Vikings: AARs

An 8 player map set in the Middle Ages during the height of the Viking Raids. Created by Erlend "Joe" Janbu. GM'ed by Nanooktheeskimo.

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Vikings: AARs

Postby Nanook » 30 Dec 2016, 08:37

This is a thread for players to post their AARs. The game ended in a solo victory for Aeschines/Arab Caliphates, and the players were as follows:

Arab Caliphates: Aeschines
Burgundy: Walshie71
Danmark: gnaah
East Roman Empire: Alman
France: Antigonos, with Gooderian finishing the game as his sub
Norge: JonS
Slavic Nations: joe92
Sverige: GhostEcho

Thank you to everyone for playing, this was a blast for me as both a GM and a spectator, and I hope you all enjoyed the game as much as I did.
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Re: Vikings: AARs

Postby Aeschines » 30 Dec 2016, 09:41

General thoughts:
I enjoyed this game immensely! I was really sad that I didn't have the guts to push for the 2-way draw with Alman that we had long planned for. But I think the map was reasonably balanced but I do wish the solo count had been substantially higher (30, perhaps?). Thanks for running such a great game Nanook! Let's dig into the specifics!

My Initial Look at the Board
I was thrilled to draw the Arabic Caliphates, with the bottom position on the board I was in the enviable position of being unflankable. While I didn't love my entwinement with the Eastern Roman Empire (ERE) it seemed that everyone on the board was locked into one of those mutual dances of death. I decided that the best way to extricate myself from the ERE would be to try to work with them, rather than trying to overwhelm them. I thought the risk of a drawn out conflict with the ERE would lead to both of us being wiped out in the mid-game. I also decided that I really liked the western position, with Spain as a primary base. Because there was no strictly seagoing powers in the Atlantic, I saw the western edge of the map as the most viable long term position. Additionally, I studied the Umayyad Caliphate in Al-Andalus (Spain) in college (even designing an ill-fated variant based on that time period), so the thought of being the Umayyad's was particularly appealing.

First Contacts
My first priorities were to reach out to the Eastern Roman Empire to arrange a way to divy up our spheres of influence. To my pleasure, I discovered that Alman was thinking along the same lines as me and we really hit it off. We agreed that our long-term interests lay in being a united front. However, we were both afraid that if we began blatantly trading centers we would be seen as a significant threat early on and united against. So, to simplify things we decided to move me westward and him eastward under the guise of an all out war.

During this time I also reached out to France (Antigonos), who was interested in forming a stable border with me in Spain. I was more than happy to agree and tried to convince him to move on Burgundy (Walshie71) early. Antigonos was circumspect though and put off joint action until we had a definitive border. Simultaneously I was arranging an alliance with Walshie71, Burgundy. As a western power I saw that my expansion had to come in mainland France or Italy, which meant targeting Walshie/Burgundy or Antigonos/France. Because Burgundy had home centers on the western mediterranean, I was leaning towards attacking Burgundy first, but I was open to either possibility. I truly enjoyed Walshie71's in-character messages and some of my favorite correspondence in the game came from our arguments about the nature of the perfidious Arabs or God-dissecting Christians.

My other primary contact was with the Slavic Nations (Joe92). While things were going well with the ERE, the Slavic Nations would be an essential ally if I actually came to blows with ERE. Joe92 was friendly and competent. I could easily imagine myself working with him and so I tried to be as open about my intentions as possible (though I did not mention my explicit agreements with Alman, ERE). Thus, it was to the Slavs (Joe92) that I ran when Alman 'stabbed' me, setting off our fake war. At the time, I was still considering whether to work with Alman or Joe92, but I knew that if I was to side with Joe92 I had to quickly eliminate Alman, which meant I needed a commitment for the Slavic armies to pour south now that I had been "stabbed". The Slavic Nations weren't in a position to provide that assistance, so the long term plans with Alman quickly eclipsed any with Joe92.

