Monday, 10 July 2017 21:07

A pack of rats

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We played a hastily arranged game of Diplomacy yesterday at the Red Lion in honor of visiting Weasel ex-pat Peter Lokken. Sporting a Rambo-style headband, Lokken drew Austria and proceeded to organize his fellow Eastern hipsters into a formidable and efficient RAT triple alliance. Ultimately, though, the RAT tilted in favor of Josh Heffernan, who now owns the season's Best Russia.

Game No. 344 ended by time limit after the Fall 1908 turn in the following center counts:

Austria (Peter Lokken): 7; 17.014 points.
England (Jake Trotta): 0; 0.000 points.
France (Christian Kline): 5; 8.681 points.
Germany (Jim O'Kelley): 0; 0.000 points.
Italy (Matt Sundstrom): 3; 3.125 points.
Russia (Josh Heffernan): 13; 58.681 points.
Turkey (John Gramila): 6; 12.500 points.

The supply center chart is here. Players, how about some endgame statements?

Read 1140 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 August 2017 10:22
More in this category: « Honor among Weasels Walk off? »

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+1 # Chris Kelly 2017-07-11 19:48
I was only a spectator for the first couple of years before heading off to a prior commitment, but I'm glad Josh was able to get the board-top after an amazing 3-build 1901 (7 centers!). I was worried he might go the Icarus route when his momentum stalled & Turkey poached one of his centers in 1902.

Seeing that first-year Russian explosion made the trip out to the Red Lion worthwhile. Well, that and whatever epic bamboozlement caused poor "Helgoland Jake" Trotta to make the ill-fated moves he did in fall 1901 & spring 1902...
# Jake Trotta 2017-07-12 16:26
Quoting Chris Kelly:


Seeing that first-year Russian explosion made the trip out to the Red Lion worthwhile. Well, that and whatever epic bamboozlement caused poor "Helgoland Jake" Trotta to make the ill-fated moves he did in fall 1901 & spring 1902...


Schaudenfreude may be my favorite part of our rivalry. Though, unfortunately, there was no "bamboozling," just me pitching a bad idea.

Decisions that stem from "I may regret this, this is probably a mistake, I guess we'll see" get you board tops, but me eliminations.
# Jake Trotta 2017-07-12 16:22
Coronation of Josh Heffernan, RAT king

1901 East: Fascinating setup here- Russia gets into Galicia. Turkey gets into black. Austria gets in position for 2 builds. Strange balance of leverage that somehow stuck together into a rat.

1901 West: My game never got off the ground (source: I never built) due to a bounce in the channel in 1901 paired with a Russian move north (in exchange for Sweden in the fall). With such an aggressive French player as Christian Kline, I needed a buddy. Germany was noncommittal. So I allowed Russia to walk into Norway in exchange for the promise of an alliance against Germany. The reasons were twofold-hopefully big scary Russia (3 builds in 01) convinces France that he needs me, plus it there was a distinct “let’s all kill Jake” vibe in the air, so any buddy is better than no buddies. I did not build, which sucked.

Midgame East: RAT hung together for a few years, pushing into Germany, until A&T got at each other’s throats. A misorder (two orders for the same unit, in fact) prevented what would have been a critical stab of Austria. Turkey moved fleets around Italy, but AT conflict prevented either from really getting off the ground. A German convoy into Livonia slowed down Russia, potentially preventing impressions of Big Scary Russia.

Midgame West: By 1902 the RAT was apparent. At France’s request, I moved three different times to slow down big scary Russia- three times France moved against me while I did so. After the third time, I pulled Jim aside and asked him what to do. He said that Christian is probably still lying and will dot me if it looks like I’ll get one off Russia. He then called a meeting between the West to confront the so-called “Hipster Alliance,” even framing it as preps versus hipsters.

Essentially, my choices boiled down to either A) be a 3 center England that loses a home center and is gobbled up by the guy who lied every turn of the game to you OR b) be a 3 center England that defends itself against the guy who lied every turn of the game to you and gets killed by Russia in a few years.

I went with the hipsters and was effective enough at slowing down Kline that he lost position in the south, eventually leading to the loss of Iberia. Interestingly enough, Christian had to pull a unit, and chose to pull his one unit near Iberia. Then, when Italy continued taking Iberian dots, Christian started throwing dots to Russia.

