Devious GM AAR

Diplomacy where the GM makes a set of unannounced predetermined random changes to the map, rules, etc based on one or more variants. Introduced by Pedros, GMed by Asudevil.

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Devious GM AAR

Postby asudevil » 31 Dec 2015, 00:47

Here is the AAR...post when you get time...love to hear rules you thought were unbalanced...not sucky for you...but truly broken.

I think the reason England won was the use of ornithopter.

Also, check out the final rule changes coming had the game not ended....including water walking zombies...and zombies that will not longer be random.
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby marsman57 » 31 Dec 2015, 03:47

Thanks for running the game. I had an overall good time despite sucking it up with messing up rules a few times. My major criticism about the rules is that so many were unevenly applied to majors and minors. It created a balance issue for those of us who were primarily held up by our minor. I realize it cut the other way with majors getting more heat but I think the minors being limited was worse. Not being able to participate in ornithoper was the most egregious and left it very hard for me to keep up with an agile England.

Also the zombies ruined any chance I had. That was the biggest game changer and it took nearly all my SCs in one fell swoop. My late game goal was to make life as difficult as possible for England through zombie breeding and hope for a game changer in the rules. The player controlled zombie may have been enough to get it started. Had you recruited anyone yet?

Ultimately I knew England would win barring a miracle. Once I was sufficiently weak, he could methodically kamikaze all the zombies. Great job of mastering the rules to your advantage EpicDim.

A few last things:
1. Mercenaries would've been great earlier in the game. They were just a liability by the time they arrived.
2. I think you were too easy on us asudevil. For a game advertised as Badder and Meaner, I don't think you lived quite up to it. The only rules that felt really nasty were GJS, Zombies, and the shift which were all rehashes of game 1. We had players truly disheartened in the first game, but I never felt this one hit that lol.
3. Overall, I'd liked to have seen less rules that were in game 1 also.
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby asudevil » 31 Dec 2015, 05:29

I was scared of making it TOO mean...and being MEAN while still keeping balance is hard.

And honestly, I was surprised that you were so propped up by your minor and I will admit that many of the rules I didn't work properly enough for the fact that there were minors IN the game...also lets remember...that wasnt your minor to begin with...lol

And as far as disheartening players...I had Pedros quit during the first season :)

And I hand't gotten around to recruiting someone...but I told all of our players when they left I may need them later...so one of them would have done it.

But as far as you thinking you made the players in your game madder...but then didn't like that I re-used a lot of rules (also a lot of them weren't from game one...but were from Vain Rats...which you have also played)...so Im not sure about that.

Finally, I was just out of rules...do you have any you could think of...40 rules...is a lot...
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby EpicDim » 31 Dec 2015, 07:28

I do agree the rehash of rules took a bit of the shock and awe out of it. My biggest issue about the rules was that they were not thought through on how they interacted with other rules and the ambiguities in the language of the rules was a constant battle.

As far as specific rules:
Versailles with shift made Spain and Egypt over powered minors. Since everyone was heading through the middle it was tough to add any pressure to those two.
The fixed swap of the minors didn't make any sense. Even a random reordering would have been better.
The religion SCs didn't add much to the game. Having to leave a unit to stay in them every other year made them pretty useless. (IMO)
Kamikaze was broken since it allowed retreats.
I did like the balance of the cavalry which was one vote per player and the mercs which was one vote per SC (mostly). I was so far ahead that they were both wild cards that from my perspective had to be removed.