Early Game Maneuverings
In the east, Alman and I continued to develop our fake war - using it as an excuse to trade his western centers to me in exchange for my eastern centers. The Slav (Joe92) offered some help, as did Burgundy (Walshie71) but I tried to project a fatalism about my prospects in the east based on the "excellence" of the ERE stab. I don't really know whether Joe, Antigonos, or Walshie really bought the line that we were selling but at the very least it seemed to prevent the board from uniting against Alman and I. I think it was this period of the game that really cemented my ultimate plan of a 2-way draw with Alman. We had to send tons of messages to arrange each move and discuss how we would present it to the rest of the board. Alman was responsive, clever, forgiving, and open-minded and it definitely forged my favorite diplomacy alliance during the course of this game.

In the west, my decision of whether to side with Burgundy or France in their imminent war (though I think this was actually a show they were putting on) was essentially made for me after Walshie71 (Burgundy) made an order that actively prevented me from taking an SC. I don't know if it was intentional or a mis-order but when I asked them what had happened, Walshie71 was vague and unclear (a by-product of their in-character communication). For me, this was the last straw and I prepared a betrayal and war against Burgundy. The plan went off well and I was able to cripple Burgundy with some clever (if I do say so myself) maneuverings and convoys. I was able to enlist Antigonos' tentative help, once it became clear that Burgundy was going to fall anyway. Additionally, Alman was able to provide my some essential support, even as we pretended to be at war. Between the ERE, France, and my own forces I was quickly able to subdue Burgundy in southern France and Italy.

At the end of the early game, I was the undisputed ruler of Spain and the western Mediterranean. The Eastern Roman Empire had taken all of my possessions east of Athens, but I controlled Athens westward and had nearly complete domination over Italy and the French mediterranean. Burgundy was rapidly collapsing in the continental interior and there didn't seem to be any unified opposition to Alman and I.

The Mid-Game, and the French Betrayal
The seeds for my next big move were laid when Antigonos and I were unable to come up with a mutually agreeable split of the Burgundian centers. I wanted firm control over Spain, while Antigonos wanted to keep a foothold, and we both recognized that whoever controlled Avi, in southern France, had a huge tactical advantage over the other. Knowing we would be coming to blows, I tried to alleviate the French concerns by agreeing to cede territory and to move out of Avi. My betrayal, in many ways, consisted of sitting still. My biggest coup was that I was able to steal Tls, the only Frankish home center that would allow them to build Atlantic fleets. I moved fleets into the Atlantic and began a long slow war against France.

With my superior positioning, I was able to make small gains for a while but quickly became stalemated with France still 3/4 alive. In the east, Alman began to struggle against the Slav (who I think had gotten fed up with my constant promises to attack the ERE without any follow through). This was the most nerve-wracking part of the game. If Alman collapsed to the Slavic pressure, I would lose my best ally and it was unlikely that Joe92 would work with me again (and Antigonos certainly would not!). I began casting around for other potential allies, in the event that I lost my first pick.

I started working on Gnaah (Danmark) who was cleaning up Britain from Norge around this time and seemed poised to be seeking a new opponent. I started wheedling with Gnaah to get him to attack France in the back. I knew that if Danmark was able to open up a second front against France my war would be certain to succeed. Additionally, I'd played enough games with Antigonos to know that if Gnaah betrayed him he would turn on Gnaah with his full force and potentially even king-make me. Antigonos is a big believer in alliances cemented by the threat of mutual destruction (which is why I was glad I got the first stab in, rather than the last). I also tried to patch up my relations with Joe92, who made a firm demand that I move on Alman.

At this juncture, my best hope was for Alman to decide he had no chance of surviving the Slavic onslaught and inviting me to 'invade' to prevent a Slavic victory. I had decided that I would never stab Alman ( :? ) so without the invitation, I wasn't going to make any moves against him, regardless of the cost to my relationship with Joe92. Then everything changed. First, Sverige stabbed the Slav, creating an opening for Alman, and soon after Gnaah betrayed Antigonos giving me a beautiful vector to attack France.

