Thursday, 13 October 2016 20:36

Paradox Lost?

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Hasbro's 5th edition rules eliminate the Convoy Paradox once and for all. It's right there on page 17:

A Convoyed Attack Doesn’t Cut Certain Supports
A convoyed Army doesn’t cut the support of a unit supporting an  attack  against  one  of  the  Fleets  necessary  for  the  Army  to  convoy.

Of course, a fine bit of good that clear wording will do you if you leave the rulebook in your bag while giving a ruling. Sigh. Perhaps for only the second time in club history, we had a tricky convoy situation crop up last night at the Red Lion. And I got the ruling wrong.

In fairness to me, I was a few beers in when Brandon Fogel came running in wide-eyed from the back room.

 

"We need you for a ruling," he said excitedly. "It's the Convoy Paradox!"

In fairness to Brandon, the Convoy Paradox is the kind of thing that excites students of the game. You rarely see it.

I followed him into the back room, and listened to the players explain the situation. Briefly, England convoyed to Norway through the North Sea with two supports, but Russia moved Norway to the North Sea with one support. I studied the pieces for a moment, then ruled.

"It's not a paradox," I said dismissively. And I was right about that. The Convoy Paradox occurs--or occurred with old versions of the rules--when a convoyed unit dislodged a piece that was supporting a successful attack on a convoying fleet.  My mistake came with my next breath. "The army is moving in with two supports, and the fleet only has one support out, so the convoy succeeds."

Seemed pretty clear to me, but as Edi Birsan informed me this morning, I "blew it."

It's explained clearly on page 14 of the rulebook that was sitting in my bag last night:

Disrupting a Convoy
Dislodgment of a fleet in a convoy causes the convoy to fail. If a Fleet ordered to convoy is dislodged during the turn, the Army to be convoyed remains in its original province.

Sorry, Guys! Despite that error, I think we all had fun at our second straight two-board session of the 2017 Bar Room Brawl Series. Here are the summaries.

Game No. 314
Playing in his fourth game of Diplomacy in six days, Bryan Pravel eked out a board-top over Ali Adib in the back room at the Lion. The game ended by time limit after the Fall 1905 turn in the following center counts:
 
Austria (Gus Spelman): 0; 0.000 points.
England (Chris Kelly): 1; 0.431 points.
France (Ali Adib): 8; 27.586 points.
Germany (Brandon Fogel): 6; 15.517 points.
Italy (Matt Sundstrom): 5; 10.776 points.
Russia (Bryan Pravel): 9; 34.914 points.
Turkey (John Davis): 5; 10.776 points.
 
Spelman, one of Adib's recruits, played for the first time with us last season. Davis is another friend of Adib's and was playing for the first time ever.
 
Game No. 315
Meanwhile in the main room, Christian Kline topped at 11 centers, ahead of John Gramila and newcomer Jeff Stahl. That game also ended by time limit after the Fall 1905 turn. The final center counts were:
 
Austria (Geoff Serednesky): 2; 1.460 points.
England (Mick Johnson): 0; 0.000 points.
France (Christian Kline): 11; 44.161 points.
Germany (Brian Shelden): 6; 13.139 points.
Italy (John Gramila): 8; 23.358 points.
Russia (Jeff Stahl): 7; 17.883 points.
Turkey (Jake Trotta): 0; 0.000 points.

Johnson played for the first time ever last month in the rooftop game at Casa Trotta's. Stahl, no relation to server Courtney, is a high school friend of mine who used to play with me in the early '90s. He watched our Opening Night game last year and finally made good on his promise to play a game with us. I served as his adviser.

Anyway, the supply center charts are here. Both games looked fun. Perhaps the players will chime in below with their takes.

Read 1249 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 November 2016 10:00
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Comments   

# Brandon Fogel 2016-10-13 23:22
This was a convoy paradox. These were the orders:

English orders:
A Lon-Nwy
F NTH C Lon-Nwy
F NWG S Lon-Nwy
F BAR S Lon-Nwy

Russian orders:
F Stp (nc) S Nwy
F Nwy S Den-NTH

German (me) orders:
Den-NTH

That's precisely the scenario you describe: "a convoyed unit dislodged a piece that was supporting a successful attack on a convoying fleet"

The tough part about this is that, without the convoy, England would have had to choose between keeping NTH and taking Nwy. Allowing the convoy to succeed meant that he kept NTH, got Nwy, and got another unit into the region. That makes the convoy order pretty powerful.
# Jim O'Kelley 2016-10-13 23:57
My bad again. Takeaway: Don't leave the rulebook behind.