AAR from the game perspective:
I felt I was in the top 4 for most of the game. Germany and I had an early alliance that was beneficial to both of us until he realized (correctly) that I was in a much better position than he was. He coordinated a 4 player stab against me. It would have worked, but I was able to pull out the LOTSS which allowed me to build a fleet to defend my back and give them pause. I went on a diplomacy frenzy and turned the situation into a 5 player stab against Germany/Spain since Spain looked sooo big (although not sustainable). After that, I settled in to either work on Turkey (in Germany) or France (in Russia) and chose Turkey as the softer target. I spent so much time tracking down that last invisible, mostly dead unit that most of my core SCs in Poland and Germany were covered when the zombies hit. Because of that I was the least affected by the rule and was able to jump into the lead and from that point on it was a slog to clear enough zombies and cavalry and mercs to gain ground. It continually felt like I was treading water and not able to get moving even though I was significantly in the lead.
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby I Love Italy » 31 Dec 2015, 07:41

Alright, let's write up a few thoughts, shall we. First of all, thanks so much to Asudevil for GMing, and JegPeg for second eyesing. Great job :) . Really well done, smooth, and enjoyable as a player.

Congrats too to EpicDim, well played. Very well played.

Now, onto what actually happened during the game:

The Beginning

The game began quickly with me successfully trying to form a West-shifted central triple (consisting of me, marsman57 as Germany, and Aeschines as Italy). Their central location made the matter of reaching my shifted right centers much easier. Plus, having my minor (Czechoslovakia) in the Balkans, where four powers needed to travel through (or at the very least closely along the border of) in order to reach their new home supply centers put me in quite a position of bargaining power. I made friends with Russia, Turkey, and England as well. Now, the only real obstacle blocking me from reaching Russia was Poland, who was also trying to reach my home centers. Both of it saw it as it was, a battle to the death between the two of us. Poland's quick expansion ended up being his worst enemy in this case, as I was able to convince England and Turkey (with their minors of Rumania and Sweden, respectively) to make aggressive moves straight at Poland's home centers, as if they hadn't, he could've easily been a board leader by the end of 1932. So, Poland was reduced to one center for both his major and minor by Fall 1932, a defeat from which he wouldn't manage to recover the entire game, though I admire his tenacity at holding on for as long as he did.

The Middle

1933 was the first year that powers began to get big. Aeschines in particular put himself into a very good spot. With five centers for both his major and minor, as well as their adjacency providing security, he was in a very good spot. Even more so for the fact that Marsman controlled Egypt, the only other real power in the Mediterranean. In fact, if the minor swap hadn't happened, I could've easily seen Aeschines going on to solo, a possibility Marsman and I were both quite concerned about around that point in the game. It was also the year that Poland and I each reclaimed our first home centers, though it wouldn't end up being much of a boon to Poland, as his last minor center, and the last of his original major centers fell. 1934 didn't see much action, though my armies came closer to liberating the rest of my home centers, and I took Norway in an attempt to halt England's expansion, which continued with the Germany attack at Sweden in 1935. However, fearing Germany's power, especially after gaining control of Spain in the minor swap, I supported England back in in the fall, feeling that I'd done enough to curtail his expansion. If I had to name one moment as my worst decision in the game, it would've been that. Soon after that, Russia retook St. Petersburg through his minor, Sweden. I wouldn't regain power in the north for the rest of the game. The only question for control of the North Sea was whether Italy or England could take control. Then, in 1937, the slide that only ended with me having just a single duck messing around with zombies in the sand began. Though the spring seemed promising (I'd taken three centers, including Sweden), the fall was disastrous. I forgot England's ability to ornithopter, and so lost Moscow. At the same time, troops rebelled in Moscow. Now, I was left with only one home center left, and my remaining troops all too hopelessly separated from each other to regain any of the others. At the same time Germany uses Spain to take control of London and Liverpool. This effectively took Italy out of the game, though he'd hang on for a few more years. The next few years were largely playing out the the events that had been set in motion with the past few eventful seasons. I lost control of Scandinavia to England. Sweden lost St. Petersburg to England. Spain wasn't able to take control of the North Sea from England. See a theme? Poland and Turkey both managed to cling on, and take a center here or there. Italy took a center from me in the Balkans because he had nowhere else to go. I did nothing but mess around in the Balkans ineffectually. It was clear my game was over, but I wanted to at least hang on for a little while longer.

