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PostPosted: 05 Feb 2016, 16:01
by Pedros
OK then, tell me what really happened! And I'd particularly value any observations on the map and balance.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 05 Feb 2016, 21:25
by Aeschines
Before this game had started I had a fairly good idea of what was plausible for Russia. Because I'm relatively landlocked, ie. I can't build two fleet in connected ocean spaces, it seems extremely hard to exist as a naval power. So, rather than that I decided that going full-army would give me the best chance of hanging on. Also, just from looking it was clear (especially as a land power) that I needed to kill either Poland or Ukraine, to have an avenue to grow.

Early Diplomacy: The Big Decision
Knowing that I would have to deal with Poland or Ukraine my first move was to reach out to both of them, offering support for an immediate assault against the other. My great fear here was that if I didn't get to them first they might start to coordinate against me - an onslaught I wouldn't have survived for long. To my surprise, both Poland and Ukraine accepted and I began coordinating with both to destroy the other one. I also then reached out to Germany and Turkey to see if I could secure some insurance. Germany was recalcitrant about moving on Poland immediately, but Turkey was pretty gung-ho to move out early (especially since I promised to give Turkey Rostov in exchange for the lion's share of the Ukrainian centers).

In the end, I had to decide whether to betray Poland or Ukraine in the opening move sets. It was a hard decision! Both of them seemed like able diplomacists but neither were huge talkers to didn't have a lot to go on. I asked a lot of friends and discussed the decision with everyone (to their annoyance I'm sure) and basically everyone said I should attack Ukraine because Poland always gets screwed in history. However, during my discussions with Ukraine about how best to kill Poland, Ukraine told me that Poland had requested a first turn bounce in Podolia. This was exactly contrary to what I had worked out with Poland - I needed him to sneak into Podolia, not bounce Ukraine.

It was this proposed bounce that made my decision. I followed through with my plan with Ukraine and sided against Poland. From there it didn't take too long for us to weaken Poland enough that Germany could jump in to strike the finishing blow.

The Betrayer is Betrayed: Northern Campaign
The main problem with siding against Poland (i.e. with Ukraine) is that I then had to find a way to appease Turkey, whom I'd promised Rostov to. I couldn't afford to give up Rostov without losing my offensive capability in the region/hurting my SC count unless I was currently eating Ukraine - but of course at the moment I need the Ukraine to help finish Poland. It was then, in the middle of Poland's demise that the UK decided to take a pot-shot and steal Sweden from me. At the time that was pretty frustrating (since it seemed so senseless), but in the end it was one of the best things that happened to me.

The UK"s attack on me gave Germany a perfect excuse to invite me into an anti-UK campaign and, with my gains against Poland, I could afford to throw a few armies northward. While, ultimately I gained no SCs out of the campaign against the UK it did two key things. First, Germany felt like I had "earned" SCs by supporting him, which we negotiated into a split of a German Scandinavia and a Russian Poland. Secondly, it gave me a chance to work closely with Germany and build up a tactical rapport that would lead to some decisions a little later.

The Way of the Little Fish
As the Northern campaign began in earnest, I realized that I was unlikely to get any SCs out of Scandinavia. And, because I was actively working with Germany it seemed like I would be able to negotiate the surrender of Krakow to me, so there was no incentive to take it by force. For a land-oriented Russia there was really only one remaining target: Ukraine. I coordinate with Turkey to finally begin our long-discussed assault. Turkey made some aggressive moves and I suggested to the Ukraine that I would be willing to help out. However, Ukraine didn't take the bait and I moved out of the immediate region.

While Ukraine had earned a reprieve, the very next spring (1997) I sprung. Between my armies and Turkey's pressure there really wasn't much that the Ukraine could have done - though the fact that they held on until 1999 is a testament to their tenacity.

Both my betrayal of Poland and Ukraine felt a little pre-ordained. I just have a hard time imagining a game on this map where Russia is able to stay friends with one or both of Poland/Ukraine and still stays competitive through the midgame.