Either way, the attack on the North Sea should have succeeded.
+1 # Bryan Pravel 2016-10-14 06:48
Game 314 was my first game post Tempest and my 4th face-to-face game in one week. What kept things fresh is that we had two boards of players at the Red Lion and several new players. My board had a very nice mix of veterans and new players.

John was the only true new player so according to club rules he picked between France and Turkey and drew Turkey as his power. Gus has played with the Weasels a few times, but always in the west. Gus drew Austria. The rest of the board was filled with sharks. Matt Sundstrum was Italy, Ali Adib was France, Chris Kelly was England, Brandon Fogel was Germany, and I drew Russia.

For some reason I don't play well at bar games. Last season I had a few decent results and board tops, but always at house games. I think my best result last season for bar games was around 4 or 5 centers or something. In particular I do not play Russia well at bar games.

I have a rule that with newbies I will not attack them before 1903 and generally prefer to only ever attack them if I am attacked or to win a board top. With John as a new player and Gus being a first time Austrian, I knew my opening would likely depend on who allied with whom. Fortunately for me, John ignored the rest of the board's encouragement to use the Sundstrum opening into Armenia and opened standard. Even more fortunate for me I ran out of time during negotiations with Gus and did not discuss the bounce in Gal. Gus opened against Italy so I was looking at a friendly Turk and sitting in Ukr and Gal at the start of F1901.

Chris Kelley (England) pitched a "let's work together to keep Brandon (Germany) from the board top" strategy and I agreed. I meant it too until Brandon promised me Norway and Ali (France) said he was attacking England. This was too good a deal to pass up so I walked into Swe and Rum, and built A War and F StP (NC).

In 1902 I easily took Norway with Brandon's help, only to realize I could not really defend it because Chris had moved a 3rd fleet to border it and convoyed an army into Nwy. I had agreed with Brandon to retreat to Ska but realized that if I did this, StP would be unsupported so instead I disbanded, took Bud from Austria, and used that build for a defensive army in Mos. According to the rules discussion above I should have held this because I supported Germany to NTH S. which forced the fleet to dislodge so there should have been no convoy. At the time I was ok with the ruling that I had to retreat, primarily because I knew I could rebuild the unit. No harm no foul, but man that would have change the dynamic of the game!

I had hoped to keep Gus (Austria) around a little longer. My strategy in the south was to slow play, trusting I could keep John in Turkey enticed to work with me with a steady diet of Balkan supply centers. An Austrian who did not have position on me and was slowing Turkey and Italy was useful. I needed the build to defend StP though so I took Bud.

What I didn't expect was Chris (England) moving his army in Nwy to Finland in S1903. This was 3 vs 2 on StP. I could not hold it in the fall. Desperate and knowing I was hanging onto my once impressive position by just a thread, I took a gamble and asked Brandon (Germany) for support into Norway. When the orders were read I couldn't believe my luck. Not only did StP get into Nwy, but Mos also bounced BAR so I protected StP. I was getting a build!

In the south, I knew that John would hit a wall around ION so I was doing everything I could to talk him into moving his fleet in Ank into the med so he could break through. It was hard because I could tell John didn't quite understand what I was saying and I didn't want to come across too shifty. We finally agreed the way to do this would be for him to move to Con and I would vacate Sev and move to Rum. Equal risk for us both. I kept my end of the bargain. John apparently decided I was shifty after all and moved to BLA. Crap. Fortunately we were still working together in the Balkans and I continued to feed Turkey dots and he returned the favor. He picked up Tri and I picked up Vie. Because I got lucky on the 50/50 guess in Norway, I was able to build two and protect Sev with an army and StP with a fleet in the north coast. Brandon (Germany) and Ali (France) were nipping at Chris's (England) heels, and Chris was in position to work against me more effectively than anyone else, so he needed to be the target. Plus Germany had helped me earlier in the game so I took that into consideration as well.

