chance....and if you declined as I thought you would....it would have let me flip France onto you.

As for japan and Stalin....I crushed him cause he stopped playing....he missed a crucial retreat to an sc I left open and consistently left sc's open for me to retreat to.

Then he got bored and basically quit.

Stalin....FYI....that puts you in a permanent blacklist for major games I run.... This was an invitational and you really unbalanced it....I expected better.

Part of it I think was the fact I got Pedro's to flip on you early when you thought the two of you were allies.....but rather than work us (like I did to flip him) ... You mailed it in.

Btw Pedro's....mad thanks for you flipping early. It let me get a lead and run for it.

Also l13....honestly...I didn't care what you did for much of the game as long as it was good for you...it was good for me....you attacking meant they couldn't focus on me....so strong neutrality was my tact with you.
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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby Morg » 10 Apr 2014, 07:29

Ah jeez, an AAR for this game, that’s like going to a shrink and telling him all your problems.

So this game had a lot of promise for me when I got started. It has an impressive line up, I’d played with four of these guys before and could get an idea of their play styles. Lucky13 and Glacier were complete dark horses though. But I was feeling good and I was ready for a bruiser.

Right away there was a ton of chatter about Britain. France, China, Russia and Turkey were all asking me to attack him and what my intentions were. Why, Britain may have a lot of opening SCs, but have you seen the spread he has to cover and the number of players he has to keep on his good side to avoid losing his initial home SCs?

Britain meanwhile was cooperative, but extremely inflexible. I offered him an opportunity to move to Malay without having to watch his back in Java Sea, I let him choose whether I went to Ceylon or Burma, and I was willing to help him expand, but Singapore is ultimately an existential threat to Holland. While I was willing to live with that Singaporean Sword of Damocles hanging over my head for a few years, I couldn’t keep it there indefinitely. I told Britain that I would help him gain SCs in exchange for eventual control of Singapore, particularly I offered Ceylon. He refused, he told me that if I stabbed he would abandon reason and come after me until we were both dead, but he was willing to work with me so long as I didn’t stab.

It was ultimately this nuclear threat that tipped my hand to stabbing him. Of course I couldn’t give him any indication of this, so to keep everyone guessing I told China and Russia that I was going to ally with him and while he fought the ALA that started the minute the game started, I would soak up SCs that were left empty by the ALA’s efforts, which is a solid strategy that has brought me victory before.

Meanwhile I told Turkey and France that I would stab Britain, but I needed to make sure that the stab was as devastating as possible. So I played a bit of a double game, arguing with Britain about the best mutual placement of our fleets and units in a way that could be seen as threatening France, while also moving them closer to Britain’s vulnerable home SCs. Once the British line was tight and could not march forward without exposing himself any more, I struck convoying an army in Hyderabad with a fleet that was clearly also within range of Madras.

China still wasn’t sure about what my intentions were and so I signaled that it was a good time for him to strike and we could share the spoils, Britain clearly knew what I was up to and made a strong argument against going through with it, but ultimately in my mind the Rubicon had been crossed, but if he was willing to let himself be deceived for another season, I’d let him.

This was my high water mark. Britain was crippled; I could reasonably assume control of the Indian subcontinent; and Turkey and China could be reasoned with while we all sought different directions for growth. I foresaw a DMZ in the Arabian Sea with Turkey and a cooperative effort with China to crush France between us. Then it all came crashing down, apparently my stab was a little too spectacular.

France, China and Turkey all told me quite directly that they had been receiving pressure from the rest of the board to form an ALA against me. WTF, guys!?!? I’m the third most powerful player according to the stats, how can it be an ALA if the ALA forms against someone who’s not the L. Gahhh….. I anticipated Britain ferociously attacking me with reckless abandon, but I didn’t expect China to support him. That caught me off guard and combined with all the fear mongering out there, I started playing very defensively and I started to engage France about allying together to fight China.
I encouraged Turkey to stab Russia and had to explain the benefits to him several times, but eventually he did it. I was really hoping that his stab would take some of the heat off of me, as people saw that someone else had stabbed just as brutally and spectacularly as I had. But it was to no avail, France wouldn’t do anything, China continued to harass me and Turkey keep insisting that the DMZ be in WIO leaving me vulnerable and not the far more reasonable ARAB/GoA, which we could both defend against any violations. I explained it to him several times but he just wouldn’t bite. It also irritated me when I counseled with him on my Indian strategy, I said I would do XZY as I anticipated that it would thwart China in India perfectly while gaining ground for me. Turkey counseled against it and since I couldn’t trust my read on China, I took his advice. Then was stunned when China did exactly what XYZ was designed to counter.