The Final Stab/The Big Whoops
The last big move I made this game was in the spring of 1998. Turkey and I had clearly decimated Ukraine and they clearly wouldn't be able to bounce back and become a threat. Unfortunately, this was the turn that I had promised to finally make good on my opening-game promise to Turkey to give them Rostov. My analysis of the situation was that if I followed through, I would be effectively ending any possibility of soloing- without being able to open up a front in the south, to get to 33 I would have to eat more of Germany and Italy than was practicable. Additionally, as I mentioned above I had a good working relationship with Germany and our border seemed both stable and maintainable - this contributed a lot towards my disinclination to move westward.

So, when I put in my preliminary orders I ordered a betrayal of Turkey. During the course of the next few days, I realized that I was unlikely to solo regardless. I also decided that ColesD was a strong enough player (both in terms of game-advantage and tactically) that a betrayal of Turkey would be foolhardy without Italy. I reached out to Italy about assistance against Turkey and was gently rebuffed. That being the case, I decided to stick with Turkey. Then I woke up in the morning and discovered that the deadline had resolved.

Turkey was understandably pissed - why had I betrayed for such a little gain? Obviously I couldn't 'undo' that move so I had to stick to my guns. It was debatably a good move (in that I was able to continue to slowly grow without having to go toe to toe with Germany or Italy) but it also opened the door to an Italian solo.

Italy Explodes & Game End
After a year or so of my fight with Turkey I was able to convince Italy to join the assault. This was important - in that it would have allowed me to make serious gains but also catastrophic in that Italy was almost guaranteed to eat 80% of Turkey. I knew Italy was planning to play for the solo, so I just had to make the best of a bad situation. And, as I read in the "Corner Alliance" thread Turkey was pissed enough at me that they were willing to throw their SCs to Italy, if Italy chose to betray them. It seemed like a perfect storm.

Then - the squall ceased and a glimmer of light shone through the clouds. Italy causally proposed a draw. I was still expecting it to be vetoed by Turkey, who had made their feels towards me/Italy pretty clear, but I accepted and crossed my fingers. I was surprised to find out it was accepted, but really I can't complain!

I think this game would have been fun to play out to the end, both Italy and I had expressed an interest in "racing for the solo" but considering Italy's immensely powerful position, Germany and I would likely have dug in our heels to some extent - leading to the same overall result.

Dramatis Personae
    ThorondorNL (Poland)- I'm really sorry that I attacked you so early. I still don't know for sure whether you actually proposed that bounce with Ukraine, but if it's any consolation everyone I asked said I should stick with you - the bounce was really the only thing that made up my mind. You were a good communicator and, if we had been different powers, I would have loved to go a lot further with you than year 1.

    Antigonos (Germany)- It was fun playing with you! I think we could have had a more exciting game, if you, Italy, and I had been balanced at the end. I don't know what would have happened, but there may have been fireworks - which would have been pretty exciting! You were extremely reliable and followed through on everything you promised - thank you for that!

    Ningi626 (Ukraine)- I think we actually made really good allies! I'm sorry to have soiled that with betrayal, but it is the nature of the game. You had excellent instincts (i.e. not taking my help in fighting off Turkey) and were a good tactician. Your anti-Poland plan was effective and well-designed! I would love to play with you again, ideally on a map where we don't feel obliged to fight each other.

    Asudevil (Italy)- Congrats! This game was basically your to win and the fact that you had to do a draw is unfortunate (for you!), but I understand why you felt the need to propose it. Your stab was one of the most beautiful turns I've ever seen in this game and I really look forward to playing with you another time!

    ColesD (Turkey)- Betraying you was not my finest moment and I think this game would have been much, much more interesting if I had not. It would have been exciting to pull a 'juggernaught' on a map like this, where Germany and Italy were so far away. You were one of the best communicator's in this game and I really enjoyed playing with you - I hope we get the chance to play again.

    Gnaah (Egypt)- I'm sorry I wasn't there for you earlier. Like France and Spain, we were just a little too far apart for me to have an immediate impact. I appreciate your offer of support against Turkey at the end - though it didn't have a particularly big impact on the game.

    Intellectubility (Spain)- We had some nice chats, but we were just too far apart to really organize anything together. By the time we could have coordinate against Germany or Italy they were both too strong for me to risk open warfare without the other's support.

    Haroonriaz (France)- I'm not sure we really spoke! By the time I bordered one of your neighbors you were pretty much out of the game. Sorry!

