Saturday, 11 June 2016 10:32

The rich get richer

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Brandon Fogel topped his second straight board Wednesday at the Red Lion, increasing his lead in the standings. He also took over first place in the Bar Room Brawl. The game was the fourth straight in which Fogel finished with at least a share of the board-top.

Game No. 302 ended by draw vote during the Spring 1907 turn in the following center counts:

 

Austria (Pete McNamara): 2; 1.439 points.
England (Bryan Pravel): 0; 0.000 points.
France (Brandon Fogel): 11; 43.525 points.
Germany (Josh Heffernan): 0; 0.000 points.
Italy (David Spanos): 6; 12.950 points.
Russia (Geoff Serednesky): 9; 29.137 points.
Turkey (Jake Trotta): 6; 12.950 points.

The supply center chart is here. McNamara was playing his first league game of the season. He'll host the last game before WDC on Sunday. We're guaranteed a new board-topper for that one, as Fogel won't be playing.

A total of nine players showed up for Red Wedesday. Christian Kline and I sat out. Eventyally Pravel and Heffernan joined us for a game of Nyet.

Read 325 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 June 2016 20:42
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+1 # David Spanos 2016-06-13 21:20
This EoG report is barely edited, so enjoy the stream of consciousness writing and any competitive advantages to be gleaned therein. This is not a high-level analysis of board dynamics, but rather a reflection of my own game followed by feedback for the other participants. Considering my glacial writing speed and the conclusion of another game since this one, I'm going to post what I have and call it a day.

WCW game 302 saw a dominant Western force emerge in opposition to a dysfunctional Eastern four, with predictable results.

On the train, while reviewing the map, I decided that if Italy, I would open VEN - TYR, ROM - TYR, NAP - ION. I think part of the reason Italy has a reputation as a boring power is that standard convoy to Tunis concentrates the forces in a remote edge of the map. Thereafter, it relies on the Lepanto, which is seldom guaranteed, to render the army operational, and consumes F ION in the process. Moving both armies north risks a bounce with A TRI - TYR, but in my experience TRI - VEN is the more likely attack. Considering that, as long as VEN remains defended, neither army is essential for Italy, the benefits outweigh the risks. And in the event that TRI - VEN does happen, TYR can support the bounced A ROM into VEN in the fall, assuming Austria's other units are otherwise occupied. In any case, the real treat is having an army in TYR free to roam Eastern Europe.

Unfortunately, my overland adventures were short-lived. After TYR captured VIE, Austria forced a retreat into TRI. I was eventually able to claim both VIE and TRI, but to do so needed to occupy TRI with a fleet. The army/fleet duo would sit awkwardly in VIE and TRI for the rest of the game.

Austria and Turkey built a combined four fleets by midway through the game. This was not a coordinated action - had it been, only one should have built. Instead, it represented the Austrian reaction to my aggression and the Turkish strategy to break into the Mediterranean. Austria's build was understandable, if not optimal. As we covered in the post-game discussion, it eliminated any chance to patch up our relationship until I had popped the fleet, and by then the end of the game loomed. Likewise, in pursuing a unit composition of three fleets to one army, Turkey made it clear enough early on that he was not interested in cooperation. One of his later builds was A SMY, created as a concession - to Russia! I take solace in the fact that, for all his fleets, all Turkey got from me was Tunis.

In terms of alliances, my work was passable for a bar game, but I was fortunate that the game ended when it did. Throughout the game I overestimated Turkey's ability to influence Austria and Russia. I ignored the potential to work with Austria after the intial conflict. It would have been reasonable to claim ownership of Trieste as part of a truce, and I probably had enough leverage to keep Vienna, as well, in exchange for fleet assistance in the Balkans. The timing of my two-dot grab against Austria was also a shame, because it occured just as Austria had contained Turkey. I should have given more consideration to that advantage - but, as far as I recall, Austria did not mention this to me either. In summary, I displayed flexibility in picking enemies, but did not remember to make friends in the same manner.

In this ideal world, I would have reconciled with Austria, gaining Trieste, Vienna, and the containment of Turkey in exchange for lending fleets in the Balkans. I would have ostensibly formed an AI and IR, playing both off each other while I turned towards France.

