Which country has the strongest starting position?

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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby ruffdove » 22 Jan 2020, 04:17

The country with the strongest starting position is the one with the best Diplomacy player assigned to it.

I've watched a well-played Austria walk all over Russia and Turkey. I've seen Italy with 9 centers by 1904. Stop worrying about which country has the best starting position in a vacuum and up your game so that whatever country you get is the one to watch out for.
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 22 Jan 2020, 05:15

ruffdove wrote:The country with the strongest starting position is the one with the best Diplomacy player assigned to it.

I've watched a well-played Austria walk all over Russia and Turkey. I've seen Italy with 9 centers by 1904. Stop worrying about which country has the best starting position in a vacuum and up your game so that whatever country you get is the one to watch out for.


It’s not really about being worried about it. It’s more a topic of interest for a bird’s eye view analysis.
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby Zosimus » 22 Jan 2020, 05:22

There are different ways of looking at it. However, I would say that Russia is the country with the best starting position as it starts over the main stalemate line and, as long as it does reasonably well in starting diplomacy, it will pick up Rumania, putting it over the Juggernaut stalemate line. So, Russia has the best chance of a solo victory.
Be more aggressive.
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby David E. Cohen » 22 Jan 2020, 15:05

ruffdove wrote:The country with the strongest starting position is the one with the best Diplomacy player assigned to it.

I've watched a well-played Austria walk all over Russia and Turkey. I've seen Italy with 9 centers by 1904. Stop worrying about which country has the best starting position in a vacuum and up your game so that whatever country you get is the one to watch out for.


Ding!

My reaction to the question was the same as my reaction to another question which gets asked periodically in various forums, that is, which is my favorite Power. The answer to both is:

"What Power am I playing?"
Last edited by David E. Cohen on 24 Jan 2020, 14:33, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby ruffdove » 22 Jan 2020, 15:38

@NoPun


I understand, I was partly just being flip.

From a purely tactical standpoint, I think Russia is in the best position. Four centers, over the stalemate line, its northern neighbors have bigger fish to fry (the Western Triangle) out of the gate than just you.
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby citylights » 22 Jan 2020, 22:17

ruffdove wrote:The country with the strongest starting position is the one with the best Diplomacy player assigned to it.

I've watched a well-played Austria walk all over Russia and Turkey. I've seen Italy with 9 centers by 1904. Stop worrying about which country has the best starting position in a vacuum and up your game so that whatever country you get is the one to watch out for.


Nope, not worrying--I purely wondered this to begin an interesting discussion and hear people's thoughts, that's all. ;-)
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby mhsmith0 » 24 Jan 2020, 05:35

I would probably venture guesses as...

Country most impacted by player skill: Italy (with Austria and Russia probably not far behind). Those are the three countries where it's incredibly easy to not achieve much (Italy), die early (Austria), or get rolled back even after scoring nice early gains (Russia). Italy and Russia in particular are countries where you gain ENORMOUSLY from having a finger in every pie and being able to influence events around the board to your benefit (and Austria is more of "you'll die if you play bad but if you live a while you have a lot of potential")

Country with strongest defensive position: Turkey (with France and maybe England not far behind). Turkey is hard to kill quickly unless you have a well organized AIR alliance, France is hard to kill quickly unless you have a well organized EG (and maybe +I) alliance, and England has a nice corner position unless France spams fleet builds and overwhelms him (even more so if Russia blocks growth to the north).

Country with strongest growth potential: Russia (with France not far behind). Like Zosimus noted, Russia gets positions behind both sets of stalemate lines, in both directions. Heck, just look at Russia's gunboat win map
Image
LOTS of realistic ways to win, and more options = more win likelihood. Russia can semi-realistically solo without holding ANY of Turkey's home centers or Bulgaria or Greece. Russia can also semi-realistically solo without holding ANY northern centers outside of Scandinavia and Berlin.

Country that's just the most fun to play: Italy (followed by Russia). Lots of interesting tactical/strategic paths, and a hard-wired incentive to be active and involved with every board relationship (technically you should care as every country, but it's a lot easier to find your way into not caring as much as, say, Turkey, where your options are relatively straightforward and there's less to really *DO*)
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby citylights » 26 Jan 2020, 22:21

NoPunIn10Did wrote:
Strategus wrote:It would be interesting to see analysis of performance per country by ranking. For instance, does Germany do better with better players?