Turkey was frustrating and France painfully ignorable, but China was really the devil whose hellfire I found myself preaching about very publicly. It ticked me off to no end that he would help Japan attack Russia and pick up a few Japanese SCs while he was at it, then help Russia fight Japan and pick up a few Russian SCs while he was at, then help Japan fight Russia and pick up a few SCs while he was at that. Combined with his capture of an equal number of British SCs, yet instantly finding a British ally afterwards, it seemed that China could take SCs from anyone and instantly afterwards that player would then ally with China. Meanwhile I was stuck with the distrust of the world for stabbing Britain once. Super-super-super-super irritating.

At this time I may have had the opportunity to strike against Japan, but I really wanted Japan to fight China and I needed him to be strong enough to do that, besides I still had some mopping up to do in India.

Then I was dumbfounded. France managed to ignore China so thoroughly that he felt it was a good idea to waste his units crossing a well-defended and wide stalemate line attempting an attack against me. Jeez, Mare & Joe!

I was disgusted. China was so thoroughly dominating this game, I was pointing it out every single season and half season, and no one cared.

It was then that I first threatened to throw the game to China. Russia eventually became team captain, with Turkey as junior captain. Between me scolding France in extremely strong language and Russia & Turkey pointing out that we all needed to work together, France finally saw the light and we managed an ALA. Turkey also backed out of WIO and we sort of established the DMZ I had wanted all along. Finally I could breathe.

I was really hoping that I could use this time to develop a strong relationship with France that we could ride on when the ALA eventually fulfilled its purpose. But every single year or season France would ignore or screw up some of my advice that would’ve worked perfectly against China. China of course was pouting, but what did I expect? The whole board had turned against him and for the first time in this game people actually trusted me, I was determined not to be the first to stab. I figured this game was all about reputations and I wanted mine to be comparatively clean when the ALA eventually broke down. Besides I was pretty sure that he engineered the ALA against me when I was in 3rd place!

So then, it was all in vain. France once again chose to ignore the biggest threat to the game and to him personally and stabbed me. Turkey’s stab was annoying too, but at least it made some sense. I lost all strategy, told Asu that I would Janissary for him and worked to do two things, make sure that China got more of my SCs than France did and the Turkish stab reminded me about the frustrating negotiations regarding the ARAB/GoA/WIO DMZ, so I made it a personal goal to deny Turkey control of WIO for as long as possible, hopefully letting China take out France while Turkey struggled to break through. Russia tried to be team captain again, only with a new team, but France and I were just too committed to each other’s defeat for Pedros’s efforts to have much effect.

Curses! These danged stalemate lines cut both ways, they make it hard to expand and they make it tough to punish stabbers.

Then of course Team Captain Russia got everyone on board again and of course the hold out was France and of course I had some sharp language that I used against France. I really didn’t want to ALA and really wasn’t going to, but what could I do, I was down to next to nothing and couldn’t really do anything if I wanted to. I at least had to pretend to be a part of the ALA. The same season Turkey and France attempted to eliminate me, I had forwarded the entire orders list to China for him to work with. I sensed that Turkey wouldn’t just let me keep Ceylon and that France never would work with me more than what was absolutely necessary, but I didn’t have much choice.

I accepted the draw; one, because I was tired and two, because China asked me to. I really wanted China to solo as a way to punish Turkey and more particularly France, but there was really only so much I could do.

