Monday, 04 March 2019 08:33

Ali, Bomaye! Featured

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Last-minute sub Ali Adib won the hard-fought 2018 Weasel Royale club championship game, which was finally played yesterday at Bryan Pravel's home in West Town. The game ended by draw vote during the Spring 1913 turn in the following center counts:

Austria (Ali Adib, 7th seed): 12; 48.000 points.
England (Christian Kline, 2nd seed): 9; 27.000 points.
France (Jim O'Kelley, 3rd seed): 0; 0.000 points.
Germany (Matt Sundstrom, 6th seed): 5; 8.333 points.
Italy (Brandon Fogel, 1st seed): 7; 16.333 points.
Russia (Bryan Pravel, 5th seed): 1; 0.333 points.
Turkey (Chris Kelly, 4th seed): 0; 0.000 points.

The board pics are here.

The supply center chart is here. The players will tell the story below in the comments section...

Note that 4th seed Jake Langenfeld and 7th seed Jake Trotta declined their invitations to participate in the game, causing alternates Bryan Pravel and Matt Sundstrom to be tapped and other players to move up in selection order. Second seed Kevin O'Kelly had to bow out Friday evening, opening the door for Adib.

Read 550 times Last modified on Monday, 04 March 2019 11:57
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+2 # Bryan Pravel 2019-03-04 11:53
If there is one word that sums up my 2018 Royale experience, it is optimism. 

I was optimistic before the Weasel Royale. Katie and I love hosting. I was excited she would get to meet so many of my Weasel friends. To my knowledge this was the first time we had two boards this season. We had several newer returning players which is a great sign for the club. I am optimistic about our club’s future. 

I was optimistic because I chose my favorite power Russia and had Ali as Austria and Chris Kelly as Turkey as my neighbors. I can work well with both players. I was optimistic because Brandon was in Italy. I was optimistic because Jim was in France. I didn’t think Jim would want to have Brandon win again, so I figured Brandon and I could ally and I could outpace him due to Jim keeping him bottled up in the Med. I was optimistic because Christian Kline was in England behind Jim’s France and Matt’s Germany. It’s always good to have the scorpion behind your neighbors, particularly when your neighbors are so talented. I was optimistic because I felt of this game became a beauty pageant, I would have better odds than many on the board because I have not won the Royale before. All I needed to do was be relevant in the mid game and not screw things up. 

I was optimistic in the early game because Ali, Brandon and I worked together well and formed an AIR to slow what probably was never a western triple but looked suspicious enough that I encouraged that line of thinking to form the AIR. My goal was that Ali or I come out on top and I felt my odds were better because Italy and I could squeeze Ali between us. I was optimistic because even though Brandon couldn’t send much help against Turkey initially due to pressure from the west, Ali and I were able to make quick work of Turkey. 

In the early stages of the mid game, I was optimistic my choice to mix my supports between Germany and England in Scandinavia was maintaining a balance of power and keeping the western theater from resolving. I was optimistic that we could beat the west across the stalemate line because when Germany jumped ahead to an early lead, the east set aside any differences we had and blitzed to the line while the west was still in Chaos. I was so optimistic that I left the center of my country wide open because I was expecting a German build and a Turkish build to solidify my defenses. Even when Matt guessed correctly and stopped the AIR attack in Berlin, I was still optimistic because I thought Christian’s weakened England needed a friend and I could help him take Scandinavia instead which would help me break through and take Berlin. 

In the end my optimism was my undoing. Christian played me extremely well and got me to move out of position because I thought we were working together and I ended up losing StP as a result. At the same time Ali realized his danger and made the stab of the game and kept me from getting Turkish builds while simultaneously moving into the Russian heartland. 

I might have been able to survive an attack from just Austria but the combination of the Austrian and English attack broke my back. I had fleets in the south and not enough armies in the north so I could not hold my position. Ali’s timing was perfect and 100% the right choice because my next builds would have resulted in me (and optimistically Brandon) attacking Ali while he was over extended in Germany. 

The late mid game had me tap dancing a little bit to try and find someone who could keep me relevant but nothing happened so I decided to Janissary for Ali. Christian had upset me by not following through in the north and repeatedly not turning his orders in on time. Brandon had already won the Royale. No one else was going to win so I decided to back the Austrian and help Ali win the Royale. Ali impressed me with his read of the board and his timing. I feel like my lack of defense created the environment for Ali to win this game, but Ali had to recognize it and took a risk with his timing. He played it perfectly. It was a great stab and won him the game. 

