Wednesday, 05 June 2019 22:24

Jake takes over league lead

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Jake Trotta bounced back from a sub-par (by his lofty standards) performance in Game No. 388 to top Game No. 389, played on Memorial Day at David Spanos' home. He's now in first place for the season.

Billed as David's sendoff--he's leaving town to attend graduate school--the game didn't go so well for the host. Spanos started strong as Russia, gaining two builds in 1901, but stalled there and eventually lost four dots in 1905. Trotta, meanwhile, cruised to his second outright board-top of the season. He shared another one, so that's 2.5 tops in four games.

Game No. 389 ended after 1905 in the following center counts:

Austria (Chris Kelly): 0; 0.000 points.
England (Ted McClelland): 0; 0.000 points.
France (Bryan Pravel): 8; 23.358 points.
Germany (Jake Trotta): 10; 36.496 points.
Italy (Cori Neslund): 5; 9.124 points.
Russia (David Spanos): 2; 1.460 points.
Turkey (Carlos Trevino): 9; 29.562 points.

The supply center chart is here. The updated league standings are here.

Players, what happened?

Read 2628 times Last modified on Sunday, 18 August 2019 10:02
More in this category: « The duel for Gu Just Deserts »

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# Jake Trotta 2019-06-10 16:19
First, I would like to remind everyone that Brandon has won the league the past three years. Much like how diplomacy is a game where people push blocks around Europe for 4 hours and then Brandon wins, diplomacy leagues are where people push blocks around Europe for a year and then Brandon wins.

On to this game...

Thanks to everyone for a very fun board, and thanks especially to David for hosting. Not only did he cook, but the food was excellent. Also love a quick game where both theatres develop – that’s a sign of dynamic and efficient play. I broke a couple diplomacy rules of thumb here that may be interesting to discuss.

1901 – strong EF and a weird east

Germany is my favorite country all else being equal – it is the most boom/bust country on the board, but it is very easy to target early. My early board read was that I had a rough draw, and when Bryan (France) and England (Ted) spoke first in the opening negotiation, I knew I was in trouble. Pretty much the whole board confirmed a strong early EF read. Fall negotiations with both England and France also resulted in them telling me that EF was on.

As Germany, a strong EF means you’re dead unless you’re working in lockstep with Russia or Italy. I told Russia that an EF was likely, and that I’d be happy to give him Sweden for a fleet north coast, if he could spare it. I anticipated France forcing Burgundy, so I tried to convince Italy to move to Piedmont to slow him down, but Cori said she was not up for an early aggressive move. In the east, Cori walked into Trieste and bounced Austria (Chris) out of Greece, leaving him without an 01 build.

England ended up with Belgium while France swung at Munich in the fall. My negotiations with Russia were critical and even extended into my tactics. My fall 01 orders had Denmark and Munich both supporting GOB into Sweden – the loudest way I could shout “I AM YOUR FRIEND.”

1902 – breaking the EF

While RIT continued slicing up Austria, Russia followed through on building north coast and agreed to a Norway/Sweden swap. Austria did not build, so it looked like RIT would all make rapid gains- especially Russia. I took a different approach to negotiating the EF, frankly telling them that I didn’t sense a lot of willingness to work together on their part.

This had a fascinating effect – both players made some effort to console me (for lack of a better word) and convince me to hang in there. England even mentioned that France wanted to walk into Belgium. I asked Ted if he wanted that as well, and he said not really. That was the possible tension point I needed.

With that information, I had the option to either defend Holland or Ruhr in the spring. I decided to let England into Holland, while also helping Russia into Norway. This led to two British armies in Holland and Belgium entering the fall move. Now England needed to hold both Holland and retake Norway… while France didn’t see an immediate dot for him to grab.

I made deals with both France (support into Belgium in exchange for support to Holland next year, while he also moved to Irish) and England (I’ll leave Holland alone if you let me take Sweden instead). Instead, I retook Holland while I took Sweden with Russia’s permission.

It is almost always a bad idea to break two deals at once (rule of thumb #1), but I knew I had a strong ally in Russia, would get a build… and knew that a fleet in the Irish sea meant a renewal of the EF was unlikely. That risk paid off.

1903- PICKING A FRIEND AND A CRUCIAL DOT SWIPE

Both England and France were very open to working with me due to their entanglement. I picked France because I knew that a strong eastern power or alliance was very likely in the near term.

Russia was in excellent position – two northern fleets and a strong chance to pick up Budapest from Galicia. However, he had made it very clear he had little ambition in the north. That was actually problematic for me – I was likely to need him against France if we kept working together. I knew if he took Budapest, he would have no armies defending Warsaw or Moscow, with fleets in Sev and Rum. I also knew that moving units east would help shore up an alliance with France. So knowing Warsaw was likely to be left undefended, I moved to Silesia and walked into Warsaw in the fall.