Addendum:
Haroonriaz: Sorry, between your inflexibility and the undeserved pressure from the board to get rid of Britain, it was convenient to stab you. You were one of two players that most concerned me at the outset of this game and are a tough competitor. I hope to play more tough games with you, hopefully they'll turn out different.
Stalin: Dude, I don't know what happened. I'm hoping this was more of an off game than anything else.
Pedros: You're a solid player and a great team builder. It's just that a couple of teams couldn't get put together, and I stayed petty in the last seasons of the game. Sorry, it got away from me a little.
Glacier: There was just no way we were going to work together was there? Hey, sorry if what I said in PMs came across as overly harsh, it was the frustration talking. I do think a H/F alliance was a lost opportunity.
Lucky13:Good show, your AAR clears up a ton of things, such as why no one would listen to me/work with me. You had them all united. I really wish we could've worked together more, but you were a great antagonist as well.
Asudevil: You are a fantastic rival. I still can't believe you managed to ally so easily with everyone you've stabbed and that includes me. Well played.

And in case anyone's wondering, if I said anything harsh to you, the game's over and the passion has died. I am carry any anger or spite forward from this game, I'm the type of player where what's said in the game, stays in the game and dies in the game. I really hope we all can agree to that. This was a particularly frustrating game, that's all. But now that it's over the frustration makes it fun.
"He says there are no easy answers. I say he's not looking hard enough!"
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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby asudevil » 10 Apr 2014, 14:26

but China was really the devil whose hellfire I found myself preaching about very publicly. It ticked me off to no end that he would help Japan attack Russia and pick up a few Japanese SCs while he was at it, then help Russia fight Japan and pick up a few Russian SCs while he was at, then help Japan fight Russia and pick up a few SCs while he was at that. Combined with his capture of an equal number of British SCs, yet instantly finding a British ally afterwards, it seemed that China could take SCs from anyone and instantly afterwards that player would then ally with China. Meanwhile I was stuck with the distrust of the world for stabbing Britain once. Super-super-super-super irritating.


Yeah, I don't know how I was able to do that one....stalin quitting helped...but I was pretty proud of that...

China of course was pouting, but what did I expect? The whole board had turned against him and for the first time in this game people actually trusted me, I was determined not to be the first to stab. I figured this game was all about reputations and I wanted mine to be comparatively clean when the ALA eventually broke down. Besides I was pretty sure that he engineered the ALA against me when I was in 3rd place!


Yeah I did. AND I was the one who started a lot of the fear mongering against Britain early on. Haroon is a stud player and convincing people to knock the leader down is a pretty easy thing to do.
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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby luckythirteen » 10 Apr 2014, 18:11

So a few thoughts/observations about the Variant itself from a strategy standpoint. With this being my first game, I learned a ton. I'm curious to see if other people look at it similarly, or if this particular game has filtered my view of things.

Map:

The map is huge, there are tons of spaces and SCs, lots of units, and a mix of land and naval spaces. In theory, it seems like this should make for a lot of flexibility and make maneuvering crucial. However, what I observed (in this game at least) was that there are a few key spaces that the entire game is centered around. Perhaps it's because I was an edge power, but from where I was sitting it felt like I was in a valley surrounded by impassible mountains with only a couple of "passes" that I could cross. I used to play RTS games back in High School and there were maps that had choke-points that players could "turtle" behind. "Turtling" in Colonial seems an effective strategy to me (certainly for the edge powers at least).

Before playing Colonial I read every strategy article I could find on the variant. I even hunted down copies of the old articles in the "General" magazine. A common theme was that Colonial's map was full of "Stalemate Lines." At the game's start, I was looking for "Stalemate Lines" like in Classic Diplomacy that basically allow a player to self support his own units in such a way that it becomes impossible for anyone to break through his defensive line. These lines definitely exist. I located 3 major ones. One would allow a "Western" power (probably Russia, Turkey, or possibly Britain) to defend the center of the map from KRA-TAS-KAR-GOA. This was the line that encouraged me to bid hard for Turkey as I figured it would be the easiest for me (or me and an ally) to control. Another was in the north east corner and allows an "Eastern" power (probably China or Japan, possibly France or even Russia) to create a semi-circle shaped line from IRK-MON-LAN-ECE-UP. The final one that I saw allows a "Southern" power (most likely Holland or France, possibly Britain) to control a huge line from MP-SCS-CAN-MAY-BUR-BOB-WIO-SWIO. It's the hardest one that I found to establish, but controls a whopping 21 SCs behind it. There are a few other small ones that I was able to find, but these three "large" ones were sort of the foundation of my strategy in this game. My goal was to have me and/or my allies control the "Western" line, while stopping anyone else from getting the "eastern" or "southern" lines. I attacked Russia when I did because I thought it would give Japan and/or France a chance to keep China from establishing the "Eastern" line, and I stabbed Morg to prevent him from establishing the "southern" line. We did manage to keep that southern line from being established but I was WAY off about the eastern one. :oops:

Early in the game because I was so focused on traditional "stalemate lines", I completely missed the importance of the spaces that acted like the "passes" I spoke of earlier. I think Pedros tried to talk to me about this concept pretty early on in the game and I just didn't get it at the time. A perfect example of this is India. The Indian peninsula is not behind any of the Stalemate lines that I have been able to identify. I assumed there would be fighting over it because it's full of SCs, but I missed it's true value. Whoever controls India controls passage between the east and the west, *and* between the southwest and southeast. The easiest to see is the west and south "pass". I realized very quickly that there is a huge bottleneck (or "mountain range" so to speak) around the West Indian Ocean. WIO can be supported by SIO and it's almost impossible for a "western" player to cut that support. In effect, it becomes a "mountain" that is almost impossible to maneuver around (as a side note, this is why I wanted a DMZ there which Morg wisely declined). The only way for a "western" power to break through is to control Madras. Madras becomes the "pass." As a "Western" power, the only way to control Madras is to control Bombay and Mysore (and probably also Hyderabad) so you can cut support, force Madras, and work your way around the WIO "mountain." This works the other way as well. The Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea are rediculously easy to defend. An "Eastern" player has to break through Madras, into Bombay, all the way to Rajputana and Karachi to break those defenses. Again, India is the "pass" that allows passage between the southeast and southwest sides of the map.

What I didn't see right away is that India (and Bengal) is also the key to breaking through in the center of the map. There are strong defensive lines on either side of Kashgar and Kashmir. Thanks to the literal mountain ranges separating Nepal and Tibet, the only way that a "Western" power can break through those lines to force control of Kashmir and Kashgar is to cut support in Tibet and attack from Punjab. The only way to cut support in Tibet and attack from Punjab is to control northern India (Dehli becomes important here) and Bengal. Once again, India acts as a "pass" of sorts to unlock portions of the map that are stalemated.

I never did get a solid feel for the eastern side of the map (when I play Colonial again I definitely want to bid hard for one of those eastern powers) but I suspect that the area around Canton/Nanchung/ECS/SCS/Formosa is probably a "pass" area (I'm not 100% sure which is the critical space, I think "Formosa" might be a "mountain" making Canton/Nanchung the "pass?"). These spaces are not technically behind a true stalemate line, so whoever controls those spaces controls entry into and out of that side of the board. I am sure there are other "passes" on the map as well.

I'm curious if others noticed anything similar and if so, if they would be willing to share what they found. If this concept is true, for all of its size, Colonial becomes a game of ensuring you and/or your allies control the passes. It makes the game somewhat straightforward from a tactical standpoint, opening up the doors for Diplomacy to be the determining factor in who is successful, which is definitely the style of game that I prefer. :D


Special Rules:

First of all, I *love* the TSR. I don't think I would be willing to play any Colonial variant that didn't use those rules. It creates a *much* needed dynamic element to the game map and allows for Russia to have some rapid movement of their armies, similar to what other powers can do with fleets. I'm not 100% sure I like the restriction that only Russia can use the TSR though. If China or I could have used it, I think the game would have been a lot more fluid in the middle of the board. As it currently stands, it definitely gives an advantage to Russia. I purposefully kept Pedros alive simply because he could use the TSR and I could not. If he had managed to not mis-order the TSR towards the end of the mid/game early end/game, I think we could have had a *very* different outcome. I like the TSR rules a LOT.