Post game I remain optimistic that I will learn from this situation and become a better player as a result. I love to see the activity in the club and am excited to try again for the 2019 Royale!

Congrats on a well earned victory Ali!
+2 # Chris Kelly 2019-03-04 15:06
Quoting Bryan Pravel:
I was optimistic because even though Brandon couldn’t send much help against Turkey initially due to pressure from the west, Ali and I were able to make quick work of Turkey.

Just to quibble with this since it's just about the only part of your recap that involves me, the board photos from F03 on show quite a bit of green down there in Turkey's neighborhood. In fact, Italy took 2 of my home centers, and (as the pictures show) could easily have taken all 3 & probably Bulgaria as well if he'd wanted to.
+1 # Bryan Pravel 2019-03-04 17:20
Quoting Chris Kelly:
Quoting Bryan Pravel:
I was optimistic because even though Brandon couldn’t send much help against Turkey initially due to pressure from the west, Ali and I were able to make quick work of Turkey.

Just to quibble with this since it's just about the only part of your recap that involves me, the board photos from F03 on show quite a bit of green down there in Turkey's neighborhood. In fact, Italy took 2 of my home centers, and (as the pictures show) could easily have taken all 3 & probably Bulgaria as well if he'd wanted to.

Fair enough. I was over generalizing and was just trying to say this wasn’t the traditional lepanto opening from the first couple of turns. Didn’t mean to marginalize the Italian’s involvement.
+1 # Brandon Fogel 2019-03-09 08:49
Summary

Despite not winning, I don’t have any real regrets about this game. Because I was the defending champ and top seed, I figured my path to victory would be narrow and circuitous. My plan was to avoid early elimination and keep myself in position to accept victory if it stumbled my way. Perhaps I hewed a little too closely to that strategy. I could have tried harder to slow Ali at the outset of his big move, but I chose not to, hoping to take advantage of a collective reaction against him. That was too optimistic. The board still saw me as the bigger threat at that moment.

In general, I think the western powers all overemphasized the threat I posed at various points. Jim repeatedly sent units my way in the early game, wasting opportunities in the west. Matt allowed Ali to keep Munich an extra year in order to have more units to fight me. And as Christian rebounded in the midgame, he focused on me rather than consolidate his invasion of Germany or fight the burgeoning Ali. Note to future neighbors: This sort of behavior makes me a good choice for an ally.

As for Ali, he has developed a reputation for being distrustful and conservative. Let this game serve as notice that this reputation is outdated. He made a bold deal with me in the early game, he made a bold stab of Russia in the midgame, and then he boldly converted Russia to a janissary in the late game. He deserved this win without qualification.

1901 — Ali makes a leap, Jim steps in it

Negotiations in the east were smooth and straightforward. Russia and I agreed to side with either Austria or Turkey to take out the other, and then to consume whichever remained. I felt Turkey out to see if he was willing to open to Armenia (he wasn’t) and whether he was protecting the Black Sea (he was). Austria wanted me to go west; I told him I could if he let me have Trieste in 01. To my surprise, he agreed without much hesitation. As I mentioned above, Ali has generally played conservatively, not willing to make deals that aren’t weighted clearly in his favor. This was a big step forward for him.

Negotiations with the west were not straightforward. Jim wanted to know if I planned to open to Pie. I said I wanted to leave him to deal with Christian in England, that I’d learned my lesson from the Bar Room Brawl Championship (http://windycityweasels.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1199). Jim suggested a bounce in Pie, which I did not want, as I preferred to take Trieste in the spring (although I didn’t tell him that). By the time I met with Matt, I suspected he and Jim had talked about opening against me, and Matt and I quickly agreed to a bounce in Tyrolia. If I’m worried about Mar-Pie and Mun-Tyl, bouncing Tyl is much better.

Jim opened to Piedmont. He told me he simply didn’t believe I wouldn’t open there. To leave Burgundy open and cover Piedmont is a very strange thing to do. This was the first of three wasted moves by Jim due to overestimation of the threat I posed (imho).

The net effect was to leave Belgium to Christian and Burgundy to Matt in the fall.

The last bit of excitement was my F01 fleet order. I wrote F Nap-Tun. This was bad for many reasons. My fleet was in Ionian, not Naples, and Tunis does not border Naples. And I was left with 1 build instead of 2.