    Sleepyjim / Locksmithvic (UK)- Locksmithvic, I'm sorry I didn't really engage with you once you'd joined. Your predecessor's move (taking Sweden) had basically guaranteed I wouldn't be a force of consequence in the north, so I didn't really see any point in changing tack once you'd joined.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 05 Feb 2016, 21:58
by Antigonos
Aeschines wrote:Placeholder!

But in short, this was a fun game. I think everyone played well and I enjoyed spending my time chatting/scheming/betraying you folks!

I think the map will lead to similar outcomes (at least for Russia's) but I had a great time playing on it.

This is my placeholder.

Unlike Aeschines I think the map allows other rather different outcomes & are not fixed (especially for England, Turkey & Spain) but that it would need really good diplomacy for Poland & Ukraine to survive & thrive. On France & Egypt I will say more later.

I like the map & the game. I really enjoyed playing this one & thought the general level of play quite good. More on how I see the history & decisions to come.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 06 Feb 2016, 00:33
by asudevil
Ill post more later...I REALLY hoped someone would reject the draw so I could show Anti that I was serious about it...while still gearing up for a solo.

He was already concerned that I was going to move fleets to the Atlantic but I had counted my last was everything touching BLA and all of SPA...and everything south. I would have made a run for it...but after that HUGE growth, I had to show that I was still all about a draw.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 06 Feb 2016, 18:27
by Aeschines
My main complaints with this map (discussed in my AAR a bit) are that with both Poland and the Ukraine as Russia's neighbors I don't feel like Russia has very many options other than destroying them. And, in a future game where Ukraine and Poland realize that - it could go very badly for Russia early on.

And, generally, I didn't love that I had no real reason to chat with Egypt, Italy, Spain, or France for the first 2/3s of the game. In traditional diplomacy there is only one player with whom you may not share a neighbor (i.e. Britain/Turkey) but in this, nearly half the players on the board had two other players between me and them. That didn't lead to much incentive to talk to them, since we really couldn't help each other tactically.

That being said, I think it was a balanced map (except for Poland/Ukraine) and left a lot of potential for sudden moves towards the end. I definitely liked it and could see myself playing on it again (though probably not as Russia). Finally,

THANK YOU PEDROS! You were a great GM and kept the game on track. Thank you!

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 06 Feb 2016, 20:30
by asudevil
I will agree that this game definitely has countries that are practically unplayable.

People who long term all end up similar to an A/T alliance...which is possible...but very difficult

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 06 Feb 2016, 20:55
by ColesD
Well this was an entertaining game and as my first full game of Modern gave me a much higher appreciation for the variant, but I'm really disappointed in the quality of my play, particularly as the game went on. I've been eliminated within 3 game years and played better than this. I had a couple of misorders (something I'm usually very good at avoiding) and thanks to poor or sometimes complete lack of diplomacy I squandered what was a promising position at one stage.

At game start, my initial plan was to ignore the north and focus south. Russia and Ukraine I felt couldn't help but fight, and I could stay out of it and side with the winner. My choice was to either side with Egypt against Italy or the other way round. My preference was to side with Egypt - Italy I felt was too strong a nation to be allowed to get big, and my opinion was that asudevil would be the more dangerous competitor. However, by year 2 I'd changed my mind. Asudevil's superior communication skills made him by far the more reliable ally, that's why better players get allies! So we made plans to collaborate in a Egypt takedown.

The 'ignore the north' strategy though went out the window early when Russia made me an offer I couldn't refuse - a joint Ukrainian takedown in exchange for Rostov, effectively ceding the Black Sea to me. Although it meant war on two fronts, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. However, Aeschines decided to put the war on hold when he chose to go after Poland first. This had advantages (no initial two-front war), but Russia dominated Ukraine in the Poland takedown, so I'd in retrospect let Russia get too strong already.

Some bad choices and my first misorder then turned the Egypt war into a crawl. I'd barely got anywhere by the time Russia was ready for the Ukraine attack. Still, Ukraine was weak, and the takedown would be no trouble, and so it proved. Then, at the moment of victory over Ukraine, Russia stabbed me.