The End Game
As Alman was able to push deep into Slavic territory things started really looking up for our 2-way. Then, with the Danmark (Gnaah) stab of France, things were thrown into a little bit of chaos. Antigonos reacted as I'd hoped and began to move to defend against Gnaah, explicitly offering me all of the Frankish SCs I could grab. However Gnaah's betrayal went much better than I'd anticipated and he suddenly seemed like a genuine solo threat.

It was now that I realized that the solo requirements for the game were so low. I'd simply assumed that the solo requirement was half the board SCs, as it is for most diplomacy maps, so I was in for a rude awakening. Gnaah seemed to have a clear path to 26 SCs. I saw two options. 1) To race to 26 SCs myself to either solo first or ensure I was in the draw or 2) to work with an alliance to slow or stop Gnaah. I considered option 1, but at this juncture I still really wanted to share a draw with Alman, so instead I tried to help organize the anti-Gnaah alliance. I tried to coordinate the board's efforts and while we didn't roll Gnaah back, it seemed like it would be enough to deny Danmark an outright solo.

Looking at the low solo requirement, I decided that the only way I would be able to get my desired 2-way with Alman would be to get to 25 SCs with a 26th SC that no one could defend from me. Then, I would send the board an ultimatum demanding that they agree to a 2-way or be soloed on. Then, Antigonos had to leave the game. Gooderian took over France but had a very different outlook. Instead of seeing France as on its way out, Gooderian's fresh eyes saw a France with an opportunity to grow (with the threat of kingmaking as an essential tool). This worked well for me at first, Gnaah really started to lose ground and I was able to build a fair amount of trust with Gooderian.

However, for the last month (or two) of the game, especially with the long delay caused by Antigonos' departure, communications across the board had pretty much stalled up. Alman and I hadn't exchanged a message in a long time and my real life was keeping me busy - so I was doing little more than entering in orders to avoid NMRing. Then, with 72 hours before (what become the) final deadline, I looked at the map and realized that I had let France grow too powerful. If I allowed France to use the builds they would gain that year, I would lose my death grip on the French home centers, which was my primary means of keeping France "on the leash" if you will. I felt like I had run out of options. I knew that if Alman and I pushed for a true 2-way draw we would face a resurgent France and a Danmark no longer under pressure. In that environment, I didn't think it likely that we would be able to get our 2-way before Gnaah could stab France/Sverige for the genuine solo.

Maybe we could have done it, but the game had been going on for such a long time and the communications were slow enough that I didn't have the guts to try. Instead I stole all the SCs I could get my hands on (Alman - I wanted to solo purely from French centers, so as not to ruin your post-game appearance but it was too likely that France would move to defend at least one of them). In the end, I soloed out of cowardice but I'm still pretty proud to have soloing as my "second best" option. :D

Good game to everyone! I truly enjoyed playing with all of you.

Notes on the Map
As I mentioned earlier, I really think that the solo requirement should be higher. Because 3-powers could get to 26 SCs, the end game becomes very unstable, which invited players to seek endings earlier than they otherwise would. But, other than that I like the map and the setting quite a bit. I would definitely enjoy playing Vikings another time.
Last edited by Aeschines on 30 Dec 2016, 23:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vikings: AARs

Postby VGhost » 30 Dec 2016, 17:11

Good game everybody, and congratulations to Aeschines!

I never really got out of my corner, so I don't have that much to say. The game was shaped for me by two big things:

The first was that basically the first communication I got was from Slavic Nations, and seemed to be along lines of, "I don't know how we can work together so I'm going to have to attack you." The second was a game-long pressure from East Roman Empire to stab Slavic Nations.