1902 — Ali reverts and then double reverts

As misorders go, this one had certain advantages. My tempo was slowed, so that the board would be less worried about me, and my fleet was better poised to go after Turkey. Both of these things were good for Austria. Unfortunately, the misorder was so bad that Ali thought it had to be deliberate, and he reverted to paranoia. He retook Trieste and moved to Ionian in S02. When he saw that I was continuing with the alliance, he reverted back the other way, to his newer dealmaking self. This was a big moment for both of us. He had position on me and could have been goaded into thinking he could disable me quickly. However, the fight would have been protracted and Russia would likely have benefitted most.

F02 saw the next peculiarity from Jim: F MAO-WES. His other fleet went Bre-Pic-Bre in 02. My guess is just misread the moves in the east and thought Ali and I were moving fleets toward him. Whatever his intentions, the unit was wasted. He would have been far better off using it to take Bel or to join with Matt against Christian. And its presence in WES forced me to move fleets west immediately; Ali’s peculiar S02 moves had made me more disposed to cover ION in 03 than head west. But Jim in WES made that decision for me.

1903-05 — Turkey falls, Germany peaks

For the next two years, the AIR worked in concert to dismantle Turkey. I don’t think there’s much Chris could have done differently. He needed to throw the balance of power off in the east somehow, but with Ali and I reconciling and Bryan building a second fleet, his options were limited. He was gone by the end of 1904.

In the west, Matt went had gone for it on F02, taking Bel and Swe. But he didn’t have an ally. With Jim focused more on me and Christian unwilling to be a junior partner, Matt didn’t have a lot of growth opportunity. Bickering between Russia and England enabled him to steal Norway in F04 and get to 8, but that was his peak.

In S05, needing a new target, the AIR turned toward the board leader and filled in the main stalemate line, which Jim and Christian had been begging us to do for 2 game years. Here was Jim’s third peculiarity: A Mar-Pie in S05. I had told him I would move Pie-Tyl, and I did. Perhaps he was peeved that I had two fleets west of ION. I viewed the setup as relatively defensive; a fleet in LYO would have been worse for him. And my new fleet build in W03 had gone east rather than west. I simply was not setting up for an all-out assault on him.

The army in Pie in F05 changed that. I was forced to dislodge him *and* move ION-TYS, lest he retreat to Tus. Prior to that, I was not convinced that moving another unit west was in my best interest. But with the army back in Pie and a third fleet west of ION, I was now committed.

1906-09 — France cracks, Austria stabs and stabs again, and I miscalculate

1906-08 saw Ali get Munich, help me break into France, and then turn against Russia in a bold stab. He took two units from Bryan and was allowed to keep Munich. I could have bounced him in Constantinople in F07, but I refrained when Bryan asked me not to (he figured Ali wouldn’t go there). I should have bounced him anyway. My hope was that the board would unite against Ali. I was mistaken (and naive, in retrospect). I’ll let Matt speak to his reasons for not retaking Munich in F07; my understanding is that he wanted Ali to use the unit to fight me.

In F08 I got sneaky: Ali had self-bounced in Bul in S08, so in the fall I wrote Gre S Con-Bul and Ank-Con. If it worked, I’d pick up a build and have the units to fight Ali more effectively from the south. As it happened, Ali did not self-bounce but did write Con-Bul. Unfortunately, he had Con written a second time elsewhere, unordered, and so the move order was invalidated.

F08 also saw me break into MAO, finally. Christian had been wisely lending Jim a fleet before that to hold the line against me. But in 1908 Christian decided to make a strong move against both Germany and Russia. This netted him two builds, but it also removed the opposition to Ali from the north.

1909 was the year that cemented Ali’s victory. Christian built fleets in Lvp and Lon and sent them toward MAO. He left Stp undefended in order to take a 50/50 shot at Swe/Den. While he picked up Den, the net effect was to transfer more units away from Ali. If Christian could have quickly replaced Matt’s units with his own, the strategy would have made sense. I think this was just a basic strategic miscalculation on his part, although he disagreed vehemently afterward. He was more worried about containing me and continuing to take Matt’s dots, even though Ali was the board leader.

