Sunday, 04 December 2011 20:05

Morrison "Sledgehogs" his way to board top

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Mike Morrison coined another opening today in Game No. 161, played at my place in Little Italy. This one was more of a new take on an old classic, the Austrian Hedgehog Opening. That's when Austria takes Serbia, arranges a bounce in Galicia, and tells Italy he's going to Venice. Mike's Sledgehog works the same way tactically, but much different diplomatically. The key is not to tell Russia about the move to Galicia or Italy about the one to Venice.

The Sledgehog worked great for Mike, as he bounced Russia in Galicia and snuck into Venice. Of course, he was aided by Italy's decision to open Rome to Naples instead of Apulia. That's probably the last time Ben DiPaola will do that. You can check out all the Spring 1901 moves and the final center counts here.

The game ended during the Fall 1910 turn in the following center counts:
Austria (Mike Morrison): 14; 54.144 points.
England (Tony Prokes): 8; 17.680 points.
France (Chris Kelly): 1; 0.276 points.
Germany (Jim O'Kelley): 10; 27.624 points.
Italy (Ben DiPaola): 0; 0.000 points.
Russia (Peter Lokken): 1; 0.276 points.
Turkey (Ted McClelland): 0; 0.000 points.

Hopefully the players will share their thoughts on a fun game.

Next up, we'll be at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square on Wednesday. We're now working on a second board, so come on out and join the fun. Maybe you can even reinvent an old opening.

Read 1397 times Last modified on Friday, 23 December 2011 11:27

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# Mike Morrison 2011-12-05 10:12
"When Sledgehog is startled, it puffs out its quills to an incredible size. The accompanying dust cloud is usually enough to blind its foe for long enough that it can slip away without conflict."

Here's a picture of a sledgehog:
http://miscrits.com/miscripedia/sledgehog.html
# Mike Morrison 2011-12-05 23:36
"Oh, Lug does just be proving Sylloggit's paradox," Lug explained, "Sylloggit done bet me a sprout that me not run as fast as sledgehog. He do say he prove it mythematically, and he try to explain it to me. It be so boring I did fall asleep and sledgehog did win. Now me not got no sprouts."

-- from The History of Oeuf, and from a footnote on the same page:

"This is the central question of Bimbic philosophy, and like all questions in Bimbic philosophy the answer is more a matter of tact and diplomacy than dialectic reasoning."
# Mike Morrison 2011-12-06 01:43
Some poor misguided soul has apparently "santorumed" sledgehog at urbandictionary, but I think that you'll find that the first definition under "sledging" (or "Mental Disintergration" as the article would have it) is a good all around introduction to the typical cricketeers practice upon which this fairly tame variation on the orthodox Hedgehog was in part, if not in whole, retroactively based.
+1 # Jim O'Kelley 2011-12-09 21:22
I'm glad to have a place where I can host regularly again. I'll do it again in March, if not sooner. In the meantime, here are a few observations.

Chris Kelly (France) had played three games with us before. He's no novice. But he hadn't played with us in about five months, and I wasn't wild about welcoming him back with a beat-down, so my preference was to work with him against Tony Prokes (England).

Turn after turn, I tried to persuade him to attack England. He just wasn't interested. Fortunately, he wasn't interested in working with Tony against me, either. The reason for that was the vacuum in Italy.

Like Gramila before him (http://windycityweasels.org/game-reports/tournaments/386-third-time-the-charm-for-yeargin), Ben DiPaola went for the risky center instead of the guaranteed one at a time when he really couldn't afford to be wrong. Instead of taking Tunis, he went for Greece, apparently by agreement with Mike Morrison (Austria), the guy who had just nabbed Venice from him. Go figure, Mike bounced him out, and Ben had a removal.

After that, the naked Italian shores captured Chris' attention. Despite my silver tongue and impeccable logic, I just couldn't get him to think about anything else.

I felt like I was carving a pretty good position for myself, but Ben's collapse and a costly misorder by Ted McClelland (Turkey) greased the tracks for Austria. I couldn't keep pace.

In light of the East-West imbalance, I probably made a couple of poor strategic choices.

First, because France wasn't interested in attacking England and I wasn't interested in attacking France, I worked with England against Russia (Peter Lokken). Ben and Ted neutered themselves, and my response was to neuter the only other Eastern power that could potentially slow Austria down.

Second, I refrained from driving south until I had to do so to thwart a potential solo. I can explain my reason in two words: Tony Prokes.

Tony is a solid player and a tough ally. By that, I mean he's not the type of ally who will roll over for you because he's happy to have a friend. He wants what's coming to him, and he's not afraid to take it. And he's also trying to win the game.

Only Tony knows for sure, but I believe that pushing south against Mike earlier in the game would have gotten me a knife in the back.

Besides, Mike and I had a solid nonaggression pact rooted in a mutual desire to keep the game fluid. We did that, and as I said, I was doing well. Just not as well as him.

So, I didn't move against him until I felt it was absolutely necessary to do so, and by that time, I was thinking defensively rather than offensively. My goal was to set up the twin-triangle stalemate line, which I had recently discovered in an online game: Mun and Sil S Boh, War and Mos S Ukr.