My first priority was to talk down Slavic Nations from his hostility. Sverige and Slavic Nations are (I've now played both) problematically intertwined. Even a combined effort is going to have a hard time breaking through Scandinavia. (It doesn't help that Sverige starts with Army Vis, which has to be convoyed anywhere to be useful, effectively stalling any action in the Baltic.)

My hardest decision was the stab of Slavic Nations in 956. We had a pretty good alliance going after the initial stand-off. But with a couple powers getting close to solo-grab size, the fact was that Slavic Nations was getting too big: especially with the lower center count for victory I felt like I was in danger - even if Slavs were completely loyal - of becoming a non-factor and eventually getting squeezed out between Danmark and Slavic Nations. That logic still feels reasonable, but there were two miscalculations:

First, I thought joe92 was the kind of player who would "accept reality" and be amenable to a re-established alliance with myself as the dominant partner instead of him. Instead he declared vendetta. Whoops.

Second, I thought Danmark - who had been working with me to eliminate Norge - would spend a year getting things into position before attacking me directly. Whoops.

An unforeseen result was that East Roman Empire picked up a whole lot of centers that Slavic Nations elected not to defend, and nearly got in solo position himself. The fact that three players were in a position to make a solo bid made it sort of difficult to build any kind of "anti-leader alliance".

Unfortunately I got somewhat lazy at the end, both in checking orders and in communication. However no one else was writing much either - at least one plan I tried to make I never even got a reply to.
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Re: Vikings: AARs

Postby Aeschines » 30 Dec 2016, 23:22

How was it playing the Viking nations specifically? How did the game do in replicating the feel of Viking marauders?
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Re: Vikings: AARs

Postby joe92 » 20 Jan 2017, 16:26

Good game everyone. Well done to Aeschines! (for proving me right! Haha, take that Alman, my prophecies of doom were totally correct :lol: )

Take on the map
I think this is a fascinating map which provides a great many challenges to each player.

But to some the challenges are a bit more than others...

Sverige starting with an army in Vis is a great hindrance to his starting options. The same with Norge in Iceland. For both I believe they should start with fleets. In the case of Sverige, perhaps that the fleet in Bir and the army in Vis should swap.

Sverige then has another problem. The heavy level of intertwining with the Slavic Nations. It's too much so. The Slavs are split down the middle in an uneven manner. Three armies to the east, five to the west. It makes the idea of peace between the nations very difficult.

Speaking of intertwining, I don't think it's possible for France and Burgundy to do anything but war. Whether what is shown on the map is historically accurate or not for that time period I don't know, but the centres split as they are will lead to the exact same outcome every time. Even if they managed to keep on peaceable terms for 3 or 4 years, the inevitable would eventually happen when Burgundy becomes frustrated of being surrounded by the French or the French become frustrated of essentially playing 2 minor powers rather than a major power like everyone else on the board. I did not envy Walshie or Antigonos in this game.

I also think the solo requirement needs to be higher to prevent a mad dash at the end.

The game
I got my highest bid. I was pretty happy. I thought during the bids that I could create an alliance between the Slavs and the East Roman Empire so they were my two top bids. After approaching Alman (ERE) it certainly seemed like he would be on board for such a profitable alliance. GhostEcho (Sverige) was also quick to contact me to discuss a trade off to try and balance out our awkward starting position. I accepted that but then stabbed in the opening year. I was convinced that with ERE as an ally we would achieve so much more, and much faster. Sadly, immediately following my stab of Sverige, ERE stabbed me. Bit of a bummer. Not one to let a thing like pride get in the way I reached out to Sverige apologising for my stab against him and offering him all that he had previously asked for in the hopes of being able to start afresh. While the deal was accepted clearly the trust had been diminished. That had to be rebuilt over several years.