This was an interesting question, so between some SQL magic and so forth, I have a graph that can show the trends by country. I used Standard Game ratings in this instance and excluded (1) surrendered positions and (2) players whose ratings were equal to 1000, which tends to designate a brand new player to the site. I also limited the games to only the last rated 2-3k games that fit these stipulations.

Image

To be clear, what's shown above is a visualization of the calculated regression curves, not the actual results (which were chaotic and all over the map). Linear regression is, in general, not a great way of analyzing data like this, but it can identify rough overall trends. Likewise, these don't show the distribution of persons with those ratings for each country.

To your question, as it turns out, Germany (on average) appears to be the country whose performance is least impacted by player rating.


Wow--thanks for that! I wonder how you were able to collect these results; surely you didn't go through every game? All the same, it's interesting to see.

I wonder why players with higher ratings do so significantly better with France than those with lower ones--could anyone here tell us if they've done better with France as they've gotten better at the game and their rating grew? That's very odd, hmm. :-\
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby VGhost » 01 Feb 2020, 22:57

I've been fiddling on and off with a number of scoring-related questions for several years, and this is one of them. Back in 2016 I pulled results (by hand) for 300 games that had wrapped up that Spring - so this data's almost four years old and the meta may have shifted. This was also not at all adjusted for player strength, and while I had started trying to only take games without surrenders there simply weren't enough. With those caveats, here's what I found.

France had the most overall scoring results (113), with Germany (108) and Turkey (106) close behind. England (99) was in shouting distance; Austria and Russia tied (88 each), and Italy (72) last.
Russia had the most solos (23), but Germany (22), France (20), England (18), and Turkey (17) were all more or less within a measurement error. Austria and Italy (13 each) were much lower.

Now, here's another caveat: this also depends how games are scored. PlayDip uses a scoring system where (a) points for a draw are split between players in a draw (subject to ELO-like adjustments) and (b) players can be left out of a draw. Let's just say there's a lot of argument whether this is the best way to do things, and note one other list: survival.

Turkey (193) survived at the end of the most games, with France (188) and England (181) reasonably close. After that these numbers drop off fast, to Germany (181), Russia (146) and Italy (145), and Austria (127) last.

This data suggests that on PlayDip Germany and France are the strongest powers, with a slight edge to France. Italy appears to be the worst. Incidentally it suggests an explanation for Russia's middling results - lots of solos but relatively easy to keep out of a draw.

However, in a game scored either (a) with different scoring or (b) including everybody still alive, this would shift a bit. For instance, including all survivors would probably strength Italy's and Turkey's results - Italy to at least even with Austria, and Turkey probably really in the first tier of powers.
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Re: Which country has the strongest starting position?

Postby LordVarys » 25 May 2020, 19:44

Taking into account what has already been said depending on what you look for, I would definitely say France.

All you have to do as France is to avoid all three neighbours turning onto you. Italy won't as long as the other two does not. Germany generally prioritizes consolidating himself so basically all you have to do is to establish friendly terms with both England and Germany on the English Channel and Burgundy, be it through a DMZ or bounce, while assessing which of them you want to work with against the other.

While doing so, you should be able to have 5 centers after the first years and if you have played your diplomacy correctly, you have the full flexibility to move in either of the directions. I find this flexibility very underrated.

Commenting briefly on the others: true, England and Turkey has excellent defensive positions but neither of them can break out without one neighbour offering a lot of support or being outright incompetend. Russia has the dilemma of having to chose North-South and will easily be perceived as a threat due to its early advantage of an extra center, even though ironically Russia usually is not in the lead after the first year. Germany has the octopus tendency, becoming exposed however one plays it. Austria evidently needs to focus on survival. Italy, I find underrated. It has a tremendously strong defensive position. Armies in Piedmont and Venice get you a long way to deter any thoughts of an invasion and a fleet in Ionian Sea suffice to hold Turkey at bay for a while while Austria is rarely allowed to build a second fleet and France will negotiate away any fleet in Marseilles for a calm backyard while attacking England or Germany. While Italy has a week offensive position, it is not at all a bad opening position.

But ultimately, France has the perfect balance between defense, strength, opportunities and flexibility.
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