Tactically, I had more mistakes than average and my first misorder in memory. I blundered by letting Jake into the Ionian in order to get a fleet into Albania. Supporting Turkey into GRE in exchange for assistance elsewhere was an exercise in wishful thinking. The misorder occurred when I forgot to order A MUN to support Russia's A Kiel in S06(?). The sincerity of my error is without question. France was well on its way to a board top, and gaining Kiel would give him enough units to take Munich. My plan had been to slip from Munich to Berlin in the fall, taking advantage of the final turn in which both France and Russia required my assistance.

Player feedback

Austria - Good job hanging on despite my hostile opening and the lack of viable Eastern allies compunded by the collapse of Germany. By mid-game any degree of substance had evaporated from our conversations. I would have been amenable to suggestions for working together against Turkey or Russia, provided they did not restore you to major power status. This would probably look like my retaining control of Trieste and/or Vienna in exchange for helping you gain in the Balkans. Admittedly, this would have been more viable if I had a presence in the Balkans! Looking forward to Sunday.

England - Seemed to die quickly. Ideally would have coordinated vs. France.

France - With any luck, the paint on your back will dry in time for worlds. It may run a bit, but I think the red color will help out-of-towners identify the target from afar.

In all seriousness, you're at the top of the list of people I would prefer to have as a neighbor on the board. I am not alone in this opinion, and it whether it's a cause or effect of your cooly rational playstyle, it is without a doubt part of what makes you such an effective player.

Germany - Our only interaction was in S01. With you, Jim, and Christian all volunteering to sit at the beginning of the game, there was some confusion as to who was playing. To the extent I contributed to said confusion, I apologize.

Russia - Money talks, and you earned second place for yourself, so I can't say much. However, my overall impression is that you were a little over-sensitive. In Diplomacy, everybody in the board is trying to screw you over, or should be. Unless you're in a position that allows you to punish other players at will, refusing to work with people who have wronged you leaves you nobody to work with. With thicker skin, you'll be able to look after number one and still work with your frenemies. The three 'slights' you accused me of were quite minor and should not have precluded our natural alliance.

Turkey - We discussed at length post-game. You out-maneuvered me two times out of three. I maintain that more armies and fewer fleets would have given you better results against Austria and Russia, especially because all you got out of me was Tunis. And Tunis seemed a greedy move, gaining a build, which would take several turns to get in position, at the expense of our relationship and getting a jump on France in the western Med. But maybe that's too biased towards my own benefit. In any case, I overestimated your pull with Russia and Austria. Your ego can take that one to the bank. Whether credit or debit, I leave to you to decide.
# Bryan Pravel 2016-06-15 19:46
I love the Red Lion. It has great food, friendly staff, decor that is perfect for a game of Dip, and besides a the occasionally unruly Weasel, good patrons. For the life of me I can't figure out why I perform so poorly in bar games. I have tried not drinking. I have tried drinking more. I haven't managed to put together a complete bar game this year and WCW302 was no different.

Early Game

I drew England which never bodes well for me. I think England is the only power in Dip that I have never soloed with (including online games) and when I survive it is usually because I am holding the line at StP or MAO to force a draw. I either get stuck in the cul-de-sac that is Scandinavia and cannot get an army into MOS/LIV to break through the line in the north, or I swing into the MED too early and putter out when Italy locks up TUN/ION. Neither is ideal, particularly in a bar game. I wonder if the strategy for England should be adjusted in a bar game due to the shorter timing.

We had several players that I had never played with before which is always fun. Josh H. was playing Germany. I had met Josh at a house game earlier this year but we were on different boards. By reputation I knew he was a solid player. Russia was played by Geoff S. He was a complete wildcard for me but it became apparent in the early game negotiations he should not be taken lightly. France was played by Brandon Fogel. Brandon has a consistent, patient style of play that makes him a reliable ally. He rarely makes mistakes so he can wait for others to make them and capitalize on opportunities when they happen. There is a reason he is in first place right now. On the opposite side of the board Pete M. was Austria. Pete was another wildcard. I knew he was hosting an upcoming game and therefore must enjoy Diplomacy so I assumed he would be a good player as well and as it turns out was not incorrect in this assessment. Italy feature David S. David and I have played several games and each time he has earned more of my respect with his ability to play from behind. I did not expect any early conflict with France so I figured I would just watch what happened in the east and be patient. Turkey was Jake T. Jake is one of the league's top players, won cod con, and plays a very strong Turkey. I believe in the theory that says the "witches" (corner powers England and Turkey) do well when their cross board partners also do well so I tried to figure out a way to make this happen.