It went pretty slow after that. I was talking to the Arabs a lot who were so great at whispering sweet nothings. I was in contact Alman still who always seemed like he was on the precipice of changing his mind yet never did - we stalled against one another for a great many years. My workings with Antigonos (France) helped me stay alive, and even offered some sort of counter attack at times. In fact, the counter attack seemed to be worked really well. The ERE were being pushed back, the alliance of France/Slavs/Sverige - and by extension Denmark - were succeeding in curtailing the dominance of the ERE/Arab alliance. We were on the road to forcing one of them to flip on the other. We might actually survive to the end game. Then I got stabbed.

Sverige stabbed me. It was to my mind a terribly thought out stab. I made those thoughts well known. GhostEcho, you say in your AAR:
GhostEcho wrote:First, I thought joe92 was the kind of player who would "accept reality" and be amenable to a re-established alliance with myself as the dominant partner instead of him. Instead he declared vendetta. Whoops.


Firstly, you never suggested a re-established alliance with yourself the dominant player so I can be forgiven for not thinking that was going to happen.
Secondly, if that was your intention you had a strange way of showing that still wanted to work with me. Here is Fall 956, when you stabbed me. Here is Winter 956, where you built 3 armies immediately on my border ready to race through and pick up more of my centres. Here is Spring 957, when lo and behold you did start moving your armies against me, including convoying the army you built in Vis to the mainland to further help with the attack against me. Forgive me for thinking you just wanted all of my centres and to see me wiped off the board.

Of course I was going to declare war against you. ERE was not my ally and shared my entire southern border. You had just stabbed me in the north and shared about 40% of my border. The other 10% or so was made of Denmark and France who were in no position to help me. You had turned my game around from a position of hope to a position of hopelessness. King-making was my only tool left and I used it. In my opinion you should have realised this before you stabbed me, and waited. Waited until ERE was weaker or waited until you were strong enough to stab me taking enough centres to cripple me in one blow. I'm not saying you shouldn't have stabbed me. I just think you didn't consider the variables properly before you did.

So yeah, king-making was what I did. I threw what I had against Sverige. At this point there were lots of pauses in the game and my interest having lost all potential dwindled. My level of communication sadly dropped and I didn't focus too much on the game anymore.

I'd hoped I would keep a small force still alive, 5 or 6 armies in the north of Russia or central Europe. That I would be able to convince Alman of the benefits of working with me at this juncture as Aeschines was going to solo. Or that I would end up shoulder to shoulder with Denmark who was and had always been an ally in the game. If either happened then there was a chance, however slim, that I could return as a main player. But as said, it was my own fault that didn't happen as I zoned out. I got the orders in and that was it. Then it ended.

Would I play the map again?
No. Not in it's current state. I feel it's too imbalanced and that it requires a huge amount of energy and dedication to do well in this game. I had very good reasons to contact everybody on the board. At the beginning of the game I wouldn't be surprised if I'd sent out over 20 messages before the first spring. It's all well and good when you've got the time for it but I naively hadn't considered that aspect when I signed up.

Thanks nanook for doing a great job GM'ing!
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Re: Vikings: AARs

Postby joe92 » 20 Jan 2017, 16:33

^ That above sounds a bit negative I realise. I think the flu is making me sound a bit more sombre then I mean to be. I should say that even though it went wrong I had a great time playing this map! Thank you to the great opponents who made it so fun :D
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Re: Vikings: AARs

Postby Nanook » 21 Jan 2017, 10:08

Glad those that have weighed in seem to have enjoyed themselves, even when the game didn't go their way! It was a very fun game to GM and to spectate.

I think the point of the low solo requirement is exactly to create that mad dash at the end. There's a fair debate about whether or not that's desirable, but to my eyes that's sort of the point of that rule, to encourage players to make a dash towards the end for a solo. Perhaps you guys feel differently having been in the thick of it, but from a spectator standpoint the finish we had in this game was very exciting, with three powers racing towards the solo and trying to balance not getting so far ahead everyone ganged up on them with not falling behind and missing their chance. There's also to consider that many bigger maps end up with a draw. This rule, while not perfect, certainly encourages a solo or a small draw over one including more than half the board.