The End

The bad luck continued. I lost Syria to a black hole, Bulgaria to a spider, and Jerusalem and the West Bank to forgetting about the specifics of a rule. England had carved out a large niche for himself in the North, but was being held back from victory by the combined efforts of Russia and Spain. Then the zombie apocalypse hit, and Spain was crippled. Though England took heavy losses, he was able to bounce back from his, whereas both Russia and Spain had their bases of power so completely destroyed that nothing remained between him and victory but however long it took him to reach the required number of centers. We were just holding on hoping there would be a rule change that would come along in time to stop him. But there wasn't, so he soloed. While my last duck ran around in the sand being chased by zombies.

Well, that's my perspective on the game.

So, congrats to England, and thank you for playing for all the other participants. I had a blast. Would anyone be interested in doing a game of classic on the main site as a "rematch" of this? I think it would be great to play with all of you under less chaotic circumstances.
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby asudevil » 31 Dec 2015, 14:41

EpicDim wrote:I do agree the rehash of rules took a bit of the shock and awe out of it. My biggest issue about the rules was that they were not thought through on how they interacted with other rules and the ambiguities in the language of the rules was a constant battle.


I tried too...its REALLY hard

As far as specific rules:
Versailles with shift made Spain and Egypt over powered minors. Since everyone was heading through the middle it was tough to add any pressure to those two.

Fair

The fixed swap of the minors didn't make any sense. Even a random reordering would have been better.


It was a randomish swap when I did it...I tried to make sure every minor was equallyish close to the SCs you were headed to...Would have been BRUTAL IMO if Italy got Spain but had to head all the way to Russia...had it been random at the time ... I don't really know how it would have been better

The religion SCs didn't add much to the game. Having to leave a unit to stay in them every other year made them pretty useless. (IMO)


I was trying to keep it balanced so that it wasn't just 2 free SC for Egypt/Turkey

Kamikaze was broken since it allowed retreats.


Shouldn't have been able too...I agree...I screwed that one up

I did like the balance of the cavalry which was one vote per player and the mercs which was one vote per SC (mostly). I was so far ahead that they were both wild cards that from my perspective had to be removed.


See I tried :)
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby marsman57 » 31 Dec 2015, 15:33

More in response later but I wanted to add before I forgot.

EpicDim did make one critical rule mistake that I unfortunately couldn't make advantage of. He clearly seemed to believe that a single power needed the solo number. He expressed as much to me when we discussed a two way draw. The fact is that you only had to hit the solo target with your major/minor PAIR. My intent was to prey off this and win without him realizing. Then zombies arrived...
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby EpicDim » 31 Dec 2015, 16:50

Not the only mistake I made. Good thing you didn't make any. :)

It's also a good thing that I never intended to get far enough to actually have a 2-way draw. That being said, because I did not understand the victory condition I could have waited too long.
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby marsman57 » 31 Dec 2015, 22:04

I want to start this post by noting that I dole out some criticism below, but I want to reiterate that I know you put a lot of work into the game; I appreciate that; and I had a lot of fun. The criticism below is just me being specific about my thoughts on the game rules, but it is no personal slight. I think you did a great job and you're a top tier GM by far!

asudevil wrote:I was scared of making it TOO mean...and being MEAN while still keeping balance is hard.


I agree. I had to encourage Pedros to lighten up on our second set of rules because the first were so bad. We had this whole plague rule sketched out for the second part of the game, but decided it was too much. We were brutal at times. Terrorism was followed by this oil famine rule that seriously gimped fleets (that was a convoluted rule btw - glad you skipped it). The Shift also played out even messier than in this game because there were no minors to help prop up players. I think 1911 was the first year we had to come up with new rules for it and I basically made Pedros put in Build Anywhere. :)

And honestly, I was surprised that you were so propped up by your minor and I will admit that many of the rules I didn't work properly enough for the fact that there were minors IN the game


That's interesting. Given that Versailles was the first rule, I would have thought everything else would've flowed from it. Did you decide to add Versailles late in your process? I'd love to hear more about how you developed your rules anyway.