The coup de grace was Ali’s enlisting of Bryan as a janissary in 1909. Bryan was down to 2 units, and Ali got him to help hit me in the Turkish centers, where I was holding two dots with one unit. I made a pitch to Bryan to reverse course in F09, apparently with success, but he misordered, writing Ank-Arm instead of Arm-Ank. Had that succeeded, he would have had a build and Ali would have been kicked out of Asia Minor. I think Ali still wins, but it definitely would have been more interesting. Bryan stuck with him after that, hoping to help crown the king.

1910-13 — The Scorpion rises, but only so far

1910 brought the last real moment of intrigue. It was 10-9-7-4, Ali-Christian-me-Matt. If Christian, Matt, and I teamed up immediately, we had a chance to reset the game and keep it going. For that to work, however, Matt and I needed Christian to back off and probably even transfer a dot or two to get units closer to the front with Ali. The chances of the Scorpion agreeing to this were slim. I think he genuinely wanted to, but one can only do so much against one’s nature.

I told him I needed him to let me have Portugal and to vacate MAO. He agreed to Portugal but said no way to vacating MAO. And then he bounced me in Portugal. He also sent armies to Bel and Pic, despite the fact that Ali was threatening an undefended Stp. Again, units were moving toward me rather than the board leader.

Christian did let me in to Por in the fall, but he continually refused to vacate MAO. He finally left in S12, although not before moving armies into Gas and Bur. He also convinced Matt to move armies east in 1911, but was slow to back his fleets off.

Essentially he was asking Matt and I to fight Ali in a way that wouldn’t increase our chances of winning much, but would transfer win probability from Ali to him. Like Jim at the end of the last Royale (http://windycityweasels.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1153), I wasn’t interested in merely elevating one winner not named me over another not named me. Perhaps this represents a diplomacy failure on my part, and I simply didn’t find the right way to communicate my needs to Christian. We butted heads in a similar way at the end of the 11th Royale (http://windycityweasels.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=571), so I can’t say I hadn’t seen it before. But if I’m being honest, I think Christian’s transmission has no reverse gear (and no first or second, for that matter). Fine if you’re on a highway, not so great if you hit a dead end.

Overall, I definitely made mistakes, both strategic and diplomatic, that hurt my chances. But I think Ali was a deserving champion. And to anyone who claims that allying with me is a bad idea: c.f. reigning Bull Weasel Ali Adib.
# Chris Kelly 2019-03-09 23:13
Quote:
But if I’m being honest, I think Christian’s transmission has no reverse gear (and no first or second, for that matter).
Before getting to my own AAR, and without agreeing or disagreeing, I just wanted to say this is a fantastic line.
# Jim O'Kelley 2019-03-09 10:24
Quote:
Jim wanted to know if I planned to open to Pie. I said I wanted to leave him to deal with Christian in England, that I’d learned my lesson from the Bar Room Brawl Championship (windycityweasels.org/.../). Jim suggested a bounce in Pie, which I did not want, as I preferred to take Trieste in the spring (although I didn’t tell him that).
This isn't accurate. I asked you what you planned to do with Venice. You said you planned to hold. I then asked if you would bounce in Piedmont instead. You said no.

At this point, I had already decided to leave Burgundy vacant and was hoping to set up a convoy to Portugal in the Fall to leave my fleet in position to sail into Christian's waters in Spring 1902.

Had I better understood what Matt was telling me during our negotiations -- "I'm okay with you going to Burgundy as long as you contest Belgium." -- I would have opened differently. I expected him to be in Ruhr to contest Belgium himself. The fact that neither one of us would position a piece adjacent to Belgium meant that Christian would get a free pass and a sling-shot attack on his back door in 1902 would be fruitless.

Anyway, I moved to Pie expecting to bounce you but figuring if I didn't, I could take Iberia in a more traditional fashion and either pull that unit back, easily justifying a build of F London, or advance into Tyrolia.

Quote:
Jim and Christian had been begging us to do for 2 game years.
I never encouraged the massive push against Germany and in fact felt that the board was overreacting to Matt's position. I said as much to at least one of the Easterners.

Anyway, I never took a shot at Belgium in this game. I moved to London once at Christian's request. And I moved to Tunis and Venice one time each, both times when the center was occupied and you had two units on my piece. It's hard to do well when you're not attempting to grow.

I'll gladly share my moves when time permits if anyone cares to see them. I moved the way I did throughout the game not because I was overly focused on any one person but because I didn't want to overly focus on any one person.