So there's a debate to be had about whether it's a desirable thing or not, but the rules worked as intended I believe, and encouraged a dash to the end for a solo.

It's also worth noting that the game lasted nearly 7 months, and 12 game years. With a higher solo requirement and subsequently longer end game, we'd be pushing 8 or 9 months and 15-17 game years, in all likelihood. As a couple players mentioned in their AARs, comms were dropping by the end of the game for a variety of reasons, but I think it's a safe bet that fatigue was one of them. So I do understand the complaints about it being too much of a mad dash ending, I think it's fair to point out the other side as well, and why that might not be a bad way to end a game like this.
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Re: Vikings: AARs

Postby VGhost » 30 Jan 2017, 01:47

Let's start at the opening of the game. The Slavic Plan was this:

joe92 wrote:I thought during the bids that I could create an alliance between the Slavs and the East Roman Empire so they were my two top bids.


And this was the gist of the first message I got:

joe92 wrote:We are enemies from the get go. ... If there is some way you think we can resolve this problem without all out war, I would be keen to hear. Otherwise, I'll see you on the battlefield with a sharpened axe.


Slavs got this message in first, so that put me on the back foot especially when my game plan depended on a solid alliance with Slavs. I did talk him down, by playing exactly as I said I would despite his initial stab. I think my assumption was if he didn't ally with me he'd ally with Danmark and squish me: ERE tried throughout the game to get me to attack Slavs but didn't really seem to want to move North himself to back it up, so I hadn't too much considered him as a factor. I think. It's getting misty. But maybe that was unwise... back to the Slavic AAR.

joe92 wrote:After approaching Alman (ERE) it certainly seemed like he would be on board for such a profitable alliance. GhostEcho (Sverige) was also quick to contact me to discuss a trade off to try and balance out our awkward starting position. I accepted that but then stabbed in the opening year. ... [After ERE attacked Slavs on the coast] the deal [to rework the alliance] was accepted clearly the trust had been diminished. That had to be rebuilt over several years.


My operative plan depended on Slavs: I was going to play like I trusted him no matter what.

Well, up until 956, like I said, when he left himself wide open at a point where the board was headed toward end-game and I was stuck as a minor power. Now before I got around to my attempt to renegotiate the alliance, I got this from Slavs:

joe92 wrote:The only reason you are still alive in this game is because of all the effort I put in to keeping you alive. ... I figured you would have been a far better ally than a tombstone ... I so badly misread you. You have no honour... Know that I will be throwing the game. ... I am sending everything I have against you and ceding everything I have to E. Rome.


That didn't seem to leave much room for negotiating at the instant, but in my reply I laid out my reasoning:

GhostEcho wrote:All I can say in my defense is that I saw one shot to get myself back in as a player in the end-game, and I felt I had to take it. A shame, really, as you've been a far better ally than I normally wangle, but I don't see any way to punch out past Danmark's fleets: if I want a result from this game, I'm going to have to attack you sooner or later. With Danmark and Arabs both nearing 20, and a surprise flood of builds this year, it was next year or never...

...and then you wanted to borrow a supply center, which I was able to steer into a position I could start the hit this year.


Slavs weren't having any of the rational discussion thing though, so I just let it be after receiving

joe92 wrote:You're either blind or an idiot. I've taken this stab particularly bad because of all the effort I've put into keeping you alive.


To be quite clear, I was frustrated by the insults and vulgarity (the latter I've left out): I was more irritated by the claims of trying to keep me alive when he'd started the game by saying he was attacking me, stabbed after reaching a different deal, and somewhat continued friction about moves afterwards. In my book it's Bad Form to remind people how much they owe you, especially when you're not even trying to make a deal at the time - and anyway, in my opinion my own survival was due mainly to being repeatedly able to talk Slavs out of ideas that were bad for me.

