Best and worst powers to play

Strategy discussions for the Versailles variant.

Best and worst powers to play

Postby spudboy » 11 Feb 2014, 19:50

This topic may be premature...but I'm guessing enough players have played enough of this variant to have some preliminary ideas.

My initial observations are that Russia does well...and, suprisingly, Germany and Italy seem to do well. Perhaps they have more opportunities to pick up early SC's. England and France don't do well. England must compete with Sweden to get Oslo, and can't even take the neutral Ireland in the first year. France has Spain breathing on his back, and often faces what appears to be a traditional Germany-Italy alliance. Poland has it tough and seems to get squashed between Russia, Germany and a host of minors. Turkey has Egypt behind him...but can do well it he conquers it quickly.

As for the minors...their positioning to their home country can make or break them. In general, Spain seems to be the strongest at first as it has one of the few uncontested SC grabs on the board, and can conquer a careless France. Sweden is mashed between England, Germany and Russia and usually doesn't grow. Egypt can flourish if paired with Turkey or Russia; otherwise it has a bleak future. The four Balkan minors are little kids in the big-boy mosh pit...and have a short life expectancy. Again, positioning to the home power is paramount.

What are the thoughts of others?
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby McGiles » 11 Feb 2014, 22:15

I only played one game of Versailles (now finished: 75299 Popeye's Revenge). So for full disclosure all of my opinions are based on experience from that one game and speculation on how I expect other games to go. I played Poland, so I won't try to answer any strategy questions about any other major power.

I played Poland with Yugoslavia as my minor. Italy excelled almost all on his own with his minor of Czech. Italy quickly conquered the Balkans and took advantage of a surrendered France/Rumania. The game ended in a four-way draw between all survivors of England, Germany, Poland (Grand Alliance), and Italy. As Poland, it was easy to entirely focus against USSR/Sweden (same player) as Germany and I had a NAP. The Balkans appeared to be chaos with my poor Yugo being the first to go with Czech (Italy) being the only minor to survive of the four of them after 2 or 3 years. As Poland I was able to secure about 10 SC's with my empire consisting of my home centers, all of USSR, Finland, Bucharest, and Lithuania. Italy had the whole southern board from Brest to Ankara/Syria (19 SC's).

Strategically I would compare Poland to Austria from the original game, being surrounded without much outlet into water. However the Balkan minors I would assume would rarely attack Poland as they would all be more concentrated on each other and invading majors like Turkey. Securing a DMZ/NAP/alliance with any adjacent power I would say is highest priority (much like Austria).

In our game most players had close majors/minors. Turkey had Greece, England had Spain, Italy had Czech, and USSR had Sweden. Even with these nice locations, the minors couldn't pull very much together with the exception of Czech who got as much as three SC's, but couldn't build a third army as he always had an army in Prague to defend against Germany. Even so, by game end all minors were eliminated with no resurrections.

My impression of the minors is purely for early game strategy and perhaps a nuisance to opponents for mid-game strategy. Czech became crucial for Italy early game, as Czech provided a barrier for Italy so he could expand into the Balkans. Early to mid-game Egypt (Germany) was a nuisance for Turkey that hurt Turkey's chances from expanding too much and ultimately helped cause him to fall to Italy. With only one home center it seems very difficult for a minor to gain enough momentum to actually expand into anything that can compete one on one with a major.

Again, all my insights should be taken with a grain of salt. I found Versailles fun in a chaotic way, but I feel there needs to be a variant with the same idea but on a larger map with more neutrals, for the minors feel a little too cramped. However, with all my criticism, I will definitely play again. It is a very fun twist. The next game I join will be Versailles.
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby JonathanSwaim » 12 Feb 2014, 04:04

This post will be part strategy and part boasting. I won the first game to finish on site (Gunboat and live, but why would that matter :roll: excuse me, it was my first ranked solo) I will be talking Turkey because that's who I've played. Yay for data samples of one!

As Turkey, I'd say a majority of the minors are great for you to have, Yugo, Greece, Rumania, and Egypt. I had Greece, which I think has the strategically weakest spot of those four.

For gunboat, the opening moves of some powers are pretty much locked by the prisoner's dilemma. That probably applies to all of the Turkish ones in Versailles. The orders just are Con-Bul, Ank-Bla, Smy-Kur.

What I think pretty much handed me the game was Egypt's fall move, when he went from East Med to Ionian. I got Syria, and the whole thing was locked. I was guaranteed Cairo the next year, and I had established the corner that makes Turkey a monster in standard, as well as a now strong minor in Greece, so I ended 1932 on eight centers.

I'll note that getting from Turkey to Russia was essentially impossible when both are strong (or vice versa). The Juggernaut is alive and strong in Versailles.

So... I guess I would call Turkey best for gunboat. Is that a surprise?