1904 was an interesting year because I knew the steady Balkan diet was over for my Turkish ally and I didn't see much growth in Scandinavia. With John in BLA he could really hurt me if he wanted to, and I saw Brandon and Matt both making the pitch to him that he move against me. We were also running out of time. I knew I only had 2-3 more years and was probably not getting any new centers this year. I realized what I needed to get any dots was probably a stab of my ally, but I could not do this while he was in better position. I had to convince John that he had hope of more dots if he stuck with me and to do so meant taking big risks. I moved Gal - Boh so I could support Turkey against Italy and in doing so, I removed all of my defenses. I also kept pointing out that if Turkey could get three fleets into the med, he could beat back the Italian fleets and threaten Tun and Nap. I didn't lie. I explained it would not be easy and since we only had 2-3 more years, there was a good chance he would end up stalled out before we could get anymore Italian dots. However, I was trying to give him hope. When the orders were written in F04 I was terrified. This was the most important turn of the game so far for me. John had a fleet in BLA and two armies on Rum. There was no way I could hold it if he attacked me. What was worse is that if he broke through Rum I would have to chose between using Mos to support Sev or StP so I would lose one of those other centers which threatened my ability to hold the north. I could easily be down three the following year, and that isn't even counting dots that Matt's Italian armies would have loved to have picked up. My fear was unnecessary. John was true to his word. He moved Bla to Con. He was a good ally. And it was time to repay his trustworthiness with a stab.

II knew 1905 would be the final year due to time. I helped John work through more tactics to help him progress against dots he could not get for at least another year, wrote my orders to pull send my army in Sev - Arm, and my fleet in Rum - BLA, and everything else filled in behind. A single bounce could screw this thing up. Fortunately my setup went off without a hitch. I was in position for a very nice stab. There was just one problem. I forgot about Matt (Italy). With Matt helping John, I could not hold Vie so I would be down at least one. If I guessed wrong I might also be down Bud. This was going to be harder than I had planned for.

In the north things were just as uncertain. Brandon had asked me for support into Swe in S1905 which from my perspective meant I was just helping him get a better shot at my center in Norway in the fall. I declined. The downside of this decision is that I also missed that Chris Kelly could move another fleet adjacent to Nwy. He had units threatening the English mainland so I (incorrectly) assumed he would be defending his home centers. From his new position he could either force Nwy, or try to hold onto Swe *and* go for Nwy. I figured if he tried to force Nwy, Swe would be the mover so I asked Brandon to tap Swe and offered to support him in. I figured this gave me the best odds of defense and Brandon had incentive because he would get Swe if Chris moved out. Brandon accepted. My F1905 northern orders were done.

In the south, I decided I couldn't keep Vie so I didn't even try. I could walk into Ank unopposed so that was just basically just a swap of centers. This meant if I got lucky and kept my northern fleet, I might tie for board top at 8. If I lost the northern fleet, I would be down to 7. My next focus was trying to get another dot and I chose Serbia. I put my orders in the box early, and did not let myself look at them again. I had no idea what would happen. I could see myself topping the board or losing up to three centers. I was alternately regretting my stab and getting excited about my first win at a bar game. I couldn't look John in the eye. Finally the orders were read. Brandon came through. He cut support in Swe and I kept Nwy. I walked into Ank, cut the Turkish support for Ser in Rum from BLA and got into Ser. I lost Vie but bounced Turkey out of Bud. I got lucky. All of my guesses were correct. I just had my first board top at a bar game. I ended on 9.

Overall this was an interesting game. Despite a very strong (ideal even) ally and a dream position in F1901, I always felt I was just one thread away from completely unraveling. Unlike past games though, in this game I won the 50/50 guesses and that was the difference. I had a great time, enjoyed playing with everyone (particularly John who I hope will have the chance to return the favor one day), and appreciate the confidence boost going into the Royale.

I just hope I didn't use up all my luck in this game!
+2 # The Australian Peter McNamara 2016-10-14 09:14
Convoy paradoxes ain't gone, though I'm still yet to see one. I think the original Pandin isn't changed by this rule:

FRANCE: A Pic-Lon C by F ENG; F NWG-NTH S by F Nwy; F Bel S F ENG

GERMANY: A Yor-Bel C by F NTH; F Wal-ENG S by F IRI; F Lon S F NTH

Isn't this fun. Dislodging both fleets means that no supports are cut so no fleets should be dislodged. Dislodging no fleets mean the convoys go through breaking the supports so both fleets should be dislodged. Dislodging exactly one fleet is self-consistent, but since the situation is symmetric, there's no way to make a choice.
+1 # Brandon Fogel 2016-10-14 10:54
That's fantastic, Peter. There really isn't truly satisfactory solution. My intuition is that naval battles should be resolved prior to convoys being considered (so that a convoy can never cut a support for a unit in or moving to a sea province), but I can see how some people may not like that.

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