Slavic threats to throw to ERE didn't bother me; I'd worked this out in contact with ERE anyway, and I needed ERE big enough to contest Arabs anyway. And if he did just throw away centers, he wouldn't be defending the ones up North and I could take those.

Obviously in the end it didn't work out. My biggest mistake was misreading Norge, arguably a big enough mistake to make the stab a bad idea regardless of other factors; another thing that didn't help was the ERE NMR in Spring 958 just when the Slavic position was on the cusp of simply disappearing. At that point I sent the following message:

GhostEcho wrote:I presume everybody has by now noticed that Danmark's run himself up to 22 centers... Frankly when I attacked Slavic Nations I didn't think Danmark would manage it quite that quickly - I thought I had another year, in which time the intended Sveringian-Roman absorption of Slavic territory would be all but complete instead of hanging in the balance...

...and now I find I need Slavic armies to buttress my western flank, to say nothing of France's predicament...

...and to lay all the cards on the table, it's my goal to manage this defense - I think we can assume Danmark will strike for the last four centers this year - without handing a victory to the Arabs, either.


At this point the only replay Slavs had was strictly unreasonable, though his logic wasn't really unsound:

joe92 wrote:Give me back Prz, Vit and give me Ros as a goodwill gesture. Alman to give Kjo to me but can have Bud and Gra. Pes to remain in my control. Given those centres this year and the actual ability to survive beyond just helping you out and I will help.

Ask me to help you just long enough that you can stop a Danmark solo - and then very likely sweep up the rest of my centres ... I'd rather see Danmark win.


But, an offer, right? Negotiation? So my proposal:

GhostEcho wrote:I'm willing to hand Ros back, compensated or otherwise - it's a 1 center-1 unit thing there and I'm wasting a bunch of units trying to defend it. But I don't see how I can yield Prz and Vit without denting our combined forces irreparably while we rebuild units and move them forward.


What I want to demonstrate by dragging this all out of the dustbin is:

A) joe92's diplomacy on several occasions was blunt to the point of rudeness: if it was a chainsaw, it was not deftly wielded.
B) joe92's diplomacy after my stab left no obvious room for negotiation, and he seemed offended when I replied in kind and didn't seem upset by the fact that I'd stabbed. Which seemed to me both a bit hypocritical and definitely unrealistic.
C) Within two years, I was attempting to coordinate an ALA, including Slavs again, and offering concessions, which he was (at first) having none of except on exactly his own terms, and those terms impractical. (Unless he (or somebody else) wants to try to demonstrate how the centers he demanded back would leave enough for a defense - as a tactical question, that actually seems like a fascinating problem.)

When joe92 says in his AAR that, "Firstly, you never suggested a re-established alliance with yourself the dominant player so I can be forgiven for not thinking that was going to happen," he is strictly speaking accurate (I never did establish a 2-way alliance with him again), but utterly ignoring the facts that (a) he gave me no indication that I'd be doing anything but wasting a PM if I tried to do so and (b) I was very quickly attempting to include him in an alliance again, albeit one with different goals due to changes on the board.

In fact by 960 (as best I can make out matching dates and game years) we were actually cooperating again (more or less) trying to wangle a draw out of the multiple solo threats.
"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel
"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: Vikings: AARs

Postby joe92 » 30 Jan 2017, 04:30

Masterfully quoted. I wish I was patient enough to go through the messages to get the relevant parts of messages which counter all you've written but I don't have the time ;)

Suffice to say though is that your reply pretty much confirms my thought pattern. I did acknowledge that I stabbed you for greed in the opening year, and then got stabbed in return and went back to you tail between my legs. I worked hard after that to build up a relationship with you in which I was sharing all my thoughts and plans. We built up a hell of a rapport in the short amount of time we were playing, and I felt like we had redeveloped trust even given the initial stab. Then you stabbed me and left me in a position where I had no hope. I was relying too much on our alliance at that point. It was supposed to be a temporary reliance but due to ERE managing a solid defence it went on far too long. My forces were too spread out and ERE was in a position to spear his forces through the centre of my line leaving me with two useless factions of armies to control - which he eventually succeeded in doing so a year or so later.

