Heptarchy: 4-star rated game. Full; reserves welcome

GM'ed by Morg. Solo victory by Wales (ColesD)

Re: Heptarchy: 4-star rated game. Full; reserves welcome

Postby GhostEcho » 14 Jul 2014, 17:11

Pedros wrote:In one game, after pressure from players, Scotland began with two fleets (one in Glasgow). With that setup Scotland, always one of the weaker nations, had almost no game at all! Not repeated.


In the Hep IV source ColesD has cited, Scotland's got two fleets. F Abe is almost demanded by geography or else that center ends up being useless and poorly placed. But it's not clear to me why the F Gla is any weaker than an army in the opening.

Pedros wrote:The big discussion point has always been Anglia. As I mentioned, since the early days of Heptarchy Anglia has suffered, almost always facing an alliance of Mercia and Cornubia. I felt for a long time that the Anglian fleet is a real handicap. It isn't needed for any purpose at all in year 1, and a fleet can be built in year 2. The result of this so far has been to strengthen Anglia considerably. Question - is that just a function of the players involved or have we over-corrected.


If I had to guess, I would say that the Anglia fleet is a product of either a) the conviction that every power needs a fleet or b) at some point in development Flanders was - a la Tunisia - within a year's distance of Dover. On the other hand, while removing the fleet seems to rule out speculative plays to get Flanders in year 2 (which could easily ruin an over-ambitious general, as his armies could use the support), it also prevents Anglia from contesting Ipswich in force. If e.g. Oxford is told off to watch Mercia (Oxf -> War or Ntn), Lon -> Cam -> Ips could bounce Kin -> Nor -> Ips, but if Mercia's played Not -> Kin as well, he could have Nor hold and move Kin -> Cam, so that there's a guessing game. If there's a fleet, Dov -> Tha -> Ips (or supporting Cam -> Ips) presents an interesting all-out anti-Mercia opening that's significantly muted by replacing the fleet with an army - except the possibility of that attack is also a bargaining counter for Anglia with Mercia. Essentially, I'm not sure changing the fleet actually strengthens Anglia.

In the two games played with 3 armies (8 and 9), the openings played would have been identical with a fleet. As for the games: in 8, Pedros' Anglia limited Mercia to no builds in the first year. with help from Cornubia. In 9, the decisive moment in presser84's Anglia's rise was in the second year; army vs. fleet didn't come into play here, but could have: had Cornubia stalled Stn -> Downs instead of holding in Stn the support from A Por makes the attack succeed anyway, where a fleet couldn't offer that support.

Incidentally, this research indicates that while Pedros announced,

Pedros wrote:This is one of the most popular variants around, and this will be its ninth running here.


He really ought to have said tenth running.

The one thing in common in the Scotland/Anglia fleet situations seems to be that in the second year armies may be more versatile. Perhaps we ought to be investigating Ireland's set-up, given that it's only gotten one result in nine games?
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"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: Heptarchy: 4-star rated game. Full; reserves welcome

Postby ColesD » 14 Jul 2014, 23:36

Right, I've done a bit more digging around on the web. The Variant Bank seems completely screwed up now, and the original site that hosted the variant has long since gone, but I've tracked down this article on the Diplomatic Pouch describing the original variant (Heptarchy I). Note the article was obviously copied over to DipWiki for the description there, which is why the description doesn't match the map. This article then briefly mentions changes that were made to create Heptarchy II and III (and evidently at some point IV was made, giving us the current map as seen on DipWiki). As you can see from the articles the changes, bar a few renamings, seem to have been almost exclusively to Northumbria (plus making Shrewsbury a centre), finally settling on its starting fleet being in Lancaster, so it seems that having fleets in Glasgow and Dover, and an army in Llandudno/Wrexham had always been seen as part of the set-up.

Notably, in that second article, the designer does acknowledge the potential weaknesses of his variant, including that Scotland and Anglia can get squashed if set on, and arguably choice of starting units won't change that much. Personally, on first impressions, the set-up as given on the DipWiki map seems the most balanced and fair to me, although I'm wary of going into details, to avoid giving away strategy and/or bidding clues.
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Re: Heptarchy: 4-star rated game. Full; reserves welcome

Postby Pedros » 08 Aug 2014, 14:03

It's clear that I'm not going to get this together for the foreseeable future, but I've asked the other GMs and a couple of them are just deciding between themselves which of them will run it. I just hope we haven't lost all the players in the meantime!

ColesD - I think your comments are part of the wider discussion on Heptarchy which you'll find in the Archive Heptarchy section. But from what I've read from Geoff Bache there's at least as much experience of the variant here as he had to go on!
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Re: Heptarchy: 4-star rated game. Full; reserves welcome

Postby Morg » 09 Aug 2014, 20:07

I'll be taking over on this one. I'll be sending out confirmation requests to the players listed shortly.
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Re: Heptarchy: 4-star rated game. Full; reserves welcome

Postby GhostEcho » 21 Aug 2014, 13:52

I'm not sure what happened to this (I'm fairly certain I sent in my confirmation), but at this point in the year I'm preparing for school to start and I can't responsibly be starting a new game, so I'm going to have to withdraw.
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel
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"[Diplomacy:] No dice or chance. Just calculated insincerity." - Counter Trap
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