That's the issue I'm having with this game right now, or at least with playing it in a community. Had Kevin not bowed out on Friday, I surely would have. I just don't want to play Diplomacy right now. I'd prefer to sit down and play any number of other games in my vast collection that don't require me to work actively to ruin other people's experiences.

As for Ali, he played a really good game. I gave him grief about tapping Burgundy to give you Marseilles, arguing that he was making it harder for himself to win by helping an actual rival for the board-top grow.

However, he won the game by dominating the East at a time when his allies were both heavily invested in the West. If his calculus was that progress in the West would keep Italy focused there, then I concede that I was wrong to criticize his decision.
+1 # Brandon Fogel 2019-03-09 12:22
I do remember mentioning the BRB Championship (where I as Italy harassed Kevin O'Kelley so much in France that Christian in England got the upper hand), but otherwise our recollections of our S01 negotiations seem compatible to me. Had I had time after talking to Matt, I would have let you know that we'd agreed to bounce in Tyl, but that happened close to the buzzer.

You're right about the push against Matt in 1905, now that I think more carefully about it. Christian had been begging us to move on him for 2 game years, and he had been invoking your name, but you didn't ask explicitly ask me to. I guess it just made sense to me that you would want that, so I assumed you were on board. Diplomacy failure on my part.

Ali had to help me against you, or else I would have turned on him immediately. He needed to keep me onside in order to turn against Russia. This was a really canny moment for him, one I should have pointed out in my AAR. He may have been more focused on giving himself a growth opportunity, but helping me grow also helped divert focus away from him.

Sorry to hear you're feeling burned out. Is it possible there's a style of play issue bubbling around? The newer players seem a little more interested in balance of power and alliance play, and I sometimes wonder if Old Guard players resent that, or at least resist it.
# Jim O'Kelley 2019-03-14 14:00
Quote:
Italy harassed Kevin O'Kelley
I think you mean the other one.

Quote:
Sorry to hear you're feeling burned out. Is it possible there's a style of play issue bubbling around? The newer players seem a little more interested in balance of power and alliance play, and I sometimes wonder if Old Guard players resent that, or at least resist it.
Two things here. First, dividing the club into Guards was just a conceit I came up with for an article to introduce the club to the world when we were hosting Worlds in 2016. I was reading Waterloo at the time. It made sense.

The differences between the three groups are overstated. We're all Diplomacy players who have honed our skills in the crucible of league play. The same league.

Second, I started the club to make it easier to play face-to-face Diplomacy. That happened. In fact, it got so easy to play Dip that I've logged more than 300 games since the summer of 2005. (Including tournament travel.)

But I also made a lot of new friends. And it turns out, I don't really like screwing over people I know. I've never liked that aspect of the game, anyway, but I especially don't like having to select a friend to kick out of the game.

I totally get that it's part of the game, and that it's just a game, and that good people play it and play it well.

For me, though, that aspect of the game is a problem and has been for a long time. I've become much more comfortable playing reactively than proactively. And that's just not a great way to play this game.

So, given that my gaming time is a finite resource, I'm going to sample a few Meetups and try to find a good one where I can play other games that interest me. I can't do that while also regularly attending our Meetups, so Dip will take a backseat for a few months.

All that is a long way of disagreeing that I'm burned out. Rather, I'd say that quite ironically, I built a club so I could play Diplomacy only to learn that I don't really like to play Diplomacy with people I know.

... Would anyone like to help me build a Scythe club?
# Chris Kelly 2019-03-17 18:45
I didn’t last long in the game as an active player, but stayed around to observe nearly all of the rest. My thoughts:

— I’m heartened by Bryan and Brandon’s AARs that there wasn’t much I could have done to achieve a better result. Based on the selection method and seedings, I arrived at the game certain that I would be playing Italy, and reasonably happy about that. As the 5th seed, I wouldn’t be stuck with my last-choice country, and so could avoid the other central powers (which I’m not very good with, and had no reason to expect better luck at playing on a board loaded with skilled players) in favor of ITA, which I’ve played reasonably well. But with Kevin O. withdrawing and Brandon strategically opting to pick after me, suddenly I was faced with the 3rd pick after Christian and Jim took ENG and FRA. I couldn’t bring myself to take Italy at #3, so I chose Turkey.

