Stalemate Line?

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Stalemate Line?

Postby Riles » 19 Feb 2018, 08:16

I've been seeing a lot of posts on the forum referencing the "stalemate line," and I have some questions around it. I understand the general concept of a stalemate line, that a group of self-supporting units can defend a cluster of SC's forever from an attacking force, even if the attacking force knows exactly what the defense's orders are.

When I read it in AAR's or other active game discussions, it sounds like a line that just developed naturally, a dynamic line that is only true for that one game (meaning this game may involve a stalemate line of Berlin and Munich on one side of the line, but another game may put Berlin/Munich on opposite sides). However, there are other posts (like Zosimus' recent A Workable Plan post) that make it sound like there is a specific, general line that you must get across if you hope to solo. The inference I'm making is that you can (should?) know when you crossed the stalemate line, even if it isn't close to being set up yet?

When I googled for the stalemate line, I found this link on dipwiki which lists a dozen different stalemate lines, but none of which really fit the 17-17 stalemate that I've seen referenced. The most any of these lines can defend is 15 centers, which isn't enough to prevent a solo by itself, and none of them seem that great at defending against an aggressive France like in Zosimus' post (unless I'm just misunderstanding something).

So is there a "main" stalemate line that everyone is referencing when I see it referenced in the forums? Or is it just a theoretical "we won't know where the stalemate line will be until at least the mid-game" type of thing, but then how would you know if you crossed it? To me, it would seem like if I'm trying to go from mid-game to end-game, my number one short term goal should be to break through a weak point in the stalemate line before the others can adequately set it up (or vice versa if I'm trying to prevent a solo). But I'm not sure how to do that because I'm not sure which spaces are on which side of the stalemate line.

If this question was asked/answered before, can you point out where that is because I couldn't find anything during my searching of the forums (likely just my lack of searching skills)? I appreciate your patience as I try to wrap my head around this.
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Re: Stalemate Line?

Postby asudevil » 19 Feb 2018, 08:45

Ill get WHS to check in here...cause he's the best one at this. He had a really good visual with 9 common ones. But I can't find it.
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Re: Stalemate Line?

Postby mhsmith0 » 19 Feb 2018, 09:40

See http://uk.diplom.org/pouch/Zine/S2001M/ ... Draws.html

For almost every power there is one or two critical stalemate line positions that need to be crossed to get a solo, and similarly there is at least one power on the board (usually multiple) that can profitably are two way draws by staying to their own side of the stalemate line and just carving up enemies in their own ends.
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Re: Stalemate Line?

Postby Malachite » 19 Feb 2018, 09:44

17 centers west, 17 centers east. Taking the centers on your side of the board is easier than on the other. I probably should've drawn the line to be a bit more straight, from Switzerland to Gibraltar as it's very hard for the Mediterranean powers to reach the Atlantic.

Overall there are quite a lot of different ways you could arrange a stalemate line, but in my mind something this is what people are talking about when they're talking about the "main" one.

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Re: Stalemate Line?

Postby WHSeward » 19 Feb 2018, 11:03

Yes, there is one “main stalemate line” often called the MSL for short.
Here is a post with a short description of it. It is the most significant line in the game because it splits the western powers from the eastern powers.
https://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=293&t=44967&start=10#p770623
At the bottom of that post is a link to still more lines. Depending on which power you are playing, different lines will matter to you.
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Re: Stalemate Line?

Postby Zosimus » 19 Feb 2018, 15:39

In my article, entitled A Workable Plan, I talked about France trying to win a solo.

From France's point of view, there are two main barriers to a solo victory:

1. Taking Tunis. Tunis can be held from the east against all possible attacks. France needs Tunis to win, so France must plan to take Tunis early, before the threat is realized and defended against.
2. Taking Berlin. Like Tunis, Berlin can easily be held from the east. Again, this is a center that France needs in order to win.

What most people think of when they talk about "THE stalemate line" (as though there were only one) is the Versailles line, exactly as Malachite showed in his drawing.
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Re: Stalemate Line?

Postby Riles » 19 Feb 2018, 17:46

Great, thank you all for your help, the links, and the pictures! This really helps a lot!
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Re: Stalemate Line?

Postby jay65536 » 03 Apr 2018, 00:01

In addition to what everyone else has pointed out already, some other observations aimed at the OP, because the question is how knowledge of stalemate lines can play into strategy.

-The "main stalemate line" has some fluidity around it. In my opinion, it's not exactly right to think of 17 "Western" and 17 "Eastern" centers. Instead, the way I usually think of it is as a collection of "definitely Western", "definitely Eastern", and "in between". The in-between ones are really important strategically, because they can fairly easily be held from either direction, west or east. They are:

1. Portugal
2. Spain
3. Marseilles
4. Tunis
5. Munich
6. Berlin
7. Warsaw
8. Moscow

So for example, if one of E/F/G is a solo threat, the solo-stopping coalition can try to lock up the "definitely Eastern" centers--namely Turkey, the Balkans, Austria, Sev, and Italy, for a total of 14--and then any three of the 8 centers above, to bring it to 17. Or if someone is trying to solo from the other side of the line, the coalition can try to lock up the "definitely Western" centers--namely England, Scandinavia, StP, Brest, Paris, the Low Countries, and Kiel, for a total of 12--and then any five of the above 8. While this seems unfair, it's worth pointing out that 5 of these centers start the game under the control of Western powers. (That's why usually Por/Spa/Mar and Mun/Ber are shown as being on the "Western" side of the line, and Tun and Mos/War are "Eastern".)

-In terms of tactically setting up the line, it may help to think of this stalemate line as 3 pieces: the "west", the "middle", and the "east". The "west" is the first 4 centers--Mar/Spa/Por/Tun. The "middle" is Mun/Ber. The "east" is Mos/War. Locking up these pieces happens separately, in the sense that each needs a separate group of units to do the job.

So in terms of the OP's question of "how would you know when you've crossed the stalemate line", the answer is, if you have enough of those in-between centers OR if you've gotten even farther past any of the 3 pieces (like Naples, Vienna, or Sevastopol). If either of those things happens then stopping your solo bid will take more than just stalemating you.
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