The run-up to the stab was where I lost this game. I'd already been looking ahead to where I might go next: with Russia against Italy or with Italy against Russia? But I hesitated, and did nothing about forward planning for either event. And I'd lost control of the narrative of the board. I blame coming off WitA as my last forum game, but I'd failed to appreciate the whole-board dynamics of this variant - even for a ten-player variant it's not as big as you think. I'd virtually ignored the west all game and worst of all I'd barely if at all spoken to Antigonos as Germany. I let a Russia-Germany agreement (which could only mean bad things for me) build under my nose without doing anything about it. After the stab I realised my mistake, Russia had a free rein to throw everything he had at me and I was trapped. Italy was my only friend and he was in no position to help, plus with his own agreement with Germany he could bide his time and let me struggle, whilst he continued to go. In the end, in order to have any chance to defend against Russia, I pulled all my units from the Italy border, figuring if Italy stabbed, he deserved it for at least sticking by me so long. Of course he did stab, but I guess got spooked by how well the turn went and offered a hasty draw, which was eagerly accepted by all.

Could I have avoided Russia's stab? Possibly. I should have realised I was still asking for too much from Russia, and indeed if he had asked, I would have let him keep Rostov, but I didn't tell him that. If he hadn't stabbed, the game would have been very different. It would likely have been Russia and I against the Italy-Germany axis, giving more chances to the western powers. My poor all-board diplomacy would not have cost me as much. The outcome, I couldn't say, but it would have been at least twice as long a game!

On the variant itself, I have plans (if I find time) to write a comparative look at what I call the 'Big 4' forum variants (Colonial, Modern, WitA, Heptarchy) now I've played full games of all 4, when I find the time (hah!), so I'll talk more about it then. But for now I'll say in it's favour, Modern is fluid, fast-moving, full of options and (as I found to my cost) its relative compactness means it has a strong cross-board dynamic that, say, WitA lacks. Its main drawback is the unevenness of the powers, there are clear strong ones and weak ones and it would take an exceptional player to pull say a Poland, Ukraine or Spain through to a win. Also the Russia-Ukraine border is such that it seems impossible to stop them fighting, but then this is supposed to model modern Europe!

Thanks to Pedros for GMing and to all the players for an enjoyable, well played and friendly game.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 06 Feb 2016, 21:16
by asudevil
Just so you know Cole. I was actually hoping you would be our 3rd. So everything I said up until that last year...was actually true. I was scared of the G/R as much as you were. I even told that to Germany about 2 years ago. But then after you TOTALLY pulled every unit off the line...I couldn't resist the killing blow. I saw how strong Russia had gotten and realized that you really were the more I could pull off you, the better I would be to face G/R if they didn't want me around. Coupled with how well I did in Spain the same was just a little too much.

I know Anti...he's ALWAYS worried about the solo cause he's a draw guy. I don't know if he's ever pulled a solo in a forum game...but at the same time...he never gets eliminated. Had I only pulled 4 that season...I think I may have been able to go a little more...but at the same time...I had to go for it all against you...or you would be too strong in recovery.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 07 Feb 2016, 01:06
by ColesD
asudevil wrote:Just so you know Cole. I was actually hoping you would be our 3rd. So everything I said up until that last year...was actually true. I was scared of the G/R as much as you were. I even told that to Germany about 2 years ago. But then after you TOTALLY pulled every unit off the line...I couldn't resist the killing blow. I saw how strong Russia had gotten and realized that you really were the more I could pull off you, the better I would be to face G/R if they didn't want me around. Coupled with how well I did in Spain the same was just a little too much.

Yeah, I knew from I while back that I couldn't match Russia 1 on 1, that's why I spent much of the last few turns trying to persuade you to join the fight, it was the only chance I had. When I knew the only way to hold the line was to pull everything from your border, my last hope was that you'd do likewise, finally freeing up your Balkan units to fight Russia, in the hope that you were 100% committed to our alliance. It was a long shot, but it was all I had left.

Oh, and for random info, my real name isn't actually Cole. My username's actually a reference to where I live, not my name. It's a dumb name, but I'm useless at coming up with names in general, and for some reason that's what I thought of when I joined years ago. Now I'm stuck with it.

Re: AARs

PostPosted: 07 Feb 2016, 05:03
by asudevil
ColesD wrote:Oh, and for random info, my real name isn't actually Cole. My username's actually a reference to where I live, not my name. It's a dumb name, but I'm useless at coming up with names in general, and for some reason that's what I thought of when I joined years ago. Now I'm stuck with it.

You actually can change your name every year if you are so inclined...just saying