Going into S1901 negotiations I didn't want Brandon to get another easy board top, but was also not sure how safe it would be to move hard against him early. I decided to open conservatively until during a conversation with Geoff (Russia) I casually
mentioned I had always wanted to try the opening where England convoys an army into Denmark in F1901 and Geoff said he was totally on board. I couldn't pass that up so it was time for a change of plans. I pitched an anti-German E/F/R, got quick agreement from everyone, gave Jake (Turkey) a heads up that Russia might open north so that he might be able to take advantage, and just asked Geoff to make sure he arranged the bounce in SWE in the fall. The entire plan depends on the bounce because instead of bouncing, Russia moves to BAL and this combined with an English army in Denmark is crippling for Germany. I was excited to finally make this work.

Except it didn't end up like that at all.

Josh (Germany) had a non-standard opening and didn't move the fleet into Denmark in S1901. This meant the move to Denmark would never work. He would move there in the fall and at best I could bounce him out. I needed a build otherwise France or Russia would get the upper hand so I wasn't going to just take one for the team and do the bounce. I decided to open standard and convoyed my army into Norway.

I had a rough time getting a read on Geoff (Russia) all night. From my perspective he had a plan and was sticking to it no matter what I said, so I don't know if he made the decision to continue moving north after he saw my opening or that was the plan all along. Either way, he built a fleet in the north and I never recovered.

Out of position to move against France, I tried to talk with Josh about ways to work against Russia (I was terrified of the 2nd fleet, I knew once he got two on NTH if I didn't have German support I would be done). I am not sure why but Josh basically seemed to want me to go all in against France or nothing. In retrospect that probably would have been a better decision but at the time I felt like I could not work efficiently against France in my current position while simultaneously defending the north. Josh and I never ended up on the same page so begrudgingly I allied with France knowing I was at a severe disadvantage if Italy didn't help me out.

David (Italy) was pre-occupied with the east so I ended up with a slow, methodical decline with France taking most of the gains against Germany and me just helplessly watching. My plea to Russia for help also fell on deaf ears so I basically ended an early game "pirate" for France in 1903 or something silly like that.

Mid Game.

My mid game (if you want to call it that) was essentially working as extra units for France in exchange for survival. Brandon could easily eliminate me any time he wanted so I didn't dare turn on him.

Eventually I spotted an opening where Geoff (Russia) could let me in to Norway for a surprise build and I could have built a unit that would have at least slowed Brandon's momentum a bit, turning into an E/R vs a rapidly growing F. I lost the debate again and the most satisfaction that I was able to get from this plan was a small rise out of Brandon when I told him what Geoff refused to do. He of course eliminated me the following turn. :D

End Game

My end game consisted of learning a new "Russian" themed trick taking game called "Nyet" and hanging out with Christian, Jim, and eventually Josh. It was interesting but I am not sure it's better than Spades or Bridge. It did feature a picture of a (I assume Communist) Falcon dressed like Humphrey Bogart in the Maltese Falcon holding a lollipop which was probably the most interesting thing I saw that night. I still can't figure that out.

Overall not my best showing. I continue to struggle with England and still have no idea how to hang on when Russia builds the second fleet. I was not negotiating well so I guess it was good practice for that situation. I am sure it will happen at least once at Worlds.

On a positive side it was great to play with Geoff, Josh, and Pete!

Pete (Austria): I was eliminated before we had a chance to interact much. Hope we get another chance to play again.

Brandon (France): I was marching to the beat of your drum from F1901. I never felt like I could safely flip. Well played.

Josh (Germany): Not sure exactly where I went wrong but by F1902 I definitely wanted to work with you. I think we just were not on the same page or something. Maybe we both were having an off night. Hope we have another shot to make things work in the future. I loved your opening btw even though it threw me off rhythm.

David (Italy): Kudos for being willing to open with the Bohemian Crusher. Italy is my favorite power and this is one I haven't tried yet. Made for some fun in the east.

Geoff (Russia): Very well played early game. You had me sweating as soon as you built that second fleet. I think you could have done better had we made peace earlier and you let me have a build or two. It would have balanced the board a bit. However I am the guy who got eliminated so maybe you made the right call. :P

Jake (Turkey): I have said in the past I consider reading the board well a strength of mine. Not this game. I think I fed you some bad info, and then crumbled quickly proving again the witches theory that E/T need each other to do well. I don't think this was your best game, but as always I saw some creativity even from my side of the board.

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