Saturday, 10 September 2016 15:44

Point of no return

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Changing of the Guard?

The point of no return. That title could refer to a lot of things.

For starters, we kicked off our 12th season of Windy City Weasels Diplomacy last night at Brian Shelden's home on the New East Side. No turning back now. (Incidentally, today marks the 11th anniversary of our club's founding. We played our first game at my old home in Old Irving Park on September 10, 2005. Read about it here.)

It could also refer to committing so thoroughly to your alliance and its campaign that you seemingly no longer have the option of working with the target to turn the tables on your ally, who's getting the better of the deal. That might have happened to Bryan Pravel, whose Russia helped eliminate Davis Spanos in Turkey...to the benefit of Weasel of the Year Brandon Fogel in Austria and no one else.

 
Or when, as Italy, you invest so heavily in a Western rush that you can only hope that you'll get a build for defense before Austria frees some units for offense. Alas, Carlos Trevino knows how that often turns out.

When you build two armies as France, securing England's cooperation but also ensuring that he'll always have the upper hand. Sound familiar, Brian Shelden?

How about when, as England,  you eschew a profitable campaign with France against Germany to roll up Russia's Scandinavian position? Good for you, great for the eventual board-topper, right Chris Kelly?

Really, any time you permit a strong player to get too big to fail would qualify as a point of no return. Raise your hand if you've never been there.

During the postgame discussion, maybe that extra drink you order? The one that ruins your Saturday morning and leaves you at home in bed while your family goes to Santa's Village. (Okay, some points of no return have a funny way of working out in your favor.)

But no, the title of this article refers to none of those things. Rather, it's the song that Brian Shelden chose to close down karaoke at Seven after the game last night. Point of No Return by Expose.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

As for the Diplomacy, Game No. 310, our first of the new campaign, ended by draw vote in Spring 1908 in the following center counts:

Austria (Brandon Fogel): 13; 48.563 points.
England (Chris Kelly): 11; 34.770 points.
France (Brian Shelden): 7; 14.080 points.
Germany (Matt Sundstrom): 0; 0.000 points.
Italy (Carlos Trevino): 0; 0.000 points.
Russia (Bryan Pravel): 3; 2.586 points.
Turkey (David Spanos): 0; 0.000 points.

The supply center chart is here. Players, what was your point of no return? Tell us in the comments section below.

Read 1313 times Last modified on Thursday, 13 October 2016 21:27

Comments   

+1 # Jim O'Kelley 2016-09-10 16:31
I showed up mid-game to watch, kibitz, and smoke a cigar with the spiders on Brian's balcony (as opposed to the ones playing Diplomacy in his living room). Afterward, we retired to Seven, a bar on the 7th floor of his condo building, for drinks, conversation, and karaoke.

A great opening night for what promises to be another great season of Windy City Weasels Diplomacy. I bet we crack 40 games this year.

What are you waiting for? Join one! http://windycityweasels.org/current-games-signup
+1 # Chris Kelly 2016-09-12 11:42
I'm all in favor of overextended metaphors, but I'd quibble with a couple of points above.

First, France building two armies in Winter '01 doesn't necessarily give England the upper hand in their alliance. It actually gives France a greater ability to take German centers, but the tactics have to be just right. France strayed from them a bit -- for justifiable reasons, but combined with Matt's savvy counterpunching, it led to France losing Paris briefly. That should seal the argument right there -- would building one less army, and one more fleet, have helped France protect Paris better? The flaw lay not in the builds, but in the tactics.

Similarly, I don't think my efforts in Scandinavia helped Austria as much as Russia's choices afterward. I took St. Petersburg and told Bryan I had no interest in going further - demonstrating this by passing up a chance to walk into Moscow. But after Turkey's fall, he chose to send nearly all of his units north in a futile attempt to retake St. Petersburg, rather than defending his southern centers against Austria. That was his choice, not mine.
# Jake Trotta 2016-09-12 14:59
Quoting Chris Kelly:


First, France building two armies in Winter '01 doesn't necessarily give England the upper hand in their alliance.


Certainly goes against conventional wisdom, but as with our 2nd-southern-fleet-as-Russia-in-01 at World's board, you seem to make unconventional wisdom work.
+1 # Bryan Pravel 2016-09-21 20:29
This was a weird game for me. I misordered my very first turn (As much as a Tzar might wish to do so, you cannot open to the Barents Sea in S1901) so I was behind in tempo. I had planned to work with David (Turkey) but was desperate for a build. Brandon (Austria) promised me the support I needed to get a build so I took the safe route and moved my fleet to Rumania. This combined with the fact David opened to Armenia essentially killed any momentum the R/T had against Austria. Originally Italy (Carlos) was going to join in and pile on Brandon in Austria but because we killed the tempo, he decided to make up with Brandon and head west. I felt that without good tactical positioning and with a friendly Italian, Favid and I would get bogged down fighting Austria so I decided the easier route was to attack Turkey.

I moved an army to Armenia and in the fall decided to be clever. I had a 50/50 shot at Ankara or Smyrna. I knew David is a very good guesser so I decided to play the long game and move to Syria instead. This would cripple Turkey and I would be in position to get at least 2 of the three Turkish centers. I also expected Sweden as I had been negotiating with Matt (Germany) about helping slow the apparent E/F. I would build another unit in Sev and Turkey would collapse faster than the west could resolve. It was perfect.