I had always used eight units to hold Mos and War from the North. This new position does it with six.

Lokken's last unit, an army in Moscow, was part of the line. We were able to slap it down, but I wonder if we didn't miss an opportunity. Mike was mopping up Turkey and his Home Guard was fairly week at this stage. I played cautiously, though, and eventually, he filled his holes.

So, my five armies were on the line. My three fleets, meanwhile, were trying to keep Tony in England honest. He'd rightly point out that my fleets weren't necessary against Austria, and I'd rightly point out that we didn't need new British armies against him either.

So we eyed each other nervously and cheered on our French ally, who had some play in the Mediterranean. I'm not quite sure where that went wrong, but it eventually did, and England moved fleets forward to back him up.

That was right around 1909. And at that point, Tony, Peter and I decided to aggressively probe Mike's line. Separately, Tony and I agreed to poach French centers.

On their own merit, I thought and still think that each decision was nuts. Together, it seemed incredibly foolhardy. I'm a player who tries to lock down the board at the first whiff of a solo, and here we were about to throw away a stalemate line in the face of a 14-center Austria. Nuts.

But also a bit of a rush, and funny, too, in a slapstick sort of way. "You two are squirrels," Chris said, after Tony and I moved on him.

I ordered Munich to Burgundy and Bohemia to Munich, and then walked into Paris in the Fall. England, meanwhile, took two French dots. But he also failed to cover the North Sea against one of my dynamic defensive moves. Perhaps he thought that on this turn, I'd concede the North Sea so that Sweden to Norway would work. Whatever, I got in and took London in the Fall, putting me at 10 and permitting him only one build.

I plopped down two armies, shored up my line, and in the Fall, while sitting in Tunis, his 15th dot, Austria agreed to a draw.

Tony later admitted to voting down the first three draws. It's possible we'd still be playing if I hadn't taken London. Part of me wishes we were.
# Mike Morrison 2011-12-09 22:37
After reading Jim's report, I feel like I was there. Or perhaps like I were there....

To clarify the part about the Italian move to Greece in Fall 1901, my recollection is that Ben and I were in some discussions about him going to Greece, but I wanted him to do so in later years and not in 1901 when Tunis was still open. Of course, I had nothing to gain by going to Greece, but Turkey (Ted) who at that point appeared to be my ally, seemed to prefer that one of us bounce Greece and the other Rumania... more or less... I recall offering Ted support to Rumania, but he did not want it.

I remember voting against one of the draws that we held (third of four?), mainly because it bothered me a little that everyone went off and came back having decided to draw and it seemed just assumed that I was going along.

On the other hand, if every offended party in a game of Diplomacy voted against a draw, we'd never have a draw vote go through at all.

I do think that the alliances were interestingly fluid in that game, often from one season to the next, but of course, as March turns to April, Sledge turns to slog, and so are the days of our lives.
# Tony Prokes 2011-12-14 15:07
Alright, finally got a couple of minutes to jot down some notes from this game…

I have to state that Jim and I agreed that we were both reluctant to beat-down on Chris. And that was probably one of the last things we fully agreed on in the game. ;-) What neither of us knew is that both of us were willing to work with Chris to beat down on the other… Thankfully for Jim and I - Chris had his eyes set on the South and a floundering Italy.

This left Jim and I to either duke it out or to “work together” to take the North and work against Russia. Once I hit Norway and St. Pete however I was at an impasse. My biggest dilemma was Jim. First he had built up three fleets as “a Germany to push South and West”, secondly this is Jim O’Kelley… I couldn’t trust him not to stab me at his first opportunity, and finally I really couldn’t move anywhere without threatening Chris. That was until he invited me into MAO…

At that point I saw my only chance to grow was to unfortunately stab Chris… I moved into MAO at his request, but instead of moving further South to take Tunis as he promised me, I grabbed Brest instead. My thoughts on this were that 1) I’d be closer to protect myself against Jim, 2) It prevents France from ever building a Fleet in Brest a (just in case), and 3) I wouldn’t have a unit halfway across the board.

I think it was at this point that the first Draw vote was called… Mike was in prime position, but the stalemate line had been gained and crossed by Jim, Peter, and Chris. I decided to Veto as I figured Mike would veto as well but hey, why chance it. I thought I could continue to grow while Russia & Germany held Mike and I could grab dots from Chris while sending fleets South to keep Mike bottled up.

However there was a major flaw in my plan, Jim O’Kelley. Jim once again decided to try and take the North Sea, and I would have been able to stop him if it wasn’t for those meddling French and German units. He was able to take it as I second guessed myself and for my troubles had a unit disbanded in the process. (Lesson to be learned kids… trust your instincts!) This in the end cost me London as well, if I had followed my original plans…. well, who knows.

In short, it was a fun game and I learned a couple more tricks which I’m hoping will serve me well at the WAC. Now the question is whether I can trust Jim at the WAC, as it appears he and I have a mutual respect and mistrust of each other. After all, when you’ve pick up strategies and tactics from the likes of Peter Yeargin, Jim O’Kelley, and several others in the group… you by default become a ‘tough ally’.

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