When there's no hope you've got pretty drastic tools left at your disposal. Now I'm a strong supporter of the kingmaker tactic. I know some don't like it, but it works and I feel there's no shame to be had by using it. I may have played too much on it using emotive language and that line about having pulled you out of the dirt or whatever it was and the lovely line about the tombstone and honour, but it was all necessary and part of the strategy (I got a couple of lols in private response when you sent out the lengthy group message and my response was "k"). It was imperative that you thought I was trying to throw the game and that you thought I was so irrationally angry about the stab that my moves would be erratic. I could use your clouded judgement to make better moves, or so the theory goes (it has worked for me in the past several times after being stabbed). If my language came off as too abrasive to the point of offence I apologise for that.

My demands however when you tried to reestablish an alliance between us after your stab against me were more than fair. If I had accepted your terms I would have been in the position of a protectorate with my measly few forces still split down the middle. If we had succeeded in quelling the Danmark solo run I would have been unable to reestablish myself on the board. Your terms were therefore completely unacceptable. You didn't barter any further or offer any "rational discussion" as you so sublimely insult me with other than offering Ros and you presented literally no strategy beyond platitudes for how I would profit from the arrangement. I wasn't bothered about this grand aim of stopping the Danmark solo if my position after would have remained just as dire. I'd honestly rather the game just end than drag on in such a pathetic state for me.

You mention that I left no obvious room for negotiation. I was hard toned in my messages as I had so little prospects but there was plenty of room for negotiation. You just didn't bother. Probably because you weren't that concerned about helping me make it back in terms of becoming a strong player again - of which I'm sure my previous communications about honour and all that blab didn't help. I felt rather strongly that I was only wanted long enough to stop the Danmark solo and you offered nothing in communications which proved otherwise.

As I said I apologise if you took offence to my tone after the stab. I had my reasons but I don't want to leave bad air between us as it was largely an enjoyable game and I hope to have the pleasure of battling with/against you again some time! :)
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Re: Vikings: AARs

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 30 Jan 2017, 16:05

I've been periodically observing this game, and I find the map quite intriguing from a variant designer's point of view. Feel free to ignore this comment if you prefer not to take remarks from the peanut gallery.

I wonder if the issue isn't so much the victory condition but rather how that victory condition compares to the number of units you start with (and the low neutral-to-starting-unit ratio). Classic Dip, for instance, starts players with an average of 3.14 units and has a victory condition of 18. That means on average, you have to grow to 5.73 times your starting size.

1900 is similar, with 3.57 per player and 5.04 growth factor required.

With Viking, however, going from 8.00 to 26 is just a 3.25 growth factor.

Additionally, the map can get pretty crowded with units once all the neutrals are taken. There are 176 territories to 85 SCs, a 2.07 ratio. Classic is 2.21, 1900 is 2.31, and Versailles is 2.26, for comparison.

This might throw things totally out of whack, but the following adjustments to the map might bring things in a bit closer to norms:
  • Of the 8 starting SCs per power, keep 5 of them as starting SCs.
  • Of the 3 SCs remaining per power, put a neutral army in one SC, leave one SC empty, and remove one SC from the map entirely (that territory is just a non-SC province now).
  • Total SC count is now 77, so territory:SC ratio is now 2.29.
  • Victory condition is still 26 SCs, so growth factor is now 5.20.
  • The eventual winner will have to control just over 1/3 of the map, which is not atypical in maps with higher player and/or SC counts.

The question would be this: would the map's selection of new starting/neutral SCs be set by the GM prior to assignments, or would it be something that the players decide?
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