The reasoning was similar to why I (and Brandon) sought to play Italy; I wanted a country that could lie low & let everyone else get entangled, then slowly take advantage as opportunities arose. The mistake was that as Turkey, it was possible for the other 3 eastern powers to gang up & eliminate me before addressing any other threats, which is exactly what they did. In retrospect, I should have gone ahead and taken Italy, as ridiculous as it might have looked.

— My lie-low survival strategy as Turkey was to offer an alliance with Russia to avoid immediate conflict, then see how things developed. I don’t begrudge either Bryan or Brandon their choice to team up against me; since Italy & Russia don’t border each other, that’s a much safer alliance, and I would probably have done the same thing if I were them. What I needed was to persuade Ali, as Austria, that their alliance was just as much a threat to him as to me. Since he not only ignored me but went on to win the game, I guess you could justifiably say I failed in this regard. :)

Based on Brandon’s AAR, though, my warnings to Ali clearly had merit: Brandon & Bryan’s initial intent was to destroy him immediately after eliminating me (or vice versa). And to the extent that his ultimate victory arguably discredits this viewpoint, it shows just as much that Brandon and Bryan screwed up by not following through on their original plan.

— Per Brandon’s summary, though, my only brief success in this game was followed by a fatal diplomatic failure. After RUS built a 2nd fleet in Sevastopol in W01, I guessed correctly that Bryan’s first try to dislodge my Black Sea fleet would come from Sev rather than Rumania - so I tapped Rum from Bulgaria to cut support, convoyed my army in Constantinople to Armenia via the undislodged fleet in Bla, and moved my other fleet from Smyrna to Con to provide support in future turns. If these moves succeeded (which they did), he had no way to crack my defenses on his own.

Simultaneously, based on my suggestion, Ali moved his fleet in Greece to the Ionian to prevent ITA from building a Lepanto convoy line. It would also have prevented Brandon from taking Tunis in 1902 if he’d moved Nap->Ion; that he moved to Tyr instead may have been a fortunate coincidence, or part of a feint to let me keep thinking Ali had switched sides.

Whichever was the case, I took for granted in the subsequent negotiations that Ali was still aligned with me, and spent no time on either diplomatic persuasion or suggesting tactically what he might do to further attack Italy. The latter was for multiple reasons: (1) There were many paths he could have taken, with guessing games around Trieste, Venice, Naples, Tunis and Greece; (2) none of his options would have involved my units, all of which were needed to fend off Russia; and (3) I don’t like suggesting tactics that don’t involve me to other experienced players, since it feels like an unnecessary hard sell that could easily backfire.

But that choice may have left Ali too susceptible to Brandon’s forked tongue well-reasoned arguments saying that re-reversing his course to take me down was the superior path. I needed to reassure him more, at the least, that I would stick with him, and give him a clearer picture of how we could succeed together.

— Returning to Italy/Russia’s plan to divide & conquer Austria/Turkey, though, I still wonder why they didn’t follow through with it. Bryan was right about the value of having Christian behind Jim and Matt’s backs, but the West wasn’t all that chaotic when the AIR made its move, and the joint attack only served to unify them. Particularly once Ali overextended himself by moving north in S05, a stab in F05 would have decimated him. I understand that Germany was growing at that time & might have sought to take advantage, but luring Matt south might have been the opening that allowed Christian to unleash his sting (perhaps with Jim’s help).

More importantly, luring Ali into an AIR to eliminate Turkey was a successful bet by Bryan and Brandon - but by not finishing the job in Austria, they basically forgot to collect their winnings. They left all those vulnerable dots in the Balkans on the table, figuring they could pick them up sometime later. But by waiting several game years, they gave Ali room to keep them for himself.
+1 # Brandon Fogel 2019-03-19 09:03
Quote:
Brandon & Bryan’s initial intent was to destroy him immediately after eliminating me (or vice versa). And to the extent that his ultimate victory arguably discredits this viewpoint, it shows just as much that Brandon and Bryan screwed up by not following through on their original plan.
I wouldn't say that Bryan or I were dedicated to turning on Ali from the outset. It was merely something we discussed as a natural evolution of our alliance. I also discussed a similar plan with Ali, and I'm sure Bryan did the same.

That said, you're absolutely right that Bryan and I screwed up by failing to contain Ali. Bryan left himself too open, and worse, I deliberately let Ali grow, in hopes that the board would move to stop him. Naive on both of our parts.

Btw, I moved Nap-TYS in S02 because I worried you might bounce me in EAS. It didn't occur to me for even half a second that Ali would go to ION.

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