I don't think the Suez Canal rules add much. I guess if Britain and I had ended up working together against Russia, it might have given me some security if I controlled Suez as Turkey to keep Britain out of my home SCs, but besides this I don't really see how it changes things very much. Maybe it makes Turkey less attractive of an early target for Britan to prevent the early B/R vs. T from happening in every game? I don't mind having it, I don't think I'd get rid of it, I just don't think it had much impact on this particular game at least.

Land bridge from VLA - SAK. Because of my position on the board, I'm probably the *least* qualified to speak about this change, but from where I was sitting at least I liked it. IMHO it does two important things. First, it makes it more difficult for the "Eastern" semi-circle stalemate position that I spoke about earlier to be created because you can put even more pressure on VLA. Second, I think it interacts nicely with the TSR because it gives those Russian armies another place to go. That being said, I never played with the old rules so I don't have a good reference point. I'd love to get feedback on this from the Eastern theater guys. It certainly seemed to get some play in the early game at least!

Balance:

I think my view on balance is influenced strongly by my theory about stalemate positions and control of "passes" as I spoke about earlier. From the start, I think that you can divide players into those powers that can easily establish one of the 3 major stalemate positions and those who have a more difficult go at it. I think Russia, China, Japan, and Holland are clear front-runners and have the advantage in establishing these positions. Turkey is every bit as powerful if he can get started, but *BOY* is it hard to get units from one side of the map to the other (particularly the south east of the map). My guess is that Holland and Japan might suffer from this same challenge as well. I still rank them over Turkey though because Turkey suffers from a very high risk of an early B/R vs. T which I do not think he could recover from. This leaves France and Britain as the "weak" powers. What's interesting to me is that if my theory about "passes" is true (and if I correctly identified some of them), both Britain and France are in the best position to control the "passes." Thus, while they may not have an easy time establishing a stalemate position, they are critical (in the early and mid-game at least) to dictating which powers are able to move where. Translating this to success in the end-game seems challenging though. My feeling is that it would take a very strong Diplomat to solo as either of these powers. I think they both need allies to "prop them up" in order for them to be successful. The plus side for the "corner" powers is that because neither of these powers have an easy time getting to one of the 3 stalemate positions, they can be useful allies if you want to keep a solo option on the table. I feel that if too many of the "edge" powers ally, a draw is an inevitable outcome (and probably why so many Colonial games seem to end this way).

Feel:

I mentioned this in my earlier post, but at least in this game I felt like the Colonial variant is most similar to the puzzle game "Traffic" where you have to maneuver your puzzle pieces in just the right place to make any sort of forward progress. The difference is that the blocks are all controlled by other players so you have to negotiate with everyone! This gives the variant a very puzzle like feel to me. The number of units to keep up with was a bit exhausting (there are SO many options!) but I think that with time, if my theory about "passes" is true, it might get a bit easier to erase some of the "noise" and focus on the truly important spaces.

I enjoyed the challenge and think it's a good variant, it's just not for everyone. It takes a LOT of time and energy (again, this might change with more experience) and can be very frustrating at times. It's probably best suited for players that enjoy the tactical side of Diplomacy a bit more than I do (I don't think that's my strong suit) and definitely needs a player who is comfortable with a methodical style of play. Don't expect large sweeping maneuvers or even a ton of surprises. Because of the size of the board it's pretty hard to disguise your intentions once you get past the early game. This gives players time to react, so expect lots of shifting alliances and slow (creeping?) growth. It's going to be a long game. Be prepared for the length and be committed to stick with it to the end.


I think that's about it for me. I'd love to hear from the other players (even those that have experience from other games!) about their thoughts on the variant itself to try and identify what of the above is true globally, and how much was the result of my own individual experience in this particular game.
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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby luckythirteen » 15 Apr 2014, 14:10

Just a bump to see if anyone had thoughts on the map/strategy in the variant. I am very curious if my experience and takeaways were just the result of one game or if others have had similar experiences.
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Re: ColonialA: AAR

Postby asudevil » 15 Apr 2014, 14:16

I still want to hear from Pedros.
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