I just forgot the fact that David is more creative than I gave him credit for. He didn't protect ANK or SMY. He supported himself into Rumania. I didn't see that convoy coming and it crippled me. To make matters worse, I didn't get support into Sweden. This killed my economic engine and I essentially became a janissary. David suggested that I work with him instead of Brandon and made all the right arguments. I just felt that with the position I had on the board it made more sense to try to have a good relationship with Brandon, pick up a couple of easy builds in Turkey, and then go help up north which is something I could offer that David could not.

I just failed to calculate just how good David was at defense. I think o got every 50/50 guess wrong. Brandon ended up getting dots and I did not. By the time we were wrapping up Turkey, Chris Kelly had taken a lead and the board started to notice. I realized I could stop Chris if I ignored my border with Austria and made myself more valuable to Brandon by slowing Chris. I figured as long as I did this I had value and could stay in the game.

Chris responded by moving 4(!) units to defend STP. I told him I had no interest in moving past STP and would take it with fleet (sc). I would then use that unit to attack Brandon. Chris said he didn't do charity and declined my offer. Personally I think this was a mistake because he was never able to regain the momentum he had. He bottled all his units up against me for one dot when he could have used them to take other western dots.

My end game basically was banging my head against the English wall at STP hoping Brandon would break through around Munich so he would not be in position to get my dots. It didn't work out that way so it was like watching a car wreck in slow motion. I felt my opportunities to stop it had passed many turns back so I sat back helplessly and waited for the inevitable stab.

The turn Brandon stabbed my "spidey sense" was tingling and I could have at least made it not as bad but I knew that if I guessed wrong, I would be forcing the issue so I ignored the warning and Brandon got most of my dots. I think that even if I had defensed that turn Brandon still ends up with my dots. The score might have been slightly different but not by much.

I walked away from this game unsure about the lessons. I think in retrospect these are my takeaways.

1. I should have put more strategic pressure on Carlos to encourage him to keep working against Austria. If I had given him anything at all I think he would have stuck with it.

2. I should not misorder on turn one!

3. I should have been more clear in my negotiations with David about my expectations about next steps. It was fine to take Rumania with the fleet, but not with the army in Armenia as well. That killed our tempo.

4. I need to stop trying to be clever and costing myself builds. A 50/50 that keeps me in good position is not an awful thing!

Besides the misorder at the start of the game I didn't feel I played horribly. I just was playing from behind and never recovered. I wouldn't say that is a game I was proud of in any way, but I felt like this game I just didn't get breaks. Had I gotten just one or two breaks I think this ends up a very different game. I don't board top in any situation but I don't think Brandon can waltz in and get my dots if I have even just one more build.

I had fun. Brian was a great host, the view from his apartment is amazing, and I appreciated everyone putting up with my post game Kareoke. My final stab of the night was singing "I've Got Friends in Low Places. Seemed appropriate. :)
# Chris Kelly 2016-09-22 15:21
Quoting Bryan Pravel:

Chris responded by moving 4(!) units to defend STP. I told him I had no interest in moving past STP and would take it with fleet (sc). I would then use that unit to attack Brandon. Chris said he didn't do charity and declined my offer. Personally I think this was a mistake because he was never able to regain the momentum he had. He bottled all his units up against me for one dot when he could have used them to take other western dots.

My reluctance to part with St. Pete might have been mostly pride (i.e., not wanting to give up a center you didn't have the ability to take), but I don't think it was a mistake. Since I would have had to leave at least 2 units in Scandinavia for defense anyway, and I would have lost 1 by giving up the supply center, I would have only freed up 1 unit for other pursuits.

And which "Western dots" did you have in mind for me to take? If you mean those held by France, that seems like it would have been a huge favor for Brandon -- the next two largest powers on the board fighting each other, instead of Austria. In fact, I did have spare fleets that could have tried for French centers, but I chose to sail them into the Mediterranean instead (eventually picking up Tunis) because I didn't want to undermine Brian.

One key reason for that is France would have been able to fight my attempts to take its centers... unlike Russia and Italy, who each left a vacuum for Austria to fill virtually uncontested. That was Brandon's major advantage, and why he topped the board.

Which isn't to say that you were "wrong". If you had sent your units south instead of north, England probably would have topped the board instead of Austria, but there's no reason that should make much difference to Russia (aside from the centers Brandon swiped from you at the end).
# Bryan Pravel 2016-09-22 21:00
Chris, I very well could be mistaken. I don't recall the exact position on the board at that time. I seem to remember thinking you could easily finish off Germany and it seemed like the lowlands were vulnerable as well. I was also assuming you'd see my one fleet stuck in StP SC and be able to leave a single unit up there for defense so I was assuming you'd free up 3.

I also felt like at the time Brian was ready to work with the east to stop you (I may be mistaken) so from my perspective I didn't see Brandon wanting to attack france as hard in that scenario because it would have helped you. I am also distracting Austria in this scenario so he'd be fighting a 2 front war. My gut feeling is it results in a much tighter score split between Austria, France, and yourself.

Of course that comment is coming from a distracted and desperate Russian who definitely has a strong bias about how working with him would make Europe a better place. :)
# Jim O'Kelley 2016-09-23 09:09
The disagreement between Bryan and Chris illustrates the game's wonderful balance. Usually there's no "right answer"--just choices that will influence the board in different ways.

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