Generally, one dot stabs are a bad idea (rule of thumb #2). However, there are rare times when they are important and even critical. A couple common ones are France taking Tunis while Italy is overcommitted east and France taking Liverpool when England is overcommitted in Scandinavia. These one-dot stabs are worthwhile because they decimate any tempo and growth potential your opponent has. In this game, instead of allowing Russia to boom, taking Warsaw effectively left Russia dead in the water.

1904 – QUICKLY CONSOLIDATING THEATRES

In the east, Turkey (Carlos) was beginning to gain steam. England ended up writing his orders then leaving the game in the west, leaving all 3 british dots to France. France and I set up to begin pushing towards the east. The game looked to be heading to a three-way draw between FGT. At the last moment, Russia told Turkey and I that he was giving his dots away. Turkey didn’t bite, which ended up costing me Moscow and left me with the same result I likely would have had, should Russia have defended himself.

Dot counts at the end of the year were 10-8-8 between the three players, with France and Turkey baring down on a 6 center Italy.

1905 – A GOOD FAILED STAB?

I hate bad stabs. They take two players out of the game while having no real benefit. They also have consequences for negotiating in future games. My (admittedly new) point of view is late game stabs are only worth it if they will provide a score increase meaningful enough to be worth the burned alliance. Last time Bryan and I played, I helped him split the top with me for this reason – it was more valuable to create goodwill than get a few incremental points.

In this game, I strongly considered sticking with the alliance, but ended up stabbing France. France, Turkey and I were all on board with a 3-way draw. France and I’s original hope was that we’d be able to out-tempo Turkey to something along the lines of a 12-12-10… about 40 points each. In my conversation with France in S05, I realized that I likely only had one more dot to grow on the board (Moscow), with a small chance at 2 (Vienna). That puts me at 11 with a small chance at 12. France was likely to pick up Naples, Rome, Tunis, and Venice for a total of 12. Turkey had great tempo and was likely to consolidate the east and land on 12. A split top at 12-12 would only be worth around 35… and I was much more likely to be the third person in the draw than one of the 12s.

However, given my board position at the start of 05, I had a great chance at a big score. It would take a while, but due to my fleet superiority in the north, I would likely have been able to take all of England eventually. France informed me that he wouldn’t be moving to Burgundy, so if tactics worked out, I’d be able to pick up Paris and Brest in the next two years as well. A small solo chance was there if Turkey and Italy were slow to get fleets back to the MAO. Due to the position on the board, the most likely result was somewhere between 12 (just getting Edi and Moscow) and 14 (all of England and Moscow) dots, though anything from 10 to 18 was possible.

I ended up with an outcome lowest end of that range. If I had played better tactically, my floor should have been picking up 2 (Edi and Moscow). However, I got out-guessed over Moscow, leading to a loss of Warsaw and Moscow staying Russian. Meanwhile, Bryan convoyed an army back to Brest, preventing any progress in France. A draw vote was called and miraculously went through, leading to a 10-9-8-5-2 final results. I ended up with 36 points… right about where I would have ended up in a 12-12-10 should I kept the alliance and it went well.

Was my decision to stab a good one? I’d be curious on Bryan’s thoughts on that. My thought is that it was a good stab that I executed poorly. It was only going to benefit me one incremental dot in the first year, but had high long term upside with relatively low risk. Staying the course was unlikely to benefit me. Bryan and I had only worked together for a few seasons. I might have damaged Bryan’s perceptions of me as an ally, but given that his strategy out of the gate was “let’s keep Jake down until it’s convenient for me,” I’m not sure how much that choice would change his established perceptions, especially after splitting with him together in a recent game.





Player Feedback:

Austria (Chris Kelly): Thanks for stepping in and making this one happen. It has now been 2 consecutive boards where I have not attacked you. I, for one, am proud of us.

England (Ted): Great to play with you! It was a very entertaining early west in this game.

France (Bryan): Very entertaining midgame alliance and great working together. The decision to go for the stab was a tough one. The early EF gave me some not warm fuzzies. I wanted us to both end up on 40, but it did not appear that the board would play out that way. If it had looked like the game would have evolved a bit more evenly, I likely would have held off, but with the possibility of a huge score or solo, I had to swing.

Germany (Jake): Played very well until the final year, where mistakes kept me from 12+.

Italy (Cori): Great to have you on this board, and a nicely played game on your end. Really enjoyed our cross-board alliance, even if that didn’t turn into much tactical support. Most first time Italy’s end up at the starting four centers… or worse. The central powers become very fun to play once you gain a little experience.

Russia (David): Dude, you are an excellent host. Great working with you on this board and thanks for the support.

Turkey (Carlos): Delightful AF. Very well played to have the east break your way in back to back games – if this one continues, you’re likely topping again.

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