But as far as you thinking you made the players in your game madder...but then didn't like that I re-used a lot of rules (also a lot of them weren't from game one...but were from Vain Rats...which you have also played)...so Im not sure about that.


Alright. I decided to see if I was being too harsh in my criticism about reused rules. 12 rules were essentially clones from game one (11 were basically exact copies and the 12th was the shift left instead of shift right) while 16 rules were basically uniquely implemented (even if they were taken from other variants). So basically 42% of the rules were completely rehashed from game 1. I think that validates my criticism. I understand why you did it, and I'm not really mad about it, but I know that I was stalking the Deviant Game 1 archive looking for things that I thought might come up and many of them eventually did.

BTW - The numbers go to 13 and 20 if you count the unimplemented rules.

As to the other half of it, reviewing your unique rules, only Minor Swap and the Army/Fleet Unit Swap were particularly nasty. Meanwhile, some rules from the first game that you skipped, such as the rule that made EVERY SC function like the Papal States (goes neutral and gets army if unoccupied for two winters) were brutal. So my essential point that the rules were not "nastier" I think is also valid.

Finally, I was just out of rules...do you have any you could think of...40 rules...is a lot...


No criticism there. I don't know how active JegPeg was in drafting rules, but I don't think either Pedros or I could have done it alone. It is hard to remember specifically who thought of what, but I'd say that probably at least 1 of the rules were almost completely my thoughts/discoveries while 1/3 probably were mostly Pedros and the last 1/3 were kind of developed together through discussion of various vague ideas one or the other thought of.

I had considered if the game went too long and we were running out of rules that we could put a timer on the game (I would have given more notice than a single year though!). My preference was to do something like turn it into Deluge though over just ending. An alternate idea I had was for the last rule to start up "democracy" by turning the game into Devious Diplomacy.

Also, I want to say that I don't agree with EpicDim's criticism about rules considering all situations. I mean, sure, it's true they didn't, but I agree it's nearly impossible to remember everything when writing a rule, especially if you reorder rules later and move a new variable in front of it. Now, I know EpicDim's style very well from Royale and he's very pedantic. I'm sure he would spend 100 hours doing it, but even then, it'd be hard to cover every situation.
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Re: Devious GM AAR

Postby marsman57 » 31 Dec 2015, 22:20

Reading France's AAR reminded me of how much fun I had with this game especially in the first half. I had so many fluid alliances that kept shifting as the rules made certain pairings more advantageous. The minor swap gave me a powerful Spain but was ultimately a hindrance because Egypt was so well positioned to liberate Turkey. I still feel really good about my efforts to get England stabbed hard when he started to get some traction, but I definitely got my retribution on that one when 5 powers stabbed me in one turn. That was disheartening, but I mostly turned it around immediately. I think I still would've had a good chance if not for the zombie issue. It just hit me so hard when I was already a couple units down and focused on sea power with Spain. BTW - I was trying SO HARD to get LotSS away from England. I got close a couple times but never could quite get over the hump.

I think the player action that ruined my game the most was Russia's second stab. I still can't figure out how you convinced sjg11 it was a good idea to stab me when you were the obvious leader. He got maybe 1SC total out of it, and it was kind of short-lived. He would have been in a much stronger position if he had just stuck with me. He wasn't putting a lot of diplomatic effort in at that point on his own behest (I think RL was busy), so I think EpicDim leaning on him while I wasn't communicating much was just enough to make him go for it.

I was torn if you were serious about the 2-way or not EpicDim. I figured you wanted to solo, but if you saw it out of reach and you thought the rules would let a 2-way happen if it was something like 1/3 England, 1/3 Germany, 1/3 Spain; then I might be able to get up to 1/2 Germany+Spain before you realized. Too bad we never got to find out.

I would play a main site "classic" rematch if others were into the idea. I haven't played a vanilla game in quite a while!
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