Looking at trends of the five finished games (sans FOW and AoE, etc. but including Gunboat), Poland and Russia do not coexist. Britain has not done well outside Scandinavia. But I haven't looked there in detail. Obviously in AoE the minors become much bigger by game end.
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby gareth66 » 12 Feb 2014, 13:47

I actually don't think there is a definitive answer to this question - it all depends on the pairings. Whether, for example, France is a "good" country to draw or not isn't a stand-alone scenario. France would probably be a good draw if paired with Spain and if England was paired with Greece, but if England was paired with Spain or Sweden and France was paired with Egypt I would have thought France would be a nightmare!
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby spudboy » 14 Feb 2014, 23:28

I think definitely how each major power does will vary depending on their minor. I played one game as France with Rumania and got crushed. But I am playing another as Turkey with Greece and am getting spanked, too...probably because I was obsessed with destroying Egypt...so Russia stabbed me hard.

Turkey and France are hamstrung by having minor powers behind them...their traditional strength of being in the corner is gone. I agree that if France gets dealt Spain, or Turkey gets Egypt, they can be in the catbird seat.

One thing's for sure...the first year or two are virtual free-for-alls...until a few minors are killed and one or two majors emerge as front-runners.
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby Ekarf » 18 Feb 2014, 04:11

Of course every Minor, with the right Diplomacy, can potentially be a benefit to every Major. But it seems obvious that certain Minors benefit certain Majors much more than others. Thus, if we look at those groupings of strong pairs, I think a lot of insight into which are the stronger Majors can be seen.
England: Spain and Sweden
France: Spain
Italy: Spain, Czech, Yugoslavia, and Egypt
Turkey: Egypt, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Greece
USSR: Sweden and Rumania
Germany: Czech and Sweden
Poland: Sweden, Czech, and Rumania
Over time Turkey and Italy will pair up with a Minor which can easily help them more often than the others. I expect them to do well. And the only “great” Minor for France is Spain so I expect France will do poorly.
I understand that a lot of other things are involved as well such as board position,etc.
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby WhiteCaneStabber » 21 Feb 2014, 20:18

A lot of things depend on the assignment of powers, but in general, these are some of the changes I noticed. Take this with a grain of salt, it's way too early to form conclusions.

England: Has it a bit rougher than before since he has to fight to get any builds in 1901. England is in really bad shape if Spain is french and/or Sweden belongs to the Fuhrer.

France feels a bit like Austria now. If he gets dogpiled it will be a very short game. If Spain is friendly, or French, he's likely going to do quite well.

Germany looks intimidating, but that's about it. The Czech is attached to its arse like a cancerous lump. To make matters worse, Denmark is no longer guarantee and Scandinavian politics are much more complicated. In short, Germany needs friends, ASAP. That said, a German who gets Czech or Sweden as his minor is in for a good game.

Italy: Bette off that it's classic counterpart. Italy is now capable of expanding upwards, but attacking eastward is going to be much tougher. On the plus side, expanding to the west is no longer impossibly slow,

Poland: I like Poland's chances, so long as he can secure peace on his borders. Two likely builds ain't shabby, by any means. Unfortunately, war with USSR seems a foregone conclusion.

I love the changes to Turkey, mostly because it now has a reason to talk. In fact, Turkey will need to talk at length with Egypt and the Balkan powers in order to secure a build. Turkey needs to become a master of deduction, figure out which minors belong to whom.

USSR seems boring as hell, since you're immediately thrust into a war with Poland. These two powers seem completely incompatible. If someone can find a viable strategy that will allow both to grow and prosper, you are a better man/woman than I.
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby glacier777 » 22 Feb 2014, 16:11

I will make my comments when my game finishes.

My game is interesting because most majors received a far flung minor power!

From my game, I will be able to comment on:
- Turkey's opening moves
- Poland/USSR relationship
- The way the board falls into spheres
- The role of minors when they are no where near their major
- And how in my game most people knew who controlled what in the first year!
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby WhiteCaneStabber » 22 Feb 2014, 16:51

glacier777 wrote:- And how in my game most people knew who controlled what in the first year!


This seems rather common. Not necessarily because of the minor power's moves, but rather, their press. It's pretty obvious that Spain and France are controlled by the same person when they send messages at the same time, with similar styles. The trick seems to be staggering your messages and changing your written 'voice'.

For example: In my first game, I controlled Turkey and Egypt (what a boon!) I sent messages at different times and made Egypt's press as terse and ambiguous as possible. The end result was a situation in which Italy helped me dominate the Balkans, while a rogue Egyptian fleet waged a shadow war against him in the Med. minor powers can be very useful, so long as you have plausible deniability.
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Re: Best and worst powers to play

Postby MisterBigBug » 03 Jun 2014, 00:21

WhiteCaneStabber wrote:USSR seems boring as hell, since you're immediately thrust into a war with Poland. These two powers seem completely incompatible. If someone can find a viable strategy that will allow both to grow and prosper, you are a better man/woman than I.


I got a two way draw recently with USSR and Poland. You can check out the AAR at viewtopic.php?f=670&t=45037

I think there are some naturally good pairings but some of the pairings are also dependent on other players pairings, as others have said.
I suppose you could make a table or flow diagram even of what works best give your pairing. Something for someone with more games played and time? :)

I think one issue is how do your want to play your minor? Ad not all can that role
Strategic ally?
Irritating fly against the other majors and holding up their expansion(Spain, Egypt, Sweden)?
Bit of fun/loose cannon?
Trojan horse for intel?

I haven't seen many players do that last one well. I think the second idea (irritant) is thought of too late ans only once anything more is lost.

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