Endgame: Eventually, Russia entered North Sea and began retaking English centers, just in time for Christian to toss dots over the Iberia situation. Josh appears to have coasted to 13 from there.

Quick note here- Josh played lights out. I told him that in 1901, it was still true at the end of the game. He negotiated tremendously well and played patient enough that eventually the north just crumbled for him. That’s a great way to win with Russia, and Josh very much deserves the “Best Russia” award for the season (should the score hold).

A Note on Christian Kline and MAD players

There are two ways to handle cooperation problems- proportional response or mutually assured destruction. The first is the work of dithering and microstabs. The second is “if you don’t do what I’m asking, I’ll suicide against you.” Christian operates exclusively in the realm of mutually assured destruction. Take a look at the Iberia example- “if you take my dots that I have zero leverage over, someone else will get all the rest of my dots.” In fact, Christian threatened to throw the game to Jim in SPRING 1901 if I moved to the channel. While he himself moved to the channel.

My mistake in this game was not playing Kline’s game. If one player has a policy of proportional response and the other has mutually assured destruction, the MAD player has more leverage. By not threatening “if you move against me, Russia gets everything and I will make sure you don’t top,” Kline felt free to keep the knife at my throat. Now, he probably does it anyways, but when you only have one good tool in your box, you use that tool.

I’m somewhat proud that my (eventual) policy of mutually assured destruction worked… but if I threaten it earlier, my odds of ever freaking building go up a smidge.

Metagame missed opportunity?
This board was LOADED with strong players… and there was an interesting metagame opportunity. In the league standings, France was in 6th, Italy was in 8th, and Germany was in 9th. They are all within 6 points of each other- a top by any of the three could make or break their Royale chances. England, clubhouse leader, already had secured a spot and from this point of view was not a threat. Austria and Russia were sitting on 0 and therefor not threats, and Turkey was 50ish points back. From the metagame perspective, the FGI triangle had the most stakes on the board.

In the end, the players on the board played the board- Germany works with a Russian willing to move north, Italy fell victim to the RAT, France was able to take channel and position by F02.
BUT, if they had metagamed, the incentives would have made for an equally fascinating board. Each player of the trio would prefer they topped, but if they did not top, the second best result is anyone other than FGI topping. France does not benefit from G or I doing well, so allying with them may be out of the question. Germany and Italy had incentive to work together to kill their common enemy, but as it is most likely only one of them would secure enough points to make the Royale, this choice carries risk.

I pitched to this metagame in 1901 (and the results show how that went for me). None of FGI saw their position in the league standings change. But in a season where just 15 points separate 8 players fighting for the last 4 spots in the Royale, it is interesting to consider- when should you play the board, and when should you play the league?

Player Feedback
Austria (Peter Lokken): One of the guys that always makes boards interesting, like Gramila. Loved to see you work your way out of the RAT, avoid the stabs, and put yourself in contention late. Always great to see you.
England (Jake Trotta): Nothing more patriotic than preventing British builds around Independence Day. But real talk, holy poor negotiations, batman!
France (Christian Kline): Played a great game to put yourself in awesome position. Though we have different styles, I thoroughly enjoy the level of competition you bring.
Germany (Jim O’Kelly): I just wrote an article about how it sucks to be Germany in a world of booming RFs. Not much you could there.
Italy (Matt Sundstrom): Impressive job making the best out of a bad situation.
Russia (Josh Heffernan): Learned a good amount from your negotiation this game-very impressed by how good the deals you got were at the right moments, and how patient you were at the right moments. Not only am I proud of you for playing a masterful game of diplomacy, but I’m more proud that Best Russia will now safely remain in the hands of a Chicagoan (sorry Chris Martin).
Turkey (John Gramila): One thing I saw from you was very informative and impressed me- after hearing that Matt would be moving for Spain and Portugal, leaving Marseilles unattended, you waited on that information for five minutes before filling in France just before the deadline. This kept Italy nonviable at a crucial moment… and was rather devious.
# Chris Martin 2017-08-09 16:02
Dammit. Y'all are playing tonight, right? Checking SW for fares ....

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